The ground started shaking underneath his boots, though it definitely felt unnatural; he was expecting to fight undead that raise from the ground, but why did it shake just underneath him? Before he could jump away, as he saw something move under his boot, hands sprouted and grabbed at his clothes, legs, his tail, hands, shoulder, all of these ragged, ruined and bony hands immobilizing the wolf in place.
"WHAT THE F- AKH" before he could finish his sentence, he was silenced by a hand that managed to grab his throat tightly, suffocating him from the strong, undead grip. He couldn't utter out anything else but chocking sounds and mild grunts.
He was pushing, pulling, contracting, trying everything to break free of this trap, his efforts were in vain as the hands kept him locked there in place, he could barely shuffle in place, but soon, he felt a strong unison yank into the ground, pulling the wolf down unto his knees and arching his back, forcing him to look up at Shader. If he could, he would first kick himself for being such an idiot, then, he'd start beating down Shader to a pulp and he planned to do so once he was free of these hands; the choking grip on his throat slowly but painfully drew the wolf close to unconsciousness, blind spots appearing in front of his eyes, an overall sleepiness and the panicked sensation of not being able to suck in a tiny bit of air. He asked for it, really, so he will pay the price and reap what he had sown; he'll lose the stone, but at least, his team was safe away in the carriage and only he has to suffer for his own decision... and here they pop up. Seeing his squad trying to save him, he started to yank and pull away again from the strong grips, but he was slowly succumbing into sleep with the damned grip on his throat... until Alexandra slashed away the hand, the wolf immediately sucked in a healthy couple of breaths deep into his lungs and quickly regained his senses. Now he grunts and huffs and puffs, feeling much more strength now that he could breathe again; she even cuts a few hands and he immediately pulls his own limb away, only to be caught by another bunch of sprouting hands. Infuriated and frustrated, he growls and roars at Alexandra:
"I TOLD YOU TO STAND BACK, GODS-DAMN IT!"
Then he sees Shader slashing away at the arcane cage Xilan had put up to hold the Necro-Lord in place, something which did not particularly work too well as the arcane bars dissipate at the slash of the dangerously looking great-sword; Vincent swore under his breath and started yanking away from the hands again, pushing, pulling, his whole body starting to feel already torn and ripped, his wounds seeming to open again from the tremendous amount of physical stress. It did not matter, he had to save his friends, he must give the stone away and leave, he didn't want them to suffer for his own mistake, yet, here they are, exhausted and torn desperately trying to save Vincent's stupid little ass. He soon hear Arianna shriek Xilan's name, enraging to wolf more; he growls frustrated and angered, pulling and pushing away to no avail, panic swimming through his mind. He kept yelling at them:
"RUN! JUST RUN!" He tries to pull again from the grip, managing only to dislodge one of the hands from it's rotten wrist. "RUN TO THE CARRIAGE, GODS-DAMN YOU!"
Then he sees Alexandra struggling to fight off Shader. She was brave and strong, but it just didn't seem to help her now, the robed figure quickly thrashing her shield she was so proud of; dented and bent, the shield flew away from her grip and ate up a crushing upper-cut which rendered the poor girl unconscious. Seeing her battered like that enraged Vincent to new levels not even he was aware of: it drove him dizzy and insane, craving to lash out at the lord and tear off his flesh, bite and gnaw at him like a crazed feral wolf. Seeing Shader approach him slowly, he snarled and growled lowly under his breath like a real feral wolf, even barking a few times, his snout perked up and revealing his teeth; suddenly, a light blueish bubble seemed to separate him from Shader, it was Arianna's barrier. His eyes quickly moved over to see the girl walk in front of him so she could protect the wolf; he once again ordered her to get away in the carriage and flee, but she simply stood there, her knees trembling from either exhaustion or fear. It is now when the wolf feels full regret and remorse of his stupid decision, he should have simply given the stone and go home and forget about it; he couldn't stand seeing Arianna like this, that's why he didn't try too hard to calm her down after the bandit raid, he just could not bring his wits up and talk her out. His voice looses power as he sees her barrier broken and invaded by the monster, which slaps her with the back of his hand unto the ground; that's when his voice booms with a raging roar, cursing and swearing at the lord, not even he was too sure what was he swearing among the murderous threats, his desire to feed Shader his own guts and many other imaginative bold statements of such nature. Soon, the wolf runs out of air as he was continuously swearing at Shader, making him stop and try to recatch his breath, his voice cracked and croaking from his sore throat; he couldn't bring himself together to insult anymore, but he still tried to break free of the gripping hands. Finally, Shader brings the wolf's body up and straight, so he could recover the stone; that tiny, stupid object made this whole entire mess, and it was his own fault. The stone seemed to have grown a glimmering as it was in his hands. Shader than promised Vincent that he would receive his "reward" for their efforts of giving him the stone and for ruining Xiao; the words were mighty foreboding, the wolf's whole facial expression changing into a surprised one. The dark blade was about to pierce through his right shoulder, as he pooled up for the last attempts to escape from the grips of the undead, but it was to no use. He will have to eat this one up, for the team.
What came next could be described into one word: hell. The blade went clear through his flesh and cut him clean like a whistle; if it were a normal sword, it would hurt tremendously, but it was something he could most likely take and control after a while. But this pain was abnormal, continuous, burning, his brain couldn't comprehend the agony coming from the cut; the pain blinded and deafened him on the spot, he didn't hear himself roar from the depths of his thorax. He couldn't bring himself to move anymore, the pain was taking away all of his brain activity in the attempt to realize what's going on with his body; only after about half a minute of grunting and growling out the pain, he could finally sense something around him, feeling that he was free from the gross grip of those undead hands. He tried to stand up, managing to raise up on his knees, his left hand was now holding the fresh wound; he felt as though a livid hide of wasps were stinging the raw, burning flesh, spreading their poison all over the wound and inside him. With every breath turning into agony, Vincent refused to let himself go down, instead, he leaned on his left arm and leg to stand back up on his feet; he then held his wound tightly, he didn't know why, but he just did. With small, clumsy steps he tried to walk somewhere, he didn't know where his own body took him, for he had lost his minds to the unforgiving stab; he still growled loudly under his breath, both of pain and frustration. The black spots from his vision slowly cleared up and showed him a blurred vision of his squad on the ground, Xilan was down on his belly, Alexandra seemed to be gripping something but he was unsure what. He tried to take a few stumpy steps towards them, but he ended up landing on his right knee. Among the growls he was desperately trying to utter something, he didn't know exactly what, but he tried so hard to talk to them:
"D-... I d... sh... ack... got... got to... car-r..." he groaned loudly when he stood up back on his feet and seemed to not know where was he " ... I'm... los-... m-mo...m... no, no..." from the wound towards his whole body, the wound finally gave him the mercy of numbing away the pain, which offered Vincent a few more seconds of consciousness, where he turned to Arianna and fell down on his knees close to where she was laying. Once again, he started to mutter something among the grunts, groans and eventual sobs. "A... Ari- guh... I... -m... so-... rry... I j-jus..." he tried to raise once more from his knees and up to his feet, succeeding to some extent, until his legs went numb and he felt how his body collapsed on his back, a splash of blood spreading on the road as he landed. The general numbness was eerie, he couldn't feel anything, though he could move his body for a little bit more; he released his shoulder from the pressure he'd put with his left hand, revealing that his palm and fingers were soaking with blood, dripping droplets over his ruined overcoat. Blood was gushing copiously, so he somehow found the wound again and let his arm rest on as his final moments of lucidity slipped away in a slumber he feared he'd might not ever wake up. He failed them. He failed his friends. He failed the academy. He failed Gordon. He failed himself...
--------------------- SOMETIME LATER ---------------------
After a few moments of grey limbo, his eyes pry open, gasping for a gallon of air; he looked around his surroundings, confused, scared, fearing where he'd ended up. The black spots on his eyes slowly gave up to reveal a well lit small room, blue curtains dancing on the soft tune of chirping birds brought by a refreshing breeze; above the door of his room, he saw a flag with the well known Heroes of Avalon badge. How did he get back, he couldn't care less, he was back at HQ and it seems he made it alive, but not so well. Although conscious, his mind was barely shuffling to wake up and become fully aware of himself and his surroundings; after a while could he move his head, his senses coming back to him progressively, his whole body feeling stiff and mighty heavy. He finally controlled his breath, hyperventilation made him dizzy all over again; he slowly started to feel his toes, moving them just enough to make sure they're there, same with the tail and his fingers, though, he was covered with a blanket. It took him a bit to realize there was someone else in the room with him, an elfess dressed in a physician's robes.
He took a glance at the bowl, making sure it was water and not some sleeping concoction; the water did good to his snout, only now realizing that his mouth and tongue were dry like a burnt raisin. He could feel the tongue inside his mouth again as he swallowed the whole bowl down, helping with the blood circulation in his head; his throat now humid, it did feel tired after roaring out at Shader like that... still, he had to find out what's going on.
"Wuh-" he uttered, his voice crackling and hoarse "... what happened?"
"I don't know. You were brought here in a terrible condition. I and the other physicians and healers did our best...but even so, you were unconscious for 2 days."
He raised his eyebrows and puffed some air out in amazement; he's been out cold for two days? It felt as though a moment had passed... A fairly good performance, having what happened to him. Right now he was still trying to remember details of the event, he could only remember excruciating pain and Arianna being slapped out cold... in retrospect, that slapped looked so damn powerful no s'merikaan slave master had ever seen. He forced his eyes shut tightly, trying to readjust his vision. He was brought then some rabbit stew, which looked horrific from his point of view, but it tasted good; or maybe he was hungry enough he could eat parchment paper. While he ate, he slowly became dizzy again, the blood from his brain going down in the stomach to process the food, figuring how much blood he had lost in the struggle. While every spoonful was greeted by a vicious bite and greed, although he was reluctant to be fed by a woman; though he couldn't refuse food in this position, he knew he needed some stew to gain strength and get back to job, because as he promised, he will hunt Shader down.
"Would you like some bread?"
"I'd rather eat a fucking table, excuse my exotic language." well, his mind was back. But he needed answers: "Still... what happened, how did I get here?" he asks from his pillow, looking straight into those intensely sparking blue eyes. For once, he was greeted with kind eyes...
"Well.." the elven woman started to tell him while still feeding him. "When you were brought here, you were in a critical condition. You were full of wounds, burning with fever and your pulse was low. Some of us feared we might not be able to save you..." she then smiled warmly at the wolf "I'm glad you managed to pull through. Your friends were very much relieved to hear that you would recover."
His heart sunk, again and it hurt like hell. "Xilan, Alexandra... Arianna! Oh, fuck, how are they? Are they alright?" he looked genuinely worried, his body muscles were flexed, thinking of the worst.
"They are fine." the elven woman said as she fed Vincent the last bits of the stew "They were wounded and exhausted but not nearly in such a bad condition as you were. They visited you all the time, even when they themselves were recovering." Her warm smile was accompanied by a warm, playful chuckle as she put the now-empty bowl aside, "You have such good friends who care about you. They will be overjoyed to see you finally woke up."
He didn't think so. "Psh, yeah, precisely." he replied with sarcasm and sighed in relief; he had put his friends in grave danger twice, yet, they came to see his sorry hide while he was out? Oh, man, what will he tell them when they meet up? He'd rather bury his head in the ground and eat worms... or maybe he should have died for his mistakes. It wasn't like he compromised the whole Hero of Avalon compound, but he nearly killed his own friends a couple of times and he was more than ashamed of that; he looked as calm and somewhat annoyed as always, though deep down, he was pretty much suffering for his stupid, stupid, stupid mistakes. The physician then takes off the sheathes from his torso down to his abdomen, to which Vincent replied in a meek, but cheeky tone:
"Oh my, I didn't knew... well, we did have dinner, did we?" but soon, she left to open the window for him, a stronger gust of wind passing over the fur of his chest; he was nearly naked.
"Oh... I see I'm kind of ready for it." he continues in the same tone. But then, he notices the bandages he had all over the place: he raised his left arm and brought it towards him, the cut on his biceps and the forearm that stopped Xiao's dagger was bandaged, though not heavily, he had a bandage at the neck, though he didn't remember being hurt there, he scanned his forehead for where Xiao nearly cracked his skull open, where he found another bandage stuck in place. The most noticeable one was on the shoulder where he'd been stabbed by that dark blade, the cloth was rather fresh; had a bit of trouble with this one, eh? Vincent thought. He raised his right hand and brought the two hands together, testing his coordination, which seemed to be doing well; he could move the fingers from both hands, though there was this stiffness in them, both arms weighing about two times as much. Then, he attempted to arch his back and raise up on his arse, though his body definitely dragged him back down into bed, not having nearly enough strength to raise using his torso muscles only; before he could use his hands to push himself up, the nurse promptly pushed the wolf back down into the sheaths, where he sighed in exasperation.
"Oh, no, no. Please, lie down. You need to rest and recover. Now that you are awake, it shouldn't take long, it think. You will probably be able to walk out of bed by the morow, but for now please. Save your strength."
"I will go let everyone know that you have awoken. They will all be so relieved and glad. See you soon, Mr. Grayhide."
And she left, leaving Vincent to his own thoughts; her recommendation to lay down should be heeded by him, having what Vincent pulled through. But, then again, he wouldn't be Vincent if he wouldn't insist like a stupid child, so he forces himself up, using whatever strength he found in his bandaged arms; after a considerate effort and a few grumpy grunts, Vincent was sitting on the edge of the bed, the sheathes still covering his legs and his tail was laying beside him, wagging up and down every now and then as he was somewhere else with his mind... or most likely he was dizzy enough to fall unconscious again, with blood rushing from his brain down to his feet with this effort, not to mention his whole body shift to a vertical position. When the beautiful spinning colors dissipated from his eyes, Vincent started to think what will he say to his friends? Apologize? Rebuke them for not listening to him? Or simply don't give a shit? Though it was more than clear he was reluctant to meet them after such a failure; he was most afraid of Alexandra and Arianna's reactions, Xilan would be all chilled about it as usual. Alexandra had lost the shield she loved more than any other boy and Arianna really took this experience hard. He had to get his stuff together and be their leader: strong, confident and indomitable. Oh boy, this will suck.