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Thread: Power and Steel (Nachthexe x Headwrapper)

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    Fantasy [M] Power and Steel (Nachthexe x Headwrapper)

    It was back to the rugged countryside and Ismet couldn't help but to feel both a sense of dread and anticipation. Many memories came with it: memories of his childhood, memories of the discovery of his unique abilities, and finally the memories of being whisked away to serve the sultan himself. Those like him had been highly sought after, he was told. It was guarantee of a life of ease and luxury, or so he was told.

    If only it had not all been alluring lies and fantasies of a child.

    I just need to stay alive for another day... Ismet heard his own pleas echoing inside his head even as he rose upon completion of his prayers. It had practically become routine for the young man as if it was just another function like breathing or eating. He just needed to draw breath for another day, just long enough to complete the task entrusted upon him. Who else could? Who else in the entire Empire possessed the same amount of experience as he had? The various blemishes and scars across portions of his body were testament in the most literal sense to the amount of trust being placed in him. As he raised himself up his slender frame formed into a delicate structure that could almost sway in the wind. It was only his weapons now sheathed to his side that proved any form of strength at all, tools to utilize if he found himself in a pinch.

    As he began walking his light brunette locks glistened under the sun now fully risen atop the Empire's towns and villages. Although he had departed mere hours ago under the cloak of darkness it now felt like an eternity ago. Yet, it was only now with the completion of the first prayers of the day that the more mundane activity of the townsfolk began to erupt around him. Unfortunately with crowds came peering eyes, prompting the young man to avert his own gaze. He did not want to draw attention today, for distractions were dangerous.

    "A Chimera, we've been tracking it for some time. It is unusual for them to even venture this close to human settlements. Fortunately this one is not fully matured." Chimera; a fearsome beast, and enough to send fear through Ismet's veins. The Vizier's words, and subsequent commands, could not have been clearer than day. Slay the beast, and ensure casualties are minimal. Seemed easy enough, except that few even survived encounters with the beasts. Today he could not become just another casualty. He had to survive and, by Allah, would do anything necessary to ensure it.

    As Ismet made his way through the village, possibly the last he would pass through at all, until the conclusion of his dangerous assignment, the dread only grew. Soon he would have to begin tracking the beast, using only the scant information he had been provided from the Vizier's crew, and so far physical clues were not promising and Javad had outright refused to accompany him on his next hunt - where was the sly Persian when he needed him? A part of him hoped that a brief respite in this village would give enough time for the damn man to change his mind, but as the minutes wore on it became more of a futile effort.

    Yet, while carefully masking all his fear and dread Ismet stepped into the marketplace. It was quickly filling up with the bustle of the day's patrons, most who had begun expertly haggling their way into the best deals. It was typical consumerism, but rather it only brought the hunter to another realization: they were outdoors and he still had no idea where the beast was. A lump soon formed in his throat as he told himself to brace himself for the worst possible outcome, one that he had been told precisely to avoid. Either he would triumph or there would be far more blood to account for. Hadn't enough blood been spilled in the war?

    No longer could Ismet mask his dread as he stood straight and took on a stoic stance. He waited, even as he browsed, for the inevitable. It was only then he spotted a threat of a different sort, just barely within eyeshot. A man, or rather jinn as indicated by the embers protruding from his palm, made his way towards one of the furthest market stalls and ignited it before disappearing once more in the blink of an eye. A created distraction for others, but the hunter's own cue to slip away unnoticed.

    It was upon reaching the outskirts of the village that Ismet gave himself a minute to collect his thoughts. "Lead up to a heist? Or maybe panic because of knowledge of an impeding doom?" He mused as he situated himself under an old tree weathered from the elements. He relayed each step in his head and attempted to devise a plan of action. If Javad was out then he would need to find different sort of allies, ones that had experience with the sort of threat he was dealing with. He was beginning to feel rather hopeless about the entire situation developing around him. If only there was an easy way out.
    Last edited by Nachthexe; 12-30-2023 at 03:25 AM.

  2. #2
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    Travel across the provinces was difficult, especially for a slave that was accustomed to exercising the will and whims of the sultan's primary consort, the esteemed sultana. Under her command, Kasim was trained in the dealings of the court. There, he was always clean and dressed in pleasantly soft and fragrant fabrics. Much expense and time was spent on training him to wield the sword, the bow, and to ride on horseback. To write and to speak in the language appropriate for dealings with the courtship, count money and understand the dealings of business. To exemplify the sultana's will and her wisdom with each step he made, even in the face of her rivals and the mighty and powerful sultan.

    Kasim could not help but grin at the thought of the sultan, who scowled at him anytime they were in a room together. Not many slaves could say that the sultan had much of a care for them, let alone say that he despised them and continued to live esteemed lives. Despite finding some small pride finding himself in such a situation, Kasim did not talk about it, as his mistress forbade it. Even if he could speak outwardly about the subject, he could not blame the sultan for distrusting a male servant that his wife regarded highly, trusted tremendously, spent a small fortune grooming and training... and refused to castrate despite her husband's requests. Although the practice of castrating slaves was forbidden and many slaves that were in the eyes court were whole, eunuchs were abundant in the global slave trade. Few would bat an eye at the prospect of a slave that was missing a few parts. Only by the sultana's protests and the guidance of the sultan's religious advisors was Kasim left whole, a fact he was gracious for each time he sat in a saddle.

    Before the light of daybreak approached, Kasim praised Allah for ensuring that his problems were so few and so temporary, and that the opportunities that were given to him outweighed the challenges. As he rose to his feet, he was mindful of the ease in which his body moved, unencumbered by damage that came with the heavy labor more common to those of his class. He muttered a wish for forgiveness as he made preparations to leave his camp, providing water for the two horses that were tied to a nearby tree and breaking down what he needed to carry with him. Noticing a slight fray in the string of his bow, rather, his owner's bow which he was entrusted with, Kasim unhooked the weapon from the saddle he was preparing for the larger mare and settled down on the floor. As his fingers worked to remove the string in preparation for a new one, he marveled at the events that lead him here, on the countryside, on a secretive mission to track down a particular monster hunter and deliver the command to return to the capital at once.

    It was a wonder he was even alive to carry out such a task, a fact he seldom forgotten but often kept to himself. Born into slavery of a land lord, as a child Kasim knew only of labor, acting as a farmhand. He was housed and fed, as was dictated by the empires laws, but his care had basically ended there. He knew nothing, learned nothing, and earned nothing. Only now, as an adult, he understood that he was simply a part of that particular land lord's estate, whose only purpose was to work the land until he grew old and died, or worse, set free to fend for himself. So, he was fortunate that at a young age, he grew deathly ill, sowing the seeds of social mobility. He was so ill that the lord could not afford his care, which he was obligated to provide by the laws of the land, and sought financial assistance from his elites. By some mercy, news of this request reached the early sultana's ears, and she chose to make the loan herself. Her demand for repayment was simple enough- upon reaching the ideal age, ownership of the slave that she paid to cure would transfer to her.

    Fourteen. Fourteen was apparently the ideal age. Kasim remembered being whisked away from his old life shortly after he reached that age. He remembered his mother blowing kisses to him fervently as the wagon rolled away from the farm, making dua loudly even after she had become but a speck of dust in the distance. It was on this first voyage that Kasim saw the world for the first time, the neighboring villages and roads, the rivers that flowed between them. It was then that he first witnessed combat, when his guardians leaped to fend off an overgrown crocodile, some kind of monster that had ventured too close to the road. At the end, they finally arrived at the the capital, where he was delivered to his new mistress. She was much younger and thinner back then, but no less resolute and resilient for it. In fact, age only seemed to make her bolder and more demanding. It was clear to Kasim that his loyalty to such a woman would be rewarded. Over his years of service to the sultana and witnessing her plans carried out despite the obstacles that presented themselves, Kasim only held to that belief even more vehemently.

    Even before meeting her he was witness to her wisdom and silent cunning, which Kasim acknowledged as he grew into adulthood. The care of his previous master's slaves had grown exceptionally more exemplary and mindful than before the sultana's claim to Kasim's future. It would have been troublesome for the sultana's new slave to speak ill of the lord and bring to light areas in which he may not have truthfully upheld the laws regarding human property. Kasim often wondered if this change had since reverted after his departure, but any time he voiced such concern to the sultana she would smirk and tell him he need not worry. She would say it so coolly and nonchalantly that it gave the sense that the statement was a fact, as simple as the sky being blue or fire was hot, and so Kasim believed it. Just as he believed in her promise that he would one day be free, when the time was right, and gifted with the ownership of land as a free man. He would then decide his own destiny and would be allowed to pursue a wife who might bless him with children, free from bondage, under his name.

    With these events heavy on his mind upon being summoned to court, Kasim was quick to oblige to the sultan's and his wife's commands to track down a man named Ismet. Well trained to conceal his thoughts, he hid his skepticism of the idea, fearing that it came from the sultan as a plan to eliminate him from the court's presence. Why would they send him on a courier mission, away from his other important duties? However, the command came directly from the sultana's mouth, and she nodded at him knowingly, instilling all of the trust he needed to carry out the task without question.

    Kasim flicked at the taut, fresh bowstring upon completing his maintenance of the weapon. It responded with a satisfying twang as his tanned fingers passed by it. He flexed the bow a few times before hanging it back on the saddle and readying the horses. It was time to head to the next town, where he was expecting to find Ismet the monster hunter.

    The bustle of the village had quickly developed upon Kasim's arrival. He carefully guided the horses through the streets, riding atop one of them as he made his way. Near the town's entrance he found a stable, where he reluctantly agreed to the going rate to stable the horses and store his excess belongings while he continued his venture on foot. With his sword concealed at his hip and his bow and quiver at his back, the young man pressed on through the town's streets.

    As he wandered, he could feel a familiar humming in his jaw, as if his teeth were vibrating. The sensation was mildly nauseating, and made his mouth water like he was on the verge of vomiting. Dark brown eyes flicked left and right as he tried to find the source of any danger or sorcery, but none were immediately apparent. There was magic being used here, without a doubt, but not in broad daylight.

    Kasim stopped by bakery. Upon peering over the crowd in front of it and the frame of a broad, outward facing window, Kasim observed a man and a woman quickly toiling over their stone ovens, sweating profusely as they carried the warms breads to the patrons outside. He noticed a basket hanging just outside the window, which only carried a few stale loaves, and surmised they were intended to be free for those in need. Taxes were collected recently, as many business owners were quick to remind everyone, which made giving difficult. "Make sure this stays full today," he said, locking eyes with the male baker before nodding towards the basket. He produced a small purse from his pocket, a different one than the one he used to pay the stable owner his initial payment, and handed the baker silver coins worth several baskets full of bread before taking one of the stale loaves for himself.

    The buzzing sensation in his teeth returned as Kasim pressed on. The tail of the white cloth wrapped over his head gently swayed as he observed the persons around him, hoping to find the thin and scarred monster hunter among the throng. He thought to ask a nearby inn if they had housed someone by their name, or anyone who said they were in service to the sultan, but quickly thought better of it. More than likely, the hunter's work, like Kasim's, was meant to be carried out in secret. As he neared the busier parts of the marketplace, he caught a glimpse of the person he thought he was looking for. Slender, armed, with dark brown hair. "Maybe..." he mused, before he felt his bones buzz once again, this time more prominently. His eyes immediately jumped to the flicker of flames that leapt towards a nearby stall. The wood took to flame in an instant, quickly growing as shouts began to ring across the marketplace. Before Kasim could act himself, he noticed the subject of his earlier attention began to move almost vanishing completely from view. Kasim pursued.

    It took time to weave himself through the waves of people, but Kasim eventually made it to a less busy part of town and hurried after the man he suspected was Ismet. It was only once he was outside of the village that he found him beneath a weathered tree, alone. Kasim secured his bow over his shoulder as he marched towards the tree, greeting the man with a wish of peace. "Are you Ismet?"

    Upon establishing that he had, in fact, found Ismet, Kasim looked around to ensure that they were alone. Free from onlookers and the ringing of nearby magic, he felt safe enough to continue his duty without need for delay or frivolous introduction. "I have a command for you to return to the capital at once. The sultan requests your presence and has made it clear that it is of great urgency." He produced a sealed letter from the bag on his hip, in case Ismet would rather read the command than hear it from him. "My name is Kasim and I will be your escort back to the capital."

  3. #3
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    Experience had long taught Ismet that some battles were simply not worth fighting. With the ignited market stall came panic, chaos, and the inevitable manhunt that would soon follow. If caught in the midst of the activity, well, he did not want to imagine the consequences. How could he even prove his innocence besides the complete inability to conjure flame? That, at least was how the world knew he was not a jinn, but rather a man.

    Although he knew he possessed some ability to intervene, Ismet simply continued with his departure without looking back at all. In the distance he noted civilians, men and women alike, rushing over with buckets of water to douse the flames that now engulfed the entire market stall. A part of him was relieved. Allah was looking out for him today, for the attack provided the perfect cover for him to slip out unnoticed. That was what he needed today in his pursuit, particularly with how finicky, and dangerous, beasts could be. Additionally, he knew the commands well. He was to proceed quietly and discreetly as to not incite panic in the masses upon discovery of a beast nearing their settlements. That single protocol was of utmost importance; did the people need more fear as long as the Safavids also lingered so close to their borders?

    It was once seated that Ismet allowed himself a moment of ease. It was also an opportunity to think and devise his next move - if he was to find and slay the beast then he would always have to remain one step ahead. He would have to slip in, unnoticed and be the first to strike. Unfortunately, it was not so easy as he recalled the strenuous hike he would have to endure just to reach its lair. Trek by horseback had also been ruled out as he knew it would be nearly impossible for the poor animals to successfully traverse the steep terrain. It had left him no choice but to travel on foot. He'd be fine. He always was. The sultan himself would see to it.

    Without Javad, or even a single person in sight, Ismet knew that this was a journey that he would have to take alone. Yet, he displayed a sort of confidence that only those as seasoned as he was could ever afford. There were reasons why the sultan refrained from sending him directly to the frontlines and with each assignment he was given it made more sense. A few strategically placed spells and swings of his sword then the monster would be downed, right?

    Except it was never that easy.

    Ismet knew the risks and he also knew the might of the creature he was about to confront. His confidence for finding the beast remained, but that for actually confronting it continued to wear thin. The same dread that had floated over him back in the village began to return, except that this time it seemed to take a physical form as a single figure came into sight. The figure appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, with urgent commands for a man named Ismet.

    It took Ismet a second to register that the man was directly addressing him. Him, the man who had explicitly been commanded to carry out a special task. Whatever had prompted the sultan to change his mind must have been of an even more serious nature, or still worse yet, he was now in trouble. Had news already reached the capital about the chaos in the village? No, no. This was definitely something of a significantly different nature that was prompting the sultan to prioritize other emergencies over that of a dangerous and powerful beast.

    "I have an assignment directly from the sultan himself so this better be important." Ismet began as he yanked the letter from the other man's hands. He tore the seal and began to skim the letters he had learned to recognize from childhood. The sultan had indeed summoned him back to the capital, but why? Were there not villages and civilians in need of protecting? Yet, there was no arguing with the imperial seal that emblazoned the contents of the letter almost like a massive sore. He sighed and turned towards the man who had introduced himself as Kasim, likely one of the sultan's slaves.

    "I suppose I have no choice in the matter." Ismet conceded with a nod as he ushered for the other man to take initiative in escorting them back. On foot the journey would take at least a few more days, but with some mode of transportation it would become significantly quicker. He only hoped and prayed that this man had not arrived in exactly the same manner that he had.

  4. #4
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    As the letter quickly slipped out from Kasim's fingers, a smile formed around his lips. It was a longstanding habit he had anytime he was displeased, one that he had not bothered to change. He disliked this so-called monster hunter's demeanor, especially towards someone he had just met, and began to dread the journey ahead. Kasim hoped that he was being too quick to judge and would be able to carry out his assignment without any real issues. Ismet's immediate acceptance of the letter's contents suggested that just might be the case.

    "Excellent," Kasim responded ingratiatingly. "I have two horses waiting for us in the local stable. They took to the path between here and the capital very well and they are well-rested. More importantly eager to return home, so they'll move fast. If there are no delays, we could arrive by nightfall tomorrow." Promptly, he began leading the way back back into town in the direction of the aforementioned stable.

    The smell of smoke and charcoal filled their nostrils as they passed through the market square. Kasim took a moment to assess the damage of the morning's earlier events as he and Ismet walked by. The stall that was targeted was pretty much destroyed, the left half of it blackened to the color of charcoal. What was left of it, anyway. During the blaze, the legs on that side of the stall crumpled and gave way, felling the table and most of the contents that were laid out upon it. Clearly, the townspeople and nearby guards managed to put out the blaze on their own, but there would certainly be a disruption in commerce that day while the mess was cleaned up and the incident was investigated.

    Kasim suddenly halted at the familiar vibration of his mandible, the tell of the presence of strong magic. His ears rang with the gentle fly-like buzzing as he felt the pulsating vibrations. The disruption only stopped when the sound of a distant commotion and uproar began to to fill the streets ahead. Screams, shouts, and finally the desperate neighing and grunting of horses and camels. An involuntary gasp filled Kasim's lungs as it hissed through his lips. "The horses," he said to Ismet, before hurrying forward in the direction they had been traveling.

    A swarm of people began to rush into the square from the road that lead to the stables. They shouted warnings of a monster in chant-like unison. Kasim pressed passed as best as he could as countless bodies pushed against him. It felt like a tidal wave of silks and cottons rushed passed him as the fleeing crowd charged its way through, bumping into him unapologetically. An older, grey man grabbed his arm. "You don't want to go that way. Janivar, janivar!"

    Kasim simply nodded in acknowledgement as he moved the man's weak grip off of his arm, and continued to press passed. He cursed the town's configuration and his inability to soar over the throng, and the more frustrated he became the more the crowd seemed to lessen. Eventually he made it through the other side, and he beelined towards the stable. His arms twisted behind him while he ran and double checked to make sure he had not lost any of his weapons in the chaos.

    Pure horror awaited them at the stable. One of the walls had been caved inward, a large hole pulverized through the mud and stone. Gore flowed around the felled stone like a river, staining the nearby piles of hay as they eagerly soaked up the crimson liquid. Kasim curled his nose at the smell of partially-digested grasses, presumably exposed by the events inside the small building. Miraculously, the stable-owner was still nearby, cursing away at something inside of the stable. Occasionally, he paused and reached his hands to the sky, fully displaying his angered face, as round and as red as a tomato. The stable owner offered some prayer and begged for forgiveness, then returned to directly cursing at the source of his ire.

    Kasim's dark eyes, calm and watchful, steadily gazed through the caved in wall. It was difficult to see anything, but what he heard was clear. The tearing of flesh, the splash of viscera, and a deep growl that echoed from within the building. Eventually, he saw the whip of a strange, scaled tail. As he cautiously rounded the outside perimeter of the fenced in building, he could see more animalistic features, curiously conjoined to the same body. Large black wings, folded atop a massive beast-like body. The thing was easily larger than any of the horses were. He cautioned himself from moving any closer, but quietly, reached for his bow. He looked to Ismet. "The reason you were here, I presume?"

  5. #5
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    Although Ismet was not a political man - he left such matters to the court - he was aware of some of the happenings around the empire. The war with the Safavids to the East in particular was difficult to avoid. Was the Sultan's summoning of him back to the capital related to war matters? Had the stubborn man finally decided to send him to the frontlines, despite rather different uses for his skillset? War was an affair that the man admittedly had little experience with himself, but could it really be any different from slaying the dangerous monsters he confronted regularly? His younger self would have trembled but today he simply felt numb, as if little could phase him at all. He had been hardened and now he had this unusual companion to keep him alert to the sights around him.

    The man was an unusual companion that Ismet eyed as the next set of instructions were conveyed. Horses. A ride to the capital. Certainly it beat hiking, which would potentially take weeks. Evidently, the Sultan did not have weeks with whichever matter most immediately concerned him. It remained much more pressing than the affair in the marketplace that was now being swiftly dealt with - at the very least someone would be out of business today.

    Business seemed to be the least of the worries amidst the chaos today as crowds of a different sort began to gather. Commotion and uproar - panic and fear. It washed over the crowds rather quickly as the source of the disturbance became present. The stable itself was barely left standing upright as something far more bestial than a horse made its appearance. The creature's features were ones that Ismet recognized almost immediately.

    "Follow close to me. You may startle it otherwise." Ismet uttered towards Kasim as he crept behind one of the stable's still intact walls. He practically hugged the wooden walls as he faltered closer to the creature's position - at least the growing crowds were beginning to serve as a welcomed distraction for him to make his way to an appropriate vantage point. He knew nothing of Kasim's own experience with such beasts, he realized. He only hoped that the man would not serve as an extra provocation for the creature. Caution was crucial today if he was to even get within the vicinity of it.

    Ismet watched and observed, sensing that the creature was now seeking easy prey itself. Perhaps it was hungry or the presence of civilization had startled it. Either way, it had now officially marked itself for death. He was reminded of his own mission: remove all threats and protect the citizens of the Empire.

    O Allah protect me from my front, behind me, from my right and my left, and from above me, and I seek refuge in Your Magnificence from being taken unaware from beneath me.

    Ismet kept his gaze on the creature before drawing his sword. Now feeling confident, he uttered a single prayer of protection before leaving the safety of his cover. He knelt down and felt the trampled soil within his free hand. Blood, bile, and all other manner of unknown fluids had leaked into the natural coating. Yet, he also felt its power. Earth and dust: a component that made up every human being, one that he felt instantly attuned to in ways that no other species could. He felt its energy begin to surge through his veins as he rose and directed a single stunning spell towards the beast in front of him. Now was the time to strike, before it gained any recollection of the events unfolding before it.

    Now is the time to use that bow of yours!

    Ismet gestured towards Kasim as if to tell him to strike the now stunned creature. It was a weaker stunning spell, for he did not dare channel all his energy into one single incantation just yet. Instead he lunged towards the beast and began to slash at it with his sword.

  6. #6
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    Kasim was more than happy to keep his distance and allow the expert to approach the unsuspecting beast inside of the stable. Being no stranger to battle, his movements were calm and controlled as he readied his bow, silently nocking an arrow. His breathing remained steady. Despite his apparent calmness, he knew better than to underestimate the monsters of the land and had the humility to follow the commands of those who had a better understanding of the nuances of battle with such beings. His index finger gently brushed the fletching of the arrow he had selected, slowly, as if to count each and every fiber contained in the white feathers.

    The archer's muscles tensed as his senses buzzed with the charge-up of magic, which he immediately witnessed when Ismet cast his spell. It struck the beast, shoving it forward slightly. The monster was sluggish, hardly reacting to the strike. Had it thought so little of it that it simply shrugged off the attack? Kasim cast that idea aside upon realizing a change in the monster's behavior. It hardly reacted to the strike, but it had also paused its feasting. It leaned towards one of its front legs awkwardly, indisposed by the strike. Kasim quickly realized the nature of Ismet's spell. It was all but confirmed when Ismet gestured in his direction, motioning to strike.

    Kasim raised his bow, aiming carefully as to avoid any chance of striking the ally between him and the beast. From his location behind the creature, he doubted he could land an arrow anywhere lethal. Until something changed, he would leave that to Ismet, who was now only a sword's length away from the threat. Instead, Kasim aimed towards the tendons on one of the monster's back legs. He drew a long breath and released it, along with the arrow. His ears rang with the sound of the arrow shaft splitting in two, breaking apart as the arrowhead lodged itself into the target. Should the battle continue, which Kasim hoped it would not, the damage to the monster's back leg would hopefully reduce its mobility and increase the humans' chances of survival.

    After readying another arrow, Kasim surveyed the creature once more. It had taken considerable damage from Ismet's strikes. Additionally, its hind leg had given out thanks to the arrowhead lodged into the tendon connecting its foot with the calf muscle. Its gnarled, matted, white fur had become soaked in blood where it had been struck. However, Ismet's stunning spell was beginning to wear off. The chimera suddenly straightened its front legs, arching its back, and loosed a terrifying howl towards the ceiling of the stable. The shriek was ear-piercingly loud and high pitched, like the scream of a mountain lion, but louder by tenfold. The beast whipped out its scaled tail before aggressively turning around to face them, destroying more of the wooden and clay-formed structures around it.

    Kasim curled his lip at the chimera's ugly visage, which was grotesquely decorated in the blood and viscera from the meal it had been busy feasting on. Its large head was shaped like that of a lion, but the fur was patchy and failed to cover most of the monster's snout. A forked, serpentine tongue flicked out from between the long fangs on both sides of its maw. Before Kasim could loose another arrow, the monster swung one of its front legs out towards Ismet. Then, with a heavy downward stroke of its oily black wings, it leapt out of the stable and onto the ground outside, landing so heavily that shockwaves shook the earth with a tremor.

    Stumbling as he tried to regain his footing, Kasim's eyes darted around in a vain search for Ismet's whereabouts. He was not sure if the monster managed to strike the monster hunter, and now it had positioned its massive body between them. Dust had filled the air when the monster landed and the intimidating flaps of its wings only kicked up more. Furthermore, its massive frame also obstructed Kasim's view. Regardless, Kasim whispered a prayer as he raised his bow. The chimera seemed to reciprocate as it leaned forward on its front legs, baring its fangs as it readied a charge. Just before it could lunge, Kasim loosed his arrow and struck one of the beast's blood-red eyes.

    I probably won't be lucky enough to land a third good shot, Kasim thought, but he began to ready a third arrow regardless. He did not bother reaching for his sword. If the monster was close enough for him to use it, then Kasim was as good as dead anyway. His only hope was that he bought enough time so that if the monster hunter was still alive, somewhere behind the winged creature or hidden in the dust cloud, he could finish the job he was tasked with.

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    The beast, although stunned and disoriented, went into an intoxicated fury as the pair began attacking. It struggled, desperately, as more and more slashes and wounds appeared on its body. I was before long that trails of blood began to leave its marks within the stables, or rather what was left of the stables.

    With only a few swift swoops of its tail and wings, the stables became little more than a pile of rubble. Ismet panicked as he found the building collapsing in his vicinity. He dashed, but only managed to make it a few feet before stumbling to the ground. He rolled over to his side and only narrowly escaped the debris that had threatened to crush him.

    With him out of sight, and possibly out of mind, the creature remained distracted by its other adversary. Kasim continued lodging arrows into the creature, one of which struck directly into the beast's eye. Excellent. Cripple it. Put it at a disadvantage. Ismet thought with a smile as he waited the perfect opening for his next strike.

    The beast shrieked as its eye dislodged from its socket, leaving a pocket of blood in its wake. It dripped and disturbed the already bloodied ground which within moments had become a battlefield. Almost nothing was spared, including Ismet's clothing. What had once been lucid was now dulled with blood and dust, serving as a reminder of the nature of his role. It became more blatant than ever as the beast's struggle with Kasim in particular continued. He was outside the beast's own line of sight now, he realized. He saw the opening that he had been awaiting.

    Ismet stumbled to his feet and began to dash towards the creature. While out of sight he lunged forward and positioned himself beneath the creature. Before the creature even had an opportunity to react to his immediate presence, he began to slice. He kept his sword positioned as if he was a sacrificing a poor innocent lamb for Eid. Only, this was no sacrifice. It was vengeance. He penetrated directly into the creature's belly, flinching as it produced a piercing shriek. His own position was now compromised, more blood began to draw from the creature, and even in its weakened state it eyed the two men with rage.

    "Leave these villages alone!" Ismet screamed as he mustered up all the energy he could. His balanced his tired body and shot a propulsion spell, unquestionably intended for smaller targets, towards the creature. Even in all its might it lost balance and went crashing to the ground with a massive thud. Now with various wounds, bloodied and battered, across its body the creature's response was more sluggish. The hunter eyed his companion and nodded. "Now is our chance. Care to do the honours?" He cried out, hinting that the fight had quite literally been knocked out of the creature. The next few seconds were crucial and the hunter knew it all too well.

  8. #8
    The Moonlight Knight
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    A relieved sigh rushed from between Kasim's lips as the beast was pushed to the ground. With a newfound ease, he lowered his bow, slowly releasing the tension he had on the bowstring. During the chaos, Kasim had lost sight of the monster hunter hidden in the dust and rubble. Only in the final moments of the fight did he catch the glimpse of a sword and felt the shockwave of energy that finally felled the chimera. Seeing that the monster no longer fought back, sluggish in lethargic from its wounds, Kasim descended from his vantage point to join Ismet.

    He reeled slightly when Ismet offered him the honor of finishing off the beast, flinching suddenly. "May Allah bless you, for honoring me with such an offer. But I would not take the honor from you. I am but a slave, unworthy of such a kill." He thought to leave it at that, but to his surprise, Ismet insisted. The monster also began to stir, and to further the discussion any longer would be dangerous. Kasim finally nodded, mouthing his thanks and a wish for their God to grant his companion goodness. Gently, and perhaps with a surprising confidence, he unsheathed his sword as he approached the monster from behind its head. His gaze tracked the nape of its thick neck, before gently scanning for the beast's jugular. After whispering gently to himself, Kasim raised his sword. "Bismillah," he announced, before descending the blade, relieving the create of its lion-like head.

    Hours had passed as the commotion died down. After their battle, Kasim and Ismet were given the opportunity to purify themselves and change into unsoiled clothes, with the help of a generous few villagers who offered their facilities and fresh clothing to replace what had been soiled for the sake of their protection. Despite the generosity of some of the villagers, many of the others, who had witnessed the battle at the stables, kept their distance. They eyes the two travelers with caution, doing their best not to draw attention to themselves while they stared. While performing ablution in preparation for the Dhuhr prayer, Kasim reflected and understood their caution. Both he and Ismet were strangers to this village, and their arrival had coincided with the sudden intrusion of a dangerous monster. Worldly experiences trained the masses to question the possibility of coincidence, so their natural tendency was to assume a connection between all events. In this case, a connection between the monster's appearance and the warriors who felled it.

    Among other affairs that needed addressed was the need for transportation. The horses that Kasim had brought were killed during the chimera's massacre. In fact, all of the horses and mules in that stable had been killed or maimed to the point they would not be suitable for travel. The owner of the stable had his hands full now, no doubt seeking ways to recoup the loss of his stable and his clients' mounts. He would be of no help. Perhaps they could purchase new horses at the next town over, which will be a long journey on foot.

    The slave cast aside his thoughts momentarily as he finished his ablution, shaking the excess water from his hands. At the very least, he and his travel companion could find the comfort of one prayer at the local mosque before beginning their trek. Despite the morning's events, the sun still traveled across the skies above them. It would still pass through the sky's meridian, as it had been willed to do during the day time. The call to prayer would still echo through the town, over the busy market streets and over the rubble of the dismantled stable, a constant that would continue until the end of days.

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