Last time on Blood Ties, the Main Characters, the Conquerors, the Tergesh, and General Teng’s troops all fought in a massive battle for the MacGuffin. Who will come out on top? Find out after the cut.
TRIGGER WARNING: A few characters are injured or killed in gruesome, graphic ways. You have been warned.
“Back-to-back!” ordered Tarik. Meilin stepped into place with him, Lishay, and Rollan. Their shoulders touched for a moment, then they found themselves pushed out a little as Meilin released Jhi from her dormant state, the panda suddenly appearing between them. Jhi stood upright, like a column, and they all set their backs against her solid bulk, feeling a wave of rejuvenation radiating out from her. Lumeo crouched between Tarik’s feet, but Zhosur snarled and sprang at the first attackers, while Essix tangled in midair with half a dozen enemy birds. Only her superior speed and dexterity saved her from their frenzied attacks.
Oh noes! Our Main Characters are surrounded by enemies! Luckily, Jodoboda and General Teng charge into the Conqueror ranks and put up a valiant effort.
That is, until the Devourer shows up, mounted on his saltwater crocodile.
Things then start to get really ugly. Jodoboda’s leg is crushed under his rhino after its throat is ripped out by the Devourer’s crocodile. The Devourer then attacks the party, and slices Zhosur’s throat. And, no, Jhi can’t heal him because her Heal ability doesn’t work on fatal injuries.
Tarik gets really pissed when Lishay is knocked out of the battle — she goes catatonic when her spirit animal is killed — so he tries attacking the Devourer’s crocodile … only to get knocked aside. Teng fares much better: at least his attacks draw blood and sparks all over the place.
Xue then shows up — I guess she thought that getting her chopsticks dirty in battle was better than selling pots — and tells Meilin and Rollan that they need to use ranged weapons to fight the crocodile. Meilin takes up Jodoboda’s spear, and Rollan finds a bow and arrow (even though he’s really not specced for archery, but whatever). Meilin has Jhi cast Calm Emotions so she can throw the spear–
But then Teng falls, and the crocodile bites him in half.
Be thankful this is a children’s book, and that Teng was wearing heavy armor. His torso is crushed, instead of being messily cut in half. But still, he’s not recovering from that.
Anyway, Meilin gets super pissed, charges at the crocodile, and uses her enhanced strength to drive the spear into the crocodile’s jaw. Rollan then fires an arrow down the crocodile’s mouth. This is enough to force the Devourer and his crocodile to call a retreat, promising that they’ll come back as a more powerful and more annoying boss later.
Hurray! The Main Characters won, and get the Slate Elephant as a reward — after they retrieve it from the temple, that is. But Lishay hasn’t recovered from her spirit animal’s death, and Teng dies from his injuries. And he partially reveals a secret to Meilin:
“Should have told you … betrayed … the Bile…”
Stuff I Forgot to Mention Above:
Yes, the Devourer and his crocodile are going to return as a more powerful and more annoying boss at the end of Rise and Fall. Unfortunately, our Main Characters won’t actually fight him.
We’ve unfortunately discussed what Teng’s last words were all about in the comments of a previous post. But let’s pretend we don’t know the Massive Spoiler and guess what the hell Teng was talking about.
Xue explains that people sometimes never recover from the death of a spirit animal. An extreme example of this shows up in The Book of Shane: a man falls into a persistent vegetative state after his spirit animal dies.
Everyone else in the party is shocked that Rollan already found the Slate Elephant during the battle. Upon learning that Rollan chose wisely, Tarik attempts to recruit him for the Greencloaks again. Obviously, it doesn’t work.
Meilin learns: Enhanced Strength!
Next time: Loose ends are tied up.