Gurantev stood at the edge of a cliff, watching the pilgrims trek single file through the dense foliage below. His people made this journey every year, but no road or path led to their destination. The Wilds would not be tamed, not even by the Ashcarii. Kifna, Gurantev’s sibling and fellow Guardian, walked behind him and placed her hand on his shoulder, gently messaging his fur as she joined him in watching the pilgrims.
“Pael’s light shines on you, brother.”
Gurantev gestured toward the Ashcarii below, “Better that it shine on them. I’d gladly walk in darkness to see our people safely to the Vein once more.”
Kifna opened her mouth to say something, but was interrupted by the sound of three short blows on a horn from one of their scouts to the South. The serenity on Kifna’s face was replaced with confusion. She had never heard three short blows before. “What does three mean, Gurantev? Dragon?”
Gurantev looked frantically at the wilderness below, finally seeing a disturbance in the trees less than 100 meters from the pilgrims. He snarled and then looked at his sister with concern. “Seekers!”
Gurantev leapt to the ground below, landing deftly on the opposite side of the other Ashcarii, Kifna following immediately after.
“Run! Do not stop until the next ridge,” Gurantev roared, patting pilgrims on the back as they fled past him.
After the last Ashcarii had gone, Gurantev turned to his sister. “Our scouts will collapse on our position, but if the Seekers reach the pilgrims before that, it will not matter.”
Kifna’s eyes bulged and she pointed behind her brother, “Crossbows!” Gurantev spun around on his right foot and slammed his left on the ground, raising his shield and preparing for the inevitable impact. In the same moment, Kifna leapt behind her brother, putting her back to his, her two-handed sword raised with the hilt pressed firmly against her chest.
Three bolts struck Gurantev’s massive shield, two unable to penetrate the golemstone inlay. The third’s broad-head was made of a stronger metal than the other two, it pierced Gurantev’s shield and impaled his forearm. Gurantev growled in pain as the first wave of Seekers charged at the two Guardians.
Kifna leapt over her brother, bringing her sword down on the closest Seeker, a young man with a short beard and a wildswood spear. Kifna’s sword cut the man’s weapon clean in half, along with both of his arms. He fell to the ground screaming as Kifna deftly swung her sword horizontally at another Seeker, shattering his shield and slicing his torso.
Gurantev dropped his axe and snapped the bolt on the front of his shield before pulling the rest of it through his arm, the pain dropping him to one knee. More and more Seekers were appearing from behind the massive trees opposite of the cliff, their numbers increasing with every moment.
One Seeker, with an ornate-looking sword, made it past Kifna, intending to strike down the wounded Gurantev. Gurantev swung his shield upward across the man’s chin, knocking him off his feet. The Guardian then retrieved his axe and chopped it down on the Seeker’s neck.
Gurantev, placed the closed fist of his shield arm across his chest and pointed his axe at Kifna, who was engaged with another Seeker with a spear. She thrust her sword in the man’s stomach, leaving her open to a charging Lavot with a mace. Before she could pull her sword and raise it in her defense, the Lavot brought his mace down toward her skull, slamming it against a blueish-white aura that now surrounded Kifna, thanks to her brother and their god.
Gurantev joined his sister and the two fought side-by-side, but the battle was unwinnable. Seeker reinforcements numbered in the dozens and it was only a matter of time before they were overwhelmed.
“Kifna, you must rejoin the pilgrims. Escort them to the Vein. There, they will be safe.”
“We will die together!” Kifna punctuated the last word by driving her sword down on a helpless Seeker sprawled on the ground.
Gurantev stepped in front of his sister and raised his shield against more crossbow bolts, one piercing just above his hand. “If the Seekers catch our people, we will die for nothing!”
Kifna surveyed their small battlefield. The cliff provided cover for their flank, but enough Seekers had charged through the brush that it was no longer impeding their advance. Her brother was right. He was always right.
Gurantev looked at his sorrowful sister and smiled warmly. “Pael’s light shines on you, sister.” A tear rolled down Kifna’s face, dampening the fur on her cheek.
“Better that it shine on you.”
And with that, Kifna was gone, sprinting after the pilgrims with a speed the Seekers could not hope to match. Gurantev turned to his enemies and let out a mighty roar, before charging at them, his axe and shield raised and ready for glory.