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Assassin's Pledge: Devastation

Assassin's Pledge: Devastation

The Red-Eyed Demon is back, and more dangerous than ever. But can even he and a brave group of followers prevail against two warring Assassin organizations bent on enforcing their will upon the continent of Cre' Est?

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Topics: action, adventure, assassin, death, destruction, devastation, gore, original, red-eyed demon, romance, and tragedy (Add Tags »)
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Introduction

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Welcome one and all to a story over a decade in the making!



Assassin's Pledge takes place in a fictional world not unlike our own. The setting of this RP is late-medieval fantasy where the recently invented flintlock pistol and rifle are the pinnacle of weapon's technology. Magic is not a thing in this RP. Sorry. But there are minor supernatural elements at play, but they're mostly environmental and not meant for being a significant part of the experience.

There are five Nations which call the continent of Cre' Est "home", and I will detail them below:

* Cre' Est - The Mother Nation, first founded, and named after the continent upon which she was founded. She occupies the center of the continent on the Western side of the Cre' Itian Mountain Range which splits the continent into two halves. She has the highest population and most stable economy of all five nations and is culturally very diverse. Cre' Est's government is a Monarchy, run by a Royal Family bearing the same last name as the nation and continent.

* Shaharan - The Desert Nation to the East of the Cre' Itian Mountain Range occupying the Northeastern hemisphere of the continent. The people who live here are tough and hardy, typically sporting darker skin tones and generally speaking are part of a more militant culture. It is a dictatorship run currently by a strict yet relatively non-oppressive man who's last name is the same as the nation.

* Triveila - Nation of Water on the Northwestern sector of the continent. She harvests the bounty of the sea and commands a respectable trade industry focused on pearls, coral, and other undersea commodities. Her people are generally peaceful and laid back and live life day by day as they watch the waves on the shoreline. The government is run on a Monarchy with a ruling family sharing the nation's name.

* Gweynura - Gweynura is the Nation of Trees located to the East below Shaharan. She is the lumber capital of the continent and also boasts the most beautiful landscapes anywhere to be seen. If you see a painting of a gorgeous landscape, chances are it's from Gweynura. The government is a Monarchy run currently by a widowed Queen who shares the last name of her nation thanks to her husband. Her son is soon to come of age and ascend the throne in his father's absence.

* Veilbrand - The Nation of Stone situated South of the Mother Nation in the Cre' Itian Mountain Range. She is the precious metal and precious gem capital of the continent and you will never find a better blacksmith than those who live here. They are also some of the finest weapon smiths. Veilbrand is run by a rather greedy dictator at present, though there are rumors of a rebellion on the rise.


Now that you are familiar with the five nations, it's time to learn about the story of the RP!



The RP takes place after the events of my previous two Assassin's Pledge RP's.

The Red-Eyed Demon, known simply as "Shadow" to the world of Assassins, is the most powerful and feared Assassin in the world. His body harbors the spirit of a Demon summoned from the Nether Realm by his mother and the cult she was attached to which greatly enhances his physical abilities far beyond the scope of normal humans.

He belongs to an Assassin organization called Te'i Sai. Due to the Red-Eyed Demon's success and how dangerous he is thanks to the Demon's spirit, Te'i Sai attempted to create a serum which duplicated the effects of the Demon's presence. They succeeded, and thanks to the serum their operatives are also much stronger, faster, more agile, and have higher reaction times than normal people.

However Te'i Sai made one mistake... They killed the Red-Eyed Demon's first and only friend. Her name was Iris Di' Nelma, and she was a beautiful and kind hearted young woman. When the Demon was temporarily banished for breaking Te'i Sai's first Commandment, "Never take the life of an innocent", she found and befriended him. She taught him things which were deliberately kept hidden from him such as the meaning of empathy and what it meant to care for someone else. She helped open his eyes to the fact that he'd lived his entire life as a puppet never making his own decisions, and thus when she was killed by Te'i Sai for her interference the Red-Eyed Demon secretly vowed vengeance and rebelled against the organization.

He killed the Grandmaster of Te'i Sai and his Second, leaving nobody in a position to take over. With the organization in chaos the Red-Eyed Demon led a small group of sympathizers to war on the organization. They had begun making headway after destroying the Mountain Fortress located in Roda Valley (a valley in the Cre' Itian Mountain Range's heart) as well as several other major Te'i Sai base locations throughout the continent, but their efforts were in vain.

... Another Assassin organizations called Roda Ah K'mht came from overseas and began laying claim to the continent. They seized control of the ruined Mountain Fortress and found the recipe for the serum used to enhance Te'i Sai's operatives. Now distributing it among their own ranks they seek to destroy both Te'i Sai and the Red-Eyed Demon and take control of the continent.

And thus we have our story...


Characters



With the Red-Eyed Demon being the sole exception as the focus of the RP's plot and story, all Player-Controlled Characters in this RP must obey these simple rules:

1) They may not be from Te'i Sai or Roda Ah K'mht, nor may they have ever had family or other relations with either organization.

2) They may not have acquired the serum which enhances their abilities.

3) They may not have any "superpower"-like traits or abilities. They're normal people.

And that's it! Keeping these three simple rules in mind you can make whatever kind of character you want from any kind of background including members of one of the five nation's ruling families.

For those wondering why I made the three above rules, it's because the point of the RP is to put everyone's characters into what feels at first like a helpless situation. The fact that Te'i Sai, Roda Ah K'mht, and the Red-Eyed Demon are all basically super human Assassins who can kill them at any moment of their choosing is what will drive the RP forward. The Red-Eyed Demon is going to meet and join forces with all Player-Controlled Characters who will find a reason to want both Te'i Sai and Roda Ah K'mht to disappear.

And about the serum... There's a reason you don't get to start with it. Spoiler alert, you get the serum later from the Red-Eyed Demon himself so you'll get to take on Te'i Sai and Roda Ah K'mht on even ground after the RP gets underway.

That's about all for now! If you have any questions feel free to send me a private message or ask away in the "General Discussion" thread!

See you soon!

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[b]Name:[/b]
[b]Picture:[/b] (anime preferred)

[b]Description:[/b] (Please describe your character in one paragraph)

[b]Age:[/b] (21 is the youngest allowed)
[b]Sex:[/b] (obvious)
[b]Height:[/b]
[b]Weight:[/b]
[b]Voice Type:[/b] (If you're confused, ask)
[b]Body Type:[/b] (Endomorph, Ectomorph, Mesomorph)

[b]Theme:[/b] (If they have a music theme, put it here ;D )

[b]Personality:[/b] (Write their personality in one paragraph with seven sentences)

[b]Biography:[/b] (Write their bio in three paragraphs, each with seven sentences)

Rules

1) No God-Modding, Metagaming, or Power Playing.

Even with the Red-Eyed Demon's enhanced abilities, he is still human and will have limits. Your characters as well will all still have limits even after the Red-Eyed Demon gives them the serum.

I will be very strict about this. It's one strike and you're out for any of them.

2) Be realistic.

This RP is medieval-fantasy, but it's still bound by the laws of nature and the laws of physics. There are no superpowers like flight, nor is there any magic. So please be as realistic as you can.

3) Respect your fellow role-players.

We are all here to enjoy an experience, so please do not insult or make trouble for each other in the threads. If you start to have a problem with someone, bring it to my attention and I will sort it out.

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Character Portrait: Red-Eyed Demon "..."
Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna "I wish for this world to suffer no longer."
Character Portrait: Regene "Jeanne" Rhamnus "A little excitement never hurts anyone! Their pockets, on the other hand..."
Character Portrait: Marcel Starr "Sometimes I wonder whether trouble finds me, or it's a disease I'm spreading."
Character Portrait: Quinn Xe' Duzelle "We are made who we are by the history of our blood."
Character Portrait: Marcus Keller "Of course I've done good deeds. I volunteered to help carry a nobleman's heavy wallet for him."
Character Portrait: Miriam Gale "Are you not entertained?!"
Character Portrait: Era
Era played by KumoriRyuu
"I am the TRUE Red-Eyed Demon!"

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Events

Soon™.

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Regene "Jeanne" Rhamnus Character Portrait: Marcel Starr Character Portrait: Quinn Xe' Duzelle Character Portrait: Marcus Keller Character Portrait: Miriam Gale
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Marcel and Miriam faced off the two warriors staring each other down "Well you going to just stare all day or are you going to come get me?" Miriam teased.

Marcel answered with his smirk and lunged towards Miriam. She easily defected his blade and the two began their dance. Miriam held herself back but she still came hard at Marcel slashing towards his middle. Marcel was quick and skilled blocking Miriam's move.

"You're good." Miriam stated

Marcel just shrugged. "I try.' He said before thrusting his dagger towards Miriam's chest.

Miriam jumped back but Marcel pressed on putting Miriam on the defence. the two locked blades and Miriam let him push her back until she felt the cold of a blade on her breast. That is when she gave a wicked smirk and whispered "Mmm right where I want you..."

Miriam hooked Marcel's legs tripping him and sending him to the dirt. Marcel was quick to his feet and Miriam grinned. If she wasn't in Love before she was now. Marcel was Impressive in every way. Marcel was at Miriam again but this time Miriam flicked her wrist just right and demon flew from Marcel's hand. Miriam smirked and placed the blade of Angel against his chest.


"Sorry!" Marcel shouted over as Demon embedded itself in the sand near Quinn's feet. He turned back to Miriam with that disarming smile. "Well," he began, putting a finger on the flat of Angel to tip it away from his chest, "Against a serum enhanced gladiator taking it easy, I held out alright. But if you were a serum enhanced assassin taking it easy, I would be dead, so...." He trailed off and scratched the back of his head before shooting the others a smile, "So the angel bests the demon! His attention turned to Miriam, "This round. I'm willing for another, if you've got the stamina"

"For you I'll always have the Stamina." Miriam winked and walked off.

Miriam went to give Linde the Dagger Angel. She looked back at Marcel and sighed "Go easy on him Linde..." she whispered softly to Linde. "i don't want him hurt..."

Miriam left it at that and went to get back dressed.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Regene "Jeanne" Rhamnus Character Portrait: Marcel Starr Character Portrait: Quinn Xe' Duzelle Character Portrait: Marcus Keller Character Portrait: Miriam Gale
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Marcel practically bounded over when Linde called for them to gather, grinning like a happy puppy. He came to lean over Quinn's shoulder, smirking at her wet clothes.

"So you won't get your dress wet when I'm drowning, but... What was so important that you jumped in?"

"Don't," Quinn warned, ears going red. Marcel sniggered.

"I think she likes me," he whispered into her ear, prodding her back and nodding in Miriam's direction. Quinn bristled at the poke then flicked her gaze over to her changing back into her armor. Honestly, Quinn thought she was beyond Marcel's league; but if the woman did, it wouldn't be a surprise. Just another to add to the list, along with Jeanne and Linde, she assumed.

Everyone liked Marcel. That was his superpower. Even people he started fights with would invite him out for drinks after having their faces rearranged. He couldn't turn a corner without women fawning over his superficial qualities. Perhaps she envied that about him, how effortless being liked came to him. It was easier to live life with such charm, and he certainly reaped the rewards.

She remembered, years ago, waiting impatiently for Marcel outside the door of a bathing room, listening to some concerning sloshing and splashing. Oh, the confusion she felt when a woman opened the door instead of Marcel. She had crept into the flooded bathing room to see him unabashedly stand up from the basin and ask her to pass a towel. The poor girl screamed. Being a sheltered noble, it took some time adjusting to his ... lifestyle.

"Mm, that will change," Quinn replied matter-of-factly. Marcel gave her back a few more jabs which Quinn attempted to defend herself from when Linde called Marcel over to help her. He left Quinn with a flick on the forehead and moved to Linde's side.

"This means I don't have to be your training dummy later, right?" He inquired lightly as he approached, then followed her instructions with a slightly more serious air. Whenever he caught accidentally locked eyes with a member of the audience, he'd either offer a smile or a wink (winks reserved for the ladies). Now, Marcel was no stranger to flaunting it, but having everyone looking at him so intently during the demonstration did make him wish at least his pants were dry.

He took his mind off that by focusing on Linde. So, these assassins with such confidence in their abilities that they took a magical serum that made them supernaturally stronger than those who worked for their strength thought his sword was cowardly, huh? 'The only weapons they carry with projectile capabilities are throwing knives or small darts tipped with various kinds of poisons and paralytics.' Poisons. How honorable, he thought, holding himself back from outright scoffing. He glanced over to Quinn, who was completely focused on Linde's lesson with a hardened expression. Not even a flinch.

Soon, Linde had tasked Marcel with something that would be more difficult to follow.

"Sense," he repeated. He smirked as he thought back to being blindfolded by Krylar and having to use his other senses to deflect all the rocks his fellow trainees pelted at him. He wasn't entirely unused to this exercise. "Alright," he breathed. He stopped himself from instinctively adjusting the strange stance he'd adopted and focused on Linde's eyes. They remained completely silent and unmoving like so for a tense moment, when Marcel felt it - a shift in the air, a twitch noticed by the very corner of his eye. Marcel's arm shot out towards her, hand flat and palm towards he ground. Linde had moved an inch before she froze, the moment Marcel's hand scraped against her skin - poised at the base of her neck.

"... Too slow?" He asked with a smile and a wince.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Regene "Jeanne" Rhamnus Character Portrait: Marcel Starr Character Portrait: Quinn Xe' Duzelle Character Portrait: Marcus Keller Character Portrait: Miriam Gale
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Linde watched Marcel brace himself for the maneuver. She smiled softly, but the smile slowly vanished as she took a breath in and out through her nose as quietly as if it was just a shrug. She set her feet, tensed her body, and took off. And sure enough, Marcel managed to get the maneuver on the first try, as expected.

When she paused at his hand, she smiled.

"Good, Marcel. Very good." She said, putting a hand on his wrist.

"Now imagine your arm is Shiver, newly remade with Orichalcum. Even Te'i Sai assassins will lose their head if they cross paths with this blade. And the best part is that because they run this drill over and over, they don't train themselves to react to changes because they don't believe there is anyone could react to them in time to stop them. When Shiver returns to you, this one maneuver may save not only your life, but everyone else's as well." She released his wrist and stood up straight, the demo of that maneuver now over.

She reset herself across from Marcel, facing him once again as she looked over at Quinn.

"Quinn, this one is for you." She said seriously.

"Marcel, if you please. The same stance." She asked.

When he had taken the stance, she set herself the same way.

"As much as I enjoy empowering women, lady Quinn, you're not as strong as Marcel and your umbrella blade isn't as strong as Shiver will be. That maneuver will break your arm, so for you an adjustment must be made to cope with the speed at which Te'i Sai moves."

She darted forward the same way, and Marcel repeated the motion with Linde pausing on contact once again. She grabbed Marcel gently and slowly shifted their position so they were a bit more perpendicular to the others so everyone, Quinn especially, could see, before she looked at Quinn once again.

"Your umbrella blade is your best bet here. However, if it comes into contact with their spine then you can kiss it goodbye. Their momentum alone will snap the blade like Master Vet crushed Shiver in his hand. So what you need to do Quinn is the following."

She looked at Marcel.

"Clench your fist like you're holding a sword, please... Good... Now... Switch hands."

She glanced at Quinn.

"Keep the blade in your rear hand and cross your body with it. Extend just far enough that your hand is at your forward shoulder. This way, the momentum will carry the blade harmlessly past your body and not risk injuring yourself more than necessary."

She looked back to Marcel.

"Now, the next part. To protect your wrist and shoulder from their momentum, brace your wrist with your forward hand, like so."

She adjusted Marcel's hand so that his left leg was forward, his right hand holding an imaginary blade just outside his left shoulder, and his left hand bracing and supporting his right wrist.

"Keep your left elbow tight to your side, but make sure it's not in a position to be pushed back and snap a rib. Let it sit in a position to slide back easily so your body has time to absorb the blow." She said.

She relaxed and looked at Quinn.

"This will, at the very least, open the side of their neck and spill their carotid artery and jugular both at once, and perhaps sever their wind pipe. Even with the serum, they're not coming back from that. But the moment this happens you need to distance yourself from them. Even severely damaged they will be able to attempt at least one last attack if they're close enough, as they train themselves not to panic in such situations. You'll need to distance yourself as quickly as possible.

She looked at Marcel and smiled.

"Thanks, Marcel. That concludes your and Quinn's lesson. And now for Marcus and Jeanne..." She said, glancing towards them with a smile.

"You two have a fun one, so watch closely." She said.

"Given that you lack the kind of combat prowess that these two have, you'll need to rely on a different strategy altogether." She said.

"Te'i Sai's fondness for this maneuver to gain your back is a strength and a weakness all wrapped up in one. Even without having the same level of body control or relative strength as Quinn and Marcel, the two of you can make use of what I like to call "The Butterfly".

She advanced on Marcel at a walking pace.

"This is the movement pattern Te'i Sai is using when they use that technique I just taught Marcel and Quinn."

"They are the most vulnerable... Here." She said, stopping the moment she was outside of Marcel's peripheral vision.

"Instead of going for a direct bladed assault as Quinn and Marcel do, what the two of you will do is turn as fast as you can to your right and extend your right fist in a wide swinging hammer fist strike to what you judge is your opponent's head level. It won't kill them, but it will make contact in at least one major zone of importance: either the jaw or temple. In either case, you will daze them just long enough to follow up with another strike to a more vulnerable area like the throat, here. She said, putting a fist at Marcel's jugular.

"Follow that with another strike to a nerve cluster like the philtrum, here, she said, putting her fist at the groove of Marcel's upper lip.

"... And you have a guaranteed knock out."

With that she stepped away from Marcel to look at Jeanne and Marcus.

"The serum makes them strong, but it doesn't protect them from natural human bodily weaknesses and functions. If you strike them in any vital point, it will have the same effect as it would on any other human. The trick is catching them before they can land their own attack. In the same way that I told Marcel to sense my movements rather than relying on his eyes, you must do the same. If you relax and let your instincts take control, your body will react when it knows something is about to happen."

She turned to Marcel and smiled.

"Thank you for demonstrating that with me Marcel." She said, giving him a hard clap on the back.

"Now, for the fun part... Miriam!" She called, looking towards her serum enhanced comrade.

"Now comes your training. I have told you once or twice what Te'i Sai does in combat, but now it's time to show you a bit more. Marcel..." She said, looking at him with a calm yet somehow terrifying smile.

"It's time to fulfill your duties as a training dummy, dear." She said happily, again with an almost terrifying undertone.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Regene "Jeanne" Rhamnus Character Portrait: Marcel Starr Character Portrait: Quinn Xe' Duzelle Character Portrait: Marcus Keller Character Portrait: Miriam Gale
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"W-W-Wait," Marcel stammered, his hands held out in front of him in defence, "But I - the daggers, I didn't -" His face settled with determination and he took in a deep breath. "Right. I see how it is," he said mockingly, then gave a confident smile (the knowledge that his confidence was about to be crushed pushed to the very back of his mind). "Bring it on."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Regene "Jeanne" Rhamnus Character Portrait: Marcel Starr Character Portrait: Quinn Xe' Duzelle Character Portrait: Marcus Keller Character Portrait: Miriam Gale
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Linde smiled at Marcel, the terrifying nature of the smile dissipating as she walked over and put an arm around his shoulder.

"A good attitude, Marcel." She said, giving him a clap on the back to send him forward towards Miriam (a clap which would give him a rather sizable red mark on his back within an hour or so).

"Now then, let's get started." She said excitedly.

"So, Miriam. We've gone over Te'i Sai's basic attack patterns already, so I don't need to repeat them. Instead, what would be good for you to know now is the intricacies of their stances and preferred attack angles so that not so much is left up to chance the next time you fight them."

She walked over to the pair and turned them to face one another.

"Perfect!" She said giddily.

She hopped over behind Marcel and grabbed his hands, pressing her chest against his back as she did so thanks to his being larger than her.

"Try to relax Marcel. I'll be doing the angles for you. Your job is to take the hits as Miriam counters!" She said happily, as if it was something he should be grateful to do.

"So, Miriam. Here we go."

She shifted her weight, kicking Marcel's left foot out so that he was in Te'i Sai's signature stance.

"The Te'i Sai stance, as you've seen it so far." She said, maneuvering his arms into position.

"Now, observe how it changes when they are serious about combat and when they know you are a threat."

She shifted posture, lowering the hand position slightly and shifting Marcel's front foot out to the side a bit farther.

"A wider base and lowered hands gives more central body weight distribution, allowing them to more easily move in any direction with relative ease. Now, for some attacks."

Her grip on Marcel's wrists tightened slightly.

"Attack angle number one."

She raised Marcel's right hand and forced him to step forward, angling the attack down at a near perfect 50 degree angle directly towards Miriam's neck where it met her shoulder.

"Angle one is meant to split the torso from clavicle to hip."

She pulled Marcel's hand all the way to Miriam's opposing hip, and then brought it back up to the first impact point on her neck.

"Given their step and the angle, the safest way for you to counter is to step to the outside, Marcel's right side, so his back is to you, and deliver a blow to the back of the neck to stun and then you'll have all the time in the world to run them through." She said.

"Marcel, dear. Please don't move." She said, slowly letting go of him and stepping away.

"Okay Miriam. Give him a little knock on the neck and then pretend to run him through. Always aim for a vital zone such as a grazing of the spine to sever the nerves and paralyze them from the impact point down, or aim for the heart to open it and force it to hemorrhage and cease proper functionality. With a lack of oxygen flow and a now rapidly failing heart, they have only about ten to fifteen seconds until blackout and ensuing death. So go for it. Pretend to kill Marcel." She said.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Regene "Jeanne" Rhamnus Character Portrait: Marcel Starr Character Portrait: Quinn Xe' Duzelle Character Portrait: Marcus Keller Character Portrait: Miriam Gale
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Jeanne sat cross-legged and proceeded to observe Linde’s tutorial, clapping once in a while at points she deemed appropriate. Most of the information were focused on the group's closed-ranged fighters, so the thief girl converted the basic necessities into her marksman mindset. "So basically, a bolt through the neck kills them just fine. Got it," she whispered under her breath, glad that the Red-Eyed Demon's nigh-invincibility seemed to be a trait exclusive to himself.

Jeanne furrowed her brows when the brunette gave advice specific to herself and Marcel, and gulped. The thought of throwing down face to face with one of those fiendish assassins did not appeal to her at all, yet she recognized its necessity if she was ever cornered. The jester turned to her partner. "Maybe I should work on that arm-mounted, pressure-triggered crossbow design I had lying around..." She shrugged with a smirk, "Give our feeble, plebeian punches the extra 'oomph' they need..."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Regene "Jeanne" Rhamnus Character Portrait: Marcel Starr Character Portrait: Quinn Xe' Duzelle Character Portrait: Marcus Keller Character Portrait: Miriam Gale
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While there was some comfort to be had in knowing that Linde would easily be able to hear any Te’i Sai agents approaching, but as soon as she did, they would barely have enough time to prepare for a fight. They would not get far if they decided to run. As much as Marcus realised the importance of relaxing every once in a while, this was hardly the time.

The sparring bout from earlier had run its course, with Miriam as the victor. Probably not surprising given that she had taken the serum that had given her such unnatural strength. Jeanne’s questions about said serum yielded very little information other than the fact that whatever ingredients or reagents that were used in the concoction were kept secret. Just like damn near everything else about Te’i Sai, Marcus thought to himself.

Like the others, he observed the practical demonstration provided by Linde on how to counter Te’i Sai’s usual tactics. The thief couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow at their combat doctrine, avoiding “cowardly” weapons while at the same time striking from the shadows with poisoned blades. Nevertheless, it was good to know that there was some way to kill these assassins, at least until they changed their approach. Linde even gave Marcus and Jeanne some advice on how they too could strike back at an incoming agent, leaving them open to a counterattack. A move that the jester suggested an improvement for to her partner in crime.

“We’ll need every advantage we can get,” he replied with a smirk of his own. “At least us thieves have no illusion of honour.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Regene "Jeanne" Rhamnus Character Portrait: Marcel Starr Character Portrait: Quinn Xe' Duzelle Character Portrait: Marcus Keller Character Portrait: Miriam Gale
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Miriam watched Linde training the others. Then she was called for her training...

Miriam watched and studied the moves as Linde guided Marcel. She felt her heart flutter when Marcel's hand was placed near her hip. She even gave Marcel a sly little smirk.

Marcel was pulled away and Miriam gave an inward sigh She listened to Linde mentally getting an image in her min of the moves she would use... But then Linde uttered the words.... "Pretend to kill Marcel."

Miriam felt as if she had just been gutted and all the air left her lungs. Even if it was pretend the thought of killing Marcel left her sickly...

"I.....I.. can't.." Miriam stuttered before running off and falling to her knees by the lake the wet of tears darkening her face.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Regene "Jeanne" Rhamnus Character Portrait: Marcel Starr Character Portrait: Quinn Xe' Duzelle Character Portrait: Marcus Keller Character Portrait: Miriam Gale
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Jeanne stared, eyes wide with surprise, having not expected to see someone like Miriam cry with such... relative ease. She leaned towards Marcel's general direction, gave a wry smile, and gestured one hand besides her face like a mischievous little jester as she whispered, half-jokingly, "Hey, Marcel! She's a keeper~"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Regene "Jeanne" Rhamnus Character Portrait: Marcel Starr Character Portrait: Quinn Xe' Duzelle Character Portrait: Marcus Keller Character Portrait: Miriam Gale
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Linde observed Miriam's reaction all the way until the order to "pretend" to kill Marcel was given. And then... Miriam ran off towards the water and began to cry while on her knees.

This, Linde did not expect.

For a moment, she let Miriam weep. But with each passing second Linde's eyes slowly began to narrow and her expression hardened to one of deadly seriousness.

She then glanced to Marcel and gave him a stern look.

"Marcel, you stay right where you are." She said in a low, calm, but dangerous tone.

She then walked over towards Jeanne, Marcus, and Quinn, and told them the same thing in the same tone of voice before walking over towards Miriam.

She stopped right behind her, watching her like a disappointed parent before stepping in front of her and kneeling down to meet her eye level. And the instant Miriam pulled her hands free from her face and looked at her, Linde lashed out and punched Miriam square in the face sending her flying back over forty feet and skidding to the ground in a heap as she came to a stop.

Linde then stood up and marched over to Miriam, standing over her like a warrior stands over a defeated adversary.

"You're a warrior, Miriam. Or at least you claim to be." She said, her voice growing harsher with each word.

"Your feelings of not wanting to even think of bringing harm to a friend is admirable, but right now is not the time for sentiment!" She barked, stamping the ground with one foot causing a rather sizable crack to appear in the dirt beneath her feet.

"I am teaching you how to fight Te'i Sai. How to take advantages in their fighting style. How to kill them." She hissed, kneeling down to get closer to her.

"If you haven't the stomach to even pretend to go for a killing strike just because the body you're aiming at has the face of a friend, then you're not ready to fight Te'i Sai again." She hissed.

"Your victory over the pair in the Cre' Est marketplace was a fluke. Nothing more. They were unprepared and didn't think you a threat, so they held back and decided not to take you seriously until it was too late. But the next time you meet an operative of Te'i Sai, they will not hold back. They will fight you full force from the start, and you are not going to be ready unless you shape up and take this training seriously!" She yelled.

She leaned down even closer, her face mere inches from Miriam's.

"Te'i Sai now knows that "the Shark" is in league with the Red-Eyed Demon. Do you think they'll bother asking your permission to put Marcel in a good position so that he's away from danger? Or do you think they'll use him against you the instant they see you have any level of affinity for him?" She asked.

She leaned back again, giving Miriam some distance. But she kept her edge and her harsh tone.

"Right now we are training. Merely pretending to aim for vital points so that when the time comes for you to truly deliver the blow, you'll be ready. But if you can't do that, we're wasting our time. No matter the body I put in front of you here, your dedication to defeating your opponent should take precedence over all else. Marcel's life is no more important than Quinn's, Marcus', Jeanne's, yours, or mine. If you prioritize him, even in a simple training exercise, you're not ready for Te'i Sai."

Linde stood up and glared down at Miriam.

"If you train softly and walk through the motions, what do you think will happen to you in the true heat of the moment? You will falter. You will fail to land the critical strike because you aim off to the side. You practice while holding back. Or you practice on air with no real body to give your eyes and your mind a linked subject to hone in on. And when the critical moment arrives, you will falter and you will fail. And if you fail, then lives will be lost... Including Marcel's."

She stepped away from Miriam, but her glare remained.

"Now get up, Miriam. Get up and prove to me that you, if you are the warrior you claim to be, have the stomach to go through a mere training exercise while pretending to kill your target. Whether that target has Marcel's face, or the face of the Red-Eyed Demon himself is irrelevant. A training body is a training body, and your strike needs to aim true in order to be of any use to you. Otherwise you are wasting not only my time, but all of theirs as well."

She walked over to Marcel, leaving Miriam in the dirt to figure things out. And as soon as she reached Marcel, she turned towards Miriam while standing at his side.

Linde then shot towards Marcel and grabbed his neck with her left hand, pointing the fingertips of her right hand at his jugular.

"A killing blow. My target is dead, or will soon be, yet Marcel is unharmed and ready to continue." She said, her tone growing softer and more empathetic as it usually was.

She let go of him, and walked back to Miriam. As she did so her expression softened. Her eyebrows became more oblique, betraying sadness and empathy. And her voice shifted to match.

"I care about Marcel. I care about Quinn. I care about Marcus and Jeanne. And I care about you, Miriam. But as much as I care for all of you, I know that if I hold back, even during training, I put you all at risk. As much as the idea of bringing true harm to any of you brings pain to my heart, I will give any and all of you 100% of my effort during training to ensure I keep my mind and body sharp and in sync. When you let one overrule the other, your efficiency falters and you put everyone's lives in danger."

She reached out a hand to Miriam, offering to help her up.

"You cannot afford to let emotions get the better of you, Miriam. Marcel will be fine, doubly so if you care about him as much as I think you do after that display. So for his sake, as well as all of ours, give this training your all. If Marcel comes at you, give the counter 100% of your energy while stopping short as I did so as not to bring him any harm. Anything less than your best effort is disrespectful to him as your training partner." She said softly.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Regene "Jeanne" Rhamnus Character Portrait: Marcel Starr Character Portrait: Quinn Xe' Duzelle Character Portrait: Marcus Keller Character Portrait: Miriam Gale
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Miriam looked up at Linde though tearful eyes. And then she felt Linde's punch hitting her like a brick.

Miriam was dazed as she looked up at Linde. She awaited another punch surprised that the first hadn't broken anything but her pride. She knew she would feel it for a while though. But the second punch never came only a lecture.

As Miriam listened and watched Linde she felt her blood boil. She wanted to return the punch... but what good would that do? It would only start a fight she couldn't win. Plus as much as she hated to admit it Linde had a point... And though the soft words at the end cooled Miriam's rage there was one thing she had to say.....

"I joined you to defend the ones I care about. To defend the helpless...I didn't join you to become an assassin... If we stoop to their levels... How are we any better than the Te'i Sai?"

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Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Regene "Jeanne" Rhamnus Character Portrait: Marcel Starr Character Portrait: Quinn Xe' Duzelle Character Portrait: Marcus Keller Character Portrait: Miriam Gale
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Linde was mildly taken aback by Miriam's retort, but nevertheless she smiled.

"What do you think I am doing with you here, Miriam?" She asked softly.

She pulled Miriam to her feet and brushed her off.

"Killing in defense of your life, and in the defense of the lives of those you care about is not the same as becoming an assassin. Not even close." She said, putting her hands on Miriam's shoulders.

"You and I are, currently, the best hope of survival for everyone you see standing behind me. One demonstration of how Te'i Sai likes to move is not going to be the end all that protects them. They will have to practice what I showed them for weeks before it becomes a viable tool for their defense. And even then, it's just the beginning of what they must learn. They will still be relying on us for a long time yet to come."

She brushed a bit more dirt off of Miriam's left shoulder.

"Your blade is righteous, Miriam, and your heart is strong. No matter how many of Te'i Sai you kill in yours and our defense, you will never become an assassin."

She gently pulled Miriam into a hug.

"We are not stooping to their level, Miriam. Te'i Sai believes, unquestioningly, that their course is just and righteous. They believe that they are fighting to protect the peace and the balance of the five nations. But the Red-Eyed Demon learned long ago that this is not the case. Despite killing the Grandmaster who was pulling the strings, he has failed to prove to them the error of their ways. Te'i Sai's assassins are now fighting for a cause they don't even understand, following the orders of those who have lost sight of the organization's original purpose. And they have been brainwashed into believing a lie with all of their hearts."

She slowly backed out of the hug, but kept her hands on Miriam's shoulders.

"There is no honor in what they do, Miriam. They seek to kill because they believe it to be part of a grander scheme of balance and peace. But nothing could be further from the truth. There is no honor in killing those who have no defense. No honor in taking a life for a cause you don't even understand. And no honor in willfully following the lies of those who would kill you the moment you have outlived your usefulness... We are nothing like them, and we never will be."

Linde backed away, gesturing to everyone standing behind her with an outstretched arm.

"These people behind me are mismatched, uncoordinated, and have such varied personalities it is hard for us to find common ground outside of being thrown into this chaos together by pure chance. But to me, that is enough. I will fight for you and all of these people until my dying breath because I believe in what we are doing. Even if we don't agree on the same things for the same reasons, we don't have to. We just have to trust one another enough to help keep each other alive. And there is honor in that."

She removed one of her orichalcum daggers and held it up.

"The Red-Eyed Demon made this dagger for me on one condition: that I only use it to end the lives of Te'i Sai operatives who first sought to end my life. And that is exactly what I have done with them for the last three years."

She looked down at the blade with fondness.

"This blade, and its sister, have protected me through numerous battles with Te'i Sai. Their operatives are strong. Many of them physically stronger and more skilled than me. When I fight, and when I am forced to kill using these blades, I do so against people with equal power and potential to take my life in return. But Te'i Sai... They take the lives of normal people who have no defense against them. Where is the honor in that?" She asked.

She sheathed the blade, and once again smiled at Miriam.

"Like I said, Miriam. We are nothing like Te'i Sai, and we never will be. Though we are preparing to take lives, we do so only in defense of the lives of ourselves and those we care about. There is honor in what we do, as well as honor in why we are doing it. And that's why I want you to be more invested and serious about this training. Though Marcel is someone you care about, you should not be afraid to practice what would be a killing blow against him. But if it makes you more comfortable, I will take his place as your training partner until you are ready to face him again" She said soothingly.

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Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Regene "Jeanne" Rhamnus Character Portrait: Marcel Starr Character Portrait: Quinn Xe' Duzelle Character Portrait: Marcus Keller Character Portrait: Miriam Gale
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Marcel was left with his jaw slack and his mind blank when Miriam ran from him to sob at the water's edge. The way her confident composure dropped the moment 'kill Marcel' left Linde's lips was a shock to watch. Though he hadn't said or done anything other than what Linde directed, the feeling that he had indirectly caused this outburst was there. Or maybe this wasn't his fault at all? Maybe she was having a terrible day, or... There really wasn't much space to misinterpret what had just happened. He was contemplating going after her and started to walk over, practicing what he could say in his head when Linde stopped him, something he felt relieved by.

When Jeanne leaned over to remark that Miriam was a keeper, Marcel gave a distracted, "Uh, yeah, sure," not really picking up on what she said before shooting Quinn an expression that screamed, HELP.

Quinn returned the look with a glance saying, How?

Marcel waved his hands around frantically in the universal symbol for, I DON'T KNOW.

Then suffer.

Before Marcel could reply to Quinn with another silent gesture, Miriam was launched across the shore. He nearly ran over, but held himself back when he saw who had landed the blow. For the next few tense minutes, he just stood there watching the two women, not really paying attention to what was being said. Occasionally he looked around hoping to share a glance with someone who could sense just how awkward he felt about this.

Quinn was unavailable to give him that small sense of comfort. She watched Linde tear into Miriam, mind ticking and eyes hardening on Linde's back. Her chin lifted, so slightly it wasn't noticed, but as her posture adjusted something else shifted within her mind.

Quinn was picky with her alliances, but power was a great influencer. The serum takers, like her other companions, had their shortcomings. Their bodies were weapons but they were still human, she understood that. Under usual circumstances, their behaviour would have deterred her from making any sort of deal. The Red-Eyed Demon was unpredictable but a most powerful alliance on reputation alone, with the physical power to match. Linde touched her too much but seemed to be one of the only people with their heads on, given this display she was watching. But Miriam...

... Quinn could not justify Miriam. She hadn't truly known Miriam until now. The way Quinn looked at the gladiator now made it perfectly clear to anyone watching - she was looking at a liability. Miriam had the strength that was a danger for someone so unpredictable to possess, without the emotional stability to control it... Not to mention she was only a recent serum taker. She didn't know how to use it. And she never would if she couldn't train without letting her imagination take her so easily!

Gladiators. They fought for a spectacle. They didn't know the consequences of a real fight. The mere thought of death...

What did the Demon see in her?

Quinn remained put after Linde demonstrated the kill-move on Marcel, but as she began to comfort Miriam the jeweller had enough. She turned from the scene and walked away without a word to practise the sword technique Linde had imparted on her. She was going to need it.

The wall between her and Te'i Sai was weaker than she had anticipated.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Regene "Jeanne" Rhamnus Character Portrait: Marcel Starr Character Portrait: Quinn Xe' Duzelle Character Portrait: Marcus Keller Character Portrait: Miriam Gale
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Jeanne watched the confrontation between Miriam and Linde unfold with arms around her knees. She kept a smile on her face while her ears, well trained to eavesdrop, overheard their arguments without the need to move closer. Her smile gradually turned bitter as Linde attempted to reason with Miriam. Her reasons were valid and her words were true, of course. To kill in self-defense was not murder. It was just the rules of nature, the very basic tenet of survival. Even so, the jester's stomach couldn't help but churn. Her eyes quivered and she gulped. To take a life, to see the light fade from someone's eyes by your hand... it was an experience Jeanne had hoped she would never have to go through again.

...At least, before tagging along with this band...

The jester shook her head, brushing away such dark thoughts. Instead, she raised both hands... and gave three sincere claps as Linde concluded her speech. "Well said, Miss Linde! Spoken like a true poet!" she shouted. She clasped her hands together, and rested her cheek against them as her lips curled into a kitten-like smile and she sang the brunette more praises. "I never expected her to be this cool! We are definitely in good hands...." At the very least, Linde knew what she was talking about. It was obvious before, of course, but for Jeanne, this cemented it. And if nothing else, she would not choke them to death like the Red-Eyed Demon would...

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Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Regene "Jeanne" Rhamnus Character Portrait: Marcel Starr Character Portrait: Quinn Xe' Duzelle Character Portrait: Marcus Keller Character Portrait: Miriam Gale
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Miriam sighed "As much as I'd like to get you back for that punch... You where right... Marcel needs to learn how to defend himself..and if my punch saves him from a blade..."


Miriam looked at Linde and said "Just one favor... Never use the words Kill and Marcel together again..."


Miriam walked over to Marcel and sighed "Well I hope you like it rough..." she said with a half smile.

Miriam took her stance and took in a deep breath. In her mind she repeated to herself better my fist then my enemies' blade as she moved to strike. With her left hand she blocked as she would with Thresher. With her right she sent her fist in and upward arc towards Marcel's chest a move that if Mako was in her hand would send it's blade under his ribs from below to stab his lung or heart. And unlike with the dagger spar..she didn't hold back. As she went to strike she said a silent prayer to the gods that she wouldn't hurt Marcel too bad...

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Character Portrait: Red-Eyed Demon Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Regene "Jeanne" Rhamnus Character Portrait: Marcel Starr Character Portrait: Quinn Xe' Duzelle Character Portrait: Marcus Keller Character Portrait: Miriam Gale
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With Miriam's issue sorted out, Linde allowed her and Marcel to continue their training together. She then went back over to Jeanne and Marcus and helped them set up to practice what she'd showed them before glancing at Quinn and already seeing her practicing without any needed push. Still, she did check on Quinn's form and made a few corrections before going off towards the sandier part of the beach to practice herself.

Meanwhile, a pair of prying eyes continued to watch and study from afar.

Laster that evening...


The sun had since set beyond the horizon bathing the skies in darkness. The light of the moon was their only source, as it was oddly starless this evening with very few clouds anywhere to be seen.

Linde was currently fast asleep, as she'd been pushing herself to keep awake for longer and longer hours to make sure everyone was safe on previous nights. But tonight she passed the job of night watch on to Quinn who seemed to want to remain awake to practice what Linde had showed her until she mastered it. Linde said it wouldn't happen in a day, but Quinn didn't seem to care. Or if she did, she didn't let Linde see it.

But Linde welcomed the rest.

Meanwhile, as Quinn continued to practice her new technique, a pair of eyes observed nearby. The glowing red eyes would be unmistakable, but Quinn was too absorbed in her practicing to notice their presence. He turned his attention towards the camp to see everyone sleeping and/or relaxing as Quinn kept "vigil".

And as Quinn began to practice another round, the Red-Eyed Demon stepped out from the shadows and into her peripheral view.

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Character Portrait: Red-Eyed Demon Character Portrait: Quinn Xe' Duzelle
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While Marcel treated himself to a peaceful night's sleep, dreaming of the fight that stole his heart, Quinn was not giving herself the luxury and would not for another three hours at the least.

She moved as methodically as a machine. Strike. Reposition. Wait. Listen. Strike.

The moment she caught movement and a glimpse of a red glow, her position instinctively snapped back into her usual stance and she directed her weapon towards the intruder. She seized up when she saw him, then lowered her sword to her side reluctantly. Though her posture was forcibly more relaxed, her eyes remained guarded.

"What are you doing here?" she demanded to know in a low, wary voice, attempting to be kind to her sleeping company. They probably didn't want to wake up to this. She certainly would rather have been asleep. She scanned the demon for Shiver and came up blank before uttering, "Did something go wrong?"

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Character Portrait: Red-Eyed Demon Character Portrait: Quinn Xe' Duzelle
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The Red-Eyed Demon acknowledged Quinn with a nod of his head before approaching slowly.

"I came here to see how the group has been faring. Thus far, you haven't killed each other. So that's progress." He said calmly.

He glanced over towards where the others were sleeping.

"Tell me. Has Linde told you of anything... strange, happening lately?" He asked.

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Character Portrait: Red-Eyed Demon Character Portrait: Quinn Xe' Duzelle
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Quinn opened her mouth to answer the demon, then sealed it shut and tilted her head as she thought her answer through. Eventually she gave a slow shake of her head.

"I do not believe so," she murmured. Quinn frowned slightly, more concerned than agitated, "What has she not told us?"

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Character Portrait: Red-Eyed Demon Character Portrait: Quinn Xe' Duzelle
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The Demon returned his gaze to the group, specifically, Linde, before looking back at Quinn.

"... Nothing." He said flatly.

He looked back at her as if he wanted to say something more, but refrained from doing so. Instead he looked back to Quinn.

"She taught you and the others that motion, I take it." He said.

"It's good to know at least one of you is intent on making it second nature." He said, this time with a bit more obvious disdain for those not following Quinn's example.

He heard the shriek of a raptor above and looked up through the trees at the moon, trying to find the silhouette of the creature responsible. But he saw none.

"In the meantime, Marcel's blade is complete. I will return it to him soon once I have tended to some other business. You may tell him of this come the morning." He said.

He started turning to leave, but something caught his eye. And... just like that, his entire countenance shifted.

The once permanent smolder in his gaze faded and gave way to an almost innocent curiosity, and he crouched down to look at something almost perfectly camouflaged in the leaves at the base of a nearby tree.

The demon hopped forward a bit, using one fist planted on the ground as a support, and leaned down closer to inspect the curious little creature hidden within.

It was a leaf-mantis. Very well camouflaged against the fallen leaves at the tree base, it was swaying gently with the breeze waiting for an unsuspecting insect to pass its grip. And it just so happened that such a feat would soon take place, as a beetle began walking directly towards it.

The Demon's gaze shifted to the beetle, then to the mantis. Back to the beetle. Back to the mantis. Back and forth, back and forth. Like a child watching in awe a game of tug a war between two perfectly matched combatants. But as the beetle drew too close, the mantis snatched it up in the blink of an eye and began munching on its soft underbelly.

In the moment the mantis snatched its victim, the Demon flinched back ever so slightly... clearly not expecting the attack to come to rapidly and violently for an insect.

He leaned down even closer to examine the spectacle, his mouth ever so slightly agape and making a soft, elongated, and breathy "huh" sound in questioning of the event taking place before him.

"That was interesting." He muttered softly.

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Character Portrait: Red-Eyed Demon Character Portrait: Quinn Xe' Duzelle
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Quinn couldn't help but feel that the demon wasn't telling her something, but held her tongue. Her brow raised as he reported that Marcel's sword had been forged. Soon, she would not be surprised by anything the demon could do.

"I suppose I will," she replied under her breath, with the full intent to not tell Marcel that Shiver was repaired... simply so his reaction would be all the more enjoyable when it arrived. She reassumed practising the sword technique as the demon turned, but she soon found herself distracted by his actions - particularly him hopping while in a crouch like a rabbit. She lowered her sword gingerly and tried to peer over at what had suddenly snatched the demon's attention. It had to be important - more specifically, a threat - if the demon was reacting this way, surely. "What's there?" she asked in a hushed voice, her eyes unable to pick up anything in the flicker of the campfire from where she stood. The demon didn't answer, too absorbed in whatever he had found. She crept closer, leaning over with her hands on her knees to try and see it. There was nothing, nothing her eyes could pick up at least - until it moved. She didn't flinch, unlike the demon. That surprised her more than the mantis did. She watched the mantis munching on the beetle with complete apathy, then gave the demon a confused glance.

Interesting.

Interesting when she was six, perhaps. When watching a beetle struggle in a spider's web before being spun into a coffin and drained of fluids was fascinating. When watching that same spider struggle in a life-or-death battle against a hornet took her breath away. When the fight for survival didn't feel so commonplace. No matter how big or small, life was always killing and consuming. For a child, seeing that harsh truth and learning it was... Interesting. Perhaps more interesting than it should have been.

Quinn cautiously crouched down beside the demon, her fingers curling over her knees. She kept a satisfactory distance from him as she watched the mantis eat its meal. As she gave a wary side-glance the demon's way, she caught a glimpse at the... almost innocent look on his face as he observed the carnage.

"Interesting," slipped from her lips. Her eyes immediately darted back to the mantis, "Is it? You have seen this before," her dismissive, skeptical words were barely above a whisper. She regarded the mantis dully, "From the way it moves to the way it hides. It's an assassin."

Assassin's Pledge: Devastation: Out Of Character (OOC)

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