Drunks & Fanatics - 20. The Gun Goes Off

The claws on Tolan’s feet scratched the cobblestone as he ran through Crimsonvale’s back streets and alleyways. Ducking behind whatever miscellaneous pile of objects or large stone pillar on the corner of a building he could hide behind as me moved. He was panting already, the distance from the cathedral to the main roads while trying to remain stealthy and out of sight from Watchers and Inquisitors was not exactly the easiest task. Thankfully his blue scales made it a little easier to blend in, but his sorcerer attire and staff would be a dead giveaway if a cultist’s gaze fell upon him.

Peering out from behind a pile of boxes and junk some business keeper had just lumped into a pile, Tolan saw a patrol of Watchers led by an Inquisitor. The cultists were out in full tonight, so the half-elf he heard about definitely put Nencog’s minions on high alert. Unfortunately, that would mean it’d be all the harder to sneak past them. However, whether it was a lucky break or the most unfortunate thing to happen, a large explosion rang out just slightly off in the distance towards the edge of the city.

“Dammit, I’m too late.”

The patrolling cultists had already set off, running in the direction of the explosion. Moving slightly up, Tolan tried to peer out and see what was going on now. At the same time, another patrol of cultists was running straight at him. Tolan readied himself for a fight, but they ignored him. Instead running to catch up with the other cultists who’d already gone on ahead.

Gritting his teeth for a moment, Tolan decided to try and keep up with the cultists who ran ahead. Whatever was going on was keeping a grasp on the cult’s attention, so best to make use of it and hopefully get to the half-elf and his party before the cult wipes them out. If they haven’t already.

“You’d better be worth our time, half-elf.”

As Tolan runs towards the source of the explosion, Hei, Tessa, Torgrak, and the cultists stared at each other in silence. Along the rooftops, cultists stared down at the group before one that looked a bit more in charge than the others stood atop the roofs and stared down at Hei.

“Purify these heretics with Nencog’s divine flame! Burn them with holy fire my brothers and sisters!”

A cry from the cultists that now surrounded the inn called out, their blind faith guiding them, “BURN THE HERETICS!”

Some of the cultists who were down in the streets began to climb up the wall to be on the same floor as the party, while others kicked in what was left of the door leading in. Quickly outnumbering the party with Hei up in front, Torgrak in the back readying his rifle, and Tessa trying to get her bearings after the explosion.

With his lips slowly turning into a smirk, Hei was ready to teach his student a bit more now, “Remember how I was going to teach you about combat today~?”

Tessa’s eyes do a double take, going from the cultists to Hei twice, “Yeah but...I don’t think this is the best time for it.”

“Nonsense~! No better time to learn it than when your life hangs in the balance~.”

Tessa is about to try and argue with Hei, but knows it’d be pointless and surrenders to the inevitable, “So, which part of the lesson am I learning?”

“Attacking and positioning. Don’t worry, I’ll even make sure to give you step-by-step instructions~.”

“Isn’t defense more important right now?”

“Ehhhhh don’t worry about that right now. Just going to keep it simple for today~.”

“If you’re certain…”

Hei raises his right hand to his side, and a small, black portal opens up. His jagged sword being summoned forth from what would be the darkest of voids, Hei grabs it and then tosses it up to change from using the blade to the hilt for fighting. The eye in the hilt popping open, but then giving Hei a weird look for a moment before half-closing and shutting.

“Step 1: analyze your enemy. From what we can see here, the ones that have come up to meet us are likely melee-fighters. Considering this, are you good at fighting in melee, Tessa~?”

“N-no? I mostly use spells, so I’m usually at a distance.”

As Hei gives his lesson, the cultists encroach on them, drawing their weapons. Some using daggers, others holding maces and shields. Each one takes careful steps forward as Hei moves his eyebrows up and down while scanning them from left to right.

“Then here comes the next part of your lesson. Step 2: Repositioning. Now that you know you’d be at a disadvantage if you stayed where you are, what should you do now~?”

Tessa thinks for a moment, her mind still a bit rattled, but it doesn’t take long for her to come up with an answer, “I should…”

Hei interrupts her, “Maybe do it as your response~?”

Tessa is stunned for a moment, but realizes what Hei means and quickly she falls back to being further back. Now positioning herself at Torgrak’s side as he fires off his rifle at one of the cultists up on the roofs. Hitting the cultist in the shoulder and sending him tumbling down the side of the building and onto the ground. The crack of the gun unsettles Tessa as her ears ring for a second, but she gets back to her lesson.

“W-what now?”

A couple of the cultists engage Hei, charging at him with their weapons. He steps out of the way of the first attacker before whacking him in the back of the head with the hilt of his sword, while parrying the daggers of the second and punching the cultists in the face with the bottom point of his shield. Followed with a quick kick to the head to get one of them out of the way.

“Step 3: Pick a target. Need an explanation for this one~?”

“N-no, I understand.”

Tessa’s eyes scanned about, looking for the easiest target available. The ones on the roofs were too far with her current skill, and a good number were crowded around Hei. Slowly forming a circle around him. Considering that Hei is currently the only one keeping them at bay, Tessa locks onto one of the cultists who looks like they might try and sneak past Hei. Holding her staff out in front of her, Tessa prepares herself.

“A-and?”

A cultist tries to make a break past Hei, charging for Torgrak and Tessa, but his foot gets hooked by Hei and is quickly dispatched with a bonk on the head.

“Step 4: Rain Hell~!”

“That’s not exactly very descriptive.”

Torgrak puts a hand on Tessa’s arm, “Like this!”

Putting his hand into his bag, Torgrak pulls out a rather unusual looking bullet this time. It’s a bit longer, and fully metal with no separation from the casing to the bullet with what look like cracks or dark vines running through it. Loading it into his gun, it makes a kind of k-thunk noise and a very low sounding chunk as Torgrak closes it. Taking aim just below the edge of the nextdoor roof, he fires the round.

It soars with a trail of smoke out from the back of the round, flying much slower than anything he’s used up until now. With a loud BANG, the bullet explodes and showers the alleyway between the two buildings with hot shrapnel. The unfortunate cultists cry out in agony as the hot metal lacerates and burrows slightly into their skin.

“Didn’t you promise you won’t kill anyone?!”

“Relax. They’re not dead, yet. Just in a lot o' pain. They wish they were dead, but they’ll live given some medical attention. Heheheh.”

Tessa gently turns her head back to her target, seeing him start to creep more and more around Hei. Taking a quick breath, Tessa focuses her energy into her attack. A magic circle begins to form in front of her, aimed at the red cloaked minion. An orb of light swirls in on itself, twisting and thinning itself out quicker and quicker until it’s turned into a spinning spear of light.

Closing her eyes, hoping it hits, she lets it fly, “Sacred Light!”

The attack shoots off with the target realizing at the last moment he’s being attacked. The spear of light shoots straight through his shoulder, leaving a fairly gaping hole. However, it also sends the man flying off the edge of the building and onto the other cultists down in the alleyway crying in pain with a heavy thud.

Tessa stared at what had just happened, bewildered at how her spell had just reacted. This had never happened before, the spell usually did nothing more than send a blinding shower of light and sparks at the target’s face. Dazzling and distracting them so her allies can more easily fight. Not...whatever the spear of light she just launched was.

But even though she would normally be happy at seeing herself grow and develop, Tessa instead began to fear that she had possibly just killed someone. She couldn’t be sure, but it was entirely possible she did. It was a fairly high fall and the attack literally went all the way through her target’s shoulder.

Giving a callous chuckle of approval, Torgrak gives Tessa a heavy pat on the back with the palm of his hand. Snapping Tessa out of her thoughts for a moment before reassuring her.

“Don’ worry too much, he's likely still alive. Broken bones an' a concussion or two? Definitely! But alive...probably.”

“B-but...I...How...Why…?”

“Fight first, question later...maybe.”

Readying herself for another attack, Tessa tried to stand firm and take aim at another. All the while wondering what other steps there were.

“Now! Step 5: Repeat until none remain~!”

“Is that really the best way to put it? And wasn’t I going to learn defense too?”

“I’ll teach you that later, just keeping it simple for right now. If you’re worried about defense, just avoid getting hit and you should be fine~.”

Just as Hei says this, a bolt of flame nearly grazes her face. Torgrak grabs her wrist and forcefully moves her again to dodge another bolt whizzing right past. Letting her go, Tessa resteadies herself and remembers that they’ve got too many enemies to worry about right now to get caught up in her thoughts. And so, she starts to repeat her 5-step lesson again.

The fight continues on with the three of them fighting the cultists at what seems to be a standstill. The number of cultists only keeps increasing with more and more running towards the destroyed inn, but for each one that appears three are taken down by Hei and Torgrak each with Tessa helping with one cultist being flung away at a time. Hei’s attacks remain less-than-lethal as he forcefully introduces one cultist after another to the pommel and hilt of his sword, or giving an unlucky one a second date via a knock-out kiss from his shield. Torgrak’s gun cracks off one time after another, firing rounds at people’s hands, legs, shoulders, balls, or lower torso. Occasionally kicking up the destroyed bed he’d used earlier for cover as a means of blocking any volley of fire bolts when it’s too difficult to dodge.

All the while, Tessa tries her best to dodge any incoming attacks while firing one spear of light after another at the cultists who start to snake around Hei. And with the battle continuing, she slowly becomes more and more distressed as she watches Hei and Torgrak slowly lay waste to their enemies. She knows they promised not to kill, but the villainous smiles forming on their faces were causing flashbacks to the mass of bleeding limbs and tortured faces they’d created in front of her out of some bandits. Spatters of blood lightly covered the black and burnt floorboards. Unconscious bodies flung out into the streets with a kick to the face when they got too clustered in front of Hei.

The violence only continued further and further into the night, seemingly turning into one slow blur in front of her. This battle, this suffering wasn’t what she wanted to see more of. She wanted to be a Hero, and yet here it looked more like her mentors were changing her into a villain. Her spears of light that sent targets flying were slowly creating a smirk on her face that she had to pinch her cheek to stop. Why was it happening? She knew that all of this was wrong, and yet something inside her was finding twisted pleasure in this. Why?! This isn’t her! This isn’t Tessa Vivuk! Tessa vivuk is a good girl who heals and supports her friends. Not a monster who finds joy in destruction and suffering!

But then something inside her changed as she felled one more target. It’s hood flew back as the spear pierced a red robbed elven woman through the gut. Her blonde hair shining in the night as blood splattered all over the wooden floor and she was sent backwards and into the alleyway. Her hand outstretched and falling, the long ears on both sides of her head disappearing into the darkness.

For a moment, Tessa thought she’d just attacked Sylvie, and yet one thought raced through her mind and nearly out her mouth.

You deserve it!

A voice that Tessa couldn’t control was now in her head, speaking in her own voice, saying things she would never dare say. And yet, half of her face was starting to curl into a smile akin to those that Hei and Torgrak wore.

No.

This was the end of it, she’d had enough of all the violence and destruction. She needed to run away. To get away from all of this. She wasn’t fated for this! She needed to run away and return to where she was supposed to belong. Her fate wasn’t to fight and turn into a monster, it was to be a good girl who loved and supported her friends and family. And the first chance she saw from the cultists no longer crowding the way leading down from the room and through the inn’s front door, she took it and ran. Fleeing as fast and hard as she could from the battle.

Everything seemed to freeze for a moment as Tessa flees the scene, everyone looking in confusion as she runs away. Hei and Torgrak both raising eyebrows at this turn of events. The cultists on the roof even take a moment to realize what just happened.

“Ch-chase her! Kill her! Burn the heretic!”

With that, a small contintingent of the existing forces fighting leave and try to follow after Tessa while the rest remain and continue the battle with Hei and Torgrak.

“They’re down a member now, destroy them! NOW!”

Hei and Torgrak just look at each other, trying to figure out what to do now with their student having just snapped.

“Shou' we go after her?”

Hei thinks for a moment, changing how he holds his sword from the blade back to the handle and letting it rest on his shoulder for a moment.

“Hmm...no, not yet. Let’s use her as a messenger of sorts to contact whomever it is that contacted the Adventurers’ Guild. Also, this gives us the chance to finally start our ‘clean-up’ operation here. Give Kegs the symbol to start as well~.”

Torgrak laughs a small bit, entertained by Hei’s ever traitorous existence, “Ar’right. Flare goin’ up!”

A red light is shot up into the sky that explodes into a small shower of sparks as Hei and Torgrak start the extermination.

Tessa runs through the streets of Crimsonvale, taking random turns and routes through the streets and alleyways. Blindly turning and running for as long as her body can go while cultists chase after her. The sounds of battle growing louder and heavier, all tuned by the screams of the suffering into a twisted orchestra of battle behind her. But eventually, Tessa’s running comes to a stop as she’s stuck in a dead end alleyway. A high stone wall is in front of her and the cultists have her outnumbered three to one.

“St-stay away...Don’t...don’t come any closer!”

The cultists slowly approach her, and Tessa tries to move further back but falls against the wall behind her. Her staff falling out of her grip and rolling on the ground as the cultists approach with weapons drawn. Afraid and panicking, Tessa closes her eyes with hopes it’ll all finally be over.

Then...there’s three cracks of lightning, followed by a rather friendly voice.

“You alright?”

Tolan reaches out his hand, looking Tessa in the eyes as he brings her a feeling of genuine comfort and friendliness to her.


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