Chapter 24
Series Crossfire by Pixichi
Chapter Twenty-Four
Writer Pixichi
Chapter Chronology
Previous Crossfire, Chapter 23
Next Crossfire, Chapter 25
Crossfire, Chapter 23 Chapter Chronology Crossfire, Chapter 25

Chapter 24Edit

It seemed like an eternity passed by the time the two heros made their way around the the last stretch of lonesome cavern. Connie could see a eerie light coming from around the bend.

"Reaver, look!" She whispered. Reaver held his pistol readily, as he peered into the next cavey room. His eyes widened at what he saw.

"Get back!" He pushed Connie away from the area.

"Why? What's going on?"

"Balverines. The place is infested with them." Connie shuddered at the mere thought. "We need to backtrack our steps, quietly." He ordered. Connie slowly creeped alongside him as the two headed back towards the entrance of the cave. Connie saw light coming from another area in the stalactite maze.

"Come this way, I think that I found a way out." She called quietly to Reaver. Connie and him rushed towards the light, and were emersed in the light of the moon. They stood now high on top of the mountain, and both were surprised at just how far they had walked.

"Well, this is not good." Reaver grumbled looking down at the sharp drop. "It looks as though we shall still have to backtrack through the cave my dear."

"But we've come so far..." Connie moaned, looking up to the night sky. To her horror, the pretty orange moon she had been looking at hours before had metamorphosed into a full dark red blood moon. Chills ran down her spine, as she suddenly remembered a story about balverines that Theresa had told her as a child, called "the feast of a thousand fangs." The balverines started gathering humans about a month prior to the eve of the blood moon. Being able to transform into humans themselves, they lured passersby to a secret place, where they then locked them up and on the eve of the full blood moon, they devoured every one of them alive. Out of these humans, if there was one who was particularly evil or strong, they would perform a final ritual, where the strongest lead balverine would bite that individual, at exactly midnight, creating a new black baverine, who would become the packs new leader. This human, whether male or female, would always turn into a male balverine, in order to breed with the existing white females in the pack, to create a stronger, more evil race. Connie looked back towards the entrance of the cave.

"Are you sure that we really want to go back in there?" She asked nervously.

"We don't have a choice, unless you somehow manage to sprout wings and fly darling." He replied. "But don't fear, you are in the presence of the best shot ever." He kissed her. He took her hand and with Dragonstomper .48 in the other, Reaver descended back into the dreaded cave.

"As long as we're quiet and quick, they probably won't even know that we're here." Connie whispered, feeling a little better about the situation. The two passed the strangely lit cavern which housed the monsters and continued on though. Visibility was limited, and Reaver and Connie had to feel their way most of the time, but they were not alone. Without warning, Lance stopped walking. The wolfdog lowered his ears and growled. Connie had learned to read his ques over the years of their traveling together, and she knew that there was something lurking close by, waiting for them.

"Reaver, look out!" The warning came too late. Out of the corner of his eye, Reaver saw the balverine charging out of the darkness toward him. It plummeted into him, and the impact knocked Reaver right off his feet. The creature landed above him, and gave a bloodcurdling howl of triumph. But its victory was cut short by Connie, as she shot six rounds into the beast before it could tear Reaver apart. Reaver stood up, a look of amazement on his face as he stared at Connie.

"Your nothing short of a fireball aren't you? I had forgotten what a great fighter you actually are." He commented, dusting himself off. Connie holstered her pistol back into the leather garter belt upon her thigh.

"It has been a while hasn't it?" She mused. Lance walked up to Reaver and whined, lowering his head. Reaver looked at the animal, confused.

"Now what do you want exactly?" He asked. Lance pawed his pant leg and whined some more.

"He wants you to pet him. After all, if Lance hadn't smelled that balverine, you'd be dead right now." Connie explained. Reaver reluctantly patted the white wolfdog.

"Alright, I suppose that I should give credit where its due. Thanks a lot old boy." He smiled at the creature. The three continued on, although they were far more cautious the remainder of the trek. Further on they pressed, trying to make their way back out before any more of the monsters caught their scent. They treaded on, until they reached yet another cavern. Reaver and Connie emerged into moonlight again, but they were still high atop the mountain. Old Kingdom structures lined the hazardous hillside. Connie motioned towards a torchlit tomb entrance.

"Reaver! Maybe this is the way out!" She called. Reaver and her walked through the gigantic archway leading inwards. The tomb doors were open, seemingly beckoning them inside.

"This looks like an evil tomb, we should be very cautious." Connie whispered to Reaver.

"Right, lets go in, we need to find our way out." He replied. With that, they entered the malevolent tomb. The inside was dark, but there were a few lit torches. Connie had never seen a more sinister looking place. Even the Shadow Court looked tame by comparison. There was ancient writing on the walls, and most of the doors inside looked dilapidated or torn open. Reaver stepped in front of Connie and yet again pulled free his pistol.

"Connie, stay behind me. Who knows whats waiting for us down here." Connie sighed annoyed.

"To think that this was supposed to be a simple quest."

"Nothing in our line of work is ever simple dear one." Connie jumped as the doors to the tomb slammed shut behind them. Reaver just gave her a matter-of-facty look. "See what I mean?"

"What is this place?" Connie finally asked.

"How should I know? It can't be anything good, I'll tell you that..." Reaver answered her as they advanced deeper into the tomb. They reached the central chamber, one ancient pillar stood in the very center of the room, the floor was soaked with blood. From behind them, a growl rose. Connie and Reaver turned at the sound.

"Every decade, on the eve of the full blood moon, a new one is created. A new black balverine. To lead the pack, the race, to glory. Look at these walls. They are not of the Old Kingdom. Same era yes. But not made by man..." A brown balverine perched atop one of the great pillars spoke in a deep gutteral voice. Reaver fired, and the beast fell to the floor with a sickening crunch.

"I didn't know those things could talk." He added as he looked upon the brown pelt of the fallen beast.

"Fools! You have stumbled right into our trap. Welcome to the sacrificial chamber, your right on time for the feast of a thousand fangs!" Another balverine's voice came from Connie's left. It didn't take long for the two heros to discover that they were surrounded. Reaver and Connie ran across the room, where several dead and disemboweled villagers lay, some were still very much alive, writhing in agony, their intestines sprawled out before their very eyes. Connie turned Reaver, a look of fear and desperation on her face. Reaver held her close as wave after wave of balverines jumped from their hiding spot. A grey one, larger than the rest spoke to the others as they circled Connie and Reaver.

"We have chosen the sacred one and thus can finalize the Blood Moon Ritual, which has long been passed down from our clan leaders to their children. Take hold of the man, but slaughter the young girl and devour her heart, for the moon is full of blood!" The balverines screeched the attack onward. Reaver fired his pistol like a madman, eager to protect Connie as the monsters came towards them. Lance growled and lunged at one, pinning the monster beneath his large heavy paws before ending its life with a single well-aimed snap. As he went to reload, Connie darted away, drawing forth her own blade.

"Connie!" Reaver cried as he watched the balverines charge after her. Reaver winced as one of the monsters clenched its yellow fangs around his hand, eager to get him to drop his weapon. Reaver answered by firing a bullet straight through the balverines mouth. A squirt of blood and a loud pop later, and the beast fell flat on its ugly snout. The rogue charged into the battle, felling two more creatures by the time he joined up with Connie. Blood soaked her new pink dress, but she was alive and doing very well for herself. After an exhausting fight, only one monster remained. The great grey balverine jumped down and roared at the heros. Reaver fired a full round into its face, and with one last sickening gurgle, the grey balverine fell silent. Reaver walked over to where Connie still stood out of breath, bloody sword in tow.

"Are you alright?" He asked.

"Yes, I think so." She panted. A sharp pain erupted in Reaver's hand and he looked down to see that the bite was pouring blood. Connie saw it too.

"Reaver! You've been bit!" She cried. He struggled to hide his pain, as he retrieved some old rags from his black satchel.

"Its nothing, I've had worse." He lied, as he cleaned and dressed the wound. Reaver knew as well as Connie what a bite from a balverine would mean for him. Connie watched as he wrapped the last of the cloth around the bite.

"If you don't get medical attention by tomorrow, you'll be turned. We need to get back to Bowerstone now!" She exclaimed, frantically. Reaver turned and smiled at her.

"Its alright. No need to get upset. I always carry a little of this with me on my travels." He pulled a small flask from his satchel. It was a sort of potion that Connie had never seen before. Reaver brought it to his lips and downed a quarter of the liquid.

"What is that?" She asked.

"Its an antidote, very potent. It cures any ailment, including balverineism. But you have to take it within 24 hours of being bitten for it to work." He replied. Connie breathed a sigh of relief.

"I thought you were a goner."

"Now now. I've been doing this hero thing since before you were born, I have a few tricks up my sleeve yet." Reaver chuckled reassuringly. "Now come on, lets find a way out of this laberinth."

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