Rage of the Red Dragon
This article, Peltin and Carra: The price to pay, is the property of Flame Lizard and cannot be tampered with or referenced without his permission.

This article, Peltin and Carra: The price to pay, is a Flashback.

Beginning of the End

“Where is she?!” A man roared while towering over another cowering on the floor. As he scrambled to get away a third man burst through a doorway with a magic rife in hand. Before he could even take aim however, the first man leveled a pistol resembling a revolver and shot him three times in the chest. The rifle clattered to the floor first, slowly followed by the man sliding down the doorframe. Just as he stopped moving, the gunman turned his attention back to the prone man, who had by now backed himself into a corner. “Out with it!”

“Look, Peltin, we didn’t know he was going to do something like this.” He pushed off the floor and the wall, slowly rising to his feet as he explained. “You know us, this ain’t our style.” He begged, trying to make himself sound sympathetic. Peltin hadn’t moved, making the man think he was safe from harm for the moment. “If we’d known Sarin was going to pull something like this, we’d ‘av ousted him on the spot. Kidnaping ain’t our game”

Another shot rang out, and the man fell to the ground again, cursing and clutching what was left of his kneecap. As he glared up at Peltin, Peltin knelt down next to him, pushing the end of his gun’s barrel into the man’s cheek. “I don’t want your damn excuses. I want to know where he’s got the redhead.” He drew the hammer back on his pistol, which made a sharp clicking sound. “Sooner would be better than later.” He said with a hint of sarcasm.

Suddenly another grunt appeared at the door, a machine gun in each hand, spraying the room full of magic shots. Peltin’s eyes immediately began to glow, and he leapt backwards, flying through the hail of shots then sprung off his hands and landed behind a large safe on the opposite wall. “Hey, stop shooting; I’m in here damn it!” The man Peltin was interrogating cried. A moment later the firing stopped, as both men surveyed the room while the dust settled.

Another shot, and a blue flash of light bounced around the room, finally stopping when it burst through the new assailant’s ankle. As he fell, Peltin emerged again, rushing straight at the man. He jumped and planted a foot on ether of his shoulders, knocking him back into the wall behind him. Peltin kicked off with another back flip, then leveled both his guns and open fire. Five, seven, eight, ten? There were too many shots ringing off too quickly to keep track of, but by the end there was no question about who had won the encounter.

With a heavy sigh, Peltin looked himself over as his eyes returned to their normal(?) yellow color. A few miner flesh wounds, but nothing he wasn't use to by now. Turning back again to the man on the floor, who had covered his head with his arms for protection, he slowly raised a gun. “I’m a bit short on patience right now, in case you hadn’t noticed.”

Looking over the destruction wrought through his office, and his henchmen lying dead next to the doorway, he complied. “Alright, alright, but you got to promise not to kill me, you hear? You get to settle things with Sarin, and we never have to see each other again, Deal?”

Peltin stared disinterestedly, drawing the hammer back on his gun again. “It won’t hurt your chances.”

Taking this as an agreement, the man put on a tense smile. “I don’t know the exact location, but my men have said that he’s set up somewhere in Rowsller, about 2 days south of here. Just him though, no others, ‘cept this kid your on about.” Peltin grinned, but then re-aimed his gun at the man’s forehead, causing him to panic. “Wait, you said you wou-.“ The sound of a gunshot interrupted him, before he slumped over dead.

“I lied.” Peltin muttered, putting his guns away and marching out the door. Down a flight of stairs and past several other mages who had fared no better against him then the ones on the upper level, to a doorway that lead to the outside. A crowd had gathered outside, drawn together by the noise and frequent gunshots. Nobody seemed to notice Peltin as he flipped his hood up, muttering. “Just hang in their kid. I’m goin’ to get you out of this.”

Flashback 2 Weeks Prior

Located in a coastal city of Bantia, the mage guild Blazing Soul sat relatively empty. The guild appeared to be undergoing some renovations, as several of the walls where lined with scaffolding. Only a few people where present, most notably a large, muscular man directing the others. Just as they had finished working on their resent task, the front door slowly swung open, and a slender man in a long coat walked through the door. He wasn't a part of the guild, so far as any of them knew, and he didn’t appear to be the most honest of characters ether. The only thing that stopped them from dismissing him on the spot was a petit redheaded girl with glasses, no older than five, clinging to his cloak near his knees. While the new entry’s looked over the guild, the muscular man watched them curiously. “Hey guys, take an early lunch alright, I’ll be with you in a bit.” None of the workers argued, all heading out the back door in under a minuet.

Seeing the others obey him, Peltin stepped forward as the large man approached. “Guess you’re the boss around here, aren't ya?” The little girl accompanying him ran off to join two other children sitting in one of the corner tables, starting up a conversation almost immediately.

“Y-yeah, I’m the current guild master.” He stuttered a bit, perplexed as to what reason such a young child and this thuggish looking man where traveling together for. “Name’s Davin Vamiro.” Davin took another moment to return his attention to the man. “Don’t think I got yours though.”

“My name ain’t important.” He said, waiving Davin off. “But from what I've gathered, you guys are a legal guild, so I got to ask a favor.” Davin watched, more confused now than before, as Peltin nodded towards the table the kids where sitting at. “I got some real bad shit to take care of. And if I’m not back in around a week, I need someone to look after the kid for me.”

Davin only stared blankly. “What?” He checked himself, careful not to alert the children on the other side of the building. “Hold on, back up a bit. What stuff exactly do you have to do that you think you won’t come back from?” He glanced back at the children. “And more importantly, why do you have that child with you in the first place?”

Peltin’s expression softened a little, and he gave a slight sigh. “Her parents where part of a gang I ran back in Fiore.” He paused momentarily, while Daven silently encouraged him to continue. “They uh… They ain’t, with us anymore.” Davin went wide eyed for a moment, glancing over his shoulder at the small redhead. “She don’t know yet.”

Feeling his stomach grow tight, Davin turned and called to one of the children. “Hey Leo, come here a moment.” One of the children left the others, a boy around ten or eleven years old. He stopped up beside Davin, eyeing the stranger. “Why don’t you and your sister introduce your new friend to Zumma out back? Let them know they can have the rest of the day off, alright?” Leo nodded as Davin patted him on the head with his enormous hand. “That's my boy.” He returned to the others and after a moment another girl, around the same age as the redhead, took the two by the hand and led them out the same door the workers had used a few moments ago. Davin then pulled a pair of chairs from under a table, siting in one and offering the other to his guest. “Look, I’d like to help you, but the more I know about your situation, the better.” He waited for Peltin to move, but he remained standing for the moment. “Let’s start with your name.”

He was hesitant for a moment, knowing that he was pressed for time, but seeing the look on Davin’s face somehow enticed him to sit down. “The names Peltin Geonova.” He started slowly, before nodding his head in the direction of the back door. “The redheads called Carra, Carra Luind. We've been on the run for the past month or so, trying to keep ahead of this other gang that’s all but wiped us out.” Despite the apparent gravity of the situation, Peltin cracked a smile. “Needless to say they’re pretty damn thorough about it too.”

Davin was caught off guard for a moment, taken aback by Peltin joking about the whole scenario. “Alright, so you got involved in a gang war that went bad. Then what?”

Peltin huffed, seemingly insulted by Davin's comment. “We weren't a gang in the typical sense.” He leaned back and crossed his arms. “We were probably the closest thing to the law that that town has.” Peltin caught himself, remembering his current predicament. “Well, that they had anyway.”

“My mistake.” Despite this, Davin grinned, happy that the man before him wasn’t a hardened criminal. The Magic Counsel had been giving him trouble recently for his resent promotion to Guild Master, and aiding a dark mage would just have made things harder. But it felt like less of a burden on his mind knowing he had a good heart.

“Anyways, one of my lieutenants played us real good. Played me, real good.” Peltin continued. “Some of the other gangs hired him to wipe us out, and he’s a hell of a lot more motivated by cash than loyalty. Problem for him is the one guy he was required to kill is the only one still standing.” He grinned again, gesturing at himself. “It’s like some screwed up metaphor ain't it? I’m strong enough to not kick the bucket; yet weak enough to let everyone around me do the same.” He lifted his arms out to the side, as if he was making a statement. “Ain't life grand at the top?”

“Indeed.” Davin took a moment to absorb this information, making sure he didn't jump to any conclusions. “So you’re worried this person will come after you, all the way from Fiore, just to complete a contract? I’m sorry, but that sounds like a lot of work just for some money.” Just as Peltin was about to argue the point, Davin interrupted him. “But regardless, you want us to look after little Carra while you… No doubt to off to confront this person? Does that really seem like the best option right now?”

“Best option or no, it’s the one thing that’ll bring this damn rat race to an end.” Peltin rebutted. “And the kid’s probably better off with you then she’d ever be traveling with me. From the look of things you got plenty of experience taking care of kids, so everything’ll work out fine.”

“I disagree.” Davin sighed. “What if you don’t make it back? What will I do when she asks where you've gone?” Peltin didn't answer, and Davin began to sound a bit impatient because of it. “You’re her guardian now; you’re all that girls got left of a family. And I know you care about what happens to her because no average Dark Mage would go this far for a tag along.”

Trying to brush him off, Peltin was a little annoyed that Davin had seen through him so easily. More so that he was right. “I ain’t exactly what you would call a contribution to society. And you could find a better roll modal by throwing a stick in the air.” Peltin backed down as he noticed Davin's rather tired look. “But I’m up for a laugh, what’s your plan then? How do I get this asshole off my back?”

Davin seemed relieved that Peltin was listening, but had to prepare himself, knowing he wouldn't like his answer. “We go to the Counsel.” Peltin exhaled sharply, and was getting up to leave when Davin reached across the table and grabbed his wrist. “You've got a child under your care, plus you’re not the typical dark mage they’re used to dealing with.” Peltin shook his arm loose as Davin continued. “You plead your case to them, and they may take the both of you into protective custody. With the law on your side, the man perusing you will either have abandons his contract, or get arrested trying to fulfill it.”

Peltin still wasn’t impressed. “Alright, it appears some things where missed the first time, so I’ll give you a quick summery. I’m a vigilante, I took the law into my own hands for a living, something that’s generally frowned upon in most places. And the kid’s got no parents to complain when something happens to her.” His sarcasm wasn't helping, but Davin could see where he was coming from. “The Counsel won’t give two shits about what happens to the pair of us.”

Davin sighed again, knowing that this was also a highly probable scenario. “Would you be willing to try at least? Give it a shot before walking off to confront this person?”

Before he could answer, the back door open and the three children ran back into the guild hall. The two men watched them gather around the same table as before, talking about whatever children of their age talked about. Witnessing this seemed to change Peltin’s decision, however slightly. With a long sigh he asked. “And you can keep the kid safe then? Even if the counsel brushes us off?”

With a smile, Davin stood up and placed a hand on his shoulder. “From what you’ve told me, your pursuers have no reason to go after Carra. It’s only you he’s after, and she’s technically not a member of this gang of yours.” Davin began leading Peltin out of the guild, waving to the children before closing the door behind him. “We can deal with him when he comes for you. Until then, you’ll need a place to stay. Carra can stay with one of the other guild members, or somewhere in town if you prefer.”

“Long as she’s kept away from all this, ether ways fine with me.” Peltin was still trying to get out from under the man’s massive arm, but seemed to be having no luck. “And I can make my own way. I ain’t so dangerous that I need a babysitter alright.” He put on another smile, trying to sound as innocent as he could. “I promise I’ll behave myself.”

Chuckling to himself, Davin patted him on the back. “Alright, go ‘make your own way’ then.” Without another word, Peltin began walking toward the town, leaving Davin standing in the guilds courtyard. After a moment of thinking to himself he heard the door to the guild creek open, and the three children walked out, led by the young Carra.

She was just in time to catch a glimpse of Peltin before he disappeared behind the treeline. “Hey, Peltin, you forgot about…” It was too late; Peltin was out of sight before Carra could finish her sentence. “Me.” With no ware else to turn for answers, Carra slowly approached Davin. “Where’s he going?”

Slightly surprised by her openness, Davin turned around end knelt down to try and get closer to her eye level. “Your friend just has to run some errands in town. He said it would be a few days, so we’ll be taking care of you for a little while.”

“What?” Carra asked surprised. “No, I want to stay wi-.”

“Now now…” Davin interrupted, holding up a finger to quiet her. “You’ll still see each other tomorrow; he just wants to make sure you’re not alone for the night is all.” Carra puffed out her cheeks, still unhappy about being separated, but Davin turned his attention to his own children. "Leo, Shelly, do you two mind taking our little friend over to Isa’s house?” They both nodded, and Davin ruffled both their hair as thanks. “I’ll call ahead and let her know you’ll be coming. Get going now, it’s close to bedtime for you all.”

Though the three children complained a bit, they set off I the direction of the city a moment later. After going back to lock up the guild for the night, Davin himself left for the city, thinking over how he would ever convince the counsel to let him take a dark mage under his care. Unknown to all however, another man watched over them from around the corner of the guild building. Evil eyes behind a pair of sunglasses watched the guild master depart, before he grinned to himself. “Dumbass.”

A sudden gust of wind blew past Davin, making him turn around to investigate. He narrowed his eyes at the road behind him, but could find nothing out of the ordinary, save for the ominous wind of course. Not knowing what to make of it, he simply continued down the dirt path, hoping that it was nothing.

The sun was just beginning to set as the three children arrived in Merow City. The streets where far less crowded than one would expect from a big city, even at this hour, but none of the kids seemed to mind. A few street corners into their journey, Leo noticed the same storefront pass bye for the third time that trip. The others hadn't seemed to notice, so he thought it best to ask. “Hey, Shelly? Are you sure you know where you’re going?”

Shelly stopped suddenly, apparently aware that she had no idea where they were. “Well uh-.” She touched a finger to her lips, trying to think of an answer. “We’re going to Isa’s house.” She said with pride.

Leo sighed while Carra stared blankly. “Are we lost?”

“No.” Shelly huffed defensively. “I know where we are. I just…” she took a moment to think again, looking around the street for any ideas. “Wanted, to show you around town is all.” She spied the ocean between a pair of buildings, and quickly took Carra’s hand. “Come on, let’s go see the boats.”

Surprised, Carra simply followed along behind Shelly, leaving Leo standing on the curb. He wasn't paying attention at the time, and turned to find Shelly and Carra already on the opposite side of the street. “Hey, Shelly, don’t go run-!” He was stopped from chasing after then when a carriage sped through the street, which he had to jump back from just to avoid getting run over. By the time the carriage had passed, Shelly and Carra were out of sight. “Shellllllyyyyy.” Leo moaned, before crossing the street himself to try and track them down.

Running as fast as their short legs could carry them; the two girls sped towards the ocean. Realizing that the direct route to the sea was cut off by a thin wire fence, they began turning down every ally they came across, hoping that it would lead towards their destination. Through the excitement, Shelly had failed to notice that Carra’s hand had slipped out of her own, and was now having trouble keeping up with her.

Slowly losing her breath, Carra began to feel her legs ache under the strain. “Shelly, Huf slow down, Huf I caAAAAAA!” Mid sentence, Carra slid on a patch of loose dirt as the pair of them rounded a corner, landing herself in a pile of boxes. Shelly had already made another turn as Carra fell, and didn’t notice that she had left her new friend behind.

“Ow ow ow.” Carra muttered, picking herself up and brushing the dirt off while looking around the ally. Having lost track of both her guides she now began to grow nervous in the unfamiliar city. “S-Shelly?” She looked back down the alley they had come from. “Leo?” As if on cue, the wind whistling through the ally died down, sending a chill down Carra’s back. “Shelly, where did you go?” As she looked around, a light gust of wind began blowing down the alley towards her. She turned and watched the loose dirt blow at her, backing away slightly as it got closer and closer. She tensed up as it blew past, but it simply carried on down another alley.

Carra watched behind her as the strange wind dissipated and sighed, glad that it was nothing. Still afraid however, she called out to her friends. “Guys, this isn't fun-.” In that instant, a gust of wind tore across her back, splattering blood throughout the ally. Carra fell to the ground without a word, passing out moments later from the shock.

As she lay motionless, another man approached with his hands in his pockets. “You know, I chased you lot half way across the globe, and the one guy I was supposed to off is the only one left standing.” He nudged Carra with his foot slightly, making her twitch as she bled onto the ground. “Guess it holds true, survival of the fittest and all that.” Through the man’s bantering, Carra began to stir, though was still only semi-conscious do to her injuries. The man grabbed her by the shreds of the back of her shirt, tucking her limp body under his arm before turning to leave.

Half way across the city, Peltin was eyeing an abandoned building , contemplating weather or not to use it as hideout for the immediate future. “Well, it ain't exactly the lap of luxury, but it’s got a roof.” He grinned to himself. “Least the kid’s out of the firing line though.”

Just as he turned to search for something to sleep on, he heard a shy voice say. “E-Excuse me. M-Mister?” Peltin turned around, but didn't see anyone else with him. “Down here.” He shifted his vision down slightly, and was surprised to find Davin’s daughter looking up at him. She seemed too afraid to look at him directly, only holding out what looked like a cloth wrapped around something. “Someone said to give this to you.”

“Someone?” He repeated, taking the cloth. “Wait, how exactly did you track me down?” He froze however when he unwrapped the cloth, gazing at it in the palm of his hand. “Where did you get this?” Shelly only stared at the ground under her feet, too intimidated to answer his question. “Damn it!” He yelled, causing Shelly to flinch away from him. He turned on his heal and took off on a flash, dropping the cloth and its contents, a bloodied pair of broken glasses.

Back to the Present

Showdown in Fiore

A dust storm blew through a small town located in the western part of Fiore. Tough this was incentive enough for most of the town’s residence to stay indoors, one man stood outside of a small shed, completely unbothered by the weather. “You know, you could consider this an opportunity.” He seemed to be speaking to himself, but the howling wind made it next to impossible for anyone around to eavesdrop. “Born into a gang of thugs. Man, what a piss poor way to start a life.” He glanced back into a wide gap in the shed’s wall, apparently talking to someone on the inside. “Maybe if I’m feeling nice, I’ll dump you off with that guild master the pair of ya where so chummy with. You know, after I off the boss man and all.”

He pushed off the wall and turned to face the shed, and was just about to say something else when he heard a shot ring out over the sound of the wind. He had just enough time to instinctively move his head back as a blue bold of magic whizzed past. It wasn’t good enough however; as the shot was still able to graze his cheek. He reached up and clutched his injury in surprise, but grinned to himself when he watched the blood run between his fingers. “About bloody time.” With a flick of his arms, the air pulsed for a moment, before the dust storm cleared away, reviling a hooded man standing a few blocks down the road with guns drawn. As the bubble of calm air spread, his hood blew back, revealing the leering face of Peltin through the sand. “Hey buddy.” The man taunted. “Sure took your sweet ass time getting here.”

“Where’s the girl Sarin?” Peltin asked, not wasting any time. Sarin grinned and gestured with his thumb towards the shed, and Peltin instantly B-lined towards it. Ignoring Sarin completely, he kicked in the door and scanned over the area for any sign of Carra. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the light, but when they did he spied her lying on a small patch of hay in the corner. Her hands had been tied in front of her stomach and she was covered in dirt, but she seemed ok otherwise. She shuffled a bit when he saw her, and Peltin breathed a huge sigh of relief. “S’all right Carra, we’re getting out of here.”

He moved to pick her up, but the second he placed a hand on her she shuffled and moaned like a wounded animal. He retreated a little, and Carra rolled on to her stomach to reveal a series of large partly healed gashes along her back. “What, the hell did-?”

“Oh, yeah that might have been me.” He heard as the light from the doorway was blocked by Sarin’s shadow. “She’s a hell of a lot easier to deal with like this though, that’s for damn sure.” Peltin instantly saw red, turning around and opening fire with both his pistols. Shot after shot could be heard, which didn’t stop until the doorway had nearly been doubled in size from gunfire. Sarin however, was able to move in time. Anticipating such an outburst, he used his wind magic to push himself out of the way before any harm could befall him. “Hey, easy now gunslinger. She’s alive ain’t she? That’s a win right?”

Though he hadn’t calmed at all, Peltin scooped Carra up with one arm, careful not to disturb the injuries on her back. All the while keeping one of his pistols trained on Sarin. “She’s five years old you son of a bitch.”

Sarin seemed to get defensive, though Peltin highly doubted that it was sincere. “Hey I wasn’t aiming EXPRESLY for her.” Peltin gritted his teeth, cursing himself for once trusting this man as his lieutenant. “Come on bro, if I had there wouldn’t be much left to rescue would their?” Obvious now that Sarin was just trying to get a rise out of him, Peltin turned his attention to Carra, Who was slipping in and out of conscious. “Besides, we’re criminals; we hurt people for a living. It’s just…” Sarin seemed to stumble as he watched Peltin remove his long coat, and then wrap it around Carra to comfort her. “Wait a minute, don’t tell me you...” He laid Carra against the shed’s wall, hoping that she would be safe there for the moments to follow. “Aawww, you gone soft on me man. What the hell?” Sarin sounded legitimately upset by this. “After carving that warpath through the underworld and wasting half our old associates, you chose now of all times to grow a conscious?”

With only a grey muscle shirt over his torso, Peltin brushed the dirt off his pants and drew his other gun. “Naw, I’m still going to kill ya.” With those words, Peltin trained both his guns at Sarin, and open fire once more. Taking a fighting stance, Sarin took off running down the street. Peltin followed him with his guns, but couldn’t quite manage to land a hit.

At a crossroads, Sarin caught a street sign and used his momentum to swing around the corner, out of Peltin’s range. “Funny, I don’t remember that sentiment when I offed this kid’s parents.” He shouted from behind a wall. “Or the rest of our little gang for that matter.” He dove out of cover and threw his arms out to the side, sending a pair of razor sharp disks of air at Peltin.

As Sarin’s attach sped towards him, Peltin activated his Temporal Eye magic, which slowed the world around him to nearly half its speed. He sidestepped the first attack and ducked under the second just as easily, before taking aim again as Sarin flew behind another building. He wasn’t fast enough, as Sarin was out of sight before he could squeeze off a shot.

Peltin ran down the street to catch him, and heard Sarin speak just as he reached the corner of the building. “Wind Make: Razor Storm!” Peltin’s eyes widened as he instinctively grabbed the side of the building, pulling himself out of the way just as a gust of wind tore through the street, ripping into the earth and blasting out windows along its path. Sarin could be heard laughing as Peltin clutched at a pair of shallow cuts on his stomach. “Surprised ya didn't I? Doesn’t matter how good of a shot you are, if you can’t match something like that, you ain't going to last long!”

Weighing his options, Peltin turned and ran back from the crossroad, knowing that Sarin had him beat in firepower. Sensing this, Sarin glided through the after him, but lost track of him through the maze of back alleys and side streets. “That’s right, keep running! Because that’s worked so damn well for you in the past!” He began shooting off random gusts of wind, each cutting a path through the buildings they collided with. “You know it’s your fault that brat got roped into this.” He caught a glimpse of Peltin between buildings, and turned to end this on the spot. “Wind Make: Tempest Force!” A massive tornado touched down over top of the buildings where he thought Peltin would be, levelling the landscape in an instant. As it cleared, Sarin could find no trace of a body, though he simply grinned and continued his search. “I got sick of chasing your ass around, so I thought I’d get you to come to me!”

Below him, Peltin ran through every alley he could find, Firing off a shot down every crag and crevasse he came across. Somehow or another, Sarin had failed to notice the trail of gunshots he was leaving, though Peltin just chalked it up to him loving the sound of his own voice too much. “Like going fishing for the big one!” Sarin continued. “All’s needed is the right bait, and the catch’ll come straight to ya!”

“Keep talking asshole.” Peltin muttered under his breath. Still running, he made another turn and realised it was a wrong one, as entrance he had just used had open back into a main street, leaving him out in the open and in clear view of Sarin.

He grinned and razed an arm. "Razor Storm!" Multiple blades of wind raced down the street, tearing through everything in their path, including Peltin. Through the barrage, he had enough sense to leap back into the alley, saving himself from being ripped to pieces. “But I’ll be damned if you ain’t a fighter, little fish.”

Leaning against the wall of the alley, Peltin tried to power through the pain. Several cuts lined his arms and torso, and the thought of bleeding out soon came to mind. Sarin drew closer, hovering over the buildings. “Well bro, I’d be lying if I said this hasn’t been fun.” A small tornado formed in the palm of Sarin’s outstretched hand. “But I got a check to cash.”

He was about to launch another spell, when a blue light burst through roof of the building he was floating over, making a small cut in on the left side of his chest . Forgetting about Peltin, he clutched this new wound and stared at the hole in the roof with confusion. Through this, Peltin could be heard laughing from his resting place. “Cash this Sarin, Rebound Shot!” In that moment, Sarin saw several blue glints shining from every building around him, which later raced toward him in a volley of shots from every angle.

Dispirit to save himself, Sarin took off flying through the barrage, narrowly avoiding almost every one. What was worse, the shots seemed to reflect off each other, reintegrating themselves into Peltin’s trap, even after being avoided. One particular near miss severed a pouch from his belt, which landed next to Peltin below. He quickly pocketed it and got to his feet, grunting for the aches he was experiencing all over his body. One of his pistols began to emit a green light, and he pointed it upwards at the wall next to him. “Bolt Sniper.” A green line of magic pierced right through the wall, and everything else in its way before it emerged from a rooftop, headed straight at Sarin’s chest.

He rolled in midair to avoid getting shot in the heart, but the attack still grazed him, leaving a long gash across his chest. Sarin grunted with the impact, but then saw Peltin’s previous attacks bearing down on him. He slammed his palms together and shouted. "Wind Make: Typhoon Wall!" Creating a sphere of air to protect himself. He was saved from further harm initially, but the sheer volume of attacks pushed him down through the roof of the building, which collapsed moments later from the damage.

Not wasting any time to make sure the fight was over, Peltin disengaged his Temporal Eye and rushed back to the place where they had left Carra. Retracing their steps through a maze of ruined buildings and damaged streets, he soon came upon the shed and found Carra right where he had left her. She seemed to be more lucid now, though still in great pain from the wounds on her back. She could see someone approach, but couldn’t tell who it was without her glasses. Instinctively she began to shuffle away, thinking it was Sarin.

“Hey, hey, kid It’s me.” Peltin responded, before reaching down to untie her hands. She seemed to relax a little, before slipping into unconsciousness again. “I’m going to get you to a doctor, so just keep hanging in there alright?” Just as he was about to pick Carra up, a familiar shadow appeared over them. Holding her against his chest, Peltin dove to the side as Sarin crashed through the shed, reducing it to splinters and throwing a cloud of dust into the air.

He set Carra down and drew his guns again as Sarin emerged from the smokescreen. With a cone of wind whirling around his hand, he made a thrust at Peltin’s chest, moving in for a more up close fight. Sidestepping his arm, Peltin grabbed at the necklace around Sarin’s neck as he passed, stopping him dead. Chocking as it grew tight, Peltin used this to pull him backwards, delivering a strong knee kick to the middle of his back. To follow up, he swung his pistol at Sarin’s face, slamming the top of the gun barrel into his nose.

He fell back; shoulders and neck hitting the ground first, with his torso and legs following soon after. Peltin stood over him with a gun pointed at his head, was about to end it then and there, when Sarin grabbed the barrel, pulled Peltin in and kicked him in the side of the head. He lost hold of one of his guns as he stumbled back, while Sarin jumped to his feet and attempted another slash attack. This one tore under Peltin’s arm, but not deep enough to be a problem. With his free hand he griped Sarin’s jacket, and pulled him in for a devastating head-butt that sent him reeling backwards and his now broken shades clattering across the street. Before he could follow up, Sarin propelled himself into the air, landing on the nearest rooftop to catch his breath.

Peltin took the time to do the same, only now realising how exhausted he was. Not just from this fight, but the previous two weeks he had spent tirelessly chasing after Sarin and Carra. The sound of someone laughing snapped him back to the moment, and he looked up to see Sarin had risen to his feet. “Well, you still fight like the best of ‘em.” He stopped for a breath, taking time to wipe dirt away from the wound on his cheek. “Nobody’s ever going to be able to dispute that.”

Peltin watching him silently, contemplating retrieving his other pistol, but abandoned that thought when Sarin placed a palm over his closed fist. Magic began to build in his gun, emitting an orange glow from the mouth of the barrel. With a mad grin, Sarin leapt into the air and shouted. "Wind Make: Gale Sword.” A thin spiral of air shot out of his hand, heading straight at Peltin’s head.

Peltin waiting as long as he could as Sarin closed in, while his attack bore down on him. At the last moment, Peltin's eyes flashed with magic, and he shifted his head to the side. The attack tore down his cheek, just below his left eye to his jaw. But it was worth it, as Sarin was now just a few feet from him, unable to do anything as Peltin slammed the end of his gun into his stomach. ”Bolt Volly.” An array of small yellow lights shot out from his back, and a surprised Sarin instantly spit up blood before landing on his knees. He clutched the hole in his stomach with one hand, while used the other to make a desperate wind slash. Much slower than his last, Peltin grabbed Sarin’s wrist, pressed the end of his gun into his left shoulder and opened fire. For the first few shots there was nothing, but then the magic bolts began emerging from the other side, sending bits of flesh and bone flying through the air.

He fell onto his back when Peltin let go, his arm held on by only a few shredded tendons. Gasping for air and clutching his stomach, he watched as Peltin stepped onto the wrist of his near severed arm and took aim at his forehead. Looking him in the eye, Peltin had failed to notice the fingers of his Sarin’s near dead arm twitch, and he suddenly felt a slight breeze, accompanied by stinging feeling in his right eye. The stinging turned into an intense burn and he snapped his other eye shut, rearing back and howling from the pain as blood ran down his cheek. Holding his eye with his free hand, Peltin fired blindly at Sarin, unloading shot after shot into where he remembered him to be laying, a sudden wind blowing over him as he did so. After a moment of shooting, Peltin glanced down with his good eye, only to find Sarin was missing, despite the fact that he could still feel something under his foot.

A step back revealed everything. In a last ditch attempt to save himself, Sarin had severed through what was left of his ruined shoulder after putting out Peltin’s eye, using the chance to escape death. Peltin roared in anger, furious that he had let Sarin escape after everything he had done. He kicked Sarin’s pale arm, which bounced off the corner of a building before flopping down in one of the alleys. The glow of his Temporal Eye faded from his remaining eye, as Peltin had finally ran out of magic the magic needed to sustain it.

Stumbling his way back to Carra, he leaned against the building he left her next to, sliding down slowly until he was sitting down. He glanced down at her with his one good eye, finding her resting rather peacefully wrapped up in his coat. Though they were both in a dire situation, he was happy that she wouldn’t have to see whatever was coming. “Sorry kid. Don’t think either of us is making it to a doctor now.” His other gun slipped from his hand, and he too slipped into unconsciousness.

Picking up the Pieces

A few scenes flashed though Peltin’s mind while he lay in the street. The first was of his own legs sticking out into the street, next was the same scene except in the dead of night. Next was Carra in the arms of a woman with cap, with a man with long dreadlocks standing guard, then the roof of what looked like a carriage. When he finally came to his senses, he sat straight up in an unfamiliar room. He instantly doubled over from the wounds, though it didn’t stop him from looking over his surroundings. He was bedridden in a small wooden room, with bookshelves lining the walls and a man with cold eyes watching over him. Peltin didn’t recognise his face, but the mass of dreadlocks on the back of his head seemed like a familiar sight. When he noticed Peltin looking at him, he knocked on the door he was leaning on with his elbow. “Jaina, he’s up.”

He heard some shuffling from the other side of the door, and a moment later a woman covered in bandages entered the room. Peltin was surprised however, as she looked to be in worse shape than he was. Bandages covered her left eye, as well as the stump of her right shoulder, and she held a crutch under her remaining arm to offset her missing left foot. “So the badass lives.” She joked, lowing herself into a chair. “So at any point did you, I don’t know ,consider running away? Maybe before losing an eye?”

Peltin chuckled a little while he swung his legs over the side of the bed. “You’re one to talk.” He stopped laughing however, as the action seemed to light his stomach on fire. The man with dreadlocks left the room, while the woman named Jaina seemed to grow slightly annoyed by Peltin’s comment. “Where’s the kid?”

“With my sister Isa.” She answered rather shortly. “She pulled through, but it’ll take a while for those cuts to heal up.” She produced a bottle of wine from behind herself, flicking the cork off with her thumb before taking a long drink. “Still, looks like she came out of it a lot better than you did.”

Peltin’s face seemed to grow somber as he reached up to feel the bandages over his missing eye. “Yeah my old partners a real piece of work.” He attempted to rise to his feet, but had to balance himself on the wall just to stay upright. Jaina jumped up to stop him, but Peltin had already made his way out the door by the time she had retrieved her crutch.

The room outside looked like a bigger version of the previous one, only with more people occupying it. Davin and his two kids where there, as well as the dreadlock man standing outside the open front door. Davin stepped forward to speak but Peltin simply raised his hand to silence him before he could say anything. Lastly, the woman with the cap, who Peltin guessed was Isa, sat on a bed next to Carra, who was lying on her stomach. Isa jumped a bit when Peltin closed the door behind him, though Davin breathed a sigh of relief, glad that he was already on his feet. Carra stirred a bit, and Isa stepped away to let Peltin with her. “Hey their kid, how you holding up?”

Her face was buried in the pillows, but she slowly turned her head to the side as Peltin knelt down beside her bed. “Peltin, that man.” She started, fighting to hold back tears. “The man who took me.” She stopped for a moment to sniff. “He said my parents are dead.” The mood throughout the room seemed to grow tense, and Jaina emerged from the smaller room. “Where are my parents Peltin?”

Peltin ran his hands through his hair. He knew that he would have to answer this question sooner or later, but found that it hadn’t made it any easier to do. “I’m sorry kid.” Carra seemed to hold her breath, and Isa covered her mouth with her hands, dreading what she new the answer to be. “Your folks didn’t make it.”

Unable to control her emotions, Carra turned her head back into the pillow, silently sobbing into the sheets. Davin’s daughter turned around and buried her face in the side of her father’s leg, while he knelt down and wrapped an arm around both his children. Peltin sat on the bed next to Carra looking at the floor, reflecting on everything that had happened over the past month. For once in his life, he was at a loss for words, unable to think of anything he could say to comfort her.

He was snapped back to reality when he saw a pair of feet standing in front of him. He looked up to see Davin’s daughter Shelly standing before him, clasping her hands behind her back with tears running down her cheeks. “I’m s-sorry…” She started, trying to not look him in the eye. “I ran a-ahead when the b-bad guy came.” Davin sighed while listening to Shelly, while Peltin simply listened in silence. “Carra was alone b-because of m-me.”

Many of the adults grew tense when they heard Shelly’s confession, not knowing how Peltin would react. Leo stepped up forward when Peltin raised a hand, but was stopped by his father, who watched Peltin closely . “S’alright kid.” He said while patting her on the head, surprising just about everyone in the room. “He’d have done the same thing weather you were there or not. Don’t feel bad.”

The collective mood in the room seemed to lighten, as Shelly ran back and hugged her brother for comfort. The moment was broken however, when the man with dreadlocks stuck his head in a door. “Boss, Counsels’ here.”

Davin ran to a window, while Peltin slowly got to his feet. “Well it’s been fun, but all things got to end, right?” He spied a desk on the far side of the room with his guns sitting on top, next to the pouch he took off of Sarin half way through their fight. He contemplated fighting his way out, grabbing his guns and having one last showdown with the law. But hearing Carra sobbing into the bed changed his mind. He had seen enough bloodshed for one day, and decided a peaceful solution would be better for everyone. With a sigh he took the pouch and tossed it across the hut to Jaina. “Sarin always kept the real expensive stuff with him, and the kid’s parents kept a collection to send her off to school or something.” Jaina seemed confused, and open the bag to find an array of jewelled trinkets inside, but Peltin had already started towards the door before she could inquire further. “Something of theirs might be in there.”

They all watched as Peltin walked out the door, surprised that he had chosen to simply give up. Davin watched in silence, though had a twinkle in his eye that Jaina picked up on. “What’s that look?” Davin smiled at her, stepping around his kids. “I know that look, you’re about to do something stupid.” He only waved back at them as he too exited the house.

Outside, a squad of half a dozen mages stood in a circle around Peltin, led by an elderly woman in a puffy winter jacket. They all turned to look at him, except for the dreadlock man standing guard at the door. “Payla, hold a moment.” She narrowed her eyes at him. “I can’t allow you to arrest this man.”

“Don’t interfere Davin.” She ordered. “You should know this man is a dark mage, and we can not allow him to roam free in our country.”

“I understand, but you see, I’ve already taken him into custody.” Both the counsel mages and Peltin stood stunned. “He and the child he is acting as guardian for are both members of my guild. And I will take responsibility for them now on.” He gave a friendly grin, though it was met by a scornful look from Payla. “I believe we have the authority to do that should the need arise.”

“These rules exist to keep the public safe, not so you can take in every stray dog you find without consequence.” Payla spat, noticeably growing impatient throughout the conversation. “You’re splitting hairs Davin.”

There was silence for a moment, though Davin kept his warm smile throughout. “You know, if we take this as a challenge to Yog, he’d agree to it in a heartbeat.” There was a flash, and the dreadlock man stepped forward, griping a pair swords composed of magic. “All I'd have to say is; 'Don’t you agree the stronger party is better suited to watching over him'?” Davin asked slyly.

Looking between him and Peltin, Payla took in a breath and exhaled slowly. “Troops, we’re pulling back.” The solders around Peltin broke their formation, lining up two by two facing away from the hut. Before leading them away, Payla turned back to Davin one last time. “We won’t allow you to get away with this forever Davin. One day or another, we’ll get sick of you bending the rules for your convenience.”

Davin only waved as the counsel mages disappeared over the horizon, which was also when the dreadlock man’s swords dissipated. Peltin however was amazed at what had just happened. Davin approached him and Peltin was at a loss for words the one day. “I- I don’t…”

Davin raised his hand to silence him, before butting that same hand on Peltin’s shoulder. “You don’t have to say anything. Just go be with Carra alright?” Peltin nodded dumbly, wiping his one eye before limping back inside. “Just know that that won’t be the last that you have to deal with them alright?” Peltin stopped for a moment, nodded again and continued his walk inside.

Quietly watching as Peltin re-entered the house, the dreadlock man glanced at Davin once the door had closed. “You know it won’t be that easy. Even with the kid taken into consideration, they’ll fight you around every corner.”

“Aw, let‘em whine.” Davin commented. “They aren't as heartless as you make them out to be Mace. It’ll just be something to let us know who’s in charge.” Mace snorted, before both he and Davin began down the long path to the guild building.

When Peltin re-entered the house, he found both Isa and Shelly going through the contents of Sarin’s bag with Carra. Though still on her stomach, Carra now lye with her hand under her chin looking over several bits of jewellery strewn about on a table. The task seemed to have gotten her mind off of her parents, for the moment at least, which Peltin was thankful for. Isa was in the process of looping a small silver teardrop with a sapphire in it onto a small chain, and jumped a bit when she noticed Peltin return. “She said she recognised it.”

Studying the necklace for a moment, Peltin grinned. “That's good. I think it's off something her mom wore.” He had no idea if that was true, but didn't want to be the one to tell her otherwise. Isa smiled, finishing the necklace and handing it to Carra, while Peltin knelt down to whisper in Isa’s ear. “Can uh-. Can you give us minuet?” She nodded and hurried Shelly and Leo out the door, before returning to give Jaina a hand doing the same. Carra watched everyone leave, then as Peltin sat down cross legged once they had all left. “So the big guy outside said we can stay in town for a while.”

"I'd like that." Despite her eyes still being somewhat watery, Carra smiled weakly. “I just don’t want to be alone again.” Peltin felt a slight tug on his heart. He knew she was two young to really blame him, but it felt like a guild trip none the less. “Oh.” She seemed to remember something, reaching under the covers, emerging a second later with another necklace, this one with a oval with a ruby the same size as the one Isa had made for Carra. “That Isa lady’s really nice.” She said sheepishly. “She made one of these for you too.”

Peltin chuckled again, though clutched his side when it began to ache. He took the necklace and hung it around his neck, then took Carra’s and hung it around hers, making her smiled again. The both of them didn’t know what they would do next, but they knew now that they at least had a place to return too. Just as Carra was about to nod off again, Peltin noticed something and leaned in clos. “We’re going to have to get you some new glasses kid.”