A Heritage of Power 4: Jerik's Story 9.99:
Tropical Temple

by Fur and Fantasy
NC-17 for Herm/Herm
full contents and notes located at the bottom of the file

"You know, we probably could have talked somebody into teleporting us out to the mountain," Tim observed with a grunt as he loaded some extra supplies into the back of the cart they were taking with them.

"Yeah, but would you want to have to walk all the way back?" Quasma pointed out, brushing out the draft horse that was obediently waiting for them. "Tessi'll be done enchanting that sword of hers and Remys will probably have his wasting disease fixed by the time we get back, even with the cart."

"Well, I'm walking anyways, but I'm built for it," Tomar chuckled. "Glad the big guy here is okay with Rohr," he smiled, stroking the horse's mane.

"One advantage of the draft breeds. They tend to be really mellow." Quasma grinned at him and did a last check on the harness system before climbing into the front bench and picking up the reins. "You sure you want to walk?" She glanced over at Talessi.

"It's a good opportunity to really get used to it." She nodded. "Besides, I can always shift back and ride with you if my feet wear out."

"Okay then," the Lynx nodded as Tim climbed up next to her, setting a crossbow in the front of the cart where he could grab it easily if needed.

"Okay, think we've got everything we'll need," he said easily. "Including repair kits."

"I still think you over-prepare," Quasma chuckled, shaking her head and twitching the reins, starting the cart rolling down the roads. "It's not like we're heading out for years, or not going to come across villages on the way back."

"With those two along, it pays to be prepared." He chuckled as the Rohr pair padded alongside them while the road was wide.

"We are not that bad." Talessi objected, though not seriously.

"Yeah, it's not like we've ever triggered a war or the apocalypse or something on a mission," Tomar chuckled.

"Yet," Quasma smirked.

"We prevented one last time." Talessi pointed out with a grin on her long muzzle.

"You just almost got killed on each of them." Tim teased back.

"Thanks for coming along though. I know you guys didn't have to, and I appreciate it." She added with a warm smile.

"No problem." Talessi smiled back. "It's what friends do."

"Is that before, or after, getting hammered and making asses of each other on the list?" Quasma giggled, shaking her head in blurry memories of their graduation party. "I half-hope that Tessi and Remys make mage before I get back; if celebrating you and Keil ended like that, celebrating the three of us will knock down one of the towers."

"I doubt it'll be that bad." Talessi laughed easily. "Besides, I don't want to miss the party."

"Well then let's hurry up and get there," Tomar laughed, rubbing Talessi's flank affectionately with a hand, his mage almost naked, literally, particularly compared to the armored skirt he was already wearing for the trip. "Sooner we do, the sooner we'll be able to get back."

"And the sooner I'll be somewhere warm that doesn't involve the tent." Talessi grinned back at him.

"You and heat." Quasma rolled his eyes. "You'd think this is the Snowy Wastes the way you talk."

"No, just chilly." Talessi stuck her tongue out at her.

"Now girls." Tomar laughed heartily. "Play nice."

A few weeks later, the four of them were still on the road, headed towards the mountains that they could now faintly see on the horizon.

"Still think the cart was a better idea?" Tim asked with a chuckle as they ate by the side of the road, the horse grazing quietly.

"I suggested riding horses." Talessi pointed out with a chuckle and happily munched away on her portion of the meal. "They would have been much faster."

"Well, once we're heading into the mountains we'll switch," Quasma chuckled. "I'm not much of a rider, myself, so don't be too sure it would've been faster."

"After a month in the saddle, you would be good." She snickered. "Or I could have tested out my new skills and given you a form more suitable to walking so far."

"I'd rather stay on two legs, thanks," Quasma said, then blinked. "Sorry, no offense," she added with a blush.

"I know what you meant," Tomar chuckled. "Though you might be cute as a 'taur," he teased.

"I know she would be." Talessi rumbled and licked her muzzle. "Though a Lynx-taur wouldn't travel much better than she does."

"And you didn't offer that." She pointed out. "You mentioned a wolf, as in the animal."

"Hey, they can travel a long ways for days at a time." Talessi pointed out.

"All the same, I still prefer having hands," Quasma chuckled.

"And I prefer her to have hands." Tim chuckled. "A wolf in bed would just be really weird."

"It can be very sexy." Talessi winked. "At least when you know it's a person inside."

"Okay, that is not the 'in bed' I meant," Tim chuckled, shaking his head. "By the way, Kaia wants advanced warning and an invitation if our next graduation party is anything like the last one."

"I expect it will be." Talessi grinned at him. "Probably not at the end, but I don't see the game changing much just because who graduated changed."

"I'll let her know when we're back then," Tim chuckled. "Lemme tell you, that was an interesting conversation."

"Should be interesting." Talessi grinned. "We missed hers. We'll have to make up for it."

"She'll be looking forward to it," Tim smiled. "Though it was very intentional that you guys missed it," he admitted. "She was shooting for private."

"She better not be so shy for ours." Quasma snickered. "Even if it doesn't turn into quite the same orgy. Who would have thought our fearless leader was such a sub."

"Not m-" Tomar started, his ears twitching as he stopped mid-word.

Without a sound, Talessi picked up Kaul, Quasma reached for Numin and Tim shifted to make reaching his crossbow easy.

Everyone moved when the sound of a bolt sang through the air. Only Talessi didn't make it to her feet. Half way up two heavy crossbow bolts slammed into her upper body and knocked her to the ground with a grunt and heavy thud.

Tomar snarled, drawing CrestRider as he charged the hidden snipers, their bolts giving away their positions.

"Jerik!" Quasma shrieked, scrambling for Talessi's fallen form as the Rohr grabbed one bolt by the shaft and began to pull it from her chest. "Tim, there," she said sharply, indicating a location with her staff. The Rottweiler nodded grimly, grabbing his crossbow and quickly firing into a thick patch of grass, another hidden bandit shouting in pain as the bolt sank into his arm.

Two bolts ricocheted off Tomar's armored flanks and another from his helmet before he reached the trees and jumped up, setting his forelegs on the thick trunk to give him the reach with CrestRider to catch one of them and pulled him down with a swing where he was hacked apart.

"Get it out." Talessi ordered Quasma when she knelt by her. "I need to shift back to heal."

"You're lucky these don't have full barbs," the Lynx murmured, taking the second bolt and getting a good grip, pulling it out with a wince for her friend that Jerik wouldn't give.

"Lucky they aren't poisoned." Talessi murmured and focused on stopping the bleeding before letting the magic flow around her to shift back to the form he knew best and could heal better than any other.

Tim looked up, seeing the second bandit Tomar was after as the Raccoon reloaded and was taking aim at Talessi and Quasma. He snarled as he caught a bandit's bolt in his lightly-armored leg; falling to the ground and pulled out another bolt of his own. He loaded as fast as he could and rolled to his side to take aim at the mutt Dog that had shot him and was now charging with a short sword and shield along with two others.

Not far away Tomar reared back and sank CrestRider into the branch the Raccoon was on, ruining his aim at the mages, then grabbed it with his forearms and lifted his body off the ground. His massive weight snapped the weakened branch and sent the bandit crashing to the ground where CrestRider made short and bloody work of him.

"Tomar! Help Tim!" Quasma yelled at him urgently, her lack of combat spells and Jerik being down to heal himself from the critical injuries making her feel utterly useless.

Tomar wheeled about, charging for the Dog, but this one was ready for the attack. He ducked out of the way, splitting his attention between the wounded Tim and the berserk male Rohr.

Quasma quietly crossed her fingers, working her one real offensive spell, a weak magical blast that she fired through Numin, aiming for the mutt's sword-wrist. Even the hit she made didn't make him drop his weapon, but it distracted him enough to let Tim land a bolt just under his floppy ear while Tomar was after the other two Dog warriors, who were doing their best to beat a hasty retreat.

It was Jerik's telekinetic talent that was making it difficult. While not fully healed, he deemed himself fit enough to divert some of his energy into tripping up their attackers, including throwing a last crossbow wielding Ferret into the close combat fray in front of his Defender.

It was a last bit of help that quickly ended the fight, leaving three more well-hacked corpses cooling in the grass before Tomar hurried back, hanging CrestRider on his hip. He knelt by Jerik, his concern clear on his face as he started inspecting the nearly invisible wounds on his mate's nearly bare chest, the colorful leather breast-band Talessi wore looking decidedly out of place.

"I'll be fine, love." Jerik assured him with a touch on the arm. "They didn't hit anything vital, and I got to it before either lung collapsed."

"Let me worry about you," Tomar scolded with a light smile that did little to conceal his honest concern for his mate.

"Just so you don't worry yourself to death." Jerik let him fuss, their impromptu lunch camp quickly turned into a real camp by Quasma and Tomar, while Jerik did his best to heal Tim enough that he could fight again if they had to.

"Jerik, I'm fine, it was the meat of my leg and I'll just need to stay off my feet for a while," Tim protested as the Kat fussed over his wounded leg and Tomar fussed over Jerik while Quasma presided over breakfast and did her best to stay out of the line of male fussing.

"I'm the closest thing to a healer out here. Deal with it." He gave the Rottie a stern glare that no one really believed was serious.

"He's right, you know," Tomar pointed out. "You were hurt a lot worse than he was."

"Key word there is 'were'. I'm not anymore." Jerik sighed and relented.

"It's the first trouble we've had. We aren't likely to have much more." Quasma pointed out. "Gangs like this tend to control a territory and not take to intruders kindly."

"So why don't we get you two loaded into the cart and start moving again after breakfast?" Tomar suggested.

"I'm quite fit enough to walk as Talessi." Jerik glared at him, even though it warmed him a bit to be fussed over and he wasn't completely sure he wanted to walk today.

"Jerik, give me one good reason I should take a chance with your walking that long when there's no good reason you couldn't stay in the back of the cart?" Tomar asked, putting his hands on his hips as Quasma kept cooking, pointedly not involving herself in the discussion.

"It was my chest, not my leg that got hit." He objected more quietly as breakfast was served up. Part of his mind thought it a bit odd that none of them had mentioned the bodies lying around the outside of camp, or suggested doing something with them.

"Jerik, I just want to be careful with you," Tomar said a bit more gently, moving to sit next to him as they ate. "I don't want to take any chances after that."

"Honestly, I'm just looking forward to getting out of here before they start to smell," Quasma admitted. "But it would probably be a good idea for you to ride, just for a day or two. You've put up enough of a fight to satisfy your pride."

"All right, all right," he raised his hands in surrender and was handed a bowl with a smile from her. "I'll ride."

"Good," Tomar smiled, leaning down to lick his cheek and got a kiss in return. "So, that's taken care of. Anybody think we should give the bandits a proper burial?"

"Hey, they came after us," Quasma pointed out. "I say we cast a restful dead spell before we go and leave them for the crows."

"It is one you know?" Jerik looked over at her after a bite of their spicy meat chili. It was a spell he'd have expected Remys to know, but not really her. He barely recognized the name as a real spell, though it's intent was obvious to him between name and context.

"I got Remys to teach it to me while you guys were off at the Spring Festival that second time," she explained. "Sounded like something that'd be good to know, since I might end up with bodies around and no priest to conduct a funeral. You might want to pick it up too, once we're back," she mused.

"I was thinking the same thing." Jerik nodded.

"With what we're planning on, having a few spells to keep things dead would be useful." Tomar agreed readily. After all, they did plan on leaving something of a path of destruction in their wake across the Blight.

"Well, it won't stop a necromancer from using them, but it will keep annoying little things like 'spirits coming back as vengeful ghosts' from happening as easily," Quasma nodded. "Not sure what it'd do with the abominations in the Blight, honestly ... it kind of presupposes the existence of a soul. But it'll keep these six down."

"Which is good enough for here and now." Tim said between bites. "You're getting good at this." He nodded towards the chili.

"Thanks," Quasma smiled, finishing her own bowl and starting to clean up. "I've been practicing a bit," she admitted.

"Especially since we agreed you're the best cook here." Jerik grinned at her with a wink. "I love the new spice mix."

"Thanks," the Lynx grinned. "Got some help with that," she admitted. "Old cookbook I happened across in the library."

"I want to know now to make that powder before we hit the Blight." Jerik chuckled as he and the others made quick work of their meals.

"I'll write it down," Quasma promised as they all cleaned up, then helped Tim and Jerik into the cart before they started back down the road.

Tomar rumbled softly in his sleep as skilled hands played over his body with both brushes and fingers.

He roused himself, reaching over to wrap an arm around Jerik and leaned over for a kiss.

"Mmm ... how're you feelin'?" Tomar mumbled even as he realized it was Talessi with him.

"Much better." She returned the kiss soundly and shifted to rub much of their bodies together. "Thought of something new to try."

"Mmm ... what?" Tomar asked curiously, rolling to his side at a firmer push from Talessi, scritching her hindquarters with his feet.

"Having us inside each other at the same time." She smiled and wiggled at the pleasant contact. "Maybe tie both ways."

"That is new," Tomar chuckled. "For us at least ... so I take it you need me on my back?"

"I think it'll be easiest." She nodded with a hungry look. "Unless you want to start with a little oral to get us warmed up."

"Mmm ... think you're warmed up enough already," Tomar teased, rubbing his belly against Talessi's shaft as she stood and moved towards him a bit while he rolled onto his back.

"True," she grinned and rubbed her belly against his a few times before shifting back to sink into his body with a lusty groan. She thrust into him deeply, then lifted herself to position her forelegs in front of his and lowered her forebody to take him fully inside. "Ohhh, this is good."

"Oh yeah," Tomar groaned, wrapping his arms and legs around his mate, his cock bent down to press up into her hot, welcoming body. "Mmm ... glad you're feeling better ...."

"Ohh, me too." She rumbled as she thrust into his lower body and impaled herself on his cock, while he reached up to play with her full breasts and they shifted to kiss while they mated. "Wanna tie." She gasped as the pleasure began to rise all through her body.

"Yesss," Tomar hissed into her mouth, pressing his hindquarters up until her massive, thick knot tied with his body. He whimpered and moaned with her as she pressed down while he lifted his lower shoulders up to tie his cock with her body.

"Ohh, I so love this." Talessi panted and squirmed as they rocked, their long bodies chest to chest and tied at both their sexes.

"Me too," he grinned, kissing her hungrily as they made love, rubbing her upper back. "Oooh ... definitely have to keep this in mind."

"Don't ... pant ... suppose you ... moan ... ever dreamed of being a dragon?" She arched slightly and howled as her female sex squeezed down on the hard shaft inside her and her cock began to pump her seed deep into her mate's body.

Tomar's howl joined Talessi's, his own sexes spasming, clamping down around her massive shaft as he sprayed his seed into her pussy.

"Oooh ..." he panted hard, hugging Talessi close as they both came down from their shared orgasms. "Mmm ... you ever dream of being a princess?" He asked, half-teasing.

"A few times." She smiled down at him and began to relax on his chests. "You did get me that lovely pink dress."

"Mmm ... though if you intend to play princess to my dragon, we should probably try to find a cheaper, easier to replace version," Tomar smiled, kissing her lightly.

"True," she chuckled and nuzzled him affectionately. "I was thinking more along the lines that dragons mate in the air."

"You think either of us, me in particular, would be that coordinated?" The male Rohr asked, looking up at her with a raised eyebrow.

"Maybe eventually." She winced at the likely results of trying.

"Maybe eventually," Tomar agreed, licking her cheek. "Mmm ... love you, 'Rik."

"Love you." She nuzzled him. "I think Quasma's started breakfast too." She rumbled. "I really like that chili she makes."

"Breakfast'll be ready soon," she called out to them.

"Do we want to wait here, or cheat about getting up?" Talessi murmured with a nuzzle.

"Mmm ... much as I love feeling your knot in me, and you around mine, I am hungry," Tomar admitted, nuzzling her neck.

"Agreed." She kissed him and focused on her body for a moment before standing up, her knot no longer swollen and her pelvic bones expending momentarily to free his.

"Mmm ... that is handy," Tomar rumbled, rolling to his feet and standing a little shakily. "Want to bother dressing before we head out?"

"Can't say I really do." Talessi chuckled lightly and knelt to unzip the tent flap. "It's not like they haven't seen it all before and the stream will make a nice wash after breakfast."

"Works for me," Tomar chuckled, following her out.

"Well, I didn't think my cooking was that good," Quasma teased the two Rohr, glancing at their noticeable erections, particularly Tomar's.

"Waking up makes us hungry." Talessi chuckled and settled around to the fire to soak in the heat with a pleasant groan.

"Waking up the way you do makes you hungry." Tim shook his head.

"Don't tell me you don't enjoy it when you get it." Quasma snickered.

"Yeah, but I usually at least get dressed after," Tim smirked.

"Not my fault you're not Rohr," Tomar smirked right back.

"As if it's anything you haven't seen before." Talessi rolled her eyes, then grinned at him devilishly. "Or maybe you want to play."

"No screwing where you might roll into the fire," Quasma mock-scolded Talessi.

"No thanks." Tim backed off quickly to hide behind his mage.

"She was just joking, Tim," Tomar reassured him. "Though if you were interested, I wouldn't put it past her," he chuckled.

"He is a very pretty puppy." Talessi snickered.

"Okay, down girl," Quasma chuckled, passing over a bowl of chili. "Eat, then wash up so we can get back on the road without attracting stray packs of in-season wolves."

"Not that it might not be fun." Talessi chuckled before digging into the thick, meaty, spicy stew. "But I'll behave."

"You might want to take one of mother's potions to cool you down a bit." Tomar suggested seriously despite his grin as they all settled in to eat.

"Looks like there's a village up ahead," Quasma said cheerfully later that day. "Should be able to resupply, maybe find a proper healer to take a look and make sure we did everything right."

"I hope so." Talessi murmured from where she was walking at Tomar's side. "I have a bad feeling about it."

"What's wrong?" Tomar asked her. "Just a village ... heck, they'll probably be grateful we took out those bandits the other day."

"I'm not sure. It just feels ... wrong." She struggled to explain something she only had the most rudimentary understanding of. "Like something bad happened, or is about to happen."

"Well let's hope you're wrong this time ... or that it's somebody's favorite cow getting turned into dinner," Quasma mused, reaching back and grabbing Numin almost on reflex as they approached the village ahead of them.

"Or it's some bad harvest years back." Tomar agreed, suspecting death from starvation in a bad year was the more likely reason his mage would feel something like that.

"Could be anything," Talessi agreed. "Though I doubt it's as benign as a cow, it's probably not in the now."

"I could try to find out, if anybody wants," Quasma offered. "But we'll find out soon enough, I'm sure."

"Yes, we will." Talessi nodded and tried to shake off the feeling. It really was most likely to be in the past, not the present, but until she knew the source, it was unsettling.

They rolled through the village, short crops just starting to grow ... the fields looked healthy enough, but that could just be recovering. They noticed a few farmers out working, the laborers stopping to look at the passing cart.

"I think the trouble was recent." Talessi murmured to her mate. "Those bandits might have done more damage than we thought."

"You're noticing that too, huh?" Tomar asked softly. "Their animals have been fed better than they have, I'd guess."

"We might want to give a little help before we pass on." She glanced at Quasma, knowing the other mage was the deciding factor.

"As long as we don't take too long," the Lynx said gently. "We don't want to be on the way up, or back, during the storm seasons."

"I was thinking mostly an offer of supplies, maybe one of the gruel spoons." Talessi explained. "We can't fix this, but we can make the recovery a little easier. They seem to be on their way to a harvest."

"Hunting for just a couple days could go a long way towards dried meat for the winter." Tomar added. "There's plenty of game."

"That shouldn't be too bad," Quasma nodded slightly. "Though I have a feeling that there's something here that food alone won't solve ... let's see if they're willing to discuss it first though. They might not want help."

"True," Talessi sighed. The group fell silent as they followed the dirt road into town, alert for trouble all the way.

It wasn't hard to see that the town was having hard times. The people were watching the four of them suspiciously, and definitely looked hungry. An older Wolf stood in front of a larger building on the main street, apparently the town's inn, and wasn't doing a particularly good job of looking welcoming.

Talessi trotted up to him, just as determined to at least provide a few coins to this place.

"Hello," she greeted him. "We would like two rooms for the night."

"Afraid it's mostly just the rooms ye'll get," the Wolf told her. "We've had some bandit trouble lately ... surprised ye have as much with ye as ye do. Ye must have come straight through their land."

"We did, and six bandits are dead for their efforts to relieve it." She told him simply. "How many more are there?"

"Ye killed ... six of them, ye say?" The Wolf asked. "Was there a Stag among them?"

"No. Four Dogs, a Raccoon and a Ferret. All male." Talessi answered, already plotting their hunt for the remainder. "A Stag is their leader?"

"Along with about a dozen others beyond what you listed," the Wolf nodded. "The Stag's the one who killed the mayor during the last attack."

Talessi nodded. "Who leads the town now?"

"I do." The Wolf answered steadily, not at all fazed by looking up at the youthful adult Rohr.

"Then are you amenable to our assistance?"

"We have little we can offer you in return, but if you can deal with the bandits, it will be a great burden lifted from our village."

"We are not looking for a reward." Talessi told him simply. "Will you have food enough to survive the winter if the bandits do not bother you anymore?"

"Hard to be sure," the Wolf said honestly. "But we won't if they keep up the way things have been ... Hell, we won't last until the winter at this rate," he admitted.

She nodded slightly; it was about what they had figured. "If you will see to firewood and a pot big enough, we'll see that everyone eats well tonight."

"Meat?" The Wolf asked, something in his manner striking Jerik as being increasingly nervous about the prospect.

"We do usually include some in the stew." She looked at him curiously. "Do many here not eat meat?"

"No ... you'll just want to be back early," the old Wolf told them. "More predators out there than just the bandits; we don't want them coming into the village looking for leftovers, if we can help it."

"We don't have to hunt tonight." Talessi assured him with a gentle smile. "Tonight, let's see that everyone sleeps well fed. Tomorrow we will start hunting bandits."

"All right," the Wolf nodded. "What supplies do you have then?"

"Dried meat, tubers, some spices." She turned to head back to the cart and poked around a bit. "Trail food for several months."

"Enough for a meal for the whole village?" The Wolf asked dubiously. "We have dozens ...."

"We have magic as well as supplies." Quasma smiled at him and hopped down, Numin in hand and looking much more like a Mage than the Rohr bitch that could easily pass for a hunter, and was in many ways. "Talessi just graduated from the Academy, and I will when we return."

"I will send word that you are helping us then," the Wolf nodded. "Bring the farmers in to eat as well ... thank you, very much."

"You are welcome." Talessi nodded to him with a smile. "We can not promise to solve all of your problems, but we will help as much as we can in the few days we can stay. Where is a good place for the cooking fire?"

"Also, how many should I be ready to feed?" Quasma asked seriously.

"Fifty, once the farmers have all come in," the Wolf said softly. "There were more, but things have changed. And the town square ... it's the safest place."

"It will take a little work, but we can do that." Quasma nodded even as Tim turned the horse and clicked the reins to get the cart there. "Do you have a good water supply near there?"

"The main well," the Wolf nodded. "I'll show you the way," he said, turning to lead them back towards the square.

"I must admit, I did not think you could do it." Lyran confessed as the last of the youngsters was given a sweet after everyone had eaten well. "Especially the sweets. That is far more than anyone hoped for. We thank you."

"You are welcome." Quasma smiled warmly at the Wolf innkeeper that now led the village. "You would be amazed how far a little sugar can be stretched with the right recipes."

"True," he chuckled. "Unfortunately, it's rather difficult to get brought up here, after the spring. I suppose you have questions?" He asked, glancing at the horizon, judging how much daylight was left.

"Yes," Talessi nodded. "Whatever you can tell us about the bandits will be of help. Quasma is a Diviner. She may be able to find them."

"Let's retire to the inn first," Lyran said easily as he stood. "More comfortable than waiting outside, after all."

"All right," Talessi nodded and the group of five stood to head inside.

"If you do not mind me asking, what is your specialty?" Lyran glanced at Talessi.

"Transformation." She smiled and let her form shift back to his natural feline one between one step and the next. "My natural form and name is Jerik Clawson." He explained.

"Who happens to also like fire and lighting magic." Quasma chuckled. "He's really a combat mage, he just doesn't like to say it."

"Good to meet you then, Mage Clawson," Lyran chuckled, closing and bolting the door behind them even as Jerik shifted back to Talessi. "I assume you'll be staying here for the night; your horse will be put in the stables where it will be safely cared for."

"Thank you," Talessi nodded to him and followed the Wolf to a long table near the fire. "What can you tell us about the bandits?"

"There's fourteen more of them, first off," he said, sitting down on a chair nearest the fire. "Stag's the leader. Mix of races other than that, though they're all male. They have some prisoners," he admitted. "The last raid, they killed the mayor and healer when they tried to stop them from taking some of the women, along with family who fought back."

"How long ago was that?" Talessi tried to keep her growl in check.

"About two weeks ... they're due to attack again in another two. All the decent warriors in town have been killed, either in the raids or the aftermath."

"What do you mean, the aftermath?" Quasma asked, cocking her head slightly. She could tell that Talessi and Tomar were both deep in their planning to exterminate the raiders. Little got to Jerik quite like this kind of kidnapping.

She could hardly blame him, honestly. It bothered her too, and he could really do something about it.

"We've been kept half-starved for months," Lyran said softly. "Not everybody has made it through the hunger."

"I'm sorry," she said, inclining her head towards the old Wolf. She had a feeling he wasn't saying everything, but it was enough for now. They had things to deal with right now. "Have the bandits left anything, something I could use as a link to them?"

"Would a weapon used against them work?"

"If it has blood on it yet," Quasma nodded.

"Ah ... not really an option then," Lyran said, shaking his head. "We might be able to find something tomorrow, but nothing around the inn."

"What are their usual tactics?" Tomar asked as the mages considered their meager information.

"They usually gather as a full band, come into the village just before dawn," Lyran explained. "Most of us are either just waking up, or still asleep, so they only had the guards to deal with. Every month, roughly, they come in, kill anybody who resists, and take everything they can carry. Mostly food and money, so far ... this last raid, they were bolder, took hostages as well."

"Have they demanded anything for their return?" Talessi prompted, already quite riled to judge from her tail.

"We have little enough left to give them," Lyran pointed out. "Besides, I don't think they're looking for ransom as much as servants."

"Do you have a quarry near here?" Quasma asked, largely out of the blue.

"A small one," Lyran nodded. "Why do you ask?"

"Well, it's a reasonably good place to hide out ... and if there's a quarry nearby, this guy might be after labor the next time he comes through. Sounds like the sort who might try to set himself up as a robber-king."

"Where is it?" Talessi asked seriously even as Quasma groaned to herself. She was sure they weren't going to wait till morning now that innocent lives were involved.

"About two miles to the northwest," Lyran said. "You can't be seriously considering going out there tonight, can you?"

"Best time to hit anything but undead is at night." She grinned dangerously. "These guys aren't undead. They'll be fewer awake and fewer with weapons when we hit."

"So we can wait on them until tomorrow night," Tomar suggested. "They'll probably still be on guard tonight, after losing six of their band. And we just got done traveling for the whole day, after that fight. If we wait until tomorrow, then Quasma can make sure they're in the quarry, and we can get them while we're well-rested and they're a bit more calmed down."

"All right." Talessi reluctantly agreed.

"He does have a point, Talessi," Quasma said, rubbing her flank lightly. "If I'm wrong, and they aren't there, then we'll be exhausted when we do catch them."

"I know," she grumbled good-naturedly. "I just hate waiting."

"As long as you keep listening to those of us who need sleep." Tomar gave her a kiss on the cheek. "Speaking of which, it would be best for us to get some rest now."

"The rooms are towards the back," Lyran offered, standing to lead them there. "You stay free tonight; the least I can do for you."

"Thank you," Talessi inclined her head slightly as the group followed him.

Quasma murmured as she snuggled up beneath the sheets in her bed. She'd been grateful to avoid the trip out to the quarry tonight; she was tired, and actually sleeping in a bed was a pleasant change to the bedrolls. Jerik's tent was just too nice. He'd forgotten that most people didn't enjoy sleeping in one.

She was definitely going to spend more of her career in the Academy.

About half-way through the night though, her peaceful sleep was disturbed by something scratching on the window near her bed. She muttered something, turning over and pulled the covers up over her head.

Then the window shattered and a withered arm reached through and tried to find purchase, heedless of the glass cutting into it.

"Tim!" She screeched and scrambled away as a battered and bloody Wolf pulled himself through.

The Rottweiler was sleeping by the door, where trouble was most likely to come from. He woke up with a start as the obviously dead Wolf crawled in, falling to the floor, the stench of death filling the room as he stood and turned towards Quasma.

Tim reached under his pillow, grabbing a dagger and hurling it almost instinctively. The blade sank into the ghoul's head, snapping it to the side and making him stagger, buying Quasma a moment to grab Numin and start bludgeoning the monster with her staff.

Still, as Tim grabbed his sword, more creatures were starting to climb in, and Quasma could only do so much to hold one off, let alone more of them.

"Get over here, damnit!" He snarled at him mage and rushed forward to try and protect her on their retreat to the door. "Get to Jerik."

"Don't let them claw you!" She warned him, unbolting the door and opening it, dashing across the hall and hammering on Jerik's door until it opened and she nearly fell into Tomar's crotch.

"Undead." Talessi snarled from behind him, sending the Rohr forward in a charge while his mage shifted and drew Kaul's sword-form.

Tim kicked the Wolf off of his own blade as he made his way back into the room, a Raccoon and a Fox coming for them next, moving faster than any dead creature had a right. Quasma backed into Jerik's room, cursing herself silently for not having any spells handy that would be particularly helpful until after somebody got hurt.

Then the window in Jerik's room shattered, and she spun around, speaking the words to a magic missile as more started to crawl in through that window to outflank them.

"We're surrounded!" She shouted.

"Only five." Jerik yelled back at her and turned to rush to his room and grab her before a blast of crackling energy erupted from Kaul's blade to bath the two battered Horses in a blue glow.

They crackled and collapsed, the lightning burning out whatever force animated their corpses, scorching the wall behind them as Tomar hacked the three bodies in the next room apart, then threw CrestRider in to Jerik.

"The silver should keep them down," he explained, grabbing the parts and throwing them out the window before he and Tim lurched out of the room, closing it to try and contain the stench.

Jerik placed a solid blow that split the skull of the two in his room and did the same, though Quasma lost her battle to keep dinner down and Tomar dragged her out of the room before Jerik closed the door.

"Our gear is going to be ruined." Tim muttered.

"Freshen should work," Jerik said even as he cast the simple spell to get rid of the scent of death that clung to them all. "I can't sense any more." He added softly.

"How far away can you sense them, usually?" Quasma asked him. "My spells are good for about twenty paces."

"Something that strongly wrong, the size of the town and some." He shook his head. "If there are more, they're a ways out."

"Possibly where ever they've buried the dead," Tomar pointed out grimly. "Let's see if anybody needs help; they might not have hit here first."

"I hope not." Jerik's form flowed into Talessi's as he turned to trot down the hall.

Lyran opened the door just as they reached it, a heavy mace in his hand.

"I heard the noise, what happened?" He asked them.

"Five ghoul broke in." Talessi explained, looking down at him. "The 'aftermath' you mentioned?"

"Part of it," Lyran admitted. "Some of us ... some of the survivors were going insane, whether with hunger or shock. Some of them slipped into the infirmary and killed some of the wounded. They were caught, but for their crimes they haven't rested well in their graves."

"How many are there, at most?" Talessi asked quietly.

"Unless they've created more somehow, seven of them," Lyran told her.

"How were they executed?" Quasma asked nervously.

"Stoned," the old Wolf said. "We don't hang killers here."

No one missed the soul-deep shudder Talessi gave. "Rather be hung." She mumbled to herself.

"Fortunately," Quasma said with a sigh of relief. "Where have you been burying the dead? By all odds, that's where we'll find them."

"Should that restful dead spell be cast on the five we just took out?" Tim asked.

"It shouldn't be necessary, with the silver used to drop them, but it won't hurt," Quasma nodded. "I'll take care of it," she added before going back to use the spell on the ghouls' remains.

"You might want to go around outside." Talessi called out to her. "The rooms will still reek."

"From either side," she pointed out, taking a deep breath before she slipped through the door.

"They were buried about a half-mile from the edge of the village," Lyran told them. "I imagine your friend was right, and that that's what's kept them from coming into the village so far. I'm sorry I didn't tell you about them before, but it seemed reasonably safe yet."

"And a group willing to take on your bandit trouble may not be willing to stick around for undead." Talessi added. "We'll deal with the last two tonight, but it means the bandits will probably have to wait for an extra day or two."

"The ghouls would be a bigger threat anyways," Tomar pointed out. "Think we can go back and grab our armor yet?"

"Yeah, just hold your breath and I'll freshen it when you get out." She nodded.

"Right," Tomar nodded. "Tim, I'll grab yours too," he offered, taking a deep breath and heading in after Quasma, both of them coming out a few moments later. She joined the group where the air was fresher and took a deep breath while Tomar hurrying across to grab his own armor.

"Let's not do this again any time soon," the Lynx groaned.

"We'll have to." Talessi reminded her. "The rest of our things are in there."

"Yeah, but that time we can clear the room before we go in." She replied as Tomar joined them and the promised freshen spell relieved their noses and let them breath again.

"Thanks." He glanced at his mage before handing Tim's armor over.

"And thank you," Tim said to Tomar, taking his armor and starting to suit up. "Besides, by then, it might be cleared out some, with the windows broken."

"True," Quasma nodded, then glanced at Lyran. "If you could get the villagers to pick up the bodies, we can get them all reburied in the morning, or whatever you want to do with them."

"We'll get them pulled together," the Wolf nodded. "Good fortune to you," he said as they started out of the inn.

"This does explain why they didn't want anybody outside," Tomar murmured.

"No kidding," Talessi nodded as she considered Tim and Quasma. "We could move faster if you ride us."

"If you don't mind," Quasma said after looking to Tim for confirmation. "I should probably ride you, Talessi; I weigh a lot less."

"Plus Tomar has armor to protect him from Tim's." She nodded as the group paused and she knelt so the Lynx could get on her back while Tim climbed up on Tomar.

"Plus Quasma doesn't ride that well," Tim warned Talessi. "Careful if you get into a fight with her on your back."

"I'm planning on getting her down before that." Talessi said grimily. "I fight better as Jerik."

A few minutes later, the four of them approached the graveyard. Both bipeds dismounted and Talessi shifted back to Jerik to give everyone their best fighting odds. It was easy to spot the seven shallow graves next to the hallowed ground already dug out.

To judge by the loose dirt resting in them, from the inside.

"They're probably working through the fresher bodies in the cemetery proper," Quasma murmured. "Tim, you found the silversalve, right?"

"Coated my sword on the trip," the Rottweiler nodded grimly, his sword glimmering in the moonlight with the alchemical mixture that would let him keep the ghouls down more easily.

"This way." Jerik pointed with Kaul into the cemetery and headed in, but not before Tomar trotted ahead of him.

It was a eerie place; the tombstones cast faint but imposing shadows in the moonlight, the sounds of owls and insects keeping them on-edge, wondering if any given sound might be one of the last two ghouls approaching.

Tomar and Tim were both carrying their weapons, Tim bringing up the rear, Quasma clutching Numin in both hands as she looked around nervously.

"Back there," she said quietly, indicating a large mausoleum.

Tomar nodded and led the group around the stone building to where the door was. "Ripped open." He whispered and pushed down his nerves at facing yet more undead. This would make the fifth time in fewer years. He really hoped it wasn't the pattern for the future.

"They're both in there." Jerik added and focused his energy on casting the armor spells that would give them that much more protection against the paralytic attacks.

"I can hear them," Tomar whispered, nodding slightly. "Keep quiet, and keep a careful eye out," he warned them as they slowly started down into the mausoleum, the sound of cracking bones deep within.

Quasma shuddered at the noise but kept quiet as they moved inside, Tim still guarding their backs and Kaul's sword glowing a rich silver-blue in the darkness.

The first level of the mausoleum was clear; coffins were shattered, ripped open, the bodies removed and shattered bones left behind, but there was no sign of the ghouls they were after. They were deeper in.

"Something smells off ... and not the way it should," Tomar whispered as they headed down the stairs. "Like vinegar."

"There are a lot of nasty things that hang out in these places." Quasma murmured and sniffed the air. "Carrion crawler maybe, or rogue slime or ooze."

"Come on." Jerik urged the group forward. "We have to do this."

"Yeah, these guys aren't like the Quells," Tomar nodded, moving forward with Jerik just behind him.

"No, but without Mage Scyress along, they're worse," Quasma shuddered as the smell of death started to overpower the other scent. They were getting close now.

As they passed by coffins and raided bodies, it was becoming increasingly clear why some of them had gone into town. They were running out of bodies with flesh or marrow that was left to eat, and had decided to come for more satisfying meals. Quasma didn't much like the thought of what might have happened if they hadn't been there.

"There's one." Tomar growled low in his chest and charged the powerfully built Lion who's mane was gray with age and falling out from death.

"Energy Blade." Jerik cast his first spell on CrestRider, flames sheathing the blade as Tomar ran forward. The undead Lion turned to face them and grabbed a heavy battle-axe to parry the blow. In the moment it took Tomar to bring CrestRider back around the Lion was on his feet with a shield on his off arm and now clearly in armor that had been of good quality and care until recently.

"Oh crap." Quasma hissed. "Those are magic!" She yelled at Tomar in warning while Tim went after a ghoulish Cat that dove for the cover offered by the emptied alcoves.

"Tim, leave the Cat, I'll need help!" Tomar called, quickly put on the defensive by the surprisingly skilled corpse he was fighting with. Years of experience and skill, coupled with a body that had every ounce of the strength the years had robbed it of, and more, were proving quite a match for the Rohr warrior.

"Right." He called back and circled the battle quickly, seeking an opening that might end it quickly, or at least take some of the pressure of Tomar.

A blast of fire shot from Kaul's blade to engulf the Lion, who just laughed through broken vocal cords and forced Tomar onto the defensive with a swing of his battleaxe. The Rohr stepped back, but caught the heavier axe with CrestRider's darkwood haft, knocking it off to the side and bringing a gauntleted fist back to slam into the Lion's face.

Tim used the Lion's distraction to good effect and sank his silversalved blade into the ghoul's side and ripped it out to the side. It would have been a fatal blow to a live opponent. To this one, it just made it look uglier and smell worse.

As the Rottweiler stepped back to come around for another blow he felt a sharp pain in his side where two metal plates of his armor overlapped slightly.

He staggered a bit, raising his armored arm to deflect the Lion's attack as he spun to face the Cat, licking his blood off of its dagger with a gleeful expression.

"Jerik, whatever you're planning, do it fast!" Tomar bellowed, bringing CrestRider down on the shorter Ghoul, cleaving one of its hands off.

"Staying alive." The tom yelled back as a spell went off with a flash of light behind the warriors. "Big tentacled worm."

"Carrion crawler." Quasma supplied as she scrambled out of the way of a tentacle while Jerik hacked another off with Kaul.

"Shit!" Tomar swore, kicking the Cat back as it got its good hand up under his skirt and clawed at his foreleg, sharp, fetid claws slicing into his flesh. A cold numbness quickly spread even as he drove CrestRider down through its skull just before his own body went numb, falling on top of the stinking body and leaving Tim to handle the Lion and protect both mages all at once.

Jerik's attention was diverted for a second, just long enough for the carrion crawler to lash him with a tentacle that surrounded its toothy maw and draw a sharp yelp of pain and anger and removing Kaul from his grasp as his arm went numb.

With a growl Jerik gathered the Force around him and lashed out at both opponents with a graceless telekinetic blast that threw them both backwards and away from the group.

Tim moved fast to deal with the carrion crawler, holding it off while Quasma hurled magic missiles at the green, worm-like creature until it stopped moving.

Jerik called Kaul's blade to him with his mind and hurled it at the Lion even as he sank down, his entire body succumbing to the paralytic agent that had made his arm go limp moments ago.

The ghoul howled in amused rage as the slender blade bit into its arm, ripping it out and hurling it to the ground before he started to advance on Quasma and Tim.

Tim quickly moved to charge the Lion, driving his sword through its torso and sending it staggering back, ripping long, ragged gashes in the Rottweiler's shoulders. Tim staggered, falling to his knees, trying to fight the venom as Quasma brandished Numin.

"Sylvra mythros pyrithan!" She shouted crisply, Numin's amethyst finial flaring with violet light as she etched out the accompanying symbols, the light arcing from her staff to Tim's silvered blade. The Lion looked down in shock as the blade ignited with silver flames that quickly engulfed it, consuming undead flesh and reducing it to charred, blackened bones surrounding the sword, now dark with the silvering agent burned off.

Shaking from watching all of her companions go down, Quasma tried to think of what to do. She couldn't drag any of them to safety, much less all of them, and leaving them here while she got help could let something else stumble on her helpless friends.

"*Get help, I'll be up in a few minutes.*" Jerik's mind touched hers, his focus clearly elsewhere. "*I can still fight. Paralyzed, not unconscious.*"

"Tomar should be okay soon too, and Tim," she told him, kneeling to squeeze his hand before she started to hurry out. There shouldn't be anything else down here ... but she wanted to have help coming if there was.

Tomar winced nervously as he undid the bandages on his foreleg. They'd gotten back safely the night before, managed to walk back after Quasma had brought help, but he'd still been clawed by a corpse with grave-dirt under its nails. Thinking about what they had to do yet, he knew that an infected leg would cause an impossible delay, without a healer in the town. Despite Jerik's abilities in the area, enough to enable him to get out of bed today, he could only do so much and they all knew it.

Moreover, it made him wonder about some of the older stories about ghouls ... about infections that would cause their victims to return from the dead as monsters like them after as little as a single wound.

"I won't let that happen." Jerik promised him softly with an affectionate nuzzle.

Much to the Rohr's relief, the wounds were a relatively healthy red color beneath the bandages.

"How's your wrist?" He asked, retying the cloth and trying to distract his mate from putting even more energy into healing his leg.

"Fine, I think." He flexed it and rotated it to test the assessment. "I'm sure a healer would want me to take it easy for a few days, and you for a few weeks, but I expect we'll be able to go after the bandits in a couple days if you let me keep tending your leg."

"Just don't exhaust yourself, okay?" Tomar sighed, letting him work. "We've got Tim to take care of too, and you. Quasma's the only one who made it out of there without getting hurt."

"You're the only one who has to walk the rest of the way to the temple." He pointed out. "The rest of us can travel in the cart."

"We all still have to fight once we're there, given we've got fourteen bandits to take out, unless the ghouls did the work for us with some of 'em." Tomar reminded him with the healing work done for the moment.

"I know," he sighed. "We'll be a few days before we can fight again, if we get the choice." Jerik sighed. "Let's see what Quasma's concocted for breakfast."

"And find out what that spell she used was," Tomar chuckled, testing his weight on his leg and starting out with a bit of a limp. "You hear of it before?"

"Sounded a bit like silverfire, but I'm not sure." He admitted as they walked towards the main dinning hall of the inn and the smell of food. "Rare spell I ran across after the Blight mage incident. It's not very useful in general, and once you had CrestRider, it wasn't nearly as useful as it could have been."

"Because CrestRider's magical on its own," Tomar nodded slightly as they headed out and found Quasma working over a pot to put together more of the chili.

"Glad you're up," she smiled, looking back at them. "Some of the townsfolk are cooking up breakfast, partly from our supplies ... we're going to have to do some hunting soon, if you guys are up to it."

"I am," Jerik nodded. "I have a few forms that hunt well solo too."

"Good, 'cause we're running out of dried meat, even with that trick the Prelate taught us."

Jerik blinked in surprise when Tomar didn't even raise a token objection to him going out alone on a hunt.

"Lady Blackfire can take down a target from the air and fly it back here." He said anyway. "I shouldn't come close to anything live."

"I know you can hunt, Jerik, and I figured you'd use that form," Tomar murmured, kissing him on the cheek as Quasma dished out breakfast. "You like her too much," he teased.

"I know," he smiled up and hugged Tomar across his forward hips. "Does it need to be now, or can I eat first?"

"You try to leave before you eat and I'll let Tomar sit on you until you do," Quasma teased and ladled a large serving into one of their bowls.

"Or until I make him howl and forget why he's on top." Jerik snickered.

"Grab a chunk of bread and take a seat. Both of you." She instructed sternly despite the smile.

"Yes'm," Tomar chuckled, doing as she said and started to eat gratefully. "By the way, what took you so long with that last spell?"

"I panicked," Quasma admitted, taking her own breakfast and sitting quietly.

"You got it out." Jerik tried to assure her. "That's what counts."

"Yeah, but I should've used it sooner," she pointed out. "It's the whole reason we have the silversalve. Honestly, I should've tried it sooner, but I didn't think it'd work. It's supposed to be used against demons ... never occurred to me it'd work against a ghoul too, but it should have."

"Should work against weres too." Jerik added between bites. "Anything vulnerable to silver."

"I suppose," she nodded. "It was mostly designed for demons. Main reason I learned it too. You run into them a lot more often when you're poking through old wizard's libraries."

"True enough." Jerik nodded and quickly devoured his simple but hearty breakfast. "Got an idea of how much meat I should try to bag before stopping?"

"I'd say a few good-sized deer should last for our trip ... with a few preservation spells, I'd say stop when you're tired, honestly," Quasma said. "It'll give them plenty until we get the bandits and they get the next harvest."

Jerik nodded and stood to give Tomar a long kiss before casting his preferred transformation spell and molding his body into Lady Blackfire. While it was a creature that didn't exist on any world he knew, it was one that had existed in his people's fantasy and stories for ages.

"I'm not sure I'll ever understand where that came from." Tomar shook his head a bit as he regarded the elegantly boned and formed dragon biped not quite as tall as he was. He'd taken Jerik's word on the gender, though like most scaled creatures, it wasn't inherently obvious to him. Still her scales of ebony and crimson were striking and her form showed the aesthetic taste he'd learned to expect from his mate's creations.

"Don't worry, neither do I, really." Lady Blackfire chuckled, her voice a lilting tinkling of chimes in the still air that only added to her alien nature.

"How are you - by the Gods!" Lyran exclaimed, his eyes wide as he saw the humanoid Dragoness.

"Just the imagination of a transformer." Lady Blackfire grinned at him, the corners of her elegantly pointed muzzle coming up. "This one is Lady Blackfire. Best solo hunting form I have."

"Ah ... yes," the Wolf said, leaning back against the counter, still clearly shocked. "So you are going out to hunt today?"

"Yes," Lady Blackfire nodded. "We'll need meat to continue, and the village needs to just to last our stay."

"Good hunting to you then," he said, bowing respectfully. "Be careful out by the quarry; no telling if the bandits will fear you, or take shots at you."

"I understand." She nodded seriously and headed for the door, her elegant wings and long, serpentine tail flowing behind her.

"He's taken out a Blight mage and Quell before, he knows how to take care of himself." Tomar said as he watched his mage leave without him. "I still don't like it, but he does know how to take care of himself."

Lady Darkfire folded her wings slightly to drop down to the center of the village with her last kill of the day. She estimated her four kills added up to a good three thousand pounds of meat, possibly a bit more. At this point the villagers had realized that her shadow meant good things coming and to gather to help butcher the kill she dropped for them.

This time though, after dropping the large herbivore for them, she didn't spread her wings to swing back up in the air, but twisted to the side to land near Tomar, Quasma and Tim.

"Hell of a hunt," Tomar murmured as Lady Blackfire landed and transformed into Jerik as his feet hit the ground not long after the fourth elk crashed to the ground.

"I had good luck, and when you kill from a good distance, the herd doesn't run." He grinned up. "There should be enough in there for us to take a share."

"If not, we can get some more on the way," Tomar said easily, hugging Jerik. "Thanks. I'm sure they'll say it once they're done," he chuckled, nodding to the gory scene of the butchering work and the obvious celebratory mood of everyone there.

"I can feel it." Jerik smiled and relaxed into the embrace. "When we're all in fighting shape again, the bandits are in the quarry."

"I was about to ask that," Quasma said. "You get anything more than that they're there?"

"They keep a few guards posted around, but I didn't get close enough to see much." He admitted. "They haven't built it up much."

"Hey, that's something," Quasma pointed out. "We won't have to storm a castle. You see any of the hostages?"

"Not that I could tell, but I really didn't get close." He told her. "I was thinking to go back as a finch or crow and get a better look when we were ready to go."

"Actually ... that's a good idea, especially if we take something else in," Quasma murmured. "Think you could go in as a crow, take in a personal item of somebody's? A ring or something?"

"Sure." He nodded. "Should be easy enough to manage. Does it matter whose item?"

"I was thinking we could see if one of the hostages had a ring or something that might have been missed," Quasma explained. "It wouldn't be that strange to see around the camp; they'd just assumed they missed something, and it would help link me to the hostages themselves."

"Would a strip of clothing or some hair work?" He glanced at her. "Something they are wearing when I go in. I'll try for a ring or something, but an object of less value is more likely."

"Clothing would work," she nodded. "Hair would work too, but harder to find for sure."

"All I have to do is find a prisoner to get either." He chuckled. "Shouldn't be hard at all."

"True," she chuckled. "Though I'd been thinking you could take something there, instead of bringing it back ... if you think you can do that safely, then go for it."

"If you want something taken there, why not some of your fur, or my hair?" He suggested.

"Because that's not connected to the people who are there," Quasma explained. "The idea would be to link to whatever went there, and from there, follow its tie to somebody who's there ... I could get a feel for where they are, where they're going, things like that. If it's something of ours that goes out there, then all I can do is find where it is, and look around its location."

He nodded in understanding and thought for a bit. "Probably best to ask around the village. I can drop it off though."

"We'll have the chance during dinner," Quasma nodded. "I've already talked to them, found a couple good opportunities in case I'd still have to scry for where they are now."

"Good." He nodded. "You get the item and I'll leave it. For now, I want to sleep again. Hauling those beasts here took effort."

"Of course!" She said easily. "You go sleep, we'll call you and Tomar when it's dinnertime."

"Thanks." He nodded and headed back into the inn with his mate.

A few days later, Quasma looked into Numin's glowing amethyst finial as she waited with the others, just outside of the quarry. Jerik had taken in a piece of one of the hostage's dresses, and Quasma had managed to do just as she'd said she would, connecting to it's young owner and seeing what she could see.

She shuddered as she broke her gaze.

"We have to go now," she said quietly. "The guards are all either sleeping, on watch, or ...." She shook her head. "If we don't get in there soon, they're going to rape one of the hostages, so let's go."

"Right." Jerik nodded and flowed into Lady Blackfire. "Where? I can get there fastest." She spread her wings, ready to launch.

"Foreman's 'den,' lower right from here. It's underground, you won't be able to fly beyond the entrance."

"We'll be there as fast as we can," Tomar promised Lady Blackfire. "If you have to, get out."

"Right." She nodded and got airborne.

Seconds later the other three realized that the draconian form was not just for her wings. Blasts of fire and lightning lit up the quarry as she dove past the main guard post and left it cinders in her wake.

"I think he's upset." Tim said drolly as the two Defenders and mage hurried to join the battle.

"Do you blame her?" Tomar shot back, the three of them charging into the quarry, catching the guards who were turning to fire on Lady Blackfire from behind.

"Nope," Tim shook his head even as he drove his sword threw the spine of a Bear in light armor. "Just quite a show for him."

"Less talk, more fight!" Quasma warned them both. "We'll have archers in two!"

Tomar turned, exposing his armored length to the archers he noticed just before they fired. Tim and Quasma ducked down behind him for protection as steel scales deflected the incoming arrows.

As the archers reloaded, Tomar kept the ground guards busy and off Tim so the Rottie could switch to his crossbow and drop the archers. Deeper inside, they heard screams resounding through the quarry. Some of the bandits ran out of one of the tunnels built into the base, headed for another part of their lair.

"They're going for the hostages!" Quasma shouted. "Tomar, we have to stop them!"

"Suggestions?" He asked, hammering one of the bandit's shields and sending him staggering off the ledge, into the quarry below.

"CrestRider, here," the Lynx said after a brief moment to think, indicating a crack in the rock with Numin. Tomar backed up, bringing the blade of his axe down on the crack, widening it, the enchanted blade withstanding the stone.

"Get back, both of you!" Quasma warned them, jamming Numin's tip into the crack and rattling off a series of magical words as they came to mind. The amethyst finial flared with light, the entire staff glowing bright violet before something like a lightning bolt seemed to shoot into the air and back down into the rock, breaking off a large slab and sending it crashing down. It caught one of the bandits below, stopping the other three in their tracks before they could reach their prisoners.

The three turned to look at who had attacked, but their attention abruptly shifted to the tunnel they had come out of when a blast of energy erupted from it to fry one of them. Tim cocked his crossbow and turned to slide under Tomar's armored skirt, aiming at one of the remaining two bandits and putting a bolt through his throat.

Lady Darkfire launched out of the tunnel a moment later and kicked upwards to launch herself out of harm's way before casting another lightning spell that turned the last bandit into charcoal.

"Come on, let's go get the prisoners," Tomar said, starting down the slope into the quarry at a lope even as Lady Darkfire flew upwards to meet them.

"Tomar, with me. The leader's on the run. Quasma, get the prisoners to safety." She ordered even as Tomar skidded to a stop and angled along the slope to follow his Mage's lead.

"Come on, this shouldn't be too bad," Quasma said, heading down ahead of Tim. "Bet they'll be glad to get out of here."

"Let's start with the girl you saw." He suggested politely. "She's separated from the others."

"Down there," Quasma nodded, pausing at the base. "Gods, I hope the leader didn't take her along, but I think Jerik would've been more pissed if he had. Why don't I go get her, you start on the other cells?"

Tim paused, then nodded when he realized that a large, heavily armed male was probably not what the girl needed to see right now. "Meet me with her in the main cellblock?"

"Will do," Quasma nodded, slinging Numin across her back as they split up. She went down to find the Schipperki bitch she'd been seeing through the eyes of and quickly found her in the room she'd nearly been raped in.

The girl's clothes were ripped, and she was shaking, hiding in a corner as best she could, but she seemed otherwise uninjured.

"Come on out?" Quasma asked the female near her own age. "Please ... it's over. They can't hurt you anymore, and we're going to take you back home."

The small black bitch looked at her from where she was trying to hide behind her torn clothing in the corner. Her dark eyes were wide, but not completely hysterical anymore.

"It's safe now. I promise." Quasma held out her hand. "The bandits are all dead now."

"The monster?" She asked, her high voice quivering a bit.

"Chasing the leader ... she isn't really a monster, just a mage friend of mine who changes shapes. We came from Addington when we heard about what happened."

The girl nodded slightly and stood, still uneasy but willing to believe the Lynx only a bit older than she was and yet so much more mature in life.

"You're Aure, right?" Quasma asked with a smile, backing towards the door. "Come on, let's go meet the others, then you can meet Jerik the way he really is."

"Yes ma'am." She nodded and held the tatters of her blouse up to cover herself. "Thank you." She said softly even as she started to tremble again. "Not everyone was so lucky."

"I'm sorry we couldn't get here any faster," Quasma said softly, pausing to strip off her outer robe, glad that she was wearing tunic and trousers beneath it today. "Want to borrow this?"

Aure nodded and eagerly wrapped it around herself, grateful to be fully covered. "Thank you, ma'am."

"You're welcome," Quasma smiled. "And thank you," she added. "If it weren't for you and a part of one of your dresses, we would have had a lot harder fight getting in here."

"My dress?" She looked up at the Lynx in confusion.

"Jerik's a mage who changes shapes, I'm one who ... finds things, people. I was able to use a piece of cloth from some of your clothes to find you and the others, and use my magic to look around here so we knew how to fight the bandits." Quasma explained as they came close to the cellblocks where Tim was trying his best to convince the hysterical females there that he wasn't there to hurt them again.

"Tim, back out," Quasma called. "They'll probably listen to me. He's here with me, we've gotten rid of them!"

A Heritage of Power 4: Jerik's Story 9.99: Tropical Temple

NC-17 for Herm/Herm
Het Level is Low
Slash Level is
Femslash Level is None
Herm Level is LowHerm Smut Level is Low

68 KB, Story is Closed-Unfinished, Series is Closed-Unfinished
Written June 12, 2006 by Rauhnee Ranshanka and Karl Wolfemann

Setting: Herath, Star Wars (Furry)

Primary Races: Canine, Feline, Kat, Rohr (Herm Wolftaur), Wolf

Contents: Furry. Herm. Het (M/F). Slash (M/M). Violence

Pairings: Jerik/Tomar, Talessi/Tomar

Notes: An unfinished story from after the series.

Blurb: Shortly after Jerik becomes a Mage, he and Tomar help Quasma with her graduation mission; finding a tropical temple in the middle of the mountains.

Disclaimer: All things taken directly from the sources listed under 'Fandoms' belong to the owners of those shows. No harm is intended and we're definitely not making any money. Now, the things we created are ours, and if you see 'Non-FanFic' up there, it's probably all ours.

Page Hit Count from July 14, 2007    1570