If you haven’t read Wyrillian II, click here to catch up.
(Here for Wyrillian I)
The wagon rolled closer as the Panther and Wyrillian’s father prepared for their interaction with the cart. Wyrillian Sr. reached over his horse and grabbed two belts of knives that he slung over his chest in an “X” pattern. He wore no mask. Whether that was because these wagon riders wouldn’t make it out alive or if he just didn’t care, Wyrill didn’t know. Panther simply stood, arms crossed, watching the wagon approach. She had no weapon that Wyrill could see.
The two individuals jumped from the cliff once the wagon was close enough. Panther immediately changed and began sprinting towards the cart in her panther form. Wyrill’s mouth went agape as she changed almost instantaneously – it usually took Wyrill over three times as long. He looked to where his father had jumped off but only saw the trees. Wyrill refocused on the approaching wagon.
There were about ten men marching with the wagon, two sitting on the front. The ten men’s boots crunched through the forest as they kept their eyes forward on the trail. Their heads snapped in the direction of Panther when they heard her sprinting through the undergrowth toward them. The men in front unsheathed their swords, forming a semicircle around the cart facing her. Wyrill’s palms were wet as watched, holding tightly onto the blanket around his shoulder; surely his father knew what he was doing. Regardless, 12 against two had Wyrill biting the inside of his cheek.
Just before reaching the path, Panther leaped off her four feet and transformed into her human form, landing between two men who ducked as they swung their swords toward her. She swept under one man’s leg before uppercutting the other’s nose. She rolled to the side of their incoming blades, changing into a panther once again. She slashed at the fallen one’s throat and swiped at the next man in line. He fell with a large gash in his thigh. Wyrill squinted, trying to get a closer look as Panther changed back to her normal form. It looked as if her top and shorts hadn’t ripped when she changed. Wyrill blinked, but the clothing remained whether she was in feline or human form. It was almost as if the fabric changed with her and accommodated whatever shape she took.
Back at the cart, Wyrillian Sr. was approaching from the tree tops. He was holding onto a branch, directly above the wagon. He was still, waiting for Panther to cut the numbers down before he made his appearance. Twelve was too much for her, but she’d make a nice dent before he needed to take action. She slit yet another throat and the count was down to five. At that moment, Wyrillian Sr, also known as Knives, dropped from the branch, landing behind the two wagon drivers. They turned suddenly toward him; a knife in each of their guts. Knives smiled as he pulled two new knives from his belts, leaving the others to marinate in their victims. Before any of the remaining men could turn, two had a knife sticking out of each of their skulls and the third was being held with a knife to his throat.
“Panther, can you go get Wyrill?” Knives asked.
The Panther took off up the cliff, returning a few short minutes later with the boy.
“Who sent you?” Knives asked the remaining traveler.
“P- Prismolg,” the man said.
“Oh, don’t worry, we aren’t going to do anything to you or your wagon. Take it back to Ikalga and tell Prismolg he won’t get anything through me until he wants to make a deal.”
The stammering man was frozen in his spot, looking wide-eyed between the three individuals. Knives slowly began to withdraw a knife which prompted the man to finally close his mouth and jump back aboard his wagon. He fumbled with the reins as he began to turn the cart around. Knives, Panther, and Wyrill watched as the man ordered the horses to reverse course over the corpses for a good 30 minutes. The man peeked over his shoulder occasionally, still visibly sweating.
Eventually, the wagon was on it’s way back to the capital city and Wyrillian Sr. faced his son.
“Okay, questions?” He said as he waved Wyrill and Panther to follow.
“Yeah, um,” Wyrill went through the several questions he had, “What just happened? Who is Prismolg? And why is this,” he pointed at Panther’s outfit, “still intact?”
His father waited to make sure Wyrill had made all of his inquiries before throwing his knife belt over the horse.
“Well,” Wyrillian Sr. jumped into the saddle, “questions one and two, Prismolg is a nobleman in Ikalga and likely future councilman. He predicts he will win the seat to govern South Settlement, so he has been sending wagons like the last one to jumpstart his city. I, well… we, are not going to let him have the settlement without us establishing a position of power beforehand.”
“So, you’re forcing him to deal with you or his caravans won’t get through?”
“See,” Wyrillian Sr turned to look at Panther, “told you he was bright.”
Wyrill smiled and turned to look at his escort, likely risking a broken neck. There was a small smile on her face, but once again she turned his head back forward as they positioned the horses down the cliff.
“What about the…” Wyrill pointed at the fabric wrapped around Panther’s thigh.
“That’s her discovery. We haven’t figured out why but it does expand and contract with the user’s changing.”
Wyrill nodded. The horses reached the path, turning back in the direction they came from. Wyrill saw the 11 dead men on the path, a chill sliding down his spine. Wyrill wondered if this was a decent way to live as he stared at the blood soaking into the ground. He realized he didn’t have much of a choice though as Panther placed a hand on his shoulder, shaking her head at him.
He turned back forward and asked where they were going.
“Base, son, base,” Wyrillian Sr. said.
Wyrill assumed that his father, Knives, had many more secrets than the boy knew – talents and business that made it not matter if what his father was doing was right; the only question was if he could adapt to this new way life.