Path of the Dreamwalker
Act 5 – Outmatched
"Mareina, do you hear that...?" Ezreal glanced behind him, he could sense that there were others closing in. Mareina looked around, "Huh? No... what do you hear?" A shuriken shrieked through the air and Ezreal jumped into her, knocking her down into the grass. "Damn!" He cursed. Several assassins walked out of the brush, each covered in black garb. Assassins, huh? They must be after Mareina. Hmph, there are too many...
He looked for an escape route, but it would be difficult to run away from these cold-blooded killers. They'll chase us no matter how long we run, these dogs have nothing else to live for. There was no choice – Ezreal called forth his magic bow and stood up. "Don't move, Mareina. I'll take care of these guys," He put on a brave face, but he doubted his ability to fight so many enemies at once.
One of the assassins laughed mockingly, "Heh, you really think you can challenge us, kid?" The leader glared at his apprentice. "Waste no time with words. We came here on a mission," he said. "Kill the man, capture the woman. She could prove useful to us in the future."
"But Sir, the boss said--" one of the underlings tried to speak, but was met with a swift punch to the face. "I am your leader. You take orders from me and me alone. Now, ATTACK!"
The leader crossed his arms while he watched his four apprentices surround Ezreal. Mareina's head was spinning, she wanted to help but she was unarmed. Damn it, anything I do will hinder Ezreal. If only I had a weapon!
The four assassins circled Ezreal, then struck out all at once. He couldn't afford to move too far away from Mareina, so he stood his ground and fought. He sustained heavy injuries to his arms and sides, but managed to hit one of the assassins with a white-hot arrow through the heart, knocking him dead.
Their leader is just watching? I hate being toyed with... Ezreal watched the three other assassins – there was no way he'd be able to defeat them, he was already losing too much blood. Mareina leapt to her feet, "Stop it! Leave him alone. If it's me you want, just take me! Stop being cowards... you can't even fight him one-on-one!"
One of the assassins tried to punch her, but Ezreal protected her, releasing a wave of golden energy from his bow. "Stupid bitch," the female assassin spat. "And you, giving up your life for her? What an idiot. You're already bleeding a lot yet you stand there with that confident spark in your eye."
Ezreal smirked, he still had a few tricks up his sleeve. I won't go down without a fight. There are only three of them left, plus the leader. Why aren't they attacking...?
"Eldan, Gaffor, let's give this man an honorable death, I commend his spirit. Reida, you can be his opponent. I expect you to avenge Barlo's death – do not disappoint me."
Eldan and Gaffor obeyed their leader without a word. "You two report to Maveron. Tell him we'll bring the girl soon, but we expect payment in full upon our return. Otherwise, there will be... problems." The assassins nodded, "Right away Master Velq!" Then, they were gone.
Reida was infuriated, "You think this scum deserves an honorable death after--" Ezreal used this opportunity to his advantage and teleported behind her to deliver a swift arrow-shot to her back. She fell to her knees and became even more angry. "Why you--!!"
"Haha, cocky BITCH! Kick her ass, Ezreal!" Mareina laughed. Velq shook his head, "Oh dear, it looks like Reida's getting very upset. I certainly hope this doesn't get out of hand..." Ezreal took a step back, his eyes widening when he saw a bright red aura radiating from Reida's body.
Mareina isn't taking this seriously at all. What the hell is up with this woman? Is she some sort of demon...? Her essence is becoming unstable and corrupt. Damn it, I can't let her finish gathering her strength! Ezreal raised his bow, channeling all his energy into one massive attack. Hopefully the leader won't interfere, but he seems confident in her abilities...
...He's making a mistake underestimating me, though. I won't die here, I still have too much to do! "Heh... here goes!" Ezreal cried, releasing a gigantic wave of golden energy-missiles at Reida. Though she was fatally wounded from the attack, somehow the red-light continued gathering and gradually healed her wounds. "THAT'S ALL YOU GOT?!" She screeched, her voice maniacal and distorted.
"Remember Reida, we need the girl alive." Velq said, shaking his head. "Don't get carried away now. I know how you love bloodshed, but this time you'll have to hold back."
What the hell...? Mareina and Ezreal were thinking the same think as they watched Reida – she looked human, but her eyes were dripping with blood. The red aura around her was like a growing flame that seared the ground underneath her. There's still more power inside of her, Ezreal narrowed his eyes. But she can't control it all... she's unstable.
I used the last of my energy in that last attack... gotta think fast, Ezreal. "HEY BITCH! LEAVE HIM ALONE!" Mareina cried, throwing a rock at Reida's head. Reida turned, snarling. "...Father, I will tear this woman's heart from her chest." Her voice was freakishly calm. "Reida dear, you can't do that--"
Reida moved with such speed that none of them could react fast enough – she lashed out with her jagged dagger, eager to fulfill her promise. "Your life means NOTHING TO ME!" she screamed. Everything seemed to move in slow motion as Ezreal watched, unable to match the woman's speed. Mareina...! Damn it, I'm not fast enough. She's--!
Mareina held her ground, even in the face of death. "Not scared of you, piece of sh--" Just as she was speaking her supposed final words, a scintillating green light blinded them all. A blast of holy energy struck Reida, throwing her back with an amazing force and instantly dispelling her demonic aura.
"What?! That light, it's--!" Velq seemed alarmed. "Hmph... to think you'd have the help of the Holy Guard. Looks like we're outmatched, for now..." He picked up Reida's unconscious body and turned towards them for a moment. "We'll meet again, children." Then he fled, leaving no trail behind.
Mareina fell to her knees and exhaled deeply. "Holy hell, what happened?! I thought I was... dead... ohhh man I just saw my whole pitiful life flash before my eyes..." Ezreal collapsed on the ground, now that the threat was gone. He quieted his winces of pain and held his wounds – they weren't fatal, but it would take him a while to recover.
"E-Ezreal..." Mareina crawled over to him and touched his side; immediately her hand was warm with his blood. "Oh my god!" She panicked. I don't know basic First Aid, what do I do? I don't have any band-aids. Ezreal's vision was fuzzy, but he smiled at Mareina and gave a thumbs up. "We... made it... heh heh..."
The green light returned once again, except this time it was soft and warm. It surrounded Ezreal and healed his wounds instantly, and then it disappeared as quickly as it came. Mareina looked around. "Is somebody there?! Come out, I wanna thank you for helping us!" No answer came.
Ezreal sighed, "Act of charity, eh? Guess I don't mind aimless acts of kindness." He closed his eyes – there were a few things bothering him. Those assassins were sent from the slave-drivers who kept Mareina, there's no doubt about that... but why did their leader want to report to Vandice's chancellor...?
That's no good. Sounds like a conspiracy I definitely don't want to get any more caught up in than I already am. Ezreal sat up, startling Mareina. "H-hey, are you sure you're okay to move...?" He grinned, "Better than ever; we should get going. This country is getting more and more uncomfortable by the second."
Right, no one in Vandice is to be trusted. Now that we've garnered some attention, things are going to get interesting. "At least I won't be bored," Ezreal muttered. "Huh?" Mareina didn't hear him. "Nothing." He stood up and stretched, then offered the girl a hand and she stood.
"We lost half of our supplies when the assassins attacked," Mareina pointed out Ezreal's bag that had been shredded and its contents ruined. "It's just my share though, and I can survive off of the land if I need to." He reassured her, but she was still worried. "I'll share mine with you." She spoke up after they continued their journey towards Duundra.
Ezreal watched her in the side of his eye. "That's okay. You don't have t--" Mareina stepped in front of him and put her hands on her hips, glaring. "Hey, you saved my butt back there. That was..." She blushed slightly and looked away shyly. "Really heroic stuff. You were so cool... I didn't know you could fight like that. But umm..." Her eyes wandered back to him, full of gratitude. "Thanks for protecting me, Ezreal. And... sorry I couldn't help you."
She's thanking me...? Ezreal was flattered – he wasn't used to being thanked so sincerely, but he had no idea how to respond. Instead, he laughed, "Your petty insults were a great distraction. Who would have thought such childish taunts would get her attention? Haha, I think you saved my bacon!" Mareina scratched her head, she couldn't tell if he was being serious or not.
"Well, whatever. I'm in your debt, Ezreal." Mareina bowed slightly and smiled at him, then returned to his side. Something stirred within them both, but neither was sure exactly what it was and decided to ignore it. "Tomorrow we'll reach the first of three villages on our way to Duundra: Karabi."