Of Pain and Pouncings
Karlinn Brave Coroporate Logo

“Well, this is another fine mess you’ve gotten us into."

The blonde Hume leaned his head back against the cave wall, letting out a quiet groan. “It’s not like I knew it was going to be here, okay?” he replied, cautiously clutching his gut. He cringed upon feeling something warm and wet stain his fingers, and was in no hurry to identify the liquid.

“I’m kidding. Damn,” grunted the brown-haired Hume. He grit his teeth, fighting down the stinging as his regenerative magic slowly stitched his broken right leg back together. “I know, I shoulda seen it coming too.”

Blondie spat, the saliva colored red; it only angered him further. “Blasted goblin, right out of nowhere.”

“Miracle we finished the worm,” remarked Brown-hair. “Any word from the healer?”

“Nah, but she had a pretty good head start.” Blondie threw a glance up the tunnel, towards a distant skeletal figure that had them trapped. Slowly rolling the tiny pearl in his free hand, he added, “She’s probably okay. If any of us could outrun it…"

“Yeah, yeah, the cat could, I know.” Brown-hair chuckled, somewhat painfully. “And here I was thinking, ‘We don’t need a white mage… I can heal!’”

A loud cough preceded Blondie’s reply. “Speaking of which…”

“Right, sorry. Here.” He made a short gesture, draining an unseen reservoir of energy. From where he sat, he couldn’t see his companion’s recovery, but the man visibly grew more comfortable.


“Don’t mention it, brother. More on the way.”

Bony feet pounded on rock several yards up the tunnel; the ghoul paced briefly back and forth, seemingly oblivious to their presence.

“You think it can hear us?” Blonde wondered aloud.

“With what?”

“Good point. Well, if… hey, wait.” He cocked his head, listening to unheard words.

Brown-hair felt the last fibers of bone and flesh reset themselves, his leg fully healed, if a bit numb. Sighing with relief, he asked, “What’s the story?”

“Good guys – well, girls – will be here in a minute.”

“Beautiful.” Brown-hair gave a small smiled, following up with another Cure. “Your voice never sounded sweeter, my friend.”

“Yeah, I bet you say that to all the ladies,” said Blondie, chuckling under his breath, which strengthened as the hole in his gut shrunk and nearly closed.

“Nah, I had to stop. Court order, they’re catching on.” The red mage crossed his arms over his chest, looking to his left and snorting dismissively. “I’m ready to give up, anyway; I think I’ll just try and help other people hook up from now on.”


“Oh, I’ll do it,” Brown-hair said with forced sincerity. “You just wait. This time next week you’ll be getting love notes from Shantotto.”

“Even if I believed you for a minute,” Blondie began, barely able to hide his grin.

The red mage didn’t let him finish. “Hey, she likes blondes, what can I say?” he asked rhetorically, silently pleased with the lightened mood.

“Well, we do have more fun,” said the other Hume, arching his eyebrows suggestively.

“Hah!” belted Brown-hair, unable to contain his laughter. Blondie quickly joined in, the two shared a short laugh. “Ahh… don’t go changin’, brother.”

“We’ll make a pact,” Blondie replied. Suddenly, his head jerked to his right, brow furrowed and eyes narrowed.

Brown-hair shot a concerned look his way. “What’s up?”


He strained his eyes and ears, but detected nothing that wasn’t there before. “You see something?” he asked; his right hand slowly drifted to the hilt of his sword, and his muscles tensed.

A soft, feminine giggle drifted through the tunnel, seemingly from empty air. Immediately both men’s eyes went to the ground, and saw a tell-tale pair of footprints in the dirt quickly making its way towards them.

Blondie grinned. “I think we have company. Madam, if you’d be so kind?”

The air over the footprints shimmered; a blurred humanoid shape slowly faded into appearance, gradually becoming clear and distinct. Familiar mage’s robes and cat ears; brown hair tied in a bun, club hanging loosely from the belt.

“Sorry I took so long,” said the white mage. “Had to get someone to help kill the ghoul.” There was a faint sparkle of mischief in her eyes.

Brown-hair caught it. “Who’d you get?”

A second female voice came from right next to him, startling him. “See for yourself!”

Before he could move, he felt the unseen tip of a tail brush against the side of his face. He started, then smiled once more. Her voice told him who it was; a second later, the red-haired Mithra faded into view, standing next to Brown-hair.

She looked down at him with a mixture of amusement and mild concern. “What’d you two get into this time?"

Brown-hair nodded to Blondie. “Nevermind. Just fix him up, please; I’m good to go.”

White mage set to work on Blondie. “Who’d you get to deal with the ghoul?” he asked.

She motioned towards the tunnel entrance. “She practically forced us to let her tag along.”

An ear-splitting roar tore through the tunnel, calling attention towards the skeletal monster in question. Silhouetted in the dim light, they watched a tall, slender Elvaan woman trade blows with the ghoul, repeatedly smashing its bones with her claws.

“Punchy,” said the Hume, impressed. “I like it.”

“RAAAAWR!” the raven-haired monk howled, landing a solid punch to the creature’s jaw, knocking its head clean off.

The red mage chuckled, drawing both feet closer and slowly pushing up off the ground. “Ohhh,” he groaned, feeling blood start to circulate through the formerly injured leg once more.

Redhead raised a doubting eyebrow. “You sure you’re okay?”

“Aw, I’m fine,” Brown-hair said dismissively. “Just getting’ old.”

Her brow twitched. “You’re a year younger than me."

He chuckled softly. “I’m kidding. C’mon, let’s get outta here.”

White mage helped Blondie get back on his feet, and the four started down the tunnel towards the Elvaan monk. “Where to, boys?” she asked.

“Home sounds lovely,” said Blondie.

“Yes it does,” Brown-hair replied. “Besides, I gotta get to hooking him up with Shantotto.”

“Will you stop that??” Blondie protested, with faux-annoyance in his voice.

Brown-hair grinned broadly. “Hey, legally it’s not stalking if it’s a neutral 3rd party.”

“I’m gonna kill you. I’ve got the shovel, I know where to hide the body, I’m going over the alibi in my head right now.”

“That’s what you said about the box that fell off the ferry. How was I to know it was just a pie?”

White mage gave a sidelong glance at Redhead. “Now?” she muttered, just loud enough for certain ears to hear.

“Are they both healed?” Redhead asked. White mage answered with a nod.

“What was that?” called Brown-hair, tilting his head towards the Mithra several paces in front of him.

“Now!” she shouted, doing an about-face and launching herself at her prey.

Neither man heard the pair of “Rawr!”s until the two were already airborne.