• Published 6th Feb 2013
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The Cutters - Priceless911



During an era of war, Three Mercenaries with unknown pasts have rule over all battlefields of every nation... yet there was good reason they were so feared.

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When Legends Clash

The Crystal Mercenary sat in the trench with a calm, unconcerned expression on his face, as the sound of whistles and screams fell around him with the falling arrows. Traipse didn’t have any concern for what was happening around him. His only concern was that his role in this battle was to track down the Hooviet general and kill him… that’s it. As Traipse looked around in the trench he was sitting in, all he could see were terrified Ibex soldiers. The soldier to his left was praying as he griped a photograph of his doe and kid. The soldier on his right had his eyes shut as he held his ears trying to block out the screams of those dying around them. While the soldier in front of Traipse on the other side of the trench was shivering with complete terror, until finally through the heat of the moment, he lost control, “I'M GETTING OUT OF HERE!!!”

The terrified ibex climbed out of the trench and started sprinting away from the trench and enemy army. As Traipse expected, the poor soul was struck in his back a number of times by falling arrows before he fell to the ground and stopped moving. Traipse shook his head and thought to himself, “These creatures aren’t meant for war. They are a peace loving species, and to declare war on the Hooviet Union was a huge mistake. Even buffaloes hade more fighting spirit than these poor souls.”
While thinking to himself with a continued expressionless stare, the ibex on his right nudged him, “Hey Mr. Traipse? You seem way too calm through this… What’s your secret?”
Traipse looked back and replied with no expression, “I have nothing to lose.”

The ibex soldier was speechless, but before he could think of how to reply, the arrows stopped falling and the ibex officer called through the trench, “ON YOUR HOOVES BILLIES!!! THAT WAS THE LAST OF THE ARROWS SO BE READY TO MOVE UP!!!”
Traipse stood up and looked over the trench wall into the mist covered battlefield. All that could be seen were dead Ibex and Hooviet Soldiers, and mud made from the blood spilled by those soldiers. The officer went to each ibex soldier and whispered, “Move quietly when the billy next to you moves.”
Then he got to Traipse, “This is your chance Mercenary, you know your mission and we wish you luck.”
With no expression, Traipse just nodded his head and continued looking through the trench with the other soldiers. Then one by one like a wave from the ocean, the Ibex soldiers climbed from the trench and started moving into the battlefield as quietly as they could.

Traipse climbed out and started followed them, however knowing that the mist gave both sides the disadvantage, only made him more alert to what was in front of him. As the soldiers continued going through the mist covered battlefield the soldier trotting next to Traipse spoke, “Where are they? It’s too quiet… I… I don’t like this… not one bit.”
Traipse ignored the ibex all together, then he spotted something in the mist so he froze to try to identify the shadows in the mist. Knowing that he had battle experience, the ibex around him also stopped. When the Ibex officer spotted the stopped group, he call out, “What’s the hold u…”
Before the officer could finish his sentence, an arrow came from the mist ahead and hit him in his side, piercing his heart and killing him. as the officer fell to the ground, Traipse yells so all the Ibex could hear, “CHARGE!!!”

Immediately after he gave the order in the officer’s place, all the Ibex charged forward into the mists. When they reached the other end of the mists the Ibex soldiers could see the entire enemy formation so now they knew their target. Seeing their targets, the Hooviet archers launched another barrage of arrows at the charging formation, only to have most of the ibex dodge the fire. Armed with only metal horseshoes, Traipse block a few arrows and dodged the rest with no change in his approaching speed. Then he discovered the Hooviets biggest mistake, “CLEAR THE PATH, THEIR GENERAL IS IN THEIR FRONT FORMATION!!!”
With his order, the Ibex soldier who was with him in the trench charged in front of him and led the way forward, as a number of the other ibex gathered around Traipse to help push him through the front line.

As the charging group of soldiers approached the Hooviet formation, the front Ibex soldier bowed his head down and dug his curved horns deep into the enemy pony’s chest. As he did so, he flung his head upward tossing the solider over his back and leaving him on the ground behind him. after that, the rest of the leading soldiers either mimicked the first’s action or they head butted the defending ponies knocking them to the ground to be finished off by sword or spear. When Traipse reached the formation, he blocked the strike from a sword with his metal horseshoes, then pushed the double-edged sword forward driving the blade into its owner’s face. Shortly after, he continued forward into the small hole that the Ibex soldiers were making in the Hooviet’s formation. After the Ibex soldiers made it through the formation, Traipse came around and charged at the Hooviet general. The general tried to lunge a spear at him but using the horseshoes, Traipse pushed the blade off to the side and ran his hoof up the weapon. as his horseshoes grinded up the spear shaft, Traipse crossed his right front hoof in front of him then using all the strength he could, he swung back bashing the Hooviet general in his face knocking him to the ground.

As the Hooviet general tried to get up to fight back Traipse rushed towards him and continuously started punching him in his face. After the brutal beating that the general took, he finally laid his head down and spoke through his pain, “I… I surrender. Please… no more. The Hooviet union has fallen to the Ibex Empire…”
Traipse stood over his fallen foe and spoke, “Sorry… but that’s not part of my contract. I was paid to end this battle, by killing you. so… that’s exactly what I'll do. Nothing personal, it’s just business.”
After hearing Traipse’s words, Fear ran through the Hooviet general’s eyes, however, before the general could do or say anything, Traipse reached down placing his right hoof on the left side of the general’s neck and the other on the general’s chin. And with one swift jerking motion, he broke the Hooviet general’s neck, and ended his life.

When Traipse looked up, he saw an almost endless string of shocked Ibex, and Hooviet soldiers. Traipse paid no mind to any of them as he trotted over to the generals spear, broke the blade off the shaft and trotted back to the trench that he was sitting in at the start of the battle. As he trotted away, one by one the Hooviet soldiers started to throw their weapons to the ground and surrender quietly. As Traipse arrived back at the trench, there was already talk of the end of the war going around, however Traipse paid no mind to any of it, nor did he respond to any of the congratulatory praise he was receiving from the Ibex soldiers he passed, all he did was continue on his path to meet his contractor. After a period of time, Traipse finally approached the underground bunker of the Ibex General.

As he entered, Traipse took the Hooviet spear blade and stuck it into the table in the center of the bunker as he spoke, “Their general is dead.”
The ibex general looked at the spear and replied “Then this is a cause for celebration. How about a drink?”
Traipse replied without an expression, “How about my pay?”
The Ibex general placed two glasses and a bottle of wine on the table as he replied, “You will get your pay within the hour mercenary, but first we should celebrate.”
“No… first I get my pay, then you can celebrate all you want.”
The general poured the drinks, “You don’t trust me?”
“I don’t trust anything anymore. I want my money.”

The Ibex sighed as he reached under the table and placed a bag of Gems on the table, “I was hoping in light of the merciless completion of your task that you would at least have a drink before getting back to business. I already heard about you killing the general after he surrendered… that’s cold blooded.”
Traipse looked into the bag, then he closed it and placed it in his pocket on the inside of his armor, “You wanted a dead general… you got him. You didn’t say anything about if he surrendered before I kill him. Next time, be specific.”
The General replied, “Next time I won’t hire you, I don’t want you giving my soldiers the impression that killing a defeated foe is okay.”
Traipse smiled, “Then next time, your soldiers will fall.”
With that said, Traipse turned around and left the bunker without so much as even touching the glass of wine the Ibex General poured for him.

That night in the nearby town of Salazar, Traipse sat in the corner of a pub watching a group of Ibex soldiers celebrating the end of the war. As he sat there, he started to remember the feeling of winning a war. He remembered gathering with the other Crystal knights and talking about all the lives they took for the king, and about what they would do now that the war was over. But what he wondered about the most, was that every time he won a battle back then he claimed he would stop fighting, settle down and find a mare, and raise a foal. But despite all the battles he won for King Sombra, he never did stop fighting, he never settled down, and he never found love. But that was about two years ago, before Princess Luna & Celestia, and before the fall of the Crystal Empire. Now he can’t even enjoy a victory anymore. Back then, ending a war meant living in peace, gaining new land or new benefits. Now, a victory was just a steady paycheck, and nothing more. It didn’t matter whether or not he would win or lose. A victory or defeat was nothing to a mercenary. It’s just a matter of being paid or not.

As he sat there thinking about this, the same soldier from both the trench and the battlefield approached him, “Mr. Traipse, it’s good to see you here. Please, don’t bother spending any of your hard earned money, let me buy you a drink. It’s the least I can do for your help.”
Traipse replied, “No thanks.”
The Ibex soldier insisted, “Come on Mr. Traipse, I and the rest of us over there owe you a lot for helping u…”
“I said, No.”
Traipse finished off his drink and started to stand up as the ibex soldier replied, “Well at least can you give me a word of advice? You know so that the next time I have to fight I can feel a little more confident.”
Traipse placed a gem on the table to pay for his drink as he replied, “You really want my advice?”
“Yes please, it would be an honor to take advice from the Crystal Mercenary”
Traipse glared into his eyes as he replied, “lay down your sword, and never step onto a battlefield again. You don’t belong out there.”

The Ibex soldier was speechless, as Traipse put his saddlebag on and left the pub. As he trotted by a dark alley, he stopped when he heard a voice, “Making friends everywhere you go, aren’t you?”
Traipse looked into the alley and replied, “A mercenary has no need for friends. And what does a minotaur care anyway.”
The minotaur stepped out of the shadows and replied, “It’s not me who cares, but my liege. I represent Titan, Leader of the minotaur clans and high Chieftain of the Land of the blackened sand.”
Traipse was intrigued though he didn’t show it, “And what would Titan need with me?”
“You are the Crystal Mercenary, aren’t you?”
Traipse nodded his head, “I am.”
The minotaur replied, “The chieftain wants to hire you to assassinate the griffin commander who controls the western border of the Griffin Kingdoms.”

Traipse replied, “Before I accept anything, I want him to realize that a simple assassination job will cost him either a thirteen pound bag of gems, or thirty thousand bits.”
The minotaur replied as he handed him a map with an X on it, “Agreed, if you move into the Griffin Kingdoms first, then we will meet you at the borders in one week, with your reward.”
Traipse nodded his head and replied, “I'll see him there then.”
With that, said Traipse started on his journey to the Griffin Kingdoms to find out who was in command of the western border and where he could be found.

Far away in the Griffin Kingdoms, the griffin king stood overlooking a map while he addressed his commanders, “Titan and his soldiers are planning to attack through the western border, we will need to increase our security on the border. Meanwhile I wa…”
The king and his soldiers took a step back from the table, as a blood soaked bag fell from the ceiling and landed on the map. All the commanders in the room drew their swords and started looking around the room, but they couldn’t see where the bag fell from. As the griffin king opened the bag, he took a step back in horror when he saw what it was. Then he heard a voice come from behind him, “That’s the head of the Minotaur general you ordered me to kill.”

The King turned around and calmly spoke, “Then it’s a good thing I hired you yet again, Reaper. How many times is this, six, seven?”
The Reaper stepped out of the shadows and replied, “Actually this makes four, but you are my favorite customer.”
The king smiled, “Well with your reputation, I can only expect good things from you. I want to employ you for the remainder of this war.”
The Reaper nodded her head, “Then you know my price.”
“As always a very fair price for victory. When you’re needed I'll call.”
The Reaper stepped into the shadows and vanished as she replied, “I'll be watching and waiting.”
one of the commanders spoke up, “Um… your majesty, can you really trust her? A pony as shady as The Reaper seems very untrustworthy to me.”

The griffin king turned back to his commander and replied, “I trust her more than most of my soldiers, she has continued to help the Griffin Kingdom since my father, Harpy the Second was king. So I wouldn’t take her lightly if I were you, I may have just taken control of the crown, but I know my allies when I see them.”
As the griffin king went back to his strategy planning with his commanders, The Reaper stood at the top of a guard tower in Gryphus looking into moonlit horizon, she could still hear the screams of the night she took her first set of lives, she could still see the face of the stallion who ruined her life. And in her mind, it wasn’t enough that he has been dead for five years. She still wished she could make him suffer, but like always she can only sigh and consider her next action in her current war.

Days later, Traipse not only found his way into the Griffin Kingdoms but he managed to track down the commander in controls of the western border, and await his chance to strike. After careful planning Traipse decided, the best time to strike would be during a supply convoy that the commander would be escorting into the rural towns of the Griffin Kingdoms. Traipse watched from the concealment of a thick grassy hill as the convoy made its way up the road, Traipse looked closely at the soldiers in the convoy trying to decide the best way to approach them. While he did so, he was amazed to see a pony in the front of the formation wearing a dark cloak, and carrying a scythe. Traipse immediate knew who it was, news of The Reaper had travelled all over the mercenary business, and though he had never met this legend face to face, he knew that he had no chance against this particular mercenary. He decided the best way to attack would be from the side of the convoy where the commanders defense was weakest.

Traipse waited until he finally saw the griffin commander talking with some of his soldiers in the center of the convoy, before he sprang into action. Traipse charged from the side of the hill into the open as fast as he could with only one enemy on his mind. As he charged, he managed to get about two hundred feet from the convoy before a soldier spotted him and yelled, “UNKNOWN SOLDIER APPROACHING!!! TO ARMS!!!”
the only two soldier between the commander and Traipse charged forward and lunged their spears at him, but Traipse dodged both attacks and slipped by them without even so much as a second glance. The griffin commander drew his sword and smiled, “You want me assassin? Come and get me!”
The griffin swung his sword at Traipse, but he was shocked when Traipse put out both his front hooves and caught the blade on both sides, with the metal horseshoes protecting his hooves.
Seeing the shock on the commander’s face, Traipse smiled, “Nothing personal, it’s just business.”
Using every bit of strength he had, Traipse jerked his hooves and broke the blade in half. And with one quick action, Traipse turned his half of the blade around then he drove it deep into the unsuspecting griffin’s chest. Then, moving with the same speed as before, Traipse charged passed the falling commander and out the other side of the convoy, leaving behind only one casualty.

Hearing the commotion in the back, The Reaper flew into the sky just in time to see Traipse as he was exiting the formation. The Reaper quickly drew three throwing needles and threw them at the escaping assassin. Seeing the needles at just the right time, Traipse managed to dodge two of the three, but the third dug itself into his side at an angle just enough to miss any vital organs. With his wound only slowing him slightly Traipse made it over the hill and vanished into the forest. The Reaper wanted to pursue him but with the medics quickly rushing towards the Griffin commander, she knew that he was still alive. The Reaper rushed to the griffin commander and did all that she could to help the medics, but it was no use. By the time they arrived at the closest town, the griffin commander was pronounced dead.

Traipse found his way to a nearby cave and hid himself so he could fix himself up. First, he gathered the supplies he would need to stitch up his wound, then he slowly pulled the needle from his side as he covered it with a cloth, finally after the bleeding slowed, he started stitching it with a sutures kit he had. As he did so, he mumbled to himself through the pain, “They don’t call him The Reaper for nothing, if I didn’t try to dodge this one too, then it would have gone through my heart. But I got the job done, now I just have to wait for the Minotaur to arrive.”
After stitching and covering his wound, Traipse put his armor back on and started trotting to the area on the map that he was supposed to meet with Titan.

Meanwhile back at the nearby town, The Reaper felt a little disappointed that she failed to protect the commander, despite the fact that her orders were to protect the convoy. As she sat watching the griffin convoy resupply, a griffin colonel trotted up, “Um… Reaper… ma’am… any idea who the pony was that attacked us?”
The Reaper replied, “I think so, I’ve heard rumor of a mercenary known as the Crystal Mercenary. He’s an earth pony who was not only responsible for the fall of the Crystal Empire, but he likes to fight unarmed, and places all his focus on completing his main task. I hear the best way to identify him is by his neon green eyes, but I didn’t see his face, so this is only a guess.”
The griffin replied, “Do you think you can… deal with him?”
The Reaper replied, “It’s not part of my contract, so the only way I will face him is if he poses a threat to my mission, or attempts to attack me. Nevertheless, he dodged two of my needles without any problem, and managed to get away after the third one hit him, so I'm guessing he is a lot stronger then I would have guessed. I think if given a chance, he could beat me, in a fair fight, but if I were to sneak up on him, then it’s all over.”

After a few hours of traveling Traipse found himself at the meeting location, it was a large open field with randomly placed boulders. Judging by the way each boulder sat he could only guess that this was an old forgotten battlefield and these were the projectiles used by catapults and trebuchets. Traipse located an area next to a pile of boulders that he rearranged to make a somewhat concealed camp for himself. Using the spare time he had, he decided to clean his wound up a little then started to sit back and enjoy the peace and quiet. Being in so many battlefields started to make him forget that long after the fighting ends, the land becomes peaceful again, it was this peace and quiet that he often longed to see, despite the fact that he made his living off war. However, it wasn’t long before his relaxation was disturbed by a rising sound that was all too familiar to him.

Traipse quickly took cover behind one of the bigger boulders so he could safely watch what was happening. From over the horizon, emerged a very large minotaur army, all in perfect formation and well-armed. Knowing that this was the force he was supposed to meet, Traipse approached in a casual manner. Before he could speak, the first rank of soldiers in the front quickly surrounded Traipse and pointed their spears at him. One of the soldiers approached him and spoke, “Who are you? And why are you here? Judging from your armor, you’re obviously a soldier, but what nation do you fight under?”
Traipse stepped forward and spoke, “Where is Titan? I completed his task and I want my pay!”
“Your pay huh? So I'm guessing from your Eyes, you’re the Crystal Mercenary he hired right. Come with me! We will go meet the Chieftain.”

All the Minotaur lowered their spears as Traipse followed the officer to their leader. After a while of trotting through the massive army, Traipse found himself standing in front of a minotaur warring black armor, “So… you’re the Crystal Mercenary I hired right?”
Traipse replied, “So… you’re the minotaur who hired me right?”
The minotaur replied, “I am no mere minotaur. I am Titan! Leader of the minotaur and high chieftain of the Land of the blackened sand!”
Traipse sarcastically replied, “Yea, and I was a colonel of the Crystal Empire. Titles are just words; I'm here to get what I'm owed. I took your task and completed it with a flying shade of blood red, so stop wasting my time and give me my money.”

Slowly the other Minotaur started to surround the annoyed mercenary, making it easy to see what was about to happen. Titan smiled as he started pacing around Traipse, “So… you killed a griffin and think that I owe you money for that alone? Apparently you’re dumber than you look. You can act tough all you want pony, but you’re still just a weakling like the rest of your species.”
Traipse, was enraged but he calmly replied, “So you’re not going to pay me then… are you?”
the minotaur stopped pacing then replied with a smile, “If you want your reward… Come and get it!”
Traipse charged the minotaur as he replied, “WITH PLEASURE!!!”
As Traipse approached the cocky minotaur, he raised his hoof to attack before another minotaur grabbed him by his tail, slung him through the air, and hit him against a stationary boulder.

Traipse stood up and tried to charge Titian a second time before another one of his soldiers grabbed him by his back hoof and tossed him through the air, “GO LONG!”
The large formation of minotaur started laughing at Traipse as he helplessly flew through the air. On the other side of the formation, one minotaur started yelling, “I GOT HIM! I GOT HIM!”
The moment the minotaur was supposed to catch Traipse he drew back his arms and let Traipse hit another boulder that he was standing over, “Oops… I missed!!!”
The wounded earth pony stood up to find that his stitches had reopened and he was bleeding again from both his wound and his lip. The surrounding minotaur continued hazing the earth pony as he wiped the blood from his face and slowly looked around.

Finally, Titan walked into the middle of the open and spoke, “Oh… I'm sorry pony…. You wanted to fight me one on one didn’t you? Well… here I am… come and get me!”
Dizzy, wounded, and exhausted, the mercenary started towards Titan slowly. With every few steps, he would either lean while he trotted, or he would stumble which only added to the laughter that was echoing from the crowd around him. When Traipse got close enough to Titian, Titian tried to attack him by punching in his direction. However, despite his wounds and exhaustion, Traipse managed to dodge the attack, but when he attempted to counter by turning around and kicking the minotaur in his face, Titan caught his rear hooves then held him up high, “You know what pony? You’re right, titles are just words, I mean look at you. The great Crystal Mercenary, Traitor to King Sombra and believed to be part of the downfall of the Crystal Empire. Yet in the end… you’re just another pathetic earth pony,”

Traipse sneered at the large minotaur and spoke, “What was that you said? Maybe you should come close and say it directly to my face.”
Trying to call a bluff, Titan leaned in and spoke directly to Traipse from a few inches away, “You’re nothing but a pat…”
With all the strength he had, Traipse reached out and punched Titan as hard as he could, then he spoke, “I'm sorry I'm a little deaf today, can you repeat that again only a little slower? My hooves weren’t ready.”
As a drop of blood rolled out of Titan’s nose, he replied with an enraged expression, “You… you little worm… I'm going to show you what happens to those who cross Titan.”

With that said, Titan balled up his fist and started punching Traipse while he was being held above the ground. The furious minotaur stood there continuously punching Traipse, over and over. As the merciless beating continued, the laughter in the crowd slowly died, some though this was too much while others couldn’t continue watching this display of unbridled violence. With each passing hit Traipse tried all he could to get another chance to hit Titan, but since one never opened up for him, he decided to use all his energy to stay conscious through the intense beating that he was taking from the enraged minotaur. Finally, Titan managed to wear himself out so he stopped punching the poor pony and just held him in the air. The battered, bruised and half-conscious pony hung there like a rag doll with almost no signs of movement, then Titan looked back at some of his soldier and said two words, “Post him!”

Traipse continued trying to keep himself awake when he noticed a group of minotaur approaching him carrying a large ballista bolt that was at least ten feet long. The minotaur planted the head of the bolt into the ground so that it would stand strait up when they let it go. Then they tied Traipse hind hooves together and hung him upside down from the top of the post. As he hung there Traipse started slowly slipping unconscious when Titan drew a dagger from his side and held it to Traipse’s throat as he spoke, “You know, usually I would just kill a little pony who insults me, but you… you’re special in my book. I'm just going to leave you hear to bleed to death. And if that doesn’t happen, I'm sure some random animal will find you appetizing after following the scent of your blood. But I'll give you a chance, if you can survive here until my army is on its way back home, then I'll free you and let you go. Otherwise, you will die here. Good luck, Crystal Mercenary.”
The last thing Traipse remembers of the conversation was the Minotaur soldiers laughing at him as they started moving out.

Further in the Griffin Kingdoms, the griffin king was looking at some documents when he heard The Reaper’s voice, “Your majesty, the convoys have successfully returned to Gryphus. However, I regret to inform you that your commander fell before he reached the western border.”
The king turned and looked around but he couldn’t find The Reaper so he just replied, “My commander fell? May I ask to whom?”
the voice replied, this time closer from the other side of the table, “A mercenary… no doubt he was hired by Titan.”
The king looked at the end of the table to see The Reaper sitting there as he replied, “Hmmm… alright I have another task for you, I want yo…”
“Sorry… but we mercenaries have a pact. We will never hunt each other, the only way we would fight is if one attacked another or one was interfering with another’s contract.”
The king thought to himself, “Well far be it for me to break apart such a respectful pact. So how about this, if my commander is dead then no doubt Titan and his army are closer than we expected.”
The Reaper nodded her head and replied, “Should I go investigate the western border?”
King Harpy replied, “Gladly, and if you find anything please report to one of my royal camps in the area… that is… if they haven’t already fallen to the enemy.”
The Reaper nodded her head and put the hood on her cloak up as she vanished into the shadows.
The king could only think to himself, “If it wasn’t for the fact that I trust her… I’d be terrified of how she does that.”

Hours later Traipse finally regained consciousness, to find that it was now night fall, the minotaur army was gone, and he was still hanging upside down on the ballista bolt. Luckily, his wound stopped bleeding enough to start to close itself up, but he still needed to treat it or it could become infected, so ignoring his pain, Traipse used his waist to pull his upper body high enough so he could untie himself. As soon as he was free he fell to the ground and hit it hard enough to stun him for a few seconds, then he picked himself up off the ground and slowly made his way back to his camp. Looking around, the grassy field was now tramples to give a good appearance of what it may have looked like after this area was a battlefield. When Traipse found his camp, he discovered that the minotaur found it too, everything from his food and water to his pay from his last job was ransacked or taken. Luckily, his suture kit and a few bandaged were still there, but regardless of what was left behind, he still lost his dignity and he wanted nothing more than to settle the score.

After Traipse re-stitched and bandaged the wound, he started making his way deeper into the Griffin Kingdoms, he didn’t know where, when, or how, but he wanted to find Titan and make him suffer, even if he was in no shape to fight. A few hours had passed before the sun began to rise over the horizon covering the land in a dark shadow. While this happened, Traipse heard a voice come from nowhere, “Who are you, and which nation do you represent?”
Traipse looked around but didn’t see anypony, at first he thought it was a part of his concussion given to him by Titan when he was being used like a punching bag. But then he started feeling the presence of another. Traipse looked directly into one of the shadows as he spoke, “Stop hiding and show yourself!”

The Reaper casually stepped out of the shadows that Traipse was staring into. With the combination of her cloak hood and the shadows from the sunrise, Traipse couldn’t see her face at all but he was surprised when he heard her reply, “You’re very keen, not many ponies can see me in the shadows from the way I conceal myself. But then again I’ve heard about your skill so I'm not too surprised. Somepony like the Crystal Mercenary, is very difficult to fool.”
Traipse thought to himself, “Her voice… a mare? I thought The Reaper was a stallion.”
Traipse replied to The Reaper’s comment, “Coming from a legend like yourself, that a very flattering complement, miss Reaper… but I'm afraid I'm in a hurry so I’ll be on my way…”
The Reaper stopped him, “Not so fast Crystal Mercenary. You didn’t answer my question, who are you working for?”

Traipse replied, “First off, call me Traipse… or Tri for short. Second, that’s a matter that I need to sort out myself, so if you would excuse me then I will be on my way.”
Traipse tried to trot past The Reaper on her right, but she tilted her scythe down in front of him, “I'm afraid I'm supposed to scout this area and report what I find, and part of that is a mercenary who works for whatever nation he currently works for. so if you want to continue your task, you’re going to have to get passed me.”
With the metal horseshoe protecting his hoof, Traipse put his hoof on the blade then flung it upward causing it to shift from The Reapers, right to her left side, “Thanks… but no thanks, I don’t have time to play right now, so, maybe later.”
As Traipse took one more step, The Reaper shifted her body to her left, turning her around and placing the scythe back in his path, “Sorry, but as a mercenary, you understand why I must complete this task.”
using the same hoof as before, Traipse raised the scythe blade up until he could see his reflection on it, then trying to act as uninterested as possible, he replied, “Funny, I could say the same.”

Without warning, Traipse grabbed the scythe shaft then tried to punch The Reaper, only to glaze her cloak as she released her scythe and jumped out of the way. With her scythe in Traipse hooves now, he lunged forward and swung it at her with an attempted to cut her down, but she dodged the second attack just like the first only to counter by throwing two needles at him. Traipse managed to block both needles with the scythe, but while he did so, The Reaper flew towards him and tried to strike him with a third needle while she held it like a dagger. Traipse managed to save himself by bringing the bottom of the scythe’s shaft up, causing her needle to dig into the shaft instead of his chest. The Reaper then grabbed the scythe’s shaft with both her front hooves and used her rear hooves to kick Traipse in his face, throwing him away from her while causing him to release the Scythe.

Out of reflex Traipse rolled from his back onto his hooves as he hit the ground then he picked up a nearby rock and tossed it at her. With her primary weapon back in her hooves, The Reaper used one swift swing to cut the rock in half then she stood casually and spoke, “You’re pretty good for an injured stallion.”
Traipse sneered at her and replied, “Who says I'm injured?”
The Reaper put the hood on her cloak down and smiled. Traipse was shocked when he got a good look at her face, she wasn’t a demon as all the stories claimed her to be, in fact she was quite beautiful for the most feared mercenary alive. The Reaper replied, “You don’t have to fake it, I know you’re injured. First off I hit you with one of my needles yesterday, and secondly, I can see a number of bruises on your face and body. Not to mention your actions seem… lagged. It’s as if you’re trying to ignore pain that you’re already feeling, a broken bone, maybe muscle damage.”

Traipse continued to play dumb as he turned to continue on his way, “I don’t have time for this! The longer you hold me up, the further Titan gets from me.”
As Traipse started trotting away, The Reaper flew towards him and started trotting beside him, “Something happened, didn’t it? A sour deal, theft, or refusal to pay?”
Traipse continued trotting as he replied, “let it go Reaper… this is a concern for us mortals.”
The Reaper stepped in front of Traipse and gave him a serious look, “… Scy…”
Traipse stopped trotting, “… Scy?”
The Reaper smiled, “Yea… Scy… you have a nickname, and so do I. calling me The Reaper all the time kinda gets old, doesn’t it?”
Traipse shook his head as he started trotting around The Reaper, “Alright then… Scy… short for Scythe I'm guessing… how appropriate. Well Scy, now that we have been properly introduced, I believe this is where we part ways.”

As Traipse continued trotting away, Scy called to him, “If you’re looking for Titan, then I'm guessing not only did your deal go bad… but all the thing I said earlier were true… he refused to pay, he beat you to a pulp, then he stole everything you had, to include your dignity right?”
Traipse continued trotting as he replied, “Yea… And what’s it to you?”
“Are you currently employed?”
Traipse stopped in his tracks and turned around, “What?”
The Reaper smiled, “If not… then how about I hire you?”
Traipse was a little shocked, “Wait… what?... are you serious?”
Scy continued, “With your reputation… it would be an honor to hire the Crystal mercenary who took down the entire Crystal Empire unarmed… or at least that’s what the rumors say.”
Traipse smiled and shook his head, “And to be hired by The Reaper? The mare who is said to have defeated Cerberus as she escaped from Tartarus, and massacred every demon that followed her, just for fun… or so the rumor goes. Maybe that isn’t such a bad idea. But I have to ask… Why? Why help a fellow mercenary who you owe nothing too?”

Scy lowered her head as she replied, “Because I know what it feels like to be betrayed… I know all too well.”
With Scy’s reply, Traipse could see pain in her eyes, the same kind of pain, that goes far deeper than any sword could. Rather than opening old wounds he just replied, “You know… I’ve never heard of working for another mercenary before… but it could be interesting so count me in.”
The Reaper smiled, “Then its settled, when this job is done, I'll pay you a good amount of my earnings… how about… ten percent?”
Traipse sarcastically replied, “Oh… wow… a whole ten? Gosh I was expecting one percent but if ten is your offer then I guess I should take it while its hot.”

The Reaper smiled, “That isn’t the best part. I'll deliver Titan to you on a silver platter with all the fixing to cook him any way you want.”
Traipse smiled, “Now you’re talking.”
Traipse put his hoof out and hoof bumped The Reaper to seal the deal, “So miss Scy, what are my orders?”
Scy looked into the distance and replied, “Any idea where Titan is headed?”
Traipse replied, “The closest fortress, with an army his size, it will fall quickly.”
The Reaper smiled, “Then he better be fighting in the front. Because we will be cutting through his back soon.”
Traipse smiled, “Literally!”

The two mercenaries travelled further inland until they reached an area just outside the city of Kestrel. When the two looked into the city, Titan’s army had already breached the city wall and were working on getting the castle gate open. Looking at the massive army, The Reaper pointed at the rear Minotaur formation and spoke, “There… Titan is in that formation. Should we go over and say hello?”
Traipse smiled, “That sounds like an excellent idea, we wouldn’t want to be antisocial now would we?”
The Reaper nodded her head, “So is there any way you wanted to approach this? Or should we just charge in and improvise?”
Traipse replied, “Well I'm always up for a good improve.”

In the minotaur formation, Titan stood looking at the city with a smile on his face as a soldier approached him, “Sir! the griffins are holding themselves up in the castle.”
Titan called out, “Then let’s brings the castle down o…”
Titan stopped talking when he heard the merciless screams of the soldiers behind him. he turned around just in time to see one of his soldiers fall to the ground, and Traipse standing there completely alone. Traipse jumped onto the fallen soldier and broke his neck before he could get up, then he looked at Titan, started trotting towards him, and spoke, “TITAN! You and I have a score to settle!”

Titan smiled, “I thought we already settled this pony… you’re not worth the time… or the money.”
As Traipse continued to trot towards Titan, a minotaur soldier charged up on his side and reached out to grab him, but what came next only terrified the entire formation of minotaur. Before the soldier could grab Traipse, Scy appeared out of nowhere and removed the minotaur’s arm with one steady swing of her scythe. The wounded minotaur fell to the ground screaming in pain until he was silenced when The Reaper dropped her scythe onto his head. While the rest of the formation stood there in shock, Traipse continued towards Titan with no reaction to Scy’s actions, “This is between you and me Titan. Let’s not get any others involved shall we?”
Titan sneered as he charged towards Traipse. When Titan was close enough, Traipse ducked down and pushed himself forward, kicking the large minotaur in his knees and causing him to fall to the ground. Then as Titan tried to get up, Traipse jumped into the air and used all his strength to kick Titan in the face with all four hooves at once, then Traipse pulled Titans dagger from its sheath and stabbed him in his right bicep.

Titan let out a scream that terrified the spectating minotaur, one actually tried rushing to his aid, only to take two steps before being hit in the neck by The Reapers needles, and falling to the ground. It was clear to see that The Reaper wouldn’t let any of Titan’s soldiers get involved. Traipse jumped off Titan and stood back as he spoke, “What’s the matter? Is the pony too much for the mighty Titan? Or are you just too afraid to fight without your army.”
Titan pulled the dagger from his bicep, picked himself up from the ground, and charged at Traipse. This time instead of attacking low, Traipse just jumped straight forward and headbutted Titan’s face before he could swing the dagger. Feeling the shock from the impact, Titan dropped the dagger and grabbed his head, while Traipse caught the falling dagger and dug it into Titans thigh. As Titan fell to the ground screaming, Traipse pulled the dagger out of one thigh and stabbed the other, making Titans screams even more pain riddled and horrifying.

As Titan laid there whimpering in pain, he was finally able to calm himself and speak, “I'm… I'm sorry!… Mercy!… please!… I'll pay your price!… I'll double it, just no more!… please I'm begging you show a fallen soldier mercy!...”
Traipse, gave Titan a look that sent chills up his spine, “I'm sorry but your offer has expired… I just want to ask you one thing, do you want to live? Or die?”
Titan gave the question no thought, “I… I want to live!… please!… don’t kill me!…”
Traipse replied without expression, but if I just let you go then there will be no lesson learned… then again if I kill you there is still no lesson learned. Hmmm… decisions, decisions. What to do?… what to do?… Wait I know.”
Traipse looked over at The Reaper, “Hey Scy… can you come over here please?”

Titan felt more and more terrified with each step that The Reaper took as she approached, “Yes Tri?”
Traipse reached up and took the scythe from her, “I would like to borrow this for a few seconds.”
Traipse then turned back to the terrified minotaur and spoke, “I hope you learned your lesson, when you give a mercenary a job… you better pay him.”
Traipse quickly raised and dropped the scythe blade on Titan’s right elbow removing his forearm, with one unexpected swing. Titan rolled on his side gripping his armless bicep while he screamed in terrified pain. As he did so, Traipse picked up the minotaur’s forearm and held it high so the entire formation could see, “This is a lesson to you all! If you hire me, I will get paid! One way… or another!”
Traipse threw the severed limb in the air and used the scythe to cut the appendage into smaller pieces so it couldn’t be reattached. As Traipse gave the scythe back to The Reaper, he looked at the wounded and whimpering minotaur lying on the ground and spoke, “Oh and one more thing… this was personal.”
Both Traipse and The Reaper trotted through the formation and away from the army and their wounded foe with absolutely no resistance from the fear stricken minotaur army that surrounded them.

Within a few days, King Harpy received a letter from Titan, claiming that his army was withdrawing from the war and that they would surrender their land and nation to the Griffin Kingdoms. All he asked for in return, was that the king would refuse to pay his mercenaries for their cruel actions during this war. Though the king accepted the offer, he knew better than to deny payment to The Reaper, so instead he didn’t pay her for the war but he paid her for the lasting relationship that the griffin royal family valued so much from her services. A loophole that irritated Titan, but in fear for his life from the very mercenaries who took his arm, he overlooked the kings action and made no abjections to the king’s decision.

With the end of the war, The Reaper kept her word and paid Traipse ten percent of her earnings, as well as reimbursed him for what he lost prior to their meeting. But as Traipse took the bag of gems from Scy, he had to ask, “Scy? Why did you help me? it didn’t benefit you in any way, and all in all it seemed like an extra burden on you.”
Scy sighed, “I told you already, I too was betrayed a long time ago… by… by one I cared about deeply and if I had the chance, I’d kill him again and again until my blade was permanently stained by his blood… so I just couldn’t let you go on with unsettled business. I couldn’t live with myself afterwards.”
Traipse smiled, “I guess there is more to you than what the rumors say… well I guess I should get going then… I should probably find more work now.”
Trying to stall, Scy replied, “So… uh… where will you go next… if you don’t mind my asking?”
Traipse also tried to stall as he replied, “Um… I honestly don’t know… um… where will you go?”
Continuing to stall, Scy replied, “Well, I was actually going to find out where you were going. You know, if there was another war you had in mind, I was going to see if they needed another mercenary.”

Finally, after a period of awkward silence, Traipse replied, “Why… why don’t you come with me… you know so we can fight together in the next war.”
The Reaper replied, “Wait… you mean like a partnership?”
“Well yea… unless you don’t want to.”
The Reaper thought to herself for a second then replied, “You know what, that sounds good. You’re a straightforward open battlefield mercenary, while I'm a stealthy behind the shadows mercenary, so we would make the perfect team. And who knows we may add on more members as time goes by.”
Traipse replied, “That sound like a wonderful idea… but what would we call ourselves?”
The Reaper thought for a second, “How about the Crystal Mercenaries?”
Traipse replied, “No, that doesn’t seem to fit us anyway… how about the Scythes?”
The Reaper replied, “No, that won’t work either, you don’t even carry a weapon… how about the Cutthroats?”
Traipse replied, “Cutthroats seems more like a pirate gang than mercenaries. But maybe we can shorten it, The Cuts?”
The Reaper replied, “Hmmm… The Cutters, that sounds pretty good to me.”
Traipse smiled, “Alright then, from this moment on, you and I… we are The Cutters.”