"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 Rakshasa child, but a child nonetheless. Now, for those who have never heard of a Rakshasa, they are a race of shape-shifters from the far east. They are wholly evil creatures, who's natural appearance is that of a bipedal, humanoid tiger, complete with a lush coat of fur, claws, and teeth to match, but they can take on any humanoid form they choose. In any event ... As the reverberations of the blow rippled up Ji'haud's arm, he whirled to face Akira, his lips drawn back in a snarl, baring his long, tiger's teeth. His eyes flickered to a bright green, but only for a second, until he noticed the pale faces and blank stares of horror from the suddenly hushed crowd of onlookers. Regaining his composure, Ji'haud held his form, and without a second's hesitation he crumpled to his knees beside the twitching form of the boy, a mask of horrified anguish on his face. "My son!" he screamed, allowing a furtive glance towards Akira that only the stunned warrior could see ... just to make sure he knew that Ji'haud's lamentations were all an act. "My only son!!" At this, the crowd suddenly came back to life, turning on Akira. As G'haunadar, Rook, and Caitlin moved to take up protective positions around Akira, Ji'haud continued his charade, gradually easing himself back from the child as the squad of guards and a handful of citizens closed in to try and give aid to the boy. Seeing his chance, Ji'haud melted into the crowd. Reaching the corner of a nearby building, he quickly scaled the structure and began to race across the rooftops, putting as much distance between himself and the square as possible. But, his escape didn't go completely unnoticed. Watching the scene unfold from the crowd, Masamura saw Ji'haud slip away from the chaos and up the corner of the building. As quickly as he could manage, Masamura followed the shapeshifter up onto the rooftop and immediately caught sight of him as he sprinted away. With inhuman speed, Masamura nocked, drew, and loosed an arrow from the heavy daikyu, and allowed himself a thin smile as he watched the broadhead shaft slam into the back of Ji'haud's left shoulder. The heavy impact knocked Ji'haud foreward and off his feet, carrying him over the edge of the third-story roof he was on. When Masamura arrived at the spot where he'd seen his prey fall, he was livid to find only a small spot of blood on the edge of the rooftop, and a slightly larger one on the street below. With a growl, Masamura slung his bow and turned to head back to the square, where the tumult was beginning to reach a fever pitch. Time to see if he could manage a bit of damage control. Maybe once the boy reverted to his true form the crowd would be a bit more forgiving of Akira ... after all, a dead rakshasa was a good rakshasa.