By the time Entri had turned around, the scarred bandit had further wounded the village chief. The little girl had fainted, and the remaining cat eared demihuman that wasn’t wounded was now being held hostage. It was likely due to Entri’s gaze, but the scarred bandit cracked a sinister smile.
“Oho, so you do care for these beasts,” the scarred bandit mocked, sliding the blade gently against the woman’s skin, drawing a trickle of blood.
Part of Entri wanted to answer that he didn’t so he could demotivate the bandit’s current intention, but if he had as much animosity as his speech had shown, then it’s even more likely that he would just decapitate the woman than let her go. Entri was close enough that he would not miss, but he was also so close that he would harm both the woman and himself if he were to pull the trigger. She would likely die along with the bandit, and although it would be a pragmatic outcome considering the situation, he couldn’t bear to do it. Everyone has been thrown under the bus before. The sacrifice of the few for the many. The pragmatic solution. The best outcome. The plum tree for the peach tree.
But there were more than two options. The first two were the most obvious extremes, sacrifice the woman to defeat the bandit, or surrender to appeal. Other less obvious options existed however, such as running, as he had nothing to do with this situation, but it might as well have been the surrender. The option the scarred bandit was least likely to expect, however, was the one Entri was planning in his head. If what had occurred earlier could be reenacted, then he can incapacitate if not outright kill the bandit, free the woman, and stay alive. After taking a deep breath, he pushed forth with a dash.
The bandit was caught by surprise. The only people who would even think of something so dangerous were people of ill repute, such as thieves or assassins, and they would have to be experienced enough to even dare trying. Entri did not have the experience nor did he look the part, but that was what made his actions so effective. Entri didn’t even give the bandit the chance to utter another word before the pulled the trigger. If this explodes, then I at least won’t live to regret it.
“Master Talia, are you in need of assistance?” Alice asked, after scorching several bandits and causing the rest to flee.
“I’m fine, Alice. Just fine,” Talia replied, taking unsteady breaths.
Alice saw a rustle beneath Talia’s robe, asked, “master, what might that be?”
Perhaps it was due to hearing itself being mentioned, but a head popped out from beneath Talia’s robes and proceeded to stare at Alice. Alice responded with a sour face, which made the child recede back into Talia’s robes.
“Oh?” Talia said, surprised by the sudden resurgence of movement. “There there, don’t be afraid. Alice won’t hurt you, right Alice?” Talia asked, straining her name as a threat.
Alice sucked her teeth before saying, “understood master.”
“By the way, where’s Entri-” Talia asked, before suddenly being cut off by three consecutive explosions. The first two occurred right after one another, and the third happened further away.
“I believe we have found our answer, master.”
The three shots and their ensuing explosions had decimated the walls. The ensuing collapse might as well have been an eventuality, and from underneath the rubble, Entri stood, coughing clouds of dust.
He hastily moved to clear some rubble amid some coughing, causing his efforts to take more time than it should have. From beneath the dust and slabs, a cat eared woman cleared the debris around her and assisted the others to their feet. In total, there were three others standing: the woman, the child, and the village chief.
“Are you okay?” Entri asked, still coughing up dust.
“I think so,” the woman replied. Blood was still trickling down her wound, coloring a line on her dress.
Entri briefly scanned the area and realized the chaos had ended. The bandits that he had seen earlier were no more. They were either incapacitated or no longer within the area. Entri relaxed and suddenly felt pain shoot through his arms. With the adrenaline rush over, he was now aware of how far he had pushed himself. His right arm had fired three shots in short succession without being properly supported, while his left had stopped an adult’s arm mid swing. His right hurt more than his left, but it hurt a lot more in one specific spot.
“You whoreson!” a voice screamed, erupting from beneath the rubble and blowing both dust and debris into the air. The scarred bandit had survived, and while a chunk of his face had been seared if not obliterated, he was still standing.
Entri reached for another vial but came back with it empty. All his vials had been used and his weapon was empty. The scarred bandit reached for Entri, but before he could grab hold of him, a torrent of water crashed into the man and sent him flying. He tumbled onto the ground a few rotations before stopping. Entri looked towards the direction of his savior and saw Talia standing with her hands having just casted magic, a little girl holding onto her robe, and Alice, looking disappointed.