Pathfinding: An Adult Choose Your Own Adventure, Eighty-eighth Entry

Story by Gideon Kalve Jarvis on SoFurry

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#89 of Pathfinding-CYOA

The heart of any army is actually its stomach. This truth is well-known to the leaders of the Blue Feather Alliance, and so they send out a small, covert-operating army to sever the supply artery of the Warlord's forces. Without that supply line, it's only a matter of time before the Warlord's forces capitulate.

Pathfinding: An Adult Choose Your Own Adventure

Eighty-eighth Entry

By Gideon Kalve Jarvis

Vote Tallies

1) Diplomacy - 0

2) Surgical Strike - 25

3) Attack - 1

Author Notes

The "Additional Votes" section has been removed, due to the likelihood that any "additional vote" suggestions will probably either become a potential vote (see option #4 below) or will be included as part of the ongoing story in the episode following their inclusion. If there is a need for it in future, it will be returned.

Pathfinding Eighty-eighth Entry

Cassidy lay on his belly in the bushes, his ears draped back across his shoulders. For an operation of this magnitude and importance, of course, Cassidy wasn't alone, not by far. Off in another stand of trees, Urta and her gnolls were sequestered, with Marlene and her friends as backup, with a small company of wolfen under Urta's command, a command gained primarily on Rufus' vouchsafe. On the other side of the slight vale, Kaia, the blue-haired elven paladin, had taken her friends and a company of wood elven archers, and were now waiting for the moment when they could close the trap. Closer to the road itself, bearfolk, actaeons, and centaurs lay in heavy bush cover, set to spring up and fight.

While the others had been busy reaching out to the inhabitants of the land, the halflings and the human villages, those leaders at home had hardly been idle. Oh no. General Wintersteel had made sure Alpha Windtooth; Jutta, Queen of the Valkyries; Wauken, the Great Prince; Carver, jarl of the bearfolk; and Kabula, head mare of the centaurs were all together, pooling their abilities and resources for the first stroke of the true battle against the Warlord.

Of course, that meant more work for Cassidy - the leaders of the army kept him almost constantly out, scouting. Ah well, at least he had Shara and Wicker to help him, as well as a host of wood elves and squads of centaurs. Some of the other scouts were even good looking, and Shara had made some steady inroads into talking up a few of them. If they got through all of this alive, Cassidy expected he'd probably be kept busy in bed for months afterward, thanks to the gorgeous vixentaur's efforts.

If they got through this alive.

Supplies for the Warlord's armies came from the vast Grim Marsh and Fellswamps to the far south, terrible places held by dragon-spawned creatures that called the Warlord the greatest of their kin. Some, it was said, even worshiped her as though she were a goddess, though that was typically only true of the degraded frogfolk and goblin tribes that laired in those foul places. While the Warlord's support in the Northlands had been almost totally cut off, there were plenty of places to the south from which she drew all the many helps that she needed.

Naturally, the most obvious course of action presented itself to the leaders of the armies: cut off that supply line. Without such a vital artery for her armies, even the Warlord would be suddenly in dire straits.

An effort of will on Cassidy's part kept his ears from perking up. That simply wouldn't have done when he was trying to remain invisible. Even if Shara had worked a potent illusion over each of the groups, keeping them hidden from all mortal sight, Cassidy preferred to rely on his own instincts, his own talents, ensuring they stayed sharp no matter what. It wouldn't do to lose his edge, after all.

Before Cassidy's eyes, he caught sight of the oncoming wagon train, laden heavily with supplies of all sorts. It was a motly crew with the caravan, made up of some of the most degenerate creatures the lapida had ever seen. Half-hopping frogfolk made their way next to hunchbacked hyenapeople - gnolls! - with wart-faced trolls and heavy-scaled lizardfolk keeping their distance from the rest, the trolls because of their smell, and the lizard people because of their race's natural wariness...and their tendency to eat the weak. Just because they ate their own as often as those of other races was hardly enough to endear them. The primary forces of the caravan, though, seemed to be goblins, the swift, darting little creatures driving the carts, and darting up and down the length of the caravan, some riding worgs (intelligent, evil-minded wolves), others on foot, all of them almost constantly in motion. Hyperactive little imps.

Was there something wrong here? Cassidy frowned as he watched the approaching caravan. There was nothing he could see, certainly, and he'd had more than enough experience to know when something was amiss, if not before his time working with Rufus, then definitely afterward. It wasn't anything he could point to or immediately identify. There was just about the entire setup. Did any of the guards look in the direction of the hidden troops? No. Did there seem more than a normal number of guards? Again, no. Nothing at all to let him know their suspicions were aroused.

Then why did Cassidy feel like they should scrap the operation?

For just a moment, Cassidy was going to call the charge, and set everyone on the approaching caravan, overwhelming them all, and surely causing a crippling blow to the Warlord's forces without needing a direct confrontation between armies.

But only for a moment.

"Let's get out of here," he told Shara as he began to stand up. The caravan train was still far enough away that they could slip away without incident. "Something's wrong, and I'm not gonna risk our lives without cause."

Shara blinked at the tan-furred rabbit's certainty, but then she nodded, and started to turn away to relay the order. Except, she never got the chance.

As Shara turned, her eyes met a pair of devilishly green ones, flaring with a hellish inner light.

"Hello Shara," said a horrifyingly familiar voice. "I see you've done well for yourself since last we met."

"Praxis!" the vixen gasped out, before the word was cut off, a powerful, silver-clawed hand grasping her neck, then yanking her into the underbrush.

"Yes," came the sibilant voice of the wicked panther slaver, thought slain so long ago. "It's me. I thought you'd be here, little rabbit, up to your old tricks, hanging back, waiting for an opportunity to leap out when your prey least expected it. Just like you were when you killed me!"

Praxis' words weren't a yell, or a scream, but they might as well have been from the weight of malice contained within them. Cassidy was up faster than thought, letting the instinctual fear of his people, something he'd so long pushed down and set aside, come to the fore, giving wings to his feet.

There was a net waiting for him, with strands as thin as night itself. It had been strung up over the route to the other groups, and in seconds, strong hands were all over Cassidy, winding him up like a butterfly in a web.


This time, Praxis cried loudly, and all around, shadowy figures leapt up from their own hiding places. There were cries, screams, howls, and yelps as the would-be-ambushers suddenly found themselves the subject of an ambush. Darts hissed from blowguns, nets fell in great enveloping clouds, and small bombs flashed before pouring out gouts of smoke whose lightest scent meant a deep and immediate slumber. True to Praxis' slaving background, all the tactics were ideal for taking prisoners with the least amount of damage to either side.

Squirming in the net, Cassidy looked up at creatures from his worst nightmares: foxes with fur the color of clotted blood, their underbellies a hideous black, and eyes that gleaned with the same hellish green light as Praxis' own. On each of these vulpine-like creatures' heads, was a small pair of horns, while their tails were sinuous and spaded, rather than bushy like those of a proper fox.

"No..." Cassidy whimpered as the foxes pinned him with their surprisingly strong hands - they were each easily the size of wolfen like Rufus or his father! - and forced his head to look first at the capture of his friends and companions, and then into Praxis' evilly-gleaming eyes and shining teeth.

"Sleep, little rabbit," said Praxis, holding a small censer beneath Cassidy's nose. "Sleep, and dream of the horrors to come when you wake."

Cassidy tried to hold his breath, but his heart was pounding from the fear of the moment: he couldn't keep his lungs from burning after only a few seconds. The scent was sweet, cloying, and before he'd taken more than a single full breath, Cassidy knew nothing more.

[65% chance of success - rolled 97]

Path Choices

1) Diplomacy - Let's negotiate... - 35% chance of success

2) Attack! - killkillkillkillkillllll - 45% chance of success

3) The third option - there is always a third option. Feel free to suggest something, or perhaps a variation on our two present options - chance of success pending.

4) Get the Warlord_to come to _us! Why should we make the call to the negotiation table? Especially after all the work we've done - 35% chance of success

5) Mount a rescue mission - We've lost good troops, and better friends. Let's go save 'em - 60% chance of success

Also, do you want to a scene of what happens to the prisoners? Y/N

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