Chapter Twelve: Home, (Bitter) Sweet Home
There was a haze spread out across the air, distorting the scenery as it faded back into view. The throbbing subsided as the world rebuilt itself. Swaying slowly, Lynx raised his head and peered about. The greenish mist still lingered, twining around the oddly shaped trees. The mint-colored water bubbled like pustules popping, and when that happened, an acrid scent permeated the air. Vines wrapped themselves around the strange vegetation, choking the trees and shrubbery alike until it was misshapen.
Harle scrunched up her nose and snorted daintily as she shook her head. "This place is disgusting," she stated matter-of-factly.
Lynx worked his maw, taking in the sensations as his jaw rolled. His hands curled and unfurled as he watched the digits move. "How…" He didn't finish his question.
The gypsy turned and looked at the catman. A faint smile budded on her lips; the lower one was pierced with a loop. Her hair jingled as the bells entwined in her ponytails swayed. "Comfy?"
His eyes narrowed as he drew his ire upon her. His lips curled back in a snarl. "And what's so amusin'?" he spat.
She canted her head, sending a twinkle of sound away from her. Her gaze was quizzical, but there was a hint of amusement. "I cannot say I like it as much, but I will say this: you sound much better. Easier to understand." With a smirk, she jibed, "Oh, the irony of that."
Lynx tried to roll his eyes, but all it accomplished was straining his eyes, and he had to blink away the pain. He looked around again and took a deep breath. "I can't see clearly," he stated simply.
"You'll get used to it. There is only so much one can learn where we came from. And I must say it took you much longer than I had hoped it would. You are stubborn."
Lynx tested the solidity of the ground, making sure that when his footing sank, it wouldn't slip between vines. He made his way gingerly to the water's edge. It spat angrily at him as hot fumes rose twistedly upward. He pulled back, breathing through his mouth and continued to look about. The trees were warped and closely put together. Some were submerged while others sprouted up thickly from the damp earth, their roots gnarled skeins that spread out chaotically.
"Where are we?" Harle asked as she leapt lightly to his side.
Puzzled, Lynx responded without bringing his gaze back to her. "Hydra Marshes…"
Harle pursed her lips. "You can speak complete sentences, you know."
His upper lip curled, and as he scratched at his cheek, he pulled it away, repulsed by the feeling. He stared at his hand momentarily. When he looked at Harle, he saw the way she was staring at him. It was an askance look that was smothered with impatience.
"How is this possible?" he asked.
"Let's just say that it took longer for you to accept your new form. But you finally did, which I am thankful for. Any longer and we may've been stuck in that awful place forever."
"Where are we?"
She furrowed her brow and wrinkled her nose. "Come now, sir Lynx, did you not just say it? We are in the Hydra Marshes."
"Which world, though?" he inquired with a heady lacing of both hope and desperation.
"Ahh!" Harle chimed, giggling merrily. "Now we come to the crux of the matter!"
He stared at her as she wagged a finger at him. Slowly, determinedly, he crossed his arms. The leather of his armor and coat creaked. The stern look quieted the gypsy woman.
"While both worlds are very, very similar, there are a few drastic changes to them. We must puzzle this out to know what awaits us outside of this…" her upper lip curled as she avoided something that could have been extremely vulgar, yet even in the attempt, the word was given as much distaste as if she had been crass, "place."
For a few moments, Lynx stood there, working his hands into fists unconsciously as he looked about. What would have been a look of concentration on his human form was more of an apathetic countenance on his new one. Harle stood beside him without speaking and without expressing any of her impatience outwardly. Eventually, the catman exhaled a deep breath that he seemed to have been holding. The putrid fog swirled away from his maw.
Slowly, he said, "I remember the doctor in Guldove, an' he said hydras were extinct. But he said the Hydra Marshes held none." Turning to face the gypsy, he blinked slowly, his large, almond-shaped eyes narrowing slightly, and spoke before she could interrupt him. "Without hydras, the marshes became polluted—the air un-breathable." There was a twitch at the corners of his slash-like mouth as he folded his arms across his chest.
"But we can breathe easily here," Harle said quickly; and then it dawned on her the import of what he was saying. "Ooooh! Hydras are still alive here!"
Lynx nodded. "Aye; we are in my world now. But we should be in the other world. That is where he is."
He didn't say it, but he thought it. That was where she was. But slowly, the reality of the entire situation was beginning to form itself. He thought of Kid and of the bastard who stole his body, but then, now he was back home, and he was thinking of his mother, and of Leena. As the prospect of seeing them again began to grow in his chest like a budding flower, he was dowsed in an icy realization: he was not himself. This new body dashed all of his hopes and desires onto the rocks, where is scattered like sand.
"Let us go back to where it all began, then, yes?" she offered, sobered by his mood. She crossed her arms over her midriff. The three ponytails jangled gently. "You know, Where Angels Lose Their Way?"
His green eyes narrowed and softened. He nodded his head once, sharply, and let his arms fall to his sides. Without another word, he treaded off towards the edge of the marshlands leaving the woman behind.
By the time they had vacated the marshlands and arrived into the plains, the sun was kissing the horizon, basking the spring lands in burnt colors, while the sea looked like a rippling sheet of onyx. The stench faded almost immediately in the warm breeze drifting off of the water. Lynx took a moment to look about, taking in the sight. Harle made no effort to urge the catman forward, letting him take the time he needed. Eventually, he moved on without a word.
His movements were more feline than before; it was as if Serge had fully merged with the body of Lynx, and that his motor skills were as natural as could be. The grace in which he moved was matched by the silky movements of Harle behind him. The winds rose and fell, and a breeze always blew. Dusk set as the sun sank lower beneath the waterline, and it was night by the time that they came within view of Arni Village. Lynx looked longingly at the glow from the village and the silhouette of the structures, but pushed himself onward.
Water filled the peninsula, concealing the sunken land so that Opassa Island was, in truth, an island once more. Crickets and bats created a symphony in the air, but all else seemed to be still and quiet. Lynx stood on the edge of a rocky overhang, where the salty water lapped at the jut, and merely stared across at the island. The gypsy woman came up beside him and looked in the direction he did.
"This is it?" she inquired lightly. Her voice was so gentle and mellifluous, as sweet as the flowers that bloomed only at night.
For a moment, Lynx didn't answer her. His slanted eyes were narrowed in contemplation. "Angelus Errare." When the gypsy looked at him, he shook his head and said as he continued to stare at the island. "We have to wait until morning."
Harle said quietly, "I doubt that we will have a welcoming committee in any place we try to stay." She took Lynx's silence as confirmation. "I'll find us a campsite," she stated as she turned and walked away from him.
He stood there without moving for a long time. His eyes had adjusted easily to the darkness of night. Not only could he see better at night, he could actually see more clearly than he could ever remember having been able to. It was exactly as Harle had said it was going to be, that he would adapt. Lynx recapped their travel to this place, and how he controlled his body on an instinctual level, or the way that he spoke. His words were still a bit slurred and broken, but they were much clearer in pronunciation.
He pondered these different changes that he had gone through—was going through. He let himself feel the awe of the situation as he stood there staring at the island. He let the awesome sensations wash over him, as if he were trying to drown out the twist of fate that had led him back home but unable to live in it again. His life, no matter what realm he was in, was not his own. Anger began to fester beneath the surface, heating his body from the inside out.
All he could do was accept the changes he was forced to endure, and possibly to seek retribution for it all. He remembered, then, the scenario in the altar chamber of Fort Dragonia. There was so much he did not understand, and possibly never would, but he remembered the look of the demonized version of himself crouching down over him, saying, Still trying to come to terms with a new body, hmm? It's alright. You won't have long to wait until it's over. The words seeped through his mind, his body, and his soul, polluting him even now as he thought about it.
And then it was followed with words that were almost whimsical to Lynx, now, as if they were to spite him, instead of how they had actually been spoken. Enmity is the only truly balanced thing in this world. As you are no longer necessary, I see no reason not to balance the scales. Was it about balance, wholly and completely, that he should not be able to go back to his life? Would he never be able to look at his mother again and tell her he loved her and cherished her? Could it be that he would never see Leena again or be able to make love to Kid? Too many conflicting emotions rivaled to overwhelm him, each one a completely separate onslaught against his fragile—and newly rebuilt—sanity.
His jaw trembled as he felt on the verge of tears. He knew crying would solve nothing, but he couldn't think clearly through the deluge of memories that would never be more than that, simple memories. A warm breeze came ruffled the fur on his head, and caused his whiskers fluttered gently. He let the simplicity of the moment placate him, but what was only supposed to be a temporary moratorium from his life, ended up being so much more than a quiet respite. He felt something in his heart of hearts shift, changing course.
Words spoken to him by the Serge imposter came drifting back to him, and he spoke them aloud, in a whisper, in sync with those of his human voice. "You see, this is all the design of Fate. Seven long years ago, you weren't meant to live. You should have died."
Balancing the scales would have been to kill him, which was what Serge had attempted to do. And yet he was still alive. He had a new body that was not his own, true, but he had one. Harle had gone across the planes of life and afterlife and found him, nurtured him, and brought him back into the world of the living. Lynx looked down at his uncoiling fist that was a dexterous blend between a hand and a paw.
The one thing that he had learned ever since this whole ordeal had begun was how to compartmentalize his memories and their corresponding emotions, so that he would be able to focus on the tasks at hand. Over the course of that time, he learned to let his past go enough to move forward in his life. His mother was a person he never forgot, but he had moved on from Leena and gave himself to Kid, the young woman who he had fought for and had been willing to die for.
Lynx took a deep breath and held it. He had learned to adapt to so much change and chaos so rapidly that he felt, for the first time since the altar chamber, that he was at ease with his situation. Acceptance spread throughout his body, quelling the hot anger into a warmer sense of determination, letting his animosity for the creature who took his actual body simmer. Though the catman knew that, deep down, he would be on the verge of it boiling over into a rage. At that point, he would let it, he surmised.
As the night progressed, he worked diligently at placing his scattered thoughts into their proper—and oft times new—places inside of himself.
The moons had risen in the intermediate time he had spent by himself. The light of the moons spread a warm glow across the fields as he ventured towards where the edge of the woods met with the coastline. The land was rising into what would become the cliff side that held Cape Howl. As quickly as he thought of the difference between what was etched on the stone at its summit between the two worlds, he discarded the memories. A small fire burned brightly some distance from him, and he approached it. He could see Harle standing on the raised jut of earth that posed as the rocky shoreline. She was staring out at sea, her arms folded across her midriff. He came to a stop next to her and looked out at the sea with her, though he had a feeling that they both were seeing two very different things.
"I wanna thank you," Lynx said quietly, without looking at her.
The gypsy woman lowered her head momentarily, and said when she returned her gaze to the sheet of ebony water that was spattered with the reflection of the stars. She didn't respond.
"I'm still me, right?" She sighed heavily at his question, forcing him to elaborate. "I know y' said that I am Lynx and that Lynx is me—I get that, I do. But what I want to know is: am I still the Chrono Trigger?"
Now she looked at him, her red eyes almost a plum color in the night. She took a moment to organize her thoughts before taking a deep breath and nodding once. "You are."
Her exhalation was quieter than his, and the catman's shoulders slumped visibly, relieved. "Then we've gotta get back to the other world. We have to stop him."
Puzzled, she asked, "Stop him from what exactly?"
"He must've needed my body for something," stated Lynx as he looked down at Harle. "I just realized how much shorter you are."
Her laughter was like bells chiming. "I am not shorter; you are now taller." Soberly, she added, "I suppose that you are right, that he must have need of your human body."
With a nod, he faced the sea again. Before he could respond, she spoke again.
"Unless revenge is what you desire most."
For a moment, Lynx stood in stunned silence. His maw had opened to speak, but he was speechless, and eventually just closed his mouth. The comment was a valid one. Revenge would be a natural way of dealing with the ordeal, yet so was the fact that he had a strong suspicion that there was much more going on that nobody was aware of.
Finally, Lynx stated, "Revenge or not, I can't let him use my body as a tool." Harle opened her mouth to say something, but he cut her off with a snap. "I don't care if it's his body now or not."
The comment awarded him one of her sprite-like smiles.
"Angelus Errare?" she asked him.
He looked at her for a moment and then nodded. She turned away from him and signaled for him to follow her. They approached the fire, and on the other side, when she motioned to it, he saw what she wanted him to see. His Swallow was on the grassy earth, the blades dinged and battered from the usage it had seen in the last few months. Lynx knelt down beside it and ran his hand over the shaft tenderly. It was then, as he was caressing the wood that he noticed them. Two other prized pieces of his were lying there: the satchel Orlha had given to him with the brooch inside it as well as the pendant that Kid had had him hold for her.
"How…?" began Lynx, but he couldn't complete the question.
As Harle spoke, he slowly held each of the items and stroked them in silent wonder. "You brought them with you when you crossed over. When I reached you, they were almost extensions of yourself, but when you let go, to form yourself, I gathered them as best I could and kept them away for safekeeping."
"Safe…keeping…" The demi-human kept his thoughts to himself as he sat down alongside the fire and cradled the pendant in his hand. His words were a jumbled mess, giving life to how disarrayed his thoughts had become.
The gypsy crouched down on the other side of Lynx and eyed him. She gently touched the spooned blade of the Swallow and smiled wistfully. "I thought it best that I keep them for you, for when we returned here. You will need them; that much is certain. I'm just thankful that you won't use this one on me again."
With his eyes half-lidded in pensiveness, Lynx looked up at Harle and saw her smiling. "Thank you," he whispered.
She seemed to draw in on herself as she looked down and away, as if looking inward as opposed to anything in the physical world. Her smile became one of forlorn. Slowly she pushed herself up and circled around the fire. "Dawn is not far off, and I feel we should make as early a start as possible."
He watched her as she moved off to lie down outside the firelight. Her back was to him and her knees were drawn up against her chest. There was so much bare skin showing through her outfit that it was a surprise that the brown actually covered any of her; she seemed so vulnerable. Every time she shifted, her bells would tingle, and the firelight reflected off of them, making it seem like there were stars in the darkness of her hair.
He had a lot to be thankful for, for her to do what she had for him after doing so much to hinder him when he was the human Serge. But now that he was the demi-human Lynx, she seemed to guide him better than anyone else, teaching him how to control the body of this monster. With his attention waning from Harle, he refocused his gaze onto the pendant in his palm. He took heart in it, letting the feel of it soothe his battered soul that didn't belong in this awkward body. He didn't know how long he stared at it, or when he closed his hand around the gem, or when he had eventually fallen asleep.
When he awoke in the morning, the sky was brightening from indigo in the core of the sky to a greenish hue off on the horizon. The sun hadn't crested the water's edge, but it would soon enough. He slowly sat up and raised the pendant, placing it over his head and around his neck. Carefully he tucked it into his coat, making sure to let it settle beneath his armor's breastplate. He took a moment to fasten the pouch that Orlha had entrusted to him around his belt, tying off the broken ends. There was no harness for his Swallow, so there was little he could do with it, other than to rest it against his shoulder as he traveled. It would tie down a hand but he was willing to deal with that.
Lynx looked over to where Harle had fallen asleep, but she was not there, so he took the opportunity to get up and stretch. After a short while she reappeared, though they said nothing to each other. In silence, they ventured off towards Opassa Island. By the time they reached it, the tide had drawn out, revealing the sunken neck of the peninsula that connected the tiny island to the El Nido Archipelago.
The venture across to the island was uneventful on the outside, but Lynx was fraught with tension and nervousness as they broached the island's shore that connected to the peninsula and then across it to the other side, to the section of beach that he and Leena had shared for so many years. The sun had stained the sea in a brilliant white spattered with faint glimmers of the colors of the rainbow.
Harle shielded her eyes at the sudden brightness that assaulted them as they broke through the tree line. He stopped where the trees ended, and stared at the part of the beach he was standing on when all this began. She gazed up and down the shoreline as he stood there. As he remained rooted in place for a few moments more, she cleared her throat and looked at him.
He placed his hand over the pendant hidden beneath his armor. It was a slow, methodical pace in which he slipped from his reverie. There was no change in his expression as he moved forward, taking each step heavily as he approached this tale's Beginning. His breathing stilled as he came to a halt.
The sand began to pick up, not lifting as a breeze would carry the grains, but as if gravity was somehow negated around his feet. The small area of beach began to pulsate, rippling slowly outward from the soles of his boots before ending in a circle a pace away from where he stood. The color of the quaking area began to bleed out, darkening until it was a dark green. Tendrils rose from the blackish color, slowly changing its shade until it became an ominous indigo. Yet, before the skeins of energy could entwine themselves about Lynx's legs, they touched him and retreated back into the pool of energy, as if disliking the taste of his being. Slowly, the sand began to take shape again, grain by grain, before solidifying and taking on its natural beige hue. The ripples ceased and all was still.
Lynx opened his almond-shaped eyes and peered forward at the ocean. Harle stood behind him, unspeaking and quizzical. The catman turned around and looked at her. "I…I don't think it worked."
The gypsy looked about at their surroundings. "Nothing seems different."
He shook his head, his ears swaying in the breeze. "Not that. They look almost the same. It's that it stopped."
She made a crude sound in her throat. "If the gateway will not open, then…" The words stopped, incomplete, as she pondered her next words more carefully. "This is…interesting. But, I am surprised naught by this."
The look he gave her brought her immediately to silence. "That look is far too much like he would look when he did not like what he was hearing. You are taking on much more of him than I care to admit." Waving her hand nonchalantly, she continued on. "At this point, we have to look at the facts. The missing piece to this world has been found. It seems as if Fate leaves you stranded, sir Lynx; you are an unwanted piece of this game."
His pawed hands clenched and unclenched uselessly. "There has to be another way." There was desperation in his tone, something seldom heard from the maw of Lynx.
"There is nothing we can do," Harle stated, not unkindly.
"Well, what have we here?" said a man's voice from down the beachfront.
Lynx and Harle spun around, sighting an elderly man walking with a cane, surrounded by a group of young male villagers wearing what passed for a uniform. They were all armed with swords or staves. All of the weapons were worn and battered.
The older man was the leader, his long hair and beard were white shocked with gray. He walked with a limp, supporting himself on his cane, but even so, he didn't lose his balance as he walked across the sand without support. The men curved behind him in a fanned crescent; they seemed trained, but only just.
"Radius," Lynx breathed, automatically responding to the man by turning his body to the side and standing erect, as if at attention while allowing the smallest target possible.
"Lovely," said the gypsy with an aspirated sigh. "The fun and excitement just will not end."
Radius' hair fell about him, swaying in the breeze. His blue eyes were hard, as hard as his words. "One would think that ye', of all folks, Lynx, would not go walking so blithely through our lands after all ye' had done. Just disappearing for a year does not wash away the memories of yer injustice."
"Years?" echoed Lynx, twisting his head about to look down at the leather-clad woman. There was a new pain in his voice now.
He was drawing his attention back to the group of soldiers when they were charging forward; the old man had his hand extended out, at the end of his silent command. Lynx did not have his Swallow on hand; it was still thrust in the sand at the edge of the tree line. Through the turbulence inside of his mind, he moved with grace and ease as he twisted to the side to dodge the first swipe of a sword. He backed up as another came, narrowly missing being slashed open. If the young men had been better trained, they would have made a better work of him, but their inexperience gave him more than just an edge, despite the numbers.
"Armed or not, Lynx, I will have ye' killed." The callousness in the tone of Radius's voice was something that Lynx, as Serge, had never heard before. There was death in the vibrations of his voice and it made his hackles rise.
Suddenly, the demi-human realized that there was no way around it. He would have to fight these men, those that had been his friends and neighbors for almost all of his life. But they would not recognize him like this—there was no point in denying that fact. But that did not mean he had to be as ruthless as Lynx had been. He had assumed the body, and nothing more; his soul was still that of Serge from Arni.
As another slashing blow came from the closest villager, he maneuvered himself to the side and slapped the side of the blade with his forearm, throwing the attack wide. He thrust the base of his palm into the young man's chest, causing him to fall.
"Don't kill 'em," Lynx breathed as he moved back a step and to the side as he avoided the next attack from another man. A wayward thrust was made and Lynx took advantage, slamming his forearm down on the man's wrist, which jarred the sword loose. Upon losing his weapon, the villager tried to stagger away, but the catman booted him solidly in the ribs. The man collapsed as the air was forced painfully out of him.
Lynx had a torrent of thoughts racing through his head as Harle made a rude sound. "If I cannot kill them, then I shan't fight them." Her translucent body vanished, each ineffectual attack passing through where her body was.
Lynx barely noticed. A single realization had dawned on him. The demi-human was, indeed, much more than he was when he was Serge. With two men writhing on the sand nearby, he stood there, a fully trained warrior well beyond his seventeen years. The transition he had gone through had caused him to retain the natural instincts that the body held, and even how to fight well, if not the actual memories behind the experiences.
He awaited the others as they came out of their shock of the disappearing woman. It was a slow process that gave him the time to walk casually towards his upright Swallow that was thrust in the sand. He just couldn't bring himself to move quickly. It was as if the casualness was a byproduct of his past, becoming one with his present self.
The catman yanked the Swallow free without fanfare and turned to face the others who were now extremely skeptical of him now that he was armed. It had a sobering effect on the last three if he was so easily able to dispatch two of them unarmed, how would they be able to handle him with a weapon in hand. Their fear was palpable.
"Have 'em stand down, Radius," Lynx said in a low tone. It was meant to be a quiet statement devoid of any animosity, but the sound of it was still a hissed whisper that carried the weight of his experience behind his words.
The sounds of the ocean and its wildlife were the only sounds for a moment as Lynx sized up the remaining four, and the elderly man contemplated the feline demi-human in a warrior's way.
Again, the catman spoke, "Have 'em get their friends," he gestured towards the two young men in pain, "and stand down. I don't wanna fight you."
There was something in his tone that caught Radius by surprise. The old man stroked his beard pensively. "Very well, they shall stand down, yet I shan't."
A soft sigh escaped Lynx's parted lips and he shook his head. "I don't wanna fight you, Radius, at all."
"Well, pup, that isn't really yer choice, now is it?"
If the barb was meant to invoke a response, the man failed.
"I accept," stated the catman.
Lynx circled back and paced the strip of beach he was standing on while Radius gave the command for the standing villagers to help their fallen comrades. Giles, Jock, and Morgot; he had grown up with all three young men. The demi-human stopped walking and looked at the villagers while they worked.
"Jock," began Lynx. The young villager revealed his shock as he looked at the feline in dismay. "I didn't want to hurt them."
The confused man helped drag the hurt villagers back down the beach, away from Lynx. When all of them were safely away from the pair, Radius stepped forward, shifting his cane in his hands so that he no longer supported his weight with it. It was positioned in a single hand, brandished like a weapon.
"I know not why ye' show remorse, but it shan't confuse me with yer diabolical ways," the old man stated coldly.
And then the elderly man burst forward, not waiting for a response. He swung his cane at Lynx's arm, letting the shaft slide through his hand before he gripped it again, gaining as much distance as he could. The catman leapt back to avoid the strike and had to jump back again as another swipe came in. Over and over, Lynx was forced back by the quick attacks. Age hadn't seemed to slow down the old man, who continued the barrage with spry movements.
Every now and again, Lynx sent his Swallow up to deflect a shot or to guide an attack away so that he may have the space to dodge again. The older man kept coming, halting only momentarily to regain his position when an attack separated them too much. And each time, Lynx failed to strike back. Confidence began to set in as Radius attacked, sensing that the advantage was his, but that suddenly changed.
Lynx allowed a strike to come through and he thrust his Swallow, two-handed, into the shaft of the cane before it made contact with his ribs. He then spun his weapon which clipped the cane, almost nearly jarring it loose from the old man's grip. It was proof of his previous profession, how he maintained his handhold and then narrowly dodged the thrusting swipe from the catman.
Now each attack from the old man was met with one from the demi-human, and they began to exchange blows, both being forced into a mixture of offensive and defensive moves. They were grunting and panting with exertion after a few moments, and were breathing heavily when they broke away to circle each other, waiting for an opening to strike. Radius jumped forward, swinging his cane in a horizontal arc, which Lynx lithely avoided by back-stepping. As the old man caught the cane's base with his other hand, he swung again, but the cane separated into two pieces, elongating out with a glimmer of steel.
A yelp of surprise came from Lynx as he suddenly staggered, the tip of the now-exposed sword slicing into his leather breastplate. A tired, but menacing grin spread itself onto Radius's bearded face. If he was going to make a remark, he held back, as he was still breathing heavily. Now the Arni elder wielded two weapons; a hilt-less sword adorned one hand, while the casing of the cane was held in the other, like a club.
Lynx repositioned himself, keeping the forward tip of the Swallow pointed towards the ground, and turning to his side to offer less of his body as a target. The catman stepped forward as he swung the shell-blade of the Swallow up, which the old man deflected with the casing. Radius then aimed his sword in a horizontal strike. The blade was pushed back when Lynx's follow-through with his swipe.
The edges of the shells on the Swallow were finely sharpened, and as the blade went up under the arm of old man, Lynx knew full well—as did Radius—that the momentum would severe the old man's arm. But the catman shifted his Swallow so that the flat of the shell pushed the old Deva's arm up, stressing the muscles without amputating his limb. The redirect forced an opening that Lynx had been looking for, so he kicked the human low in the stomach, causing him to double over as he slid back from the impact. On the follow-through, Lynx smacked Radius soundly in the forehead with the flat end of the other end of the Swallow.
The sudden blows felled Radius, sending him sprawling onto his back. Lynx approached him, and aimed the tip of a swallow towards the upper chest of the ex-Deva as he lay there in the sand.
"Yield," the catman breathed.
There was confusion in the old man's eyes, quickly replacing his dissipating fear. Through his ragged breathing, he stared at the quasi-human being that had a name but was very different in bearing and intention than what was simply renowned. Swallowing, he nodded curtly, unafraid of being cut because the Swallow was positioned to deter, not threaten.
With the show of surrender, the catman stepped back and lowered his weapon. The sound of delicate applause filled the air with Harle's spritely laughter.