After looking around the camp for a bit, Kane found a few of the warriors hanging round outside a tent, looking unusally somber. He strode over to them, quickly picking out who would be best for the task.
“Tesillan, Baru, Gaila; you’re coming with me. The Clan-Headsman needs a few of us to scout ahead on the path to Kruegr just to be on the safe side.” The three individuals nodded quietly. “Also, where the hell is Leither at? I thought about taking him with me as well.” The warriors looked at each other uneasily. “What’s the matter; do any of you know where he is or not?” Kane asked. Gaila stepped forward.
“Well he’s inside the tent with his beloved,” she started, “but-” Kane burst into the tent before she could finish, ready to grab Leither, but was stopped cold by the sight before him. The young warrior was kneeling beside an unconscious woman lying on the ground. Her left arm was missing from just below the elbow, the bloody stump wrapped in bandages. Various lacerations streaked across her body. The right side of the woman’s face was wrapped in cloth as well, through which Kane could see a couple nasty wounds already bleeding through. A couple of the clan’s healers were working to change her bandages and feed her anesthetic concoctions. Leither was holding onto the woman’s remaining hand tightly, a bleak, haunting expression on her face.
Kane grabbed the shoulder of one of the healers.
“Tell me what happened to this woman,” he demanded. The healer looked up at him.
“When the invaders attacked, Marilli had been looking after some of the clan children. She did her best to protect them from their strange steel blades, until one of the warriors came to bring them to safety, though it cost her dearly as you can see. We were able to reach her in time and stabilize her, but her left arm had been torn nearly to pieces, and some of the shrapnel had bored into her face, and we were not able to remove them.” Kane nodded and turned to Leither.
“Are you alright?” he asked. The young warrior didn’t respond to him.
“Why, why couldn’t I save her,” he mumbled over and over again. Kane scowled deeply and grabbed Leither by the back of his garbs and dragged him out of the tent. Once outside he unceremoniously dumped the fledgling warrior on the ground. The other warrior stood by to watch. “Listen Galeripper,” Kane called him by his War title. “If you’re blaming yourself for what happened to her, then I’m going to start decking you.” Leither looked up at him, helpless self-loathing on his face.
“But if only I had-” Whump! Leither’s face kissed the dirt hard as Kane back-handed him.
“If doesn’t mean a damn thing. You were on a mission for the clan. You wanted to prove yourself and become worthy of her. You weren’t here for the ambush and there is nothing you can do about that fact. She may have been maimed, but at least she is alive, and if you care for her, then that should be enough. There’s absolutely no reason to wallow in pity.” He looked back at the tent. “From what I’ve heard, she proved herself to be a worthy warrior of the Dynio. Do you think you’re going to do the dame by fretting over what could have been? Or are you going to pick yourself up, train, and take vengeance for her?” Leither looked at the ground for a few moments before looking up at Kane.
“I’ll make sure those bastards pay for every drop of blood she spilt tenfold,” he said with uncharacteristic savageness. In Leither’s eyes, Kane could still see a bit of self-loathing, but it was matched by a deep desire for revenge.
“My pep-talk may have worked too well,” he thought to himself. “I’ll have to keep an eye on him and make sure he doesn’t end up getting himself killed.” He offered his hand to Leither. “Good; then come with me. The Clan-Headsman’s decided to move our wounded to Kruegr and wants us to scout the way.” Leither nodded. Together with the other warriors Kane had picked out, the small troupe began to head north.
“Why are we even scouting this way? Didn’t the invaders retreat to the south?” Baru asked as they moved through the trees.
“That’s what I said,” Kane replied. “But the boss gave the order, so we just have to do it. Just think of it as an easy mission. I mean, it’s not like we’re going to meet an enemy out here.” Soon after they arrived at a small clearing in the woods; however, they weren’t the first to arrive there. Kane looked at the familiar emblem of the Drakos-El on the individuals gathered there. A golden-haired warrior turned around, revealing the terse face of Wester. They all drew their weapons. Kane could think of only one thing to say in response to the situation.