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Linde Xe' Almna

"I wish for this world to suffer no longer."

494 views · last seen in Cre' Est
a character in “Assassin's Pledge: Devastation”, as played by KumoriRyuu

Description



Description: Linde personifies the word "beautiful" both inside and out. Her long dark brown hair flows behind her tied towards the end with a small clip to keep it in place, while towards the sides and the front it is cut shorter to fall gently around her face. Speaking of her face... It is angelic. Gracefully arched eyebrows like a raptor's wings in flight sit above her calm and expressive eyes. Her irises are a deep brown, nearly matching her hair in that they appear almost black save in direct sunlight when the brown shines through. She has a cute nose, clear skin, a semi-pale complexion which is culturally desirable among women in Cre' Est, and beautiful pink lips which aren't too big or too small. They're just right.

Her body proportions would make any woman jealous while at the same time make any heterosexual man gawk and ogle her. She has a slender neck which slopes gently down into her shoulders. Long, softly muscled arms which don't detract from her femininity. A full and perky bust situated above a flat, firm, and softly muscled stomach. She has a trim waist, full hips, a taught round posterior, and a long and tantalizing pair of legs. Her athleticism is on full display at all times due to the fact that she traditionally wears at least semi-revealing clothing which shows her stomach, arms, and a good portion of her legs. It's not that she's vain or trying to show off. She just prefers to wear clothing that doesn't restrict her movements due to the fact that she's a warrior first. Even though she's also a doctor, she will never shy away from fighting to protect herself or others in need.

Age: 24
Sex: Female
Height: 5' 8"
Weight: 135 lbs
Voice Type: Soprano

Body Type: Mesomorph

Theme: Linde's Theme

Personality: Linde embodies the seemingly contradictory terms of "benevolent" and "ruthless".

When it comes to who she is naturally, benevolent is the word people would use to describe her. In fact, those who have never seen her warrior side would even go so far as to call her "delicate" which is not an accurate word for her at all. She has a naturally understanding and gentle spirit and will usually give others the benefit of the doubt unless she can see clearly that they are at fault for something. She never speaks ill of others nor does she allow her emotions to cloud her judgement of a situation. She is calm, collected, highly intelligent, and has an almost unnatural gift for seeing through people even if they're otherwise excellent liars. She is highly maternal and loves children, and is also fond of the elderly and has many friends therein around her district in the Capitol City of Cre' Est. She is respectful, kind hearted, and easily the most gentle person you will ever meet in your life.

On the other hand...

Her warrior side is the one only those who seek to do her harm ever see. Trained by her father who was once a General in the Cre' Itian military, Linde's combat prowess is second to none. In fact it is not inaccurate to say she's the most physically powerful and gifted woman in the entire nation of Cre' Est. She is fast, agile, flexible, precise, and lethal. In combat she aims for vital points and nerve clusters to incapacitate those who are foolish enough to assault her, though she will typically avoid any lethal blows since it's not in her nature to kill another human being. However if weapons have been drawn against her, she will not hesitate to show their lungs how to stop working or their heart how to stop beating. A single well-placed strike to the right nerve center or branch will shut anything of her choosing down. Part of the benefit of being a doctor is that she knows the human body better than almost anyone.

Biography: Linde Xe' Almna was born twenty four summers ago to proud parents Richard and Kahlan Almna. Both met while employed in the Cre' Itian military. Richard was, at the time, a Captain in the military, met combat medic Kahlan during his third patrol out in The Maw, the passageway in the center of the Cre' Itian Mountain Range. There his patrol was ambushed by rogue bandits and thieves and a brutal clash broke out between their forces. Richard was relatively uninjured and attended to his comrades. Kahlan also was attending to his comrades, and when the two attempted to aid the same individual they worked together for the first time to get him to a safe place so Kahlan could examine and treat him. Richard allowed Kahlan to direct him in her efforts and made every effort to ensure his comrade survived his injuries. Sadly, he did not. Richard's comrade died despite Richard and Kahlan's efforts. Reluctantly, they moved on to the next injured soldier.

When they returned from that blood patrol, the two of them both happened to come across one another again at the local pub. The fact that they couldn't save the one soldier weighed heavily on them both so they shared a drink together. That night they stayed awake watching the stars out in Cre' Est's Central Square on a bench where they shared their dreams, what their lives were like before enlisting, and what they hoped to become when their service was over. They discovered they had much in common and thus Kahlan transferred to his unit where she became the designated medic for his squad. From then on the two were always side by side and back to back in combat. They survived many brutal skirmishes with rogues, bandits, thieves, degenerates, and other aggressive military groups from other nations. Through their numerous battles and conversations they continued to realize more and more that they shared something special. When Richard was promoted, he asked Kahlan to marry him to which she happily said "yes". The two were wed later that year and began their family two years after.

Linde Xe' Almna was and remains the only daughter of Richard and Kahlan Almna. During Linde's birth there was a complication which resulted in Kahlan no longer being able to bear children properly. The pair were frightened that Linde would be affected, but thankfully she was not. She was as healthy as could be. Richard and Kahlan, since Linde was their only child, doted upon and shielded her for much of her formative years as best they could. However when Linde was nine she was beaten up by some of the other girls at her local school which upset her father greatly. Now a military General, he taught her how to defend herself and imparted all of the knowledge of combat he had into her. She became fearless in the face of adversity no matter how great or small, and nobody ever picked on her again. But then again... Why would they?

Linde grew into one of the most beautiful women in all of Cre' Est by the time she was only sixteen years old. Already she had a full bust, flat firm stomach, trim waist, and taught round posterior with long supple legs which could grab any man's attention. She had marriage requests from several noble and commoner families alike, all of which she turned down. Her mother taught her the importance of love in a relationship and Linde kept those teachings in mind and close to her heart. If she was going to marry, it would be for love. Not money. Not fame. Not land. Not a name. Love.

Linde grew up training to become a doctor by first becoming a doctor's apprentice when she was seventeen. Through her teachings there she learned of the human body's anatomy including the muscles, organs, and the nervous system. The nervous system became her primary focus and she dedicated most of her adult years up to the present studying how the body reacted to various stimuli and how the nervous system controlled the body. Through her studies she learned which nerves and nerve clusters controlled specific areas of the body such as the limbs or even major organs. With but a strong pinpoint strike with her fingers she can make a limb go numb, shut down the heart, or cause instant brain death. She can also use such pinpoint strikes to temporarily block nerve signals to stop someone from feeling pain which helps with her to do her doctorly duties. The same techniques which hurt can heal when used correctly. That's what her mentor taught her.

Three years ago Linde crossed paths with the Red-Eyed Demon during the middle of his rebellion against Te'i Sai. At first they were adversaries with Linde swearing to hunt him down and kill him. However when she nearly lost her life to an attack by Te'i Sai, it was the Red-Eyed Demon who saved and spared her life. Linde was confused about the Demon's motives and actions, as she'd believed him to be nothing but a killer. But when he spoke to her, there was a quiet calmness and intellect about him which went beyond the horrific murderer she'd heard about. She tracked him and studied him for over a month before discovering what he was doing when she saw him combating Te'i Sai openly. It was during this time that she asked to join him, and following he provided her with the serum Te'i Sai used to enhance their operatives that she may protect herself without his help. Thanks to her natural combat skills and her medical skills, she was able to do just that.

For the last three years Linde has followed the Red-Eyed Demon and, somewhere in the middle of it all, she fell in love. He is not a hero. He is not a villain. He is not what anyone would call "kind" or "compassionate". He is not trusting or forgiving. And yet she can see within his eyes and deep within his heart a desire for change. A desire for good. In effect he was a Demon in name only, and she let that become her focus from that point on. She is determined to uncover that dark and hidden segment of his heart and reveal it not only for her own sake, but his as well. He has much to give this world if only he is given the time and space to do so. And maybe, just maybe... He could discover love in his own heart as well.

So begins...

Linde Xe' Almna's Story

Setting

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Character Portrait: Red-Eyed Demon Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Laura Bolverk Character Portrait: Miranda Wavecrest
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Date: August 1, 577

Location: Capital City, Cre' Est




It was a cold Fall morning on the outskirts of the Capital City of Cre' Est. The sun had yet to rise above the horizon line and remained hidden behind a veil of dense clouds darkening the skies as a chilly wind caressed the land. Grass in the plains beyond the city waved too and fro gently in the breeze while the trees stretched and groaned as the bark in their branches bent and reached for the sun beyond the clouds.

Within the city all was quiet. Few creatures save a handful of alley rats and the alley cats which stalked them stirred in the darkness. A single raven perched atop a sign in the Market Place and cawed at the rooftops as a tiny cloud of dust could be seen at its edge. But what had caused it?

The whispers on the wind held the answer as the avian creature detected the sounds of distant screams echoing through the city. It was so commonplace now that most slept straight through them and were none the wiser that any tragedies or mysterious deaths had occurred until the following day when it was announced by the city criers and couriers. The bird leapt into the air and flew along the rooftops before landing on the edge of a roof overlooking a gruesome scene.

Beneath the black bird within the alleyway between buildings lay a woman with half her clothing missing and blood trickling down her face, chest, and stomach. She'd been assaulted and stabbed four times by the perpetrator of this incident, left for dead to bleed out here in the streets with nobody to come to her rescue. Tears of pain and fear screamed down the sides of her face as she lay on her back in the road situated in a gathering pool of her own blood. Her cries and sobs of pain a mere whisper.

And just then a heavy *THUD* echoed through the alley. Her eyes darted to the side to the source of the sound and she beheld a mysterious figure cloaked in all black clothing with hair as black as the bird's feathers who had just descended into the alley from the rooftops. As his head came up two glowing red eyes emerged from beneath his bangs which triggered an instant response from the woman who began screaming for what little worth was left in her lungs. She tried to force herself up to flee, but she could not. Her stomach muscles were too badly damaged from the stab wounds to allow her to stand up or even flip over successfully onto her stomach. She lay now on her side in agonizing pain and filled with fear of certain death now rapidly approaching her.

The Demon stepped beside her and knelt down to analyze her body before making her lay once again on her back. She could only continue to cry at this point as she began to accept that death was now inevitable.

The Demon's eyes searched her own for a brief moment before glancing to her wounds. After analyzing each one he reached for his belt which held several pouches, and from one of them he brought out a small vial of clear green liquid. Without speaking he applied it to her wounds one at a time and used his thumb and index finger to clamp her skin shut after applying it. The liquid burned, and his grip stung even more causing her to yell in pain each time. But when it was over and he threw the vial away she looked to her stomach to find her wounds had closed. The lines where the blade entered were still clear, but the skin was now securely sealed shut preventing further external blood loss.

The Demon then forced her to drink a small bottle of clear liquid which tasted horrible, but immediately had a calming and relieving effect on her. The pain began subsiding and she could feel her body relaxing against the tension it previously held in a death grip. The Demon picked her up and carried her a ways before setting her down in front of the local church doors. It was a good location for her. The Priest would be there any minute along with at least one or two of the nuns who assisted him. They would get her to a doctor post haste, and with any luck she would live to see tomorrow.

She turned her head to look at the Demon, but he was already gone. She lay there on the church steps alone and breathing deeply against the cold weather as she waited for the priest to arrive and help her to the doctor's clinic which was not far away.

... But why would he save her? That's not what the Demon was known for...

A few moments later the Demon was once again on the rooftops gazing at the horizon and listening to the sounds of the city. And as he closed his eyes to listen a faint sound caught his attention just off to his right side. But he knew the sound well. It was the soft touch of a footstep of someone he knew very well. A woman with dark brown, nearly black hair and an angelic face with the body of a Goddess. A woman far beyond the reach of most men, commoner or noble alike.

Her soft steps approached as she took up a place by his side.

"The night is quiet so far, isn't it?" She asked.

He nodded silently.

"I'm glad... It makes for a nice change of pace." She said softly.

"Perhaps, but that also means that we have made no progress." He calmly retorted.

She nodded.

"True... Still, I'm glad for a quieter night. We haven't had time to just enjoy the night air in quite a while. It means that tonight the Capital City breathes a little easier." She said quietly.

"The threat remains." He replied flatly.

"Yes. But it is weakening. The less we encounter problems, the more we know the threat is dwindling. Someday soon, I hope, we will be rid of them for good." She said as the sound of a "THWACK" caught their attention.

They both looked up to the Northwest.

"What is it?" She asked.

He closed his eyes and was silent for a moment, but then opened them again.

"Nothing we need concern ourselves with." He replied.

Together they walked the rooftops casually leaping the gaps between buildings as they strolled calmly across the Capital City's skyline. Morning was still on its way. And it was going to be a cloudy and dreary day for certain. Rain was a strong possibility as well... Soon they'd need to find a place to keep dry, but that was also when they became the most vulnerable to an attack if they were discovered.

It seemed that even for the Red-Eyed Demon, there was never a safe time to rest...



Date: August 2, 577

Location: Capital City, Cre' Est




Linde awoke in a shack on the edge of the city which she and the Red-Eyed Demon used to escape the morning rains. The Demon had already left, presumably to prepare for the arrival of his mark who was fast approaching the city on a business trip.

She stretched out on the bed and cracked her neck as she sat upright to look out the window.

The rain was still falling... Lovely.

It wasn't that she minded the rain. It was that it made her tired for some reason. Maybe it was the dark clouds. Maybe it was the sound lulling her to a sleepy mood. Who knew?

She stood up and walked to the window before brushing a few strands of hair out of her face and wondered why it was that Te'i Sai and Roda Ah K'mht had suddenly grown so quiet. They hadn't encountered one from either organization for over five days which was outrageous. They usually encountered at least two of them per day. But none for five days?

Something was going on which she couldn't figure out... Just what were they up to?

...

A few hours later, around 10am or so, Linde was in the Market Place. It was raining, just as the Demon had predicted the night before thanks to the heavier moisture in the air. She had her umbrella with her to keep her dry as she meandered about and started chatting up with the locals, many of whom she knew personally as the owner of the Almna Apothecary and Clinic not far away in the Central District.

She wanted to see if anyone had heard any news or rumors about Te'i Sai or Roda Ah K'mht, so she casually slipped their names into conversation from time to time to see if anyone spoke up. Sadly nobody did, so she was back where she started. But she figured while she was here she may as well indulge and gather a few things. She had a tiny coin pouch on her waist with four Silver Pieces in it with which to buy a few items. She focused her attention first on the preservable foods stand who supplied not only the food, but flasks and air-tight containers with which to preserve them.

After purchasing a few items, she handed the merchant one Silver Piece, as it only cost a total of 30 Bronze Pieces to cover the expenses.

The merchant immediately scribbled down on special parchment called Grey Root Parchment which, despite its name, was a pale brown coloration. It was thick and easily rolled, but not easily folded. Upon the parchment he signed his name, provided the name of his or her customer, gave the date, and provided a "70 BP Credit" marking via a special stamp that all merchants were given with which to keep track of how much change their customers needed.

Merchants didn't carry extra coin to break a larger amount than was required for purchase, so the banks, with at least one major bank situated in each marketplace for convenience, would be present to do the exchange of change after purchases were made. All one had to do was bring the parchment to the bank with the appropriate signatures, date, and change to be collected and the bankers would take the parchment and compare the signature to a copy the merchants gave when they received their license to sell. Once the signature was verified, they'd verify the parchment by tearing a small section of the lower right corner off and burning it. If it burned with a black-blue hue on the parchment's top side (the signed side), it was real. If it burned any other color combination such as black-green or whatnot, it was a forgery.

Once the parchment was legitimized, the bankers would ask for the customer's identification which came in the form of a small badge with their name on it. The badges were crafted by very specific blacksmiths which made them impossible to duplicate. Whenever one wanted to be allowed to become a customer of a new city, they'd go to a registered blacksmith and ask for a name badge. It only took around twenty minutes to craft, so it wasn't a huge inconvenience on anyone. Once the name badge was identified and verified, the bankers would provide the proper amount of change listed in a coin pouch for the consumer to take with them.

All of this, despite the lengthy process on paper, takes roughly two to three minutes. Not at all bad given the state the world seemed to be in.

But the thing about banks... There was always a line.

Today was no different. Linde stood in line with her parchment in hand ready to exchange for the proper amount of Bronze Pieces she was owed. Her umbrella continued to protect her from the rain while others either did or did not have an umbrella to protect them. Those who did not had hooded jackets with water-resistant material or the tried to huddle as close to the person next to them who did have an umbrella as possible.

Another typical day in the market on a rainy morning.

... Meanwhile...

Deep in the heart of Cre' Est's underbelly a chase was now ongoing.

A man raced through the darkest alleyways of Cre' Est leading down into the slums and underground "housing" retrofitted from the sewer lines and tunnels beneath the city. Somewhere behind him was a certain Red-Eyed killing machine, and as he ran he didn't dare look back. He skidded, slipped, and sprinted through the labyrinthian structures hoping that by taking as many turns and loops he could confuse his would-be pursuer and escape to safety.

As he slipped through a few cracked walls hoping to further throw off his pursuer, he opened a small waist high door leading to a tunnel he had to crawl through. This tunnel was part of a particular sewage line leading through the city to the world beyond Cre' Est's massive walls. If he could just get free of this tunnel and outside, he was home free. The Demon would never catch him if he made it through the tunnel.

He crawled for all of his worth while trying to keep his breathing as quiet as possible so as not to send echos through the metallic pipe-like tunnel walls. He crawled for several hundred feet before taking a turn and seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.

That's it! Just a bit farther! He thought to himself.

As he continued crawling it seemed that this tunnel lasted forever. Another hundred feet and he was exhausted, and the light seemed no closer. But he persevered nonetheless... However...

Before he could reach the end of the tunnel which seemed another one hundred yards or so away, he heard a small "tick" sound echo through the tunnel. He stopped dead in his tracks. Another "tick" sound. He tried to pinpoint it, but no luck. Another "tick".

He looked behind him... Nothing.

He looked ahead towards the light... Nothing.

What was that ticking sound?

"Tick".

"Tick".

It was getting louder.

He started crawling again.

"Tick".

He crawled faster.

"Tick".

He started crawling at a frantic pace, but it seemed he only made it another ten or twenty feet before suddenly something broke through the metallic wall of the tunnel, grabbed him by the back of the neck, and pulled him out through the tunnel wall. The walls bent and broke upon impact causing him intense pain. And then before he could see what happened he was thrown across the ground and skidded to a halt before landing with his back against a wall.

His vision was blurred from the blow to the head he received on his way out of the tunnel. As his vision cleared he looked up and saw that it was none other than his pursuer. The Red-Eyed Demon.

His mouth went dry and his blood ran cold as the Demon crouched down in front of him to look him dead in the eye.

"Wh-wh... What do you want?" He asked nervously.

The Demon didn't answer.

The man started shaking in fear as the Demon inched a tiny bit closer.

".................. "I will see your virgin legs opened to my magnificence upon the morn."" The Demon quoted.

The man's eyes widened.

"Wh-wh-wh-where did you hear that!?" He demanded.

The Demon inched ever closer until their faces were only around six inches apart.

"From you." The Demon replied.

Suddenly there was a sharp sting of pain in the man's left arm causing him to shriek in pain. He looked down and saw the Demon had taken one of his famous fourteen inch bladed Orichalcum daggers and used it to slice open the flesh on the top of his forearm. Blood trickled down and the flesh began peeling back exposing muscle sinew and tendons which had, remarkably, remained perfectly untouched by the Demon's surprise assault.

The man's throat was struck by the Demon's fingers, paralyzing his vocal chords which prevented him from screaming any further.

"You have connections with Te'i Sai. Your brother, if I'm not mistaken, is a member. Using your connection to him you arranged for the girl to be separated from her family so you could steal her innocence for your own twisted pleasure... Normally I could care less, but since your brother is from Te'i Sai you have both earned my full attention... You and your brother will both die by my hand. But before you do..." The Demon left the statement open ended as he sliced the other forearm in the same exact way.

The man wanted to and tried to scream, but his paralyzed vocal chords wouldn't let him. Nobody would hear him scream until the Demon was finished with whatever it was he wanted to do.

"Your body can endure much more punishment than you might think... Let's see how many of these cuts I can make before you perish from blood loss or an overload of pain." He said ominously.

The muffled and choked screams of the Demon's hapless victim continued in the dark alleyways of Cre' Est just above the sewage line the man had been pulled from. There would be nobody to save him... Not that anyone would want to.

The Demon's current victim was a corrupted bureaucrat who had already caused problems for much of Cre' Est's population. His own dealings with thieves and assassin guilds (not including Te'i Sai) had frightened and bent many middle-lower income families to his will. They were forced to give up much of their earnings to him as a 'gesture of good will' for his 'protection' of them whenever bad things happened in the city. There would be none who would bother mourning his demise.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Red-Eyed Demon Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna
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INK




(Shameless showing off a tiny snippet of Linde's abilities thanks to taking the serum three years ago)


Linde stood on line for the bank with her parchment of exchange in the rain, patiently waiting her turn. Every couple of minutes they would advance a step or two and then the wait would begin again. Another customer served, another step forward.

... However it came to be that Linde fell victim to a problem that wasn't that common in Cre' Est, but was rapidly growing in Veilbrand and other outlying cities near the Cre' Est/Veilbrand border.

Linde felt a bump against her back, and turned her head to see a man bow in apology and walk away at a fast pace. Linde rolled her eyes and tapped her hip where her coin pouch should have been, and it was gone. It only had three silver pieces left in it, but that was her money that she had earned from running her apothecary and clinic. So she called him out by yelling at him to stop, but that just made him start sprinting into the nearest alley not far away.

Linde sighed as she folded her umbrella allowing the rain to begin pelting her body and clothing. She took a breath and began running after the thief making it look like normal running speed, but as soon as she cleared the alley corner she planted a single foot down into the cobblestone pavement and launched herself into the air at an angle. She planted her other foot into the side of the building around fifteen feet into the air and used it as a launch point to jump another ten to fifteen feet up onto the rooftop of the building opposite her. Once up on the roof she ran across the edge of the roofs as fast as she could until she managed to find the thief who was still looking back through the alley instead of looking up. But then again the rain was not helping him to hear her footsteps up on the roof almost thirty feet up in the air.

Linde trailed him until he finally slowed and began to come to a stop to count the money in the pouch, during which time she casually stepped off the rooftop an let herself fall right down in front of him. He jumped back in fear and tossed the pouch into the air as a jerk-reaction to her surprise, and she caught it and put it back on her hip before crossing her arms and glaring at him as he spit out nonsensical questions and stammered about how she did that. She sighed through her nose at him.

"What is your excuse for this?" She asked.

He stammered again asking what she meant.

"What is your excuse for trying to steal my money?" She asked again.

He explained that he'd lost his home, his wife left him, and he had nowhere to call his own so he had to resort to stealing whatever he could to get by. Linde sighed through her nose again as she closed her eyes and allowed him to run the other way. She thought about chasing him, but if what he said was true then he was suffering enough without whatever lecture or punishment she could throw his way. So instead she returned to the bank line to wait to trade her parchment of exchange.

Not exactly a typical happening for her, but at least it made her a bit more alert to her surroundings. The boredom of standing on line had made her drop her guard... She wouldn't be doing that again.

... Meanwhile, elsewhere in the city a pair of gleaming red eyes were locked onto their next mark who'd just entered the city. The streets would run red this day.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna
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INK

Linde finally made it through the bank line and exchanged her parchment for the 70 Bronze Pieces she was owed for her purchase. She was handed a small leather pouch with the promised amount, and she thanked the bank teller with a subtle bow of her head before heading home.

She did not return to the shack where she and the Red-Eyed Demon had been staying. Instead she returned to her own establishment: The Almna Apothecary and Clinic.

She had worked as an apprentice to a local doctor, absorbing all of his and his nurses shared knowledge before leaving and opening her own clinic. Not long after she began selling herbs and medicines, turning it into an apothecary and clinic for those who could not afford the doctor's direct help or only needed to get some basic pain medication for migraines or whatnot. She established this apothecary and clinic around four years ago, the year before she met the Red-Eyed Demon. She was still only 20 years old when she did so which had several of her first few clients nervous coming in. But her skills and natural talent for what she did, as well as all the knowledge she'd absorbed during her apprenticeship quickly brought their minds and hearts to rest as she cured them of their ills and wounds.

Her business was booming. So much so she'd been able to hire a young lady to work the welcome desk in the lobby, an attendant to clean the establishment and run basic errands such as purchasing the needed monthly medicines and herbs from the market and traveling merchants who did business with them, and three nurses who helped take care of things in her absence so the apothecary and clinic could operate for long periods without her. After all she was now traveling with the Red-Eyed Demon and pretending that she was just taking long trips to visit family so nobody found out about it. She needed to know her business would be alright without her.

Thankfully it was just fine when she was gone. When she arrived and walked inside, soaked to the bone, the attendant who was cleaning welcomed her but quickly ushered her to the back to help change her clothing in a private room before cleaning the water she brought in with her from the flooring. Linde greeted everyone as she went through the clinic and received warm welcome home greetings in return. She went to the back of the clinic and walked through a special door which led to her living space, as she lived where she worked. She walked through her entryway through her kitchen and back to her study where she looked at the paperwork which had come through.

She had hired a secretary to handle this kind of thing as well, but her secretary was on maternal leave for the next month while she and her newborn adjusted to their new lives. Linde was very happy for her, but now she had a pile of paperwork to do which earned a sigh. But being the dutiful doctor and bookkeeper she was before her secretary had been hired, she got to work and spent the rest of the day filling it out and filing it before going to bed.

Tomorrow was going to be an interesting day...

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Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna
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Location: Capital City, Cre' Est
Time: Twilight




As the sun set beyond the horizon the streets of Cre' Est were beginning to clear of the once bustling activity which had occupied it all day long. It was almost an evening tradition amongst the people to clear the streets at this time, as only the foolish remained outdoors at night. This is when Te'i Sai was on the prowl, and the people had learned decades ago that seeing them was a death sentence all its own. Merely witnessing their presence, whether or not they were in the middle of a mission, was enough for them to consider you dangerous enough to kill. And thus, innocent or no, they would take your life all the same just to be safe.

As the night air began growing colder, Linde was taking her time closing her Apothecary and Clinic. She walked gingerly around the lobby blowing out the oil lamps, shutting and locking the windows and doors, and locking the door leading to the hallway which led to her living residence in the back of the building.

Once home in her private residence, she changed her clothes into a long and flowing night gown. It was a light sky-blue coloration with a slightly darker violet fringe. She poured herself a cup of herbal tea and sat down in her kitchen enjoying the sight of the moon rising above the building rooftops nearby through one of the kitchen windows. But as she observed the moon, her eye caught the flash of a dark figure racing at high speeds across the rooftops. It was a blur. To anyone else it would appear an apparition, but to her keen eye it was that of a human male who was moving with deadly purpose.

... It wasn't him, that was for sure. That left one possibility.

Linde drank the rest of her tea in one big gulp before quickly racing to her room to change into her combat attire. She donned a pair of black skin-tight pants, a black skin-tight tunic top, black gloves, black boots with reinforced metal toes and heels, and equipped a pair of custom-made daggers, one on each hip. With that in place she tied her hair up into a bun to avoid it being grabbed, and raced out of the Almna Apothecary and Clinic in hot pursuit of the individual in question.

It took a few minutes of her racing across the rooftops at top speed to locate him, but once she had she slowed her pace and approached quietly. She observed him sitting on the edge of a roof nearby observing the streets in search of his prey. Slowly, and as stealthily as she could manage, she inched closer.

Judging by the way he shifted his weight she guessed he was preparing to pounce down upon his hapless victim. She inched closer to the edge of the building where she could lean over and see who he was aiming for, and when she saw his target she froze.

It was a child. A little girl no more than five years old... What could he possibly hope to gain by pouncing on a child?

Linde didn't wait to find out. She sprang into action leaping over thirty feet from her position to his and landing on his side as he turned to hear what had made the sound of her boots launching her off the roof. She slammed both feet into his ribs and the impact shattered the shingled roofing sending them both crashing through the ceiling of the building they were on and landing just inside with Te'i Sai's unlucky operative scraping the wall on his way down. When they landed there came a loud *THUD* which woke up half the inhabitants of the building who promptly assumed it was an earthquake and began evacuating.

Linde quickly shifted her position to slip her feet beneath his armpits, tensing her legs and performing a back flip throwing him up into the ceiling and back down to the ground with another hard *THUD*. And as quickly as she could she raced forward sliding along the ground slamming her heel into his chest as he had landed on his side. The impact sent him skidding back along the ground into the wall slamming into the wall causing the chandelier to crash into the ground between them.

As Linde got to her feet, she saw that he had as well.

... He was tough. Tougher than most she'd encountered, that was for sure. Most others would have still been doubled over after blows like those. But a quick glance of his physique told her why it was he was tougher than others. His physique wasn't quite as imposing as his, but it was close. Very close. This one had trained harder than others and was keeping up with his conditioning. She had to give him credit for that.

"Impressive... So you have benefited from Te'i Sei's serum?" He asked.

Linde merely took her stance.

"Very well."

He took to his stance as well, and the two opponents glared each other down for nearly thirty full seconds before the first move, belonging to Linde, was made...

Linde had lunged forward and prepared a punch to the man's upper chest just below his collar bone. His hand was up and ready to parry, block, or grab her attacking hand. And really she wanted him to do any of those maneuvers. But unfortunately that's not what happened.

Instead of meeting her attack, he ducked under it and aimed a punch at her stomach which she only just barely blocked by bringing up her knee. However his pure strength was enough to lift her off the ground sending her flying into the ceiling before crashing back down. By the time Linde was making it to her feet he was already on her again and slammed the heel of his boot into her upper back smashing her into the floor causing the wood floor boards to creak and groan under the pressure. And before long it broke entirely sending them both falling down through the floor to the level below.

While in the air Linde forced herself to spin around so she was facing the ceiling and her opponent as he brought his knees down into her stomach. Before she landed she wrapped her arms around his legs pinning him to her and twisted slamming both of them into the ground. But because she had prepared for the impact she didn't hit her head like he did. He was dazed a moment, and that was more than long enough for Linde to break out one of her daggers and attempt to take his life by slicing at his neck level. However he was able to block her attack by grabbing her wrist.

But that was what she was waiting for. Now that his hand was around her wrist she had complete control over him which is the opposite of what one would expect in that situation. She used his push against her to pull his arm out to an extension and twisted the blade in her hand before slamming the butt end of it with her opposing hand driving the blade into the underside of his forearm. The blade cut deep drawing blood immediately in a small spurt, indicative of a now sliced radial artery.

That wasn't enough though. She pulled her opposing hand back and slammed the dagger again pushing the blade entirely through his forearm before grabbing the handle with her opposing hand and wrenching it around in a circle twisting and breaking both the bones in his forearm. With the blade turned almost 360 degrees around to its original position, she pushed on the butt end of it to point the blade down and slammed it home into the lower part of his chest below his ribcage.

By this point he had let go of her wrist in his writhing and frantic attempts to get the blade free of his arm, but it was too late. Linde grabbed the handle of the blade with both hands and pulled violently towards herself to slice his body wide open before the blade caught against his thigh bone and ricocheted off and slipping out of his flesh. Still, the damage was done. A near seven inch deep gash from just under the ribcage all the way down to the hip bone. She'd sliced his intestines, part of his stomach, the lower end of his lung along the way. He was done.

Linde stood up and stepped back a few paces to observe as he slowly bled out there on the ground writhing in pain.

"Normally I say a prayer for those I am forced to kill... but you were attempting to take the life of a child. For that, I can provide you no mercy. Die in peace, and may the love of the Gods be forever kept from you in the hereafter."
She said coldly.

With that she sheathed her blade and returned to the Almna Apothecary and Clinic to clean herself up and go to bed.

Tomorrow would be a brand new day.

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Date: August 3, 574

Location: Capital City, Cre' Est




Just last night Linde encountered an operative of Te'i Sai who was targeting a little girl. But why? What danger could a little girl possibly pose to Te'i Sai to warrant them wanting to kill her?... Or was the girl something else? An illegitimate child of a nobleman trying to erase the evidence? The child of someone with a jealous and/or deranged ex lover?

The possibilities were too numerous to count, but ultimately Linde knew that she couldn't worry about the girl for very long. Stopping one member of Te'i Sai would not stop another, especially if she couldn't find the girl to save her a second time. This girl would have to face the future on her own, as much as Linde hated admitting that to herself. There was no way she'd find the girl again in a city this large. It was pure luck she saw the Te'i Sai operative in the first place.

She couldn't rely on luck if she was going to save someone.

That evening, Linde sat alone in her quarters at the back of the Apothecary and Clinic contemplating what she would do given that she'd just interfered with Te'i Sai's affairs. Whatever the reason for their going after the girl, there would have been an Overseer present to witness the mission, and they'd have reported her by now.

She was a target. And even though she could handle herself she didn't need Te'i Sai hunting her too. It was hard enough dealing with them one on one, but now that they knew she'd tasted of the serum to be on par with their operatives they'd send more. One she could handle... More than that? She hadn't ever had to, so she didn't know for sure if she'd be able to do it.

The Red-Eyed Demon had left her a silent message that he would be coming for her soon, which was a mild comfort. But she had no way of knowing when he'd be coming. But knowing him it would be within the next two to three days so she had some time to prepare herself for whatever he had in mind.

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Linde sat in her office in the Apothecary and Clinic, tapping her finger on the table. She replayed the fight with the Te'i Sai operative in her mind over and over again trying to see if one of her memories could reveal the location of the Overseer who'd no doubt identified her and reported her interference. She had stupidly not worn any face protection to hide herself, so if the Overseer had gotten even one good look they'd know who she was.

Te'i Sai operatives had long since memorized the faces of everyone in Cre' Est who held any kind of business position. It was scary to think that they all knew her by face, name, and profession. And now they would be coming for her because of what she'd done to protect the girl.

...

So how to proceed?

They'd be watching her like a hawk right now. In fact she was certain there was at least one of them on the rooftops observing her Apothecary and clinic right this very moment. If she left, they'd keep an eye on where she went, who she spoke to, and what her activities were. If she made one wrong move, they'd try to bring an end to her as soon as possible. They couldn't risk someone with the serum walking free without observation. Even if the organization was in tatters from a power hierarchy standpoint without the Grandmaster or his Second to appoint a next in command, they still had enough of a foundation to continue operating with their usual tenants and operational protocols.

The question now was now long would she have before they decided to make the call to have her killed? With Roda Ah K'mht around, they couldn't spare too many to go after her. They needed as many as possible to combat the threat Roda Ah K'mht posed not only to them, but to the continent that they called home. Te'i Sai may not have been the noble keepers of peace and balance many of their members believed themselves to be, but they were still part of this continent and called it "home". They would die before letting Roda Ah K'mht take their home from them.

Linde decided that, despite the danger, she needed some fresh air. She stood up and walked out of the building, stretching her arms above her head and letting out a breath through her nose. She looked up as if to observe the clouds, but she was actually using her peripherals to try and see where Te'i Sai's observer might be. And after a moment of scanning, she found him. He was on a rooftop to her left keeping well hidden behind the ledges, likely lying prone to avoid being spotted. But she saw the tips of his fingers gripping the ledge all the same. Tiny specs of white against the dark gray gutter on the ledge were indicative of the white gloves they wore.

For Te'i Sai, the white gloves represented the purity of their purpose. If the gloves were marred or in any way bloodied, it was the same as besmirching their pride as warriors of peace and balance. Those gloves had to stay white at all times. But luckily for Linde this one wasn't quite so smart as to have picked the best position to match the coloring of his gloves to the gutter he was gripping to keep himself flat enough for her not to see the rest of him. His fingertips were still visible and discernible from the gutter, so she knew now exactly where to keep her guard up if in the event he decided to come down to greet her.

With that confidence in mind, she decided to take an early evening stroll. It wasn't outside her usual activities to do so, as she was always back before the sun completely went down. She had about an hour left before that happened, so there was no rush. Maybe she'd find one last merchant stall open and buy something to calm herself. She could feel she was a little high strung and a new trinket or perhaps a snack would be perfect to settle her down.

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And just like that the Red Eyed Demon was gone....

Miriam looked out over the city it was still and quiet once more. Miriam knew she had no time to waste she could begin the change at anytime for all she knew. Miriam made her way down the church and soon found herself on the streets.

The streets where empty and dark and it started to make Miriam feel uneasy as she traveled them. She sadly didn't know where this clinic was but she did know where the nearest tavern was. She hoped there would still be someone there that knew of the clinic.

As Miriam neared the tavern she saw a woman on the road. She headed towards the woman. The woman was quite striking to look at but Miriam had no time for that. She looked to the woman and spoke "Um miss I was wondering if you could point me towards the Almna Apothecary and Clinic?"

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Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Marcel Starr Character Portrait: Quinn Xe' Duzelle Character Portrait: Marcus Keller Character Portrait: Miriam Gale
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Linde had been passing the local tavern on her stroll, having smiled and waved at a few people who looked to be heading inside as well before she was suddenly approached by a woman asking where her Apothecary and Clinic was.

"Of course, but if I may ask you something..." She began, turning to face the woman.

"Why is it you are searching for the Almna Apothecary and clinic? You don't seem to be either sick or injured in any way." She said.

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Miriam wasn't sure how to answer that question. She had no idea that the woman she was speaking to was the owner of the Clinic. She didn't want to tell the truth to a random stranger. "It's um... A personal thing...a... mentor said it was the best place to go for my....um condition..." Miriam said trying to sound convincing....

Miriam knew she probably sounded like a fool but she didn't want to risk the truth to anyone other than the owner of the clinic.

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Was it chance? Fate? Providence? Miriam didn't know but somehow she had run into someone that knew exactly what was going on. Was this another of the Red Eyed Demon's proteges? Perhaps even the one she was going to see?

Miriam looked to the woman, looked around, and then looked back at the woman and nodded.

But then another thought crossed her mind what if this was one of the Roda Ah K'mht or Te'i Sai? Miriam made sure her hand was close to Mako just in case....

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Linde observed Miriam closely, and as she nodded Linde let out a soft sigh and smiled at her.

"My name is Linde Xe' Almna, owner of the Almna Apothecary and Clinic." She said, giving a slight bow of her head.

"Let us be quick. The streets at night are already unsafe as it is. I'll take you to my establishment, and you can rest there until you have recovered from the symptoms of your condition." She said.

She turned and began walking briskly down the road towards the Apothecary and Clinic. If Te'i Sai was still watching her then they'd see her with this woman and they might presume the worst. If they attacked now, she'd have to defend the woman while fighting Te'i Sai at the same time. She wasn't sure if she'd be able to do that... But if they did, she would do her best.

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Miriam felt a pain shoot though her leg. It was like a growing pain she would have as a young girl. She let out a groan and looked to Linde.

"The sooner the better..." Miriam said. "I assume you had this.. condition once as well... I have questions..but they would be best for closed doors... So lead and I will follow."
Miriam really hoped nothing would happen on the way. She knew with these pains were just starting and only going to worse. She knew she would be weak and useless in a fight now. She had to rest her hope on Linde...

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As they walked, Linde noticed the pain in the woman's face as she tried to ask about whether or not Linde had felt the symptoms before.

"Indeed I have felt this pain. It only gets worse, believe me. The pain for the first two days will be mild. It's the final days which are the worst. But since you are here and will rest at my clinic, I can give you something to alleviate it and make the worst of it bearable." She said.

She quickened her step as they neared the Clinic.

"It's just ahead. Quickly now." She urged.

She quickly approached the door and unlocked it, allowing Miriam to step inside.

"Make your way to the Clinic section of the building, down the hall on your left there and through the doors all the way at the end on the right. Wait for me there... I must attend to something." She said, closing the door behind Miriam and locking it.

She then turned her attention to the rooftops, having felt prying eyes on her and Miriam since they started back towards the Clinic. She scanned the rooftop edges, but was met with silence and stillness.

She remained as still as a statue, closing her eyes to listen as she tried to pinpoint any unusual or non natural sounds such as footsteps. However she heard nothing. She opened her eyes and suddenly felt the feeling of eyes watching disappearing which allowed her to breathe a little easier. Maybe they left her alone?

She turned around towards the Clinic, but was met by the sight of a pair of glowing red eyes which made her jump and let out a rather adorable yip. When she shook off the initial shock, she slapped his chest with the back of her hand.

"You know I hate it when you do that!" She barked.

He smiled.

"... You jerk." She said in a hushed tone.

"The one keeping tabs on you is dead. They will soon send another. One who does not know of that woman's presence." He replied.

Linde sighed.

"Thanks." She said in a semi-sarcastic tone.

"You're welcome." He said.

She glared at him as he turned to leave, and smacked him on the rump as he was about to take another step. He turned his head and glared at her, to which she smiled at him in return, shaking her head in a taunting manner.

"I win." She said in a snarky tone.

He returned his gaze forward and disappeared into the darkness of a nearby alley way allowing Linde to let out a sigh and return to the Clinic to rest. What an interesting day. The woman in her Clinic was about to undergo the ultimate physical change to become essentially a super human, and the Red-Eyed Demon was helping keep an eye on her while it happened.

Things were bound to get worse from here if he was really willing to give out another vial of that serum. It wasn't readily available anymore with Te'i Sai's mountain fortress overtaken by Roda Ah K'mht and the valley at its base. He couldn't have that much of it left to give, and finding people who would be ready, willing, and able to fight against the assassins wouldn't be easy either.

Just what was the Demon planning?

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Miriam made her way through the clinic her eyes only briefly taking in the sights. Bottles of gods knows what and herbs she had never seen. She was a warrior after all the ways of medicine and science had never been her forte. Even if her body wasn't racked with pain this all would be far over her head...

Miriam stumbled as a sharp pain shot through her. She caught herself on a counter knocking a few bottles over. Luckily nothing broke but the counter was now a mess of out of order bottles. "Sorry..." She groaned not even sure if anyone was even around to hear her.

Down the hall Miriam stumbled like a drunk who had had way too much. Soon enough she limped her way into the room she was seeking. Her backpack and weapons soon found the floor with a clang. Her armor was the next to go leaving her in only her undergarments. Miriam didn't care about the mess or her state of undress. All she cared about was the bed that would hopefully provide her some comfort.

It was good to lay down but the growing pains while still there and Miriam knew it would only get worse. She closed her eyes and waited for sleep for Linde...that was all she could do now wait... Wait and try to fight the pain.

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Linde walked back inside the Almna Apothecary and Clinic before closing and locking the door behind her. If the Demon had truly killed whoever was assigned to observe her, it wouldn't take more than a handful of days before Te'i Sai didn't receive their report from said observer and sent another to take his place.

She had to make sure this woman was safe and had completed her process with the serum before that happened. But there was no rushing the process, sadly. It had to run its course. Linde had endured it for only three days, whereas Taira had endured it for six days. There was no telling how long thing woman would be forced to endure the effects.

Hopefully, given that she, like Linde, was a warrior, it would take less time. Linde had a theory that the more physically fit the individual, the less time it took their body to adapt. Evidently Taira had been rather weak and unskilled before the serum, and only really came into her own afterwards under the Demon's tutelage. So if this theory proved accurate then this woman's body should fully adapt to the serum in around three or four days at worst. Hopefully that would be soon enough.

In the meantime, Linde wandered into her clinic and gathered a handful of herbs needed to make a rather potent pain killer of her own design. Having experimented and tested it over the years on herself, she knew it worked and what its side effects were. The mixture took about ten minutes to make, but once finished she poured the contents into a bottle of water, stirred thoroughly, and carefully poured a single drop onto her fingertip. After tasting it and finding it ready, she found the woman lying down in her undergarments on a bed.

"Here. Drink this." She said, helping prop the woman into an upright seated position and holding the bottle up to her lips.

As she drank, Linde explained the bottle's contents.

"This is a mixture of Tirveil Sage, Hortham Grass, and Cestivel seeds. Together they form a rather potent painkiller which will last approximately twelve hours, give or take one hour. Along with alleviating pain, it may cause some rather strong muscle relaxation making it difficult to walk, prop yourself up, or even eat on your own. If you find that to be the case, call for me or one of my nurses who works here during the day and we will help you go about your daily activities. When you feel the effects wearing off and the pain returns, let us know and we will make a new dose for you." She said.

By this time Miriam had finished drinking the contents, and they were surprisingly sweet to the taste contrary to most bitter or tasteless medicines.

Linde put the bottle on the counter and returned to help tuck Miriam under the covers so she would have a warm night's sleep.

"It will take about ten minutes for the effects to take hold. But once they do you should find sleep very quickly. Often the first time you experience this new drug I developed, it makes you sleepy. Just relax and let it do its job. If you need anything, I'll be here." She said pleasantly.

With that, Linde returned to her own quarters to sleep. It had been a rather long week and she was ready for a good night's sleep. Even with the knowledge that Te'i Sai was watching her, she would sleep well tonight knowing the Demon had taken care of things for now.

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At some point that evening, Linde heard a sound outside the front door to the Apothecary. She cautiously opened the door, and what she saw left her somewhat lost for words. A man, bleeding and beaten, laying at the foot of her establishment.

She examined his wounds before taking him inside and setting him down on one of the medical beds, but she wasn't too sure abut this man. When she questioned him about how he received his wounds, he was evasive and did not give any real answers. The more she pressed, the more he clamped his mouth shut.

She was forced to use less... friendly means, to get the answers she wanted out of him. And even then, he was stubbornly loyal to whomever it was he worked for. All she got out of him was that he had been given an assignment to find someone and bring them to his superiors. That was it.

A mercenary of some kind, no doubt.

She didn't like him, but she had sworn to tend to the needs of every patient brought to her establishment whether she liked them or not. So Linde graciously knocked him out so that he may rest while she tended to his wounds.

... And so time passed.

Five days is what it took for Miriam to get through her new 'growing pains', as it were, and awaken to her newfound potential. Linde taught her how to harness her newfound strength through several rigorous training exercises, each one designed to help bring out the best of what Miriam's body had to offer based on her size, upper to lower body ratio, limb length, etc. While Linde would never say so to Miriam, this was the same method the Red-Eyed Demon used to train Taira and Linde how to harness their new strength.

Miriam was ready now for what lay ahead, whatever her path may be. But things began to grow more complicated for them as the Red-Eyed Demon came to them in broad daylight during one such exercise. He informed both Linde and Miriam that he had discovered Te'i Sai in the boundaries of the city, and while they were avoiding him they would not likely avoid these two. He had confirmed that Miriam's acquisition of the serum was now known by Te'i Sai, and they considered both her and Linde to be trespassers to their order's divine purpose to bring balance to the land.

A fallacy and fantasy, but it was what they believed nonetheless.

The Red-Eyed Demon had business to attend to elsewhere, the whereabouts of which he would not divulge, but he promised to return soon and help guide them further on what they could do moving forward.

Once he was gone, Linde advised Miriam to be watchful. Te'i Sai's primary tactic was to strike from above where almost nobody dared to look, as culturally in Cre' Est looking up was the same as trying to lay eyes on the Gods which was taboo. The only time it was culturally acceptable to look upwards was when a ceremonial tribute to the Gods was raised or hung from the Church Bell Tower in honor of the Gods. Beyond that, looking up was considered something of a sin.

So Linde advised Miriam to keep her peripherals open and, if she was to look upwards to the rooftops, to do so from a distance so as to only raise her chin slightly and not offend anyone or draw attention. Allowing her eyes to scan the rooftop edges would not offend anyone's cultural views, but if she lifted her chin all the way and looked to the skies... That was an offense.

Now armed with further cultural knowledge of Cre' Est and how Te'i Sai exploited it for their own means, Miriam would be all the safer in her travels... But both she and Linde were about to be caught up in something they never expected.

Te'i Sai was on the move once again...

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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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When one hears the term "Dangerous Eyes," one usually presumes that one is engaging in conversation about a predatory animal stalking their prey.

... That would not be an inaccurate statement regarding what was transpiring right this very moment.

Sitting on the rooftops surrounding the Marketplace were four operatives of Te'i Sai staring down at the group gathered in the market with deadly intent.

Cloaked in light gray robes to help disguise them against the graying skies in the background from incoming cloud cover on an encroaching storm front, they squatted low to the rooftop edge so they could keep the majority of their profile hidden while peeking just over the edge. They remained motionless so as not to attract any attention, as no matter how good they were at concealing their presence there was always a chance someone could glance upwards in their direction and make them out against the backdrop. But the chances of that were low.

They had spread out to cover a large area, each one taking one of the four compass directions and remaining as motionless as a statue. Te'i Sai operatives were nothing if not patient, and they had a coordinated plan of attack ready to go against these ingrates who had dared to steal from their hideout. Having tracked footprints and scent, they had found the pair they were looking for in the presence of others which was an unwanted development. They had been hoping the group would separate, but they were sticking close to one another so it was now a matter of whether or not they should consider these two others to be innocents or acceptable casualties by association.

It was against Te'i Sai's creed to take the lives of the innocent, but accomplices or allies were fair game. The leader of the group, Master Assassin Ven Delcore, sized up the four individuals below and determined them to be easy kills. Had Ven and the others not tasted of the serum, the hardest one to kill would have been the dark-haired man with the sword. But since they had tasted of the serum, even that one would be nothing to be concerned about...

That was, of course, until...

"Master Ven!" Came a hushed whisper behind him.

He turned and saw a Scout approaching his position, so he waved for him to get down so as not to give his position away. Once the Scout was down, he delivered his message.

"Master, the doctor who tasted of the serum has been sighted approaching the market place. And she's not alone. We have reason to believe that the one with her has also tasted of the serum."

"... Thank you. Return to your reconnaissance." Ven replied.

"Yessir. May the Goddess guide your blades!" The Scout replied with a salute before retreating across the rooftops.

This would complicate things. That doctor was now known to be a formidable adversary, enough to take down a seasoned Veteran, ranked just below a Master Assassin like Ven, on her own. They could not risk her interference, but if she was approaching, and with another in toe who they also had reason to believe had the serum...

He backed away from the edge until he could no longer see the people below, and waved a few hand gestures to the others. The first was to alert them to the fact that a previous and dangerous quarry was approaching, the second that they were now given the go-ahead to make their move.

They all prepared to leap down into the crowd on Ven's signal.

Ven removed a single bead-sized object from his waist pouch, flicked a rough surface along the top of it which caused it to begin smoking, and then tossed it down into the crowd near their target group.

That tiny bead-sized object exploded with enough volume and intensity to momentarily deafen and blind everyone within around thirty feet of the explosion. It wasn't going to harm anyone, but it would shake them up. He then tossed a smoke bomb into the crowd right near the group which caught them all in a massive cloud which disrupted their breathing and their senses.

With that done, they all leaped down from the rooftops and stood just outside the cloud on all four compass positions to await the smoke's dissipation so they could reveal themselves to their quarry.

The rest of the citizens had seen this enough times to know what was happening, and all of them immediately evacuated the area in a hurry. They wanted no part of what they knew would be a slaughter. Those citizens who'd been caught in the cloud also bolted, covering their mouths and faced and darting for the nearest escape route their legs could take them. Some of them had been in this situation before, so they knew what to do.

As for the four poor souls who were the targets of Te'i Sai... Well, they would not be allowed to escape this cloud. Not with their lives in tact at least.

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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INK

The following week for Quinn was nothing short of frustrating. The day after she tried to feed stew to a passed out Jeanne who would not wake up, she set out on a mission - find the workshop of Aloi Va' Lelu. Who? Why, he's only the most famous jeweler of Cre'Est, that's all! His works have been worn by the Queen of Gweynura herself! Only the noble and filthy rich can afford a commission from this man. He was the reason Quinn decided on coming to the Capital City of all of the places she could have run to that didn't have such terrible memories attached. An apprenticeship to this man would give her food and board, as well as the chance to work beneath the expert.

When Quinn at last was directed to his home, she was met with something she didn't expect. Instead of the quiet perfectionist she had in mind, Aloi was... quite flamboyant. He regarded her works, tossing them aside while telling her they were too meticulous, their shapes too predictable. He expected effortless swoops, shapes drawn from nature, not from jewelery. Her caged earrings, however, caught his eye. When Quinn pointed out they weren't a natural shape, he said their shape was taken from something mundane and made beautiful. This, he could respect.

And so began Quinn's week trial apprenticeship. She had never worked with real gold before and was scolded many times for accidentally overworking the material. Whenever she made something Aloi considered not worthy being worn by a noble, it was picked apart and melted down. Which was... everything. Everything she did.

She came back to The Rose and Curd with her unfinished works, scoffed down her food with barely a word to the others then went to her room and whipped out her tools to finish them, painfully trying to fold her new Master's critisms into her works. Her writings were tossed aside along with any socialisation. The next day she would rush to Master Aloi to show him her work, only to watch it be pulled apart and melted down. At the beginning of the week, she took it as a challenge and woke up each day with renewed vigour. By the end of the week, her hair was falling out.

During this time, she found herself baffled and a little overwhelmed that Jeanne and Marcus stuck around. Not that they were staying at the same inn, no, they had their own business to take care of, but rather that they hadn't started distancing themselves from her yet. They'd bumble off when a business opportunity presents itself, she told herself. Her other company, Marcel, also wouldn't leave. No matter how much she offered to pay him and told him to be somebody else's bodyguard, he refused the money and continued to follow her everywhere, even when she wasn't aware of it.




“Mademoiselle Quinn and Marcel-Cheri! Like I promised, we are going shopping!” 

Quinn's slow, exhausted breakfast came to a halt as Jeanne's hands smacked into the table and her omelette leapt on her plate. Her dead, olive eyes gazed up at her face, while Marcel's gaze traveled appreciatively down somewhere else. Quinn's lips began to form a 'n-' "And I won’t take no for an answer~!”

"You're too kind, Jeanne," Marcel complimented the jester, then turned to Quinn, "Well, what do you say, Miss Quinn? Ready to spend money that isn't yours?" he said, gesturing at her with his fork, before sliding the egg off of its prongs with his teeth. Quinn brought something out of her pocket in clasped hands. She held it out over the table, sighed, then unfurled her hands.

Sitting across her gloved palms was revealed to be a delicately crafted waterlily, made entirely of pearl. She stared at her beautiful creation dully, without a hint of pride.

"This is the day Master Aloi gives me the results of my trial. I have to deliver this to him..." she murmured, "I made it from the scraps of Master Aloi's workshop when he told me I wasn't worth using his prime materials. If he throws this one, I'll toss myself into the trash with it." She clasped her hands over the lily and tucked it back into her pocket. "Literally and figuratively," she said emotionlessly, staring straight forward. Marcel waved a hand over her eyes, then smiled back at Jeanne and Marcus.

"She deserves a break. We're happy to come."

"But Master -" Quinn started, but Marcel interrupted.

"Come on, Miss Quinn. You've been alternating between the same two dresses. This isn't the respectable business woman I know," he tutted, gesturing to her hair. Quinn brought her hands up to her messy updo then sighed.

"Very well. We'll take up your offer," she said, trying to get back into her usual strict composure.

"So long as we get to spoil you later," Marcel added with a wink at Jeanne. Quinn kicked him under the table.

"And we pay a visit to Master Aloi."

Quinn made a list of necessities before setting out. The marketplace was bustling as usual, probably ripe with pickpockets. Though she didn't notice, Marcel kept his hand on his hilt as he watched the movement on the crowds.

Quinn stared at the window of a fancy, expensive dress shop for some time (with Marcus and Jeanne looking on, possibly panicking), before tossing her head and walking over to a cheap dress stall (to their relief). She picked up a plain black dress and held different embellishments against it, such as buttons and lace, while muttering to herself about how she's running out of black thread.

When the explosion went off, she was away from Marcel.

She had rushed forward to a store selling parchment and ink, momentarily losing him in the crowd. She didn't notice the bead tossed from the heavens hit the cobblestone behind her and roll into the crack between two stones. What came next was a lot harder to miss.

There was no explosion that she could see, no destruction that followed, but the deafening boom tricked her. The world went white then black as she went staggering forward, blindly reaching for her umbrella. Everything was quiet apart from the ringing in her ears, but she could make out frenzied movement. As her vision wavered, she could just make out people running. She yelled out to Marcel, barely able to hear her own voice. Just as she made out a caramel arm wrapped in a copper dragon tattoo waving her over, a rolling wave of smoke washed over her and she was blinded, again.

"Quinn!" Marcel shouted, Shiver drawn and stance strong despite the people hurdling past him. It was useless, she couldn't hear him. She was too close to the initial bomb. He growled and looked around the thick smoke. This couldn't have been the Garnetts, this was too big for a criminal organization barely back on its feet and hiding from the law. That didn't mean that they weren't in danger. "Marcus, Jeanne!" He barked, unable to see them and unsure of how close they were, "Go with the crowd! And if you have a weapon on you, get it ready! I'm getting Quinn!" It was unlikely this was for them, but he wasn't taking chances. He ran in the direction he saw Quinn last.

Quinn had moved, opting to follow those fleeing the scene. She ran with them to the edge where the smoke dispersed, the cries and screams gradually being picked up by her ears. When she reached the edge of the cloud, she froze. There was a man standing on the outskirts that the people fleeing parted around in fear, his attire... menacing was putting it lightly. He stared into the cloud, unnervingly still, waiting... Looking at her? Quinn shook that thought out of her head. She couldn't see his eyes and the people were being allowed to pass. She was nobody important in this city, just a civilian. She just needed to pass him, same as everyone else.

A small group of people passed her and she moved tightly behind them, avoiding looking at the man like everyone else. Worry flooded her as she wondered whether Marcel had done anything to warrant this. Marcus and Jeanne, they had to be safe, they were just traveling pe-

The feeling of sharp metal against her neck drew her thoughts to an abrupt stop. She stood, head blank and body stiff, as she comprehended that the man had blocked her path with his dagger. Sweat prickled her forehead and arms and she took an uncertain step backwards, only to have it blocked by the man's leg. Now she was trapped. Her grip on the umbrella tightened as she tried to think of a way to get to her sword or one of her pistols before he slit her throat, but she knew it was impossible.

"...em," her damaged hearing picked up from the man's mouth. She slid her glare up at him.

"I'm sorry, I didn't hear you," she managed to whisper with strained politeness. The blade drew blood and she grit her teeth, forcing herself into brave silence despite her buckling knees.

"Call them," he repeated.

Quinn gave him a brief nod, then took a deep breath. Instead of crying for help, however, she screamed out two words that would turn any mercenary or thief's blood cold.

"TE'I SAI!"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Miriam Gale
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INK

The operative of Te'i Sai whom Quinn had tried to bravely stand up to by shouting to the others frowned a bit deeper as she yelled their identity to her allies.

"Hmph." He huffed.

Using his blade hand, he retracted the blade and gently nudged her shoulder to force her to turn around. He then quickly rolled his hand over and around to hold the blade to her throat once more, this time with her facing where her comrades would be once the smoke dissipated. Now the blade was against her throat, and the operative to her back. She was stuck there now, completely at his mercy.

During that moment, however, someone else had heard that scream.

Linde's ears perked up as the scream reverberated throughout the area. Miriam undoubtedly heard it as well, and now that she was in prime condition and all of her senses had adapted to their new capabilities.

"Oh no..." She said quietly.

She turned to Miriam.

"Miriam, despite obtaining the serum you are under no obligation to fight Te'i Sai. I will understand if you wish to go your own way, but I must find whoever screamed and help them." She said.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Miriam Gale
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INK

The last few days had been a mix of pain, sleep, and more pain. Miriam had hated every moment of it. But now that it was over she felt stronger than she ever had. She had been reborn better, stronger, faster..
She had been under Linde's care the whole time. She had been there though the change and now after it. Miriam's senses where more open as well it was like being able to hear and see for the first time ever.

Miriam had been on a bit of a high until the Red Eyes Demon's ominous meeting warning Linde and her of danger that could be lurking. She had been on edge since then always looking up...while trying to not look like she was looking up. Her mother had once told her of this tradition. Miriam personally found it rather stupid... But when in Cre'Est...

Today now she found herself walking beside Linde. Two women seemingly just passing the time.....

That's when Miriam heard a cry that sent a shiver down her spine. Linde had heard it to and was now asking if she wanted to come help. Part of her told her to run to go home... leaving it all behind.. She had her answers now right?

But no she would simply nod and say, " I'm with you Linde."

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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Master Ven regarded Marcel before turning back to Quinn.

"You have made a wise choice, Lady Duzelle. Please follow me." He said, turning and walking back towards Marcel.

As he approached, he stopped when right beside Marcel and glanced at him out of the corner of his eye.

"That wound of yours will need treatment soon, little mouse. While not immediately fatal, it will not close on its own and will become septic within the next hour or so." He warned.

He then continued on, glancing over his shoulder from time to time to ensure they were still walking with him as he led them back to the marketplace. And as they arrived, they were the first. Ven turned towards them as he led them to the center of the marketplace away from most stalls so that there was nothing to grab and throw. No need to give them ammunition to cause further headaches, after all.

Before long, Jeanne and Marcus were dragged unconscious to the marketplace before being tied up before Quinn and Marcel's eyes. The other assassins weren't exactly gentle about it either, making sure to tighten the ropes very securely so as to ensure they weren't going anywhere. These two weren't escaping again. They'd caused enough problems.

As the two of them awoke and started talking about being prisoners of Te'i Sai, Master Ven stepped forward and knelt down next to them.

"You have something that belongs to us, little thief." He said to Jeanne.

He leaned in a bit closer, frowning deeply at her and removing a dagger from behind his back as he brought it around and held it towards her throat. However, he did not let the blade make physical contact with her flesh... yet.

"I will give you one chance to hand it over willingly. If you do, your end will be swift. If not, we will show your friends how Te'i Sai deals with uncooperative enemies." He growled.

However...

Before Jeanne could answer, Ven and the other assassin's eyes opened wide before Ven leaped backwards and away from his two captives.

A body had just hit the ground and landed face down right where Ven had been kneeling, and the robes were unmistakable. It was their companion, Negriis. His robes were not bloodied, but as Ven came froward and turned him over his eyes were greyed out and no heartbeat could be heard or felt.

"Master, on the rooftop!" Said one of the assassins.

(To get the full impact of this scene, open this link in another page, click play, and read on!)

Linde's Theme

Ven looked up to the rooftops and spotted not one, but two figures. The one standing on the edge of the roof with an outstretched hand indicative of having thrown the body was none other than the doctor who owned the Almna Apothecary and Clinic, Linde Xe' Almna.

Linde glared down at Ven and their eyes locked, neither looking away for anything. They both knew what was about to happen, and Ven readied a second blade from behind his back as Linde's eyes narrowed.

"Miriam, those two are yours. Their leader is mine. Just trust what I've taught you about their fighting styles and you'll be fine."
She said.

As soon as she said that, she leaped from the rooftop. She spun several times like a gymnast before landing hard on the ground cracking the cobblestone beneath her feet. A small burst of wind from her landing blew a cloud of dust out from around her, and Ven was on top of her in an instant.

But to everyone's shock, his first attempt to attack her ended in failure. He lashed out at her with a slice that would have taken her head off, but he hit nothing but air. Linde had ducked his attack and slammed a spinning kick into his lower abdomen sending him flying back with a grunt of pain through the air and through several stalls before he came skidding to a halt over one hundred feet away.

Linde stood up straight and cracked her neck as Ven stood up and cracked his own in response.

Both of them rolled their shoulders before racing towards one another at an ever increasing speed before they collided again. Ven had attempted a cross slashing motion with both hands, but Linde caught his hands in the middle before they could gain enough momentum to overpower her defenses. With his hands trapped in front of him, Ven tried to kick forward under their now locked arms. However Linde was one step ahead of him and had pushed his hands downward, using them as a vault to propel herself upwards into the air. Keeping her grip on his hands, cleverly shifting her grip to allow the spin, she landed with her shins on his shoulders and squeezed them together around his neck to ensure a good grip before flipping backwards and throwing him using her legs up into the air.

Ven flipped in the air landing feet first on the side of a building before using it as a launch point to fly back at Linde at top speed. Linde was unable to block this attack, but she was able to stop his blades from making contact with her. Still, she was hit hard by his elbows and forearms chest just below her breasts which knocked a bit of the wind from her lungs as she was thrown back similarly to how he'd thrown her back before. But instead of flying through stalls, she flew straight into a brick building wall embedding herself into it as several bricks fell to the ground around her.

Linde shook it off, and as she looked up Ven was racing towards her again with blades at the ready. She frowned and pulled her arms in, freeing them from the rubble just in time to push Ven's blades down and away from her body as he rammed his forehead into her stomach. Another unfortunate blow, but she preferred this one to being slashed in half.

Luckily, Linde had exhaled before being struck so her lungs were already empty. With that, she was able to take a breath in and slammed both hands into the corners of Ven's jaw, immediately dislocating it on both sides before she pushed off of his head and threw herself behind him. As she landed, she kicked him into and through the same wall she'd been thrown into, causing him to disappear inside as the wall came tumbling down.

Linde backed away slowly from the rubble as it continued causing the collapse of that side of the building all the way up to its second floor, and glanced over her shoulder towards Quinn and Marcel.

"Leave this to my companion and I. Go free your friends and get yourselves to some place safe!"
She yelled.

But Ven was not ready to let anyone escape.

As he burst from the rubble of the building, he sprinted over towards Quinn and Marcel before Linde could catch him. He pulled both of them in towards himself, placing the edge of his blades in front of, but not against, their throats.

"They're not going anywhere, miss Almna." He growled.

Despite having had an entire two story wall fall on him and despite what Linde had done thus far, Ven only had a few scratches on him. His outfit was much the worse for wear, sure. But the man himself was otherwise unharmed. Before emerging from the rubble he'd reset his jaw as well which took away that advantage Linde had tried to give herself.

(Go ahead and stop Linde's theme here before continuing.)

"Those two stole important documents from one of our safe houses, and I won't let them get away without paying the price. These two aren't going anywhere either. Not until I have those documents in my hands." He growled.

Linde took a breath and relaxed her posture.

She could hear Miriam still fighting his companions elsewhere, and she caught a brief glimpse of their fight in her peripheral vision. Miriam was doing well. No need to worry about her. But the others...

"Go home, miss Almna. You have enough to worry about without further aggravating me with this pointless attempt to save these little mice from their fate. Do not test me!" Ven growled forcefully, pressing the blades to Quinn and Marcel's throats a little bit harder.

It would not cut the skin, but it would make them both very uncomfortable.

Linde watched Ven's eyes carefully for any tells of a bluff, but there were none. He was fully prepared to kill both Quinn and Marcel if she didn't do as he asked.

... However...

Linde's eyes opened slightly wider as a look of recognition and mild surprise crossed her features. And to Ven's surprise, she smiled.

"It seems your time is up, Master Assassin." She said.


Linde's words confused her, but Ven hadn't heard the being approaching from behind him who then placed a hand on his left shoulder.

"Been a while, Master Ven." Came a cold, dark voice from over Ven's shoulder.

Ven froze, and his eyes widened and filled with fear. He couldn't even turn his head to look behind him as he knew exactly who was there.

"... H-h-... How did you take my back?" He stammered.

The hand's grip on his shoulder tightened a little.

"Please." The voice said.

The hand squeezed harder causing Ven to grimace in pain.

"Drop the daggers, Ven."

Ven complied, dropping his weapons. As both daggers hit the ground, Quinn and Marcel were pushed by someone and fell to the ground near Ven's feet.

"Consider them all under my protection, Ven. Come near them again, and I won't hesitate to kill you."

Ven turned around and looked into the eyes of the Red-Eyed Demon, a man who had once been Ven's protege when the Demon was younger.

"Do not think to threaten me boy. You have have grown into a man since I last saw you, but you're still just a boy to me. I will not be threatened by y-"

Ven couldn't even finish the sentence before the Demon had closed the gap and grasped Ven's throat in his powerful grip. The Red-Eyed Demon's movements had been so fast that if you blinked, you'd have missed it. Even if you didn't blink, chances are you missed it. One instant he was eight feet away, the next moment Ven's throat was in his grasp. Even Linde had a hard time keep track of his movement in that burst, and her smile widened slightly.

"Ven... The only reason you're still alive is because you helped train me when I was young. But you're pushing your luck." Said the Demon.

He bought Ven a bit closer.

"Utter so much as a syllable when I let go and your life ends here, old man." He said.

The Demon let go, and Ven backed up clutching his throat as he struggled to get his breath back. But he didn't speak. The Demon stood there still as a statue and glared at Ven, the latter of whom finally caught his breath and frowned. But Ven knew better than to test the Demon's word. If he was alive, that meant the Demon wasn't in a killing mood and Ven was not about to second guess that miracle.

Ven turned and picked up his daggers before sheathing them and walking away. If the others managed to survive their struggle against Miriam, then they would join him soon enough. If they didn't... Then he would return to the fortress alone and in defeat. But at least he kept his life.

As Ven disappeared into the alleyways, Linde approached the Demon with a smile. She placed a hand on his neck and leaned up on the balls of her feet as she kissed his cheek.

"About time you came back." She said softly.

The Demon didn't acknowledge her.

Instead he turned to Quinn, looking her dead in the eye.

"Lady Duzelle... You are the one who attempted to organize a rebellion against your nation's leader in Veilbrand, correct?" He asked.

Linde pursed her lips and crossed her arms beneath her breasts as she hip bumped him in frustration for his ignoring her.

Setting

Characters Present

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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INK

Looks like I'm following too, Marcel thought as Master Ven began to walk, inwardly relieved that he wouldn't be tracking Marcus and Jeanne down. The moment they realised he wasn't on their side would have been very awkward. He and Quinn walked four paces behind him, mouths shut and minds running. Marcel caught Quinn's eyes darting to his chest wound. After a while of this, he dug the bullet from his pocket and held it out in a closed fist.

"Miss Quinn," he spoke up, gesturing for her to hold out her hand. Quinn regarded his fist suspiciously before letting him place the bullet in her palm. He chuckled. "Your aim's rusty."

Quinn scowled and threw the bullet over her shoulder. "Shut up, little mouse."

Marcel's eye twitched as he grimaced, "Make that stick and I'm chewing holes through all your clothes." Quinn lowered her head, sparking Marcel's concerns, "How are you doing?"

"I'm fine," she said curtly. Marcel didn't appear entirely convinced, looking at her expectantly for the truth. She gestured him to lean down so she could continue their whispered conversation, slowing down her pace to fall even further behind the assassin. Not that it did her any good. She had the icky feeling that he could still hear them loud and clear. "If they catch Jeanne and Marcus, we go free. If they don't, then good. If they turn on us," she paused and made a little finger gun gesture at Master Ven's back, "No matter how this scenario plays out, it's in my favour."

"Then why do you look so annoyed?"

Quinn glared at Marcel's earnest expression before lowering her chin, shutting her eyes and sighing. "It's just..." she began in a grumble, "... As much as it would benefit us, I would rather Jeanne and Marcus not be caught. NOT because I like them," she snapped, looking at Marcel with eyes daring him to say otherwise, before she tossed her head away and stated decisively, "I don't like to bleed for nothing. That's all."

Marcel gave her an incredulous look behind her back, then reached out for her shoulder when they arrived in the marketplace with Master Ven. The both of them jumped when he suddenly turned to them, like guilty children being caught up past their bedtime. They ceased their conversation as they were led to the centre of the marketplace. Marcel waited a moment for Master Ven to not be breathing down their necks before he turned to Quinn. She waved him quiet, fixated on the two figures hauling bodies approaching the marketplace. Jeanne and Marcus were dropped unceremoniously on the ground.

"If we convince them to hand over the documents, they could be left alive," she said to Marcel, a statement as casual as if she were commenting on the weather.

"The Te'i Sai called them targets," Marcel muttered back, "Targets don't get let go, Miss Quinn." Quinn looked back at their sleeping faces as the thieves were propped up against each other and tied tightly and painfully together. She crossed her arms and her gaze hardened into a glare. Marcel ran a hand through his hair, looking away from the rough treatment of the thieves. Whatever scheme Quinn was hatching in her silence would never work. As much as he loved to play the hero, if she attacked the Te'i Sai to rescue their targets, he would be a helpless protector. Gritting his teeth, he pulled on his jacket to give her a full view of his wound. "Quinn, before you do anything, there's something you have to know about -"

Before he could finish, the assassins had finished tying Jeanne and Marcus and had begun to approach them. They took their places on either side of them, forcing the two into silence as they waited for Jeanne and Marcus to awaken. Quinn's foot tapped impatiently. After what felt like an agonizing hour, their eyes were fluttering open. Master Ven was quick to steal their attention.

"I will give you one chance to hand it over willingly. If you do, your end will be swift. If not, we will show your friends how Te'i Sai deals with uncooperative enemies."

Quinn clenched her fists and looked away while Marcel waved limply at the jester. Then a body fell from the sky.

His hand was stuck mid-wave as he stared at the body that had almost slammed into Master Ven, an involuntary grin creeping up on him. He followed the assassin's directions, looking to the rooftops and spotting the two women standing upon them. He heard movement beside him. Quinn's grip on her parasol had altered, preparing to unsheathe it. The moment Master Ven struck out at Linde, at the sight of the height he jumped, she tossed her weapon aside to Marcel. He caught the pink floral parasol in one hand, looking at her for an explanation.

"Don't engage, but if necessary -" she nodded to the umbrella before sprinting towards Jeanne and Marcus. Marcel unsheathed Quinn's blade, distaste for the thing evident on his face. It felt like a sword for a pixie, no weight to carry its thrusts. Feeling another hilt in his hand just made him think of Shiver, and thinking of Shiver made him want to cry. But holding something in his hand was more comforting than nothing at all, even if the enemy was... That.

He felt himself paralyzed by the simultaneous, impossible battles unfolding before him. Every blow landed heavier than it should have, every jump propelled them further than possible. The battleground took more damage than the opponents, showing off the power behind each blow. He had felt the strength in Master Ven when he shattered Shiver, yet this scene had him in shock. It was a battle composed by the goddess Heresta herself that he had earned no right to witness. One of the women was embed into a wall from the force of a blow, rubble crumbling around her unscathed body before she used it to launch herself back into battle. His grip on Quinn's sword became slick with sweat and his legs finally gave up, dropping him to his knees. His heart was beating faster than he thought it could, his mind struggling to comprehend what he was feeling. Was... was this falling in love?

While Marcel found himself being useless, Quinn had run to kneel beside Jeanne and Marcus.

"I'm not going to make a habit of helping you," she grunted as she yanked off her other glove and made an attempt at untying the tight knots keeping Jeanne's ankles glued together, ignoring anything the pair had to say to her. Her soft, noble-fingers came away raw. She gave a frustrated huff and shuffled over to Marcus, feeling around his belt. "Where is your dagger?" she demanded, frisking down his legs to his boots. When he gave his answer, her hands grabbed onto the ropes binding his chest, attempting to loosen them so she could reach the dagger beneath. "Right," she muttered, embarrassed for not taking a moment to calm herself and remember. She squeezed a hand between Marcus's chest and the ropes, wriggling her fingers around in search of the dagger. Her eyes looked everywhere other than the man. Eventually she yanked her dagger-less hand out and shouted over her shoulder, "Marcel, I need the sword!" She didn't trust herself to cut their ropes with her sword and not accidentally slice them in the process, but she couldn't see a faster way. "Marcel!"

Marcel was on his knees, not paying any attention to her. She followed his gaze to see a goddess of a woman launching herself from a wall and causing bricks to scatter in the process. For a moment she stared, forgetting what she was doing before she shook herself from her awe. She ran to him, ignoring the noises of battle.

"I need the sword to free them," she explained briskly. Marcel looked up at her, his eyes wide and mouth hanging in an open grin like he'd struck an epiphany.

"Quinn," he breathed, "I am the mouse!"

"What?!" Quinn snatched her sword from him and helped him off the ground when the sound of a man being kicked through a building startled her. The woman fighting Master Ven yelled out to them.

"Leave this to my companion and I. Go free your friends and get yourselves to some place safe!"

Before Marcel and Quinn could react, Master Ven was upon them. Quinn barely raised her blade before she found herself in the exact same situation she'd been stuck in before, without Jeanne to wind up exploding horses. She snarled, but didn't dare move against him. Despite Ven's threats, the woman was not leaving. No, she was smiling. Quinn's eyes went wide with panic and she looked at Marcel as much she could without slicing open her own neck, only to see him sporting a relieved smile too. As that voice came from behind them, her blood chilled over.

Shoved to the ground, Marcel looked back at their saviour immediately, gasping at the sight of him. Those glowing, blood red eyes. Quinn scrambled off the ground and ran behind the woman while Marcel was once again rendered useless, staring up at the Red-Eyed Demon. There was not a trace of a smile on the mercenary's face, but the glimmer in his eyes was telling enough.

When Master Ven had left, Quinn cautiously moved to help Marcel up under the Red-Eyed Demon's gaze. The woman had moved forward to kiss the monster's cheek, a gesture she found herself glancing away from.

"That's the -" Marcel began to whisper to her as she was backing away from the demon and his lady, not wanting to turn her back on them.

"Lady Duzelle..." The demon's glowing red eyes locked with hers, freezing her into place. He knew her name, same as the Te'i Sai. She swallowed and returned his gaze with the same apathy. "You are the one who attempted to organize a rebellion against your nation's leader in Veilbrand, correct?"

Try as hard as she could to hide it, Quinn could not stop the shock that flickered over her face. As she prepared herself to lie, she felt his piercing eyes. Something about his intimidating gaze told her that her tongue would not get away with dishonesty, but she would not entrust him with her honesty regardless.

"You are mistaken,"she said strongly, "I am a jeweller, not a revolutionary." His eyes pressed her to speak truth but she just glared, refusing to even if he could see right through her - or run her through. She held her sword up at him to ensure distance between them. Marcel started backing away. "If you want honesty, demon, I must understand how you know my name, and how much of my history you think to be your business." She glanced at the woman beside him then slightly at Jeanne and Marcus, "I'm discussing nothing here."

Setting

Characters Present

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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INK

Running along rooftops was a new thing for Miriam but she found herself keeping up surprisingly well. They soon reached thier destination and Linde was jumping into the fray going for the leader of the Te’i Sai.

"Well this is where the fun begins..." Miriam said as she jumped down to face the two Te’i Sai lackeys

"Oh if it not the little curious cat that stuck her nose where it shouldn't be.... You should have stayed home little girl... Curiosity kills cats." One of the lackeys taunted.

Miriam just smirked and drew Mako and Thresher. "You forget boys I'm no cat I'm a shark."

"What you are is dead!" Shouted the lackey as he came at Miriam both of his blades slashing upwards towards Miriam. To man's surprise his blades were met by a party from Mako. The man's eyes went wide in shock as Thresher stabbed forward into his torso. The man fell back wounded, the price of him underestimating Miriam.

The other lackey came on before Miriam could finish the first. This one learned from his Ally and sent one of his blades high and one low forcing Miriam to party each one with Mako and one with Thresher. The two locked together pushing against each other each trying to push back the blades of the other. In deadlock the Te’i Sai sent a kick but Miriam managed to counter it with her own leg. The impact forced the two apart and they began to circle each looking for the moment to strike.

That was when Miriam felt the other coming fast behind her. Miriam ducked and rolled out of the way at the last second timing it so that the wounded ambusher could not stop his momentum and plunged his daggers deep into his companion's chest. Both assassins stared in shock as the one pulled his bloody blades from the other letting his body fall to the ground.

All just seemed to stop then as the Red Eyed Demon came upon the scene. And soon the still living lackey was limping off behind his master. It was at this point Miriam decided it would be best to be a silent listener as Red and this Quinn spoke. She kept Mako and Thresher drawn but by her side as she waited to see what was to come.

Setting

Characters Present

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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Quinn was forced to hold her sword's hilt with two hands as the Red-Eyed Demon impaled himself on its edge, to her horror. There was a crack as one of her high heels snapped against the weight, ground against stone as she was forced back. She wanted to pull the blade from his stomach, but the way he looked at her as he moved closer disabled her ability to retreat.

"I am the Red-Eyed Demon, and I cannot be slain by such a common weapon."

Quinn grit her teeth and altered her stance, preparing to slash upwards through the demon's body in response to such an arrogant statement, when the hilt was easily wrought from her grasp. By the time she comprehended what was happening, she had a blade beside her neck.

Again.

There was something different about the blade, however, made from a metal she couldn't recall. Whatever it was made from, it made Marcel's eyes shine. She didn't have the luxury to search her memory for it before the Red-Eyed Demon called her by her name. Her true name.

Being told 'We know who you are' didn't hold the same sensation as hearing her name uttered by a demon. The moment it reached her ears, she felt as small as a child. The vulnerable, gullible, ignorant child that came running whenever that name was called. Her hands gripped her skirts as she listened to the rest of what the demon knew. As it turned out, more than herself.

The Garnetts. Rucia's smug face as she took the Chancellor's mansion, the words she whispered into Quinn's ear that brought a blade across her gleeming, golden eye. The Te'i Sai. The force that held her back from completing their work for a second time. It all made damn sense. She clenched her skirts tighter, holding herself back from shaking in violent rage.

Her gaze slid up to Marcel as she was threatened with his death. She supposed he would move onto Jeanne and Marcus if she spoke with open hostility once more. The Red-Eyed Demon was no better than the Te'i Sai he seemed to presently despise.

"I already know the answer, Lady Duzelle, but I want to hear it from you. Are you the one who helped start the revolution with the intent to kill Egruus To' Veilbrand?"

If he knows my answer, why make me say it? Unless he's baiting me into admitting it. Quinn fought back the emotions her recent revelations had brought her, trying to think the situation through calmly. It appeared the only reason she and the others were still alive was because she was involved in the revolution. He didn't save them out of the goodness in his black heart only to slaughter them all because Quinn and he didn't like each other.

Obviously the Red-Eyed Demon had use for her, but exactly what stakes in Veilbrand's rebellion he had was unknown. Quinn let her head droop, biting down on her tongue. She couldn't stop the venom dripping from her words if she tried. If I speak, I'm going to get someone killed.

So don't say anything.

Quinn rose to her full height, lifting her chin. Her stature was still so small in comparison to the demon's looming figure, despite how much she stretched her spine. Her left hand slowly moved over to the Red-Eyed Demon's otherworldly blade to rest two fingers gently on the flat of it, a gesture to 'stay' it despite completely lacking the strength to push it aside herself. If he inched the blade to their left, her entire neck would be severed. What was a few fingers? She turned her head, tilting up to face him.

She had said she was discussing nothing here. Her silence held true to that. Her body was tensed in fierce distrust of the man who held a blade beside her. All that the demon received as a reply to his demanding question was a pair of fearless olive eyes attempting to burn their way through the back of his skull.

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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INK

Quinn's response to the Red-Eyed Demon was simple.

... Silence.

She stood up straight and placed her fingertips on his blade, he knew her answer. She neither confirmed or denied it verbally, but she remained true to her word that she would not discuss it openly merely by his demand.

And much to Linde's amusement as her mouth curved into a smile, the blade slowly dropped.

He sheathed it behind his back and turned to face Quinn before he too, much to everyone's shock, smiled.

"You would summon the courage to face me when entire armies, and even Te'i Sai themselves, have turned and fled... All to protect your secret." He said as he close his eyes, still smiling.

He opened his eyes a few seconds later, and the fire and intimidation dissipated. Slowly, they were replaced by, dare anyone say, a momentary flash of kindness and understanding.

Those flashes didn't last long, however, as they were immediately replaced by a simple look of seriousness as he turned to Linde and jerked his head. She walked over beside him, looking at Quinn and smiling the whole way. As she came to a stop, she unfolded her arms and let them hang at her sides.

"Not just anyone wins his respect, miss. Well played." Linde said cheerfully.

She knew Quinn would likely find no joy in this. Having been put on the spot like that Linde knew Quinn would likely be fuming and prepared to run the Demon through again just to vent her rage against him.

But there was no time for that.

The Red-Eyed Demon looked to Marcel.

"Apologies for the threat. I needed to be sure of her conviction before I could make a final decision." He said in what for him was a rather soft voice.