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Fantasy Terrorchild: Awakening

3. Get Sword - Embryx already has a sword and can probably handle this herself. You decide to take the moment to grab the other hunter's short sword for your own defense.

As you move to retrieve the weapon, you glance over to Embryx, whose wand erupts into shadowy smoke - more than you've seen from any caster aside from yourself - as she points it toward Rythe. Then, with a forceful flick upwards, you watch as he slides towards her, feet barely touching the ground before he suddenly comes down stumbling. With a battle cry, Embryx brings her sword down and slices him deep, but not fatally. The hilt of your sword is still dripping and sticky with the hunter's blood as you grip it and hurry to help, ignoring the searing pain in your shoulder. You have no idea how to wield a sword, and so you resort to hacking at the unfortunate man several times with your offhand, mutilating him and killing him quickly from blood loss. You wipe your face with your sleeve to get the flecks of blood off and then listen, using your heightened tabaxi senses, to get an impression of what's happening outside.

"Do you hear anything?" Embryx asks, and you shake your head. No.

The two of you walk out the door and look about, keeping your blades at the ready. Suddenly, a wet "thump" causes you both to spin around and find nothing but the head of a hunter rolling to a stop at your feet. You look up to find Corrinth, wounded, but nonetheless sitting with her feet dangling over the edge of the building, almost carefree. "Good job, Embryx," she says, calmly. "The fight's over. Twelve hunters, twelve dead... a whole town holed up in its houses. We've got a few hours' head start to get as far as we can away from here."

Embryx looks to you, concerned with the elder sister's tone. "...Did everyone make it?" she asks.

"No. We lost Ika," she answers. "...And my mother."

As Embryx lets out a sharp gasp, you stare for a moment in utter shock, feeling an immense amount of responsibility for this disaster. Corrinth drops from the eave to the ground, letting out a sharp, pain-laced grunt before forcing herself to stand up straight and look at you. It's hard to gauge exactly what sort of feelings are playing on her mind. A deep, agonizing grief, a barely-contained rage, and maybe just a hint of irony... Corrinth had gone above and beyond to drag you back to Tashlaan and make you a part of the coven, thinking that it would benefit the coven and help secure her a higher station in life. Now, everything was in ruins, and while it's your fault, it ultimately stands that it was her fault for bringing you here.

"You didn't tell me that you were discovered," she says quietly. "I knew about those two who fled, and I figured Ika had something to do with it, but I never would have guessed that they saw you two and that they'd be able to identify you. Something that bad? I thought I would have heard about it. But you and Ika kept that part to yourselves, even though you knew the hunters were coming. You let my mother stand there, at that whoreson priest's side, playing the role she always plays, not knowing that you laid the groundwork that would burn our whole circle!" she rants. As she speaks, Nytha rounds the corner and joins you, looking distraught.

1. Blame - "Ika didn't tell me that the fear she planted in their heads would wear off," you argue, and it's largely the truth. You don't know what to do now, but you know that above anything else, you don't want to be held responsible for everything that happened today. You did your best. "...She had me thinking we were safe. What are we going to do now?"

2. Soothe - You can't possibly alleviate the pain and betrayal Corrinth must be feeling, but you need to do everything in your power to keep what's left of the circle from unraveling, like Embryx warned. "...I never wanted any of this to happen. I'm sorry, Corrinth. What do you want me to do?"

3. Crush Her - "You deserve this," you say. The words aren't difficult to find and don't take you particularly by surprise. You resisted Corrinth and what she represented from the start, but she pushed endlessly for an outcome that, if she were honest with herself, was always going to look something like this.
The vote is tied - DEALER'S CHOICE:

3. Crush Her - "You deserve this," you say. The words aren't difficult to find and don't take you particularly by surprise. You resisted Corrinth and what she represented from the start, but she pushed endlessly for an outcome that, if she were honest with herself, was always going to look something like this.

Corrinth doesn't reply immediately, she's so taken aback by not only the words, but also the tone with which you delivered them. Her mouth hangs open, eyes darting between you and Embryx and Nytha. "I... What...?" she stammers.

"I said, you deserve this. You were the one who chased me down in the woods, you took advantage of my situation and made me reliant on your help, you put all the pressure on me to join the coven and paid Ika to follow me, and you based your circle right in your mother's tavern so it would fall at her feet if anything went wrong. All of this is your fault!"

Corrinth's anger builds the entire time you're talking, but it can't keep pace with yours. You feel like you could kill this woman with words alone. "Do you even realize why Ika didn't tell you!?"

"Of course I do," Corrinth says, quietly. You had expected her to yell back at you, but instead you realize that the anger she wears on her face is directed inward. "She was afraid of me."

Nytha places her hand on your shoulder, breaking your attention away for just a moment. "We have to go," she says to the both of you. "Faran stayed out of the fight; she'll stay behind and keep watch over Tashlaan. The rest of us should head for Mardenaal, on the coast. Once we reach the city, we can go out separate ways."

"Wait," Corrinth says, her eyes misty and red. "Agranne... I'm sorry."

You nod as she walks past you, allowing you to keep her eyes on her. You and the trio of witches gather supplies from the town before your departure. Any of the residents who happen to peek their heads out quickly retreat and slam the door shut at your approach, looking at you as if you're death itself. As your clothes are drenched in blood, you return to your inn room for the last time to change into your freshly-washed black outfit.

By the time you emerge, Nytha has gathered up a pair of horses for herself and Embryx. "You know how to ride, right?" She calls out to you, and you nod, heading for the stables to get a third horse for yourself. You figure Corrinth plans to utilize wildshape to follow along, which works for everyone since it would keep conversation at a minimum and give her time to think.

Once everyone is assembled in the town square, you notice Ika's body. She's lying in a grassy patch beneath a tree, just as if she were sleeping off her drink, like before, except for the two arrows sticking up up from the trunk of her body. You wonder for a moment whether you might've saved her life if you had only acted a moment sooner, before she could be identified. Embryx helps pull your attention away from this thought as she arrives with food and medicine for the road.

"You ready?" she asks, glumly.

You shrug. "...While we've got a minute, what happened to Iona?" you ask quietly.

"As soon as Corrinth went after that archer on the roof, they recognized her as Iona's daughter. The hunters tried to grab her and use her as a bargaining chip, but Iona fought with them."

"...And they just killed her? Like that?" you ask, a bit outraged. "She was only protecting her daughter."

Embryx mounts her horse. "Her daughter's a servant of Syrith. As far as the hunters are concerned, Iona was one of us."

You climb on your horse, a lovely brown animal that you had spent a good deal of time getting to know over the prior weeks, and lead the circle to one final stop in the woods. You locate the fallen tree where you buried your money, and quickly dig up the bag of coin.

"Okay, so we have money for anything else we need on the way, or when we get there," Nytha remarks. "Which route should we take?"

1. Stick to the Woods - The best route would involve crossing paths with as few people as possible, you think. "We should probably stay off the roads, if we can," you say.

2. Faster is Better - "The more ground we cover in a day, the better off we'll be. Let's just get on the road and be done with it," you say.

3. Float the River - You remember how you found your way to Tashlaan in the first place by floating downriver on the Turus. "Maybe the river? Is there a town on the way where we could hire a boat?" you ask.
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