"Witch Hunter's Camp" is a series of late Season 3 and early 4 one-shots written on February 8 14, and 15, 2015. These take place directly after "Letter to the King," when Kiri has first arrived at the camp of witch hunters to prepare for war against the witches.
Full Text Edit
Part 1 Edit
Toshioka Kiri: "You’ve settled in, Captain?"
Kiri nodded. “Yes. Thank you. I have a few more things to take care of before I can make an announcement to the others. And there’s no need to call me Captain. Who came up with that anyway?”
The man shrugged. “You’re the one making the calls and organizing everything. Plus you’re the one training us for this witch attack coming up. It started out as an endearing joke, but I think it’s stuck.”
Kiri cringed a bit. “Oh. Great. Anyway, I need you to send this to the main fortress for me - for a young couple called Tezzeret (tezz-the-nomad) and Clover Rose (fenrisistheblackwidow).”
She placed the package into the man’s hands. It contained a congratulatory card - polite and formal, hopefully acting as enough to explain her absence - as well as a few gifts. Handmade nadder spike daggers, a couple enchanted rings with blessings for long life and happiness, and her hair ornament. It was the only thing she wore for decoration, a gift from Lillith long ago, and considering her current path, she supposed it was better that someone else had it.
As much as she wanted to attend the wedding… there were just too many people, too many close comrades, Stonegit was certain to be present, and there was just too much of a potential for everyone to find the truth about her. She couldn’t risk it, not now.
The man nodded and gave a short respectful bow. “Will do Captain. Anything else?”
"No, that’s it. I’ll be up later."
The man left her office, and Kiri sat down hard at the desk. She had to focus. There was much to do.
But she was still left with a dark, uneasy feeling within her.
Part 3 Edit
"Look alive people!" Kiri shouted as she marched down the lines of training witch hunters. "Keep moving! Those witches won’t give you a chance to rest!"
The witch hunters were, as a whole, experienced and good at what they did. In small squads, they could take down regular witches. Kiri still trusted them completely with that. It was the single, powerful one she was worried about.
One man suddenly fell over from exertion. Kiri strode over as he struggled to pick himself up, crouching down to observe.
"So what was it? Stamina? Strength? What’s your weak point?"
The man finally sat up, breathing hard.
"S-stamina, ma’am. Muscles give out eventually."
She cocked her head to the side. “Witches won’t give you that luxury.”
"I - yes, I know."
"So how’re you gonna’ fix that?"
"I - I don’t know? Running?"
Kiri clicked her tongue and clapped him on the shoulder. “Get some water, eat a light snack. Then sparring ring, you and me. We’ll get that stamina up, hunter. Speed with it.”
She glanced up at the other hunters, several having stopped their drills in curiosity. "Stamina and speed are your friends. Those will keep you alive," she stated. "That goes for everyone - mages, archers, frontline combatants, dragons. Doubly so for this powerful incoming witch. Your speed will matter much more than any defense, because then you will be able to dodge. You know witches by now, their power and strength. If you must choose between an axe or a shield, choose the axe. At least that way you have a chance to end it."
Part 3 Edit
Toshioka Kiri: The sparring ring was useful - not because it pitted fighters against each other, but because it allowed ample space for hunters to practice dodging magical attacks. The mages could focus on light, quick attacks, while their sparring partner had the challenge of dodging everything while attempting to, in Kiri’s words, ‘end it’.
This was not a mage practice battle. This was a stamina test.
"So hunter," she spoke as she and the man from earlier circled each other. She had no weapon. The man had everything at his disposal. "Niall, was it? This is your stamina practice. I am unarmed, but will be doing everything I can to disarm you and wear you down. Your challenge is to hit me and draw blood. This does not end until you do. Understand?"
Niall nodded. “Yes ma’am.”
The man grabbed a longsword and charged.
Kiri sighed, sidestepped, and tripped him.
"Come on Niall, you can do better than that."
The man groaned, then rushed back up at her. This time, Kiri lightly dodged each attack, moving as little as possibly to conserve her own stamina while watching Niall use up all of his. Her augmented body already meant that she would have no difficulty in doing so.
Realizing it, this also meant that she would have to let Niall hit her at some point. Regular mortal bodies were slow compared to her augmented one now.
The match wore on. Niall’s breath grew ragged, and he gave up the longsword for an axe, a polearm, a staff, a broadsword, and now finally a dagger. He looked too exhausted to hold anything else.
Kiri was still untouched by him.
"You still haven’t hit me," she stated as Niall leaned over gasping. "That’s how you’re going to end it. So how are you going to do this?"
Niall panted, bent over as he turned to look at her. Then he glanced at the dagger in his hand, and in one desperate burst, threw himself at her.
Kiri sidestepped once more.
"Let me make this easier for you."
She grabbed Niall by the dagger arm, twisting it behind his back. Simultaneously, she wrapped her other arm around his neck, such that her forearm and bicep dug into his carotid arteries.
Niall gasped, unable to fight back as he was strangled from behind.
Some part of her told her that this was too much, that given the man’s state she should not be doing this to him. But the harder part of her said that he needed to learn. This was a lesson he needed, and better now than later when he was fighting for his life. He had to learn.
"Now, how are you going to end it?" she murmured into his ear. "Remember the terms."
Niall let out a small gurgle. His body grew slack for a moment.
Then he seemed to remember exactly where his dagger was and pushed it up.
Kiri smiled as the dagger nicked her chest.
She let him go.
"Congratulations," she answered as Niall fell to the ground coughing. "You did it. Sometimes you have to endure pain to reach your goal and meet the end. Now stop training for the day. This was enough. Healers, check the man please!"
A standby healer rushed over. Niall caught Kiri’s glance for a moment. She couldn’t tell if he was terrified or confused.
She suddenly realized to what degree she had pushed him.
She gave him a curt nod and strode out of the sparring ring, ignoring the bystanders as she tried to find a private place to check on her soul gem.
Part 4 Edit
Toshioka Kiri: This witch was the most powerful yet.
It could shift itself into pieces and reform, forming itself into almost anything it desired. There was a core that she was having difficulty getting to that Kiri was certain was the weak point. She could only wonder who the person had been in the first place.
There was a limit to how much of it she could trap behind barriers. Her abilities simply didn’t seem to be working very well against it.
So she was resorting to something entirely different.
She jumped forward, dodging the attacks and tossing the first of several explosives. The witch released an ethereal shriek as fire and shrapnel ripped across it, then reformed itself and shot something straight back.
Kiri didn’t make it away in time, and screamed as something stabbed through her right arm.
Her body fell to the ground, the piece of the witch through her arm pinning her to the nearest rock. Kiri heard Dagger’s cry as she flew in to defend her friend, and she tried to free herself to help -
The arm… the damn arm…
Something went through her. The lesson she had been teaching the witch hunters lately, something that had been drilled into her as a young Viking Ninja. And now, with her particular body and powers…
With no more hesitation, Kiri turned to her arm and summoned a barrier right through it in a slant, slicing it off completely.
The pain of it was unimaginable at first. Then she remembered where her soul exactly was, and shut off all feeling to her physical body.
She was numb. She didn’t feel anything anymore.
The piece of the witch released the arm, now that it was no longer pinning down its primary victim. Kiri tilted her barrier, trapping it in place. Something strange came over her.
She grabbed her right arm, brandishing the exposed, sharp bone like a spike, and charged at the witch’s core.
With Dagger serving to distract the witch, and with another barrier to protect her immediate front where her soul gem currently was, Kiri had no more difficulty.
She stabbed the bone of her right arm into the witch’s core.
The landscape melted. The witch screamed. The battle was ending.
Kiri looked at her severed right arm with some odd curiosity. She felt entirely apathetic about it.
This body is just a flesh puppet anyway.
Dagger’s croon brought her back the world. Kiri jumped, suddenly tired and terrified. ”I - I just cut off my arm. I didn’t care at the time. I didn’t care until - you - “
Dagger touched her snout to Kiri’s forehead. There was a slight warmth in Kiri’s chest that made her suddenly want to feel again.
"I’ll - I’m fine. I’m fine. I don’t feel it, it doesn’t hurt, it’s okay. Help me reattach my arm."
It took several moments and Dagger’s help. The dragon looked horrified at having to hold her friend’s right arm while Kiri healed the damage, reattaching it and using her magic to bring her body back to its normal state.
Then she allowed her soul to reconnect with body again so that she could feel once more.
The sudden sensation hurt at first. Then it faded as she grew used to it again.
She glanced at her right arm, healed once more. She straightened the arm, flexed it, closed her hand into a fist and opened it a few times.
She felt alive again.
But she really wasn’t, was she?
Part 5 Edit
Dagger was away hunting, the night was young, and for some reason Kiri had just sliced off her own leg.
She stared at it there in front of her as both she and the leg bled out all over the floor.
There was nothing. She felt nothing. As long as she withdrew to her soul and cut off feeling to her body, there was no pain.
She tentatively connected again.
She immediately slumped to the ground, half screaming, half crying. She instinctively fled back to her soul.
In morbid curiosity, Kiri reached out to the leg and bent the foot back and forth. She couldn’t even tell if it was still warm.
She stared at the ring on her left hand. Her soul.
She had known about this before making the contract. She had known that her soul would be extracted and placed into gem form. She hadn’t realized there would be this level of disconnect between her soul and body.
I’m dead. I’m really already dead.
Kiri picked up her severed leg, a dark laugh escaping her.
What does it matter? I was dead the moment I made the contract. A dead man walking, literally. And I’m to become a witch. Why did I even care in the first place?
A panicked shriek interrupted her thoughts.
She looked up and saw Dagger, standing before her with several freshly caught salmon. The nadder looked as horrified as a dragon could visibly portray.
"I’m fine," she said simply, putting the leg back into place. She didn’t reattach it though. "This body is just a flesh puppet anyway. It can always be regenerated or something."
Dagger shook her head and roared something, thrashing as she stepped forward. She grabbed Kiri by one shoulder, shaking her violently.
Kiri didn’t react. She still felt nothing. She didn’t see why Dagger was so upset.
Finally, the dragon pointed to her left hand. Kiri glanced at it, noting the ring. “Check my soul? Fine…” she said in a flat voice, waving her right hand over it. The soul came out in its gem form, a deep, dark blue with hints of creeping black.
Dagger squawked and jerked her head at it. Kiri glanced up. “Yes it’s dark. Why does it matter? Why should I care? I’m supposed to become a witch anyway. It’s the agreement I made with the white cats.”
The dragon finally roared. Kiri rolled her eyes irritably. “Whatever. Fine.”
With no real desire to but mostly just to appease the dragon, Kiri grabbed a grief seed from a nearby pouch and held it to her soul. She watched apathetically as the corruption was pulled from her soul, leaving it a bright, sparkling blue once more.
Then she looked at her still severed leg and everything struck her at once.
"What - wait - why did - why did I - "
Half panicking, she forced her leg back together and held her soul gem to it.
The gem flashed, a glow appeared over her leg, and the damage began to heal. Kiri gripped Dagger’s claw with terrified anxiety as she sat in the pool of her own blood, shocked at herself.
"… it’s the corruption to my soul, isn’t it," she whispered. "It’s making me do this. This isn’t right… I shouldn’t not care and just chop off my own leg…"
This is me. This is me. I’m not a witch yet. I’m still human.
But I’m not human anymore. I’m already dead. And I care. But I don’t.
… what’s happening to me?