Though the group planned to fight their way through, they didn’t exactly expect to run into a group of assassins standing out in the open. Though it would be convenient, assassins who acted in that manner would end up dead sooner rather than later.
The night before they were expecting to reach the edge of the forest, Barrett found himself woken up by being stepped on. He sat up immediately, and heard the sound of movements around him. He thought he saw Nilima’s form rushing off into the darkness.
Lamont had just created a barrier protecting himself, and Barrett heard something impacting them. They held solid, though, and Barrett knew it would be hard to break them if Lamont concentrated solely on his barrier. After all, it took him several hits to break.
What were Master Hykel’s tips on fighting in the dark? Oh right- move. Barrett rolled away from where he had been. He heard a whistling sound as he did so, indicating something had narrowly missed him… though he couldn’t be sure if that was because of his old location or his new.
The canvas of the forest filtered out most of the light that would reach the forest floor, especially at nighttime. Without light, fighting relied on other senses.
Unfortunately, berserk energy wasn’t suited for searching for enemies. Barrett could only try to listen for movements made by enemies. He couldn’t tell what direction they were in… but Barrett picked out a few trees he thought one opponent should be hiding near.
He crossed his arms in front of him and kept on his toes… but the assassins were either lucky- which was unlikely- or had a better way to see in the dark. Barrett felt a pinprick in his chest. He reached carefully to feel a long needle. It had no chance of doing any real harm- it had barely penetrated through his skin and was nowhere deep enough to damage an organ. Unfortunately, the needle itself wasn’t the danger.
Barrett staggered around before falling to a knee. He leaned forward and propped himself up with one hand, panting.
Then another needle struck him… and Barrett used his position to sprint toward where he thought it had come from. He hadn’t been sure with the first needle, but the second he was more ready for.
It only took him a second to reach the tree, but he saw a figure darting off. However, because they were moving and away from the tree, he was able to chase after them and tackle them to the ground.
First Barrett got a grip on their wrists and used his weight to hold them down. He felt lean muscle, but the body shape and size was all wrong to be anyone from his group. With his other arm he reached around their neck, cutting off the flow of blood. His opponent struggled and twisted, but couldn’t do anything. Even with just one of his hands holding both wrists they couldn’t get away from Barrett. Just in case, he squeezed harder and heard a snapping sound as berserk energy and muscle crushed their wrists. Soon they stopped struggling as they passed out from the blood loss. It would have been faster to kill them… but having one alive might be useful.
Barrett looked back toward the camp. It was unfortunate for Lamont that his magic glowed, but at least it let Barrett find him. He could see Lamont was somewhat shaky, but he didn’t see any impacts on his defensive barrier.
Barrett took a circuitous route around the camp before entering back in. He could see Reina and Shanta standing near Lamong, but he didn’t hear any more sounds of battle. “I got one… how about you guys?”
“One also,’ Shanta nodded, barely visible in the light.
“I got two,” Reina answered.
“I got three!”Nilima’s voice called out as she approached, “That should be all of them. Can we get some light?”
Lamont turned, “Password?”
Everyone gave their answer before he lowered his shield. After all, we’d all been out of sight in the dark. After he lowered his shield, he took a few moments to catch his breath before lighting a torch.
Shanta immediately started looking people over, “Any wounds? Those needles were poisoned.”
“None here.” Lamont said.
“I got a scratch…” Nilima said cautiously.
Shanta looked over the wound, “Take this. Lucky thing they carry the antidote on them and I can recognize which is which. They have several types of poison. Reina?”
“Barrett?” She looked at him. “You just left the needles in?” She moved forward, “They’re not deep at least.” She nudged the bandages away from the wounds and frowned.
“What, is it that bad?”
“Oh, no it’s fine. Take this… and this.” Shanta shook her head, “I mean, you probably should be collapsing if you were someone else, but from you I’d expect this. I was just thinking you have… fewer scars than I thought you would.”
Barrett shrugged, “Fewer than what? An entire mural carved into me? Anyway, I knocked one of them out… maybe we can interrogate them?” The body wasn’t far away, and was still unconscious. “Does anyone know how to interrogate, anyway?”
Shanta shrugged, “Eh… I don’t have anything for that with me. We can try…” Shanta started with tying them up, then used something to wake them up. “Tell us what group you’re with.”
“Pfeh! I won’t talk.”
“That’s fine.” Shanta nodded and said calmly. She held up a vial of their poison, and dipped the tip of one of their own throwing needles into it, before piercing it into his shoulder.
“That… won’t kill me!”
Shanta rolled her eyes, “Of course it won’t.”
The assassin started sweating and gritting their teeth, clearly trying to withstand the pain. “I… won’t… talk.”
Shanta shook her head, “Sure you will. Did you know, if you combine this heartripper extract with this golden asp venom… the effects counteract each other?” She paused for a few moments, before stabbing the needle into his other shoulder. “Hurts like hell though.”
The assassin was trembling. “Damn… damn you! The Black Adders will see you dead!”
“Oh, the Black Adders, is it? What a… normal name.”
The assassin realized he had given himself away, and then his eyes gained a moment of clarity… before glossing over completely.
“Tch.” Shanta held a finger to his jugular, then moved her hand around his head, “He used inner energy to cut off circulation to his brain. He’s not well trained, or he would have started with that. All of them seem like amateurs.” Shanta turned toward Barrett, “How are you feeling, by the way? It is very painful, even with the antidote.”
Barrett shook his head, “This isn’t even in the top ten. I can handle it.” Underneath his bandages, his expression did show pain, but he could tolerate it. Even with that qualifier… the top ten most painful experiences he’d had was mostly filled with destructions for advancing in the Immortal Berserker Style. As the pain was quickly passing, Barrett didn’t count it as significant.