A swing of a blade quickly followed another. Flashes of light reflecting off steel combined with the distinct hum of energy infusion. Though he could no longer see his men beyond the trees, he was confident that they knew better than to act. And, given their purpose in the forest, he doubted that they were dumb enough to endanger the success of their mission by entering battle with his sister in tow, or otherwise abandoning her with the risk of losing her. With the number of years that he’d worked with them, he knew that he could trust them with as much, especially while they remained in an earshot.
Xev smiled as a resounding crash echoed behind him. The soldier behind him was a man of his words. In less than an hour’s time, the other man had already taken care of one of the creatures. Turning his blade, Xev moved to close their distance.
“Same plan for this one?” He asked, as his back met that of the other man. “I distract, you attack?”
“Yeah.” The other soldier answered. “Just give me a moment to recover.”
“Fine.” Xev replied. “But I’m leaving if you take too long.”
“You aren’t the very understanding type are you?” The man asked, with a chuckle, as he moved to engage the creature.
“Never said I was.” Xev answered, drawing the creature’s attention back onto himself. “Say, how long have you been supreme tier?”
“Long enough.” The other man said without elaborating, as he made a deep slash on one of the creature’s shoulder joints.
“Fair.” Xev responded, continuing to irritate the creature’s face. “I don’t suppose you plan to lug the creatures back to camp?”
“Good point.” The man acknowledged. “How would you rate your strength?”
“You can’t be serious.” Xev replied between breaths. “We need a more realistic option.”
“What if I suggested that we carry them together?” The solider asked, as if it was actually feasible.
“Then I’d say you’re mad.” Xev answered, fending off a claw. “Even if we were strong enough, with the creatures’ limbs and size, the process would be unwieldy to say the least. The consequent rotations or required resting periods alone may be enough to prevent us from returning in time for creatures to be properly examined, not to mention the potential petrification problems.”
“True.” The man agreed, as he made another gash. “Though, so long as there is a slim chance for success, a solution to the petrification cases would be worth the trouble wouldn’t it?”
“How did you say these creatures were involved in the recent occurrences again?” Xev asked.
“They’re likely a medium, if not a host, of the new infection.” The soldier said, darting around the creature to evade a blow. “If their abilities can spread to other animals, such as house pets, then the potential scope of damage would be unthinkable. We have to bring the samples back, and prevent such a future from becoming a reality, if at all possible.”
“And the superiors are aware of this?” Xev asked.
“No.” The man answered. “That’s why we must hurry.”
“How did you learn of it?” Xev asked. “If I may ask.”
“A soldier got infected engaging and being wounded from one of these creatures.” The soldier answered, diving to make yet another gash. “Without having ever fought a worm.”
With only one good leg, the creature soon collapsed in an failed effort to make a lunge.
“That went a lot faster than the first one.” Xev noted.
“I was lucky to have your help this time.” The man answered with a grin. “Your control over infused energy is admirable.”
“You’re the first man that I’ve met with the ability to concentrate your infusion for so long.” Xev commented, returning the praise.
“It’s rare that I find someone else so adept at the sword.” The man answered, holding out a hand.
“Likewise.” Xev answered, smiling as he clasped the hand. “Great working with you.”
“But we should seriously get going soon.” The man answered with a sigh. “Delaying this information can lead to unforeseen consequences.”
“Fight’s over!” Xev shouted toward the direction where he’d left his men.
With a smile, Xev turned to introduce his men, but paused as soon as he saw his sister’s face. The surprise written all over it. Knitting his brow, he turned to look at the man beside him.
“Sylin.” Xiyana whispered, loud enough to confirm his suspicion.