by Little Black Raincloud
"Come along, child," Ji'haud urged, gripping the 10-yr old's hand tightly as they weaved through the crowded market. Their pursuers weren't far behind, closer and closer with every passing second ... he could smell them. To the throng of patrons packed into the Zokia market square, they appeared just as Ji'haud wanted to appear, as a man and his son doing last-minute shopping. But their pursuers knew differently.
Akira threaded his way among the sea of oblivious shoppers, gently using his bo-staff to ease people aside, and doing his level best to keep the pair in sight. A few feet off to his right was Masamura. The dour samurai, his heavy daikyu bow in hand, pushed his way through the crowd more brusquely, absentmindedly attempting to not just bowl people over in the process. To Akira's left was G'haunadar, a Drow of giant stature (another tale for another time), his heavy satcloth cloak hiding his dark features and glittering eyes from the crowd. Bringing up the rear of the pursuit were Rook and Caitlyn. The massive Mul and the powerfully built half-elf waded through the crowd of shoppers, leaving a clear path in their wake like a plow through a field.
As the chase neared the center of the huge market square, the crowd began to thin out, as the merchants booths lined the perimeter, leaving the center a less-congested area for pedestrian traffic. Ji'haud knew he and his companion would have to make a break for it as soon as their cover dissipated, but he held out little hope of escape.
Almost as if he sensed Ji'haud's intentions, Akira redoubled his efforts to close the distance to their quarry. He was almost within arm's reach when he saw Ji'haud lower his shoulders and make ready to sprint off into the crowd again, on the other side of the clearing. Ji'haud could feel the peasant warrior closing in on him and knew it was now or never. But suddenly, as if it had been planned, a squad of city guards appeared in Ji'haud's path, from the other side of the square, freezing him in his tracks. Siezing the chance opening, Akira leapt into the air, raising his bo-staff high above his head. The great blow descended in a viscious arc, the air whistling behind it. But the distance was wrong. Even as the stroke fell, Akira saw it coming, but was powerless to change the outcome as this point. The hardened bo-staff landed with devastating force aginst the side of the boy's head, splitting his skull like a ripe melon with a loud, wet, cracking sound like that of a coconut being crushed by a maul. Blood and brains sprayed in all directions, spattering not only Ji'haud but the throng of horrified onlookers as well, while Caitlin and Rook stared dumbstruck at the terrible carnage that had once been a child. A Rak...