[Chapter 1] A Hard Lesson

The story of magic in North America.
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[Chapter 1] A Hard Lesson

Post by Kai »

This was incredibly unusual. She was heading, out a little ways, enough off the beaten path that nobody else would be around, but not far enough off of it to be her normal stomping grounds. On top of that, she had a weapon strapped to her back. A long bow, and a quiver of arrows, bouncing quietly but somehow threateningly along behind her as she moved. Red hair, green eyes, and freckles, were the majority of what showed of her aside from her long green cloak, and the flash of her red All-star sneakers.

But, the unusual thing was, again, where she was headed. She was headed to Lovell Bergman's house. Normally, she avoided the place- it smelled too much of death what with all the hunting and trapping they did. Of course, most people wouldn't notice the smell, but having a heightened magical awareness often made approaches to hunters' places give her a bit of a bad feeling, regardless of how clean the places were kept.

For expediency's sake, she hiked rapidly along the road, rather than taking the more scenic route through the forest, as she was in a bit of a hurry. Something was going on in the forest, which she could not take care of herself. People were starting to talk, and although she did have a limited ability to augment or cloud people's memories of magical events, it was running beyond her capacity to cover up, and something had to be done. Something that required force.

Beyond herself, Siofra was more or less useless in a fight, for anything more than surveillance, so she needed something, no, someone, a bit larger, and stronger than the squirrel. That's where Lovell came in. As much tension as there were between the hunter and the keeper of the forest, Keelin begrudgingly had to accept that he was one of the few people she could trust with supernatural matters such as these.

It wasn't long before her long shanks and swift feet brought her to the edge of what would be considered the Bergmans' 'yard', a bit of a clearing on their property which contained the main house and a few small out-buildings of various purpose. At this point, she stopped abruptly. There was no point in coming any closer, especially since she was technically armed. Lovell would have noticed her by now, and likely be on his way to meet her.

The main building in the yard, the Bergman home, was a stout wooden-framed house with a single door, a few windows, and a total of four rooms inside. As Keelin figured, she was noticed as soon as she entered the property, as a result a loud barking rang out from the nearby shed. After a few moments a furred figure bolted from the shed sprinting on all fours. It was Macy, the Bergman's hound. Excitedly the bloodhound made a B-line towards Keelin before bouncing around the girl as she sniffed the air.

From the house one of the curtains shifted ever so slightly as a more humanoid figure checked what the commotion was all about. The door to the house swung open and the man standing in the doorway easily filled the entire opening. Tall, wide, and wearing brown flannel, the elder Bergman, Henry, stared out into the yard with sharp brown eyes that peeked out from between a messy head of black hair and a full beard. With a wave of acknowledgement and greeting to the Vaughan girl he proceeded to make a shrill whistle, at which Macy calmed down and simply sat where she was by Keelin. His business seemingly taken care of he closed the door once more.

After about ten seconds the door once again open, this time with a bit more gusto, and Lovell stepped outside. "Need something?" Lovell called out, beginning the conversation even as he crossed the fifty or so feet between her and the house. "I don't remember hunting anything I shouldn't've."

When Henry came out, Keelin returned his wave of recognition, and then proceeded to scratch Macy behind the ears as she waited for Lovell to make his way out. Of all the Bergmans, Macy was probably her favorite, as the dog was definitely the easiest to get along with. However, she would have to get back to business once the Hunter came out.

Soon, Lovell appeared, and as he began the conversation he could see the look of concern on the Druid's face. "It's nothing you've done. I'm sure you've noticed, though. Ersee got kicked out of his clan, and has been going on a rampage. He's been attacking Humans, and even letting himself be seen."

Keelin shook her head, seeming a little upset. "The clan doesn't seem to want anything to do with him anymore, nor do any of the others. It's a risk having a lone Sasquatch this close to humans, especially in his state." The redhead paused and looked Lovell in the eyes, not wanting to say any more.

Lovell gave Keelin a tired stare as she explained her visit. With his hands tucked in to a pair of rather ragged jeans, a worn out t-shirt tucked in partially, and rather messy hair, he looked the part of a man who was woken up prematurely from a nap. "I got up from my nap for an ape sighting?" Lovell growled after Keelin trailed off, and followed with a raspy sigh. "Though it's not everyday I see you with a bona fide weapon, and rarer still for you to actually come here. So, seeing as we don't really do small talk, that must mean you want something from me. Could probably give you a gun to use, sure'll take down Sasquatch better than that bow will."

Keelin frowned at Lovell's attitude, and scoffed when he referred to the Sasquatch as an 'ape'. She nearly said something regrettable when the young man suggested she use a gun, but opted instead to be a bit nicer, as she needed him to come along. "You and I both know that guns don't work on them," She countered, turning down his offer of a modern weapon. "These are rune arrows, but even these only do so much. Ersee nearly killed someone, so we have to put him down. You know I can't do it alone, and I know your father has some more powerful relics that only you can use. I need you to come help me. Please, Lovell. I know you hold little love for the people around here but the rumor mill is always active and your family has a bit of a reputation. The sooner we can take care of this the sooner questions will stop being asked and the less likely there are to be accusations."

Another growl, this one more ponderous, could be heard as Lovell scratched his head. Macy, who had now made her way over to the boy, and stared up at him. Looking back at the dog, Lovell frowned and held eye contact with the hound. "What?" he asked, directing it at Macy. Scratching his head some more he looked back to Keelin.

"It's weird hearing you say 'please'," Lovell said matter-of-factly. "Alright, I'll help. That thing stomping around'll make hunting trickier."

Thinking back for a moment, Lovell pondered what sort of 'relics' his dad might have lying around. "He does have that old Viking sword he hooked while out fishing on the lake a couple years back. Think the thing had a rune or two etched onto it..." Lovell now scratched at the faint layer of stubble on his chin.

Keelin's face seemed to brighten slightly, though her mood was still lower than usual due to the dire task at hand. "Yes! that's the one I was thinking of. He brought it to my family to look over when he found it. It should do nicely." The redhead put a finger to her lower lip in thought for a moment, as if she was forgetting something else that she wanted to remind him of.

"Oh, right! Do you have any form of extra protection, aside from being, well, you?" she asked

"Keelin, my family hunts game for a living. We have some blazed orange, some fishing waders, and maybe a couple sets of leather coats," Lovell said as he crossed his arms. "We don't generally make a habit of having what we are hunting fight back. If you want to try some leather, you are welcome."

Keelin quirked an eyebrow, then realized that Lovell thought she had been asking for more protection for herself. "Oh! No, I meant for you! I have my rune cloak, and several protection spells, so I should be fine," The girl spun around, showing off the cloak and reinforcing her protective spells with a faint glimmer that was barely visible, even with the nearly eternally overcast weather. "I was asking if you had anything extra to protect yourself."

"I'll dress warm," Lovell said with a shrug. "So when were you planning on beginning this excursion of yours?"

"I was thinking we need to leave as soon as possible," Keelin stated, looking away into the forest, letting the serene sounds sink in for a moment. "I would like to get this unpleasant business over with as soon as possible, if you're up for it." The Irish-American tapped her foot on the ground for a moment before remembering something with a start- "Oh, Also, I must apologize for my rudeness earlier, I've been upset about this for a while..." She trailed off a moment before getting back to business, "I can compensate you for your troubles, I don't want you to feel like I'm just using you."

Standing stoically as he listened, Lovell huffed lightly. "You can hold onto the compensation offer for the time being. Wouldn't want you getting off easy if this turns out to be trickier than you make it sound," he said as he looked off into the woods in the direction that Keelin did. "And I'm fine to leave whenever, just give me a minute to get some actual clothes on."

With that Lovell turned around and walked back toward the house, and as he got the the door he turned back to Keelin. "Feel free to make yourself comfortable. There are some chairs in the shed by Macy's bed," he told the girl, partially to tease her since he seemed aware of her aversion to the main building where he and his father processed the game they shot. With a swift turn of the handle Lovell continued into the house to get his preparations taken care of.

Keelin crossed her arms at Lovell's attempt at a joke- Of course she didn't want to go near that shed; it stunk too much, at least to her. Sure. the Bergmans ate everything they caught and weren't wastefully, respecting the law of the land and all that, but the sheer volume of hunting and skinning they did was still something Keelin was certainly not fond of. She continued to tap her foot on the ground, hover the pace had quickened slightly as she found herself mildly annoyed.

In order to distract herself, she looked down at Macy, and made a few small noises to attract the dog over, after which Keelin began to once more scratch the hound behind the ears. To which Macy happily sat leaning against Keelin's leg as she panted lazily.

After about ten minutes the door to the house opened once more and out walked Lovell, only this time he was dressed more appropriately for an excursion into the Northwoods of Minnesota in November. Clad in a light brown leather jacket over top of his mainstay green flannel, heavy denim jeans, solid leather hiking boots, and a light scarf lazily draped around his neck Lovell then made his way over to the shed. From the shed he had grabbed his rifle, a reflective band of cloth, and another light scarf. As he returned to Keelin the girl would also be able to notice a handmade leather sheath that held the sword Lovell hand mentioned looped around his waist.

"Alright, I am set," Lovell announced before holding out the scarf and the reflective band to Keelin. "Just in case you end up needing more than that cloak I'll have an extra scarf along, and here is your safety band. Wouldn't want anyone taking pot shots at you out in the forest, now would we?"

Keelin looked at the small bit of reflective fabric with something nearing disdain, having never felt it necessary to make herself any more visible than she needed to be. In all her years roaming the forest (which, to be fair, weren't especially many, but none less than Lovell's) she had never needed a device such as this, but she took it anyway, stashing it beneath her cloak. "If we hear gunshots, I'll put it on," she promised, before nodding her head toward the forest. "Shall we?" she asked, rhetorically, turning on the spot and starting at a jog into the woods at the edge of the Bergmans' property.

As Keelin jogged off, Lovell looked down at Macy. With a light whistle and a nod, the hunter and the hound began to walk in the same direction as the druid. Cracking his neck, he adjusted the gun strap on his shoulder while wondering what the girl's hurry was, unless Sasquatch was nearby the two would probably be better off conserving energy; and not getting sweat induced hypothermia.

He found her, before too long, walking, now that they were in a more wooded area away from Lovell's house. it wouldn't take long for him to figure out why, as he had been so keen to crack wise about it earlier. However, as they disappeared into the woods, Keelin guided them onto a disused looking track, which led away northward and westward, taking them farther from the lake and the towns, deeper into parts of the forest that were not as well-visited by humans.

Out in the forested hills Lovell felt more comfortable in his own way, and it appeared Macy did as well. After they had been walking for a short time he gave his dog a quick command, and without a moment's hesitation Macy bounded off into the undergrowth. With a deep breath, he filled his senses with the brisk Minnesotan air and settled into his usual tendencies while out hunting. Were he on his own, Lovell would have loved the situation he were in, but he was now both on business and in the company of another. So instead he changed his pace slightly and moved to a position about ten feet off to Keelin's left side.

Keelin watched Macy as she bounded off at Lovell's command, wondering just where she might go. Which got her thinking herself, about her own animal companion, that was, her Familiar, Siofra. "Oi, you li'l devil, get down here!" she barked suddenly, and as if out of nowhere, the tree above her rustled, and the small brown creature fell from above, landing on the Keeper's head lightly as a feather. The small animal immediately began to chatter animatedly, moving down to the girl's shoulder, or around her back, oven at one point perching on the front of her cloak and gesturing with its front paws in a very human manner, pointing them further north.

"Seems Siofra found Him, about three miles from here. That is dangerously close to humans, even the more hardy types such as you and yours," Keelin translated. "He's apparently built himself a bit of a hovel out of uprooted trees, and seems intent on staying around here." She shook her head, saddened by the prospect of what they had to do. "I wish there was another option, but he's been relocated to every single clan in North America, and none of them want anything to do with him."

"I know more about this manner of dealing with unruly animals anyway," Lovell chimed as he adjusted his gun for emphasis. "You shouldn't feel bad either way. Every species has its bad eggs. Doesn't matter if it is human, werewolf, or Sasquatch. If it causes trouble, especially this kind of trouble, they need to be put down."

Keelin eyed Lovell as he made a show of his piece, and then said his piece, as well. "I suppose that's true, but how would you like it if you weren't able to find a home, so someone just came and killed you because nobody could get along with you?" she asked, the squirrel on her head looking back and forth between his keeper and the hunter as the conversation switched hands.

"Only difference being that I am capable of looking for a new home without threatening others around me. Dad and I did just fine when we moved here," Lovell said. "That said, I'd like to think I manage just fine even without getting along with others. This thing was given a chance, more than a werewolf with a bad attitude would likely get, and it decided it still didn't want to cooperate. So you'll have to excuse me for not feeling much in the way of sympathy."

"I guess I have to agree with you on that one," Keelin responded, taking a deep breath and letting it out with a bit of a sigh. "In any case, this decision was over my head; the North American council asked me to do it since he's within my jurisdiction." The redhead frowned, seeming to feel the weight of her responsibilities in a way that she hadn't expected. "Still, It sucks to have to do it. For some reason, ending the life of a creature that's as intelligent and aware as a Sasquatch just seems to have more weight to it than taking a chicken for food or even the game animals your family takes all the time. It's a heavy burden on my soul to undertake this task."

What she left unsaid, however, was that despite what it seemed on the surface, she was greatly relieved to have Lovell with her for this. She felt as if he eased the burden, and his outlook on wildlife, and life in general, while in such stark contrast to her own, could likely teach her ways to be a more effective keeper. She knew, at least from hearing it from her elders, that she was very idealistic, and that she had yet to truly experience life in all its various ways, And even though she had faced the personal hardship of the loss of her father, perhaps she needed to understand more than one kind of hardship.

Lovell decided to pull back on his rough demeanor. While he tended not to care greatly about pressing people the wrong way he still knew when to hold his tongue, and from what empathy he was capable of, as well as what he knew of Keelin, the notion of death was more in his court than hers. "Well then, 'sa good thing ya brough me along then. If you're lucky I can manage the gritty parts," he said, still sounding somewhat condescending.

Keelin made a face in response to Lovell's comment, a mix of annoyance and gratefulness. "Either way, I'd like to get this over with. I'm not one to hasten the end of any creature's life without reason, but I do understand that there is a need for us to perform this task." The Redhead seemed to steel herself for what was to come, perhaps bolstered by the young werewolf, and perhaps feeling the urge to show that she was truly worthy of her position.

"Still, I wish we could find a better solution, even though I fear there isn't one."

"Well, at least we can agree on some things," Lovell said back as he trudged along off to the side of the fledgling Druid. His body language was aloof out in the woods, but he still sounded salty. "Sooner we are done with this the better. Dealing with shit like this is your schtick, not mine. So, tell ya what, if it looks like the thing is still open to reason, which I personally doubt given what you told me, I'll let you handle it. But if it looks like things are going South, just know I'm not going to pull punches just in case it can still end peacefully."

Keelin fell silent after that, as they continued their way forward, closer toward where Siofra had indicated the creature had made its temporary home. here and there, they saw signs of the Sasquatch's rampage; broken branches, crushed bushes, and the occasional uprooted tree or shrubbery. They even came across the mangled corpse of a local deer, though not in one place- parts could be found in various locations, the head making its appearance just as they reached the edge of a small, fresh clearing.

Luckily, they had reached the far edge from where their target was- The ground in between being variously trampled or uprooted, as Ersee had pulled up all the small trees in the vicinity, as well as some of the larger ones, and constructed himself a shelter that was half teepee, half lean-to, and all tree. From where they stood, just one of the creatures feet could be seen, sticking out of what was unmistakably the entrance to the shelter. From within, they could hear heavy, ragged breathing, though it was at a slower pace suggesting that the owner of the sound was currently sleeping.

This Sasquatch was not very subtle, Lovell thought as the hunting party progressed in silence. It would have been shockingly easy to track even for a novice pathfinder, but at least the trail was hard to notice compared to the camp that it had made. After following the broken wood and animal gore to the source Lovell was in full hunt mode, and off to his side at the edge of the clearing Macy was the same; both had hair bristling upwards on the back of their neck, and mouth edges turned up in a silent snarl. Instinctively, Lovell reached for his rifle, but recalled Keelin's note that the gun would be next to useless; so instead he moved his hand to the pommel of the viking blade he hadborrowed from his father for this outing.

True to his word, Lovell was going to give Keelin the opportunity to handle things her way; the flower loving hippy that she was. So silently he looked over to his companion, met eyes, and edged his way off to the side of the clearing opposite Macy, so that if need be he could try and get a jump on the beast.

Keelin blinked, briefly surveying the area, before taking a deep breath, and exhaling slowly. Again she steeled herself, she reached back, feeling to make sure that the almost forgotten bow was still strapped to her back, along with the quiver of arrows to use with it. Briefly, she grasped at it, almost wanting to pull it off her back and hold it in front of her, but she realized that would ruin all chances at diplomacy

Suddenly, decisively, the redhead stepped into the clearing, and called out to the Sasquatch. "Ersee, I am Keelin, Keeper of these lands! I have come to you under duress, For you have been causing trouble. What have you to say about all this?"

The response to the callout was a series of grunts and annoyed groans, followed by the foot disappearing into the shelter. Some more odd noises, as of something large was shuffling about trying to re-orient itself could be heard, and then the party in question made their appearance.

At roughly ten feet tall, the Sasquatch towered over both Keelin and Lovell, not to mention the dog. He was very large, with a muscular build only somewhat obscured by the full body coverage of hair, thinner in a few key areas, such as his chest and stomach, as well as around his hands and the bottoms of his feet. He was a rich brown color, almost chestnut, and, had the hair not been so unkempt, he would have been a fine specimen of his species. Warily, the Sasquatch looked at the keeper, her rune-clad green cloak obscuring her partly from his vision, but the bright red shock of hair made her easy enough to pinpoint.

Lovell's hand found its way to his face as he sat in some undergrowth. Just keep an eye on her and step in if need be, Lovell thought. He had been thinking she had some fancy druid spell that would subdue the thing, but instead she just called to it and forfeited the element of surprise. Now awake, the Sasquatch lefts its hovel and made its way past Lovell's hiding spot and moving towards Keelin. Slightly, the wolfman gestured towards Macy on the other side of the clearing, hiding in her own spot, signaling for her to wait. Waiting, though, may be tough, as the old girl looked as on edge as Lovell did.

"Just don't get yourself killed, ya idiot," Lovell said softly to himself.

Keelin was trying her hardest to simply stand her ground as the very large Sasquatch approached her. It stopped near the center of the clearing and simply stared at the druid, huffing a bit as it breathed heavily, punctuated with the occasional growl as it tried to figure out just what she was doing there

"Uhhh... Umm, Ersee, I have come to give you an ultimatum!" the druid began, gaining confidence with each word she spoke. "Either you must leave now, and travel as far away from humans as you possibly can, or... Or..." She began stumbling on her words as she came to the other end of the ultimatum. She stopped for a moment, gathering herself, before finally blurting the rest of it out;

"Or we'll have to put you down for good, so you can't hurt anyone ever again."

Ersee continued to stare at the patch of orange hair seemingly floating a few feet above a couple of red dots, but as she spoke, he seemed to become more and more agitated. Finally, when the ultimatum was given, he gave out a rather angry huff, and raised his hand, which Keelin now saw was holding a small boulder in it.

"Uh-oh, this can't be good" Keelin muttered to herself, before diving to the side as the boulder came flying at her prior position, accompanied by a vicious roar from the Sasquatch.

It was go time. If anything Lovell felt that he should have acted sooner, as Ersee's body language made it clear that it wasn't in any particular mood to cooperate. Thankfully Keelin had dodged the first attack, otherwise he would have felt guilty. From his position back in the shrubs he jolted forward and made a shrill whistle; both to give a signal as well as to draw attention towards himself. As he closed in on the Sasquatch he tried to draw the sword at his waist, but it was stuck in its scabbard; so rather than trying to go for a slash, he would drop his shoulder and try to tackle Ersee. From the shrubs on the other side, cued by the signal, a brown blur shot from the undergrowth as Macy came barreling towards Ersee's legs with vicious snarl.

Lovell's shrill whistle certainly drew Ersee's attention, and he turned toward the loud noise, watching as a small human-shaped thing came running at him, in response to which he simply swiped his large hand in front of him, much like an adult might do to brush off an annoying toddler, however, the strength ratio was quite a bit different, and the Werewolf found that his feet lost contact with the ground as he was smacked squarely in the side by the angry creature.

For Keelin's part, she picked herself up off the ground and tried to bring herself into a better mood for battle, though nature was a bit better for that than her mind was, with the adrenaline suddenly pumping through her veins. She struggled for a few moments pulling the bow off her back and fumbling through the quiver of arrows before grabbing one at random. However, she sort of stopped what she was doing and watched as Ersee sent Lovell flying a short distance with a powerful swat.

What happened was a haze for Lovell, he remembered getting hit, and the next thing he knew he was on the ground a ways away. Shaking his head to get out of his daze, Lovell stood back up and once again began to move towards the Sasquatch, this time at a slightly slower pace than before as he struggled again to get the sword out of its scabbard.

While Lovell struggled, Macy, spurred on by her master being harmed, roared as she closed the distance. Leaping, she sank her powerful jaws into a chunk of back muscle; shaking her head as she tried to tear and damage Ersee.

Lovell, his frustration growing from fighting with the stubborn sword, gave his own snarl as he simply said "Fuck it" and quickly undid the belt holding the scabbard to his waist. With the weapon free the wolfman rushed Ersee again swinging the two-foot broadsword at the Sasquatch.

Ersee roared again, even louder, as Macy's jaws bit down on his back, and his attention was once again drawn away to a different threat. Angrily he started stumbling backwards as long, powerful arms reached to his back, trying to wrench the hound from her unwanted perch.

Keelin finally regained herself and drew the arrow, concentrating her mana on the tip of the arrow in order to charge the rune that had been inscribed on the sharpened bit of stone that served as its head. After a few minutes of collecting her thoughts and concentrating on aiming, she pulled back just a little bit further before letting loose the arrow.

It flew, with amazing speed, swift and straight as the wind- right past its target, instead pummeling Ersee's shelter with the force of a hurricane, knocking it down with a gust of extremely powerful wind that burst out in all directions from the impact, buffeting Lovell, Keelin, and even causing Ersee to stumble to the side a bit as he struggled with Macy.

"Holy... what the... When did we get to Fargo?" Lovell stammered as harsh winds blasted him from nowhere. After tumbling a bit he managed to brace and stand again as he realized what the source was. "Well, look who is actually useful," he called as he turned back to Ersee.

"Macy! Go to ground!" Lovell shouted, recognizing the dog's efforts but trying to avoid having her get hurt. The hound obediently disengaged, releasing her jaws and pushing away from her target. Once back on the ground she shot off once more into the undergrowth. As she retreated Lovell rushed, bringing down the sheathed sword toward Ersee's back.

"Holy crap!" Keelin yelled with a bit of exhilaration at the effect her rune-charged arrow had caused. To be truthful, it was a leftover that her father had created before his passing. To say the least, he seemed to have some powerful runecraft, though Keelin could tell it had taken a lot of her own power to charge that spell. She quickly drew another arrow, concentrating even more now, as she knew that unless she finished this soon, she would quickly run out of mana and become completely useless

Ersee, for his part, swatted at Macy as she darted away trying fruitlessly to get the much swifter dog. Blinded as he was by his rage at the hunter's companion, and disoriented by the burst of wind, he didn't notice as Lovell swung the sheathed sword at him, striking him squarely on the back, near the spot that Macy had been biting. The Sasquatch let out a pained, angry Yelp as the covered weapon struck him so, once again causing him to flail at the thing which was currently hurting him- Lovell, Again.

Lovell was ready for this one, as he pulled the sheathed sword close to him in order to intercept the blow. The hit was still mighty, but he was able to control it somewhat thanks to preparation. As Ersee connected, Lovell was sent skidding back and tried not to stumble. Growling, the wolfman was getting frustrated by the fact that, as of right now, Macy was the only one who had yet to harm this thing; unless Keelin destroying a hut counted as emotional harm.

"Raaaaa! This is getting old fast!" Lovell roared, his agitated demeanor starting to surface. "And why wont the sword fucking cooperate already?!" Amidst his growling and roaring, Lovell's heritage was also starting to surface; visibly, the stubble on his chin began to thicken along with some other visible areas like on his knuckles, and his teeth began to sharpen as he snarled while his eyes shifted from hazel to honey gold. Roaring once more, Lovell rushed forward and, in anticipation of another horizontal swing to bat him away he dropped low and off to his left to try and slam the sheathed blade as hard as he could into the beast's kneecap; fueled by growing frustration and anger, he was pouring a lot into his enhanced strength to try and cripple Ersee.

Keelin continued to concentrate, this time trying harder to aim. Lovell was getting hurt, and taking all the blows, while she had been standing off in relative safety feeling somewhat useless as her prior attack, while spectacular, had been entirely unhelpful. She pulled back on the nocked arrow, this time concentrating more on her form with the bow than pouring mana into the rune on the arrow. She steadied her breathing, brought her arm under control- remembering everything she had ever been taught about archery.

Still, this was different. Thrashing and clashing, roaring and blurs of motion, adrenaline rushed through her veins, a stark contrast to the calm, stable practice sessions shooting at an old bale of hay with a burlap sheet over it, painted with concentric circles in the form of a target. This was a living, breathing, moving creature- And she was trying to kill it. Momentarily, Keelin choked up at the thought, nearly losing her grip on the bow, but she swallowed her pride, and her second thoughts. She was a Druid, a Keeper of peace and nature. This creature was destroying both, and now she had no choice but to destroy it before things got worse.

Lovell's swift attack caused Ersee to roar even louder in pain, the Sasquatch dropping to his knee as the joint buckled under the force of the Werewolf's augmented impact. That pause in Ersee's motion, the short period of time he was at a standstill, gave Keelin the opening she needed. She let loose the arrow, and this time it flew true, hitting its target, with just as much augmented magical force as the previous arrow, but instead of a gust of wind, this rune caused a sudden blast of freezing cold- It immediately froze the area around the arrow, spreading rapidly to cover a large portion of the Sasquatch's body in ice, and completely removing its ability to move, though the creature was still alive, howling in pain.

Lovell was securely in hunter mode. His strike had connected, and his target's cry of pain galvanized his drive to take it down. He registered Keelin's attack, but did not react beyond factoring it in to his actions; and it would go a long way towards finishing this. Dropping back, Lovell once again took a running lunge at Ersee, swinging the sheathed blade in a wide, powerful arc aimed at the small of the Sasquatch's neck; seeking the shatter his collar bone. Mid-swing, the sword's sheath inexplicably flew off as though it were just a standard sword, rather than a rune covered pain in Lovell's backside. Even better, the cognizant part of his mind thought as it watched the events unfold.

Keelin was able to remain standing long enough to see the Sheath fly off of Lovell's sword, the blade glinting in the sunlight as it was freed for the first time in many years. The redheaded druid found that she had no more strength, having used up the last of it in that shot. She dropped to her knees, and then fell backwards into a pile of disturbed earth, the last thing she remembered before she blacked out was the distinct sound of something incredibly sharp slicing through flesh.

With the battle finished, and his hunt successful, Lovell had settled down. The sword in his hand had finally been exposed, and was now sitting off to his side; he hadn't put it back in its sheath yet as he expected it wouldn't be pulled again if he did. Now he sat against a tree next to Keelin, waiting for her to recover; he had placed his pack under her head, and Macy was resting with her to help keep her warm in the cold November air.

Conscious of Keelin's disdain for blood, and the look she had simply thinking of killing the beast, Lovell had taken time to drag Ersee's body to the center of the clearing and dutifully covered it with the remains of his hut, and enough wood to conceal it; he would have buried it, but he lacked a shovel, and the soil was likely frozen down a few feet. He reached over and scratched Macy behind the ear and gave her a smile followed by a "Good dog", before looking down at Keelin, wondering if she will be fine as is or if he should have tried carrying her out.

He would only wonder a short while, as just a few minutes later, Keelin began to stir, semi-consciously grabbing ahold of Macy, the warm, cuddly creature that was sitting so close to her. She muttered something about a blanket, though the other words were completely unintelligible. Siofra sat on a branch of the tree, watching from above, the squirrel having made himself scarce during the battle to avoid being crushed by a large angry ape-man. He started chittering away as Keelin showed more signs of life, and the Druid groggily responded to the squirrel "No, I didn't forget something in the oven, Siofra, and certainly not a goose..."

"Well, someone's goose is cooked, either way," Lovell chided, attempting a pun as he heard Keelin talk to the squirrel.

Keelin slowly blinked as she realized that someone else was talking besides Siofra. After a few more moments her mind cleared of all grogginess and she became acutely aware of she was once more, straightening up and looking around. She could see Lovell, Macy, and she could feel Siofra's presence in the tree above her. However, the Sasquatch was nowhere to be seen, nor could she feel its life-force any longer.

"Is- Is it done?" she asked, a bit of sadness in her tone.

"Yeah," Lovell told her simply. He nodded in the direction of the wooden cairn. "Like I said, I took care of the gritty parts for you. I don't have a way to bury him, but with the wood we could cremate him. Figured I would wait for you to wake up, see what you thought. Though it is either that or leave him for the coyotes." Macy shifted as Keelin sat up, resting her head on the girl's lap.

"The first option, definitely. We can't leave any remains for humans to find, not this close to a settlement, certainly. The tribes usually deal with their own but, he has-" She stopped for a moment, realizing that any references to the Sasquatch could no longer be made in the present tense, "He had no tribe. It is our duty to give him rest, and to properly hide what's left." The redhead patted Macy on the head once, before moving to get up. It was a shaky venture, as she was still very low on energy, but she managed it. Siofra hopped down from his perch in the tree and made his way to his normal spot on Keelin's shoulder.

"Could you help me start the Pyre?" she asked of Lovell.

"Way ahead of you," Lovell replied, as he was already fishing in his pack that was no longer being used as a pillow. From the pack he produced a small, steel flip lighter and a bag of tinder with cotton lint. He moved over to the pile of wood he had buried Ersee under, and began to prepare a small starting fire. Once he had a small flame going, he found a promising place in the pile to place it. Gingerly he tended the young flame until it grew large enough to sustain itself.

With the task complete, Lovell moved back to Keelin's side. "I can tend it, if you'd like to head back."

Keelin shook her head no "I think I'll stay. I need to see his spirit off properly. It's the right thing for me to do as a Keeper." She stood where she was, having watched all of Lovell's preparations. Had she the strength, she could have easily started the blaze with magic, but as it was, she was glad for the hunter's survival skills.

"We should probably find a good place to sit, I think this fire will last the whole night." she commented, Looking around the clearing and finding a log that hadn't been used for the fire and dragging it a bit closer to the fire. "The final passing of his spirit will help to keep the cold off of us, which is fitting for such a fiery spirit as he had."

Lovell habitually rolled his eyes as Keelin mentioned spirits again, but held his tongue. Macy had already plodded over to the log, intent of keeping Keelin company; likely feeling she could use it, in the way that dogs can empathized with humans they cared about. Moving over as well, Lovell's hunting boots rustling the crisp, short grass of the clearing, and he sat down silently on the log. He seemed to be chewing on what to say, as he knew nothing about spirits, and likely anything he could say would be either rude, uninformed, or repetitive. So he simply sat there next to Keelin, feeling she needed company more than forced consolation, in the way that people can empathize with others that they cared about. The dancing flames of the pyre were almost hypnotic, as Lovell's eyes grew distant.

And there they sat, maintaining mostly silence for the rest of the night, Keelin feeling sorrow for the passing of the Sasquatch. She watched the flames as they lapped up against the burning logs and trees, the sweet, acrid smell of the young wood, the hissing of the sap and popping of bark as it roasted itself, and she knew, within the heart of the flames, were the remains of Ersee, Immolating and cleansing of the negative energies that the last times of his life had been filled with. Siofra stood watch on her shoulder, the Familiar's tireless vigil never ending so long as his master drew breath. Keelin kept one hand on the bloodhound's head, scratching her between the ears occasionally, until Macy grew tired and decided to curl up at her feet instead of sitting.

Every so often, Keelin would steal a sheepish glance sideways at the somber Lovell, though she always quickly turned back to the fire, back to what she felt was her duty, back to contemplating her own role in this incomprehensibly vast, and yet somehow excruciatingly small corner of the world.
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