Bonnie and Velvet conducted a thorough search of the immediate area, hiding behind cover as they went and moving quietly so as not to alert their target. Bonnie spotted their prey quickly enough.
He was largely concealed behind some debris and he seemed to be occupied watching their comrades. He didn’t give any sign that he’d seen them.
“Wait here,” Bonnie whispered. “I’ll circle around and herd him towards you. Lay low and catch him when he runs. If we take him alive we can get some answers.”
“What if he decides to fight you instead of running?” Velvet asked, his voice low.
“Then I’ll deal with him,” Bonnie answered. “Remember, try to take him alive.”
Velvet nodded and took his position. He watched Bonnie circle around, paying close attention to their opponent. Hopefully, the guy would just run right to him and he wouldn’t have to give chase.
Velvet saw the guy tense up, look over his shoulder and bolt. Bonnie looked stunned and hurriedly gave chase. He’d seen Bonnie before she was ready. Fortunately, he was still on a direct course for Velvet.
Velvet waited until he was close and jumped out of hiding, grabbing his arm.
“That’s enough,” Velvet said. “You’re coming with us.”
The human was tall and athletic, but still winded from his sprint. Bonnie hadn’t even caught up yet.
He reached for something in his belt, Velvet grabbed his other arm and held firm.
“Damn Hybrid!” the man spat, struggling to break free. “Only a worthless bum of a human seduced by a dwarven whore could’ve spawned you.”
Velvet’s grip tightened, but he kept his voice level. “What did you say?”
“Oh, did you not hear?” the man asked, chuckling. “I guess it does damage the baby when the dwarven harlot drinks during pregnancy.”
Velvet spun the guy around and held him up by his neck. “My mother is a saint and certainly not a ‘harlot.’ Take it back.”
“Why, does it bother you?” he asked, starting to gasp for air. “Are you something of a mama’s boy?”
“Velvet, stop,” Bonnie said.
“Take it back,” Velvet repeated, ignoring her.
“I guess it’s hard to be a mama’s boy when your mom gets around so much,” the man smirked and spit on Velvet. “Son of a whore.”
“Velvet, no!” Bonnie yelled, but she was too late.
Velvet uppercut the guy into the air, jumped after him. Spun around, kicking him as they landed and began brutally pummeling him.
“Velvet stop! Stop Dammit!” With considerable effort Bonnie managed to pull Velvet off of their target.
She grimly surveyed the damage. The man’s face had been beaten into a pulpy mess. His skull had been visibly broken open and fragments of his brain were dripping out.
“Dammit,” Bonnie exclaimed. “We needed him alive.”
“Sorry,” Velvet muttered.
“Can’t be helped now,” Bonnie sighed. She bent down and removed the guy’s pouches. “We might be able to get some clues from these. Let’s head back and you can get cleaned up.”
They walked back in silence, Velvet holding his hands behind him and Bonnie rummaging through their vanquished foe’s belongings. Lysara approached them as soon as they were in sight.
“Just where have you two been?” Lysara asked. “And why is Velvet’s face all red? Just what were you doing?” She looked down at her feet and shuffled nervously.
“I’m sorry,” Bonnie said, Lysara looked up with a shocked look on her face. “I should have told you. I took Velvet to find and capture the last Hestial League member.”
Lysara breathed a sigh of relief. “Oh, thank the Gods.”
“I was going to suggest looking for him myself,” Twila said. “I was just going to wait until we’d rested.”
“So, did you find him?” Axra asked.
“We did,” Bonnie said. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t take him alive.”
“Well, I’m sure he fought hard,” Reginald said. “Forced you to use lethal force in your own defense and whatnot.”
“Actually,” Bonnie said. “He didn’t fight at all.”
“Then how did you manage to kill him?” Axra asked.
“He… he deliberately provoked Velvet into killing him,” Bonnie said. “That’s what it seemed like, anyway. He knew exactly what to say and how to act to make Velvet enraged beyond reason.”
“It’s hard to imagine Velvet getting enraged,” Twila said. “Still, it shouldn’t be surprising. Since they knew so much about your past it’s reasonable to guess that they researched all of us.”
“I suppose it is,” Bonnie said. “I apologise. I miscalculated the situation. I thought that Velvet and I could manage without any problems. I never imagined that they’d done such thorough research or that he’d go that far to avoid capture.”
“It’s not your fault, Bon,” Lysara said. “If anything it’s Velvet’s fault for letting himself get provoked.”
“Yeah, I messed up,” Velvet said. “Can I have some water, though? My hands are really sticky.”
Twila handed him a canteen, glancing at his hands and quickly looking away.
“Di… did he, you know, insult your mom?” Lilly asked.
“Oh, that’s kind of sweet,” Lysara said. “Defending your mom like that.”
“Sweetness won’t tell us what they’re up to, how they know so much about us or where their main force is hiding,” Bonnie said. “I took his belongings, but there’s nothing particularly helpful. He had a couple hundred gold pieces, a dagger, some scrolls that look to be magical in nature and a couple pills I don’t recognise.”
“Let me see the scrolls,” Twila said. Bonnie handed them to her.
“I… I can probably identify the pills,” Lilly said. “That is, if you don’t mind.”
“Go for it,” Bonnie said, handing them to her.
“They’re spell scrolls,” Twila stated. “Some mages prepare these so that they can be used by anyone. It looks like we’ve got a sending scroll with two, maybe three charges left. A summoning scroll, probably how he got the reapers, a dozen charges or so left and an invisibility scroll, down to its last charge.”
“I… I know what these pills are too,” Lilly said. “Th… they’re a deadly poison. F… for suicide… or, maybe, assassination.”
“I don’t suppose you can tell who he was sending to?” Bonnie asked.
“Not at all,” Twila said. “When the spell is active you can trace its rough sending point, but after the spell’s used you can’t tell where it went. And if I were to use the scroll I’d have to choose my own sending point, which does us no good.”
“I thought not,” Bonnie muttered.
“It’s okay, Bon,” Lysara said. “Here, let me feed you.”
“Is that the meal you made for me?” Bonnie asked.
“Great,” Bonnie said, smiling slightly. “I’m looking forward to it.”