The Fireside Tales - Chapter Forty Nine
Chapter Forty-Nine: Fall

"And what is the natural predator to snakes?"

From the hole in the wall, a battlecry rang out and Valtyra watched what looked like a comet of blue-hot fire leap across her vision and crash into Xanesha. Its momentum continued and threw the snake off of its tail. They sailed for a few feet before they slammed into the ground with the snake on the bottom.

Bubnug, his outline highlighted by the blue flames of his blade, prepared to slash downward with that tiny blade of his. Xanesha barely got armor in the way and the sparks that erupted from the strike were white. Valtyra could practically feel the heat from where she lay. The goblin did not even stop for a second as he continued his assault. Xanesha parried each strike, though it looked like she had to really work to get her weapon in line.

Yet, Bubnug slipped up in his furious attacks and Xanesha took the opportunity it presented her. She trapped the sword cane with the blade of her polearm and used the blunt end to send the goblin flying. To his credit, he took the strike as well as anyone could have, but he was still thrown off of her. The snake rose to her normal position and lunged her whole body at him.

Valtyra sent her last dagger flying. The blade tumble end over end. Its hilt crashed into the snake with jarring force and caused her to hesitate. During that moment of hesitation, both Valtyra and Bubnug got to their feet. The goblin was better off than she was, but they both had to work to make sure they did not stumble. Xanesha recovered from the dagger and slid backward slightly to keep both fighters in her view.

Without having to communicate to each other, the half-elf and goblin lunged forward in perfect synchronicity. Valtyra, with her longer limbs and stronger muscles, reached the snake first. Rapiers flashed as she created a web of slashes and thrusts. Any outside observer would not have been able to see the metal, yet Xanesha slithered in, out, and around the strikes only catching glancing blows on her armor or scales.

After a couple of seconds, Bubnug entered the fray. He was aimed at her side and was more tactical about his attacks. Whenever the snake slid toward him to avoid Valtyra, he would strike in precise motions. If any of them hit, Valtyra was sure that they would be crippling if not outright lethal. But the slippery creature managed to bend her body in such ways as to avoid the attacks from both sides. The thing was, with both Valtyra's and Bubnug's assault, she could only focus on defense. There was no way she would be able to raise her polearm fast enough to attack with how both of the fighters were attacking. As long as they kept it up they would wear her down. And she knew it.

So, she got dirty.

When she was sliding to the side opposite of Bubnug, she shot forward like lightning and clamped her powerful jaws on Valtyra's shin. Blood flowed from the snake's scales as she had to receive a rapier strike, but Valtyra thought that her leg was about to break. The half elf cried out and stabbed down at the snake's body. However, Xanesha pulled suddenly and Valtyra was thrown to her back again.

Air exploded from her lungs and her head crashed against the wood floor. Her vision blurred and she could barely feel it as the snake then shook her around like a dog and his bone before throwing her away. Rain patterned against her face and the wind buffeted her. Before she could get up, though, she felt the weight of the creature on her chest.

Valtyra tried to swing her rapiers at the snake, but the polearm intercepted both. She then bit down on Valtyra's shoulder and her fangs punched through the leather armor.

"You have become a nuisance." Xanesha hissed, "And I do not have the patience to play with you anymore."

Her hand gripped the leather breastpiece and she prepared to lift Valtyra over the edge of the makeshift platform. Something flared up behind the creature and Xanesha cried out. The grip on Valtyra released immediately and the half-elf fell on her butt. She looked up and saw something she never thought she would in her lifetime.

A phoenix. A bird made entirely of flame flapped in the air. It was large, the size of an eagle, and it was hard to see many details through all of the fire. Yet, when it cried out it could have been heard throughout town. And the emotion behind it was clear. The beast was angry.

Valtyra felt immense fear at that cry. It was not the 'get the heck out of here' kind of anger. It was the kind of fear that prey felt in the presence of a predator. Fear that paralyzed one in place trying to decide if they should hide, run, or fight. Something that she only felt once before.

Xanesha was obviously terrified. Valtyra was just staring at the beast with a calm mask hiding the horror. The snake, however, was shaking violently. Her polearm fell out of limp fingers and her armor tinked and scratched rapidly.

The phoenix turned its gaze onto Xanesha. She seemed to freeze in place like a statue. The beast tilted its head back and forth then sailed right for the snake. She tried to escape, but there was no hope for her. Flaming talons grabbed her around her body at took her into the air. Screams echoed throughout the city.

Then silence. A body fell from the bird and hit the ground seconds later.

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Next Chapter Coming On December 9th!
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