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located in Norr, a part of The Gift: Chapter Two, one of the many universes on RPG.




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Shortly after the men who had brought Goma had left, Duran shuffled back in to his tent to tend to her once more. He sat down on the ground, and she hobbled over to him, landing her head softly on Duran's lap as her legs seemed to give way. He stroked her head, and thought quietly for a few minutes. Goma was too weak to do anything but accept the gentle stroke of her master, and simply lay there, waiting for Duran's next move. Another minute or so later, Duran broke the silence.

"I've decided, Goma. You can't be here anymore."

Goma looked up at Duran dejectedly, as if his words had done caused more pain than any of her other injuries.

"It was stupid of me to let you join with me. You're a wild animal. War is not your place, and I can't ask you to be a part of it any longer. It was stupid of me to subject you to my burdens to begin with, but I had foolishly overlooked it until now. This is not your fight, and it is not your war."

Goma whimpered pitifully, hoping to garner sympathy, as if to say, "Why would you reject me like this?"

Duran response to the animal was uncanny, a true sign that he was a druid.

"I'm not rejecting you. I love you like a sister or a mother. That's why I can't let you continue on with me. Your life is short, and so much can come from it. I could not bear to see you cut down. Telling you to go hurts more than any pain I've ever felt, but the only thing that could be worse was if you died."

Goma combined a grunt with a whimper, a curious sound that seemed to say to Duran, "I have to protect you."

"No. It is not your place to defend me from what I've chosen to do. I can't ask you to stay here." Tears began to well up in Duran's eyes again.

"You must return home. Go back and tell them I'm well. I'm sure they're worried. Go back home and live the life that you deserve."

"Alright. I count eight of us who can see well in darkness. Duran, that includes you. Just shift into something...make it fast, we want speed more than anything."

Duran was still a little distracted from what had happened earlier, but he had convinced himself that it was for the best. Besides, it was time to focus. Duran immediately had mental images of what animals would be best for this situation. Among the smaller mammals, there wasn't anything particularly lethal, besides maybe a temperamental badger, and that wasn't very fast. A predatory cat would be best until a full-blown battle broke out. A panther seemed perfect. Its black coat was good camouflage in the night, and its eyes were made for poorly lit environments.

"Coat your weapons with this. The rain won't wash it away, so don't worry about that. We're aiming for speed here, so all you need is a nick and the count of three before your opponent is having sweet dreams."

Duran scowled as the Captain held up the poison vials. There wasn't much he could do with it if he stayed in his animal form. Obviously, he wouldn't be able to pour it on his claws, and even if he could, pouring poison onto one's self was probably not a good idea, especially if it was Snakesglove. Duran had some experience with this particular plant. Some of the more medically inclined druids used it as a sedative in its raw form. As a poison there was little doubt that it was quite a bit more dangerous. He took the vial, and decided against using it despite Wrath's battle plan.

Quickly and silently the transformation took hold. Coarse black hair began to sprout, and hands turned to paws and teeth into fangs. Armor and weapons alike melded with flesh, as the form of the panther overcame Duran's human form. He landed on all fours, ready at a moments notice to attack. It wasn't even a second after his transformation was complete that Wrath had taken off into the camp, leading the way for the Vanguard's attack. Though Wrath's attack was more direct, Duran stayed hidden in the grass, as if the instincts of the big cat had taken over. He peered through the tall grass, waiting to leap out and pounce on an enemy at the first sign of anything going awry.

Sarish didn't exactly like the battle plan. Though poison wasn't outside of his vernacular as a Lamia, he definitely preferred the feeling of skull on mace. There was more assurance to it than poison. At any rate, however, he would comply until the time came that he could crack a few skulls. Sarish took one of the vials, and unsheathed one of his ceremonial bloodletting daggers; It wasn't really a weapon for combat, but it was the best he could do considering that all his other weapons were blunt. Wrath's sudden take-off caught Sarish off guard. He had been given orders to stay with the captain, but he had taken off so quickly that there was little he could do but keep up. In the time that Wrath had taken out any number of cultists, Sarish had only cut deep into three or four. It was a tad more difficult to fight with a dagger than the swords that Wrath was using. He resisted the urge to slit a few throats; Sarish had decided that it would probably defeat the purpose of the poison.

He closed the gap between himself and Wrath as the rest of the unit followed the Commander's charge.