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Chapter 87: Freeing The Children

Chapter 87: Freeing The Children

In Which Freedom is a Very Good Thing.

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Chris: Holst takes the lead, figuring he knows the facility best of the three. He pads up to his cell block and down the corridor, stepping over the hulk of the hare he had fought earlier and opening the door at the end of the hall. “This way!”

Catamount: The ferret follows quickly behind the fox, hands idly checking the now dual hilts at her hips.

Arrin: The otter is right behind the ferret peering around the encampment as they move swiftly.

Chris: Holst winds them through more corridors, the destruction less and less evident as they move away from the cell blocks. They were now in the administrative section of the compound. He leads them down a hallway to a door, a small rectangular window letting light flood in. “It’s right through here.” He opens the door and walks through.

Outside, the massive sides of what could be called a cage shone dully in the morning sunlight. Inside, were ramshackle structures that appeared as if they would crumble in a strong breeze.

Holst plucks a key ring from the wall of the building they just exited, walking to a gate on the cage and unlocking a massive padlock. “They kept them away from the rest of us…” The rusty gate shrieks open, the sound reverberating in the heavy air. “…so that we couldn’t give them hope.”

Catamount: A shout goes up as the gate creaks open quickly followed by a muffled sound of scurrying. The ferret looks through just as the stragglers hide inside the shacks or stand in small groups, looking entirely too innocent. A moment later and the children realize that these were not the wardens they thought the three were.

Arrin: The otter peers around in the gloom, his heart wrenching painfully and his gut churning as he takes in the conditions these poor children were kept in. A soft, unrestrained sentiment escapes his lips. “Oh the poor dears…”

Chris: Holst takes a step inside and walks toward one of the scattered groups, they back away fearfully. His eyes soften slightly. “You’re all free… Although, I know some of you don’t know what that means, trust me, it’s a very good thing.”

He pauses to settle the quiver that had begun in his voice. “We would just like to know if there’s an Azrun present.”

Catamount: Jozra steps through after Holst, looking at the small groups of children watching the three distrustfully. Another moment and a movement catches her eye.  A small, wide-eyed sand colored fox with overlarge ears and loosely fitting clothes moves a little away from his group. He squints at the ferret and looks taken aback. And then in a voice not at all like a child’s he says, “Jozra?!”

Catamount: The ferret grins a little. “Figured we’d find you here, Azrun.”

The grin fades though as she looks around the enclosure again. “We need to get out of here, fast. Zander’s getting everyone organized outside.”

She hesitates. “We know of a safe place…” She sort of gestures at the groups of children.

Arrin:  Soquan takes this as a cue of sorts and turns a soft smile towards the children. “Alright kiddoes, you lot want to head off with us then? Once we’re safe we can track down your mums and da’s. That sounds like a good idea?”

Chris: A lot of the children look to each other. A few of the children cheer and begin to come forth. Most of them just look confused.

Holst places a paw on Soq’s shoulder. “For those of you who don’t have them… there’s warm beds and lots of good food.”

By now the children were gathered around the three, expectant faces pointed upward.

Catamount: Azrun chuckles and shifts his posture a little, the childlike appearance melting away save for his own smallness and the oversized ears. “They’re smart kids, they know what’s good for them. “

He winks at a couple and they grin back. “Lets go, shorties. Auntie Joz says we need to move fast.” Jozra just gives Azrun a dirty look at the last bit.

Arrin:  The otter gives a short laugh at the ‘Auntie Joz’ comment before turning to the pair. “Why don’t you take the kiddies to Zander, Holst and I will do another sweep of the area to be on the safe side.”

Chris: Holst fights the uneasiness of parting from his companions and nods, looking to Joz for confirmation.

Catamount: Jozra pauses a moment, unsure, and then slowly nods. “We’ll meet up at the guard house. They have our stuff there.”

Arrin: Soquan sends an affectionate smile towards the ferret. “Stay safe.”

Chris: A child tugs on Holst’s shirt.  He bends down to listen as the child whispers in his ear and points to one of the huts in the cage.  Holst’s expression turns to bewilderment.  He nods and addresses Joz. “You remember the way back?”

Catamount: The ferret nods. She’s long since gotten back into the habit of crafting accurate mental maps. “Yeah. And the guard house, it’s hard to miss. It’s the first place they took us.”

Arrin: The otter nods. “We’ll see you there.”

He turns to Holst. “Where to first?”

Chris: Holst gives him a bit of a grin. “Give me a moment.”

He trots over to the hut the child pointed at and opens the makeshift door. Inside, huddled on a scattering of straw, was a foxmaid.  He pauses as her deep eyes set on him, the fear behind them all too evident. A pang hit his heart, his tattoo feeling as if it were tingling.

“I know you’re scared of us… I know this all you’ve known.  All I can tell you is that it’s better, much, much better, outside of these walls.” He reaches out a paw for her to take.  Painfully slowly, she grasps it. He leads her to Soq. “Just had a straggler.”

Arrin: Soquan offers the female and a friendly smile. “Hello there.”

Chris: She waves timidly, still clutching Holst’s paw. Holst addresses Soq. “We should probably get going.”

Arrin: He gives a wave of his paw. “Lead on then.”

~

Catamount: Azrun looks back out at the children, most of them looking at him expectantly and with more trust. “Alright shorties, lets go.”

He turns briefly to Jozra and under his breath, quiet so only she can hear, “Strike hard?” “Strike fast,” is her answer.

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