• Published 30th Oct 2018
  • 1,181 Views, 582 Comments

Ponyville Noire: Kriegspiel—Black, White, and Scarlet - PonyJosiah13

War has come to Ponyville. As a criminal mastermind, a cruel pirate, and a mare with mysterious motives fight for control, Daring Do and Phillip Finder are put to the test with new cases and new foes.

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Case Seven, Chapter Five: Hunting Horns

Phillip opened his eyes slowly, feeling as though his head was filled with a dense fog. Groaning and shaking his head, he cleared the clouds from his mind. Closing his eyes and breathing deeply, he quickly checked himself over for injuries. Aside from a dull ache in his right foreleg, he felt no pain or discomfort.

Then the memories came flooding back: Daring going back inside. Continuing his patrol. A stinging pain in his foreleg. The dart. Falling into the snow, blackness overtaking him.

His eyes jerked open and he sat up. Immediately, he found himself staring face to face with a unicorn stallion with a light green coat and black hair, staring back at him with an expression of horror, eyes wide and jaw wide open in a scream. Phillip instinctively jerked back, his heart rate spiking as adrenaline flooded his veins and washed out the last of his fatigue, but the stallion didn’t move, standing frozen as if petrified.

It was then that Phillip looked closer at the other and noticed the stump where his horn had been cut off, the plastic-like sheen to his coat, and the fact that his green eyes were far too glassy and shiny to be real.

He was looking at a corpse, morbidly stuffed and preserved as a trophy. And as Phillip’s eyes adjusted to the dim light, he found himself surrounded by more trophies: over a dozen ponies, mares and stallions, all of them perpetually standing, staring, and screaming in horror. All for the amusement of their murderer.

Breathing heavily to restore his heart rate to normal, Phillip took in the whole of the room he found himself in. He was in some kind of cabin, with a rickety wooden floor. He had been lying on a rug made from the hide of a bear. Bare lightbulbs hung from the ceiling, providing him with light. He was completely nude, his vest, shirt, hat, and radio all removed.

Okay. Calm down, Finder. If you got here, there’s a way out.

He spotted a door at the end of the room and proceeded towards it. He paused to listen: hearing nothing on the other side, he tested the doorknob. It was unlocked. Pushing the door open, he beheld a larger room. At the center of the room was a large wooden table, adorned in dark red stains that smelled faintly of copper. Tools hung from the walls: a hacksaw, knives and scalpels of various shapes and sizes, pliers, clamps, scoops, and glue, all of them secured behind a locked metal grate. A plastic bin underneath the table was filled with white stuffing; another bin was filled with glass eyes of various colors, all of them staring outwards.

Phillip found a small box on the table and peeked inside. At the bottom of the cardboard lay a collection of wing feathers, the same shade of purple as Deco Line’s coat. A shudder ran down Phillip’s spine.

Another door waited at the other end of the room. Phillip opened this one and found himself on a landing, with a narrow set of stairs. He started down them, carefully placing his hooves on the edge of each step to minimize creaking.

“Come on down, Finder,” a voice called from below. “I’ve been waiting for you.”

His heart tapping a fearful tattoo against his ribs, Phillip proceeded to the bottom of the stairs and turned the corner. He entered a living room of sorts, a long room lined with several more carpets made from the hides of various wild animals. A hoofmade wooden table and a single chair stood at the opposite end of the room, with a cast iron fireplace and an open doorway that Phillip’s nose deduced led to a pantry. The two frost-coated windows showed little more than darkness; most of the light came from an oil lantern affixed to the ceiling.

Sitting at the table was Big Game, staring directly at him. In his hooves was a polished over-under hunting rifle; upon the table sat equipment for the care and cleaning of the weapon, and a box of .45 caliber rounds. Behind Big Game was a wooden doorway; its lighter color stood out against the darker logs that made up the cabin walls. Curiously, the door was partially open, and Phillip could see a faint reddish light coming from behind the door, casting Big Game in strange crimson shadow.

“The great Phillip Finder,” Big Game said, his golden eyes fixed upon Phillip’s gray irides. “You’re a lot less imposing close up.”

“I’m not playing your games,” Phillip declared coolly.

“You’re not the first pony who’s told me that,” Big Game replied, stroking the perfectly smoothed foregrip of his rifle. “And yet, every single one of them walks out that door behind you.”

An icy touch at the back of Phillip’s neck told him that the door to the outside was directly behind him. He kept his eyes on the Poacher, calculating distance, angles and trajectories. Was it possible…?

“I know what you’re thinking,” Big Game interrupted his thoughts, his voice low and heavy. “Don’t try it. I had a pony try to rush me from where you’re standing. I drilled a hole through the center of his forehead before he’d taken three steps.” A noise of disgust slithered out of the Poacher’s throat. “He wasn’t even worth making a trophy, so I just fed him to the timberwolves.”

He was right, Phillip realized: at this range, without a weapon, he stood no chance against an armed attacker who was ready for him. He instead turned his attention to the door with the strange red light behind it.

“I’m guessing that’s how you brought me here,” he commented.

Big Game smirked and raised his right hoof. A bracelet attached to his wrist jingled: a small blue key was attached to it.

“A little gift from Silvertongue, Holy Mother rest his soul,” he explained. “My freedom and the best base I could ask for, all in exchange for getting rid of a few enemies from time to time. Best deal I ever made in my life.” He nodded to the door. “It’s also your way out. Your only way out, I should mention: this entire square mile is fenced in with a nine-foot high wall, and even if you got past that, you’d find yourself in the Everfree Forest, with no idea where Ponyville is and no way to stay alive.”

“Why leave me an escape route?” Phillip asked.

Big Game simply raised an eyebrow. The answer occurred to Phillip after a moment of deliberation: “It’s no fun if the prey can’t escape. The thrill is what’s important.”

“Exactly,” Big Game nodded. The smirk suddenly erased itself from his face and the Poacher raised his weapon. “Now start the hunt, Phillip Finder. Or I’ll shoot you here and now.”

Phillip stared at the twin barrels aimed at him, like two black holes into oblivion, considering his options. There weren’t many. He turned around and faced the door, pushing it open wide. A whistling wind that bit into his bones greeted him instantly, and he found himself facing a line of trees, their branches laden with snow. He glanced back over his shoulder. The Poacher was still aiming his rifle at him.

Phillip took a breath and stepped forward, his hooves crunching into the snow beneath his hooves. Already beginning to shiver, he started forward at a fast pace, disappearing into the trees. As soon as the cabin was out of sight, he paused. How long a head start was the Poacher going to give him?

It didn’t matter. He had to get ready. Somehow, he had to incapacitate his hunter and get back to the cabin. He couldn’t afford to panic. He couldn’t afford to get lost in the snowy forest.

He spotted a low-hanging branch about half as thick as his foreleg and grabbed onto it, testing its weight. It felt fairly solid, but not too hard. With a grunt, he chopped the branch off near the base, the blow causing his hoof to momentarily sting with pain. He swung the branch a few times. Yes: heavy, but not too heavy, and solid.

Grasping his new weapon in a hoof, Phillip studied the trees over his head and the faint stars beyond them, a plan forming in his mind. His teeth chattered and the icy air stung his eyes, but he forced himself to ignore the cold. This would work. This had to work.

O-Oh, Death...whoa-oh, Death…

The Poacher was coming. Without looking back, Phillip ran forward, occasionally glancing upwards at the sky, allowing the stars to guide him forward.

Keep moving. Keep thinking. Keep surviving.

“Daring, calm down,” Flash Sentry pleaded. “We can—”

“There is no calming down about this!” Daring snapped at him, pushing through the doors of the police laboratory. “The Poacher has Phillip, and I’m going to find him. Twilight!” she yelled.

Twilight jumped and looked up from the book she was studying. “What’s wrong?” she asked, her eyes widening as she surveyed the group: Daring, Flash, Prowl, and Bumblebee.

Daring walked up to Twilight, her face tight and her rosy eyes blazing with fear, and placed Phillip’s trilby on the desk. “The Poacher’s got Phil,” she explained. “Help me find him.”

Twilight’s eyes widened. “That means he’s in the Everfree Forest!”

“So?” Daring snapped.

“That means he’s in a dense, mostly unexplored forest that’s filled with hostile creatures,” Prowl explained. “Going in after him—

I don’t give a fuck!” Daring shouted, slamming her hoof down on the table hard enough to crack the surface. Her eyes blazed with the fury of the sun. “He’s out there with that sick bastard hunting him, and I am going to find him if I have to search the entire forest and kill every single timberwolf in there by myself! Are you gonna help me or not?!”

Everypony stared at Daring in silent shock for a few seconds, then Prowl said calmly, “I was going to say, going in after him by yourself would be suicide.”

“Yeah, of course we’re coming with you,” Bumblebee chimed in. “Did you really think we’d abandon a friend?”

Daring blinked, the words like a bucket of cold water being tossed into her face, cooling the flames of her worry and rage. “Oh,” she murmured lamely. “Sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Twilight reassured her. “I know you’re worried.” Twilight examined the interior of the hat. “Good, there’s some hairs in the brim here.” With her magic, she extracted some gray-tinged black hairs from the hat, while opening a drawer and extracting a map of the Everfree Forest. She laid the map, which was made of aerial photographs of the forest, across the table, then opened another drawer and pulled out a large jar of salt. She sprinkled some salt in a circle around the map, then placed the hairs in the center of the circle. She used more salt to add in a set of symbols around the map, then took a breath and closed her eyes, channeling magic into her horn.

“Quearite. Sequor. Indago.” Twilight chanted, tendrils of magic slithering out of her horn and touching the symbols with every exhalation. “Quearite. Sequor. Indago.”

The magical symbols began to glow, then the salt swirled upwards in a circle as if caught in a small tornado, circling the map. Twilight continued her chant, her words charged with an energy, though her brow seemed to furrow in confusion. The salt formed a single cloud and paused over the map as if confused, then dropped onto the map to form a two-inch wide pile near the southwest corner of the forest. An area that, according to the map’s scale, was equivalent to about six square miles.

“Can’t you narrow it down?” Daring asked.

“The magic of the Forest is interfering with mine,” Twilight shook her head. “If I tried to narrow it down more, it might backfire on me. Sorry.”

Daring stared at the map, then grunted. “It’ll have to be enough.”

“Wait!” Flash cut in. “Twi, you remember last week’s Ogres and Oubliette round? When Spike used that...dowsing thing?”

Twilight’s eyes brightened. “Yes, that might work!” she cried, looking around the lab. “I need…yes!” She opened a small drawer and extracted several small silver rods that were used for stirring potions and chemical samples. She dipped three of them into the salt, then began to stroke them in a single direction with her magic.

“These should lock on to Phillip’s magical signature,” she explained, pulling out a roll of thin string and tying a length of string around each of the rods. “They’ll act like compasses, pointing directly to him. Here.” She gave one rod to Daring, one to Flash, and one to Prowl, tying each around their wrist.

“Who knew being a nerd could be so helpful?” Bumblebee grinned at Flash, who blushed faintly. “Say, who’s Spike?”

“No one!” Twilight said very quickly.

“Thanks, Twilight,” Prowl nodded. “I’ll get Queen One fueled up—”

“You sure?” Flash cut in. “Chopper might take too long.”

“I could get there faster flying straight,” Daring said.

“And it doesn’t look like there’s any clearings nearby where you could land,” Twilight pointed out.

“I could drop them in by ladder and circle around until they sent up a flare,” Prowl suggested.

“There’s no telling how long this could take,” Flash pointed out. “What if you ran out of fuel and had to go back?”

“And rocs live near the Everfree,” Twilight added. “If there’s one nesting nearby, it might attack the helicopter.”

“Rocks?” Bumblebee asked, raising an eyebrow. “Since when can rocks fly?”

“No, r-o-c, roc,” Twilight explained. “They’re like giant eagles.”

“How giant?” Bumblebee asked.

“Big enough to eat a pony whole,” Twilight said, causing Bumblebee to blanch.

“Good point,” Prowl frowned. “But then what?”

“You could teleport us there,” Daring suggested to Twilight. “It’ll be faster and easier than trying to make it through the forest ourselves.”

Twilight stared at her like she had just told her to sprout wings and fly. “Are you kidding me?!” she cried. “A long-range teleportation into a completely unknown area?! Do you have any idea the kinds of factors that would go into that?! Did you ever think of the possibility that you could end up over a ten thousand foot drop, or stuck in a tree?!”

“Not until you mentioned it,” Daring replied. “But there’s no one I’d trust more for that than you.”

“I…” Twilight looked down, seemingly unsure what to say.

“Twi, you’re a valedictorian from the Royal Academy of Magic. You’re a fucking genius, for Faust’s sake,” Daring said. “You must’ve done a class or something on this.”

Twilight hesitated. “I don’t know…”

“Twi, you can do it,” Flash said, smiling at her.

Twilight looked around at them all, then nodded. “Okay...okay. This is going to take some time. First I need to do a scan of your magical energies.” She lit up her horn and what looked like four small lavender stars blossomed from the tip. Each of the little spheres of light floated over to Prowl, Bumblebee, Flash, and Daring and began to circle them, scanning them with focused beams of light. After a minute, the stars floated back to Twilight, who studied the small spheres.

“Okay, that’s a good start,” Twilight nodded, taking out a notebook and scrawling down notes from whatever information she was gleaning from the spheres. “I’ll have to put this into my formulas to account for your mass and energy.”

“You’ll have to account for them, too,” a voice said. Everypony turned to see Cold Case entering the laboratory, followed by Officer Wheellock and Sergeant MacWillard. “They’re going, too,” Cold Case said.

“Why?” Daring snapped back. “To keep an eye on me to make sure I’m hoofing the line?”

“No,” Cold Case replied, her voice gentle, none of her usual coldness present. “They’re there to help you. If you’re going into the Everfree Forest on a rescue mission, you’ll need all the help you can get, and these two are among my best.”

Daring blinked at Cold, then looked over at the two officers. Wheellock was shaking a little, but she gave Daring a firm nod; the unicorn mare had pulled a rosary necklace out from beneath her shirt and was touching each of the beads in turn, rubbing the embossed symbols that represented the alicorns. MacWillard returned her gaze steadily.

“I…” Daring looked over at Cold, who just looked at her, face impassive as ever. Daring sighed. “Thank you,” she muttered.

“Just come back safe,” Cold Case replied. “All of you.”

Twilight scanned MacWillard and Wheellock with two more magical spheres. “Okay...I can do this,” she said, licking her lips. “It’s going to take some time to finish my calculations.”

“We’ll stock up in the meantime,” MacWillard said. “Let’s head to the armory.”

Leaving the lab, the group proceeded up a single floor to the department’s armory. After inputting a brief code into the keypad on the steel door, Prowl opened the door to reveal a large room. Shelves loaded with guns lined the walls, with boxes of ammunition and magazines sitting in front of them. Racks were lined with body armor and helmets in various sizes; boxes held a multitude of grenades—tear gas, sting, flashbang, magothermal, and more. Most importantly, there were hangers carrying new thick winter coats, with spells woven into the furry fabric to retain heat. Each of the group quickly snatched one up. Everypony except Daring also selected a bulletproof vest.

“Why don’t you take one?” Flash asked as he strapped his vest on then put his coat on over it.

“Too heavy, it’ll just slow me down,” Daring answered.

Wheellock walked over to a rack carrying rifles and picked a Summerfield Rifle with a scope on it. She opened the bolt to check the chamber, then peered down the scope and manipulated a switch on the side with her magic.

“Night vision works...thermal vision works...great,” she nodded. She slung the rifle over her shoulder and selected an ammunition belt loaded with stripper clips.

Prowl and MacWillard both selected a Trotson from a rack and performed a quick check to ensure that they were in working order. Nodding in satisfaction, they started snatching up magazines of .45 ammunition. Bumblebee briefly hefted a bulletproof shield, then shook his head and swapped it for a Whinnychester pump-action 12-gauge. Flash took another of the same model.

Daring considered her choices, briefly pondered the snub-nosed revolver tucked against her side, then picked a nickel-plated Moon Model S. She slid her hoof into the holding strap on the side and adjusted it to fit, then held it up to check the sights and ensuring that the slide operated properly. Skills that had been ingrained to her in the Family guided her hooves, even as she scowled bitterly at her own appendages.

“Everypony ready?” Prowl asked, signing out their equipment in a thick binder.

“Hang on,” Daring replied, sliding her borrowed pistol into a holster. She reached inside her shirt and extracted a glass flask of Manticore Rare. Twisting the top off with a soft pop, she took a quick swig of the liquid. The bitter, dark red drink slid down her throat, leaving her tongue with a faint burning sensation that she savored for a moment before swallowing. Replacing the top, she shook her head. “Okay, now I’m ready.”

“Let’s go,” Prowl said, leading the way back out the door and back into the laboratory. Twilight had sketched out a large circle on the floor in chalk and was walking around it, muttering to herself. Three notebooks littered with tight shorthoof orbited her head like planets, and she checked and rechecked each one every few seconds. As she walked around the circle, she filled it in with arcane runes and symbols, then drew six smaller circles around it, connected to each other and the main circle with lines.

Cold Case stood off to the side, watching. As the group reentered the laboratory, she pulled something out of her pocket with her magic and examined it. Daring recognized it: a small purple coin with the number 10 emblazoned on it. Seeing Daring staring at her, Cold quickly replaced the coin in her pocket.

“Okay, this should get you close to where Phillip is,” Twilight announced, placing the notebooks down and drawing symbols within the smaller circles. “Hopefully without teleporting you all into a rock or something.”

“Yes, please,” Bumblebee said with a weak grin.

“Wait a minute,” Flash cut in. “How are we going to get back when we find Phil?”

“Use these,” Cold Case replied, pulling out several small glass spheres. Inside each sphere was a small pointed crystal, glowing with blue-white energy. A sharp angle indicated where each crystal had been cut cleanly in half.

“Teleportation crystals,” Cold Case explained, distributing one to each of the group. “They’re already charged with my magic and I have them here.” She indicated six other crystal halves, each of them also glowing with energy, sitting on a table behind her. “Just break the sphere to activate them.” She then pulled out a clipboard and passed it around. “Sign out for them.”

“Seriously?” Daring asked as the others each scratched down their signature on the clipboard.

“Magical crystals don’t grow on trees,” Cold Case replied icily as the board was passed around to her.

“They do in the Crystal Empire,” Daring pointed out.

Cold Case opened her mouth, blinked, then closed it again. “Just sign the damn thing,” she frowned, shoving the clipboard into Daring’s face. Daring scowled at her and signed at the bottom in a hurried hoof.

“Be careful,” Cold Case told them as Twilight directed each of the rescuers to stand in one of the smaller circles. Wheellock began to tremble slightly as she stepped into hers, fiddling with the rosary necklace around her neck and murmuring a prayer to Luna. MacWillard gave her a firm pat on the back as he walked past her. She managed to smile and nod at him, a gesture that he returned.

Twilight guided Flash onto his circle. The two paused, hovering next to each other, the air around them electric with words that they couldn’t form. Flash cleared his throat and shifted to adjust for the weight of the shotgun over his shoulder. “Uh, don’t worry,” he tried to smile. “I’ll be fine. I’ve got these guys to save me when I get into trouble.”

“Ha ha,” Daring said dryly. “Can we move this along? Phil’s gonna freeze to death before you two are done.”

Twilight started to say something, choked on her words, then leaned in and kissed Flash on the cheek. Both ponies blushed deeply as Twilight walked to the center of the large circle. Twilight took a breath and closed her eyes. Her horn began to glow and tendrils of magic snaked out of the tip. The chalk runes around her seemed to absorb them, beginning to glow. Twilight began a quiet, monotone chant, keeping her eyes shut. The glowing energy traveled through the runes, around the circumference of the large circle, then to the smaller ones. The air became thick with static electricity, causing everypony’s coats to stand up on end. Twilight stood, her chant becoming louder and more forceful as she poured more energy into the spell; a wind began to blow from out of nowhere, buffeting everypony’s manes and tails. Cold Case backed away, raising a hoof to shield her eyes.

The light became brighter and brighter, blinding the assembled group. Then there was a loud bang and the light faded away. When Twilight and Cold Case opened their eyes, the chalk circle was smoking slightly and the other six ponies had vanished.

“Did it work?” Cold Case asked tersely, subconsciously biting at her lip.

Twilight had to take a moment to catch her breath before answering. “I hope it did...but wherever they are, they have to rely on their own hooves.”

His muscles screamed at him. The effort it took to not shiver, to not allow his teeth to chatter, burned horribly. But he had to stay still; to move might give him away.

Phillip was crouched on the branch of a large maple tree that stood in a small grove, bracing himself against the trunk, gripping his staff in his teeth. Ten feet below him, his hoofprints marked out a trail that walked past the tree he was hiding in and to the edge of a steeply sloping rise about twenty yards away. Phillip had walked to the edge of the rise, then carefully backtracked, stepping in his own hoofprints to give the illusion that he had walked on. With any luck, Big Game would fall for the trick and move past his hiding place, giving him the chance to head back to the cabin.


If he didn’t make a noise and give himself away. If the Poacher fell for the trick. If twenty yards was enough distance…

Oh, I am Death, none can excel, I’ll open the door to Heaven or Hell…

It didn’t matter anymore. The Poacher was coming. Phillip concentrated on breathing. In and out, every breath forming icicles in his lungs.

The Poacher stalked through the trees beneath him, his pace casual and slow. His gaze swept the ground in front of him, watching the trail that he followed. His rifle was held in his hoof, the grip loose, but ready to bring it up at a moment’s notice. The harrowing song rose from his lips into Phillip’s ears, a tone of joy in every syllable.

Phillip barely breathed as the Poacher passed beneath his tree. The figure beneath him paused in both his song and his walk, looking down at the hoofprints. He crouched down low to the ground to examine the tracks closer, then shook his head and stood up. The golden eyes, shining in the dark, looked up and began to scan the treetops.

The fillies prayed, the preacher preached,” he continued to sing, lips parted in a smile. “Time and mercy are out of your reach. I’ll fix your hooves so you can’t walk, I’ll lock your jaw so you can’t talk…

A thought stabbed Phillip’s mind, as hard and cold as an icicle in the skull: He knows I’m here. He forced himself to keep still, to try to think.

The golden eyes passed over his hiding place and continued on. He hadn’t seen him; he knew he was nearby, he just didn’t know where. Maybe he could get the drop on him…

Phillip shifted to prepare to jump. Instantly, the Poacher snapped his head towards him, rifle barrel rising in an instant. Phillip leaped to the side as a deafening gunshot roared out of the weapon, accompanied by an almost blinding flash of light. Searing pain raced across Phillip’s left side; he cried out and barely managed to twist to land on his hooves in the snow, scrambling to grab his weapon. He immediately ran for the nearest tree trunk as another gunshot roared, ducking just in time to avoid what would have been a final fatal bullet to the head.

He hugged the tree trunk, panting, every breath burning his lungs. Momentarily safe, he glanced down at himself. What little starlight filtered through the trees revealed that his side was covered in dark red blood, which felt like warm, thick syrup against his side. The wound was only a glancing one, not a direct hit, but it was bleeding heavily, and screamed with every inhalation. He heard the sound of the Poacher discarding his rifle, followed by the snick of a knife leaving its sheath and slow, careful hoofsteps approaching.

Fuck. Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck. Wound aside, he was shivering even harder than before; it felt as though his blood had been replaced with ice water. His muscles were sluggish, his reflexes dull, his mind so foggy that thinking clearly was a struggle. He stood no chance in a fight against a trained attacker who held every advantage.

Which left one other option. Swallowing back the pain and fear, he put his stick back in his mouth and bolted from his cover and ran, following the trail that he had laid out before. He heard the hoofsteps behind him, but didn’t dare turn around; all he thought about was straight ahead, ducking branches and leaping over roots and fallen logs.

The rise was twenty yards away: it felt like twenty miles. Finally, he broke out of the copse, raced the last few feet up the slope, then dove over the side. The ground fell away and he tumbled into the snow, rolling over and over down the rise until his momentum petered out at the bottom. Barely pausing to figure out which way was up, he scrambled to his hooves and ran, drunkenly, staggering, into another copse of trees. A gunshot roared from somewhere behind him; splinters exploded outwards from a tree trunk mere feet from his head. Hiding in the dense trees, he paused to catch his breath. His heart was frantically trying to escape his ribcage and every nerve in his body was alive with pain.

I’ll close your eyes so you can’t see, it’s very dark, come and go with me…

The song, far off but coming closer, alerted him. He must keep moving, despite the temptation to simply stay and accept a quick end from a bullet rather than die slowly in the cold. The image of his stuffed corpse, his eyes replaced with lifeless glassy replicas, flashed before his mind and he shuddered. Gritting his teeth against the pain, forcing himself to fight the fatigue, Phillip pressed onwards, marking his progress with the stars and moon that he could barely see, struggling to remember which way he was going.

Death I come to take the soul…” the Poacher taunted him, his voice far off but always seeming right behind him. “Leave the body and leave it cold…

Author's Note:

Will it be the cold or the bullets that end Phillip? Or will his friends brave the dangers of the Everfree to rescue him? Tune in next week!

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