Zanx-iie helped pack up Louie's tent, chatting with the older Tarian. Tare waddled around around her chittering and squawking when silence fell. He got in the way but Zanx-iie just smiled and rubbed his beak with a chuckle. He was her good friend. She had raised him from an egg so nothing he did could annoy her.
"So I told him that we needed to rotate the camps every two weeks but, of course, he never listened and we have been here for the past month so it is no surprise they found us. Far too much activity for them not to." Louie strapped her tent fabric onto a back board and Zanx-iie gave her a sly smile.
"You like Dr. Elliet don't you, Louie?" She watched the woman from the corner of her eye. She nodded with a small smile.
"I do. Wait, what? Zanx-iie Tal! You little brat!" The woman aimed a swat at her arm and Zanx-iie gracefully jumped backwards but she trippe over Tare and landed in the dirt. She burst into laughter and Tare hopped onto her stomach with a questioning squawk. This made Zanx-iie laugh even harder, despite the large bird standing on her chest.
General Ramos carefully cleaned his hands and arms of blood and shook his head.
"They will not speak of the where-abouts of their comrades. They were, however, forthcoming about the royal line. Tal, Yeneth, Tugoth, Elliet, Rando. These are the family names. If we can capture just one person with one of these family names, we will win the war. The Tarians are nothing, if not honourable. They would do anything to rescue the royal family and their affiliates." He dried his hands off and left the others to dispose of the dead Tarian slaves. He shook his head. This war was tiring and he wanted it over, sooner rather than later.
A short time later Ceril exited the Queens quarters, fully dressed and a look of annoyance upon his face. He had been gently chided like a child, told that he would need to wait, that he put himself in harms way too boldly. He was sulking like a child, he knew that, but he felt so compelled in his mission, and so sure of his plan that he was wanted anything but a soft reminder that he was cared for and should take care. Ceril was grateful for his people, but it was that same emotion that drove him to so desperately release his enslaved kin.
Baisel circled his head in greeting and gave him a gentle nudge, causing a small smile to crack his lips. "Oh I'm not defeated yet Baisel, don't you worry" he watched the commotion of the Zanx-iie and the others, scanning the camps for an authority that would understand his cause.
Zanx-iie would perhaphs be agree, if her record of freeing slaves was any indication, maybe even Commander Maul for his drive for war would be willing to join.
He approched Zanx-iie and bowed over her a smile plastered on his face. "Hello Zanx-iie! Have you fallen for me already?" he joked as he extended his hand to her.
Zanx-iie looked at the newcomer from her position on the ground. He had a rather fake smile on his face and she smirked.
"No, just discovered you leave me breathless." She gave a groan and pushed Tare off her chest. He landed on the ground and ruffled his feathers as Zanx-iie gulped in air. "You are a bad bratty bird, Tare. Now come here!" She rolled over and wrapped her arms around his neck and he flapped his wings quickly, causing dust to billow into the air before wrapping the large wings around her with a cooing sigh. Zanx-iie relaxed into her friend's warm feathers with a smile.
"Zanx-iie Tal, get up and greet the guest!" Louie nudged her feet with her own and Zanx-iie opened her eyes with a grimace.
"But, Looouiiieeee." She smirked but released her Elut and stood up. "Welcome, welcome, hello and how are you? This is my Aunt Louie, well not really my Aunty but when you are locked up for seventy-five years with a group of people they tend to become your family, you know? This is Tare, my Elut. The nasty, bratty bird that he is. And who are you and why are you looking like a Galian painted your smile on?" Louie swatted her shoulder and Zanx-iie jumped slightly.
"Behave, Zanx-iie Tal! This man is a royal affiliate!" Louie bowed and Zanx-iie stared at her Aunt with an incredulous look on her face.
"And what am I? Chopped sprig root? I don't care if he's an affiliate. All I care about that he is Tarian and not Military or Galian. Tarians I can trust Galians and Military I have to kill... or maim severely. Depending on my mood." She shook her head and Tare squawked at her loudly. "I know you like chopped sprig root! You don't have to remind me, Tare."
Ceril looked to Baisel and wrinkled his nose a bit a her acknoledging speaking to this girl was not going to be an easy task for him as he hoped. He scratched the back of his head and gave a light chuckle. "No, no ladies, I'm actually the bold one here, no need for formalities."
He gave an wave of his hand and half of a bow, "A pleasure to meet you, young lady" he said to Louie, his flattery laid on thick, "and you as well Tare" he bowed his head to the ruffled Elut. Baisel grabbed his ear and yanked hard, "Yes, yes I was getting to it! And this is my little, demanding companion Baisel" Ceril lowered his head out of habit to distract from a small sincere smile, that was gone in a moment.
He took Zanx-iie's hand and pressed his lips to it "And I am Ceril Yeneth, and I have important bussiness to discuss with you, mi'lady. I hope that you can spare a moment." He cleared his throat his expression becoming solumn. "A serious matter I'm afraid, a matter in which your speciallty and mine can join in quite a lovely marriage" he looked deeply into here eyes while he spoke before someone walked past with a mirror that was damaged in the recent attack, and Baisel began to swirl about his head ridiculously making a soft hum. His eyes distractedly followed her, as he couldn't help but raise an inquisitive eyebrow at her choice in timing. Ceril sighed and lowered his head in defeat knowing he wasn't at all charming at the moment. "Perhaphs we can go somewhere and talk" he finally concluded, as Baisel flew off excitedly towards her shinning treasured piece.
Zanx-iie stared at him for a few moments, blinking slowly she pulled her hand away from his grasp. Tare leaned against her and brushed his beak across her hip. She ignored it and opened her eyes wide.
"Please tell me my father put you up to this because only he could think something so undoubtably cruel and insane." She spoke slowly and carefully looked him over. "I may be the King's second cousin but I won't be pigeon holed into a political pairing. I have to love my mate because he will be the only one I will ever have. You are sure to be a fine mate but not to me." She turned around nd Louie grasped her arm.
"Zanx-iie... please." Her purple eyes pleaded with her and Zanx-iie shook her off.
"Not now, Louie. Don't you dare." She glanced over her shoulder to the stuffy looking guy and silently snarled before sprinting away. Her curls streaming behind her as she ran to escape the proposal.
"Forgive her. She was born in the mines and is terrified of 'entrapment'. Do not take it personally as she doesn't mean to be rude." Louie tsked quietly. "That girl will be the death of me and her father if she isn't careful. I doubt you would want her as a mate. She is very highstrung and very much a wanderer. She would run you ragged. If you do not mind me asking. Why propose to Zanx-iie? There are many other much better candidates than her."
Ceril's eyes widened before the relization of how his words were misconstrued came crashing into him. He remained silent as he listened to Louie. "I see, she was in the mine..." he merely muttered. His heart grew heavy, and the guilt that resided within his heart, burst into his throat as a lump of unease and distress. All the more reason to follow after her, and correctly explain. He too, had no ambition to be tied down, he wasn't able to let himself become captive to anyone again, he'd rather die. Yes, he understood that very well.
He turned to Louie feigning a smile "Thank you, ma'am." He turned to run after Zanx-iie, giving her a nod of departure and no explination for what had just occured.
He ran swiftly and determined after her, know full well he may have to transform just to reach her. "Zanx-iie! You misunderstand! Please, allow me to explain!" he called out to her in a manner as close to sincere as he had in quite a long time, when not chatting with Baisel in the solitude of the forest.
Xanth watched the conversation gone awry. Information was as valuable as the most sought after metal and that little conversation gave much of it. He stood in the shadows eating a small fruit.
When Zanx-iie and the one named Ceril left, he walked over to Zanx-iie's aunt Louie. He stopped a few feet away and asked with slight indication of curiosity, "She's a royal affiliate, isn't she?" He made sure to keep a non-threatening stance since the lady was far older than himself. For what it's worth, Xanth wasn't interested in the politics of affliates but he had an interest in why she would be sought after. Maul nudged his hand and Xanth lightly petted him on the head, "I know boy...I know..."
He watched the two in the distance when Saulus showed up and tapped Xanth on the shoulder, "Sir...?"
Xanth looked to him and nodded, "What is it Saulus?"
Saulus seemed troubled by what he was going to say, "Uhh...She demanded that the camp keep being moved every two weeks. And was furious that you didn't listen..."
Xanth smirked, "Well, she's got balls, I'll give her that much." He chuckled and continued to reply, "But she is right. If we don't keep moving, they're going to find us over and over again." He looked at Saulus and Saulus had this look of surprise.
"So, you want this. To happen?" He replied to Xanth and wasn't met with an answer.
Xanth walked off into the surrounding jungle. He needed to think about strategies that would allow them to move the camp without being found out along the way. He hoped that Zanx-iie would stay and help. Much to his own bias's, she did well to help out the campaign with the efforts she took to save the people.
Zanx-iie ignored the man and quickly burst from the camp and into the trees. She felt her limbs shake as she pushed them beyond her normal limits. She had no use for anyone pursuing her, literally and figuratively. She stumbled slightly as she rapidly changed her direction. She was heading towards a body of water. She couldn't see it and she had no clue if it was underground or not but she knew it was there and the feeling got stronger the closer she got to it. She reached out with he hand and hoped that she was close enough. The feeling of the water merging with her Natul powers gave her a tremendous relief and she pulled her hand back sharply and a wall of water rushed towards he. She concentrated and waved her hand behind her. The water crashed over her but did not harm her and landed behind her as a large pond. Her scent was covered up and with one more burst of energy and several miles later she breached the tree-line.
She froze in horror at the relatively large Military base camp that stood before her. They were tearing down trees and building what looked to be many different buildings. Zanx-iie gulped in air and wished that she hadn't just expended her energy on running away from a foolish matter. She really should have stopped and talked it out, explained her position but the man got on her nerves. He wasn't sincere and Zanx-iie hated insincere people. She had to bend down to try and catch her breath but it just ran through her ragged and raw throat and she continued to gulp in air. She was lucky for the tall grass as she had not yet been spotted by the Military but she had to move quickly or she would be caught.
"General Ramos, one of our southern camps has not yet reported back. We fear the worst. Shall we send a patrol out to check on them?" The voice sounded far to close for comfort and Zanx-iie inhaled sharply and stilled her movements as best as she could.
"There is no need. They are all dead. No use sending others to their death when we know." The voice was sneering and Zanx-iie felt ill from the sound of it. It sounded cold and calculating, as if the General had no compassion or any emotions at all. "How is our plan going? Do you have the slaves in the barracks?"
"Yes, sir." The other voice sounded unsure and uneasy and Zanx-iie moved away from them as quietly as she could. "The charges are in place as well." At that she froze.
"Charges?" The word was barely a whisper and then it dawned on her. They were going to use the slaves a bait and when the Tarian Raiders came they would blow everything us. Slaves and free Tarians alike. She bit her knuckles to keep from making any sound but a small whimper escaped.
"What was that?" It was the General's voice and she could hear footsteps coming towards her. A familiar cry could be heard from above and Zanx-iie watched in horror as Tare swooped down from the tree-line. She didn't see the gun but she saw the bullet as it slammed into Tare. She bolted to her feet.
"Tare!" She watched as her companion slammed into the ground. Without a thought she sprinted towards him, despite the General and the other soldier in her way. She barely caught site of the gun aimed at her before she reached out in desperation and pulled the entire camp's well water towards her. The ground rumbled and shook and geysers of water popped up between her and the General before she aimed a geyser at him and it pushed him out of the way. She made it to Tare's side and picked the large bird up in her arms and made a break for the trees. A sudden burning pain slammed into her shoulder and she was flung around by the force of it. She picked herself back up along with Tare and despite the pain that now radiated from her shoulder, she continued her run into the trees.
General Ramos watched as the Tarian Water Natul disappeared into the trees with the bird. He ran his hand through his soaking hair and looked around. The little bitch had caused a large amount of damage with her little stunt. Building had actually collapsed from the force of the ground water being drug to the surface so rapidly. Geysers still rained water down onto their heads and Ramos looked over at the reporting soldier only to see his head twisted at an unusual angle. He spit on the ground and narrowed his eyes at the trees.
"I need someone to track her. I put a trace round into her. Follow it and bring her back alive." He whirled around on his heel and holstered his gun. She would pay for what she did to his carefully constructed plan. He would make sure of it.
Xanth smelled groundwater in the air. This was unusual at this time of the year. He pulled out his pistol and began running towards the scent. He was running fast but not as fast as he was at the enemy base from earlier. As he ran past Saulus and Louie he barked an order, "Get everyone out of here now! Trouble's coming!" Saulus knew to relay the order as fast as possible when Xanth was hurried like that.
He tore through the forest towards the scent of groundwater and he didn't know what to expect. He kept going when he smelt blood in the air. He stopped for a few seconds with his own panting being the only sound he heard. Of course, he heard trees falling in the distance but he couldn't understand why they would be falling unless...and his own form of deductions could be made that the Galian military was changing their tactics again. He looked on his horizon and his eyes darted back and forth checking for any form of movement. To his right he heard someone running, he whipped his pistol in that direction and had his finger on the trigger. As the noise got closer, he began to pull on the trigger but not enough to fire a round.
Maul came out of the brush to growl and stand in front of Xanth. Apparently, Maul smelled something he didn't and he couldn't understand why Maul would get in his way. Maul then pawed at the ground two times, which meant that a friend was coming. A trick Xanth had taught him when he was younger. Xanth furrowed his eyebrows, "Are you sure, Maul? Absolutely sure?" Maul lightly bowed his head in reply. Xanth then lowered his pistol to put it away. Xanth then proceeded to lightly whistle a Tarian tune to see if they would reply if they could.
Ceril slid to a stop in front of the freshly laid body of water and sighed. "She's pretty good I've got to give her that..." He pulled off his clothes and switched into his transformation. Human or fox, he wasn't fond or talented at crossing water. He took off in a sprint knowing he could make it around without as much delay on four legs.
He had been trying to sniff her out from the other side, Baisel at his side, when he heard the shot and then the large crushing of rocks over an enormous force of water. Ceril's ears perked in the direction and dashed forward hearing her Zanx-iie scream. He finally spotted her a moment later stumbling through the tree, obviously wounded. He whined loudly and met with her, his tail swishing from side to side in out rage. It was obvious by her wound it was a Gallian weapon.
Ceril changed back into his normal form, unconcerned with his nudity, as he reached out a hand to brace her. He looked behind her searching for signs of pursuit. "Quickly allow me to carry you both back to camp, it'll be faster that way." He turned his attention to Baisel "Baisel, please head back to the camp and try and inform them to some extent of the situation"
She fluttered excitedly up and down in front of his face. "Please just go, you stubborn little Silth" he smiled compassionately at her for comfort that they would be fine.
Baisel flew quickly toward the camp, zipping past the trees in a blurring ball of light. He wings whispering a light hum.
She suddenly ran squarely into Xanth and then tumbled backwards and flew to his face flying around his head, trying to direct him towards the forest in urgency.