"Is that..." Rink was the first to speak up.
"Roth," Allen said between gritted teeth.
"And a lot of Marines," Muse said. "What do we do now?"
"On that note..." Markus said and looked over towards the other tower. The Marines that had been waiting while the four of them did battle with Cagizo and Carime had now started to make their way over, though after having witnessed the fight, not with complete confidence.
"I'll take care of them," Rink said and started walking towards the midsection. Markus noticed that she was wobbling a little, and that her right arm was hanging down - and bleeding. In her left hand, she was still holding the whip Carime had dropped.
"Rink... are you-"
"Stay back and make sure to stay behind me," Rink interrupted. The other three did as she said, moving towards the middle of the tower as Rink took a deep breath and placed herself in front of the oncoming Marines. Seeing this, they hesitated, but there was no stopping now.
"Is this really safe?" Allen asked.
"Nothing we've done today has been safe," Muse replied as Rink let out a mighty bellow, hitting the Marines head-on. It did the job of stopping their advance, with the added bonus of disorienting them. Many were thrown backwards by the force of the sound, some stumbling over the edge of the roof.
"I see why she didn't want to do something like that when we were spread out," Markus said. Despite being behind Rink's back, they still felt the force of her shout. He and Allen started running towards Rink, whereas Muse fired an arrow over their heads, an arrow that passed over the Marines and discharged its lightning bolt in the middle of their group. It was soon followed up by Allen, back to being a hyena, charging into them, taking several of them out of commission in short order. Markus had been following him, but stopped next to Rink, as he noticed she was breathing heavily - and now that he got a closer look at her, sweating profusely as well. Some degree of sweat could of course be expected from the fighting they had done, but this was excessive even accounting for that. More worrying was the steady trickle of blood coming from her right arm. "Hey... are you okay?"
"I'm... fine," Rink replied.
"You don't sound like it... or look like it."
"I'm fine. I... kind of can't feel my right hand, but... I'm fine."
"That's not what I would call fine."
"I can... still fight," Rink replied. "I have to... we have to. We have to... get out..."
"So what's the plan for that?" Markus asked as Muse came up next to them.
"Um..." Rink said and looked at Muse. She didn't say anything.
"You... have one, right?" Markus looked between the both of them, but they stayed silent. "Oh, god."
"The plan was to punch our way out," Muse finally said. "But... I'm almost out of arrows..." she continued and fingered her remaining arrows. One and a half left, but it would have to do...
"You're out of ammo, Rink's hurt..."
"I can... do this," Rink said and took a step forwards.
"Wait!" Markus said. Rink ignored him and kept walking towards the Marines, that were mostly busy with Allen. Markus followed after her. "How are you even going to fight with-"
"Shut it," Rink said and lashed out with the whip she had borrowed towards an approaching Marine. Allen had noticed them, and struck the soldier in the back as he avoided Rink's clumsy swing.
"And you're poisoned," Markus continued and started attacking the Marines that were coming towards them.
"Eh, it's not lethal," Allen said, joining their conversation.
"How do you know?" Markus asked.
"There was that thing he said, and you saw what he was like, he wants to toy with his opponents," Allen replied as he put a gash in the leg of another soldier. "He wouldn't want to kill them with poison. Just slow them down, but keep them alive so he can drag it out. Killing them, I mean. He's kind of like that."
"See, I told you... I'll be... fine..."
"You're not fine now," Muse, who had joined them, said and put a hand on Rink's shoulder. "Let me have that... you can't use it in your state," she continued and grabbed Rink's left hand.
"Can... you?" Rink asked.
"Better than you right now."
"Fine..." Rink said in a pained tone and let go of the whip, handing it over to Muse. She gripped it tightly in her right hand and placed herself in front of Rink, who had started getting down on one knee. She managed to keep some Marines at bay mostly by screaming at them, and directed the battle around her as best she could by letting the others know where she heard the most immediate dangers, but she was getting weaker by the moment. Muse might not have been as proficient with the whip as Carime, but drawing from experience with using ropes and hooks to climb things, didn't do too badly with it. It probably helped that the Marines knew it was Carime's whip, and thus didn't want to get poisoned.
The four of them managed to more or less take control of the midsection on top of the towers, with the searchlight on the ground keeping itself locked on their position and more Marines coming at them. Some had started coming from the fire escape of the prison tower as well, so they faced opposition from both sides. With Rink having to fight to even stay conscious, and with the rest of them starting to get fatigued as well, it certainly wasn't an ideal situation.
"At this rate we're never going to reach the exit," Markus said.
"I agree," Allen replied. "We need to get down from here."
"Any ideas? It's kind of a long drop," Muse added.
"The drop is probably our only way," Allen said. "If we stay up here, we're dead anyway..."
"No chance for you to grab something with that whip?"
"Not in freefall, no," Muse answered.
"Hm..." Allen said and looked at his claws. "As long as we can slow ourselves down... the wall is slanted..."
"And what about Rink?" Muse asked, looking at their companion, now down to two knees and one hand on the ground.
"I'll handle her," Allen said and assumed half-hyena form, scooping Rink up in his right arm, almost hanging her over his shoulder.
"What... are you..." she started saying.
"No time," Allen said. "Ready?"
"I doubt we have any choice," Markus said and put his swords back in their holders, instead picking up some shorter blades that had been dropped by some of their enemies. Muse did the same, but still held on to the whip.
"I'll go first, just aim for me," Allen said and glanced behind him, over the wall facing the back of W4. "Here goes!" he exclaimed and put himself over the edge, using his feet and the claws on his left hand to slow his descent as much as possible while still making sure he wouldn't drop Rink. It didn't take long for him to slide all the way to the ground, and even though his feet and hand hurt a lot, he had no time for pause - the fall was taxing even on someone with a strengthened body like him, and Markus and Muse were already on their way down. They did what they could with the blades they were holding and their feet - at least they had shoes - to slow down, but Allen knew that wouldn't be enough. Markus was first, so Allen grabbed him when he was within reach, and quickly put him down to save Muse as well. He didn't have enough time to really steady himself, though, so the impact from Muse made him lose balance and fall backwards, ending up lying on the ground with Muse on top of his chest.
"Sorry," Muse said before quickly getting off of him and started looking around. There weren't any conscious Marines around them right at this moment, but she didn't have to be Rink to hear several heading towards them, coming around the towers from both sides. Allen got to his feet and scooped up Rink, this time holding her behind his back.
"Okay, hold on tight!" he said.
"Wha..." Rink started before picking up on that Allen was changing to hyena form, carrying her on his back. Still not able to move her right hand, she held on to his neck fur as tightly as she could manage with her left.
"Alright, so... gate's closed, the Marines are on their way, we need to get out," Allen said.
"Any ideas?" Markus asked.
"The gate's too solid for us to break down, at any rate," Allen replied. "So if we can't go through it..."
"We'll have to go over," Muse said. With all the Marines in the way, trying to climb over the entry gate would be impossible, and climbing a plain concrete wall wasn't much of an option. The three of them turned around and looked at the backyard of W4. Mostly buildings that wouldn't be of much help, but beyond them...
"The docks," Allen said. "That's how we're going to get up."
"What?" Markus said. "How's that going to help?"
"Just... follow me," Allen said and took off running on his four legs, Markus and Muse following behind. Allen weaved between the buildings, trying to stay out of sight of the Marines that were following them. Not that that would help much - they knew they were there, and they'd fan out to cover all the ground they might be in. At least they would think they had the four of them trapped, and that would be an advantage, at least.
The dock of W4 was a large opening in the northeastern part of the walls, with several bridges extending outwards and sloping a bit downwards. Currently, two large Marine ships and a collection of smaller ones were docked here - but right now, at night, when no access to the ships was needed, the opening was covered by a large gate. But as the docks needed to be watched even with the gate closed, it consisted of thick iron bars laid out in a grid, leaving square holes all over it.
"That's what," Allen said and nodded towards it. "We'll climb that."
"Can you climb that while carrying Rink?" Markus asked.
"As long as she holds on tight," Allen said and turned his head towards her. "You hear that?"
"I'm... fine," Rink said and almost laid down on his back, holding her arm and legs around his stomach.
"That'll do," Allen said and turned back to Markus and Muse. "We just have to deal with the guards!"
"Got it," Muse said and pulled out her last intact arrow, coating her thumb with the conductive gel. "I'll get the ones on the left." Markus nodded at Muse before drawing his swords, and the three of them ran out at the same time, heading for the rightmost end of the dock gate.
"Stop!" one of the guards positioned in front of it shouted. While most of W4's Marines had been directed to the front to deal with the intruders, some were still on guard duty - but not too many of them. Three Marines were coming at them from the left, one in front of them, and one to the right. Two of them drew rifles and started firing, but they didn't manage to do much in ways of stopping them before being attacked themselves - Markus cutting open the arm of the one coming from the right, Allen biting the leg of the one in front of them and Muse directing her arrow towards the trio on the left, the arrow discharging right in front of them. With the guards at least momentarily taken care of, the three of them dashed up to the part of the gate where it met the wall and started climbing. The gate was tall, but they had to climb fast - Marines were pouring in behind them, starting to fire in their direction. They managed to avoid getting hit, and soon had made it to the top of the gate, just slightly below the top of the outer wall.
"Quick!" Allen shouted and took a leap from the gate to the wall. Markus and Muse followed in short order, and the three of them - Rink still holding on to Allen - started running on top of the wall. It was slanting outwards, but at least there wasn't any barbed wire or anything on top of it. So while it might not have been the most steady surface to run on, it wasn't going to get any better.
It didn't take long for the searchlight to find them again, and getting closer to their goal also meant getting closer to the Marines... and, for that matter, Roth. Allen didn't like the prospect much, but the chance for turning back had been lost the moment Rink had accepted his offer down in the prison. This still beat staying down there, in any case.
"Roland!" Roth's commanding voice rang out. "Stop right now!"
"I'd love to stay and chat, but no time!" Allen replied and sped up. Roth, followed by a group of Marines, started moving towards the part of the wall in front of them, carrying rifles and ropes. "We've got incoming!"
"You make sure Rink is safe, we'll deal with them!" Markus said and took a few long, quick but careful steps past Allen. He drew one of his swords and saw how some Marines were starting to throw ropes up at the wall to climb up and face them. The ones closest to him he could cut before anyone had the time to climb much, but some Marines farther ahead were already making it to the top of the wall. He pulled out his other sword, and they didn't prove to be too much of a threat - a few slashes were all it took to get them off balance, sending them back down the way they came.
"Do I have to do everything myself?" Roth asked rhetorically, and started making his advance. Holding his mace in his right hand, he kept his eyes on Allen and seemed to be aiming towards him with his left arm.
"Watch out!" Allen exclaimed, before hearing something fly through the air.
"Got it," Muse said. Without a lot of other options, she had taken what she had left of her fire coating and put it on her damaged arrow, shooting it towards Roth. To her surprise, he didn't do anything to try to avoid it - in fact, he didn't even seem to pay any notice to the fact that an arrow had just struck him in the chest. It was when it started burning a moment later, catching his clothes on fire, that he lowered his arms and redirected his attention.
"I can't believe that worked," Allen said and looked towards the gates of W4. They were close enough now, below them on the outside of the wall there was no longer a drop into the ocean, but the solid ground of Garlan. Markus and Allen jumped down almost simultaneously, with Muse following an instant later.
"Open the gates!" came a familiar voice from inside. "Don't let them escape!"
"Didn't I just set that guy on fire?" Muse asked.
"That's nowhere near enough to stop Roth," Allen said. "He's a-" He was interrupted by the sound of rifles starting to fire behind them, the bullets flying over their heads.
"Run, run!" Markus shouted, emphasizing that there was no time to chat. They took off running away from W4, down towards the city of Coren. They didn't much want for the citizens to get involved, but they didn't have a lot of options, and if anyone, the Marines should be acting in the best interest of the civilians. In theory, anyway - Allen, with his experiences, would disagree with that notion. But hopefully it should give them some more room - and only having Marines on one side was a marked improvement in any case. The chase was on, Markus leading the way and Muse bringing up the rear, Allen with Rink on his back in between them. The gunfire from the Marines did lessen as they got into the populated areas, but there weren't many people out - and a Marine chase in town was likely to make many decide to stay inside. Still, the buildings were good for cover, they could switch onto side streets, run between houses, use what they could to make the Marines lose them. When they reached the point where Cassandra was docked, they had gained a bit of distance, but the Marine force wasn't far behind.
"Get ready to cast off!" Markus shouted to Mirise, standing on top of the cabin, as he approached the boat. It had been turned while they were gone, now being parallell to the island rather than having the bow pointing towards it, and it was no longer moored. James was sitting down in the boat, at the side closest to the island, holding an oar.
"Right," Mirise replied and looked at the group approaching the boat. "James, you know what to do! Someone get the other oar!" she said and turned around.
"Here goes!" Markus said as he jumped on board, shortly followed by Allen and Rink, and finally Muse. "We're all on!"
"Who's the-" James started. "Ah, whatever, get the oar!" he continued and used the oar he was holding to push Cassandra away from the island, turning the front out towards open waters.
"I'll take it, someone take care of her," Allen said and crouched down to let Rink off, before changing back into human and grabbing another oar lying on the deck. Together, he and James started rowing the ship away from the island.
"That's far enough, keep her steady!" Mirise half-shouted from atop the cabin.
"You'd do well to sit down," James said to the others. "And... is Rink okay?"
"Not right now," Markus said as they all sat down. "So... what's the idea?"
"We're making a splash," James said with a little grin. And sure enough, only a moment laster, a splash was heard from the back of the boat, something causing a wave behind them, starting to carry them away from the island.
"What was- Mirise?" Muse asked.
"Mirise," James confirmed. "Now let's make sure we go that way," he continued and pointed out over the bow. They all heard the commotion from the Marines behind them, but didn't think there was anything to worry about now, until...
"Something... something's wrong!" Mirise shouted from the back of the ship. "They're... they're running towards us! They're running on the water!"
"What?" Markus exclaimed. "Turn her a bit!"
"I was afraid of this," Allen said and put his oar in the water, turning Cassandra so that they had a view of what was going on behind them. And there it was - with Roth up front, a group of Marines were running after Cassandra, seemingly on top of the water.
"They're running on the surface? That's- that's impossible!" Markus exclaimed.
"No," Allen said. "They're not running on the water... it's dark, but look closer..."
"Wait..." Muse said as the Marines approached. Under their feet, something was extending towards them, something transparent... "Is that... glass? They're on a bridge of glass?"
"That's what I've been trying to tell you," Allen said. "It's Roth! He's a devil fruit user... he's got the power of the Glass Fruit!"
"Glass... then we need..." Muse said and looked at Rink. "Rink! Are you still alive? We need your help..."
"I heard... I can... just... point me... the right way..." Rink answered between heavy breaths, clearly in pain. Markus and Muse picked her up, one on each side, helping her to sit up and face the oncoming Marines. With some difficulty, she took a deep breath before opening her mouth, letting out a shrill scream in the direction of the oncoming Marines. Some of them stopped, but they didn't have the time to do much of anything as their footing started cracking, soon shattering under Rink's cry. The crew of Cassandra didn't wait to witness the results, but they spotted several Marine soldiers starting to dive after their commander before continuing away from the island.
"Great job, Rink," Markus said. He didn't get much of a reply - Rink slumped down, breathing heavily, the scream having taken all the energy she had left and leaving her unconscious.
"Rink!" Muse shouted. "Rink, wake up!"
"Let's get her into the cabin," Markus said. "Poison isn't my main area, but..."
"Right," Muse said and helped Markus lift Rink into Cassandra's cabin. James and Allen kept rowing, and soon Mirise climbed up into the ship from the side, having swam to the front.
"We did it!" she said with a smile and looked at James, then at Allen. "Oh... who... are you, sir?"
"The name is Allen Roland, your friend helped me out," Allen said and stood up.
"Nice to-" Mirise started, before gasping and covering her mouth with her hands.
"What?" Allen asked in response.
"Dude," James said and pointed at Allen's legs.
"Hm?" Allen replied and looked down, remembering his current state of dress before sitting down again. "...oh, right. So, uh... you got any pants I can borrow?"