Royal Rescue (Zako story)


Vivacious Visitor
The proclamation had scarcely been posted on the village bulletin before one of your warrior women snatched it up and brought it to you, breathless from sprinting to the inn where your band rested. You typically get the most menial of menial tasks, so the 10,000 crown bounty for this quest immediately caught your eye.

The notice reads that Amelie Swann, the 19-year-old heiress of a local barony, had run off without leave and failed to return, taking only the clothes on her back and a sword from the castle. The palace guard suspected a band of kitsune bandits that had been slowly escalating their attacks over the last month. The full 10,000 crowns would be immediately provided to any group or warrior that could return Amelie safely to her father.

It doesn't take you long to find the bandits' trail; having captured their prize they no doubt considered themselves safe from harm, throwing caution and woodcraft to the wind. A steady trail of footprints and the remains of campfires leads you deep into a wild, untamed forest many miles away from the palace walls. When you see the glow of a campfire and hear the distant echoes of the kitsunes' voices, you rest for the day and prepare to attack at night.

You creep up on the bandits' camp and spot Amelie propped up against a tree, bound and tied. She's been gagged, bound at the wrists, knees and ankles, her silky pink dress has been shredded and her long blonde hair is tangled and full of leaves and twigs, but she otherwise seems unharmed. Her terrified gaze darts around the trees before settling on you, and her pretty blue eyes widen in surprise.

One of the kitsune notices and follows her gaze straight to your hiding spot. The fox-woman leaps up, hand on her weapon. "Okay, the jig is up. Come on out, or we'll gut this pretty little thing."

You comply, your band emerging from the trees one by one.

Most kitsune are on the petite side, but the woman standing before the fire is easily six feet tall. She wears a black leather tunic with daring cleavage and a matching short skirt, both of which are a tad too small for her muscular figure. Her pointed fox ears are pierced with half a dozen gold hoops each, and her short hair is adorned with jewels and beads of all colors and sizes. As your band emerges from the trees, the amber-eyed kitsune puts on an easy grin and cocks her hips to one side, flicking her bushy grey tail.

"Ah, I see what this is. You think you can steal our prize, right? Well, piss off. We're gonna get a big ransom for this little babe."

"Tell 'em, Aiko," shouts the bronze-furred kitsune closest to Amelie.

"That's funny, we have our own plan," you reply. "Amelie's father wants her back."

"Oh?" Aiko places a hand on her chest in mock surprise. "Well, come and take her from us!"

At once, the forest devolves into chaos as your warrior women engage the bandits.

Aiko leaps to the side, easily dodging your first blow. Although taller (and bustier) than average, your foe is as agile as any kitsune. Light on her feet, she leaps forward and aims a vicious stab at your gut that nearly finds its mark.

At the same time, Kyra the berserker duels the bronze-furred kitsune. A former tavern wench, Kyra made up for a lack of finesse with pure viciousness. Swatting aside her foe's saber with a heavy two-handed swing, the bare-breasted amazon kicks the kitsune in the shin with an iron-shod boot. "Ah, you bitch!" screams the bronze fox woman as she collapses to her knees.

The curse would prove to be her last words. With a single effortless swing, Kyra parts the bandit's head from her shoulders. Gore sprays over Kyra's bare chest as the slender body twitches to the ground, the eyes of the severed head blankly staring ahead.

Kyra's victory is short-lived. A third bandit emerges from the trees, stabbing her in the back with a wicked dagger. Kyra grunts, clutching at her back for a moment before she collapses forward onto the dead kitsune. She bleeds out in a matter of moments; the bandit's dagger had found Kyra's heart.

While this is happening, you had been swinging at air as Aiko effortlessly dodges your heavy-handed blows. Finally, you land a shallow cut on one of Aiko's legs. This slows her down ever so slightly, and you slowly gain the advantage as pain forces the kitsune to favor her left side. Roaring in rage, you try a dangerous lunge; if you miss, you will be wide open to counter-attack.

Your blade strikes true! Impaled on four feet of cold steel, Aiko doesn't scream or cry out; instead, she simply stares at the wound. For what seems like an eternity, she contemplates the red stain spreading across her grey tummy. Finally, she looks into your eyes. In another moment, you see the life fade from her eyes and she slumps to the ground, slain.

Finally, the third and last of the kitsune falls dead to the forest floor, clutching the shaft of an arrow lodged between her breasts--one of your archers had finally found a clear shot. You sheathe your weapon and go to check on Amelie. The princess is staring at Aiko's body splayed by the fire. The athletic fox woman looks as if she might be asleep, except for the eerie stillness of her large breasts and the crimson blood staining her grey fur.

You sit beside the princess. Her face is white as a sheet and she looks close to vomiting.

"Oh my god. Ohmygodohmygodohmygod. She's d-dead. You killed her and she's dead." The princess begins shaking as the realization of mortality hits her. She's obviously never seen a violent death before. "D-do you think she had friends? Or a family? Lovers?"

"No," you lie, gently patting Amelie on the shoulder.

You notice a glint of gold under the body of the bronze-furred kitsune. Rolling the petite corpse over, you discover a short sword in a gem-encrusted scabbard. "That's m-m-mine," Amelie says, finally tearing her eyes away from Aiko's body. "Daddy doesn't let m-me have a sword but I s-stole one."

You look at the blade a bit more closely. It's a decorative piece, meant for hanging on walls and looking pretty. Had the princess tried to use it in earnest, it would have snapped like a twig.

You sit back down and hand the blade back to Amelie. "Hey, Amelie, maybe you're not cut out for adventuring after all. Not everybody can be a fighter. Princesses have important jobs, too. We have food and blankets back at our camp. Are you hungry?"

The princess sobs and begins to cry, but tosses her fake sword aside and offers you her hand. You gently take it and lead her back to your own encampment as your warriors begin stripping the slain kidnappers for valuables.

The trip back to the fort is long, but uneventful. Amelie is still clearly disturbed by the violence of her rescue, but gradually comes to express her gratitude. Her constant admiration is a little grating by the time you arrive, but you can't bring yourself to rebuke the girl.

When you enter into the fort's main building, a footman halts you outside of the main hall. "Who goes there? What is your business in this place?"

You explain the nature of your mission and present Amelie to the guard. The footman is skeptical, as you had cut her tangled hair and replaced her ruined dress with a modest shirt and trousers, but he recognizes her voice instantly. "Wait here," he commands, and takes Amelie with him beyond the double doors.

A long time passes. First ten minutes, then an hour, then even longer. You start to worry that something is horribly wrong when the footman emerges again, princess in tow and carrying a fat sack of coin.

"My lordship is most impressed by m'lady's tale of your bravery, kindness and decorum. M'lady Amelie has increased your pay by an additional 1,000 gold crowns, and bids you accept a token of her personal favor."

Puzzled, you hold out your hand to receive a trinket. Amelie pushes it aside and instead kisses you full on the lips, warmly and passionately but rather lacking in experience. Judging by the footman's reaction, this was not the "token" that had been discussed.

"You are always welcome in my lands, brave warriors," Amelie says, blushing. She covers her face and retreats again behind the double doors.

The footman, clearly embarassed, shifts uncomfortably and clears his throat. "Ahem. Ladies, I take my leave."