11 New Year 6096 RTR (21 Jan 1997) Though Darkside is put to the sword and fire, Ben, Jarik and Tirro play the parts of heroes in their own ways.
(Ben-zhamin) (Darkside) (Jarik) (Melchizedek) (Rephidim) (Sword Gone Missing) (Tirro)
Outside Achimed's Shop
In a somewhat less well-kept part of the Scholars' Quarters, Achimed's Antiques and Curios stands on the corner. There are no lights from within, even though it should be open usually at this hour. The streets are quiet, with only an occasional passerby about some late evening business.

A furtive Kavi, dressed in black, emerges from the shadows and walks briskly past Jarik and Ben.

Jarik stretches again, "Ben… it is wonderful to be able to move again. Thanks for locating this place while I was in the infirmary… "

Ben'zhamin nods, a slight frown on his face…

the black Kavi turns into the coffee shop next to Achimed's.

Ben'zhamin says, "Hopefully, we won't have a repeat of last time? Oh… and even if I should ask again, do not toss me on any more roofs?"

Ben'zhamin rubs a sore shoulder.

Jarik looks at the exterior of the shop, "Were you able to learn anything about this place? Oh, quite right. This time… lets stick together."

Jarik turns and looks at Ben, "And Ben? Thank you for helping me."

The front door of Achimed's has a sign on it that reads, in bold letters, "Closed." It is the only shop on the street that is not open this evening.

Jarik knocks on the door, loudly.

Ben'zhamin blinks… and chuckles. "You are welcome, my friend."

In the coffee shop next door, a nervous-looking cheetah waitress serves the customers, and glances toward the dark-dressed Kavi.

Ben'zhamin whispers to the fox. "You should thank Shadra, though… "

Next door, within the coffee shop, the Kavi tosses down a shekel onto the table. "One java, to go."

Jarik nods his head slighty, "I will when I chance to see her again. She has my services anytime she needs them… "

Ben'zhamin grins and thinks . o O { Mine too… }

Ben'zhamin's ears blush.

Jarik pounds on the door again. "I hope the owner is here anyway… "

No answer from inside the shop.

The cheetah waitress nods to the Kavi, and waves a hand at him.

Ben'zhamin erks and hangs on to Jarik's shoulder as he pounds. "We could have some coffee and wait."

Jarik sighs, "As dishonorable as it is, I'm almost considering breaking in… The sword is mine after all."

Ben'zhamin points to the coffee shop.

Ben'zhamin ahems. "No."

Jarik nods to Ben. "Not a bad idea… "

Ben'zhamin halfgrins. o O { Carnivores. Iee. }

Jarik chuckles. "I'd never break in, Ben. Just speaking out loud. You know me… "

Tirro waves back quickly to the waitress. Is there a flicker of his fingers?

Jarik turns away from the door and wanders over to the coffeeshop.

Ben'zhamin ahems again. "Yes, I know you." The mouse sighs and grins, chuckling.

Tirro sees Jarik coming, and looks surprised. He tries to slink further into the corner.

Ben'zhamin says, "I wonder what kinds of coffee this world has."

Ben'zhamin says, "We can sit right there, Jarik. Can see the door from there."

Ben'zhamin points…

Tirro noisily stands up, dropping any pretensions of hiding in the corner. He storms out, nearly knocking over Jarik on his way out.

Ben'zhamin eeps! "Hey!"

Jarik looks to where Ben points and nods. Then blinks at Tirro? "Hey… you!"

Jarik's eyes narrow, "I've been looking for you… "

Immediately, the cheetah dashes up to Jarik and Ben, almost blocking them, gesturing them toward some tables with a nervous smile.

Tirro looks up to Jarik. "Errr… sorry," he says, as he tries to escape the coffee shop.

Ben'zhamin acks and tries to unlimber his crossbow, not having luck as he's jostled on the fox's shoulder…

Jarik raises a hand, "M'lady… I'm not going to start anything… " He tries to place his other hand on Tirro's shoulder… "Come… have a drink with us… "

The cheetah's eyes go wide at the sight of the mouse going for his crossbow. Suddenly, she trips, toppling forward with a tray and some cups she just picked up.

Ben'zhamin says choice things under his breath… and blinks at Jarik.

Tirro squirms, as he recognizes Jarik. He pauses for a moment, thinking about what he knows of Jarik's honor.

Tirro says, "You're devoted to… saving lives, aren't you?"

Ben'zhamin looks between Jarik and Tirro, waiting to see what's going to happen. The mouse frowns.

Jarik tries to avoid the flying cups… "Yes… I am. Why? Ben… be good, please."

Ben'zhamin blinkblinks. o O { Wha? }

The coffeehouse manager, a fidgeting fox, yelps and dashes over. "Kasha! You tongueless numbskull! Spilling coffee on our GUESTS!"

Tirro says, "Even if… you might not agree with what some of those lives are doing? If they're defenseless, you'd try to save them?"

Ben'zhamin hmphs and folds his arms resolutely. o O { Grump. Be nice? Certainly! Wouldn't want to be consorting with thieves or anything… ! }

Jarik sighs, "Sir… she caused no harm… " He turns to Tirro, "Of course."

Tirro grabs Jarik's shirt. "C'mon, then."

The cheetah's eyes linger on Tirro a moment before she is abruptly pulled away by the arm. The manager fox sputters an apology to Jarik and Ben and a promise that the cheetah will be severely reprimanded.

Tirro signs a quick 'thanks' in the air, hoping the cheetah catches it.

Jarik eyes the manager, "Sir… you will lose a couple customers IF you harm her. Is that understood?"

Ben'zhamin observes Tirro with suspiciousness. "Just what are you up to? Leading us both into a fur shaving?"

Jarik tries to direct his attention three ways at one time and starts getting frustrated. "Tirro, if you wish to talk to me… please sit down… "

The cheetah flops her hand again as she's led away.

Ben'zhamin hmphs.

Tirro looks agitated. "Look, we've no time to talk. I've got to run. If you want to save lives, follow me!"

Jarik says, "Ben… it will take time to explain. I owe Tirro a debt of honor. Just trust me on this, okay?"

Ben'zhamin clams down a little, his curiosity getting the better of him. "I don't like this, Jarik… but ok."

Outside, a troupe of wolf soldiers, accompanied by Zelaks, marches down the street in full regalia.

Tirro escapes the coffee house, and starts running at a brisk pace through the Scholars' Quarters, toward seedier parts of town. Through the under-professors' houses, into the area where graduate students live, then further toward Darkside.

Tirro grumbles. "Cityfall!" he calls out under his breath, as he sees the wolf soldiers.

Jarik nods to Ben, "I understand… But, as a knight… I must always put others before myself… " He turns back to Tirro, "Lead on."

Tirro turns around to see if Jarik (and Ben) are following.

Too late. Tirro has quite a head start.

Jarik sighs and takes off in a jog after Tirro.

Ahead of the Kavi is the sign of the Open Arms. It looks like it has the usual clientele for this time of night. For all one can tell, nothing at all is out of the ordinary.

Jarik looks at the Open Arms and swallows, "Oh… dear."

Tirro races into the Open Arms. "Save yourselves! The soldiers are coming to burn down Darkside!"

Jarik continues to follow Tirro. He's starting to not like this.

Tirro says, "The Temple's angry! Darkside's gonna burn tonight!"

Ben'zhamin thinks . o O { ? }

Several eyes dart in Tirro's direction. It doesn't seem like he's being taken seriously.

A cheetah servant glances in Tirro's direction. A free hand signs at him.

Ben'zhamin whispers to Jarik. "If this place burns, there is a good chance we'll never find your sword."

A snake in one corner slaps the back of a raccoon next to him, pointing at the Kavi and laughing.

Jarik pulls his hood down over his face slightly and enters in behind Tirro.

Tirro jumps up onto a table, upsetting several flagons of beer. "Move! By the Meteorite, move!"

Jarik whispers to Ben, "I know where it is… This is more important… "

A drunkard loses his balance and crashes against the floor. One of the girls at the upper level screams.

Ben'zhamin shouts! "He speaks the truth! The wolf-soldiers are coming!"

The cheetah servant abruptly drops everything and dashes out the door. This seems to have an effect on others nearby, who suddenly look back at Tirro, taking him a bit more seriously.

Jarik speaks up loudly from beneath his cloak, "Listen to him! They are coming!"

Tirro jumps off the table. "If you don't, I'll raise the alarm, myself."

There is a clatter of chairs being knocked over, screams, shouts, curses, and a few taking the opportunity to filch purses while people are distracted.

Ben'zhamin thinks . o O { A riot… is an ungly thing. And it's just about time that we had one! }

Ben'zhamin says, "To arms! To arms!"

Ben'zhamin has no idea what call will rouse these people.

"Let me outta here!" a wolf growls, and bashes at a weasel who's in his way, just as he's plowed into by a bear who's even more eager to make a hasty exit. The room quickly erupts into chaos.

Tirro races out of the Open Arms, and runs down the twisting dirt road calling, 'The Temple's Angry! Darkside's gonna burn! Save yourselves!"

Jarik gahs and runs after Tirro!

A big burly bear shoves Jarik out of the way, knocking the fox into a booth, right into the laps of a couple of dazed forms of indeterminate species and state of mind.

Ben'zhamin clutches Jarik's collar, legs flying out behind! "ACK!"

Ben'zhamin tumbles off…

A few lights go out as Tirro passes… but most seem to consider him a quack, rather than anything serious.

Jarik aaaaghs and tries to regain his footing… Ben? "Ben! Where are you?"

"Wha?" is the only word that one of the booth's occupants emits, before the wooden siding suddenly collapses as a tigress stumbles into the flimsy structure in the ensuing melee.

Ben'zhamin tries to regain his feet. "Here! Here, Jarik! EEP… sorry madam… Here!"

Ben'zhamin is swept away…

Jarik tries to dig himself out of the pile of people, "Ben! Ben!"

It seems that, more than anyone else, Tirro has a bit more luck rousing any cheetahs he encounters. They seem more inclined to take the Kavi seriously.

Ben'zhamin manages to climb on something (one?) and -whistles-! "Jarik! Ho!"

There are screams of panic, and more crashing noises as the patrons try to tear their way out of the building, creating new exits if need be. There is a rather pungent smell in the air. Apparently there's a scared skunk in here, too.

Ben'zhamin acks… !

The mass of people exiting the Open Arms – including a few in dishabile – impresses the people even more. A few cautious noses poke out from windows, to see what's happening.

Jarik finally digs his way out of the booth and locates Ben… He swipes Ben carefully and bolts for the door!

A couple of poorly-clothed patrons leaping out of windows to the street (with disastrous results) adds to the emphasis.

Jarik is compressed, bounced, shoved, dragged, and thrashed about in the mass of struggling bodies!

Ben'zhamin blinks and grins as his breath is squeezed out by a retreating Jarik. o O { Say… this is fun! }

Jarik fights and struggles, trying to get to the exit.

Ben'zhamin ducks, curling up a little in Jarik's grasp…

Bodies emerge from the old buildings next to the Open Arms, carrying a few possessions each. They snarl at anyone who comes near, but they hobble, walk, or run onward.

Somehow, hope against hope, Jarik finds himself tumbling backward, falling to the street, away from the insanity at last … for the time being … Ben safely in his grasp.

Down the street, multiple flickering lights bob. Torchlights.

Ben'zhamin gasps, panting…

Down the OTHER end of the street, more lights bob. Some of them move over toward buildings. More lights – this time flames that lick at the dried and rotten wood that comprises so many of these ramshackle structures.

Ben'zhamin says, "Jarik… grip… *gasp*"

"BROKEN WINGS!" Tirro cries out, a very strong curse.

Jarik stumbles to his feet and gets an idea. He looks around for a mount. "Ack! Sorry Ben… " He loosens his grip and drops the mouse into his waist pouch.

Tirro races onward through the streets, letting everyone hear. "They're burning our city! Escape with your lives!"

Several snakes, ferrets and others leap out into the street with drawn weapons. Crossbows are fired from windows. Not all are going down without a fight.

The structures, built as closely together as possible, quickly set one another alight.

Horns blare. Wolves and Zelaks charge, mowing down those who dare pose resistance to the fury of the Temple.

Ben'zhamin shouts up to Jarik! "I suppose we're sticking with Tirro?"

Jarik nods, "Of course! These people don't deserve this!"

Ben'zhamin says, "No! I mean he's running for his life! Stick with him!"

Jarik heads in the direction he last saw Tirro repeating the warning, "Everyone! Get out now!"

Tirro is racing toward where the fire seems to be burning. Smoke burns his eyes.

Among the wolves can be seen a robed figure who perhaps seems out of place … or, on second thought, perhaps more at home than the rest. Red and black robes swirl, as a blade slashes, crashing to meet with that of a vulpine defender. An exchange of blades, and the fox is cut down. Leaping flames reflect in the dark eyes of the unicorn as he looks up, visible for just a moment before the ranks swell about him once more.

Ben'zhamin ahs, sensing something. "Jarik… hurry. Their may be need of a healer where he's going."

Tirro races parallel to where the fire is burning. "Save yourselves! Darkside is burning!"

Jarik nods! He tries to run faster! "My magic doesn't work here Ben! I'll do all I can."

The message seems to be spreading faster than Tirro can run. The same can be said for the flames … and the fighting.

Ben'zhamin loads his Crossbow in the relative stability of the pouch. o O { Thought the Temple were the good guys. Well… they've messed with the wrong bunch -this- time… }

Ben'zhamin shouts "I have some manual healing skills, Jarik!"

Jarik's anger flares when he sees the unicorn. Part of his wants to go try and end this madness… If not with reason, then force.

Above where one building seems to be burning, in the top floor, are three raccoons – not quite as old as puberty. "Help!" one cries out.

Horns echo off of the ruined walls, almost lost in the crackle and roar of burning wood, the shouts, the screams, the clash of chitin upon chitin.

Jarik skids to a stop in front of the burning building. He looks up to the screaming child… With a determined motion he wraps his cloak around his mouth and tries to make his way inside.

Ben'zhamin peeks up and sees Jarik's glance. "On, Jarik… we'll rebuild this tower later!"

The ground floor beneath the raccoons burn; flame licks up toward the next story. The building in front of them is already aflame.

Ben'zhamin erks. o O { Erf. }

Ben'zhamin ducks down and draws the pouch shut.

Inside the building, the flames burn hotter than they seemed from the outside. A ladder seems barely sturdy enough, though it's made of wood.

From afar, Tirro's voice echoes, "Darkside is burning! Save yourselves!"

The fox doesn't even flinch and begins to climb the ladder…

Ben'zhamin thinks . o O { There are worse ways to die than with a friend. }

Confusion runs rampant. Some of the combatants seem to be Darksider against Darksider. But then, since when did Darkside exemplify comraderie? Glass shatters as some, rather than having sense to get as far away as possible as soon as possible, try to help themselves to what meager prizes might yet be found.

The ladder is steady enough, and it fortunately climbs the four stories of the building.

The three raccoons shiver in the top story. The oldest couldn't be more than twelve years old; the youngest, about six. They look up to the strange fox with huge eyes.

Jarik pants, "Okay! Everyone… the ladder is still intact! Quickly… climb down it! We've not much time!"

Ben'zhamin pokes his head up. "Come! Follow us!"

The three raccoons hesitantly nod, and climb down the ladder as fast as they can.

Jarik motions toward the ladder… Once the last one is on it… Jarik follows…

Ben'zhamin thinks . o O { I must remind Jarik to give me the choice of plunging into a burning building or not… }

The three seem to have stopped on the second floor. They point down. The bottom of the ladder is alight, and flames are rapidly growing.

Jarik snarls and looks for a window…

The clash of chitin against chitin – and bone – sounds from below. The fighting has reached this far. A wolf is struck down by a growling Vartan, but quickly avenged by his comrades.

Ben'zhamin arghs! "Jarik… are we close enough to jump? Is there something outside to jump onto?"

Jarik says, "I don't know… I'm looking… "

A window, with only oiled paper keeping the wind from blowing through, is before Jarik and the raccoons.

Jarik extends his claws and shreads the window… He looks out to measure the drop…

The floor seems to grow hotter under Jarik's paws.

The drop is about twelve feet… but on it, at least five or six people are fighting.

A wagon of hay, also burning, provides a second dropping spot.

Jarik looks to the children then the fighting below… He then looks at the burning hay and gets an idea… The fox points to the older raccoon, "You… come here… "

The masked raccoon blinks a few times, but comes forward. She says nothing.

Ben'zhamin leaps to the raccoon's shoulder. "Shh, little one. We'll go together."

Jarik unhooks his cloak and wraps the little raccoon in it… He points out the window… "Do you see the hay? I need you to help me… My cloak will protect you for a short time. I need you to beat out the flames with it when you land on it… okay?"

The smallest one shivers, even though the room is growing hotter, and the smoke makes her cough.

Ben'zhamin thinks . o O { At least I might be able to keep them from panicking once down… }

The sign of the Open Arms falls to the street, as the not-so-reputable establishment bursts into flames. An unidentifiable figure dashes into the street, clothes aflame, then dives and rolls, only to be trampled by a beast of burden gone berserk.

Jarik looks to Ben, "I need you to keep her calm… we have one shot, maybe."

Ben'zhamin strokes the raccoon's fur. "You can do it… I have faith in you."

She nods, quietly, and steels herself for the jump…

Jarik nods, "Now… go… We'll be right behind… "

Ben'zhamin clutches and tenses. "Count of three… One… two… THREE!"

Jarik picks up the littlest raccoon… "There there… we'll make it… don't you worry. It's like out of the stories… a knight to the rescue… " He smiles at her to help calm her down.

The raccoon girl jumps!

Ben'zhamin is quiet all the way down…

The air floats by her clothes as she falls the twelve feet to land in the hay truck. She rolls in the hay for a second, then stands up.

Jarik holds the little one quietly and waits… He turns to the second oldest, "Now… once your sister is clear… jump."

Ben'zhamin urfs… "Ok… good jump… one more… you did very well.

Ben'zhamin says, "One… two… THREE!"

The middle sister also jumps, and also lands in the hay – but on the flames.

Jarik's eyes widen, "Quick… put the flames out! Use the cloak! Hurry!"

The eldest races to her middle sister – and starts beating at her. Throughout the whole exchange, neither makes a sound – though the middle one is crying hard.

Ben'zhamin says, "There there… it's ok… roll her… put the flames out… "

The eldest uses it to beat out the fires. The middle's clothes are singed; some of the fur on her back may fall out, but she'll live.

Ben'zhamin says in a calm voice. "Ok… make way for your sister and my friend, and be ready to help them… "

The youngest raccoon – who has also not said a word, sees her middle sister get burned. She tries to hide inside the fox's clothing.

The troops sweep past the wagon, giving it wide berth to avoid the flickering flames. Numerous bodies are left sprawled on the street in their wake. The scene is grim, but at least the street is far more … quiet … now. The fighting has moved on.

Jarik holds the youngest tightly to him. "Okay… now we've got to go." Jarik positions himself on the window frame… He hugs her tightly and jumps.

*CRUNCH!* Jarik crashes through the hay, and gets a bit of a hard landing … but nothing is broken, and the child is unhurt.

Jarik winces and looks around to make sure he's not in the fire…

A few bits of broken wood clatter to the street below the wagon.


Ben'zhamin says, "Help him up… "

The fire is burning rapidly, and coming toward Jarik.

Jarik struggles to get up while holding the child…

The burnt planks holding the wagon together … do so no longer. The wagon collapses, falling apart, spilling hay – most of it flaming – to the street.

Ben'zhamin loks to the building . o O { Where are their parents? }

Ben'zhamin erks and hangs onto something…

Ben'zhamin says, "Stay clear of the burning hay! If you are burning, roll on your side!"

*THUD* The fox hits the ground hard… He makes sure his arms are protecting the youngest and rolls, trying to escape the hay…

The eldest races to the youngest, and offers her paw to help her out. The youngest accepts – and they both escape.

Jarik, now free of the youngest, pushes himself up and looks around to make sure the others are clear…

Ben'zhamin looks back for the middle child as the scene retreats. "Jarik! Look for the middle child!"

The middle one is still there, sucking her thumb amidst the carnage.

Jarik takes off in a dash toward the youngest… He snatches her up and carries her out of the wreckage of the wagon…

Jarik pants, trying to catch his breath… "Ben! Are the others okay?"

Ben'zhamin nods and shouts! "Yes, Jarik!"

Strangely enough, not one of the youngsters made a noise during the entire episode.

Jarik looks around for the main group from the temple… He's got to try to stop this…

The fighting is far from here now, having swept well on through.

Jarik sets the middle child down gently with the others. His eyes scan over the chaos…

Ben'zhamin says, "Jarik… let's get out of here!"

Jarik nods, "I agree… But, what do we do with the children?"

The youngest looks up at Jarik with huge, trusting eyes.

Ben'zhamin arghs…

Jarik's torn… part of him wants to charge off in an attempt to end this madness. But, withing his mind come the teachings of T'Aris. Sometimes you can't save everyone… Save who you can and go. Live, so you can do better tomorrow."

Ben'zhamin rubs his eyes. "We can try Shadra and the Vo Zhano. As a temporary solution."

The eldest tugs at her sleeve, and points. She nods – still silent, and starts running off with her, along with the middle.

Ben'zhamin blinks… riding along on the eldest's shoulder and looking back blankly at Jarik…

Jarik runs after the trio… "Wait!"

The three stop, but look anxiously to Jarik. The smell of smoke is still strong here; buildings are burning.

Ben'zhamin. o O { No one else has this problem… }

One can see much further now, without so many buildings standing in the way. The burnt remains of a sign which reads "… he … n Arms" lies on the ground where Jarik passes.

Jarik stops next to the children, "Okay… Listen… We need to stick together… it's dangerous here… Just where are you headed?"

Ben'zhamin says, "I wonder if Tirro's cheetah friend got away."

Jarik says, "I hope so Ben, I hope so."

Ben'zhamin halffrowns. o O { She was kinda cute, in a rough way. }

Ben'zhamin looks at himself, covered with smoke and soot.

The eldest duaghter points. With so many buildings cleared, or showing gaping holes, her finger can easily be followed She points toward the Temple.

There are hoots and shouts from down the street. A group of thugs dances and dashes this way and that across the street, smashing the few things that still stand, and looting what they can from fallen Templars and Darksiders.

Jarik looks around then at himself. He's covered in carbon… If he wasn't thinner and more slight… he could look like a wolf.

Jarik nods, "We'll go there… Please… stay with me… It's not safe here."

Ben'zhamin is quiet, sensing a kind of wisdom to these young raccoons.

The eldest hands the mouse to Jarik, then tugs at his sleeve to push him further toward the Temple.

Ben'zhamin says, "I think this has been done before, Jarik. And more than once."

A fox and a skunk fight over a chitin blade picked up from a fallen lupine warrior. A snake comes up and settles the matter by stabbing the fox in the back with a dagger, grabbing the sword, and hacking the skunk. He then leisurely slithers along, after relieving his rivals of their coin pouches.

The retreating snake abruptly collapses, as a crossbow bolt sprouts from his narrow chest. A gruff-looking Vartan swoops down, then relieves the snake of his prizes, before taking off to the smoke-filled sky once more.

Ben'zhamin says, "It's how the Temple keeps the Darksiders down."

Jarik takes the eldest's and middle child's hand. "Please… carry the youngest? I promise we'll get there safely."

Jarik looks to his mouse friend, "And in the process destroy the lives of innocent children? Which is more evil, Ben? Darkside? Or the temple?"

Ben'zhamin is silent.

The eldest carries the youngest piggy-back style, and races forward toward the Temple.

Jarik looks around at the carnage and shakes his head sadly. "Come on… let's get moving before more people show up… "

Jarik races off towards the temple with the children.

Ben'zhamin keeps his crossbow handy, and his head up.

The carnage is awful. Bodies lay dead in the streets; houses still smoulder. Walls have fallen in. Little of this part of Darkside remains standing.

Ben'zhamin says, "I wonder if Alyssa knows that this happens."

The Temple itself looms ahead; their bare paws race toward it, tears streaming from their eyes.

Jarik moves silently and quickly towards the temple with the children. His eyes scan the damage, feeling silent horror… But, the grip of the children remind him that for at least three, they made it. He smiles slightly to himself.

Jarik says, "I don't know Ben… With Darkside's reputation, I doubt many who don't live there care… Somehow… I think Alyssa would be the exception… "

Ben'zhamin blinks as he watches the children…

When the three young ones some close to the Temple, they put out their hands, pleading silently.

A couple of wolves at the Temple entrance stop the running raccoons. One stoops down, talking in a low voice to one of the raccoons. When he gets no response, he tries the next one … and, then the youngest. His brow furrows in frustration.

The three together put their palms together – as if praying to the guards. Though they say nothing, their body language expresses supplication.

Ben'zhamin says, "They are mute, I believe."

The second wolf slaps the first one on the shoulder, and mutters something to him. The first wolf mouths an "Oh," and nods.

Jarik looks at the wolves, "Sir… I am Ensign Jarik of the temple… These children were caught in the Darkside raid… their parents are missing… I hope to offer them sanctuary."

Ben'zhamin holds his anger and his tongue.

The eldest nods, tears running down her face.

The first wolf looks to Jarik, blinking. "Looks like you've been through a bit." He gestures over his shoulder. "Take 'em on in."

The second wolf eyes Ben'zhamin for a long moment, but says nothing.

Jarik shrugs, "Not nearly what they have… thank you… "

The youngest spontaneously hugs the first guardwolf.

The first wolf tenses, and tries to shoo the youngest one away. "Go on. Beat it. Get inside."

The three walk forward, round-eyed and a little scared.

Jarik motions the youngest to stick with him. The fox leads the children to the temple doors, and inside.

Ben'zhamin rubs his eyes, shuddering with a deep sigh.

Jarik whispers to Ben, "I'm sorry to have drug you into that building… I didn't think… I saw them and had to do something… "

Ben'zhamin halfgrins and nods to Jarik. "I was thinking that if I had to die, I would rather do so with a friend. You are a friend, Jarik. Um… but let's put off dying, hmm?"

The three raccoon girls – nameless, and whose names will probably never be known – shiver, worrying about their new future.

Jarik nods to Ben and smiles.

The soot-covered mouse grins a bit.

Jarik kneels down next to the little raccoons. He smiles to them and hugs each one in turn… "You were brave… " He tilts his head, not sure really what to say so he just hugs them again and smiles. His head turns to Ben, "And so were you, my friend. Thank you."


GMed by Greywolf

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Today is 9 days before New Year's Day, Year 26 of the Reign of Archelaus the First (6125)