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Shadow

A cold blooded Assassin who desires only one thing: the total destruction of Te'i Sai

637 views · last seen in Cre' Est
a character in “Assassin's Pledge: War of Attrition”, as played by KumoriRyuu

Description

Birth Name: Unknown
Character Alias: Shadow

Appearance:
Image


Written appearance: Shadow stands tall with a straight posture and always dresses in a faded black jacket with the sleeves cut off just above the elbow. His hair is about five to six inches long and is rather spiky, resembling grass on the plains in the wind. His shirt is typically black as well, though it can vary. He wears black pants which are loose to his frame and perfectly suited for his flexibility and agility in combat. He wears black boots with steel toes and heels which he uses to crush bones and damage internal organs in combat.

Sex: Male
Home Nation: Unknown
Current Location/Residence: Unknown
Exact Age: Unknown
Height: 6' 0"
Weight: Approximately 190-205 lbs
Hair Color: Black
Eye Color: Crimson Red
Complexion: Fair
Body Type: Athletic/Sculpted
Blood Type: O negative
Fighting Style: Makes heavy use of both hard and soft styles
Adaptability Ratio: 9-10

Personality

Personality: Shadow is always a dark, cold, calculating and secretive individual. His lack of trust in people is always a strain on anyone who comes into contact with him and travel with him on any kind of regular basis. Though he doesn't try to keep everyone in the dark, it is his unconscious nature to not provide important details for his fellow comrades. Whether this is out of fear for their safety or out of arrogance, nobody can say.

Shadow is quite childish, having grown up in torturous and brutal conditions as a child. He longs for a normal life, and at times can still act like a child himself when his curiosity reaches a peak. This aspect of his personality is one of the reasons that a very special someone fell in love with him during their first journey together. Before they parted ways she promised to wait for him and made him promise the same, even though he didn't really understand what she meant by it.

Quirks: His blood red eyes are his most distinguishing feature and are what earned him the title of "The Red-Eyed Demon". His entire body is littered with scars from battles that others cannot even begin to fathom, but his ferocious fighting style would give no indication that any of them left any sort of lasting injury despite their size.
Likes: Being alone, spending time on rooftops, fighting strong opponents, enjoying time out in open terrain with a light breeze where he can just relax and not worry about anything.

Dislikes: Large groups of people, people who lie to his face, thieves, other Assassins

Special Talents/Skills: Roda I'l Lousta

Equipment

Weapon/s of Choice: Twin daggers custom designed by Shadow himself

Weapon/s of Last Resort: Swords

Weapons you avoid: Guns

Weapon/Training History: Shadow's training began the day he learned to walk as a baby. The first thing he was taught to do was kick his legs and flail his arms ahead as a form of defense. By age two Shadow was fighting with regular use of punches and kicks against the other infants and children of Te'i Sai who were undergoing the same training. From the get go, Shadow proved himself to be stronger than other children his age, and even those who were older, and so he was chosen by the Grandmaster Takai to become his personal disciple.

Training from age five onward was pure hell and literally torture for the poor child. Shadow was not allowed to make mistakes, and if he did he was severely punished. If he failed to perform up to expectations, which was quite often, he was beaten to within an inch of his life and then brought to the designated doctor of the fortress for healing so that training could resume the next day.

Shadow's training was brutal to an extreme that no other Assassin's had ever been. Literally tortured into the perfect killer, he was constantly drenched in his own blood and the blood of those he trained with. This combination of blood scents became like a drug to Shadow's subconscious, and as he grew and the levels of his own blood began to decrease, he constantly wanted for more. He would actually resort to deliberately letting his opponents cut him so that he could take in the two scents and feed the desire for blood. This lust for blood became known throughout Te'i Sai as Roda I'l Lousta, translated from the ancient language of the Assassins as "Lust for Death"

Over the years, Shadow's training took several turns. Focusing on stealth, single combat tactics, politics, tracking, capturing, escape, manipulation, deception, military tactics, leadership, weapons, close combat, long range combat, herbology, poison crafting, bomb making, and anatomy.

The combination of all these aspects of the life of an Assassin were typically chosen and given out to individuals piece by piece so that specialists could be trained, but Shadow got the entire package during his training. Shadow's mind was always incredibly sharp, but his true genius as an Assassin was revealed when he went against the five Grandmaster's plan in favor of a different tactic to eliminating a group of ten senators from Cre' Est when he was only fourteen years old. His plan involved a lot of risks, but promised the greatest return upon success, and the Grandmasters had to admit that it was sound in concept and design and so went ahead with it. Shadow was able to secure success and his training began to intensify at the behest of the other four Grandmasters. Takai initially objected, as his training was already brutal enough, but eventually he gave in.

Shadow was trained until he broke through the floor and then trained again. It became too much for his young mind and he lost his sanity and went on a blind killing spree to release his hatred and frustrations. Eventually he was subdued and locked away until the doctor was able to help him regain his sanity and grip on reality. Soon after that, Shadow met someone important to his life and future, and so the idea of rebellion began after he lost this person to "illness". He later discovered that her death was caused by Takai himself, and so his plots for revenge began.

History

Biography: Shadow was born in the year 574 Post Union to a young woman named Meya. Her husband was not Shadow's father, and in fact was not the father of his younger sister either, but was never the less the figure he came to call father until he was killed shortly after Shadow's fifth birthday.

Shadow was raised from birth as an Assassin and trained through torture to be the perfect killing machine. He was taught from a young age about anatomy and how to inflict the most pain possible with the smallest amount of effort. Nerve pathways, vital organs, arteries and joint locks/breaks were among the first things Shadow learned to master by the time he was fifteen years old. Shadow's intelligence is that of a genius, but since his life has been so focused on the life of an Assassin, he is unfamiliar with other aspects of normality. This is the primary reason for why he seems so childish when his curiosity reaches a certain level.

When Shadow was seventeen years old, he met a young woman named Iris Di' Nelma. This energetic and kind hearted young woman became his first real friend and taught him about friendship and kindness. These concepts clashed with Shadow's inner nature, and in his struggle to understand them he dropped his guard and Iris's influence on him was discovered by Grandmaster Takai. The evil man decided that she was corrupting Shadow, and so had her lunch poisoned on the day she went on a picnic with Shadow for the first time. She later succumbed to the poison, but asked Shadow to be the one to end her life peacefully in her sleep, but not before confessing to him that she had fallen in love with his innocent and somewhat naive personality. Shadow shed his first real tears of sorrow as he waited for Iris to fall asleep before cleaving her heart in two.

Shadow fell into depression after this event, but was later convinced after examining Iris's remains that she had not died of natural causes. He invaded the Takai's personal library and found his personal journal where he wrote about the day he poisoned her meal, and Shadow almost lost control of himself as he chucked the book across the room. He put the book back and raided the library of Te'i Sai where he found out the truth behind what the organization originally stood for as keepers of balance and peace among the five nations hundreds of years ago and how it had slowly changed over time into an organization of killers who didn't even know what they were fighting for. At that point, Shadow vowed to destroy the current leadership of Te'i Sai and return the honor and dignity of the organization by rebuilding it and redesigning it to suit the ideals it originally stood for.

When Shadow was twenty years old, he encountered a young woman named Taira who joined the Assassins and who became his personal protegee. He taught Taira the truth about Te'i Sai, and she agreed to help him in his quest. He later befriended a Mercenary named Drake, and a beautiful warrior named Linde. He was later reunited with what was left of his family when he found his younger sister as he continued to work on slowly destroying Takai and his influence on Te'i Sai. Over the course of one year, this group of unlikely allies forged strong bonds with each other as they fought for and protected each other after Shadow finally managed to kill Takai and threw the mountain fortress of Te'i Sai into chaos.

With the death of one Grandmaster, Shadow knew the fight had only just begun. He was confronted by his mother shortly after his success, and found that she was in fact the true Grandmaster of Te'i Sai, even above the others such as Takai. She had orchestrated Shadow's entire life up until he met Iris, and she was the one who provoked Takai to investigate Shadow's excursions which led to her death. Shadow fought against both her and her personal mini army of Wraiths, highly trained and skilled Assassins rivaling him in strength and speed before finally killing her and sending the Wraiths into hiding.

Shadow parted ways with his friends when he was twenty two years old, one year after conquering the mountain fortress. Drake returned to his fiance. Taira continues to train to this day and has vowed to resume her role in the fight before it is over. Linde fell in love with Shadow and vowed to marry him, even though he still doesn't understand her or why she would want to marry him. Era returned home to Cre' Est where she is currently studying to become an architect for the purpose of building a home for her brother when he returns from his long journey.

Shadow himself continues to this day to search for ways to destroy Te'i Sai while he continues to take small bites out of it across the continent. Who will he encounter next? Will they survive the conflict engulfing the continent? What lies ahead as Te'i Sai's remaining branches take up arms against Shadow and the other Assassins who have now also taken up the fight against them?

Only time will tell.

So begins...

Shadow's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow

INK

The City of Xi' Mael


The night was cold, and the scent of blood filled the air.

Silence enveloped the city as the moon crept out from behind the clouds to light the rooftops where he now stood. At his feet was the body of his latest victim, a lesser known bounty hunter who had made the mistake of coming after him alone. His chest was open from the groin to the throat, his ribcage split perfectly down the middle exposing his lungs and stomach from under the torn muscles of his upper torso. Blood trickled out of both the gaping wound and the mouth of the poor soul as he looked up at his killer with lifeless, grey eyes.

Suddenly, there was a cracking sound behind him. He whirled around to face what was coming, but it was nothing but a cat which had found its way to the rooftop with him. He sighed and placed his daggers away in their sheaths tucked behind his lower back, hidden behind his lumbar region and fitting to his form so as not to stick out or reveal their presence.

He looked out across the landscape ahead of him, rivulets of light shining on the shingles of the buildings ahead gave it a very ocean like appearance. It was quite beautiful. If he wasn't so busy tonight, he would have stayed to admire the view a while longer, but tonight he had no such time. He was waiting for something important.

Before long, what he was waiting for came to pass as a huge explosion rang out in the distance towards the edge of the city. The shock waves were strong enough to force him to tense to avoid being blasted off the roof he was on, as even the lifeless body at his feet slid forward against his legs. The initial shock wave subsided, but the rumble beneath his feet had only just begun. The building beneath him shook violently as he gritted his teeth and turned his head away against the wind and dust that followed it.

The rush of dust and wind around him was quite the rush, but there was no time to acclimate to the adrenaline that began to flow through his body. He had known this explosion was coming, but there was nothing that he could have done about it. He was unable to find any reliable source that could lead him to the explosive's exact position, and so he had taken up a safe distance from the general vicinity where he knew it would be coming from to wait for it.

Now that the explosion had gone off, he was on the hunt for the one who he knew was responsible for it. There was a madman loose in the city who claimed that he was the Red-Eyed Demon, and that he was going to level the whole city before he was done with his rampage. He advertised this by writing the messages in blood on city walls, and he promised that the killing would only get worse after the individual explosions were over.

He ran across the rooftops to get a better view and finally found what he was looking for. Below him in the streets was a man slinking through the shadows of the alleyways while other people fled for their lives through the streets. He approached the edge of the alley as the crowds of fleeing people increased in density and grabbed a helpless woman from among the league of fleeing insects scurrying through the streets and pulled her deeper into the darkness. He watched for a few moments as he threatened her life if she didn't do as he told her, and in her desperation to protect herself she tried to punch him to get away, but her brave hearted attempt backfired quite spectacularly.

The woman's captor blocked her punch and delivered one of his own directly to her nose, breaking it on contact and sending a stream of blood down her face and shirt as he threw her into the wall. She bounced off the stone structure next to her and collapsed in a heap to the ground. Rising slowly, she tried to get to her feet and run, but her aggressor tripped her before she could get her footing. She fell to the ground again and before she could rise the attacking man pulled her by her hair into a standing position and began to punch her in the lower back. Every blow landed deadly accuracy, and as he looked on he began to piece together what the deranged man was doing.

Little by little the man continued to beat the poor woman into the ground, striking first to her back, then her stomach, then her face before finally picking her up off the ground and throwing her into the wall again. The woman's blood began to slowly pool around her as she twitched on the ground in pain and agony. Her captor had clearly had enough of his game as he finally reached for his weapon, a gruesome sword at his hip. He kicked her onto her back and lifted her up and laid her down on her back on a small bench nearby. She was too weak to fight and too weak to call out for help as the man brought his sword and drove it down through her chest, the blade piercing flesh, muscle and bone before reappearing beneath the bench.

The woman's eyes went grey and blank as her body went limp on the blade. Blood began to soak the front of her shirt and ooze down the blade that now pinned her lifeless body to the bench. The man slowly drew his weapon from her body and watched with glee as she slid off the blood soaked wood to the floor of the alley. He brought up his blade and licked the blood from it as he placed it back in its sheath and laughed to himself out loud. He complimented himself before strolling away towards the back end of the alley where he could find another victim from the still fleeing crowd around him.

The young man wasted no time as he slowly redrew his daggers and walked forward to the absolute edge of the roof. The moon behind him shone his silhouette into the alley walls below, catching the attention of the deranged maniac below him.

"Who's there?!" He shouted angrily.

The young man didn't answer him, only stood there and watched as the killer in the street below him walked through the alleyway to get a better view in the light of the moon. As the young man's face came into view the killer stopped dead in his tracks as he looked up into a pair of blood red eyes which glared down at him. His own red eyes were in fact fake, as he was using special eye drops to temporarily 'stain' his eyes a reddish coloration. He instinctively drew his sword and turned to flee the scene as the young man rolled his eyes and jumped to the next rooftop.

The chase continued for several minutes before the killer finally stopped in a more open street where he had about eight feet on either side of him where he had room to see and room to maneuver should his enemy appear for a direct confrontation. He turned around in the street as a couple more people ran by him to get away from the explosion which had occurred a few minutes ago. The fires were still raging in the near distance, the light of the fires glowing weakly on his blade as he continued to analyze his surroundings. There were a few whispers echoing through the streets, but he figured it was just the wind around him before he finally heard a solid and defined "thud" behind him.

He turned around but was met by a rush of air as the young man's arm swept passed his face. He staggered back a couple of steps and felt his throat with his left hand. He held his hand up and saw blood cascading down his pale white flesh. He looked up and smiled at the youth before him, and without any further words or sounds fell onto his back and dropped his weapon into the street. His eyes slowly lost their light and the youth stood above his lifeless body and smirked before turning and walking away.

Once he was back on the rooftops, he ran towards the explosion to see what the extent of the damage was. When he arrived, it wasn't what he expected from someone who had managed to elude him for over two months. The building that actually housed the explosive was decimated, but the surrounding area was relatively unharmed. The people fighting the fire with buckets of water and blankets to try and kill the flames. As he stood there, a shout echoed forth from one of the shadows nearby. He looked down and saw a small gathering of people pointing up at him shouting "It's the Red-Eyed Demon!!".

The sudden announcement forced him to turn around and run from what would have become an angry mob as he had no way to prove his innocence in all the chaos. Despite having the body of the killer, the red coloration that he had created for himself had faded away. To other people, it was just another dark spot on his reputation and another body for his personal count. He finally found a nice quiet spot at the top of a nearby church where he was able to sit down and take a breather as he looked up at the night sky once again.

"... Another imposter dealt with, and another city whom I cannot save." He said quietly to himself.

He had come to this particular city to eliminate a set of puppets that Takai, the former Grandmaster of Te'i Sai before his death, had placed into power to control this section of the kingdom near the border of Cre' Est and Shaharan. Before he had the chance to do so, however, they had caught wind of his intentions thanks to a small group of renegade bounty hunters whom he had hired to find his targets. They ended up betraying him for more coin than he had originally offered, which he couldn't blame them for, but never the less he hunted them down for betraying him and slaughtered them in their own hideaway.

While his efforts in this city had been wasted on a bad decision, he had learned something important through the experience and now had an even more interesting hunt to look forward to.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Aerith

INK

Streets of Xi' Mael

Hours had passed and Shadow was now on foot in the empty streets in the wee hours of the morning when the sun had yet to peek over the horizon. The buildings were passing by more quickly than he expected, and he realized that he had in fact been daydreaming for most of the last hour. He looked around and got his bearings, recognizing a specific building he had mentally marked earlier in the week which told him he was near the far eastern edge of the city.

He saw a bar that was still open with a few people in it a short distance away and decided to walk inside for a drink of water.

Boldar's Bar

As he entered the room he donned a crude hood he'd fashioned for his jacket which had previously been tucked under the collar to hide his eyes from the candle light so he didn't scare anyone. As the door creaked open several heads shifted in his direction, each one with either a scowl or a stupid grin adorning their features. He walked straight to the first empty table he saw to his right near the door and a window and sat down.

An attractive young waitress approached him slowly, apprehension swallowing her otherwise beautiful features as she obviously was not comfortable with so many strange and drunk men in the bar at this time of early morning.

"May I help you?" She asked quietly in a sweet and high pitched voice.

Shadow looked up at her from under the hood, his eyes still hidden from view and spoke in a soft, low voice.

"Water."

She nodded to him and walked to the barkeeper, telling him what Shadow had asked for. There were a few laughs from around the bar when the word "water" reached their ears. While the barkeeper never the less complied with the request, a couple of the other men in the bar stood up and walked over to him. The one on the far left was drunk off his ass and no real threat in his condition. The one in the middle was quite clear headed and obviously a well trained fighter given his build and his muscle tone. The third one on the right was almost drunk, but had enough of a clear mind to understand that his friends wanted to pick on someone.

"Well, wot 'ave we here lads?" The man in the center asked.

"I'm figurin we got us a newbie there boss!" The drunk on the left replied.

"So what should we do with 'em boss?" The one on the right asked.

"Well there mate! Wot say you? Wanna 'ave a real drink wiv us?" He asked while he leaned in to within a few inches of Shadow's face.

Shadow himself listened to the irritating questions and glared at the leader from under his hood. He knew that it would be a bad idea to do such a thing, but he decided to do it anyway. He lifted his hood back about two inches, though he kept it on, and allowed the candle light to shine on his eyes as the men all leaned in. The two who were drunk backed away immediately, but the leader simply laughed at him and knocked the hood completely back off his head.

"C'mon! Ya gotta do better 'n that!" He laughed.

"Looks like we got ourselves another "Red-Eyed Demon" 'ere fellas! C'mon! Let's rough him up and show 'im wot 'appened ta the last "Demon" wot came 'round these parts!"

The other men gathered confidence at his words and moved in, ready to fight. The barkeeper and his waitress both stepped away to the corner of the room as Shadow prepared himself for something rather unpleasant. The leader came in first, swinging a wild punch with his right hand at Shadow's head. Shadow simply turned in his chair so that his body was at a forty five degree angle away from his attackers and brought his open hand up and caught the punch. Despite the fact that he was sitting in a chair, both his feet were on the ground and his shoulders and hips were aligned with his hand for maximum absorption of the blow.

The punch stopped cold a few inches away from Shadow's head, catching the attacker off guard. Shadow took the opportunity to quickly backhand the man in the Philtrum just under the nose. The blow was fast and hard, and the shock to his brain caused him to lose consciousness almost immediately. He dropped to the ground and his friends, who had yet to sober up, still came at him on both sides. Shadow stayed in his chair and leaned back on the hind legs, allowing the two men to fall forward without a target for their fists to land on. He reached out and punched both men in the bottom corner of their jaws, snapping the thin bones along the side and dislocating both on contact. Had they too not lost consciousness as quickly as they did, they would have been writhing on the floor in agony as the wound was so close to the brain.

He reached up and caught them in his arms as they started to fall and set them down gently on the floor at his feet on top of their "boss". He put his hood back on his head and looked to the waitress who was holding his water. She immediately knew what he wanted and she trotted over to give him his drink. He took the water from her and drank it in a few big gulps. After handing it back to her he stood up and dragged the three unconscious men into an empty booth on the other side of the room, all propped up in seated positions as they slept off their drinks. Shadow turned back to the woman for a moment and stared at her, watching as she stared back with fearful eyes.

"If anyone asks, these men got too drunk and passed out. Do you understand?" He asked in a low voice.

She blinked for a moment and nodded to him.

"O-of course." She said hesitantly.

Shadow nodded back to her and scanned the room for a moment, the other men avoiding his gaze while the barkeeper looked at him somewhat suspiciously. He knew it wouldn't do to stay any longer than this so he took his leave and walked outside.

Streets of Xi' Mael

As he stepped outside he looked down into an alleyway just a short distance away and decided to check inside it. When he walked up to the entrance, his eyes drew him to a little girl hiding in a large cardboard box who trembled with uncontrollable fear. He was not much for helping people, as he didn't know what they'd need to feel better, but something told him to help this child.

He walked forward and knelt down in front of the box as the girl looked up at him and turned away out of fear. He placed his hand on the young girl's back, receiving a whimper of fright in response. He rubbed her back for a moment and she turned her head to look at him again. He did his best to smile for her, as he knew she could see his red eyes from under the hood. Neither knew quite what to do at that point, so Shadow took the first step.

"Are you here alone or do you have a family to go home to?" He asked quietly.

She looked innocently up at him and turned to face him while sitting down cross legged. She didn't say anything for a moment, but then she finally spoke up.

"My mommy and me got separated when we ran from the big boom earlier. I don't know where mommy is, but I want my mommy!" She said.

Shadow sighed, more to himself than to her, and stood up. He held her hand and made her stand up with him as he walked her down the street to the first clinic he saw. There were no churches in the immediate area, nor were there any inns or taverns he'd care to place her in so the clinic had to do.

Unnamed Clinic

Once inside he looked over at the first nurse who walked out of the back room to greet them and waved her down.

"This child has been separated from her mother. Could you look after her?" He asked.

The nurse smiled at him and nodded.

"Of course we can. Come here sweet heart." She said sweetly to the girl who came forward and took her hand.

"Thank you for bringing her here. We'll put the word out first thing in the morning when the doctor comes in at sunup. She'll be back with her mother soon." She said cheerfully.

Shadow bowed to her and walked outside.

Streets of Xi' Mael

Helping children was not a common thing for him, but it felt good to know that the girl still had her mother to go home to. Shadow had no such luxuries in life, and so when he had the chance to help people evade the pain he felt every day he took it. He didn't know what else he could do at the moment, as he was growing rather weary. He decided that the best thing to do would be to find a place to rest for the night until the sun came up in the next few hours. The rest wouldn't be as long as he'd like, but it would be welcome none the less.

He scaled the nearest building and found a nice spot tucked out of sight of anyone below and sat down and fell asleep. The sun would wake him once it hit his face, and when that happened he would be able to continue the hunt once his body had some time to rest.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Aerith

INK

Light crept over the edges of the buildings and shone into the corner of his eyes from underneath his hood, alerting him to the fact that day had finally broken. When he opened his eyes, he guessed that it had been about four hours since he had fallen asleep earlier. He stretched his arms above his head and rotated his head in a circle, cracking his neck as he did so. To further awaken himself he used both hands to slap the sides of his face. The shock was more than enough, and before he knew it he was bright eyed and fully alert to the world around him.

He stood up and walked around on the rooftops for a few minutes and found himself wandering unconsciously back towards the area where the explosion had taken place. It was odd for him to return to such a place, but in the end it would be entertaining to see how everyone would react to him with his hood up.

The Assassins of Te'i Sai were known for their dark grey robes with the symbol of the ancient Assassins engraved on the center of their chest and the center of their back in a dark red coloration. Also, the belt buckle they adorned had the same symbol, also in a dark red coloration. Their boots were typically black, as were the pants they wore under the robe. They covered their faces with cotton black masks. The cut for the eyes made them appear rather sinister and aggressive, which suited their new lifestyle in their efforts to put an end to Shadow's activities.

Shadow was wearing no such outfit. His black jacket flowed down to about his knees in length and waved out behind him like a flag. His black pants and boots both were somewhat faded from having had them for so long, and his shirt was also a black faded black coloration that matched the rest of his attire. His jacket had a hood attached just behind his neck that was not really a part of the original design. When the murders and framing started, he figured it wouldn't be a bad idea to bring a hood into the picture. The problem was that it closely resembled the hoods of Te'i Sai. Had their hoods been black as well one could easily suspect him of being a member of Te'i Sai right away.

He approached the area of interest and found himself staring down in the same spot he had been during the previous night when someone shouted that the Red-Eyed Demon was standing on the roof. He hopped down in one of the alleyways and approached the rubble of the now smoldering ashes of the building and found weapons scattered across the ground. One of them was in the rubble itself, and he guessed that there had been some kind of scuffle. The weapons weren't that great of quality, but they looked nice.

He stepped into the empty shell of a building and picked up what looked to be the most expensive of the blades. It was unbalanced and very flashy, no doubt a decoration for a noble. Nobody with a head for combat would ever carry such a blade and expect to actually fight with it. Using it for ceremonies where they were purely for display, yes. Combat, no. He tuned the blade sideways in front of him and let the weight of the weapon bear down on his left index finger. He dragged the blade across from end to end and pulled it away when he was done.

"... No cut." He said as he checked his finger.

He examined the edge of the blade again and found that, although it was indeed sharpened, it was not professionally done. This blade would only cut when used with excessive force, rather than the weight of the weapon being enough to break skin. He found himself to be glaring at the blade in disgust as he grabbed the end of the blade with his left hand and bent the sword until it snapped somewhere in the middle into two pieces. He tossed one piece to each side of him as he exited the rubble and gathered the other weapons to examine them. When he was finished, he laid them down in a circle around the now broken sword. This display was an ancient symbol of blatant disrespect to whomever the weapons initially belonged to and was something only other Assassins or well educated bounty hunters and mercenaries would know about.

He smiled at the thought and walked over to a bench near the side of one of the buildings to watch the crowd as the people went about their daily lives. It was only about eight to nine hours after an explosion and already they were back to normal as if it had never occurred. He had to admire the people's resolve to continue with their activities, what with all the chaos of the world around them. But then again, the fact that the Assassins were all at war with each other over territory and influence made it easy for the people to deal with such events as they were almost weekly occurrences over the last year.

I almost feel sorry for them He thought to himself as he closed his eyes and crossed his arms in front of his chest.

He could hear everything around him very clearly despite the conversations of other people and the gentle sound of the wind blowing past the buildings. It was a peaceful morning despite what had happened, and it was the perfect environment for Shadow to enjoy a little more time of relaxation before continuing on with his journey.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Aerith

INK

Time ticked by slowly and the day began to fade yet further into the darkness as Shadow kept watch over the would-be Assassin killer that slept not more than fifteen feet away from him. She was actually quite pretty to look at when you went passed the mask to see her face, and she was in fantastic shape physically which Shadow guessed was the reason why she was tough enough to survive this long. Her injuries would take at least a week to heal with the herbs he had given her, and hopefully within that time he'd convince her not to try and remove his head from his shoulders.

Shadow sat back and laid down on top of the vent box and stared at the sky as the first stars began to shine in the dimming light. One thing had led to another quite rapidly over this last month and he was mentally exhausted from what had transpired. In the last month he'd taken down four corrupted senators who were puppets of Te'i Sai, rid himself of countless aggressors in the form of bandits, thieves and other Assassins, and managed to somehow take down eight imposters to his name and reputation. None of this had been easy, and though he had made it through miraculously without a scratch he had a feeling his luck wouldn't hold up. As good as he was, he was still only human, no matter how much he wished otherwise.

Sometimes it feels like you're invincible, and then life takes an unexpected turn and your mortality is forced on you with the greatest of prejudice. Shadow knew the feeling well as he slowly slipped into his memories of that day.

It was three years ago almost to the day when Shadow engaged in a face to face battle with former Grandmaster Takai of Te'i Sai in Roda Valley. The mountain fortress built into the side of the majestic peak of Mt. Heresta at the center of the Continent was where he grew up and where almost all of his training had taken place. The one thing that mountain was never considered to be in Shadow's mind, however, was home. He was told that home is where you "hang your hat", though he never really considered anywhere he went to be home.

That day, however, was one to remember forever. Shadow had infiltrated Te'i Sai with the help of a very special friend named Taira who was one of his first real apprentices as an Assassin. Thanks to her he had managed to reach Takai's offices without detection and fought with both him and Korvaiis, the man who was then second in command of Te'i Sai. The fight was a losing one and Shadow was stabbed in the leg, run through the chest and broke his left leg after fleeing from the confrontation. He had, however, managed to kill Takai during the conflict before escaping. Takai had grown too confident during the encounter when Shadow gutted him during a rushed attack, spilling his intestines and lower stomach onto the floor of his office before jumping out the three story window into the Grand Training Hall below.

Shadow would have been finished if his knowledge of anatomy wasn't where it was at that time. He knew he wouldn't avoid the blade that pierced his chest, so he guided it through his body while taking great care in the moments that he had to avoid his lungs, stomach, liver and his abdominal aorta in his back. The blade went clean through to the other side and by some divine miracle it missed everything important, leaving Shadow wounded, but no worse for wear than when he had been stabbed in the leg. Shadow barely escaped the Assassins who came after him before collapsing in Raggella Forest outside the fortress in the Valley. It was there that he met someone very special to him, though he had lost contact with her two years ago.

Shadow decided it was best not to dwell on the past for too long and so he forced himself to open his eyes. When he did, he found he had daydreamed for almost an hour, and the sky was now fully taken over by the night. Brilliant purple and blue colors weaved and flowed through the air as the stars glittered in the heavens. He had always loved watching them, but with a potential threat sitting fifteen feet away he dared not admire them without checking her every now and then. No sooner had that thought crossed his mind when the young woman began to wake up, checking herself in her slight delirium as she awoke before making eye contact for the first time.

"How are you feeling?" He asked calmly, trying not to sound threatening.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Aerith

INK

Shadow was called out of his thoughts by the sudden flash of steel flying in front of his face as a small knife was embedded in the stone ground beneath him. His eyes followed it to its landing place and saw a letter in the blade. He looked quickly towards where the knife had come from, but whomever had thrown it was already gone. He picked up the knife and examined it, smiling to himself when he recognized the specific craftsmanship of the blade near the hilt. Removing the note, he held it up to a small bit of light behind him and read it silently to himself.

"Our enemies are on the move and are closing in on your location here in the city. Remaining would be a fool's errand Shadow, so I highly suggest you gather your belongings and get out while you can. If you follow the path north from the city's eastern gate towards the mountains you will come to a small cottage where a reliable informant will be waiting for you. From there you will have to deduce where to go on your own.

Stay safe Shadow,

Taira"


Shadow put the note away in his jacket and stood up, wiping the tears from his eyes with his jacket sleeve and drawing in the powerful resolve he usually held.

"I'm sorry Aerith, but I have to go now. Keep steady for the next few days, clean the wound every morning and afternoon and replace the herbs with the contents of this pouch." He pulled a small pouch from his waist and tossed it beside her right leg.

"It's the same special blend of herbs that I used on your wounds when you slept earlier, so you'll have to brace yourself for a pretty bad stinging sensation each time but it will only last for about thirty seconds before it becomes more of a soreness than a sting. Stay safe and out of sight of men like these and you should be fine. If you wish to follow me and continue our conversation, come find me in the city of Mei' Xion on Cre' Est's western border. Use your skills to track down a trader named Zennou and he will point you in the direction of my hideout in the city."

He gave Aerith a light bow before turning away from her.

"I look forward to our next meeting Aerith. Farewell."

With that, Shadow took a few rapid steps forward and disappeared into the darkness. He stepped lightly and quickly through the cobblestone streets and found his way to the rooftops once more where he quickly managed to locate the eastern exit from the city and promptly took to the ground once again as he knocked out the guard and ran to the dirt road leading north towards the forest at the base of the mountain pass about twenty miles ahead. The cottage Taira mentioned in the note was well known to him, as was the informant who lived there, and he almost had to smile at the thought of seeing him again.

Shadow continued through the night and into the next morning at a steady jog before he came to his destination about six hours later when the sun began to rise above the mountains.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow

INK

Shadow took the time to discuss with his contact the details of what was to come. His prey had been on the move for some time now, and now was about to cross the border to Triveila. Apparently the young King and Queen of Triveila were surrounded by greedy and arrogant "supporters" who were meant to help guide and protect them, but who were instead seizing power piece by piece under everyone's noses and making it look legal. Through manipulation of the process of power, they had all but turned the King and Queen into nothing but figure heads.

"Seems I have new targets on top of my old ones..." Shadow said to himself as he exited the cottage.

His contact was an old friend who was once one of the Assassins of Te'i Sai back when Shadow was still a teenager but who had deserted them when he saw a brutal murder within the ranks that was never reported or investigated. How could he support an organization that didn't care about lost members? Shadow never really cared much either way, but he could understand the frustration of not having support when it was otherwise promised.

Shadow tucked a few documents he'd taken from his contact away in a small clip behind his back and began the trek towards the border. It would be nightfall again soon, spending all day discussing strategy and tactics with his contact had eaten most of this day and he had some ground to make up.

Along the way he took the time to practice his knife throwing on every target that made itself available. Falling leaves, dead branches, stones that were in close proximity to one another where the blade could squeeze through, flowers on bushes, and even specific blades of grass whenever they were taller than those around them. His accuracy was as strong as ever, but he still felt the need to practice every day so as not to lose his sense for it. There was a delicate art to throwing the daggers he'd designed, and though he had long since mastered it he was of the opinion that you could never truly master a weapon, only guide it as its humble servant towards it target.

As night descended upon him Shadow stopped his advance. Soon the creatures of the night would stir, and he didn't care to be caught in the middle of a Devil Wolf hunting party. The beasts, while formidable even one on one, presented a challenge that not even Shadow cared to face if he could avoid it. The creatures looked and sounded like wolves, but they were well over nine feet long and weighed an average of seven hundred pounds. Anyone foolish enough to fight a group of them was on a suicide mission and Shadow had no intent of falling victim to such a dangerous enemy.

Luckily for Shadow the Devil Wolves were particular to a specific section of Triveila's forested region in the southwest near the border between Gweynura and Triveila. The Devil Wolves almost never journeyed outside their main territorial region in the forests and they avoided the open plains like the plague since they were too large to sneak up on anything in such open terrain. Shadow found a secluded spot about ten miles away from what looked like a small village that was obviously within Triveila's border judging by the spacing of the lights in the windows. He took what he had and set up a small camp for himself.

Once a fire was made he took out the documents from before and began to scan them again to check and double check their contents. The first was a list of names and descriptions of his new targets. The second was likely locations of his targets as well as other areas of interest for him to look into suspicious activity or possible new weapons and clothing to disguise himself. The third was another list, but this time written in the ancient language of the Assassins, and one which described to him a secret location beneath the Capitol City that was supposedly a maze within a maze. At the center was supposed to be something spectacular, but Shadow wasn't one for treasure hunting.

He decided it was best if nobody knew about this supposed treasure and so he tossed the parchment into the fire and watched as it slowly burned away. If he found the time to return and look into it, he would, but for now he needed to keep attention away from the Capitol City so that he had an easier time finding and eliminating his targets.

After a couple hours Shadow began to grow restless, and so he stood up and walked away from the fire. He drew his daggers and began to practice a form he'd made which featured smooth and graceful movements designed to slip in and out of enemy defenses. Though it was simple in theory, during combat when enemies were flailing to and fro it was much harder than it initially seemed. Most who practiced some form of combat training but never put it into practice believed that reflexes and intuition take over and that you'll be alright if you trust your training. The sad fact is that was wishful thinking, and no matter how well practiced your moves were, if you didn't actually put them to practical use against a living thing, they were useless to you. Shadow had found this out the hard way when he was thirteen.

Throughout the night he continued to practice different routines ranging from forms, meditation and listening, to more aggressive and violent routines such as using his weaponry against the surrounding environment to hone both his strength and his endurance. Striking at fallen logs was particularly useful as they were stationary and gave a perfect gauge of just how well trained you truly were if you struck them with a weapon. If you felt even the slightest backlash from your attack, you were pushing too hard and forcing the attack which would inevitably come back to haunt you when the battle was over.

As the minutes ticked by, Shadow began to feel more and more that something was amiss. The air began to grow quieter, the animals more still, and even the wind began to fade.

"... Looks like I have company..." He said quietly to himself as his attention turned back to his campfire.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow

INK

Shadow walked towards his fire and tossed a single rock into the center of the flames.

As he watched the rock shift colors in the flames, the slight rustling of leaves in the trees and the faint aroma of metal not his own began to coat the moisture of the night air around him. The scent of looming battle was exciting, as he did not often find strong opponents to give him the taste of battle his soul cried out for. While he didn't like to admit it, Shadow lived for conflict and death and relished in the thrill and the rush that they brought to him.

He looked up and forward, leaning his head back as he arched his neck and cracked it to one side. He straightened his neck and looked ahead, watching the embers of the flames rise and disappear into the air in front of him as he heard the faint sound of footsteps gathering in a circle around him. His mouth widened slightly into a smirk as he turned on his heel to face the new circle of guests.

Dark grey robes with the red insignia of the Assassins adorning their chests stood before him as he continued to smile at the one in command. It was a man he knew well from his past, one who had a hand in his training when he was younger. He was in his mid thirties and was no pushover despite his lack of time outside the fortress where he was first stationed before Shadow's rebellion. After Shadow's escape from the mountain fortress in Roda Valley, he was moved to Triveila's Hidden Temple deep in the mountainous forests where he became a more active participant in the hunt for Shadow's head.

"It's been a while, Ven." Shadow said in a low and raspy voice.

The man's hood came up and was laid to rest behind his head as he looked at Shadow with murderous intent.

"I'd hoped never to have to face you myself Shadow. I was sure that you would have been killed long ago due to your arrogance in your own skills and your ignorance of the world around you. How is it you've survived?" He hissed.

Shadow's smile widened as he turned his head to scan the circle of Assassins around him. His eyes were straight, like that of a Raptor scanning the horizon for prey. A few of the hoods went down ever so slightly as he looked in their direction, and Shadow knew from that single gesture that they were afraid of him. His eyes scanned each man in turn before his eyes landed on Ven once more, the smile still on his face.

"I have survived because I have changed. Perhaps once I was arrogant to my skills, but when I killed our Grandmaster I saw how little my skills were worth in the face of a true adversary. Once, I though of only myself and would do anything to have my way."

Shadow took a moment to wipe the smile from his face before he drew his Twin Daggers and set them against his forearms.

"Today Ven... I fight not for myself. I fight for that which I believe in. I don't think you've seen the damage that Te'i Sai has caused to the people of this continent. They can no longer put their faith in their Kings and Queens. They can no longer let their children play in the streets without supervision. They can no longer believe in a future where they can live and die in peace without the constant threat of finding themselves under Te'i Sai's thumb. Today, the people of this continent live in fear thanks to what we've done, what we've been doing for hundreds of years."

Shadow's grip on his daggers tightened as his stance dropped a few inches lower.

Ven shook his head and scoffed for a moment as he drew his sword and pointed it in between Shadow's eyes.

"You're such a naive fool Shadow. Sheep need a strong shepherd to guide them towards the future where the wolves don't prowl. The people you speak of dream of peace, but what does that mean? No Shadow, these people don't need your version of peace, they need guidance. They cannot live in this world without proper guidance, and that is what we've given them. That's what we created you for after all!" He said with force as he took a step forward.

Shadow took a step forward as well, accepting the private challenge to battle.

"Am I so naive Ven? Am I so ignorant of the world around me? You, who haven't walked the streets where the people tread dare to lecture me of what they need? You haven't seen what they have, what they lack, and what they need. Takai created me as an instrument of fear and death, not a means to guide people. Killing helpless men, women, elderly, and even children. Children, Ven. I have mercilessly killed innocent children for no reason because Takai said that I should not hold life in high regard and that nobody is truly innocent and immune from death."

His daggers flashed in front of him, catching the light of the fire behind him for a moment as if he had harnessed it on the blades and used it to heat the air around him as the shimmer of the fire surrounded his silhouette.

"You have been blinded Ven, and you will either open your eyes or you will die... I will know your answer by the time this battle is over." He said, again in a low voice.

Ven's anger began to build as he slid another step forward. He knew this would be a short battle, but one in which only one of the two combatants would walk away from. The other Assassins had at first been brought as backup in case Ven failed, but the moment he stepped forward to challenge Shadow one on one they became not but observers to a fight between masters.

Shadow's next step forward started the battle, and two blades clashed in the firelight. Shadow stepped right as Ven stepped left, cutting off his first advance. Shadow's smirk returned as his right foot came forward and swept Ven's leg out from underneath him. He recognized the attack too late to dodge it or life his leg out of the way, but he was able to force his sword into the ground momentarily to balance himself and pushed back with his back leg to regain his balance. He pulled his sword free of Shadow's trap and renewed his attack with a stabbing attack towards Shadow's chest. This movement was a serious mistake and Ven knew it the moment he made it.

Shadow's reflexes had always been the sharpest Ven had ever seen, and today they were beyond what even he remembered from Shadow's past training. Shadow's torso rotated ninety degrees and his sword slipped by harmlessly as the blade in Shadow's left hand slid up and protected his body from any possible changes in direction while the dagger in his right hand came up and forward. The tip of the blade stopped but a mere fraction of an inch away from Ven's throat, and he had to hold back a gulp to avoid making contact with the razor edges of Shadow's weapons. Shadow himself had created those blades and they were crafted from an ancient and exceedingly rare metal called Orichalcum. The metal was strong enough to completely annihilate other metallic objects, and with how Shadow folded and refolded them during the forging process, they were sharp enough to slice through almost all other metal weapons.

Shadow demonstrated this unique ability by turning the dagger in his left hand towards Ven's sword and driving it forward and into the ground. His dagger began cutting through Ven's sword when the tip of the long weapon hit the ground, and before long the blade snapped in two. Ven stepped back and looked at his weapon, a sword his father had given him when he joined Te'i Sai's Assassin ranks when he was fifteen. Had he not been so focused on Shadow he would certainly have shed a tear. For now, he could only stare at his weapon in shock as Shadow threw a kick into his upper chest and sent him flying off his feet.

Ven stood up a few moments later after shaking off the shock of the impact. He tossed the remains of his weapon aside and stepped back, Shadow's silhouette still outlined for him by the fire behind him.

"So you have destroyed my weapon, what does that prove?" Ven asked in a cold and unemotional voice.

Shadow stood up straight and looked Ven dead in his eyes. The sight of Shadow's darkened silhouette and glowing red eyes were enough to shake even Ven's confidence as he stared into the depths of Shadow's darkened soul for the first time in years. The glowing and churning coloration of his red eyes caused a chill to run down Ven's spine as he awaited an answer to his question.

"... I have done the same to you as Te'i Sai has done to others. As a warrior your weapon is your soul, your connection to this world. Your weapon is a reflection of you, and it is a symbol of your pride and contains your hope for a future in which you and your weapon continue to prove your worth. Now take this empty and naked feeling within your heart and amplify it Ven. That is how the people of Cre' Est feel so long as Te'i Sai is in control of their lives. It is for that reason that I fight Ven, and it is for that reason that you cannot win. You have no hope left."

Shadow placed his daggers away and turned his back to Ven, a gesture in which Assassins signified that they had completely destroyed their opponent, whether they lived or not. Ven didn't take kindly to the gesture of course, and in his rage he made a foolish mistake. He rushed Shadow for all his worth, to which Shadow simply side stepped and grabbed his lower jaw in his left hand as he tripped forward.

Shadow kicked a smaller branch in the fire which launched the rock he had placed in the flames into the air. He grabbed it in his right hand, his gloves shielding his flesh from direct contact, and shoved the burning rock into Ven's mouth and slammed his right hand down on top of his head. The impact forced his jaws to close on the solid object in his mouth, and shattered a few of his teeth against the burning piece of Earth. His screams were muffled from the obstruction as he fought with all his might to free himself. Shadow held fast, and before long Ven fainted from the pain of his broken teeth and the searing flesh inside his mouth due to the heat of the rock. As he collapsed, Shadow released the pressure which allowed the rock to finally fall free to the ground as he slowly set Ven down on the ground. Blood trickled from his mouth as Shadow took a step away from him.

The other Assassins came forward and took Ven's unconscious body away before they disappeared into the night. Shadow looked at the blood on the ground and let out a sigh. It brought him no joy, despite the smile he had carried in battle, to do such a thing to Ven and simply let the others take him away. Shadow's heart ached, but not for Ven. His heart ached that he found he was still capable of such acts of violence. Simply beating Ven had been enough for him, but when attacked again he resorted to something that he knew would bring unbearable pain and agony to Ven and the others.

He sat down on a log by his fire and sheathed his daggers as he sighed once more.

"... One day, I'll learn to control it." He said quietly to himself.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

INK

Shadow listened intently as he waited for his guest to show themselves, and he didn't have to wait long. Though they wore a cloak and hood, it was obvious that a woman now stood before him. When she spoke, she conveyed what he almost felt was a sense of familiarity. He wasn't sure who she was, but he heard no hint of fear in her voice when words began to come forth.

“I’m not here to fight.” She said calmly.

Shadow examined her tone of voice, body posture, and breathing for a brief moment before sliding his dagger back into its sheath.

Though he didn't know who she was, it was clear that she meant no real harm though he was sure she could give as good as she got judging by her bearing and lack of fear in his presence. His red eyes usually was enough to make those who saw him quake in fear at his reputation and the legend that was growing around him through the years.

"So, do you and your bird plan to remain at a distance or will you join me by the fire?" He asked evenly.

He had seen the bird flying against the skies towards the treeline though he still couldn't make out exactly what kind of bird it was. The shadow of the raptor in flight was barely visible in the dim lighting as the moon began to set behind the clouds, but never the less Shadow's keen eyes managed to spot it as it disappeared into the greenery of the trees.

"I have no intention of fighting with you either, as I've already had my fill as you can probably tell by the large pool of blood simmering ten feet in front of you."

He brought his hands forward and interlocked his fingers together as he brought his hands up in front of his face and leaned forward slightly. His position would make it nearly impossible to launch any kind of meaningful attack, though if he was attacked at the correct angle he could still do some decent damage. Otherwise, it was a very open and unguarded posture for him to be sitting in given the present company he now kept.

He figured she was in a listening mood, but he couldn't be sure so he kept his eyes on her though his posture said he was off guard and not a threat.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

INK

Mayumi could tell that he was observing her and by the way his red orbs shifted slightly upwards she assumed he had spotted Sora too and then he spoke again.

“So, do you and your bird plan to remain at a distance or will you join me by the fire?"

"I have no intention of fighting with you either, as I've already had my fill as you can probably tell by the large pool of blood simmering ten feet in front of you." He informed her.

‘He has keen eyes.’ She took note.

Mayumi cautiously made her way over, seeing as the young man had shifted his position into an unguarded one but never the less still took no chances with letting her guard down.

She could feel his eyes on her as she crossed the distance between them and sat on a fallen log by the fire opposite him.

“You are Shadow. Correct?” she asked him monotonously and waited for his confirmation.

Her eyes scanned the area every once in a while out of habbit, Sora covering the area behind her. The wind was starting to grow chilly like she was used to, and knowing that it was her favorite time of day, it comforted her a little. Mayumi allowed her tense body to relax a little, but not to the extent that she was off-guard.

All of a sudden, the world spun around her and she nearly fell off the log she sat on, but fortunately her quick reflexes helped her get her footing in place again before she had the chance to fall.

‘What was that?’ she questioned herself and wondered if she was hallucinating.

She reasoned that it must be lack of rest for the past few days added with non-stop travelling. Recently, she had also been having the feeling that she was being followed.

‘Was that hallucinating too?’

After a while of thoughts on her little problem, she decided to ignore it and quickly finish her business here so that she could move on. She never liked staying in once place for longer than necessary. It just spelled trouble to her.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

INK

Her approach was calculated and careful and there was a special grace about how she moved that reminded him of someone from his past. It was almost comforting, had it not been for the fact that it was coming from someone he didn't know or trust.

Still, she was an interesting one.

Shadow seemed to have a knack for meeting interesting and dangerous people, which was further confirmed when she next spoke.

“You are Shadow. Correct?” She asked.

Shadow's red eyes locked onto her eyes and the red coloration began to swirl and darken in the firelight. While it was usually rage which triggered this reaction, this time it was shock more than anything else. He unconsciously let his right hand slip back to the handle of his dagger, but caught himself in time to stop just before actually grasping it.

"... How do you know that name?" He asked in a lower voice than before.

"Only four people have ever known me by that name, most of whom are dead. One was the Grandmaster of Te'i Sai's mountain fortress here in Cre' Est who is the one who gave me that name, but he now lies dead and buried beneath the fortress. Two was my mother, Meya, the secret head of Te'i Sai and one of two individuals pulling the strings of the Grandmasters themselves. She too lies dead by my hand. Third was a young Assassin whom I trained and brought with me into battle against Te'i Sai, and who now lives as a shadow to mine."

He saw her falter for a moment and waited until she had regained control before speaking again. He was unsure if it was a lack of rest and mental relaxation, or something else which could prove troublesome. Either way, he continued.

"And the final person who knew that name was something of a hermit, living by himself in the wilderness. A man with no family as far as I know, and no connection to the outside world save for the skills he acquired in his life. I don't know what his name is, nor if he's still alive, but I was able to confirm that he was training someone before I lost contact with him not long ago. I know for a fact that it was Te'i Sai who killed him, and that they left a note attached to his corpse which spoke to kill me. I never saw the body or the note, but one of my scouts did and was kind enough to warn me to be on my guard."

He shifted his weight in his seat, now taking a more upright seated position. While his position was still open and relatively non threatening, it was none the less very guarded which signified that he was becoming somewhat anxious with her.

"So I'll ask you once more: How do you know that name?" His voice had returned to its normal pitch but was slightly louder in volume this time.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

INK

"And the final person who knew that name was something of a hermit, living by himself in the wilderness. A man with no family as far as I know, and no connection to the outside world save for the skills he acquired in his life. I don't know what his name is, nor if he's still alive, but I was able to confirm that he was training someone before I lost contact with him not long ago. I know for a fact that it was Te'i Sai who killed him, and that they left a note attached to his corpse which spoke to kill me. I never saw the body or the note, but one of my scouts did and was kind enough to warn me to be on my guard." He said.

Mayumi recognized the details of the last person to be her master and now knew that Shadow knew her master.

‘It’s confirmed. Te’i Sai killed Master.’ The aura around her darkened with hatred for a split second before returning to its usual nature.

"So I'll ask you once more: How do you know that name?" He asked louder this time.

She wondered if she had made the wrong move by mentioning his name, but she had needed to confirm his identity though. His body tensing told her that he was no longer relaxed and his guard was up, showing signs of anxiety. At that moment, she knew she had to do something about it that minute or risk the chance of losing the trail she had been following for a year.

She slowly took out the letter from one of her many skirts’ pocket, the letter containing the words he had just spoken not a minute ago. Her pale gloved hand held it out to him above the fire, not minding the heat. Knowing words would not convince the man before her in his current predicament, she gave him solid evidence thinking it to be a better choice.

“From the details of the last person you have just spoken about, I am sure you are talking about my master. I refuse to do as the letter says for I know it was not my master who wrote it. I was here to find out who had killed him and wrote this letter, but it seems my questions have already been answered.” She explained in a monotone.

“I need to be sure though. Does the dark red symbol on that letter represent Te’i Sai?” she inquired.

Suddenly, the pained cry of a person was heard somewhere northwest of them.

‘Another victim.’ The girl thought, but felt the small achievement was not good enough.

She had set up traps in her blind spots earlier before entering the small forested area where they currently sat in, lowering the risk of any attacker catching her off-guard. She had been hearing faint thuds all around the area during their conversation, notifying her of the people or animals being caught in her traps. At the same time, she took it as training, improving her skills.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

INK

“From the details of the last person you have just spoken about, I am sure you are talking about my master. I refuse to do as the letter says for I know it was not my master who wrote it. I was here to find out who had killed him and wrote this letter, but it seems my questions have already been answered.” She explained in a monotone.

“I need to be sure though. Does the dark red symbol on that letter represent Te’i Sai?” she inquired.


Shadow was skeptical, but never the less relaxed his body and stood up to take the letter from her. His six foot frame dwarfed her as she sat on the log and he reached out to accept the letter. He looked at it front and back and examined the parchment it was written on. It seemed ordinary paper, but it was actually a special skin made out of the distinctive paper like flesh of a creature known as the Acro Fi'l, a kind of wombat that lived only in the forests of Roda Valley, Te'i Sai's Cre' Itian Mountain Fortress.

Suddenly, the pained cry of a person was heard somewhere northwest of them.

Shadow's ears perked up and his eyes slid from the letter to the direction the cry came from. He didn't react to it, as it was not in his nature to go out of his way to help someone where there was no benefit save for "moral achievement". He looked back to the letter and opened it up to read it's contents.

Kill Shadow...

He recognized the handwriting immediately, and he now knew that once again, he was going to have to be on the run. The handwriting came from none other than the head of the Wraith's, Kiiro. The Wraiths were a team of what were known in the trade as Super Elites, Assassins with training and skills that far transcended those of normal Assassins and who could hold their own in combat against any opponent and against any opposing weapon. Shadow himself was one of the Super Elite, but he was not a member of the Wraiths. They were a squad put together by Te'i Sai's second in command of Roda Valley known as Korvaiis. Kiiro was his son, and was the one whom he wanted to take over Te'i Sai now that Grandmaster Takai was dead and gone.

"... So Kiiro's on my trail once again... Perfect." He said as his eyes darkened and churned once again in the moonlight.

He took the letter and tossed it into the fire, watching with some satisfaction as the red engraving erupted into flames and disappeared. He looked back at the young woman before him, but he offered no smile or hint of emotion as he spoke.

"No matter the circumstances behind how your master died, nor how you came to find me, there is really only one thing that you should be concerned with at this point young lady: Run." He said as he walked back over to sit down on his log again.

"Kiiro, leader and by far the most powerful of the Wraiths, is now hunting me once again despite his defeat the last time we met. If you stay in my presence for too long, you'll meet him for yourself and you will die, of that, I can guarantee... About your master, there is no doubt in my mind that Kiiro is the one who killed him. I regret what happened to him, as though we weren't really friends, we weren't enemies either and I had great respect for his skills and his bravery to live a life in opposition to Te'i Sai where most all others live in fear."

His eyes looked over to hers once again, and he was now completely relaxed despite what he was saying.

"Kiiro is far too powerful for you to defeat or to hunt without getting yourself killed. Should you choose to go after him, his fellow Wraiths will find and kill you before you ever get close. So if you have any thoughts of revenge in mind, abandon them right now. I knew your master well enough to understand that he was beyond thoughts of revenge and spite, and as his pupil you should be too. Instead, why don't you tell me what his final words to you were before his death. It might help me determine how best to proceed with investigating this mess and helping you find a way to put his soul to rest which is what he'd prefer as opposed to you getting yourself killed without meaning or purpose."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

INK

She watched him as he examined the letter, his face expressing recognition when he read the letter’s contents.

"... So Kiiro's on my trail once again... Perfect." He said.

‘Kiiro?’

The letter was then tossed into the fire and she watched warily as the man watched the letter burn with what she thinks to be a satisfactory look.

"No matter the circumstances behind how your master died, nor how you came to find me, there is really only one thing that you should be concerned with at this point young lady: Run." He told her as he went back to his seat by the fire.

At the word ‘Run’ she felt something within her burn. She, a weapon, was to run from the enemies she was supposed to defeat. It sounded weird to her, but the explanation she received next made the weirdness about the situation disappear.

"Kiiro, leader and by far the most powerful of the Wraiths, is now hunting me once again despite his defeat the last time we met. If you stay in my presence for too long, you'll meet him for yourself and you will die, of that, I can guarantee... About your master, there is no doubt in my mind that Kiiro is the one who killed him. I regret what happened to him, as though we weren't really friends, we weren't enemies either and I had great respect for his skills and his bravery to live a life in opposition to Te'i Sai where most all others live in fear."

His eyes met hers through the shadow of her hood and she could feel that he was at ease despite what he was saying.

"Kiiro is far too powerful for you to defeat or to hunt without getting yourself killed. Should you choose to go after him, his fellow Wraiths will find and kill you before you ever get close. So if you have any thoughts of revenge in mind, abandon them right now. I knew your master well enough to understand that he was beyond thoughts of revenge and spite, and as his pupil you should be too. Instead, why don't you tell me what his final words to you were before his death. It might help me determine how best to proceed with investigating this mess and helping you find a way to put his soul to rest which is what he'd prefer as opposed to you getting yourself killed without meaning or purpose."

Mayumi pondered on his words. He didn’t sound like he was lying, but why would her master not want her to avenge his death? Why was he killed? Why would her master care if she was killed without meaning or purpose? Why…?

Never-ending questions with new ones adding to the pile every day, haunted her mind since the day her master was brutally killed started flowing once again. So many questions she wanted answers to but knew she had no right to question her master’s doings.

‘Run. Live in fear.’ The words he spoke that caught her attention earlier echoed in her mind.

“I will not run but observe my opponent and conquer flaws that still exist in me. Fear doesn’t exist in me, this weapon that exist only for its master with the only purpose of fulfilling its master’s wishes. If I die, I die. A weapon without its master is a meaningless useless thing. What really matters is if I have fulfilled my master’s wishes.” She spoke in a monotone, her face in its usual expressionless way.

“If what you said about my master not wanting me to avenge him is true, I’ll stop it this instant. I was on the path of revenge since he was killed a year ago but if that is not his wishes I will not pursue it any longer.” There was no hesitation in her voice as she spoke, showing her loyalty and obedience to the mysterious man who she called master.

“His last words to me before he was killed were, ‘Patience is a virtue. Watch, study, observe. Never Assume and Always Be Prepared.’” She recited it from memory as they were embedded into her mind.

There was some kind of a warm sensation that filled her every time she recited those words. It felt like her master was still alive somewhere, but when reality hit her and she realized it wasn’t true the warm sensation would vanish. She never understood what it was, brushing it off as nothing.

A sudden gust of wind blew the hood that shadowed her face off, revealing a pale face and long silver hair. Deep pools of red-black orbs stared at the man before them with not an emotion that seemed to exist within their owner.

She would have stopped the hood from falling off, but didn’t see a reason to hide her identity from him.

“But… if revenge was not what he wants me to do. Then what is? I know Master never leaves without a reason.” She was still not too sure if she could trust his words.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

INK

Blood red eyes searched the darkened red and black pools they now stared at from across the fire, and Shadow contemplated both her words and the final words of her master. As she spoke about being a weapon, he had to wonder what was truly going on in the depths of her mind. Was she truly brainwashed to the point where she didn't believe that she was anything but a weapon? Such a mindset was not only dangerous, but tragic, and Shadow knew it all too well for he had been the exact same way at one time.

Being raised as the top Assassin of Te'i Sai, he was taught that he was the weapon and that everything else was just fodder for his wrath. Neither man, woman, nor child was safe from his blade when he set his sights on them. There had never been any emotion, sympathy or regret about what he had done until the idea that he was a weapon and a weapon only finally was extinguished from his mind.

Her master's words rang out and sparked something from his memory. The memory was repressed and difficult to access, and Shadow had a bit of a hard time deciphering it as his brows furrowed a bit while he dug through his thoughts trying to access the memory.

‘Patience is a virtue. Watch, study, observe. Never Assume and Always Be Prepared.’

No matter how hard Shadow thought, he could remember only the words, no face or environment to go with them. He remembered things about the man she spoke of, but he could not remember his face or where exactly he had lived. Those words had been spoken to him verbatim once before, but try as he might he just couldn't bring the memory to the surface. He stopped trying and allowed himself to relax as he closed his eyes and let out a sigh.

"... So you believe that you are but a weapon do you?" He asked, bringing back that topic in his mind to replace the words of her master.

"I can relate. When I was first being trained as Te'i Sai's top Assassin I too thought that I was but a weapon. However, with time, I was proven wrong. Nobody is only ever one thing in life young lady, nobody. Even your master had multiple talents and viewpoints about himself and the world around him. I doubt that he really intended for you to end up this way." He said as he looked up at her once more, taking in her features and committing them to memory.

"My guess is that sometime during training your mind began to falter, taking more abuse than it could handle from his methods of training, and so to preserve what sanity you had left he gave you a single purpose to live for that your mind could focus on. In this way, he saved your life. Also, doing so ensured that you remained under his control. Otherwise, you would have suffered the same fate that I did when I was younger." He said, somewhat sadly.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

INK

"... So you believe that you are but a weapon do you?" He asked.

She looked at him with a neutral expression, questioning his words in her mind.

"I can relate. When I was first being trained as Te'i Sai's top Assassin I too thought that I was but a weapon. However, with time, I was proven wrong. Nobody is only ever one thing in life young lady, nobody. Even your master had multiple talents and viewpoints about himself and the world around him. I doubt that he really intended for you to end up this way."

Though her face was void of emotion, she was in fact struggling on the inside to understand his words. What he spoke of was foreign to her, it was the first time someone had spoken of this to her.

"My guess is that sometime during training your mind began to falter, taking more abuse than it could handle from his methods of training, and so to preserve what sanity you had left he gave you a single purpose to live for that your mind could focus on. In this way, he saved your life. Also, doing so ensured that you remained under his control. Otherwise, you would have suffered the same fate that I did when I was younger.” He said with an emotion she did not find a need to understand.

She felt aroused by this strange subject, something urging her to find out what it meant.

“I do not understand what you speak of -“

She was about to continue when she felt a slight shift in the surrounding aura, Sora’s sharp signal only confirming her suspicions.

‘Danger.’

The sound of metal cutting through the wind at extreme speeds came soaring towards her from behind. Spinning round just a second before the weapon reached her, she managed to direct it away from her using her armguard. Black-red orbs scanned the area in front of her, watching for any signs of movement. The forest that surrounded their small clearing going silent with the danger that lurked within them.

“Just as he said. The young girl has potential.” A deep voice spoke.

Senses spread wide, sensing even the slightest shift in the air, she stood in a position that would allow her to retaliate attacks in any angle. Her senses seemed to be ringing alarm bells in her head, warning her of the dangerous opponent she was about to face.

A man in a black outfit of light body armor stepped out of the shadows from the trees in front of her. His outfit was similar to Shadow’s, excluding the jacket Shadow wore, and carried a sword of medium length on his back Mayumi took a cautious step to the side making a little more distance between them. The man had dark brown hair with pale skin and viridian eyes. He was an averaged size man but she knew better than to judge others by their appearance.

“Unfortunately, you have failed to do as the letter said. This is quite unexpected. It seems we have underestimated your intelligence.” The man spoke with a hint of amusement.

‘Is he the one Shadow had talked about earlier?’ She wondered.

“I refuse to do anything for anyone else besides my master.” Mayumi replied calmly, her eyes never leaving the man.

She was still wary that Shadow was behind her and counted on Sora to watch her back for her, trusting no one but herself and her pet.

“Such loyalty and determination, but what use are you when your master is dead?” he questioned with mockery.

Mayumi’s eyes flashed with killing intent for a moment. The man seemed to have caught the look in her eyes at that moment and chuckled.

“Don’t worry child. Your loyalty will be of much use to Te’i Sai in future. Unfortunately, I’m not here for you today.” He told her as his dark eyes shifted to the man behind her.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

INK

Shadow's ears snapped the instant he heard the bird in the trees giving off a non audible signal to its master and he shot to his feet at the same moment that Mayumi managed get to hers and deflect an incoming knife thrown at her from the trees. It didn't take long for the scent of leather to reach his nose, and he knew then and there what they were about to face. Sure enough, it was confirmed.

“Just as he said. The young girl has potential.” A deep voice spoke.

Shadow kept his eyes glued on the darkness of the trees as a man clad in ebon clothing and body armor walked out from the trees and locked his eyes on Mayumi.

“Unfortunately, you have failed to do as the letter said. This is quite unexpected. It seems we have underestimated your intelligence.” The man spoke with a hint of amusement.

“I refuse to do anything for anyone else besides my master.” Mayumi replied calmly.

“Such loyalty and determination, but what use are you when your master is dead?” He questioned with mockery. “Don’t worry child. Your loyalty will be of much use to Te’i Sai in future. Unfortunately, I’m not here for you today.” He told her as his dark eyes shifted to the man behind her.


Shadow came forward and, although his hand was gentle, the force of the push was not as he shoved Mayumi off to the side and stepped passed her while drawing both of his daggers shortly after. In response, the man in black armor drew his sword and took a defensive posture, pointing the tip of the blade in between Shadow's eyes as the two of them braced for what Shadow knew to be a short but very intense fight. Never before had he failed to defeat a Wraith, but each and every time they managed to push him to a specific limit that was not easy to do.

"So, Shadow..." The man said as his stance lowered a bit. "I'm surprised you didn't kill her on sight. You could have easily enough, couldn't you? Don't tell me you're getting soft?" He mocked.

Shadow didn't move, his legs rooted as if a part of the Earth beneath his feet as his right heel dug into the ground, shifting the dirt beneath it to create a support point. His mind raced as his opponent began to circle to the left, his stance wide and prepped for battle.

For what seemed an eternity, the two simply stared each other down before the first move was made. While he normally let his opponents come to him, Shadow this time instigated the attack himself. His right dagger flew forward in a stabbing motion as his left came up for a defensive posture. The wonderful thing about fighting with two blades was the they served both offense and defense simultaneously while remaining separate and variable whereas other weapons were either one or the other and had to shift with the flow of battle.

The sword came back towards his body while pointing at Shadow as he parried the stab off to the side and tried to use the parry to line up a stab of his own, Shadow's second blade coming forward and jamming the flat of his sword against the Wraith's chest as the two were suddenly face to face and within inches of each other. This sudden burst happened in less than half a second, and had Mayumi not been well trained she very well may have missed the finer details of what had just happened.

In less than half a second, Shadow had closed an eight foot gap, stabbed at his opponent and also anticipated the parry and pinned his weapon to his chest. However, his opponent too had anticipated such an ending and managed to position his feet in such a way that Shadow could not advance forward, but would instead be forced to retreat to break the coupling of their weapons and renew his assault.

"You're as fast as they say." The Wraith commented as he shoved Shadow back and disengaged for but an instant before regaining his defenses.

Shadow landed a few feet away and took a step back, readying himself as well for a renewed assault as the Wraith took the initiative this time and lunged in with a full fledged stab of his sword. Shadow parried the attack off with one blade, but his opponent had let go with his right hand at the last second and caught Shadow's hand as it instinctively came up for a slash at the forearm. Clearly, it would not be easy to gain a strong counter attack against this one. He was already proving stronger and a bit faster than other Wraith's he'd come across, which led him to believe that this one was higher in the rankings within the social order of the Wraith's hierarchy.

Shadow took the opportunity and jumped into the air, rolling on his opponent's back as his left hand was held in place. Using the hand as a pivot point, he turned in his roll and managed arch his right arm above and around his head, landing squarely behind his opponent. In this new position, Shadow's left hand had crossed his arm in front of his chest while his right hand was free and clear. Had his opponent not managed to feel him out and partially turn with him, he'd have been completely defenseless against the maneuver. The Wraith wasted no time in pulling his right leg up and in for a kick to Shadow's stomach, which managed to hit it's target.

However...

Shadow's musculature was extremely tight and unforgiving, and the Wraith, as powerful as he was, only hit and bounced away from how solid Shadow's stance was and how powerful his abdominal muscles were. Instead, the Wraith turned it to his advantage by using Shadow as a launch pad to gain distance instead of digging in for an attack.

This little dance happening in just under four seconds from when the first stab was attempted.

With distance regained and a new attack set up, the Wraith again dove inward for a stab, but this time he aimed higher towards Shadow's throat instead of his stomach.

Shadow had been trained to instinctively parry anything below his own shoulders, but anything aimed above his shoulders was fair game as far as he knew. However, Shadow had trained to block instinctively anywhere through his own private training and experience, and so the attack hit nothing but air as Shadow ducked underneath it and managed to slice part of his armor away around the lower abdomen as he swiftly and gracefully slid his stance low along the ground to allow himself freedom of movement as his opponent sailed passed him. Shadow regained his standing posture, but now held a dangerous disadvantage.

His opponent now had his back to the fire, making it slightly more difficult for Shadow to see a definitive outline not counting the fact that his opponent was already clad in ebon black armor. Clearly this was not lost on his opponent as he lowered his body against the firelight behind him to cause it to hit Shadow's eyes yet further. With his vision no longer in full use, Shadow closed his eyes and listened closely to what was in front of him. As his breathing slowed, the world around him began to slow with it. The breathing of the Wraith, Mayumi's breath a short distance away, the sound of the fire and the breeze of the wind all sharpened in his ears as his sight vanished from use.

With every breath, every shift in the Earth, Shadow saw the world around him as his opponent came in for another strike. This time it was a slash across Shadow's left shoulder aimed through towards his knee. The blow was met by the dagger in his left hand blocking it and stopping it cold despite the fact he wielded it with two hands vs Shadow wielding his dagger with one hand and Shadow's right blade came up and slashed another chunk of his armor off. As he backed away, Shadow rushed him and bashed him off his feet by digging his shoulder into the man's sternum, near knocking him into the fire itself as he walked around to his right to get the fire out of the way of his vision.

His eyes opened and the sight of his opponent with the light on the side made for a much easier position than against, and so Shadow repositioned his daggers and prepared yet again for re-engagement as his foe drew near once he was on his feet.

This time, as his opponent lunged forward Shadow had a surprise in store for him. The stab came up towards his chest once more, but Shadow's daggers went out and to the side, blades pointing inward with the tips pointed towards the ground. The two daggers came in on each other like a pair of scissors, and cleaved the approaching sword into three distinct pieces as his opponent's shock and his lapse of concentration spelled his doom after the short bout. Shadow's left blade turned flat and came up against the man's throat, a simple pulling of his arm followed and Shadow's foe dropped to the ground holding his throat and coughing horrendously.

Blood seeped from behind his hands as he tried to catch his breath, but it was no use. He was now choking on his own blood as Shadow's daggers returned home to their sheaths whilst Shadow himself turned to face his dying opponent. He grabbed him by the chin and hoisted him to his feet, the Wraith coughing blood on his way up. Shadow looked him dead in the eyes and simply glared at him until his eyes turned grey and his body went limp as he drowned in his own blood. Shadow let his body fall and kicked it away several feet with minor effort before heaving a sigh and slowly returning to his log to sit down and enjoy the warmth of the fire.

Before long, he remembered someone whom he'd since shoved to the side and looked over at her.

"... Sorry..." He said calmly as he then looked back to the fire.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

INK

Mayumi had heard Shadow’s footsteps coming closer towards her from behind but wasn’t ready for what happened next. The moment she felt his hand on her shoulder, she tensed and didn’t had much time to realize what he was about to do. She was shoved to the side with much force that had she not fast reflexes she would have fallen clumsily to the ground. Flipping forward with the force of the shove, she landed on her hands before landing in a crouch with a cat’s grace at the side lines of the soon to be battle field.

The two men drew their weapons and took their stances. Mayumi took this opportunity to study the two men’s fighting style while still being on guard in case there were more enemies around.

"So, Shadow..." The man said as his stance lowered a bit. "I'm surprised you didn't kill her on sight. You could have easily enough, couldn't you? Don't tell me you're getting soft?" He mocked.

The man’s mockery didn’t seem to affect Shadow as he kept still, not moving from his battle stance as his opponent began to circle to the left with his stance wide and prepped for battle.

During the few minutes that the two men stared each other down, Mayumi could feel the intensity of the nearing battle building with each passing second. Then, the battle begun with Shadow’s right dagger soaring forward in a stabbing motion as his left came up as a defense.

The sword came back towards his body while pointing at Shadow as he parried the stab off to the side and tried to use the parry to line up a stab of his own, Shadow's second blade coming forward and jamming the flat of his sword against the Wraith's chest as the two were suddenly face to face and within inches of each other. Mayumi’s eyes were focused on the battle as the flurry of attacks occurred within half a second catching evens the slightest movement made.

In less than half a second, Shadow had closed an eight foot gap, stabbed at his opponent and also anticipated the parry and pinned his weapon to his chest. However, his opponent too had anticipated such an ending and managed to position his feet in such a way that Shadow could not advance forward, but would instead be forced to retreat to break the coupling of their weapons and renew his assault.

‘He’s fast.’ Just as she thought that, Shadow’s opponent spoke her thoughts.

"You're as fast as they say." The Wraith commented as he shoved Shadow back and disengaged for but an instant before regaining his defenses.

Shadow landed a few feet away and took a step back, readying himself as well for a renewed assault as the Wraith took the initiative this time and lunged in with a full fledged stab of his sword. Shadow parried the attack off with one blade, but his opponent had let go with his right hand at the last second and caught Shadow's hand as it instinctively came up for a slash at the forearm.


Mayumi observed the fight, her eyes not leaving them for even a second. The two men were almost on par with each other and Shadow seemed to be having difficulty landing a stronger counter attack against his opponent. The fight continued with Shadow quickly gaining the upper hand while Mayumi continued to watch the battle closely, not a single detail missed with her trained eyesight.

Soon, the battle neared it's end.

This time, as Shadow’s opponent lunged forward Shadow had a surprise in store for him. The stab came up towards his chest once more, but Shadow's daggers went out and to the side, blades pointing inward with the tips pointed towards the ground. The two daggers came in on each other like a pair of scissors, and cleaved the approaching sword into three distinct pieces as his opponent's shock and his lapse of concentration spelled his doom after the short bout. Shadow's left blade turned flat and came up against the man's throat, a simple pulling of his arm followed and Shadow's foe dropped to the ground holding his throat and coughing horrendously.

Blood seeped from behind his hands as he tried to catch his breath, but it was no use. He was now choking on his own blood as Shadow's daggers returned home to their sheaths whilst Shadow himself turned to face his dying opponent. He grabbed him by the chin and hoisted him to his feet, the Wraith coughing blood on his way up. Shadow looked him dead in the eyes and simply glared at him until his eyes turned grey and his body went limp as he drowned in his own blood. Shadow let his body fall and kicked it away several feet with minor effort before heaving a sigh and slowly returning to his log to sit down and enjoy the warmth of the fire.

"... Sorry..."
He said calmly after a while before turning back to the fire.

Mayumi stood and walked over to the now dead man. Bending down to feel his pulse on the neck, she assured herself that he was dead.

“Is this man one of the wraiths you spoke of?” She asked as she stood, staring at the corpse.

If that man was who she thought him to be, then she would know for sure that Shadow’s words were true and not lies to deceit her. It would indeed be difficult to defeat a man like that at her current level, not to mention, a group of them. She would have to start training rigorously if she had any intentions of killing one in future.

‘I’ll lay low and train, for now.’ Her mind spun with plans a thousand steps ahead for her future training.

She was determined to avenge her master in some way. They would pay for killing the man who gave her a reason to continue leaving. She would have probably been dead long ago had the mysterious man not found her. Then again, since that day she found him murdered, her reason for living had slowly been fading. If it weren’t for the thought of revenge, she wouldn’t be here today as well. As she had said earlier, a weapon was meaningless without its master.

‘I knew your master well enough to understand that he was beyond thoughts of revenge and spite, and as his pupil you should be too.’ Shadow’s words rang in her mind, her plans vanishing with those words.

‘What exactly does Master wants me to do then?’ She questioned her mind that had no answers.

Her goal up till now was to avenge her master, but now that she has no mission, she would no longer have a reason to live, but leaving her master unavenged... Could she do that?

“Such loyalty and determination, but what use are you when your master is dead? Don’t worry child. Your loyalty will be of much use to Te’i Sai in future.” The words of the man flashed in her mind.

“What would Te’i Sai want with me? A weapon that skills cannot compare to theirs.” She turned to face Shadow. Though her face was expressionless, her eyes showed a hint of what she felt deep within, ‘hopeless and lost’, before returning to it’s dull state within the blink of an eye. If possible, they seemed more lifeless than before.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

INK

"Is this man one of the Wraith's you spoke of?" She asked.

Shadow's eyes glued themselves to hers, searching the depths of their black and red pools for both questions and answers of his own. As to what those questions and answers may have been, only time would tell but he could feel a few of them being brought to the surface already.

"Yes, he was a Wraith." He said quietly.

"Judging from the slight boost in speed he held over others I've fought in the past, he's not just a Wraith... Perhaps a Ceres Wraith, one of the next rungs up in the ladder in their hierarchy." He said as he reviewed the fight in his mind.

"There is a system for the Wraith's hierarchy, and Kiiro sits at the top and is a serious cut above the others. If you thought that the fight between the two of us tonight was intense," He said, gesturing with his head towards the corpse, "You don't want to see the fight between Kiiro and myself when it comes around again. The two of us are due for a serious rematch, as though I technically defeated him last time, the fight was interrupted before it could reach a true conclusion."

He shifted his weight a little, keeping his eyes on her.

“What would Te’i Sai want with me? A weapon that skills cannot compare to theirs.” She turned to face Shadow. Though her face was expressionless, her eyes showed a hint of what she felt deep within, ‘hopeless and lost’, before returning to it’s dull state within the blink of an eye.

Shadow studied her for a long moment before answering.

"You have a special gift, young lady. It's more than likely why your master rescued you in the first place and chose to train you, to try and bring that gift to the surface where it could be utilized in full. For better or worse, he's done a good job until now. In order for you to access this gift, you'll have to come to a certain realization at some point and it will be up to you to understand what that realization is. For now, concentrate on one thing: Get stronger." He said, standing up and walking towards her in a relaxed state.

"Your potential exceeds that of anyone I've ever seen at your age. If you trained seriously in the same manner I did when I was coming up the ranks, you'll be more than a match for any low end Wraith within little over one year's time. The fight we had tonight will still seem impressive, but well within your grasp by the time you're truly at your peak. So, I have a proposition for you and that is to train and travel with me." He said, stopping two paces away.

"I have met many people in my travels who have been a great help to me, all of whom carried a special gift of their own. It takes more than one person, no matter how strong or skilled they may be, to bring down a giant like Te'i Sai. I didn't destroy the first two branches on my own, I had help. Now, I am alone, and in need of aid once again. I have the third Grandmaster in my sights after two years of tracking and searching, but I have not the means to reach him alone. If you truly want to avenge your master's death, don't look to the man who killed him, look to the organization that created the man who killed him. If we bring down Te'i Sai, Kiiro and the others will not have a reason to exist, much the same way you don't believe you have a reason now. The only difference is, you do have a reason." He said.

"So, will you accept my offer?" He asked.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

INK

"You have a special gift, young lady. It's more than likely why your master rescued you in the first place and chose to train you, to try and bring that gift to the surface where it could be utilized in full. For better or worse, he's done a good job until now. In order for you to access this gift, you'll have to come to a certain realization at some point and it will be up to you to understand what that realization is. For now, concentrate on one thing: Get stronger."

The moment he stood and started walking her direction, she grew wary of him even though she could tell he was in a relaxed state.

‘Does he mean a gift to kill?’

"Your potential exceeds that of anyone I've ever seen at your age. If you trained seriously in the same manner I did when I was coming up the ranks, you'll be more than a match for any low end Wraith within little over one year's time. The fight we had tonight will still seem impressive, but well within your grasp by the time you're truly at your peak. So, I have a proposition for you and that is to train and travel with me." He told her, stopping two paces from where she stood.

‘Train and travel with him?’ she repeated in her thoughts.

"I have met many people in my travels who have been a great help to me, all of whom carried a special gift of their own. It takes more than one person, no matter how strong or skilled they may be, to bring down a giant like Te'i Sai. I didn't destroy the first two branches on my own, I had help. Now, I am alone, and in need of aid once again. I have the third Grandmaster in my sights after two years of tracking and searching, but I have not the means to reach him alone. If you truly want to avenge your master's death, don't look to the man who killed him, look to the organization that created the man who killed him. If we bring down Te'i Sai, Kiiro and the others will not have a reason to exist, much the same way you don't believe you have a reason now. The only difference is, you do have a reason." He said.

A new chance at avenging her master’s death, a new mission. What reason did she have to refuse an offer like this? Thinking through her options carefully one last time, she made her final decision.

“If it means getting to avenge my master’s death, I accept.” She said without hesitation, looking Shadow straight in the eyes.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

INK

“If it means getting to avenge my master’s death, I accept.”

At her words, Shadow winced inside. She was still set on the idea of avenging her master's death and so far it looked to be the only reason she had for accepting his offer. He knew that there would be little he could do to change her mind on the matter of vengeance, but at the very least he hoped to be able to prove to her that she could find new reasons for living aside from killing others who had done her harm.

"Very well then." He said calmly.

He turned his back to her and walked back to the fire and looked up towards the sky as the clouds revealed the moon's position to him. He did a quick calculation in his head and then turned his attention back to his new apprentice.

"With the failure of the team sent to kill me earlier today, Kiiro is going to be putting someone new on my tail to keep an eye on my movements before the end of this week. I'm not worried about that, but I am worried about him finding out that you are alive and training with me. That being the case, it's time for you to disappear for a while. From this point, head north into the mountains. They are entirely comprised of rock with very little soil and it will be impossible for them to track you there. From the mountains, go as far west as you can back towards Triveila and meet me in the forest outside the southern gate of a small village called Shielg. It's fairly remote and contains excellent terrain for the kind of training I need to put you through."

He took a moment to let this plan sink in, which he could see by her subtle reactions was not going to be a problem, before continuing.

"We will be training there for a period of exactly two months before we continue with our plans to attack Te'i Sai. During that time, I will be your new master. I do not go by a title when teaching others, so either respond to commands and requests with calling me by name or by saying "Yes sir"." He said sternly.

"I will give you one warning about this path you are about to take and if you cannot accept what I'm about to tell you then you have but one option, and that is to walk away. Your master may have shaped you into a weapon, but you are a weapon with a dull edge. In order to sharpen the blade of your soul properly, I'll have to completely retrain you from the bottom up. Everything you ever learned from your master will either be disposed of, or refined. I can see from your posture and the way you have handled yourself since our initial meeting that you carry little to no fear of what lies ahead, and that is one thing your master has done right.

However, do not think that this training is simply going to be difficult. At times, it is literally going to be impossible for you. Either by design or by the limitations of your body's size, structure, or physical capabilities, there are going to be times where you will not be able to perform what I demand of you. There is a method to the madness, and it will be up to you to discover what the methods are on your own. When our time of training is over, I will be testing you on the knowledge and skills you have gained when we are through... If you live through it of course."

He took a moment to look back at the fire, and then let his eyes slide over to the corners as they locked on hers once again.

"When training is done, you are going to fight for your very survival against me in a one on one confrontation. If you can stave off my attacks for a period of two minutes, you have passed my training and I will know that we are ready to proceed. If you cannot, you'll die."

He slowly turned his head, his eyes seemingly the point of rotation as opposed to his neck as he came to face her fully.

"So are you still willing to accept this path?" He asked, his eyes glued to hers.

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

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"So are you still willing to accept this path?" He asked, his eyes glued to hers.

Hearing the word ‘impossible’ sparked something within her, something she hadn’t felt in a while was slowly beginning to stir awake. Forgetting her master’s trainings was impossible, but thinking back since the day she was picked up by her master, she couldn’t remember a time she did something that was plainly possible. It had always been impossible or extremely impossible. Her addiction to the word ‘impossible’, was like the temptation of a tigress’s when she spots her prey and pounds on it with determination.

This training she decided, she would definitely go through it. If this was what it took to accomplish her goal of revenge, then so be it. No matter what it took of her, even if her life was lost, it didn’t matter. If she did not go through this training she would be better of killing herself rather than wandering through the Nations aimlessly.

‘Master, this will be for you.’

She turned to face her new master fully.

“Disappearing will not be an issue for me for I have lived my life in a non-existent way.” She spoke without an expression.

“As I said earlier, I will not turn my back on anything but conquer them. I will go through your training no matter how tough and come out either stronger than before or dead.” She stated her decision, determination flowing through her though her face failed to express.

“But I am confused about this man you speak of, Kiiro. What exactly does he want from me? Does he simply want to kill me? Or does he want the special gift you said I had?”

She had been trying to figure out what Kiiro wanted but still did not see what he could possibly want from her. She could only understand if he wanted to kill Shadow and her, other than that it was beyond her. Could they want her pet, Sora? She glanced at her pet well hidden in the shadows of the trees.

“Master had said that it was better to know what your enemy wanted before they strike so that you would be prepared and necessary precautions could be taken.” She explained, her sights back on Shadow.

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

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Shadow kept his eyes on her through her questions and then looked away towards the fire to think for a moment. He considered her confusion and then decided that it was only natural for her to be confused.

"... Kiiro most likely is interested in the gift you bear. It's a special gift that I've only seen on two other people in my life. However, I would tread cautiously with questions about this gift if I were you. If Kiiro truly sees it for what it is, then you have serious problems. If Kiiro sees it as nothing more than a means to an end, then you'll be safe from him for a time. I doubt that he recognizes it for what it truly is, but still we should be prepared for either situation."

With that, he stood up and kicked the fire, dousing it with his boots into the dirt before looking back to her. In the moonlight, he was still plainly visible despite his black outfit. Had the moon been hidden, he would have been nigh impossible to see. He looked over to Mayumi, red eyes glowing like small red jewels, casting a faint red hue into the air around them without the fire to hide it. The red spheres hovered for a moment just passed Mayumi's head, looking into the forest behind her, then found their way to her own eyes once again.

"It is time." He said quietly.

"Now, disappear into the mountains to the North and meet me at the location I gave you. I expect to see you there in no less than three days time though it is typically a five day journey with the route I described. Consider this your first leg of training, though it will be by far your easiest. No go..." He said before turning half way towards the West.

"And before I forget, keep your bird out of reach for the time being. I don't want you relying on her for directions. You'll find this place on your own in three days, or you won't find me waiting for you at all. You'll have your time to train with the bird ahead, but for now tell her to stay out of reach." He said before he turned his back completely.

"Good luck." He said before disappearing into the forest.

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

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She watched him disappear into the forest, in which the moment he left felt familiar metal talons descend their weight upon her right shoulder. Mayumi turned to face her accomplice, its dark keen eyes focused on hers as was hers focused on it, showing their strong bond and understanding of each other in that short moment.

“Go fill your needs and meet me in the greeneries outside the southern gate of Shieg 3 days from now.” She instructed.

With a nod of it’s head, Sora flew off into it’s freedom of 3 days. Once Sora was out of sight, Mayumi got to work, disposing off any evidence of her existence but left the corpse where it was for it wasn’t hers to deal with. All was done under a minute.

Bearing shadow’s words in mind, she lifted her cloak’s hood over her head concealing her identity and set off at medium pace into the shadows of the forest. She headed north like Shadow said and sure enough, she could see the figure heads of mountains.

‘Should be able to reach by noon.’ She estimated.

Clearing her mind of thoughts, she blended in with the atmosphere around her and continued her travel, her guard up as usual never failing to maintain, while observant eyes scanned their surroundings as they travelled deeper into the forest.

Setting Changes... 22174 => 22191

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow

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Traveling at great speed Shadow ran over boulders, through the tress, and even swam under water on his journey to Shielg. The city was small, barely four thousand people, but none the less a haven for those who didn't want to be found. The surrounding countryside was littered with dense woodlands and jagged mountains just to the east at the edge of the Great Mountain Range which split the continent in half down the middle. Shadow found his destination within twenty hours of traveling from the moment he left the young woman behind to find it on her own using the route he gave her.

Deliberately giving her the long route enabled Shadow to find the best possible location to train her without interference from the outside world, and also gave him time to scout the area to ensure that it was safe beyond the shadow of a doubt. Though nowhere was truly 100% safe from Te'i Sai, anything was better than being out in the open.

Shadow walked the entire perimeter of the small city in less than two hours and scouted for several more as the sun began to set on the end of this day. His eyes adjusted to the lowered light levels and his vision began to increase in efficiency. Truly, it was one of the few true gifts which Te'i Sai had given him. His glowing red eyes took in ambient light on a level only accessible to cats and other nocturnal animals. While he saw perfectly during the day, his vision was even better at night.

He found the location about two miles to the southwest of the city's Southern Gate and set up a marker for himself by sticking one of his poison tip needles into the bark of a tree. From tip to tip, the needle was covered in a concentrated hemotoxin which targeted the blood of its victims and could also melt flesh if external exposure were to go untreated for more than about half an hour. Shadow's gloves defended his skin from the effects, but never the less he was already on his way to the river to wash them.

After rinsing his gloves and returning to the desired location, Shadow began to look around and saw several unique and well developed opportunities for pushing the girl to her absolute limits. The mountain trails were her morning jog, the forest her jungle gym, the rocks were weights, and the ground her bed for the next full month once she arrived. Shadow used the entirety of the night to set up specific areas for use and then sat down as the dawn approached on the final day before her expected arrival. Shadow sat down in the center of his training ground and crossed his legs as he closed his eyes and prepared to meditate. His own training would be slowed by teaching this young would-be Assassin, but never the less he would bear with it and train on his own when her time was done.

"I hope you're ready..." He said quietly before beginning his meditation.

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Character Portrait: Shadow

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Shadow's meditation took a total of three hours to complete, which was unusually short for him but there were other things on his mind that would not rest. He opened his eyes and stood up from his spot in the center of the small clearing and looked back towards the city as he decided it was time once again to check his body for any signs of deterioration. It was a constant struggle for Shadow to maintain his strength and agility when he did not have access to the facilities of an organization like Tei' Sai, but it was not impossible.

After a jog back to the village he broke into one of the first houses he found and saw a large mirror in one of the bedrooms. It would do nicely for his purposes, so he took off his shirt and jacket and his vambraces and gloves. He stood perfectly erect in front of the mirror, checking his muscle tone and size from the front, both sides, and the back. Shadow's most prominent muscle groups in his torso were his pectoral muscles, the latissimus dorsi, and abdominal muscles. The muscle groups that were slightly less prominent, but none the less noticeable, were the serratus muscles, the obliques, and the trapezius muscles.

Shadow's arms were well defined as well, with the deltoids, triceps, biceps, extensor muscles and radialis muscles all holding a relatively equal tone quality all throughout his arms. He was slightly unsatisfied with his serratus muscles and his obliques not being equal to the rest of his torso, and so he decided that it would not be a bad idea to focus on them for a while. While he always worked every muscle group in his body during training, working certain muscles more than others was common for anyone and everyone due to the difference in size of the group, functionality in their chosen field of work, and other limitations. Shadow saw no limitations and knew that if his muscles weren't all in perfect equality that he would fall out of balance and his body would reach limits sooner rather than later.

That was the main problem with most who used extreme workout routines. They all either focused too heavily on one group at a time, one group, period, tried to balance but didn't pay enough attention to how to do that, or thought they could balance everything with awkward and impractical workout routines. Almost all of these mistakes were all too common in the world today, and Shadow held an extreme distaste for those who claimed to have an "unorthodox workout regime that kept them in peak form". Unorthodox workout routines were dangerous, unstable, and not worth the trouble they caused on the body.

Shadow replaced his clothing and left the house, choosing to study his lower body muscles at a different time and place. His legs were the most powerful muscles in his body, there was no disputing that fact. Shadow could life men twice his weight from an unconscious, dead weight, position on the floor over six feet into the air by kicking them with one leg. He could stop animals in excess of three times his weight from jumping at him by using both legs as a springboard to knock them backwards. It was one of the reasons he'd survived encounters with Devil Wolves in the past. He knew that he didn't need to worry about his legs at the present time, though they would need to be checked soon in the near future.

When he returned to the training grounds he removed his jacket and shirt once again, but left his vambraces and gloves on as he looked around and saw what he was looking for. Two large but still accessible boulders to the side underneath a large tree would serve the purpose of weight training. He picked one of them up with both hands and tested its weight, guessing it was about forty to forty five pounds. The boulder was about a foot wide and eight to ten inches deep with some substantial weight to it for something that small, which led him to believe it was a leftover from one of the quarries in the mountainside that was dumped during a shipment. He took it with him to the center of the clearing and began to lift and turn with the rock in hand, focusing on movements that would target his obliques first as they were larger and easier to target than the serratus muscles. Simple overhead stretch routines served the purpose well, as the obliques moved in sequence with the upper body and could not be moved or rotated on their own.

Working like this for a period of approximately thirty minutes, Shadow was decently satisfied he'd gotten used to the weight as his obliques and even his lats were starting to burn a little bit. He put the smaller rock down and picked up the other, slightly larger rock from the tree and guessed it to be around sixty to sixty five pounds which would work well. He resumed this stretching and rotating routine for another half an hour, and when he found that it was becoming difficult to rotate at all from the strain on his muscles he was satisfied that there was no further need to do so. He put the two boulders away by the tree again and stretched out without them for ten minutes, letting his muscles relax and flex back and forth to get the blood flowing again as he started thinking about what he would do for training himself when his new protege arrived.

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

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Shadow's training was almost complete when Mayumi finally arrived, worn out and very much affected by the route he intended for her. But that was a good sign of things to come if she could close that distance so quickly. Her training with him would run fairly well depending on how well her body responded to it. He was going to have to try a few different methods at first to discover what type of body she possessed.

Certain people gained weight and muscle quickly, but lost it just as quickly. Others gained muscle at a slower rater and lost weight quickly, and Shadow himself was that type. Some gained muscle quickly and lost weight quickly, and others still, though much more rare would both gain and lose muscle at an equally fast or slow rate depending on their diet and training habits.

From the way she was able to carry on despite her obvious lack of body weight, Shadow was guessing she possessed the same body type as he did. She would not gain muscle very quickly, but she was quick to lose excess weight and build the strength and stamina she needed to press forward. If that was in fact the case then he would have a much easier time training her since he knew how to work with that body type.

"I'm pleased that you made it here so quickly, but I see that you've neglected your personal health a little bit. The blisters on your hands and the lack of weight to your frame despite your size are things we'll need to work around for the next month." He said, seeming somewhat indifferent to the words that were coming out of his mouth.

He stopped his training a moment later and rotated his head in a circle, cracking the vertebrae in his neck with a few small pops before he rolled his shoulders with a similar effect as his shoulders pulled back towards his spine. Most people didn't realize how easy it was for the spinal chord to go out of alignment, even for the healthiest and most well trained individuals. Shadow himself had to stretch and realign it at least three times a week given his habits and workout regimen.

This girl's training would need to be tailored very carefully. If he was going to help her gain the weight and muscle she needed, the first few days would have to be decidedly slower than he would have liked. None the less if she was going to be able to conquer what lie ahead, this was their only option.

"First thing you are going to do is this..." He said, turning towards her.

"I want you to catch a total of ten fish down by the river. Take that little basket with you and place them in there. I will have a fire going in a few minutes, hopefully by the time your return. Today we are going to relax and let your body recover properly from what it has already done and tomorrow we will begin your training in full."

He was about to turn away when he remembered something important, and turned back towards her.

"I forgot one thing... Tell me your name." He said, offering a small but never the less genuine smile.

"If I'm going to be your master I can't just call you 'pupil' or 'hey you' all the time now can I?" He asked.

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

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Mayumi gave her name before setting off, and Shadow committed it to memory.

When she returned with the fish, Shadow inspected them and nodded. He had started a fire while she was away and proceeded to stick the fish with branches from trees he'd snapped off and placed them around the fire to cook.

"They will be ready to eat shortly, and with any luck they won't be too bitter. Typically when cooking fish like this it leaves a bit of an aftertaste that I don't particularly like, but we can't afford to be picky about our diet while training."

He looked over at Mayumi and analyzed her frame once more, though her cloak hid a good portion of it. He was able to see that she was thin, and that would be a problem if she was to truly get the full experience out of her training and be able to put the skills she was going to use to work against Te'i Sai in the near future.

"... Call your bird. Now that the first leg of training is over you're free to call her back to your side." He said as he sat down on a fallen log near the fire.

"The life that you are about to enter is cold and cruel, and every ally you have is going to be invaluable to your survival. Your bird will serve you well in the times to come, so keep her close to you." He said as he put his hands closer to the fire to warm them.

The temperature was beginning to drop, and part of Shadow allowing her bird to come down was for the birds own safety. If the temperature fell to where he was expecting it to, the altitude the bird was likely hovering at would be dangerous for its blood pressure. He could identify with her relation to the bird, as it was really the only family that she had since her master was gone. Shadow knew that feeling all too well, and he wanted to do everything he could to help her keep her family in tact as the coming darkness approached them in their journey.

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

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"... Call your bird. Now that the first leg of training is over you're free to call her back to your side." He said as he sat down on a fallen log near the fire."The life that you are about to enter is cold and cruel, and every ally you have is going to be invaluable to your survival. Your bird will serve you well in the times to come, so keep her close to you." He said as he put his hands closer to the fire to warm them.

She knew that Shadow was thinking of her bird’s health and for that she was thankful. She reached her hand up towards the sky and soon, a dark golden-brown figure soared from the skies towards them, defying the winds directions and within a minute landed on her hand. Bringing her hand down, she stroked her pet’s head and swept down its coat of golden-brown feathers.

Sora’s hunting had seemed to be a success seeing as she had gotten a little bigger in size and her weight had increased a few kilos. Sora snuggled up against Mayumi, showing its affection for her and in return she pets its head. When Sora first expressed its affection, she did not know what it meant being one whom knew no emotion and till now she still doesn’t understand but would just pet Sora’s head comfortably.

Feeling Sora’s shiver, Mayumi picked up a fallen log behind her with one hand, placing it by the fire and sat down hoping it would bring Sora some warmth.

The smell of fish filled the air around the fire, but Mayumi’s stomach failed to respond to it even though she had been going on without food for a few weeks now. She used to be able to eat just about anything she found but now, everything was being rejected cause of their slight sweetness to it. Mayumi could only hope that her stomach would just accept the fish that night. She didn’t want to be seen as weak in front of Shadow.

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

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Shadow sat with his eyes closed in front of the fire as he waited for the right moment to pull the fish away from the flames. It wasn't going to be long now, as they had been sitting in silence for a while now. Fish was not his favorite meal, but it was better than anything else this area of the forest outside of Shielg had to offer. Another fact that he couldn't ignore was that he had approximately one to two months to prepare Mayumi for the fight ahead. Any longer than that spent in training would give his targets too much time to anticipate his arrival and put a stop to his momentum.

While he didn't want to hide that fact from Mayumi, the less she knew about his private agenda the better.

He looked over at Mayumi for a moment, and did a quick analysis of her current form. It had already been established to him, but another look at her thin frame had him worried. Two months would be very tight and quite difficult if she was not up for what he was going to put her through. Knowing her master gave him a spark of confidence that it could be done, but either way it wasn't going to be easy.

He looked away from her towards the fire and was able to smell that the fish were complete. While not very sweet or particularly delectable being prepared in this manner, they would serve the purpose of providing Mayumi's body with vital proteins and other nutrients that her body would need to build muscle and weight.

"Alright Mayumi..." He said in a calm voice.

"Take five of the fish and eat. If you don't think you can finish them, eat them anyway. You will not sleep tonight until all the flesh has been stripped of the bones, save for the head of course."

Shadow stood up and took in a deep breath through his nose and then looked over at her.

"Give the five remaining fish to your bird. She'll need to build up her strength as well, because she too is going to be in training." He said calmly, gazing over at the bird for a moment.

Once he was satisfied his message had been absorbed, Shadow stood up and began walking away into the forest but stopped himself at the treeline. He turned his head slightly back towards her and one of his red eyes found its way to the corner of an otherwise white surface to lock onto hers.

"When your meal is finished, you will go to sleep. If you can't fall asleep on your own, then hit yourself just under the nose at the infra orbital pressure point on your upper lip. Tomorrow your training begins the instant you wake up from your sleep, and so does hers." He said, pointing to the bird before turning away and disappearing into the forest.

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

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"When your meal is finished, you will go to sleep. If you can't fall asleep on your own, then hit yourself just under the nose at the infra orbital pressure point on your upper lip. Tomorrow your training begins the instant you wake up from your sleep, and so does hers." He said, pointing to the bird before turning away and disappearing into the forest.

Sora glared after Shadow, not liking the way he pointed at her while Mayumi stared at the fishes she caught still being cooked over the fire.

Taking 5 sticks off the fire, she gave them to Sora while she let the other five cook a little more before she would consume them. She was hoping that the fish would be bitter so that she wouldn’t have a gag reflex from any sweetness in the fish. After a few minutes, she took one of the five fishes off the fire and blew on it before biting into the soft burnt flesh.

She tasted slight bitterness in the fish and chewed a little before swallowing. She felt the strange feeling of warmness going down her throat and slowly, she wondered...

‘How long has it been since I last ate?’

After a few minutes, she was done with her meal and so was Sora. Her stomach felt weird with all the food she had just eaten but it definitely felt better than being empty.

Scanning the area for a comfortable place to sleep in, she found a sturdy looking tree and climbed up to her usual level which was quite a few feet above ground. She had always felt safer on higher grounds as she felt it was easier for her to keep watch from above than on the ground where most enemies were. With Sora by her side keeping watch, Mayumi fell asleep. The two could never trust anyone other than each other with their life even if the person claims to have no intentions to harm them.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

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When morning broke, Shadow was ready and found Mayumi and Sora in one of the trees. The bird was awake, and with just a slight snapping of a twig in his hands, Mayumi awoke. It was a good sign that she could wake up at a moment's notice and at such a slight sound. Training began immediately, and it became clear that while she was indeed advanced in her techniques the lack of nutrition and vital energy her body needed was holding her back.

The first thing on day one of Mayumi's training regimen was to show Shadow what she was capable of as far as combat was concerned. Shadow attacked her at about half strength, just enough to push her and bring out her instinctual drive to protect herself. Subconsciously every human being was programmed to react to things flying at them such as fists, and Shadow used that to figure out where Mayumi was as far as strength, skill, flexibility and stamina as they sparred for about ten minutes.

When sparring was over Shadow had her stop and eat breakfast which consisted of a handful of berries and a bit of animal meat on the fire. He received a nasty surprise from her though as the berries touched her taste buds. Mayumi instantly gagged and the berries found their way to the ground. Unhappy with this, Shadow inquired as to why this occurred and received a reply that rather irritated him. Mayumi had a gag response to sweets, and so Shadow would have to make sure that her meals were either bitter or covered with ingredients that would get rid of any sweetness factor. He was not much of a cook, so that was going to be difficult for him to do. However, he was determined to make good on his promise to help her avenge her master so if it meant some trial and error to figure out what worked best then so be it.

When breakfast was over and the food given one hour to digest, during which time they both meditated, Shadow began her training anew. Mayumi was made to run a circuit designed to push her muscles to their limits by jumping, crawling and running without pause. The concept behind this was that constantly running, dropping to the ground, standing back up only to jump over and over again before going back to the ground would exhaust her muscles and help her build up strength from having to constantly lift her body weight with both her arms and legs throughout the circuit. It was a technique that worked wonders despite its simplicity, and before long Mayumi had hit her wall and could no longer continue.

When this occurred, Shadow ordered her to meditate for another hour before continuing and finishing her required amount of time on the circuit as he turned his attention to Sora. The bird was naturally gifted towards understanding what someone wanted of it, and so he started to get her used to the idea of being targeted by weapons. While the bird was large, fast and powerful, it was not designed for maneuverability which made her a target for one with either a gun or a strong bow and arrow. In order to help the bird avoid becoming a victim to such tactics, Shadow taught her to look for signs of such weaponry and tactics by forcing her to fly low to the treeline while searching for him through the leaves while he aimed a throwing dagger at her. While he decided it best not to aim directly for her just yet, he did throw the dagger several feet in front of her when she ventured too close without spotting him in time to let her know that she would have just been killed by a gun or bow and arrow. The bird obviously didn't take too kindly to this, but never the less seemed to get the idea because after a few more tries the bird ceased to fail in finding him before he could let the dagger loose.

When Mayumi's time was up, Shadow resumed watch over her as she returned to the circuit. Muscle fatigue was the greatest weakness of all those who held and active and dangerous lifestyle such as the two of them and she had to get used to being completely exhausted now before she fell victim to it later. Being as thin as she was and as malnourished as she was, it didn't take long for her to hit her wall again and cease to continue. Once again, Shadow ordered her to sit down and meditate for one hour before finishing her final few minutes on the circuit. When she was done they ate lunch, and Shadow made sure to keep everything from being too sweet. She still gagged at one or two mouthfuls of meat that weren't cooked quite enough, but she was able to put them back in front of the fire to cook more before eating them without issue.

When this was done, Shadow had Mayumi lift and toss large fallen logs which weighed in excess of one hundred and eighty pounds. This was well over the girls body weight and he noticed that it was very difficult for her in her weakened state to perform such a task. Given time it would cease to be an issue, but for now he continued to exhaust her muscles and then have her rest throughout the day with such exercises. Before long her body would become used to the routine and build up stamina and proper endurance against such workouts and that was when she'd be at her most dangerous. It was not necessarily the skills of the one involved that made the biggest difference. Sometimes it was how long and how hard they could go before exhaustion that made the difference, and Shadow had fallen victim to that in the past and nearly been killed.

He had no intention of allowing her to succumb to the same fate.

Before long the afternoon was upon them and Shadow stopped their muscle training to have them take turns washing up at the river before eating dinner and going to sleep. It was a very simple way to live, but it had the desired effect because Mayumi fell asleep almost immediately after clambering into the tree with Sora by her side. Day one was complete, and tomorrow would be a very adventure. Shadow had been an instructor to Assassins for years before rebelling against Te'i Sai, and as such he was also one of the "doctors" when things went wrong for his students. Massage and relaxation was also a part of the Assassin's lifestyle because of how stressful on the mind and body it was, and so Mayumi was about to experience that segment.

When she woke up Shadow had her warm up with stretching and a light cardio workout that still proved difficult because of how exhausted and sore her body was. When she was stretched out, Shadow began working with her on assisted stretching. Shadow began with her arms, stretching them behind her back and gently pulling almost as if to put her in an arm trap. When he reached the point where it was uncomfortable she gave the signal and he stopped and waited. When she told him the feeling disappeared he pulled her arm a little farther until it was again uncomfortable before stopping and waiting again. This was done for several hours for both arms, both legs, her back and her neck. Building up maximum flexibility was crucial for her, as she was likely to face off against other Assassins in the future who would be able to get her into such traps. If she was to escape or turn the situation to her favor, she needed to be able to move and react with their techniques which required her body to be as limber as possible.

When stretching was done Shadow informed her of the massage techniques. While not thrilled, Mayumi didn't question him and so she allowed him to massage her back, legs, arms and neck while she took care of massaging anything else that was overlooked by Shadow. While he was familiar with massaging women, having done it numerous times in Te'i Sai, Mayumi made it pretty clear she didn't want him touching her chest, butt or stomach. She was able to reach those areas on her own anyway so having her do it for herself was not unreasonable.

The entire day was about relaxation and focusing on her body's ability to relax after being under so much pressure the day before. Soon enough the days would bring combined workouts where Mayumi would both exercise and relax in the same day, but for now she could not afford such luxury.

The next day was more of what day one offered but with different methods in mind. This time it was all about attack power. Building up her raw strength by having her punch and kick the trees as hard as she could until her hands and knuckled bled and her shins and feet had bruises all over before allowing her to relax. During that time Shadow applied several salves and special herbs to her skin which would aid in protecting them against internal damage to the muscles. The skin would still be worn and bruised, but underneath it all her muscles would be fine which would also serve to build her tolerance for pain which was already quite high. He had to give her former master credit for that one, but she needed more and that was what he planned to give her.

Along with attacking was retreating, and so Shadow began to literally throw everything he had at her. She was not allowed to counter strike or make contact with his body in any way. She had to use all of her speed, agility and stamina to evade his attacks and escape to the treeline. This was easier said and done as Shadow had both longer arms and legs than she did, not to mention experience and so he managed to stop her retreat several times before she finally made good her escape. The time it took her to accomplish this task was insufficient in Shadow's eyes, and so she repeated the exercise several more times before being allowed to rest. Sora's training was slow and steady, helping the bird overcome her natural maneuverability issues and also helped her identify new ways to scan her environment while still keeping an eye ahead for danger. Both the bird and her master were naturally gifted, and he had to marvel at how well they both took to their training. Before long Sora's training would be complete, but Mayumi still had a long way to go yet.

The next day was more of what day two offered with relaxation, massage and more salves and medicines to assist her wounds. Shadow warned her that this would become regular for her but she didn't seem to mind very much. Her drive to avenge her master was strong, and it kept her going despite everything Shadow was throwing at her.

Over the next two weeks Mayumi added over ten pounds of muscle and was beginning to look much more like a real human being instead of a skeleton. She was getting stronger, faster, and already her stamina was increasing at a rapid rate. Her ability to complete the circuit for muscle exhaustion was no longer an issue for her as she was able to finish it without stopping once before moving on to flip and move the fallen trees. Shadow had recently cut down a rather large tree and used its trunk and branches as new weights for Mayumi, the trunk being almost three feet thick and full made it much heavier than the hollow fallen logs. At over two hundred and fifty pounds, they were a much greater test for Mayumi, but would have to wait just a little longer before she was ready for them.

By the end of the first month, Mayumi had made excellent progress and was able to keep up with the training enough to the point where Shadow could both train her and allow her to relax for a few hours during the course of a single day. This being the case, Shadow ramped up the difficulty of her training by several times and once again she began finding a wall to which she could not easily overcome. She had since lost almost all of her body fat content, save for her chest which was the same as when she began, and replaced it with five more pounds of pure muscle and had a more natural and full figure as opposed to being a stick with legs. Her muscle tone had improved a great deal and her eating habits had also improved. While she still gagged somewhat at sweets, Shadow was able to get her to finish a complete meal of up to five fish, two helpings of animal meat and some vegetables from the nearby town on occasion. Sora had since completed her training and was allowed to do as she pleased so long as it didn't interrupt what Mayumi was doing.

By the end of the second month, Mayumi was undeniably a different girl than she had been when Shadow took her in. While her personality had remained the same, she both looked and fought like very differently than before. She had completed her trial of surviving Shadow's attacks for two minutes at the end of her training without any issue, and now she was a true Assassin. Shadow was confident enough in her abilities to the point where if they were confronted by one or two Assassins from Te'i Sai Mayumi could handle the situation on her own. She was in terrific health and even better shape, and she was ready to avenge her master. While not ready to be the one to take on Kiiro herself, she would be able to hold her own against those who followed him. Te'i Sai was one thing, but the Wraiths were another matter entirely and Shadow was still wary of letting her fight one just yet. Her training would continue on a daily basis to keep her new found skills sharp and in peak condition, but otherwise they were ready to finally start on the path to avenging her master.

"You've done well Mayumi, and I'm proud of all you've accomplished." Shadow commented, standing by the fire as evening set in around them.

"I have something to give both you and Sora, and I know you'll both make good use of them." He said as he stood up and walked over to a tree with a small hollowed out section of the trunk.

During their training in the second month Shadow disappeared for three days while Mayumi was free to train on her own in his absence. During that time he had returned to his home and fetched special weapons which he had crafted long ago when he was still a member of Te'i Sai. A slight modification was made to one of the two gifts, specially designed for Sora, while the others were pre made for Shadow by a friend. However, he had no use for them so he had simply kept them safe until now.

From within it's dark recesses Shadow pulled out a long pouch with with something obviously metallic within its confines. A smaller pouch made its appearance as well, more than likely for Sora as Shadow handed Mayumi the longer pouch. He opened the smaller pouch and presented to Mayumi small claws of metal which could be easily attached to Sora's natural talons at any time during missions and detached just as easily via specialized clips on the back under the talon.

"These metallic talons are made from Orichalcum, a nearly indestructible metal which will make Sora a weapon unto herself should she need to make use of them. Her natural talons are a fine weapon, but these will help to protect and reinforce them whenever necessary on missions in places where stone and metal are an issue." He said as she put the Orichalcum talons back into the pouch and set them down beside Mayumi.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

INK

Mayumi glanced at the small pouch that was now set down beside her before proceeding to open the long pouch in her hands. She could tell they were arrows from the feel of it and upon opening, pulled out one of the many arrows. The tip of the arrow was made from Orichalcum, and if she recalled correctly they were a type of indestructible material the same material Shadow’s twin daggers were made of. Thinking about it, the combination of the bow her previous master gave her and these arrows she have received, they would make a great combination and enhance her skills greatly.

Red-black orbs looked up to crimson ones.

“What do you want from me in return for everything, Sir?” She asked him.

She never took things without payment for them and in this situation it was the same in her eyes.

Sora was perched on her shoulder, looking out for danger around them while she conversed with Shadow.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

INK

Shadow glanced at her and was caught somewhat off guard from her question about payment. Shadow hadn't expected any from her, but he knew of a way to answer her that would satisfy them both.

"I want you to swear to me that you will do whatever you must to keep yourself alive until you can see your master's life avenged. You will never, and I mean never, go anywhere without my consent on your own. You will never try to take down a target that is out of your reach to prove yourself either to me or anyone else. And you will never go after Te'i Sai Assassins without me. The Assassins of Te'i Sai have numerous rankings and I have yet to teach you what they are. As strong as you've become over these last two months taking on a Master Assassin of any caliber or specialty, let alone a Wraith, is still out of your reach. You have more training ahead, but for the time being we will press onward. Now stand up Mayumi, and put your things away. We've a lot of ground to cover. Our current target lies in Triveila's Capital City."

Shadow himself walked over to his bag and grabbed all of his belongings, which luckily fit into a small pouch that he could sling over his shoulder and clip into position at his hip. It wasn't ideal for combat situations to have something around your neck, but if need be he could simply snap the line and let it drop to the ground. Shadow gave Mayumi a few moments to gather what belongings she had with her and take her place beside him before pressing onward. As they continued through the forest, Shadow's ears caught very faint sounds of a struggle in the distance.

Shadow raised his right hand to shoulder level with a slight curl to his fingers. This was his signal for Mayumi to stop moving and be dead silent as he continued to listen. No doubt she could hear the faint sounds as well now that they weren't walking anymore, but they were too soft to figure the exact location. He looked over to Sora, and the bird immediately leaped into the air and began to fly higher and higher until it spotted what Shadow was looking for and returned to them, facing the direction of the sounds.

"Good work Sora." He said quietly.

Shadow looked to Mayumi and slowly leaned his head towards the noise and back to neutral position, a small signal for her to follow closely and be ready.

Shadow took off for the source of the sounds of this struggle and before long when they broke a small clearing they found a scene that got Shadow's blood boiling as they halted near the treeline. A young woman was being sexually assaulted by four large men, and it brought back bad memories for Shadow. He had to get a grip on himself and stop from reaching for the Twins, as he wanted nothing more than to kill... no that wasn't the right word, he wanted to slaughter them where they stood. Someone very dear to Shadow had experienced such a thing in the past, but unlike this time Shadow was not there to help or put a stop to it. Though he didn't know this young woman, he would not let her fall victim to the same fate.

Shadow looked over at Mayumi for a brief second.

"They're mine, so the two of you stay put." He said as calmly as he could, fighting the urge to grit his teeth.

Shadow purposely found a large branch sitting on the floor of the forest and snapped it with his foot, causing all four of the men to cease their activities and look his way.

His bangs hid the full coloration of his eyes, and so they obviously didn't recognize who he was or they would never have even bothered to remain where they were.

"Well, I guess the girl has herself a would be savior boys!" One of them laughed.

The others laughed with him and three of them let go of her and began walking towards Shadow as the fourth kept the girls hands bound behind her back with one hand and covered her mouth with the other.

Shadow waited for them to gather in a semi-circle around him before moving further. As the one to his right drew in close enough, Shadow let loose with a single kick just above his groin and retracted it in less than a second. The speed of his kick hid the true power behind it from all but Mayumi, who undoubtedly knew what was about to happen to the unfortunate victim on the receiving end of the blow. The man's friends were a bit stunned at how fast the kick was, but otherwise thought nothing of it and started to laugh again.

The man paused for a moment as his body struggled to recognize what had just happened to it, but before long he was doubled over in pain and gagging as he tried to vomit but nothing came out. His friends stood there in awe as their laughter came to a halt, but their awe was then replaced by fear as their friend began to cough up blood in between his short, ragged breaths. They took a couple steps back before looking back at Shadow, who had since raised his head just enough for the moon to reflect the perfectly red coloration of his eyes.

Their faces went pale as they slowly looked to their friend, who slumped to the ground and passed out with blood trickling out of the corners of his mouth.

Shadow watched them as they looked to each other and tried to psych themselves up, thinking that if they took down Shadow here they would become heroes. The first of them lunged at Shadow, aiming a punch directly at his face. Shadow simply let the punch come, turning his head at the last moment so it landed on his cheek bone, breaking the smaller bones of the man's fingers on contact and sending a reverberating shock through the man's arm. Shadow's superior neck muscles kept his head from budging upon impact, but the man who punched him was not so lucky as he reeled back grasping his hand in pain.

Shadow walked forward a bit and struck the man with the knife edge of his hand just in between the second and third vertebrae in the man's neck. The blow separated the two vertebrae and caused him to become temporarily paralyzed as he fell to the ground in a heap. Since Shadow didn't sever any nerves the man could be allowed to walk again if surgery was used to help reposition the two bones into proper alignment, but given the severity of these times, he would never walk again. But he would live. The last man in front of him took one more look from his friends to Shadow, looking him in the eyes before running away and disappearing into the forest.

Shadow slowly turned around to face the man still holding the young woman as he glared coldly into his eyes. His unlucky opponent was too stunned to move, though he still had a death grip on the young woman he held, and so Shadow simply walked forward until he stood right in front of him and the poor girl. He reached out and placed his thumb, index and middle fingers about an inch above the man's wrist which held the cloth over the girls mouth, and as the stunned thug looked at Shadow's hand there was a sudden twitch in Shadow's arm and a loud snap echoed throughout the area.

The man screamed out in pain as the Ulna bone in his forearm was broken under Shadow's grip and he instantly let go of the girl with both hands as he reeled back in pain. Shadow took a step forward and put his hand on the girl's shoulder, and though he wasn't looking at her, he was beckoning her to move behind him as he stepped past her towards his now reeling opponent. He grabbed the man's lapel with his right hand and pulled him in close, the man's screams coming to an end when his face was but a mere inch from Shadows.

"... Leave..." Shadow said in a low and menacing voice.

As he let go the man didn't hesitate to follow the order as he ran away into the forest after his friend.

Shadow took a moment to breath and clenched his fists, still wishing he had just slaughtered them like the animals they were for what they had almost been able to do. Shadow gave a short whistle, a signal for Mayumi to take her place at his side as he turned back towards the young woman and offered a slight bow of his head.

"I apologize for what those men were able to do to you miss. I hope that you will be alright, having had to bear witness to this violence." He said gently, his tone and facial expression now completely relaxed.

He could tell by the look of her that she was not one for combat in any form, and that likely she didn't appreciate the treatment Shadow gave these men. In fact, if she was anything like the one Shadow had failed to save before, she would likely try to help the two who remained unconscious on the ground despite what they had just done. Shadow wouldn't have been surprised of she had, but either way she was safe now and that gave Shadow a bit of a boost to morale.

The bad memories had taken a small portion of his morale away and disheartened him, which was not uncommon for him. One of his few true weaknesses was his susceptibility to his own gruesome past, and every time he ended up allowing himself to think about those memories for too long he suffered from depression which would sap small portions of his strength and diminish his fighting capabilities.

Setting Changes... 22191 => 22174

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Helpless. It is what Sereinia was feeling at the very moment. She tried many times to have them relinquish their hold on her but to no avail. They were clearly superior to her in terms of strength. She could talk to them however, she knows when that is hopeless. All she could do was cry silently hoping that someone would come or at the very least they could make her death swift but that was not how she felt it would be. Their touches were getting vulgar by the minute and in a show of clear reluctance she bit her lower lip in shame that it bleed. The man holding her nuzzled his face on the crook of her neck and she truly felt disgusted by that action.

"You smell divine, don't you? Hmmm..." It was by that moment they all heard a branch being broken alerting them of someone else's presence.

"Well, I guess the girl has herself a would be savior boys!"

Eyes of deep amethyst looked at the unknown man that had ventured on her predicament. Sereinia had never seen anyone like him in town before so he was not probably from around here. Moreover, she felt that this man was very dangerous. Three of the men that were 'feasting' on her went to take care of the lone man. Her eyes widened in fear of what could possibly happen. She struggled from her captor to stop what was going to happen. Somehow, she has a strong feeling that those three men would be killed or injured severely given the chance. But, the hold on her only tightened as her captor looked at her arrogantly.

"Where do you think you're going? We'll take care of this whelp and then you." The man smiled at her lecherously which made her blood go cold.

Sereinia would have said something if it was not for the cloth on her mouth. But even before she could finish her thought on the matter, she heard laughter. It caught their attention however, the laughter soon ceased when the one of the men fell to the ground with blood coming out from his mouth. She had a horrified look understanding the damage that the man must have received. In summary, the man needed medical assistance. She could feel her captor slightly tensed and she completely understands. This lone man was not just anybody. Soon, the identity was revealed to them with those red eyes receiving gentle light from the moon. It was the one known as Shadow.

The two men were shaken but still believed that they have the advantage. However, Sereinia knew that they didn't. She had heard tales about the man named Shadow and in combination of what she had sensed and witnessed. These men were not in competition with him at all. The fight began but the results were soon revealed. One of the men fell to the ground after taking hit at his neck. She could see well the possible damage to the fallen man. Following that, the other men proceeded to flee deeper into the forest in fear of suffering the same fate or even worse.

The grip on her hands tightened even more considerably. Sereinia cast a glance towards her captor and could see the fear in his eyes, He was holding her as if she was his lifeline. She cast her attention in front of her and saw Shadow stopping just a few inches before them. She could tell that her captor was shaking. As for her, she should be as well sensing this eerie bloodlust. However, she was captivated by something else. It was at that moment Shadow broke the man's arm before her eyes. She was released instantly while Shadow beckoned her to get behind him as he continued forward towards her captor.

"Please, that is enough!" Sereinia spoke out-loud towards Shadow.

It is true that they intended to cause her great harm however, Sereinia did not want to see anymore violence if she could stop it. Fortunately, it would seem that Shadow had listened somehow as the man was able to run towards the same direction as his companion did earlier. At this act, she released a small sigh of relief. A whistle caught her attention and it would seem that Shadow was not alone as she originally thought. His companion was quite a sight to see. She looked at him as he approached politely bowed before her.

"I apologize for what those men were able to do to you miss. I hope that you will be alright, having had to bear witness to this violence."

It would seem that the rumors about Shadow being someone of pure evil is not true. Sereinia remained silent for a while hearing his words. She took in his appearance and in all honesty. This Shadow person seems to her as a normal person and the same could be said about his companion although, they do have this air of danger around them. Regardless, she sensed that she should not be afraid of them. She closed her eyes briefly and then opened them again accompanied by a small yet grateful smile.

"Thank you for saving me."

After saying that, Sereinia look at the two unconscious men and knew that her aunt would scold her dearly for what she was about to do. Perhaps, Shadow would also think of her as foolish but, she just had to. After all, who was in their right frame of mind to help someone who wanted to hurt them to begin with. She approached the two fallen men and knelt down to look at their current conditions.

"You have given them quite the beating. I would have to take them to the clinic to treat them."

Standing up properly, Sereinia looked at Shadow with those deep amethyst filled with gentleness and at the same time a bit of sternness. The moonlight shone upon her as if she was a creature that descended from it. Her raven black tresses that had taken the tint of purple were being blown gently by the wind and her scent that is natural of hers mixed with it.

"You wanted to kill them but did not. You are a gentle person, Mr. Shadow. I would like to have that kindness be extended for a little bit If you would not mind."

Sereinia spoke with a smile as if the attack did not happened. She would usually scold the person who harmed somebody even if it was for her sake. However, there was this lingering sadness in Shadow's demeanor. It would seem that what happened to her might trigger something within him. She did not want to further pry into scars that have yet to be healed. Furthermore, he had hold back in not killing them despite her sensing how he wanted to do so.

"Would you help me carry them to the village? I would also want to show my gratitude to you and your companion with dinner."

Setting Changes... 22174 => 22191

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

"You wanted to kill them but did not. You are a gentle person, Mr. Shadow. I would like to have that kindness be extended for a little bit If you would not mind."

Shadow winced at her use of the word "gentle", but none the less offered her a small smile. When she requested he help her carry them to the village and to her clinic, he thought about refusing. Knowing what he and Mayumi had to do and the time they needed to do it in, there was something in him that told him to refuse. However, her disarming charms had gotten to him, just as a certain someone else's had in the past as well and he couldn't do anything but heave a sigh and look to Mayumi.

"... Seems our plans are on hold for the moment Mayumi. I will ask that you bear with me on this, as it's not something I can just ignore. I will take care of carrying these men while you scout ahead to make sure our path to the city is clear. Get Sora into the air and let her be your eyes as always, and if anyone or anything threatens our path to this clinic, you have my permission to bring them down by whatever means necessary. With any luck, you won't need to, but in these areas during these difficult times I wouldn't be surprised if you had a run in with at least one small gang of thieves on your way. Be careful." He said in a clear but quiet voice.

With that Shadow picked up the man who's neck he had broken and the other whom he had kicked in the stomach, hauling them each over either one of his shoulders and turning back towards this new acquaintance.

"After you, miss." He said calmly, awaiting her guidance to her clinic.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Sereinia looked at Shadow and his companion as the two interacted with each other for a few moments. She wondered if she had disturbed them from their travels. If that was the case, she should apologize to them. Her thoughts of remorse were interrupted by Shadow's words.

"After you, miss."

It would seem that the discussion between the two companions were done as Shadow was now carrying the two fallen men that were hauled over his shoulders. He was quite strong in her opinion despite how he looked like. He was not the overly muscular type of man that one would usually recognized as strong. Dispelling such things in her mind now, Sereinia nodded towards Shadow's words as she pointed at the direction on her left side.

"Thank you for your consideration." Sereinia spoke sincerely as she lead the way.

The path was quite linear although the occasional overgrowing trees and bushes do block the way. Moreover, the walk was quiet for the most part. Sereinia described it as a comfortable one. It was not because she was afraid or something. Somehow, it just felt right. However, she does not know what Shadow might think. It was then at that moment she remembered something very important. She could not believe how rude she is. Instantly stopping midway, she turned around and faced Shadow with an apologetic face. It does resemble a child in a way.

"Please forgive me for my rudeness. I have yet to introduce myself. My name is Sereinia Lucis Nouralail. You may call me however you may wish. Most people do call me Dr. Nora."

After saying that, Sereinia offered a polite bow and had a small smile on her face. It was not probably the brightest idea to bring such a dangerous man to her residence or give her name to a wanted criminal. Her Aunt Beatiz would most likely scold her for this. But at this moment, Shadow was the man who saved her and that is all she needed to know. No, it was the only thing that mattered to her. She continued her walk as the opened lights of the village were soon revealed to them. It was like stars twinkling above the sky. They were almost there.

"Mr. Shadow, I apologize if I delayed you and your companion on your travels. You saved me and you even have to carry the two men whom you went out of your way to save me from. Honestly, you have no obligation to do so. I am very thankful."

Sereinia looked at him once again but this time, she had a rather big and grateful smile upon her face. If the people especially the men in the village would see her, they would have blushed furiously.

"I am in your debt. So, if you need my help... I will come to your aid."

It was spoken with truthfulness and at the same time with warmth. Afterwards, the gates to the village was before them. Sereinia led Shadow to her house where the clinic should be as well.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

She could sense the woman Shadow had saved was no harm to them but never the less was wary of her, her distrust in others too strong to be ignored. With a face devoid of warmth, she observed the woman closely. Seeing no harm she looked at Sora and nodded sending her into the skies, the bird understanding her command flapped its huge wings and soared off into the cloudy skies.

"After you, miss." She heard Shadow say to the woman evenly.

Ignoring them, Mayumi went ahead and scouted the path leading to the city with Sora, their teamwork never faltering for a second, one scanning the skies whilst the other scanned the grounds. The wind blew their direction and with Sora’s signals Mayumi affirmed obstacles ahead of them, but could sense they wouldn’t be much of a problem for her.

Once near enough to her opponents, Mayumi swung herself up into a nearby tree, her silhouette a blur as she made her way up to the tree top. Within the leafy tops of the tree, multiple arrows were shot off into the distance within seconds. No later from when they were shot, faint thuds were heard from a distance as all landed with a thud on their goal, no doubt a deadly one. Sora gave the signal that it was clear and dived down into the forest, coming back up towards her direction with the charcoal colored arrows she had shot.

During the two months that she had been training, she found interesting plants around the area and had mixed them into a type of poison that decayed skin and bones within a minute when touched, even if it was just a drop. She had even made an antidote for it in case someone accidentally touches them. The main purpose for her making this poison was so that she could coat her arrows with it and would no longer need to waste her time disposing off bodies.

Retrieving her arrows from Sora, they both head out of the forest and back on to the path, continuing the journey without any more delays, oblivious to the conversation going on behind her.

Upon reaching their destination, Mayumi stood under the shade of a tree stubbornly refusing to go anywhere nearer to the house and clinic. She did not like entering houses of people whom she did not trust and Sora seemed to agree with her.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

As they walked together Shadow couldn't help but feel a strange sense of nostalgia until his wandering thoughts were brought back to reality.

"Please forgive me for my rudeness. I have yet to introduce myself. My name is Sereinia Lucis Nouralail. You may call me however you may wish. Most people do call me Dr. Nora."

Shadow stopped mid stride and nodded to her.

"Very well then, Sereinia. I hope you'll accept my calling you by name, as I am not one to observe titles with any sort of consistency." He said, somewhat apologetically.

As they drew nearer and found their way to the edge of town where the forest began and the buildings ended, Mayumi appeared and seemed to stop as both he and Sereinia walked passed.

Normally he would order her to follow, but Mayumi had taken everything he'd thrown at her during training without complain so he could hardly force her to enter a house she was unfamiliar with. During their time together, Shadow had managed to dissect small bits of her psyche by watching her movements, body language, listening to her vocalizations when speaking and during training, and by listening very carefully to how she voiced her sentences. It was clear that Mayumi had never trusted anyone before, and in that sense she was not very different from Shadow when he was her age. In fact, she was more like him than he wanted to admit, but this was not the time to be thinking about such things.

Shadow decided it was best to press onward, but once again was faced with Sereinia's somewhat disarming voice.

"Mr. Shadow, I apologize if I delayed you and your companion on your travels. You saved me and you even have to carry the two men whom you went out of your way to save me from. Honestly, you have no obligation to do so. I am very thankful. I am in your debt. So, if you need my help... I will come to your aid."

Shadow smiled at her, the more pleasant memories of one long since passed on flooding his mind and bringing a slight ray of warmth to his heart as he sighed through his nose quietly before nodding to her once again. No words really needed to be spoken this time, as it was a simple gesture which was easily understood.

Shadow decided to take point after this and walked ahead into the town with Sereinia close behind. The clinic Sereinia spoke of was the only one available in this area, so it was not hard to spot. When Shadow reached the door he set the men down and analyzed the building before looking at his clothing. During the time he and Mayumi had spent training, he'd neglected to properly clean or maintain his jacket and shirt, and thus needed to repair them. Not only that, but Shadow had ordered Mayumi to travel light without any extra food or other supplies other than her weapons and any small items she always kept with her during traveling. Shadow was not usually so neglectful of things that he needed, but he had been so focused on training Mayumi and setting off without delay that he had forgotten to plan accordingly.

The fact that his past had been haunting him was not helping the issue either, and it was one of Shadow's greatest weaknesses.

Phantoms from the past, the voices and threats of his past victims and enemies swirled in his head, as well as the voices of allies who died in his arms were a constant threat to his sanity and focus. More than once they had gotten him into potentially fatal situations, and it was not so long ago that one such incident had taken place. Despite all of his strength and skills as the most feared Assassin in the world, Shadow was helpless against the ghosts of his past as they constantly buzzed through his mind like a swarm of bees waiting to sting him to death at any moment.

He turned to Mayumi and sighed, letting his shame be known.

"I have neglected ample supplies and blame myself for this humiliation. For tonight you will find a place to rest on the rooftops and out of sight. I will give a signal Sora is sure to pick up on tomorrow once I am ready and we will press onward in the morning. Forgive me Mayumi, but there is no avoiding this setback. I will be sure to never neglect our needs like this again."

With that he turned to Sereinia.

"I hope that I can ask for your assistance now Sereinia. I need to replace these clothes, or at least repair them. Would you happen to have anything I could use in the clinic to get the job done?" He asked quietly.

Setting Changes... 22191 => 22174

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Sereinia looked at the men that Shadow settled down and would seem that she would need to operate on one. Regardless, she must in order to treat that one with the broken neck. As for the other, she must properly check if there are other organs internally damaged. For now, she injected them with a medicine that would ease the damage done to their bodies earlier. It was good to know that her Aunt left for a trip after lunch that day to a nearby town to deliver some goods to a client. Her Aunt would probably return by tomorrow noon. The thought gave her relief that she would not be scolded for the night about her reckless actions that her Aunt usually describes as. After making sure the two unconscious men were comfortable, she turned her attention towards Shadow and from what she had heard from the earlier conversations, Mayumi. It seems the young girl was very wary of her and she could understand that. After all, trust is something that cannot be easily given although it is quite different in her case as she had been told many times.

Gazing at the one called Mayumi, Sereinia cannot help but be intrigued by her presence a little along with that adorable feathered creature of hers. She was beautiful in her opinion. In addition, she liked her name. It has a nice ring to it. Her curiosity was halted upon hearing Shadow's question about clothes. She looked at him and did noticed his rather quite ragged appearance. It does seem that they need to take care of themselves before they go on the road once more.

"I believe I have some clothes that could fit you. They are stored upstairs. I will get them for you and as for repairs I have some needles and threads."

Sereinia said with a cheerful smile afterwards, she went upstairs to get hold of some clothes and then a sewing box that was a gift from her Aunt. She handed it to Shadow and then looked at Mayumi with worry. Well, the young girl could be wary of her. She does not find anything wrong with that although, she is quite worried about her health.

"I have a room for where the young lady could rest. It is chilly outside and I do not want her to catch a cold. But, if she does not want to. Would she mind if I get her a blanket and some pillows and perhaps a meal as well. I do remember I said that I would thank you properly with dinner. It is the same for you."

Saying with the sincerest of intentions, Sereinia looked at Mayumi and then to Shadow with a gentle smile. Her Aunt always more than two people. She remembered that her Aunt said it was so that she would not feel so lonely. Somehow, Sereinia understand that sentiment.

"You can rest here for the night. As for supplies, I may be able to procure some for you. It is the least I could do. Oh yes, if you want you can have a bath to freshen yourselves up."

After saying that, she looked at her patients with determination to help them. It was truly awkward to see such a look especially what had happened to her earlier. These two men were after all intend to do her harm. But somehow, Sereinia had forgotten all of that without much of a hesitation.

"I would be probably up all-night. So, you could use my room to rest in as well." She said gently while looking at Shadow.

Setting Changes... 22174 => 22191

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

"I believe I have some clothes that could fit you. They are stored upstairs. I will get them for you and as for repairs I have some needles and threads."

Shadow nodded to Sereinia and watched as she began to get to work on the two men whom he had defeated.

"Mayumi will not require assistance. She prefers to be alone." He said with gentle finality.

Shadow looked over to Mayumi, expecting her to listen to his disguised order.

Though Shadow knew that Mayumi did indeed intend to spend the night alone and by herself with Sora, there had been instances of attacks on individuals walking alone at night throughout the town during their time training together and Shadow wanted Mayumi on patrol. What the people needed the most in these difficult times was hope, and with people such as the thieves, gangs and rogue bounty hunters and mercenaries out looking for trouble the people were afraid to hope. Though Shadow typically fought for himself, during his travels he had found a reason to look past his own goals and help those who needed help when he simply wanted revenge and to satisfy his own personal agenda.

Shadow took up Sereinia's offer to go inside, picking up the two men after her injections and carried them inside and put them on medical tables to make her work easier. As he did so he took off his jacket and, albeit with great reluctance and hesitation, his shirt.

As his shirt came off it revealed the extent of the damage his life had done to him. Scars, both new and old, covered his body from his neck all the way down to the small of his back and extending yet further, indicating that his entire body was covered in such wounds. Slash wounds from blades, two bullet wounds, several stab wounds, and signs of severe physical damage from falls and other such injuries littered his flesh and told stories unto themselves as to the extent of how dangerous his life truly was.

One in particular was across the center of his back from just under his right shoulder blade all the way to his left hip. This wound happened shortly before he met Mayumi and on occasion, despite his best efforts to tend to it, still bled and caused him great pain and irritation. He was hoping with everything he had that he'd be able to stitch his shirt and put it back on before Sereinia noticed, or else she'd insist on taking care of it after tending to the two men on her tables.

... Just like her... He thought.

He found the needles and thread in a drawer in the desk he set his clothes on. He did his best to keep his back away from Sereinia, but there was no telling whether or not she'd seen it already.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

"Mayumi will not require assistance. She prefers to be alone."

Shadow's response leaded for Sereinia to released a sigh. However, she will not push the issue any further. She knew when to stop on certain occasions. Once the men were put to the table, she nodded to Shadow in gratitude. Taking another look at the men, she found relief that their vitals remained stable. For now, she would leave Shadow and Mayumi to their own silence. But before the treatment, she would need all her medical tools prepared. She head towards a large cabinet and opened it. Inside, all of her equipments were neatly placed and arranged. She took out the necessary ones that she would need and the medicines that she would have to use for treatment and the operation. Upon finishing the preparations, she went to the kitchen and heated the meal that Aunt Beatiz had left for her. Afterwards, she placed them neatly on the tray and served it to Shadow who was now half-naked before her.

"Here have something to eat. My Aunt made some vegetable pottage, roast beef, and a slice of bread. I do not know what you like to drink but I brought you some ale."

Placing it down on the desk, Sereinia was not the kind to stare at anyone's body. However, the scars and various wounds that filled Shadow's body implied how dangerous he is and how fearful his life is as well. She could not even fathom what kind of horrors this man before her had already witnessed. Compared to her, she had yet to fully grasped the world around her or perhaps she was simply hiding behind her naivety as she had been told. Taking herself out of her own observation, she decided to return to the her two patients but not until she saw that Shadow seemed to be hiding something from her. She finally noticed a rather wound across his back. It was bleeding.

"Let me see it."

Her tone was changed into gentle sternness as if it was ordering a little boy. Sereinia looked at the wound closely and did not even allow the man to dissuade her otherwise. It had begun to fester which had impended it from healing properly. She could see that Shadow had applied first aid. But, it was not enough. She could not believe that Shadow had not seen a doctor or healer for such a thing. Opening the drawers, she took out one of her concocted drug and showed it to him.

"Drink this. It would help to prevent further infection. I am impressed you have not yet develop a fever. I would put some salve on it. This would sting but please bear with it."

Sereinia took another drug from the drawer. It was a salve of hers that she had made earlier. She glanced at Shadow momentarily and began gently applying the salve over his wound. She did swiftly and at the same gently to prevent any more pain on Shadow's part. After it was done, she looked at Shadow with concern and released a small sigh.

"What I did was just temporary. I would stitch it up after I am done with the two men. Do not tell me that you would not need assistance. You are in my clinic."

Her tone was with slight tenderness but at the same time a finality. She proceeded towards the two fallen men and tied her long hair with a ribbon so it would not interfere with her eyes and face. Afterwards, she began her treatment on the two men. It was done efficiently and without mistake as well. She certainly knew what she was doing. Her concentration was certainly something to be commended. Although, it took quite a while. She could say the two men would be recovering nicely. Taking a deep breath, she looked at Shadow with a smile.

"Now, it is your turn." Sereinia took a seat beside him and began treating his wound first by cleaning it.

"This will hurt." After doing it, she injected him with a drug that could numb the pain as she would stitch it.

"You should have allowed this to be treated earlier. It could become worse."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Even without Shadow telling her to do so, Mayumi would have gone on patrol herself. After all, it was what her previous master had trained her for and what she had been doing for her entire life. She still wasn’t used to sleeping at night and while Shadow might have thought she was asleep on some nights during the training period she wasn’t. She had learned to slow her breathing to make it feel like she was sleeping before she even got to know the name Shadow so that she could surprise any enemies that thought could sneak up on her.

Getting on to the rooftop of the house, she laid down with Sora on guard beside her as she gazed at the darkening sky above them. She briefly wondered when Shadow was going to get his wound treated. All throughout training she could tell that Shadow was uncomfortable with something and had stumbled across the answer to his discomfort one day when he had his shirt off. Since he hadn’t asked for her help, she had not done anything about it thinking that he would be fine but it has been 2 months since then and still she could see no improvement in his discomfort.

‘That woman would probably help him.’ She thought impassively.

Slowly, Mayumi fell into a light slumber, awaiting attacks of innocent ones as her deceased Master had described them.

As she slept, a person appeared in her mind with his back facing her. It was dark and hazy but upon having a closer inspection, she was undoubtedly sure that it was her deceased master whose name she still had yet to know till this day.

‘Master?’ she called out to him.

The man turned and as she had thought it was her Master, but… the expression in his eyes, was something Mayumi could not understand. Slowly, he faded off into darkness, his expression burned into the dark recesses of her mind.

Eyes snapped open to a dark twinkling sky as thousands of birds, hidden in trees, broke out in a spontaneous melody. Sitting up, she felt something wet trail down her face. Swiping it off, she looked at the wetness on her fingers and wondered where it had come from. If it had been raining, she would have awoken the moment a single drop touched her. Could it be poison then? She shook her head doubtfully. After a minute of pondering, she decided to overlook the strangeness of it. Signalling Sora to stay and watch over the village, she leaped off the roof landing with an inaudible thud on the ground beside the house and disappeared into the mass of trees behind the houses.

In a small clearing behind the houses


A little travel away from the house, Mayumi came across a small clearing. Going into the center of the clearing, she closed her eyes acknowledging the elements surrounding her and becoming one with them. Red-black eyes snapped open a few seconds later, and Mayumi began an array of fierce punches and kicks enough to knock a full grown man down. Warm puffs of breath became visible in the cold air after an hour as she planned to continue this routine for a few hours unless Sora alerted her of an attack. There was no way she was going back to sleep after that dream.

‘Master…’ His strange expression bothered her more than needed. She felt like she had seen that expression before but can't remember what it was. Just what was it?

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

As Shadow had guessed, Sereinia was not one to let something such as his most recent wound slip by her professional eye. She had ordered him to accept her medicine and treatment, but he didn't really mind. He wouldn't be able to properly treat the wound himself anyway, given its position on his back. The sting of the slave was nothing he wasn't already accustomed to, and as he had done for so many years he simply ignored it as he finished stitching his clothing.

When he was done he lifted it into the air and inspected it. The shirt was back to normal, with the signs of the repairs being prevalent only in direct light. His jacket was more or less back to normal, but would soon need to be replaced. While most Assassins chose not to travel with such clothing, Shadow rather enjoyed the freedom a simple jacket brought with it, and more than one he'd used it as a weapon in combat with others. His jacket was something of a keepsake from a friend, one who was luckily still alive, and he wanted to preserve it for as long as possible.

Shadow waited until Sereinia had finished treating his wound before turning to face her with a smile, the candle light illuminating his eyes like two rubies in the sun.

"Thank you for your help Sereinia, I appreciate the food and the assistance. It is best you remain wary when we leave though, as you will more than likely be visited by other Assassins of Te'i Sai before long. Being the only clinic in this town, your skills will not go unchecked, nor will the condition of your patients... And unfortunately I made the mistake of leaving a rather blatant mark of professionalism in that one with the broken neck, so they will likely come to question you about who did this to him."

Shadow's expression softened to one of genuine concern as he walked towards the door, putting his shirt and jacket back on as he turned around half way to look at her.

"Please be careful, and if they do question you I want you to promise that you'll cooperate with them and tell them the truth. Tell them that I am responsible for this damage and that I headed further into Triveila. If you tell them a lie and they end up on a wild goose chase they will mark you for death for having tried to hide me from them and they will begin a massive hunt to find and kill you. Your kindness should not go unrewarded, and I can only hope that this is enough of a payment for what you've done. People like you are the ones who need to live if this continent is to find peace again. But with Te'i Sai still out there and still going strong with three branches left at full power, I don't know how long the hope and courage we bring to the people with our actions will last if too many like you end up as casualties." He said softly.

He opened the door and looked outside, wondering what Mayumi had done and where she had gone. He looked up and still saw Sora flying high above the town, which was a good sign as it meant she was close by. More than likely she had either found a place to rest or a place to train, as she seemed to enjoy training as a means to pass time and continue to hone her skills. Likely driven by her desire for revenge, Shadow could only hope that eventually she would see a different reason for doing what it is she does and discover a reason to live that had nothing to do with revenge.

"Take care Sereinia... and may whatever Gods you pray to protect you when Te'i Sai arrives in this town." He said sadly as he started to walk outside.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Once Sereinia had finished the treatment of his wound, Shadow stood up and then looked at her with those ruby-colored eyes of his. There was something mystifying about them that she could not look away from him. It was like she was held captive by those eyes of his. She has yet to pinpoint what was it that captivated her. For now, she listened to his words of warning that assassins from the most feared organization known as the Te'i Sai would be coming here and asked questions about Shadow. Well, she should expect as much. He is not dangerous not only of his capabilities but also due to his life. She remained silent as Shadow walked towards the door. It would seem he would be leaving soon than she had initially thought.

Sereinia was quite sad about it however, this was something that was bound to happen. She gathered her tools that were on the desk. It was about time for her to clean up. Standing from her seat, she looked at Shadow who had his back turned to her. Somehow, she has this feeling of nostalgia. She was just not sure what it meant. So, she decided to pay it no heed. There were other things that she would need to focus herself in. There were her patients and if what Shadow said wold come to pass. It would be better if these men were out of sight. They might come to harm if these Te'i Sai people find them as they are witnesses. Her thoughts were only disturbed again by Shadow's words as she looked at him. His eyes affixed on her once more.

His words were filled with genuine concern. It brought a smile to her lips without her even thinking about it. Shadow was truly a gentle person despite him not agreeing about it. He told her that she should be honest however, it was the least of his concerns. She is after all an honest person. She would tell the truth no matter how hard it may be. It may be hypocrisy or selfishness. She just does not want to be surrounded by deceit and lies. Even if it would hurt or be painful, she is willing to endure it. The only thing that did not seat well with her was him talking that only people like her should live. What was supposed to mean?

Soon enough, Shadow ended his words with softness as he opened the door and looked around. Sereinia believed he might be looking out for his companion named Mayumi. He stood there at the doorway and told her to take care of herself. There was sadness in his tone. This much she could tell as he started to walk outside. Somehow, she could understand the nostalgia she was feeling earlier. He seems so alone when he stood before her like that. It was like he keeping all the crushing emotions inside and fighting it alone. It was then instinctively, she found herself reaching for him. Soon, she found her hand clinging tightly onto his jacket like a lifeline.

"Why do I feel you have no reason to come back alive after all of this is done? Why do I feel that you think you are alone? Please, do not burden yourself so much. If you do not want your life, give it to me. Come back to me alive."

Sereinia looked at Shadow with such desperate eyes as if she would be broken if anything were to happen to him. Her eyes of deep amethyst were getting watery. It was like a beautiful violet gem underneath a flowing clear river. After a few seconds of silence, it seemed that she had managed to sort out her feelings and quickly released Shadow's jacket as if she awoken from a trance. She blushed in embarrassment as her cheeks were now rosy pink as she quickly apologize for her behavior earlier.

"I am so sorry! I must have caused unneeded confusion. Please, do not worry. I will be fine and everyone in the village as well."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Shadow took a single step out the door when Sereinia's hand caught his jacket, and something he wasn't expecting came forth from her lips.

"Why do I feel you have no reason to come back alive after all of this is done? Why do I feel that you think you are alone? Please, do not burden yourself so much. If you do not want your life, give it to me. Come back to me alive."

Shadow turned around to look at her and was met by a watery pool of emotion in her eyes as she suddenly seemed to realize what she had said and turned bright pink, even in the dim light of the night around them.

"I am so sorry! I must have caused unneeded confusion. Please, do not worry. I will be fine and everyone in the village as well."

Shadow chuckled lightly at her comment and turned his head away from her.

"To tell the truth Sereinia, I really don't have a reason to come back alive. Once my mission of destroying Te'i Sai is completed, I will have no further reason to exist. I was created and shaped from birth to be the perfect killer, and to this day it's the only thing I truly understand in this world. I have nothing to offer this world, and to this day I still don't understand the values of kindness, empathy, compassion and mercy. To me they have always been distractions and pointless emotions that can only cloud one's judgement and get in the way. People like me have no purpose in this world, so when my mission is complete I will simply disappear. I expect that when we are finished, if she's still alive, that Mayumi will hold a similar opinion..." He said quietly.

His voice trailed off into the night as the air around them suddenly went cold and vacant of all other sound. Shadow's head instantly snapped up and his eyes began to search for anything they could find. He instinctively backed up silently into the frame of the doorway and his whole body became tense as his eyes frantically searched for the source of this anomaly.

This silence, often experienced in heavily animal populated forest areas, was almost always followed by the arrival of a serious predator. It was as if the night around them had gone into hiding from whatever was coming for them.

Shadow continued his frantic search and scan of the area around them while moving his left hand to the hilt of one of his Twin daggers behind his jacket.

"Sereinia... find a place to hide." He said, his voice now very quiet but full of authority and commanding tonality.

If this is what I think it is, I can only hope Sora is going to avoid sending Mayumi any signals that something is wrong... He thought.

Shadow's worst fears were realized when a single figure in a pitch black cloak appeared on the rooftop across the way. Te'i Sai Assassins always wore charcoal grey robes and were easily distinguished by the red symbol of the Assassins on their chest. This cloak was pure black and resembled Shadow's outfit in many ways, save that the cloak had a hood to cover the face of the individual in question. The only thing that could make this worse was...

And there they are... Shadow thought as two more figures in black cloaks appeared beside the first.

Wraiths almost always traveled in threes, and it looked like tonight was no exception. How they found him so quickly was a mystery to him, as Shadow had an entire private network of spies and scouts all around the continent from those who had been loyal to him from his time in Te'i Sai and those who had joined his cause in recent years. However, the Wraiths had always proven to be the most resourceful and intimate of Assassins, infiltrating even the most tight night organizations nationwide to expand Te'i Sai's influence. It seemed that he had an information leak, or worse yet, a traitor in his midst.

That issue, however, would have to wait.

Shadow now had three very big problems on his hands and to make things worse, he had three bodies to defend in the inevitable confrontation that was now slowly descending from the rooftops.

... This is going to be a very, very long night... Shadow thought as the first dagger from behind his back made its appearance.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Looking at Shadow, Sereinia further blushed upon hearing his laughter. She was not sure what came over her to say such things. Somehow, she had just the need to say it. Moreover, the two of them just met a couple of hours ago. In addition, she has no right to meddle in his life or his affairs. Although, the more she thinks about it. The more she had the need to meddle on it. After Shadow's chuckle, he looked away from her.

"To tell the truth Sereinia, I really don't have a reason to come back alive. Once my mission of destroying Te'i Sai is completed, I will have no further reason to exist. I was created and shaped from birth to be the perfect killer, and to this day it's the only thing I truly understand in this world. I have nothing to offer this world, and to this day I still don't understand the values of kindness, empathy, compassion and mercy. To me they have always been distractions and pointless emotions that can only cloud one's judgement and get in the way. People like me have no purpose in this world, so when my mission is complete I will simply disappear. I expect that when we are finished, if she's still alive, that Mayumi will hold a similar opinion..."

Upon hearing that, Sereinia cannot help but be more concerned about him and his companion. No reason to exist? That is not possible at all. She tightly clenched her hands into fists and was about to retort about his words of having no use anymore to the world than to kill. However, Shadow's demeanor stopped her. There was something that worried the assassin and it was not something trivial that she was sure of.

"Is there something wrong?"

It was not answered by words but Sereinia noticed how tensed Shadow had become and at the same time, she noticed the rather eerie silence outside the clinic. It was quite unusual because not even a sound of cricket could be heard. There was just complete calm. She knew better than to think that everyone was sleeping so silently or the animals went on a holiday. There was something dangerous coming and fear was the result. She looked at Shadow with worry not because of her safety or the patient's. She was worried because she knew for a fact that he would be facing it head-on.

"Sereinia... find a place to hide."

Shadow's words were filled with seriousness and left no space for refute or argument. Sereinia's idea of danger was fully cemented when she saw him reaching for his blade. It was clear to her that there would be a fight. She had always hated violence whatever it may be. She knew that she had no right to interject and logically speaking, she knew she should follow Shadow's advice. But, she does not want to feel so helpless especially when she has not done anything at all. She held Shadow's arm and moved away from his protection. She came out of the door and finally saw the threat that Shadow had warned her about.

"I am very certain that whatever business you have with Mr. Shadow is not my concern. However, he is currently my patient. I would not have any actions that could harm him or anyone before me in any manner. I request that you leave. Visiting hours are over."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Mayumi was just about to start another set of training when she sensed an abrupt change in the atmosphere. The air stilled, the night fell silent, and there was a strong aura of killing intent that was far from normal coming from the houses.

‘This air…’ Several possibilities flashed through her mind.

A slight breeze was felt on her back followed by metal talons gripping her shoulder. Looking at Sora, everything immediately fell into place. There was only one thing that could make Sora in distress after all.

‘Wraiths.’

With blinding speed, Mayumi tore across the distance between the small clearing and the village, stopping only when she was nearing the line between the village and the forest of trees. She hid her presence carefully and crept up a tree with ghostly silence while Sora perched on a branch a few meters back from her looking out for any incoming danger from behind.

"Sereinia... find a place to hide." She heard Shadow say to the woman.

She could see their backs from where she was and noticed where Shadow had his eyes fixed on. There on the rooftop of the house opposite them, were three dark figures with pure ebony cloaks. No doubt they were wraiths.

"I am very certain that whatever business you have with Mr. Shadow is not my concern. However, he is currently patient. I would not have any actions that could harm him or anyone before me in any manner. I request that you leave. Visiting hours are over." She heard Sereinia say to them.

‘How peculiar.’ Mayumi thought, frowning slightly.

Knowing Shadow wouldn’t want her to be involved, she stayed where she was watching cautiously, at the same time ready for any incoming attacks.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

At Sereinia's words there came a laughter from the Wraith standing in the center of the group, and Shadow couldn't help but narrow his eyes in disgust at hearing that wretched sound coming from him. At the same time Shadow felt a presence approach from the back of the building, but he knew exactly who it was by the faint sound of the footsteps.

"Mayumi, it's your job to protect Sereinia from harm during this fight. I may be their target, but they have gone after innocence before and I know they'd do it again in a heartbeat."

With that Shadow stood up straight and let his body relax as he turned his back to his three new opponents and gently started pushing Sereinia back inside towards Mayumi, stopping in the center of the room.

"The two of you will stay inside. I thank you for your concern Sereinia, but you cannot bargain with or reason with these men. They answer to only one thing."

Shadow lifted his dagger in his left hand and then drew the second dagger from behind his back with his right hand. He turned his head and crossed the daggers in front of him, raking the two Orichalcum blades together creating a brief flash of light from the sparks created as he walked outside. He rolled his shoulders a little bit and rotated his neck in a single circle in either direction before stopping in the middle of the street as he looked up to face his opponents. They all leaped down from the building top and landed in a triangle around him, with one of them being the apex and positioned in between Shadow and the girls inside.

Not a good start... He thought to himself.

The Wraiths had received their training specifically designed to counter his own so that they would stand a better chance against him in combat, but what they lacked which gave Shadow the edge was that Shadow was trained by each of the five Grandmasters themselves and had over two decades worth of experience working in his favor. The Wraiths only training came from the observations of the second in command of the fortress in Roda Valley and while it was effective for being able to predict most of his normal attack routines, Shadow's experience and his further development still gave him the edge.

Shadow took up an angled stance and brought his right dagger down and held it in an Earth grip as he held his left dagger up higher in front of him in a Heaven grip. His feet were about a shoulder's width and a half in distance from each other and positioned perpendicular to his hands, giving his body a near "x" pattern if looked at directly from above. The three Wraiths closed in, walking within about two meters of Shadow's position as they readied their weapons. All three of them carried a single dagger forged in Orichalcum, the blade alone of which was fourteen inches in length. While their training to counter Shadow's own was formidable, what made them the most dangerous was their resourcefulness and teamwork. For every hour they spent training to counter Shadow's style of fighting, they trained for five hours working together as a unit.

Shadow had a long and brutal fight ahead of him, but it was nothing he had not faced before.

"Prepare yourself Red-Eyed Demon, for your reign come to an end tonight." The lead Wraith proclaimed.

Shadow rolled his eyes for the Wraiths commonly used bold yet unconvincing lines before they attacked and tonight it didn't seem they'd give him peace from that awful habit of theirs.

It didn't take more than a few more seconds for all three of them to lunge at him with blades out. Shadow had trained Mayumi well, and he could only hope that what he was about to do would assist her learning further as she watched the fight.

Shadow's body rotated slightly and he let out a single breath before his eyes opened wide, the entirety of his blood red iris's glowing in the moonlight and ominously announcing the full extent of his fury. Upon his breath being let out, the world began to slow and the movements of his opponents began to follow suit. By utilizing a special blend of both a special assortment of physical training methods combined with an unusual meditation practice, Shadow had learned to control the flow of adrenaline through his body. This ability was incredibly rare, and almost unheard of in males as it was nearly exclusive to females. One such ally of Shadow's had mastered it not long before he did, and he'd learned it from her.

Shadow flipped the dagger in his right hand sideways as he trapped the blade of his opponent behind him against his own blade and his forearm as he spun to the right, taking his opponent with him. His other blade came up and parried a thrust towards his head as his arm wrapped around that of his opponent and the three of them spun in unison as Shadow threw the opponent in his right hand into the third attacker, sending them both to the ground as he released the opponent in his left arm's grip, kicking him in the ribcage as he did so. It was a single, well timed movement and it now had all three Wraiths on the ground as Shadow immediately turned towards the lone Wraith and lunged forward, extending the dagger in his left hand towards his stomach as the blade entered for about two inches before it was stopped in its tracks and retracted by the Wraith's last second interference.

Shadow recoiled from the block and leaped away as the three Assassins composed themselves and regrouped for another attack.

This time they attacked one by one, being much more careful in their efforts as they kept their attacks short and fast, not giving Shadow any time to counter but not one attack touched him at first. Then, their attacks changed patterns and they started to alternate double teaming him and after a few failed attempts to make any headway one of them managed to grab hold of Shadow and threw him into an empty food stand, destroying it and putting Shadow under about a hundred pounds of broken wood. Not wasting any time, the lead Wraith took a lit candle from the street and a bucket of oil that was sitting near another building which was meant to simply relight the lamps and keep them burning.

He threw the oil onto Shadow and the heap of wood he was sitting under and threw the candle, lighting up both Shadow and the once proud food stand. Shadow threw the burning wood off of him in the direction of his attackers, who honestly hadn't seen that part coming and frantically dodged the attack as Shadow ran straight for them. Though his outfit was on fire, Shadow didn't really seem to care very much as he rammed head long into the lead Wraith and pinned his body to the wall of a nearby building, his shoulder extended outward into his lower abdomen where the muscles were the weakest and causing him to instantly become nauseous and fall to the ground. He began to heave but nothing came forth from his stomach as Shadow continued his attack.

As he moved, his outfit slowly started to break apart as it continued to burn though the flames were beginning to die down. It became clear though that Shadow couldn't ignore it for too much longer though as he threw off the jacket and watched it burn on the ground. It pained him to get rid of the jacket, but there was nothing that could be done about it now. Shadow's pants were in tact but badly burned to the point he'd have to completely replace them, but that too would have to wait. The other two Wraiths began to prepare another assault as well, and Shadow once again had to deal with a tag team effort as the both alternated between attacks and defenses while they continued to do what they could to wear Shadow down.

Round after round of knife thrusts, slashes, kicks, punches and grappling continued in the street, and Shadow was thrown clean through a cinder block wall that was erected to block off one of the alleys for construction purposes. The lead Wraith, during this confusion, managed to slip away into the night while Shadow was busy dealing with the other two, but before long Shadow had grown accustomed to their patterns of attack and managed to split their defenses and overtake them. Shadow ended their lives quickly, slashing the neck and severing the bones and the muscles as well as the entire nervous system connection to the lower body under the second spinal vertebrae.

When it was all over, Shadow began returning to the clinic as he tore off his now completely ruined shirt and dumped it into one of the trash baskets outside one of the other shops near the clinic on his short walk back. He stopped inside the doorway and looked back out into the streets and scanned for any signs of the last Wraith, but it was no use. He was gone, and there was absolutely no doubt in Shadow's mind that he was going to report the development to Kiiro. Shadow decided there was nothing that should be done about it as it would take them out of their way to go after him, so Shadow made a mental note to prepare for another confrontation with Kiiro.

Before turning and walking inside the clinic, Shadow did a quick check of the damage he and the Wraiths had done to the surrounding area. He lowered his eyes a bit and frowned at what had been done. Four food stalls, a cinder block wall, a bucket and two lamps, and even a bench near the end of the street.

"... Perfect..." He said sarcastically and in a lower tone of voice.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

The moment the fight started, Mayumi got onto the rooftop of the house from behind, swinging herself down into the doorway where she landed gracefully and situated herself in front of Sereinia. Even though she was still a long way from trusting her, she could at the very least tell that she was an innocent person and as her previous master had drilled into her, the innocent do not deserve to be killed.

While the fight continued, one of the wraiths seemed to have caught sight of her from the corner of his eyes. Recognition flitted across his features and slowly she notices him begin to retreat from the fight, letting the other two take over. She wondered if she should do something about him but dismissed the thought focusing all her attention on protecting Sereinia.

Using a distraction, the lead wraith disappeared into the forest while the other two wraiths distracted Shadow, though it wasn’t long till Shadow emerged as the victor.

Shadow did a quick check of the damage he and the Wraiths had done to the surrounding area. He lowered his eyes a bit and frowned at what had been done. Four food stalls, a cinder block wall, a bucket and two lamps, and even a bench near the end of the street. "... Perfect..." He said sarcastically and in a lower tone of voice.

Mayumi looked at Shadow, her eyes inquiring if he would like her to return the place to its previous state. She had been trained to do so ever since she was 8, thus there was no reason to leave things the way they were now.

Sora was back in the skies scanning the area from above with her keen vision for any other incoming danger, not taking any chances of letting her guard down even for the briefest of seconds.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

"The two of you will stay inside. I thank you for your concern Sereinia, but you cannot bargain with or reason with these men. They answer to only one thing."

Those words saddened Sereinia as she was led to the center of the room with Mayumi who would serve as her protector. She truly understands what Shadow meant but, she just really does not like someone getting hurt in anyway. It does not matter to her who they are or what their intentions are. However, her pleas were useless to ears that would not listen. At this moment, she would have preferred real deaf people. Her thoughts were slightly disturbed as Mayumi positioned herself before her. It made her wonder how such a young girl like her was put into such a life. In her opinion, Mayumi looks more fragile than her. It should be her protecting Mayumi not the other way around.

Her thoughts were distracted when Sereinia noticed that one of Shadow's enemies looked at their way. However, it was not at her but at Mayumi. She glanced at the younger girl in curiosity. It would seem she had noticed as well. The said enemy had a brief moment of recognition. Somehow, Sereinia had a bad feeling. She was not sure what it was about but, it made her really worried. It made her wonder if Mayumi would go after the one who had fled. Fortunately, the young girl stayed and she released a small sigh of relief at this. Soon enough, the fight was over.

"... Perfect..."

Sereinia took that sign to remove herself from behind Mayumi. She saw Shadow looming at the two dead bodies by her judgment as the victor. She was happy that he was safe with only a casualty of a destroyed shirt. However, the sight of the two bodies made her depressed. She slowly closed her eyes and without a warning a lone tear fell across her cheeks like a falling crystal.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Shadow scanned the area one final time before looking to Mayumi and giving her a nod of his head. During their training Mayumi had told him what she had and had not been trained for, so he knew she was good at erasing such evidence of what had transpired. Shadow decided it would be best to dispose of the bodies rather than try to hide them somewhere, so he walked over to them and dragged them towards a storm drain in the street which led to the sewers and pulled out a vial from a small pouch at his hip.

The substance which flowed forth from the newly opened vial was a highly acidic compound enhanced and augmented by a special blend of herbs and was strong enough to literally melt the flesh, muscle and bone of anything soft that it came into contact with such as a human body. It did not work on harder substances like glass, metal or very strong wood, but for something like this it was perfect. By simply pouring a small amount onto the torso Shadow was able to have the bodies melt away and drain into the sewers within about a minute's time. Their blood and the residue left behind was easy enough to clean when he found and used a bucket of water nearby that was meant to clean the streets in front of a shop to wash everything away as Mayumi got to work on cleaning the damage of the walls and the food stalls which had been destroyed.

Shadow himself watched her for a moment and was satisfied she'd be alright getting the job done, so he walked back towards Sereinia in the clinic and saw the trail of what had been a tear under her eye. She was indeed a lot like someone very dear whom Shadow had lost, and he couldn't help but feel a familiar sensation as he slowly brought his left hand up and used his thumb to gently wipe the tear away before walking inside and to a dresser where he found a shirt that would fit him. It was a forest green coloration, but it was all he needed to use for now before he and Mayumi would be on their way the next morning.

Shadow gathered the rest of his things together and walked outside, looking for a rooftop which would suit his needs for the night as Mayumi got to finishing the task of cleaning the street. He looked back to Sereinia and offered a small, but somewhat forced smile.

"I do apologize for all you've seen her tonight... It saddens me to have to leave things like this, but we don't really have a choice in the matter. Tomorrow morning I will find what we need in the town's shopping district and we will be on our way. You'll never see us again Sereinia, and with any luck you'll never have to deal with this kind of violence in such a direct way ever again."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Upon receiving approval, Mayumi got to work immediately, moving about as silently as she could to not cause any disturbance to nearby villagers whom were most likely still asleep.

Having photographic memory, she had remembered every teeny tiny detail of the place before the fight occurred, therefore knew where to place things. Badly damaged objects were replaced by not too new ones and others that weren’t badly damaged or just couldn’t be replaced were fixed back to its previous state.

Soon enough, the place was back to its original state. Not a single thing misplaced. It was like the fight had never occurred, never existed. This showed Mayumi’s years of experience in living a non-existent life. Not even the slightest evidence of her existence was left behind. To normal people it was terrifying, but to her it was just a normal way of living.

Done with her task, she thoroughly inspected the place to make sure that nothing was missing and once she saw that her work was done, she looked to her current master whom was speaking to Sereinia. Eyes widened as they caught a glimpse of wetness being wiped away from Sereinia’s cheek. Remembering the wetness on her own cheek earlier, Mayumi looked around searching for maybe an object of some sorts spraying water, but found no such thing. Confused, she stood there staring at Sereinia thinking she might be able to find the source of the wetness is she stared long enough.

"I do apologize for all you've seen her tonight... It saddens me to have to leave things like this, but we don't really have a choice in the matter. Tomorrow morning I will find what we need in the town's shopping district and we will be on our way. You'll never see us again Sereinia, and with any luck you'll never have to deal with this kind of violence in such a direct way ever again."

Hearing Shadow’s words, Mayumi was even more puzzled. Was it not normal to see fights? She seemed to be entering a whole different world, and her instincts were telling her to retreat from it. So being one who always followed her instincts, she backed away from the two young adults and made herself comfortable in a tree quite a few meters away, evading what she had just seen. But then…

‘What is that wetness? Where did it come from?’ She couldn’t help but wonder curiously.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Shadow dragged the lifeless bodies of the assassins to someplace to dispose of them. This is after all the logical conclusion that Sereinia could think of. She knew that it was something that he would do naturally as that is what he had been doing for all of his life as he had implied to her before. She hold no resentment on that yet, she still feels sad about what happened. Those two people who had died. They probably had someone that would cry for them. Someone that would missed them dearly. It saddens her that those people would be able to have a moment to say goodbye properly. As for Mayumi, she noticed the girl was cleaning up the area where the fight had occurred. The young girl as also fixing the damaged town properties skillfully. It was probably something that Mayumi was used in doing so. This ability must be very handy when she needs to kill someone cleanly. Evidence must not seen at all. Releasing a sigh, she looked at the windows of her neighbors. It seems that no one was awakened by the ruckus. That is good to know and cleaning up the mess would also make sure feel safe that the night passed by peacefully.

Looking at her two patients, Sereinia was grateful that they were sleeping. She would not want for them to strain themselves especially when they are just freshly treated from severe injuries. She went to check them to make sure that everything was in order. After doing so, she took a seat in one of the chair within the clinic. She looked at the window beside her with a distant gaze. It was ironic for her to see the cruelty that she was very helpless with in her own hometown. In her travels, she did encounter hardships, sadness, and even violence. However, she had always managed to do something about it. In the end, she was able to avert such things to result into something drastic. But this time, she was not able to do so. Perhaps, she was just fortunate that the people she met in her journey were someone to be reasoned with or perhaps the scars of hatred were not that deep to penetrate the heart. Closing her eyes momentarily, she felt someone brushing away the tear that she had shed earlier which she had forgotten due to her inner turmoil. Opening her eyes, purple and red met. The hand that was soothing her was also the same one that coldly killed those men. She should avoid that hand or even pushed away. It would be a normal reaction for anyone to do so after witnessing such an event. But, she did not. Truthfully, she liked how he wiped her tear away.

Despite that, Sereinia remained silent as Shadow walked passed her. He took a shirt that she had told him before he could use. As for her, she remained in her chair and looked away. She knew that she seemed so childish. But, she was confused with what to think. Her belief and reality were two things that was hard to combine at the moment. It seems she finally understand what her father had said about her. She was too naive. At the corner of her eyes, she noticed Shadow heading towards the exit of the clinic. This time she could not find the voice that wanted to stop him from leaving unlike the last time. She hated herself for that. She was like a hypocrite. No, she was a hypocrite. She slowly made a fist with her hands that were on her lap when she heard Shadow spoke.

"I do apologize for all you've seen her tonight... It saddens me to have to leave things like this, but we don't really have a choice in the matter. Tomorrow morning I will find what we need in the town's shopping district and we will be on our way. You'll never see us again Sereinia, and with any luck you'll never have to deal with this kind of violence in such a direct way ever again."

Everything he said somehow caused her to feel irritated. Sereinia does not understand why. Moreover, she hated how Shadow smiled at her. It was forceful she could tell. She does not like it one bit. Clenching her fists tightly, she looked down. Shadow's words repeated through her mind like a broken record. She wanted to understand why it irritated her so. However, it was no use as she stood from her chair immediately. She approached Shadow and held him by his collar. Her hands were shaking but it was not because of fear. She was furious. Raising her head to look at him, her hold on his collar tightened.

"I am not so fragile. I understand really why these things are happening. I also know that this what you do. This is what you are. I know that. I should hate that but, I don't. I really don't. And if it saddens you to leave things like this, then do something that would make you happy before you go then. You don't need to run away from me. Do you understand? Don't run. I don't care if people call you demon, devil, or monster. To me..."

Sereinia loosen her hold on his shirt and then slowly cupped his face. She had a gentle smile on her face. After a few moments, she pinched those cheeks and stretched as far as she could. She didn't care if it hurts Shadow. She wanted him to learn a lesson and she was teaching it strictly as she could.

"To me, you are Shadow who saved my life. You are Shadow who is my patient. You are Shadow who I am pinching his cheeks for giving such an ugly smile. So, don't smile at me when you don't want to. You can cry. You can get angry in front of me. It's fine." She released his cheeks and gave a warm and sincere smile. "I want to see you again and Mayumi."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

When Sereinia go up from the chair and walked over to him, Shadow was somewhat expecting what came next. He was not, however, expecting the "why" when she grabbed his collar, her fist shaking gently in what he expected to be fear and anger.

"I am not so fragile. I understand really why these things are happening. I also know that this what you do. This is what you are. I know that. I should hate that but, I don't. I really don't. And if it saddens you to leave things like this, then do something that would make you happy before you go then. You don't need to run away from me. Do you understand? Don't run. I don't care if people call you demon, devil, or monster. To me..."

When she loosed her grip and cupped his face in her hands, he was truly shocked and his mouth opened partway but no words or sounds came out. Suddenly, he felt his cheeks being pinched and pulled apart. He would normally have retreated from the sensation, but knowing where it was coming from eroded what sense of danger would normally have occupied his mind.

"To me, you are Shadow who saved my life. You are Shadow who is my patient. You are Shadow who I am pinching his cheeks for giving such an ugly smile. So, don't smile at me when you don't want to. You can cry. You can get angry in front of me. It's fine." She released his cheeks and gave a warm and sincere smile. "I want to see you again and Mayumi."

Shadow held still for a moment as he took in her words and processed them in his mind. It had been a few years since he had heard words this kind and honest, and it was an alien feeling, one which he did not enjoy being exposed to very often. Tonight, however, he didn't seem to mind which both interested and annoyed him. Was he going soft? Was he loosing his edge? Why did he not mind what she had said and done? It didn't take long for him to figure out the answer as his mind drifted and an image of someone very close to him appeared in his mind.

"You... are much... like her." He said under his breath as he backed away a step, seemingly in a trance as more memories began to fill his mind.

After a moment Shadow looked up, obviously no longer day dreaming about whomever it was he was thinking about.

"Very well them Sereinia, then I will do something about these feelings of sorrow. I was trying to hide it... or rather, trying to hide from it. I told you that more Assassins would come here, this being my most recent location, but I didn't tell you that either way you were now marked for death for having witnessed what happened. I tried to convince myself that they would just leave you be if you cooperated, but I was fooling myself. Sereinia, for your own safety, I want you to accompany Mayumi and me for the time being. It will not be forever, just until I can guarantee that you'll be safe from Te'i Sai's gaze. Right now you are marked for death, but I will not let that mark take hold or accomplish its purpose."

Shadow looked her dead in the eyes.

"So Sereinia, what is your answer? Will you come with us?" He asked quietly.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

"You... are much... like her."

"Her? I wonder who that person is...? Mayumi?" Sereinia blinked a couple of times upon hearing that. Her thoughts began to be filled with questions of curiosity regarding about the identity of this person that was like her. She did not notice that Shadow was also in deep thought. Finally giving up on guessing, she decided to ask the man before her about this. But before she could, he looked at her with steady eyes.

"Very well them Sereinia, then I will do something about these feelings of sorrow. I was trying to hide it... or rather, trying to hide from it. I told you that more Assassins would come here, this being my most recent location, but I didn't tell you that either way you were now marked for death for having witnessed what happened. I tried to convince myself that they would just leave you be if you cooperated, but I was fooling myself. Sereinia, for your own safety, I want you to accompany Mayumi and me for the time being. It will not be forever, just until I can guarantee that you'll be safe from Te'i Sai's gaze. Right now you are marked for death, but I will not let that mark take hold or accomplish its purpose."

Sereinia remained silent after hearing his explanation. Everything that Shadow meant made perfect sense. The Te'i Sai as she had heard in her travels were not easily appeased. They make sure there are no loose ends. Honestly, she was not that afraid facing those assassins from before. It is why she felt quite odd for not feeling so. Something must be wrong with her. The only thing that worried her most to consider leaving the town earlier than she anticipated was her Aunt Beatiz. She did not want her only living relative to be involved in this. However, superseding all of that was the idea to stay a little bit longer with this man who had beautiful ruby-colored eyes. At the moment, she was not sure what was happening to her. Looking at him as if in a trance, she was only taken out when she heard him speak again.

So Sereinia, what is your answer? Will you come with us?"

Her Aunt might have a few problems with her leaving early when she had just arrived recently. Still, Sereinia wanted to go with him and Mayumi. Something was propelling her to do so. She was certain that her life with them with be filled with danger without doubt. She will certainly things that she does not wish to. However, she could confidently say that she was fine with all of that. Closing her eyes momentarily, she had a small smile and then looked at Shadow warmly.

"It seems I would be running away with you then, Shadow."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Shadow wanted to smile at her acceptance but he couldn't bring himself to do so without forcing it again. The circumstances behind her joining him on his travels were not ideal, and he knew he would spend much of his time watching over her and protecting her but the more he thought about it the less he minded.

"Very well then... Pack your things and get some sleep. I'll return here in the morning when I have everything we need for our journey."

With that, Shadow walked outside and did a quick once over of the surrounding area. Mayumi had really done a fantastic job with cleaning up the place, and Shadow spied an ideal place to ascend to the rooftops across the street. Two walls within six feet of one another and a slightly cracked and worn away wall on the building to the left would make ideal stepping stones on his way up. He got a running start and just before reaching them he launched himself into the air and wall jumped from one to the other and grabbed the edge with his right hand before pulling himself up and standing up straight as he closed his eyes and listened.

"... Two people sleeping on rooftops about two houses down, a burglar just made it into town where we came in with Sereinia, and from what I'm hearing there is a struggle taking place a short distance away in one of the alleys."

Shadow opened his eyes and looked around to each individual point he had identified.

"I'll have to do something about that burglar..." He said quietly.

Shadow took off towards the town's gate and managed to locate the would be thief before he could make any headway and eliminated him with a single poison dart to the neck, the tip embedded inside his carotid artery. Once that was finished he retrieved the dart and went towards the sounds of the struggle, but he was too late. A man had been mugged and stabbed to death while he was dealing with the burglar, and unfortunately he had made the wrong choice. If he had stopped this violence first he would have had plenty of time to nab the burglar during the night, but these were the kinds of choices and consequences he dealt with on a daily basis. This was his life, and these were his worries.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

"Very well then... Pack your things and get some sleep. I'll return here in the morning when I have everything we need for our journey."

Sereinia nodded as her gesture of understanding. Afterwards, Shadow left her alone. She stood there for awhile wondering what would happen now. Her Aunt would not be back until lunch. She would have wanted to say goodbye properly. For now, all she could do is to write a letter to her. She did not want her Aunt to worry so needlessly. Although, she was certain the older woman would once she hears about her niece going with a well-known symbol of evil, Shadow. Thinking about it, the rumors do tend to be untruthful. The man in question was nothing like the stories about him. Perhaps, he had reasons for doing the things he did. Taking a deep breath, she closed the doors to the clinic and locked it as she always have. Then, she looked at her two patients and had a thoughtful smile. The two men would be fine. After making sure the patients were comfortable for the rest of the night, she began to keep away her tools and such.

"This was truly an eventful day..."

Remembering the things that happened earlier, Sereinia looked at her stash of salves and medicines. She would definitely need to bring some knowing how dangerous Shadow and Mayumi's actions were. She is also worried about their health. She began preparing the things she would take with her in the journey. After a few moments, she was done and released a small yawn as she covered her mouth. It seems that feeling of exhaustion has finally caught up on her. She looked at the small bag that carried all her medical supplies and smiled proudly. She picked it up and went upstairs where her room was.

"I should clean up... My clothes are still packed, so I would not have to worry about packing."

Speaking to herself, Sereinia went to the bathroom and began cleaning herself. She took this time to relax and just let the sad events that happened today drift. When that was done, she went to her room and changed into one of her sleeping robes. But not before noticing her rose-shaped birthmark on her back, it was quite an eccentricity in her opinion. She had always wondered what it meant. Her mother said that it was the mark of her lineage. Somehow, she finds that quite funny especially remembering how her father would say it. They make like she was some kind of royalty which was impossible. After all, she was a humble daughter of a very good baker. It is the life she had known and it is the only life she wanted. Memories of the past begin to enter her mind as she quickly wore her robe and went to her bed. She did not want to think anything that would further augment her sadness. As Shadow had said, she needs to rest. Although, she is worried for him and Mayumi. She had rooms to spare for them to sleep in. There was no need for them to sleep outside on rooftops or something. However, if that is what they prefer. She would leave them be. Closing her eyes, she would be waiting until the sun rises.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

When Shadow had finished his business for the evening he found himself a suitable location on one of the rooftops near the clinic as he laid down and fell asleep. A few hours later the sun rose, but in order to get the supplies they needed, Shadow had to wait over two more hours for the market to fill and for a special individual on the east side to open for business. When the time had come, Shadow ducked into an alley from the rooftop and adjusted his posture to seem less conspicuous as he walked through the streets.

By ducking his head just so, his bangs hid his eyes from the crowd so he could move freely among them as he wandered the market. He first bought a set of large baskets for different supplies and wandered around a bit more and filled them with clothing, food, water carrying supplies and more. Once that was done, Shadow went to the east side of the town and found the man he was looking for. One of his former friends and contacts, Burtos.

Burtos ran a horse renting/buying shop on the edge of town near the gate. Shadow didn't need to say anything before Burtos had a pair of horses saddled and ready for him when he walked inside his establishment. Shadow ordered a third horse be brought around, and in no time it was done. Shadow loaded the supplies into the saddle bags and had Burtos hold them for him until he came back later.

In the meantime, Shadow went back to the clinic and knocked on the door.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Sereinia woke up early as she changed into more appropriate clothes. After doing so, she went downstairs and saw that her patients were already up and about. They were so awake that they had left the clinic on their own accord. This made the female doctor released a small sigh of disappointment. She was worried that they might infect their injuries and may handle it incorrectly. They could have waited for her to wake up and give them some pointers and medicine. She had no intention of turning them in to the authorities. If she had that intention, she would have not bothered taking care of their wounds. In any case, they were probably long gone. Looking at her medicine cabinets, it seemed the two men did not bother taking some and just focused on running away. They might still have been very fearful thinking that Shadow will come back for them.

"He is not that scary, really..." She muttered softly as she cleaned up the beds and the clinic.

When Sereinia was done, she wrote a letter for her Aunt. It made her feel guilty of leaving without saying goodbye to her Aunt in person. After all, she did just returned here the other day. Leaving the letter in the room of her Aunt, she and gathered her things and waited downstairs. She had always been told to travel lightly so, that is what she did. Bringing just a few sets of clothes, her medicine tools, and some salves and medicines she think would be necessary and hard to come by. Taking one last look at her room, she looked at her luggage thoughtfully. She decided to check her things. It would be clumsy of her to leave anything important behind. She must make sure that she has not forgotten anything. Soon enough, she heard a knock on the door. It must be Shadow. She stood and opened the door and her conclusion was right.

"Good morning, Shadow." Sereinia smiled warmly as she greeted him for the morning.

It would seem that the female doctor had no reservations about her decision coming along with Shadow and Mayumi. Sereinia had slept well last night and not even an ounce of regret filled her mind. She was certain that this was the right decision and her Aunt would understand her actions given enough time. Her only wish is that everyone will be fine once she leaves the town.

Setting Changes... 22191 => 22174

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

"Good morning, Shadow." Sereinia smiled warmly as she greeted him for the morning.

Shadow nodded to her and offered a small smile. It wasn't fake by any means but it was not the same kind of smile he was able to offer in the past.

"If you're ready, we'll be off. Knowing Mayumi, she's already waiting with the horses at the town's eastern gate. We've got a long road ahead of us over the next few days, so steel yourself."

Shadow turned and began to walk towards the town's east gate as he ducked his head slightly to hide his eyes from passersby. It wouldn't do to help them in any way if Shadow's eyes had been seen. While the rest of him was normal enough, those eyes of his were so famous that anyone would see them and instantly panic. If the town panicked and loosed the guards on him and Sereinia, it wouldn't be a good start to their journey.

As they began to walk through the market again, Shadow glanced occasionally over his shoulder to check and see that Sereinia was following and not getting lost in the market looking for anything. In the past he had a companion who couldn't say no to a bargain in the market place and he had to constantly stop and check for them to make sure they didn't get left behind. He wasn't too sure about Sereinia yet, but it didn't seem like she'd be one to behave like that. If in the event she did, however, he was prepared for it.

However they continued through until they found their way to Burtos and the horses where Shadow took the lead on the black stallion with a white mane. He turned the horse around and waited for Sereinia to find her horse and get ready to go.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Mayumi pondered on the dreams she had been getting for the past few nights while keeping an eye on her surroundings, her face impassive. She had already gotten atop her gray stallion and was waiting for Shadow and Sereinia under the shade of some nearby trees. She wasn’t too fond about the idea of travelling with Sereinia but didn’t feel the need to say anything about it.

She was starting to feel restless with this weird feeling she was receiving from the dreams of her master’s face and it had been getting worse each time she had it. Was she doing something wrong? And what could it possibly be? She kept asking herself those questions over and over trying to get an answer. She had never seen her master’s face that way before throughout the years he had been training her, so she had no idea what it was that he was trying to tell her.

She hears light footsteps among the noise of the market approach and looks up to see Shadow arrive taking lead of the black stallion and looking back for Sereinia. It was good that they were finally getting a move on, she was feeling rather on edge for spending more than 5 hours in one place. Though she hid it well, she was sure that shadow had noticed her edginess.

Setting Changes... 22174 => 22191

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

"If you're ready, we'll be off. Knowing Mayumi, she's already waiting with the horses at the town's eastern gate. We've got a long road ahead of us over the next few days, so steel yourself."

Sereinia listened to Shadow's words and a nod to show that she understands. Taking one last look at the clinic, she took a deep breath and closed it behind her as she followed the man that had promised to protect her from the Te'i Sai due to her connections with him. Carrying her luggage, she did not feel much apprehension leaving the town even if she had only been there for a short while. After all, she did tell her Aunt that she was only passing through and would leave on her travels when she sees it is time. Well, it seems that time was now. Keeping a few inches of distance from Shadow, she could feel the curious glances from the townspeople. It was probably due to the rather awkward presentation of her companion who had seemed to hide his eyes from plain sight. In her case, she does understand for it was the most defining trait that he has which is known throughout the insignia of the vile criminal named Shadow.

Soon they arrived at the marketplace where most of the vendors greeted Sereinia with a smile and warmth. As a result, she reciprocated with stopping occasionally but not too long to not lose sight of Shadow. Some asked her why she was leaving so abruptly. All she could tell them without lying was that something had happened. She cannot tell them any further than that knowing the trouble that will cause in the long run. But before she could finally leave the market, some of the kids that she had been teaching the other day approached her.

"Ms. Nora! Ms. Nora! Ms. Nora!" They called to her in which she stopped from her walking.

"Oh, what is it children?" She looked at them with subtle curiosity and a gentle smile.

The children immediately presented her with a wreath of flowers as goodbye present. Sereinia took it and had a grateful smile which even made her beauty more brilliant than usual. Some of the men that passed by had blushes on their face and women sighed with slight envy.

"Thank you very much. Please, be good while I'm gone." She spoke with much tenderness as the children agreed with much enthusiasm. "Yes, Ms. Nora!"

After that short exchange, Sereinia waved them goodbye and quickly ran after Shadow who was almost out of her line of sight. When she finally caught up with him, Mayumi was already there as she was told.

"Good Morning, Ms. Mayumi." She greeted the younger girl with polite smile.

It was then that Sereinia climbed aboard her horse which was a lovely pure white stallion. This made the young doctor fret a little about getting such a beautiful horse get dirtied which was quite an odd thought. In any case, she looked at Shadow and Mayumi with a small smile.

"Let us depart. I will be in your care now."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Shadow nodded to Sereinia when she spoke and turned to look at Mayumi as he led his horse closer to hers so they could communicate privately for a moment.

"We'll likely come across travelers and gangs of thieves or mercenaries on our way. If that proves to be the case then I may send you on scouting missions as I did before when I led Sereinia back to this town to take out anything in our path. Be ready, for that may not be all we face along the way." He whispered quietly.

He knew Mayumi didn't fear the unknown and she wasn't afraid of simple thieves, but he was unsure if she held any fear of Wraiths just yet. He had a feeling that if she fought with one, she would learn what fear was. During training, Shadow had deliberately avoided certain behaviors and training methods which could instill fear in her heart because he wanted to see how far she could go without it. However, he would soon have to teach her what fear meant because if he didn't do so, then the lesson may come with a fatal price.

All humans had something to fear, and Shadow had a feeling he knew who Mayumi would be afraid of in time. However, now was not the time to worry about what her fears were. They had a path to travel and a few days of riding ahead of them.

"Alright, let's get moving." He said as he led his horse down the path ahead.

Four days later


Four days seemed to fly by very quickly without any serious hindrances to their advance. Shadow had to have Mayumi scout ahead several times, but each time she either dealt with the problem or was able to guide them around it. There were no attacks from Te'i Sai during their trip, which had Shadow somewhat concerned. It was a prime opportunity to catch up to and attack them since the roads were fairly straight and without obstacles such as mountains or forests.

The Capitol City Triveila came into view as they rounded a small hill and Shadow looked to the left of the grand establishment to the mountains beyond it. Ahead were several small mountain ranges with numerous canyons and it was within those canyons that the third base of Te'i Sai was located. For the time being they would stay in the city, but within the next day they would make their way, very carefully, into the canyons beyond and attack the hidden base.

It would be impossible to do much damage with such a small force, but there was only one target that was worth anything and that was the Grandmaster.

As a rule, the Grandmasters would die before leaving their respective bases which was the downfall of the first two over the last six years. By taking advantage of this fact, and infiltrating the establishment, he was able to silently eliminate the Grandmaster of the base in Shaharan, and he had unfortunately attacked the Cre' Est base head on when he was in the final stages of his initial rebellion. Now that he was older and had more experience than he wanted, he knew better than to take on a base of Te'i Sai Assassins even if he was the Red-Eyed Demon.

"... Let's make our way into town and rest for now." He said as he guided them towards the city gate.

"Sereinia, could you get us passed the guards? I'm sure that Dr. Nora escorting some of her patients to the local clinic could get us through." He said as he looked at her over his shoulder.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Before anyone of them could notice, four days had already passed by. Sereinia could say that it was quite a peaceful journey. There were no attacks on them or even the commotions with the locals. There were trouble-free and she was thankful for that. Although, she did sense that Shadow was quite troubled by this pace and atmosphere. Regardless, she did not voice out any of her questions. She did not want to bother them with her useless ramblings. After all, she came along with them so that they could protect her from the Te'i Sai assassins that might come after her. Soon enough, they could see the Capital City of Triveila. She had come many times for medical missions or just to help her Aunt with supplies and small business matters. She followed Shadow's lead when her attention was taken.

"Sereinia, could you get us passed the guards? I'm sure that Dr. Nora escorting some of her patients to the local clinic could get us through."

Well Sereinia did not mind using her influence, however, lying to anyone was never her strongest trait. Actually, she lacked in that department completely. Looking at Shadow for a brief moment, she was trying to assess how she could not lie and at the same time gain access for the three of them without trouble. Taking a deep breath, she nodded towards Shadow and rode her horse in front of him. As she approached the gates, the soldiers came into view to block their path.

"Good day, gentlemen." Sereinia greeted them with a polite smile which earned some of the men instant admiration.

"What business do you and your companions have with the Capital, Miss?" One of the soldiers asked while the other looked at Shadow and Mayumi sternly and warily.

But before Sereinia could respond to the inquiry, a familiar elderly voice called out her identity. "Dr. Nora? Is that you?"

Looking at the person approaching them, she could not help but smile brightly. "Mr. Durkin, I'm happy to see that you are now feeling well."

The soldiers instantly saluted the Durkin emphasizing that the man was of a higher rank than any of them at present. "Captain, Sir Do you know her?"

Durkin glanced at the soldier who asked and narrowed his eyes. "Of course! This is Dr. Nora one of the best doctors out their in the world! This beautiful lady saved a lot of lives after that skirmish at the far north including me!"

Sereinia had a light blush in her cheeks for such extravagant praises attached to her profession. She believed that she did not do much at all. "Mr. Durkin, I have only done my duty as a doctor."

The elderly soldier smiled at the humbleness that Sereinia presented. "You are still too kind for words, Dr. Nora. Anyway, are you here for some business?"

Sereinia reminded of her true situation nodded and looked at Shadow and Mayumi before looking back at Durkin. "Yes. I was accompanying my friends here."

Durkin looked at Shadow and Mayumi with doubtful eyes but once he looked at Sereinia all those suspicions were removed without a moment's notice. "I see! Well, let them pass! If they are Dr. Nora's friends then they are certainly good people!"

The soldiers acknowledge this as they moved away from them and allowed them entrance to the city. "Thank you very much, Mr. Durkin. I appreciate this."

Durkin gave a hearty laughter, "No need to thank me. You saved my life. I hope to see you around the city then." Sereinia nodded and gave a grateful smile. "Yes, I do hope so as well. Take care."

With that, they had gained entrance as Sereinia waved goodbye to the Durkin and the soldiers. When the three of them were out of sight, she rode beside Shadow and released a sigh. She was really worried about lying there. She truly hates that and has no skill in doing so. "I guess that went well, right?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

As they approached the gate Shadow began to feel slightly apprehensive of a possible fight given his elevation on horseback and how hard it would be to hide his eyes from the guards. It was at that moment that Sereinia began to say hello to the guards when someone else seemed to recognize her and a conversation began in which the guards opened the path for them to enter the city.

Shadow was slightly taken aback by it, but none the less grateful that they wouldn't have to kill the guards.

"I guess that went well, right?" Sereinia said after a sigh.

Shadow looked over at her, but carried no real emotion on his face.

"Yes, that did go well. I'm glad we didn't have to fight the guards, but we shouldn't get too comfortable. Now that we're here in this city, Mayumi and I have some business to attend to over the next several days."

Shadow got down off of his horse and took the packs he had put in the saddle bags out and carried them over his shoulder.

"Time to drop the horses off and find a place to stay. I suggest we stay here during our visit." He said, pointing to the Lion's Head Inn just fifty feet away.

"It's fairly large, easy to spot from a distance, and close to the entrance of town. There are other reasons I have chosen this Inn rather than searching for another one, but for now you'll just have to trust me. Anyway, Mayumi, take these horses to the stables and I'll take all of our supplies to the Inn. Meet us here when you're done and you and I will discuss our business and how to get it done."

Once finished speaking Shadow made his way to Mayumi's horse and took the extra supplies he'd placed in her horses saddle bags and hoisted them over his other shoulder. Mayumi's own belongings were few in number so he let her keep them with her while he turned around and waited for Sereinia to get off her horse and follow him into the Inn. Once inside he spoke to the young man at the counter and paid for a two week stay on the top floor of the four story Inn. Shadow liked being at higher elevations and near rooftops as it made traveling easier at night.

The room Shadow paid for was really four rooms turned into two. The walls had been removed to allow for a larger space without as much to get in the way and had been modified to have three windows instead of four as each room usually had its own window. Mayumi and Sereinia had one room with two large beds and Shadow had the other which was more of a single bed and a workspace than a real room. Once he unpacked their belongings he walked over to the window on his side and opened it, taking a seat on the edge and looking out at the city.

It was an old habit of his to memorize the terrain of the rooftops and label key landmarks in his mind. He had a photographic memory and found it very easy to mark buildings and other such important objects so that he knew his way around before he even had to really set foot in the city streets.

He waited patiently for Mayumi to return to the room, which would be a few minutes since the stables were a decent distance away near one of the other city gates. She wouldn't be long though, so Shadow simply sat and waited.

Setting Changes... 22191 => 22174

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK


Setting Changes... 22174 => 22191

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Sereinia looked at the establishment that Shadow had pointed at. She had no complaints but was quite curious of what the other reasons were for choosing to stay at the Lion's Head Inn. In any case, she did not ask any questions and simply nodded. She had decided to join Shadow and Mayumi in this journey under complete faith. It is why she would not be doubting or distrust the two of them anytime soon. Following him, their group soon arrived at the said Inn. She listened as Shadow stated what they should do at the moment. It seemed Mayumi would be delivering the horses to the Stables. She took this as the cue to get off her horse which she did. After doing so, she took her luggage and allow Mayumi do what she had been asked. She wanted to accompany the young girl since it's quite dangerous walking around on her own. Although, she knew that it sounded quite funny as Mayumi was able to protect herself unlike her. So, she satisfied herself with words.

"Please be careful, Ms. Mayumi."

After saying that, Sereinia followed Shadow inside the Inn where they paid for the rooms that the three of them would be staying in. It seemed that they would be staying for two weeks at the Capital City of Triveila. She would be a liar not to admit that she had an idea that whatever business that Shadow and Mayumi had would involve the three assassins that came at her town that fateful night. When their business was done at the reception, she followed Shadow once more to their respective rooms. It was quite spacious. She looked at the room where Mayumi and her would be sharing. There were 2 beds however, she did wonder if Mayumi would be fine sleeping with her. Based on her observation, Mayumi preferred being alone and rarely comes in contact with her. It made Sereinia wonder if Mayumi hates her.

"I wonder..." She softly whispered under her breath.

Shaking such depressing thoughts, Sereinia followed Shadow's lead and began unpacking things for convenience. It also been quite apparent to her as well that Shadow seemed to be in deep thought during their journey in here. It is why most of the times, she allowed silence reigned between the three of them. In her opinion, it was an awkward one but perhaps for Mayumi and Shadow, they were comfortable. Stopping momentarily, she wondered if her Aunt had found the letter that she had left. She was certain that her Aunt was speaking profanities and all. At the very least, she did not divulge the identity of her companions. It would be better that way since, she knew that her Aunt would probably send the Royal Guards after them thinking she was kidnapped or something which is not true at all. Releasing a sigh, she was finally done and wondered if Mayumi has come back from the stables.

"Excuse me..."

Saying with politeness as Sereinia entered the room, she found Shadow sitting on the window's ledge. She would have warned the man of its dangers however, he was not a normal man after all. He seemed to be thinking about something and partly waiting for Mayumi. He did say that the two of them had something to discuss about their business here in the city. She should probably give them some privacy. They might feel concerned to talk about their matters with her around.

"You and Mayumi will be discussing some matters right? If so, I would go out for awhile then."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Shadow's mind was elsewhere as Sereinia spoke, but her voice soon broke into his thoughts and brought his mind back to the here and now. He looked over to her, his eyes betraying his mental exhaustion before he turned and looked back out to the city.

"... You may attend to your own devices however you wish Sereinia." He said, half distractedly.

Shadow's mind was a tornado of thought, but luckily for him his years as an Assassin had taught him how to organize his thoughts which was why he always seemed to know what was going on and was so quick to deduce problems and solutions. He was deemed a genius level Assassin by the five Grandmasters of Te'i Sai, but when it came to everyday life Shadow was a fish out of water and his analytical mind often got him into trouble. However, Shadow couldn't escape his curiosity and so seemed at times to be quite innocent and naive though only two people had seen that side of him before.

"Tell me, Sereinia." He said quietly.

"What is this... Festival of the Gods that is being spoken of by the people in the street." He asked.

The Festival of the Gods was a special once a year even that was celebrated across the continent by all five nations even during such times as these. The festival was a celebration with singing, danging, acting, food, alcohol, sports and street performances which all celebrated the creation of the world by the hands of the Gods. It was a special event which was always colorful, cheerful, and very special in the hearts and minds of the people of the continent.

However, growing up in Te'i Sai, Shadow was unaware of the festival and didn't understand why it was so special. Being brought up in a world without Gods, Shadow was always taught that faith in the Gods was a waste of time though he did believe in one particular Goddess though he'd never admit to it. He was naturally a curious person, and during the time he spent in his first few years fighting against Te'i Sai he had learned what it meant to both peak and satisfy his curiosity since he found that it was not something to be ashamed. While in Te'i Sai his curiosity was a waste of time and was frowned upon, so he ignored it.

Learning to re adapt to civilization was a difficult task for him, but he honestly was trying.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Sora perched on Mayumi’s shoulder the moment she got off her horse. She took lead of the other two horses before making her way to the stables that were quite a distance away. Her hood was up letting her blend into the shadows so as to not draw attention, and though she got a few looks from passing people no one seemed to be suspicious of her.

Once done with her task which had taken no more than 2 minutes, she walked towards the inn Shadow had told her to meet him at. While doing so, she took note of her surroundings taking every bit of detail into mind with a single look. She saw kids playing around with each other while adults watched on, the corners of their mouths lifting each time the kids did something ridiculous. Mayumi took a minute to observe what she thought was a weird scene but soon carried on with a newfound question in mind.

‘Why do kids always seem to be with adults?’

Soon, she was near the entrance of the inn but instead of going in and taking the normal way up… Mayumi looked around the area for anyone who was watching her, finding none, she went behind the inn and climbed up a tree near it while Sora flew up to the branch near the window where Shadow was. Seeing Shadow by the window, she leaped through the window quite a few feet away from the tree with a cat’s grace and landed soundlessly on the room’s ground.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

"... You may attend to your own devices however you wish Sereinia."

Sereinia remained still after hearing his response. It was not because she was surprised. There was just something odd about Shadow as of late. He seemed to be preoccupied with something. She was quite curious to find out what it could be. However, she held herself back. She did not want to appear too presumptuous. Even if the three of them would be traveling together for some time, it does not mean privacy cannot be observed among them. So, she simply said her goodbyes to him for now.

"Well, I will be going now. I will see you and Mayumi later." After saying that, Sereinia turned her back at him and proceeded to leave with her hand reaching for the doorknob.

"Tell me, Sereinia. What is this... Festival of the Gods that is being spoken of by the people in the street."

This stopped Sereinia from opening the door in front of her. She looked at Shadow over her shoulders in slight bewilderment. Well, it was quite a common knowledge as it is an international event recognized among the different nations. When she was younger, she had always looked forward to the Festival of the Gods. It was a wonderful time with her family and even more lovely when her little brother could come along. In which, it made her wonder why he does not know. In his kind of lifestyle, he would be more knowledgeable as he travels from different locations. Unless, he never saw or even experience even once.

"Have you not been in one?" Sereinia asked without any ill intent. This time she faced him once more with a curious expression.

"The Festival of the Gods is a way for us to thank and be happy about the creation of the world with the Gods' powers. After all, without the world where will we be?"

Leaning on the door behind her, Sereinia had a small smile as she remembered a fond memory. She was reliving her childhood days that were filled without much worry. She has yet to see the harsh realities of the world. At that time, she was ignorant and knew nothing about what was sadness or tragedy. She wallowed herself in a glass world that only showed her the good things. Releasing a sigh, she stopped her dreary thoughts at that and continued her explanation.

"It is celebrated by all of the nations. It is truly a festive day where everyone just have a good time and forget their troubles. There would be games, contests, dance, and just everything related to fun. Everyone comes even the Royal Family of Triveila although they would only attend for the show. It is a spectacular firework show that is coordinated with the other nations. It lights the sky with brilliant colors as a tribute to the Gods."

Standing properly, Sereinia noticed that Mayumi had finally arrived with a rather cat-like entrance. The more she gets to see the young girl's abilities. The more she feels useless in terms of physical skills. This only proves that one could never judge by age.

"Welcome back, Ms. Mayumi." Sereinia greeted with a warm smile and then looked at Shadow. It seemed they would start their discussion now. "Well, if you don't have any other questions. I will be leaving you two for awhile then."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Shadow nodded to Sereinia as she left and looked over at Mayumi.

"Well, I suppose we should get started." He said as he hopped out of the window, glancing at her on his way.

He grabbed the edge of the window sill and hauled himself up until he managed to get a proper handling on the side of the building and scaled it to the roof in a few seconds. He got to his feet on the roof and began to run and jump from rooftop to rooftop as he sighted the building of interest where his meeting with Mayumi would take place.

The building was fairly tall compared to the others around it, standing nearly six stories and surrounded by three and four story buildings. It had an arch at its top, beneath which would be perfect for the meeting once they arrived. It took Shadow about five minutes to get to the location, with Mayumi being very close behind. He scaled the wall in about twenty seconds from the third floor rooftop across the way and made it to the sixth story roof under the archway where he found no evidence of human trespassing for a very long time. More than likely this building was either abandoned or scheduled for demolition which suited him just fine.

He waited for Mayumi to get there as well, which wasn't long, before starting.

"Alright Mayumi. We're here for a very specific set of targets. Your first target, Mayumi, is a man named Csargil, and he is a Senator here in Triveila. He received word of my presence in Cre' Est a few months ago before you and I met and has been in hiding since. I'm leaving it up to you to find and kill him, and don't bother being discrete about it. This mission is about killing him, and if it's public, all the better. However, be careful. He has dealings with Te'i Sai and will no doubt have at least a few of them with him since he's an important asset for the organization."

He handed Mayumi a small piece of paper which had a list of recent activities according to a contact of Shadow's which she could use to start her search.

"While you deal with finding and killing Csargil, I'm going to be dealing with the Assassin presence in the city. If you come across a Wraith, run. I trust you to take down an Assassin or two, but I forbid you from fighting with Wraiths at this time. Is that understood?" He asked, which was more of a demand than a question.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

"Let me see... Do I have everything I need now?"

Sereinia whispered to herself as she looked inside the paper bag that contained her earlier purchases. It had been quite a while since she had left the inn to do some errands of hers. She did not want to bother Shadow and Mayumi with their discussion. In addition, she had a feeling that the business they have would not settle well with her. Dismissing such lingering thoughts, she had a small smile on her lips upon confirming that everything that she needed was complete. Nodding to herself, she began walking along the busy streets of the Market District of the city. Well, she still have some time before she should return to the inn. So, she decided to do some shopping. Perhaps, she should buy something for her two companions. After all, there are a lot of cute products on sale. It was probably for the Festival of the Gods.

"I wonder if he would like this..."

Approaching one of the stalls, Sereinia spotted a black pouch bag with the insignia of the Primary Deity of Triveila. It was well-made and had golden linings as an accent around its opening and edges. Well, there are other pouches with the different insignias of the other Gods. However, she was not sure what kind of God did Shadow believed in or if he even believes in them. She had a feeling that Shadow was not that devout to religion. Releasing a small sigh, she continued looking for something else. Soon enough, another object caught her attention as she went towards the said stall. It was a cute stuffed toy in the images of the Gods. They were quite famous to the children as she could see a lot of them gathered and others pleading to their parents to have one. The scene made her smile warmly. Focusing her attention back to the merchandise, she wondered if Mayumi would like one.

"On the other hand, I am not sure..."

Looking at one of the stuff toys, Sereinia remembered how Mayumi is in their brief moments she had experienced the young girl's company. Frankly speaking, she has no idea what Mayumi would like or if the young girl even desires such toys. She did not want to offend Mayumi considering how strained their relationship is. Deciding it would be better to look for another gift, she left the stall and continued looking around for something suitable. After a few minutes walking around, her face lit up with a smile. It seemed she had found the perfect gift for both Shadow and Mayumi. She quickly approached the stall and pointed to the vendor the two objects that she wanted to buy. Without a delay, she soon held the gifts she had bought for her two companions.

"I hope they would like this... I wonder what they would say about it though..."

Sereinia muttered to herself as she walked along the streets. She had decided to return to the inn as it was already far into the night. She had too much fun shopping. Remembering something, she should invite Shadow and Mayumi to the firework show. After all, Shadow had yet to experience the Festival and she had a feeling that Mayumi is the same as him. Hopefully, the two would have some time despite the business they should be taking care of.

"Well, I should just ask them. It would be no use pondering about it."

After saying that, Sereinia stopped walking as someone was blocking her path. That someone was wearing a hooded cloak. So, it was hard for her to identify whether it was a man or woman. It also added to her confusion as the person was not moving or even speaking. This made her worry and concerned as well. Thus, she approached the individual with sincere concern.

"Excuse me, are you feeling well? I am a doctor. So..."

But before Sereinia could finish her words, the hooded figure grabbed her arms and placed a white cloth over her face. Her eyes widened in shock and realization as she could slowly feel her losing grip to consciousness. The bags that she carried were dropped to the ground. She wanted to fight but it was futile. Her strength was being sapped from her probably due to the drug attached to the cloth. The scent was an effective anesthetic. She knew for she uses it for surgical operations.

"If you are going to blame anyone... Blame your companions..."

Those were the last words that Sereinia heard as she completely fell unconscious and went limp in the hands of the hooded individual who carried her and disappeared into the crowd of people without much effort.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Mayumi didn't like the sound of running away from a fight but agreed to it none the less with a small nod. She knew Shadow had a reason for his every action, and since he was once a part of Te'i Sai he should know how they work better than anyone.

Mayumi scanned the small piece of paper in hand which consisted of the man named Csargil's recent activities. From the list she noted that he wouldn't stay outside for more than the necessary time needed to complete his task. It was rather clear that he was on the look out for Shadow and since he was an important asset to Te'i Sai he would most likely have guards by his side and assassins watching from higher grounds. She was almost sure that there would be at least one or two wraiths in disguise watching his back as well. Seems like she would have to be extra careful for the missions ahead.

Suddenly, Mayumi felt an odd unnoticeable shift in the atmosphere. Something had happened to someone, but since Shadow was here with her the other person could only be...

Mayumi's head snapped up to the skies, looking around she spots Sora flying in circles at a particular spot about 160 meters from where she and Shadow was. Seeing that Mayumi had noticed her, Sora soared in a direction where she supposed Sereinia was being taken to. She had sent Sora to watch over Sereinia before Shadow and her took off. At the look of the situation it was a good thing she did.

"Sereinia's in trouble. Whoever took her is going in the northwest direction and will be heading into the woods soon." Mayumi calculated.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

INK

Shadow looked at Sora in the skies, just barely able to see her in the darkness surrounding them circling high above the city. Shadow guessed it was a short distance away from the inn, likely near the market where she was probably buying gifts or supplies. It was a concern to be sure since Assassins weren't the only threats in this city or the nation itself to people like Shadow. Assassins fetched a high bounty for mercenaries and bounty hunters who were looking to make a name for themselves.

"Split up, Mayumi. You get to the North Gate as fast as you can and I'll go check Sora's current location. If I don't find whomever did this I'll send her back to you so she can scout ahead of you and let you know what's happening. Now go!" He ordered.

Shadow immediately ran to the edge and jumped off the six story building, flipping in midair and landing on the balls of his feet on a third story building rooftop just across the street with a loud crash which splintered the wooden rooftop under his boots. Luckily for Shadow, the roof was secured and reinforced so he didn't go crashing right through it. If he had, he had a backup plan but was counting on such architecture to keep him on the roof instead of going through it. He stood up and sprinted across the rooftops towards where Sora was circling and leaped down into an alleyway and used the two walls of the buildings to slowly slide down to street level.

Once in the street he checked Sora's flight path once more and ran towards her, checking every face he passed along the way and every outfit that went by. He didn't know what to look for right now, as anyone could have done this in a city of this size, so he kept an eye out for anything that could be suspicious.

Finally, he found the bags that Sereinia had been carrying. The contents hadn't spilled out, so Shadow picked them up and looked around very, very carefully. Shadow's keen eyes analyzed every detail of his surroundings, looking for anything that could be used to track whoever did this. The problem was that anyone who had seen it happen had likely moved on already, and they were walking on cobblestone streets which didn't leave tracks or footprints since they were regularly washed and cleaned. Shadow's teeth clenched behind tight lips as he continued scanning the area for a moment longer before he could not afford to do so any longer.

He walked up to the nearest person he saw, hiding his eyes as best he could.

"Excuse me, did you see where the girl carrying these bags went?" He asked.

He received a 'no' in response, so he went to the next one. His fears had been realized, as he asked everyone who passed through what had happened but received the same answer all around.

However... He suddenly realized something.

Everyone who was here wasn't leaving. They were going from one spot to another in circles, breaking the pattern every so often but were obviously untrained. Shadow's eyes narrowed and his jaw flexed as he gritted his now open and bared teeth and grabbed the first man who came near to him.

"Where is she?!" He yelled as he lifted his head, revealing the full extent of his glowing red eyes to everyone within sight.

There was a gasp from the crowd and the man under his grip lost all color in his face upon the meeting of their eyes and he started to shake.

"P-pl... Please... Don't hurt me. I am a man with a family." He pleaded.

Shadow gave him a hard jerk and shoved him up against the nearest wall he could see, lifting him with one hand a foot into the air as he pressed his fist against the man's throat.

"I'll ask once more... Where is she?!" He demanded.

The man started choking under his grip and pointed Northwest, but Shadow had to release him as there was more to say.

"*Cough*... *cough*... He paid us all to keep quiet when you got here and said that we'd die if we gave you any aid. He didn't say where he was going, but there was another one like him who I overheard speaking before he disappeared with the girl you're looking for. They said that the diversion worked and that you'd surely be coming to help your new friend. They also said something about someone named... Kairo? Kyero? Something like that... That's all I know, I swear."

Shadow's eyes widened as a look of horror crossed his face before being wiped away and replaced by pure rage as he suddenly realized what had happened. He looked up to Sora and immediately gave her the signal to rush to Mayumi's side now that he no longer needed her eyes. She was now his only chance to save them as he had been completely pulled in. The only explanation was that one of Shadow's contacts had either been captured and interrogated, or they had betrayed him. Only a handful of people knew where he was going and what he was doing, and too many of them were people he trusted completely. There were two, however, whom he had always been leery of and he had a strong feeling he'd be seeing one or both of them very soon.

Shadow raced to the inn and dropped off Sereinia's bags with the woman at the desk, asking her to hold them until they returned as he sprinted outside again and towards the North Gate as fast as his legs could carry him.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Shadow continued to sprint through the streets, but he knew that he was running hopelessly towards a goal that would not come. He finally stopped at he came to within a few hundred yards of the North Gate without ever once spotting either Mayumi or Sereinia. He had started to lose hope when the words of someone very dear to him echoed in his mind like the voice of an angel.

"Close your eyes, Shadow. Look inside yourself, and all will be revealed..."

The voice came softly to his inner ear as he smiled slightly while he took deep and steady breaths. Recalling the locations of Te'i Sai's operations buildings within this city was a challenge since it had been a few years since he was here, but never the less his long term photographic memory marked them all out on the map in his head. He opened his eyes slowly and looked around from left to right, scanning the surrounding buildings.

"Now... Which ones would be used to house a hostage?" He asked himself quietly.

A few people walking through the streets took interest in his activities, but when they saw his eyes they gasped and turned away. Some of them ran, but most took comfort in the fact that he was not moving and so simply walked away.

There were three buildings in the immediate area which Te'i Sai had used in the past, and Shadow was guessing they were relying on his memory having faded since the last time he was here. However, that not being the case, Shadow turned around and started to walk slowly back towards where he had come. Sora had lost the man who took Sereinia in the crowds, but Shadow had a good idea where to find him. From the point where he grabbed her, there was only one location which would suit his needs for housing a hostage. It was a long shot, given how much time had gone by and how much had changed in five years, but it was all he had.

Shadow walked up to the door of the unassuming building in question which was actually disguised on the outside as a private club for scholars. Inside, however, were three layers of dungeons hidden beneath the surface of the city. Sereinia must have been here, because no other building in the city had such a place to store both people and supplies. Shadow didn't like the idea of leaving Mayumi alone in this city when the name Kiiro had crossed the mouths of common citizens, of all people, but he had no choice. If she encountered a Wraith, or worse yet, Kiiro himself, Mayumi knew his orders to run. However, with Kiiro being the man who murdered her master, Shadow was uncertain how long Mayumi would be able to resist the urge to chase him.

That aside, Shadow reached out to open the door when he caught sight of a slight glint. The door was rigged, and he followed the faint line of wire to its source which was a single rifle cleverly hidden behind a sign aimed right at his head level.

"... So they knew to calibrate it for my specific height eh?" He asked himself with a smile.

He took a moment and simply drew one of his daggers. With a single swift motion, the wire fell limp and the gun was now all but useless as Shadow opened the door and walked inside. When he did so, he was greeted by a single figure in a black cloak and a red Te'i Sai logo on the chest. This was another Wraith, and judging by the face, the same one which had eluded him back in the previous encounter.

"So you've found this place after all, eh Shadow?" He asked with a grin.

Shadow didn't bother answering him, and instead turned around and walked outside as he closed the door behind him. This reaction stunned the Wraith, and he inched towards the door to listen.

Shadow had never, never, in his entire life backed away from any challenge before. Why start now?

Then, it became all too clear when a tiny click resonated through the door, and then a single bullet ripped through the man's head as Shadow opened the door again and dropped the rifle. The bullet entry wound was clean and went straight through, killing him before he hit the ground or even heard the sound of the gun being fired. With that nuisance out of the way, Shadow ran forward and broke down the door which led below to the dungeons. Not wanting to waste further time, he made his way straight to the bottom floor. Keeping Sereinia there would ensure that he had to cut himself off from retreat afterwards, but he had no choice in the matter anymore.

Finally he reached the bottom floor but it was empty, just like the rest. He couldn't figure out for the life of him what they were doing. They had nobody guarding Sereinia save for a single member likely watching over her in her chambers. Only one Wraith guarding the door.

"Just what are you after, Kiiro?" Shadow asked himself quietly.

There was a thought which struck him at that moment...

"... Mayumi..." He said softly.

His thoughts were interrupted, however, when the sounds of a struggle came from behind one of the doors in the back of the chamber.

Shadow bolted for it and gave it a single ram with his shoulder, but it was reinforced and Shadow instead ended up reeling back grabbing his shoulder in pain. He took another look at the door and discovered that it was made of a strange metal he'd never seen before. Whatever it was, however, it was no match for his daggers.

He swiftly brought them both out and slashed at the door, shredding it into several pieces as he kicked them in and finally broke the door down. Sereinia was on the ground with the Assassin now standing over her and who charged Shadow the instant he was through the door. Shadow tried to react but since he was holding both his daggers he couldn't grab the man or stop him from slamming him back into the wall behind them outside of Sereinia's chamber. Shadow let out a grunt of pain as a large fist made it's way into his jaw on the right side, sending him reeling several feet.

He quickly composed himself and analyzed his opponent. This one was a hand to hand specialist, and so Shadow obliged his passion by sheathing his daggers and cracking his neck. He shook off the shock of the first few attacks and the two began to fight. One punch, two, a kick, a locking hold. Move after move was traded for several seconds before Shadow's superior speed finally caught up with his opponent and he managed to snap the man's neck with the edge of his elbow, rupturing the arterial wall of his Carotid Artery and also clamping down momentarily on the jugular.

His opponent began to choke and went to his knees, but Shadow was in no such merciful mood and grabbed him by the hair and began to slowly twist his head around in a circle until he felt and heard a loud *SNAP* and the man's body fell limp in his hands. Shadow dropped the corpse and threw his body into a pile of crates just for good measure before letting out a deep breath and walking back to Sereinia's room.

"... Well done Kiiro..." He said quietly on his return trip.

Kiiro had played this out perfectly. By luring Shadow into a false sense of security and letting him have his meeting with Mayumi, he had created an opening to steal Sereinia away and give Shadow a choice: come after the helpless one, or protect his protege. Shadow had made his choice, knowing Mayumi's skills, but if Kiiro himself was there then there would be nothing he could do to protect Mayumi now. Kiiro knew full well the choice Shadow would make, and was likely on his way to find Mayumi if he hadn't already done so. It was for this reason that there was a begrudging respect between the two despite the seething hatred they shared for one another.

Give Shadow and Kiiro one full second to stare at each other from a distance of twenty feet and they'd be closing the gap and fighting by the very next second.

Once he walked inside, he approached her and gently reached around her body to snap the ropes which bound her. First her hands, then her legs, and then he simply stood up in front of her with a sorrowful expression on his face.

"... I'm so sorry Sereinia... This should never have happened. I was so focused on our task elsewhere that I neglected your safety in a city where Assassin presence and intelligence is quite strong. I never should have left you alone..." He said as he looked into her eyes.

"Please, forgive me." He pleaded.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Scared. Confused. Relief. These were the feelings that Sereinia had in just a matter of minutes. When the man on top of her was removed. She immediately backed up in the corner by instinct and began to witness a brawl happening in front of her. She was not really sure what was going on as her mind was in a haze that she could not understand. Closing her eyes tightly, she could hear the noises of the fight. But soon enough, it was quiet and still. This would only mean that the fight was over. She was not sure who won and for a brief moment, she was not sure she wanted to know. For it only meant that someone was dead. But in her heart, she did not want it to be anyone she knew especially Shadow.

Feeling a presence near her, Sereinia felt the ropes around her wrists and legs were removed. Opting to open her eyes, she saw the familiar ruby red eyes that she had seemed to be caught in and the face that instantly removed all the negative emotions she was having. It was Shadow. He came for her. She was not sure but she could feel tears streaming down her face without her trying anything to stop it. His words to her were like a blur. She knew that he was apologizing and it was also clear in his face. But, she just couldn't grasp his exact words. The next thing she did was to suddenly embrace him. Her fears were flowing with her tears while her body trembled. She was a total wreck. It was obvious but, she could not help it but be relieved that Shadow was here. She also felt slightly embarrassed but she was just glad he came here and the strong act she had put up just crumbled.

"I was so scared... So scared..." Her hold on him tightened as Sereinia buried her face on his chest. "I tried to escape... I didn't want to be a burden... I'm sorry..."

Sereinia continued to cry for a few moments as she repeated her apology over and over again. But soon, silence reigned between them. It would seemed that she was able to finally calm down herself. Slowly removing her face from Shadow's chest, she gazed at him with those deep amethyst eyes. She also gently removed her arms around him and made a reasonable distance between them.

"Thank you..."

Averting her eyes from Shadow, Sereinia wiped the tears away and tried to ease her mind. She was out of danger and she should stop acting like fearful child. It was then she suddenly remembered something important. Shadow was here but where was Mayumi.

"Where is Mayumi?"

Asking the question with concern, Sereinia felt a dread entering her body. She was not sure what its cause. However, she has a good reason to believe it was an omen of something terrible to happen. She began standing as they should leave this place but it was then another feeling ran across her body. But this time, it was the sensation of pain. She remembered that her captor had beaten her against a wall earlier. Her body was not that sturdy to begin with. She immediately fell to her knees.

"I'm sorry... I think I took in much beating than I realized..."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Shadow was taken aback by Sereinia suddenly clasping onto his chest and crying, but it was nothing he hadn't experienced before. One individual from his past had been quite an emotional person and had done this numerous times. Shadow felt a bit nostalgic as he gently wrapped his arms around her while she cried, not saying anything further until she had calmed down and backed away.

"Where is Mayumi?" She asked.

Shadow was about to answer, but stopped before any words came forth.

Before he could think of anything further to say Sereinia collapsed to her knees and Shadow almost instinctively came forward to catch her on her way down. He took her shoulders in his hands and leaned in close, examining her from head to toe, checking her for bruises, cuts and any other signs of outer injury that he could see. There wasn't much, though she would be getting a decent bruise on her back soon enough. That much was obvious by the way her body moved in reaction to whatever had happened before his arrival.

He didn't know what else to do, so he helped her to her feet and supported her with one arm around her waist as he walked her out of the room and into the hall. The damage the hallways had taken from the fight were still fresh, as was the body in the now broken crates on the side, but Shadow paid them no mind as he walked Sereinia up three flights of stairs to ground level and into the true building atop them. He stopped for a moment and examined Sereinia one last time before cautiously letting go of her. In truth he was a bit reluctant to since he wasn't sure if he should leave her alone again so soon, but the threat facing Mayumi was not one he could ignore.

"Sereinia..." He began softly.

Suddenly, Shadow realized something.

Kiiro had planned all of this out perfectly thus far, and there was no reason to think he hadn't planned on Shadow leaving Sereinia somewhere "safe" to find Mayumi. That being the case, there was no guarantee Kiiro didn't want Shadow to stay with Sereinia and find Mayumi anyway. With all of the possibilities it was hard to know what Kiiro was planning and even harder still to come up with a solution that wouldn't get someone killed. Shadow's mind raced with thought until he found a solution he was positive Kiiro wouldn't be ready for because it was something he'd never known Shadow to do.

"Sereinia, I need you to go to the North Gate and check on Mayumi. If you find her with anyone, do absolutely nothing. Just wait. There's something I need to do." He said as he opened the door.

He waited for a moment outside to see what Sereinia would do before darting to the southwest. He had a plan in place now, and it would be sure to put a damper on Kiiro's plans. Shadow had to wonder why he hadn't thought of it before and why it was that he was so off lately from his usual self.

Was it Sereinia?

No, surely not. Shadow had dealt with a woman like her before in his company so there was no reason to think that it was her.

Was it Mayumi?

No, that couldn't be it either. Shadow had taught many others in the past in Te'i Sai and one other Assassin privately before her who turned into his most trusted ally during recent years. It was no hardship to him to have a fellow Assassin, even if she was so young.

So then what was it? Shadow was the Red-Eyed Demon. He was known for being calculating and calm, so why had he been so flustered and easily fooled lately? The answers to those and many other questions temporarily eluded him, but he had a feeling if he kept his cool and stopped worrying that the answers would come to him soon enough.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Shadow managed to get his desired work done which was to contact a friend of his in the city and put everyone on their 'team' into the streets and the shadows looking for signs of trouble and reporting them back. Shadow had a small network of spies and informants and he should have tapped into them the moment he set foot in the city. He knew that much, but for whatever reason his mind had been clouded recently and he didn't like it.

As he was on his way back to the Gate he heard Sora scream out into the night. As he drew yet closer he saw her making circles in the sky, making sudden though infrequent dives towards the ground before ascending back into the skies above. He couldn't understand exactly what she was doing. Was Mayumi fighting right now? Was Sora trying to fight along side her? What was going on?

More and more he started to worry about what Sora's now violent intentions were until he finally came into sight of Mayumi as he skidded to a halt in the open street. His mouth dropped as he saw her laying there in a pool of her own blood and his fists clenched so tightly that his nails, small as they were, cut into his skin and tiny drops of blood now fell from his fists to the ground. He approached Mayumi very slowly, knowing exactly who she had come into contact with and from what he was seeing, the extent of the damage was severe.

He knelt down in front of her and placed his right index finger against her throat beneath her jaw, checking her pulse. It was steady, but weak, and he knew he didn't have much time. He instantly scooped her up in his arms and kicked her bow and arrows into the air, catching them as they came down on his left arm before shifting his weight and walking quickly away. Sora was above, flying and guiding overhead as he walked back through the streets. Sereinia had made it there first and done as Shadow asked by standing there silently, but she didn't look to be doing too well upon seeing Mayumi in Shadow's arms like that.

Shadow led them both back to a safe house, if it could be called that now, and walked inside. He set Mayumi down on a table and opened the window for Sora to fly in at her leisure. He removed her cloak and all of her clothing save for her undergarments and took a good long look at the new wounds she carried. Not only did Kiiro claw another wound across her chest, starting under her collar bone and ending just above the bone in her hip to make an "X" with her old scar, but he also carved his name in small letters on her other hip. It almost looked like a tattoo were it not for the blood oozing from it.

He heaved a sigh.

Shadow knew that this was Sereinia's forte, but this was a matter for him and his protege to settle so he turned his head and looked at her, his eyes glassy and empty of emotion.

"Sereinia, I know that you would like to help, but this is my job now. I will tend to my protege. I want you to attend to yourself. Go take care of whatever wounds you carry and get some rest. I will be standing guard here all night so you needn't worry about any further trouble."

With that, Shadow got to work.

The first thing he did was check Mayumi's vitals from her pulse once more for good measure to her breathing and skin tone. He knew that Kiiro had done a number on her, but she was tough enough to live through it without much difficulty though she would be out of action for several days, if not a few weeks.

Shadow quickly began mixing a special blend of herbs from his personal stash from the pouches on his belt. After about two minutes the concoction was ready and he began to apply it to the large gash on her chest and Kiiro's name on her hip. The blood flow stopped almost as soon as the pasty concoction was applied and he was then able to clean and disinfect the wound with several other herbs from his pouches. He'd have to resupply soon, but that was not an issue.

The new and gaping wound on her chest started at just below her collar bone and went all the way down to just above her hip, making an "X" with her old scar. No doubt Kiiro's way of giving himself a target when they next met.

One Shadow finished applying his herbs and cleaning the wounds he sewed them up, starting with the larger of the two. Kiiro's name was small, and sewing it proved to be a bit of a challenge but Shadow managed to sew each tiny letter shut. In the back of his mind for every stitch he applied he counted a number and promised himself that he'd inflict that many non life threatening wounds to Kiiro when they next came into contact with one another so he'd know how it felt. When that was done, Shadow took a step back and examined her once more with his eyes only.

He stepped forward again and felt her bones starting at her neck and skull before moving down to her shoulders and arms. When he got to her wrists, he noticed that one of them was both dislocated and broken just at the base of the Ulna near her wrist. The break was benign and not out of place and it would heal on its own given time, but the dislocation had to be fixed. Luckily Mayumi was out cold, so Shadow simply applied pressure and a small pop echoed through the silent room. Shadow moved on, checking her breast bone on her chest beneath the bloody wounds, her ribs, and her hips and legs. He didn't feel anything wrong with much else, though a few ribs were definitely cracked but not completely broken.

Once he was finished with Mayumi Shadow removed his shirt and tossed it on a nearby char as he picked Mayumi up and set her gently down on the couch. He stepped back and sat down in the chair where his shirt was and leaned his head back as he took in a deep breath and exhaled on a sigh. So much had happened and so much had gone so very wrong in so little time. Was Kiiro really just that far ahead? Did he know what was going on? He had to, and Shadow's fears were confirmed when one of his informants approached the door and let Shadow know that a few of his past "comrades" had now partnered with the Wraiths and leaked what information they had about his plans to Kiiro.

"... Perfect." Shadow said quietly as his informant closed the door and left.

Shadow was exhausted both physically and mentally though he knew he couldn't rest just yet. There was still danger about and if he fell asleep now the girls would be at the mercy of whoever showed up. For their sake, he would stay awake all night long.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

INK

Shadow stayed awake through the night for three straight days and rested his eyes during the day. All in all it had been four days since he had gotten any real sleep whatsoever and it was beginning to take its toll on him. His complexion was beginning to pale, his eyes were getting to be slightly bloodshot and he had less energy every day. For Shadow, it was an unusual time with unfavorable circumstances.

One of the traitors in Shadow's mini organization had tipped his targets off about his presence and they had retreated from the city before they could be hunted down. Shadow's top Assassin in this little organization was on their trail and he was confident they'd have taken care of business before the end of the month, but it was no guarantee.

Shadow was now at his wits end with everything playing out against him.

Shadow himself wasn't sure how much longer he could sustain this kind of existence and he was beginning to have second thoughts about his recent course of action. Kiiro had managed to completely bait and trap him the night Mayumi was injured, and that was unacceptable. Kiiro, while very intelligent and capable, had never bested Shadow in such a way before and Shadow was having a hard time dealing with it. Whether it was his pride or if it was just the frustration of having been handed a defeat, he wasn't sure anymore.

Eventually, Mayumi started to awaken and tried to sit up with unfavorable results. During the three days she had been moved from the table to a proper bed and was in the main room of the building they were staying in. It was an abandoned house which Shadow's comrades were keeping off the market, and it provided an excellent shelter since they were also keeping prying eyes away from it. Mayumi laid back down with Sora by her side and Shadow had a feeling he knew what was on her mind. Shadow didn't bother moving from his position at the far end of the room, but never the less decided to speak to his protege.

"So Mayumi... how did it feel to fight with the man who murdered your master?" He asked.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

INK

Mayumi turned to look at Shadow. She could see that he had not been resting for quite a period of time and knew it was most probably because of her vulnerable state.

After accessing the situation she turned back to stare blankly at the ceiling above her.

"It was interesting, though I failed miserably. For that, I apologize if it has done harm to your reputation, but I will be sure to defeat him one day, even if I have to go to the deepest depths of hell to do so." she spoke in a tone that could lower temperatures to the degree that icicles formed.

'The marks on the ground left over from the battle I had with Kiiro was the same as the ones I found master in. Though Kiiro's fighting style is similar to that of Shadow's there is a slight difference between them.' Mayumi observed from her last glimpse of the battle field before she had blacked out.

She had few doubts about Shadow’s words of her master being killed by Kiiro before, but now she knew it was definitely true. Shadow had just gained a little more of her trust in him. She had never trusted anyone except her previous master so this was particularly new to her and a first time for her.

“Sir, I have a feeling that Sereinia will be doing something unnecessary.” She deadpanned.

Mayumi knew no emotions but her sixth sense was rather strong and would tell her what was right and wrong. Somehow she could gain information just by staring at a person and at times she would even have bits of flashes appear in her mind while she slept and a few days later the bits of flashes would happen. She didn’t know what it was but found it rather useful anyway.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Shadow listened quietly to Mayumi's words and truly closed his eyes for the first time in over three days.

"Mayumi, your name and mine are not affiliated with one another. The people of this continent know me as the Red-Eyed Demon, and only the underground and the world of Assassins knows me by the name of Shadow. You have nothing to fear for my 'reputation', as I don't care about it one way or the other in the end."

He looked over to her for moment, taking in the last part of what she said and then realizing that Mayumi was probably right. If Sereinia was truly as much like the one from Shadow's past, she would definitely think she was a burden by now if she hadn't thought it before and try to leave. The problem was that it was still too dangerous for them to be apart. A fact that was clearly demonstrated during their recent encounter with Kiiro.

Shadow stood up and placed a hand on Mayumi's shoulder, gently feeling the muscles of her neck and shoulder for a moment before turning away to find Sereinia. When he did, she didn't look very good. She was still in pain, and she had that look of defeat on her face. Shadow himself had experienced this frustrating feeling many times before, so he knew what she was going through.

"Sereinia..." He said quietly as he approached and sat down beside her.

"How are you?" He asked gently.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Sereinia was so focused on her inner thoughts that she did not even noticed Shadow entering her room or even sensed him approaching her bed. If she did, there was a possibility for her to have removed the rather defeated expression on her face. Honestly, she did not want anyone to see her in such a state anymore. It would only add to her feeling of being utterly pathetic. However, she was too late. The sad daze that blanketed her eyes and dulled her senses were awakened by the gentle inquiry of Shadow. It was enough for her to slowly turn her head and face him. There was just brief flash of surprise on her face but it was quickly replaced with obvious concern. In which, the question was ignored as she posed her own.

"How are you keeping up, Shadow?" She asked almost to a whisper with her eyes expressing guilt and worry.

Slowly, Sereinia touched Shadow's face gently as if it was so fragile. The action was slightly painful as her ribs were still not fully recovered. However, it was not comparable to the emotional distress she was feeling from everything that had happened. Seeing his condition now, she could not help think that he was pushing himself to safeguard her and Mayumi. His work would be much easier if he only one to worry. In addition, Mayumi was someone that could protect herself at the very least. Unlike her, she was pushed to a corner and all she could do was cry for a name... His name... She was really pathetic. At that thought, she took back her hand and looked away from him.

"I am truly sorry... Because of me Mayumi got hurt and you are having a hard time as well." Making a fist with her hands, she continued on. "You should leave here without me. I am not that far from my town anyway. This place is familiar to me, so you would not need to worry about me getting lost. I do travel here often."

There was no way telling that the people that are after Shadow and Mayumi would not come after her. But, Sereinia would rather take that chance far away from them. At the very least, they could not be burdened by her shortcomings. They would not have to watch over her constantly and if they do come, she'll just take her life instantly. In that way, no one would be bothered. Shadow and Mayumi would not feel any sort of responsibility or guilt over her safety. After all, it is a decision she had chosen. This was the best solution she could think of at the current circumstances. Closing her eyes, she spoke again.

"I believe I will be fine on my own now. In terms of my condition, I will live." Opening her eyes, Sereinia looked at Shadow with a rather sad yet concerned smile. "More importantly, you should be more concerned about yourself. I told you. You should be a little more selfish when it comes to yourself."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Shadow sat quietly through all of Sereinia's words and didn't move a muscle when she reached out to touch his face. Her hand was small, delicate, and warm. She truly was just like a very special someone from his past and he couldn't help but smile when she slowly removed her hand and looked away from him. The memories were fond ones, and Shadow enjoyed remembering them which was something he realized he should be thanking her for.

He closed his eyes and leaned forward, putting his chin in both hands as he thought about what to say while she continued to speak and try to convince him that her presence was not necessary. Eventually though, he found his opening to speak once again.

"... There is an old saying among us Assassins, Sereinia... One only defeats oneself when despair becomes your only ally."

He was silent for but a moment, giving her a chance to take the words in.

"Right now your mind is clouded by despair, and the only one who sees you leaving as a good idea is you. Mayumi and I have need of your talents, and you still have to show me this Festival of the Gods that is coming up as I am very curious and eager to see it. Going to see it with you would make it a truly enjoyable experience, I'm sure." He said, his smile warm and genuine.

"Sereinia, if you left do you really think you could take yourself off of my conscience? If anything I'd be more worried about you because you'd be far away and neither Mayumi nor myself would be in a position to aid you. As I said when we first met the world would suffer if it lost you, not just Mayumi and I. No, right now the safest place for you to be is here with the two of us. So it shall be unless you think you can defeat me, Sereinia." He nearly chuckled to himself at the last remark, but never the less his smile was still warm and genuine.

"My spies have told me that this city has been cleared of our enemies for the time being, so we are all safe right now while we recover. And please Sereinia, do not think of yourself as a burden. My little sister, Era, thought herself a burden for a long time after we were reunited. Yet despite this it was she who was able to convince me that no matter who or what I became, there were people in this world who would care for me and that is something that has kept me going for many years now. Because of my sister, who had no combat skills whatsoever, I learned to care about others and see their safety as something that is important and worth protecting."

Shadow turned to Sereinia and cupped her cheek gently in his hand.

"So stay with us Sereinia. We need you." He said quietly.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Shadow's gentle gesture surprised Sereinia but after a few moments, she relaxed to his touch. His words gave her a sense of bewilderment and at the same time comfort. Closing her eyes, she leaned to his touch unconsciously. He wished for her to stay with them despite all the trouble she had caused them. His smile was warm and real unlike the others that she had the chance to see. For the first time, she felt contented. She was not sure why but it gave her a sense of fulfillment. He gave her purpose by wanting to see the Festival of the Gods and even comparing her to his sister named Era. This was the first time she had heard of him having a sibling. However, it was not unexpected. After all, he was a mysterious man but still a man. He has familial connections just like everyone else although underneath different circumstances than most. Although, she could not help but feel a bit of pang in her heart. She wondered why she had that feeling.

Slowly, Sereinia touched the hand that Shadow had placed on her cheek. Her eyes of deep amethyst were opened once more as she gazed at him with such melancholy joy. Everything that he had said especially about her mindset and current situation was true. She could not refuse the fact in those words. It would be foolish not to acknowledge it. However, the events of that evening haunted her and always fill her with guilt and regret.

"I... I... I am useless... I will only bring more trouble to you and Mayumi. I am certain of that."

Sereinia spoke with a trembling voice. Her eyes were slowly glistening indicating that her tears were about to fall. Her touch became a death grip on Shadow's hand as if it was a lifeline. She looked so broken and very fragile. It would be inconsiderate and somewhat out of place to say, however, she looked quite enticing and beautiful. Her raven black hair seemed to have caught some light as it reflected a purple hue while it fell around her like a silk blanket.

"Those people would surely come and attack again. Perhaps not right now. Still, it is a fact they would target your weakness. If I am still with you, I will be that person. I will be a burden."

Removing Shadow's hand from her cheek, Sereinia's tears finally fell from her eyes. Her hand remained holding his hand. It would seem that her hold tightened even more as her body seemed to tremble. Her emotions were building up inside like a powder keg waiting to explode at the opportune moment.

"I know this. It is why you should leave me alone. You do not need me even Mayumi. But..."

There was silence between them as Sereinia left her words hanging. She averted her eyes from Shadow and looked down. At the same time, she had released his hand from her grasp. She bit her lower lip in hesitation and with realization that contradicted all of her logical thinking before Shadow had come to talk to her. It is why she did not noticed that due to her own tension that she had pierced the flesh on her lips as a trickle of blood fell.

"I... I want to stay with you and Mayumi... I need you two more than I thought..." Raising her head to look at him, Sereinia appeared like a child. "Can I really stay with you?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Shadow felt a certain level of guilt as he watched her tears flow. He was able to keep the smile on his face, but it very slowly became less genuine as she looked away and started cry. Shadow took looked away from her and slowly his smile disappeared. He wanted to say more, but he wasn't the one who always knew what to say. That title belonged to someone dear to him who was not here and who he likely would not see for some time to come.

"I... I want to stay with you and Mayumi... I need you two more than I thought..." Raising her head to look at him, Sereinia appeared like a child. "Can I really stay with you?"

Shadow closed his eyes and smiled, the smile being genuine once again as her desire to stay made him happy.

He looked up at her and nodded his head.

"We wouldn't have it any other way." He said quietly.

With that, Shadow stood up and extended his hand to her.

"We should check on Mayumi now. I haven't changed her wound dressings this morning and I was planning on letting you do that if you don't mind."

Shadow wanted Sereinia to become more involved in their lives so that could stop feeling like a burden. If she had a job to do, even a small one, thoughts like those would stay far from her mind. He wanted her to stop feeling useless, so he decided to be honest with her about himself for a moment.

"I am a halfway decent healer, given that I had to dress my own wounds for so many years. But as you well know I'm better at inflicting wounds than healing them. I am not a professional, and Mayumi's wounds need to be tended to by someone who really knows what they're doing. So will you take care of her for me?" He asked quietly.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Sereinia smiled warmly as Shadow affirmed the desire for her to stay. She was very glad to hear that. Her guilt and regret were slowly dissipating within her. It would be safe to assume that her worries and fears were being buried away for now. Wiping her tears away, she saw him stood up and gave his hand for her to hold. She looked at his hand as if it was a foreign object that has never been encountered before. However, it was only for a brief moment as she took a deep breath and held it. She used it as a support for her to stand up as well. There was slight jolt of pain from the sudden movement but it was not that major like the last 3 days. It was more tolerable to say the very least and would not impede her to do light physical work if needed.

After standing up, Sereinia listened to Shadow's suggestion and she agreed completely. She was also very concerned about how Mayumi's condition was now. Although, she did hear that the young girl was still part of the living which was a very good news. Now, all that she was worried about was how Mayumi was faring with her injuries. Hearing the latter part of Shadow's statement, it effectively perked up Sereinia's sense of duty.

"I do not mind at all... I will be happy to do so."

Saying with a very sincere and gentle tone, Sereinia looked at Shadow with her deep amethyst eyes now cleared from her earlier depression. Regardless, there was still something sad about her eyes and she had failed to notice that. Standing beside him, she continued listening to his words about being a halfway decent healer. He had become akin to dressing his wounds as it was a necessity for his lifestyle. She understands this as certain situations would not have him go to a cleric or doctor despite how grave his wounds may be. It was then he asked her to take care of Mayumi.

"Of course. I will do my best to treat her and to make sure she will be fine."

Remembering Shadow's words on that fateful night where he had told Sereinia that it was between him and Mayumi, she chose not to say anything noticing the seriousness and the air that he would not have any argument about the subject. Despite that, she did feel that she was pretty much useless. But as of now, she was concluding that he must be doing this for her sake. For her not to feel insignificant, she could not help but release a small yet fleeting smile on her face. It appeared that he understand her more than she had estimated. Perhaps, it was because of her similarities with his little sister, Era.

"I will take care of Mayumi. It is why you should take this opportunity to rest."

Looking at Shadow, Sereinia's eyes were filled with concern as she had noticed how he seemed to push himself harder than before. With her free hand, she placed it on his forehead to check his temperature. If this continues on, she would not be surprised if he gets a cold or a fever. He did say that they were safe now within the city since those after them had already left. So, he should rest.

"I would want to have you and Mayumi be in good condition for the Festival."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

When Shadow placed a hand on her shoulder earlier, Mayumi found herself flinching from his touch but had quickly caught herself the second she did and managed to stay still. If it weren’t for her stiff muscles, she was almost sure that she would be half way across the room by then. She shrugged off the weird shivers she was getting, reasoning with herself that it was due to the pain she was feeling at that moment.

Looking around the room, she noticed that it was starting to spin around her and her head was beginning to throb painfully. Her body grew weak forcing her to lie back down and beads of sweat begin to form on her forehead.

'What's going on?'

Eye lids grew heavier by the second, and soon they closed as the small teen passed out.

As time went by, the young girl’s condition grew worse as her body began to tremble and her skin paled.

Sora noticed its mistress’s weird behavior and swiftly flew outside to where Shadow and Sereinia was, pulling on Shadow’s sleeve with its bill while flapping golden-brown wings wildly.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Shadow was about to speak again when Sora found him an started tugging on his shirt to have him go inside. Shadow knew without ever having to be informed that this was not a good sign. Shadow looked Sereinia, the usual determined and serious expression back on his face as he ran towards the door and walked inside. He went to Mayumi's bedside and felt her forehead, checked her pulse, and lifted her arm to see if she had any control over it when he let it fall to the bed once again.

She did not seem to have any control.

Shadow looked back over his shoulder to Sereinia.

"Give me one second to knock her out and she's all yours." He said calmly, but still with a hint of authority.

Shadow placed his right thumb on Mayumi's forehead just at the peak of her crown where her hair line was and his left index finger behind her at the base of her skull. He pressed firmly but gently enough to do no damage as he applied pressure to small meridian lines which allowed the brain to receive signals back from the body which effectively was like putting it in a choke hold. After but a few seconds Mayumi was out cold, and Shadow felt her pulse and vitals and she was still strong enough for Sereinia to do her job.

Shadow looked at Sora.

"Behave yourself Sora. Sereinia is going to take care of Mayumi now and that is not a request." He said in a calm but still authoritative tone as he had before.

He looked over his shoulder to Sereinia and took a step to the side to give her full access to Mayumi as she lie unconscious on the bed.

"Now it's up to you. That long cut on her chest should probably be dealt with first given its size and condition. I've kept it from getting infected but it's not healing as well as I'd hoped and her temperature is rising. Use anything and everything you need. If you need my assistance at any time I will be in the next room resting my eyes, but I will not hesitate to aid you if you call."

With that Shadow left the room and sat down in a chair to close his eyes. He needed rest if he was to be of any true use to Sereinia. He had gotten used to powering through hazy and dreary mental conditions, but it could only work for so long before the brain shut down from lack of rest and recuperation. Shadow was, right now, in no danger of that happening but he was in danger of collapsing from a lack of sleep. He closed his eyes and let his mind clear, already feeling a slight ease wash over him.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Noticing the avian companion of Mayumi, Sereinia could not help but feel the quickening beat of her heart due to concern. Without further ado, Shadow entered where the young girl was in as she followed closely behind him. He checked her vitals which seemed to be stable at the moment but her response was not on par. From her current position, Sereinia could already assessed what Mayumi's condition is at the moment. The girl had undoubtedly received first aid but not the proper treatment. Her eyes narrowed as she hoped that her suspicions were incorrect. She would need a closer inspection to make certain of the girl's health.

Disrupting Sereinia's thoughts, Shadow had looked at her and inform her that he would be knocking out Mayumi. She wanted to object as it seems that the young girl was already passed out. In addition, she could just concoct a sleeping drug and an anesthesia if needed. In that way, she could assessed how much time she needed to fully treat all wounds that Mayumi suffered. But Shadow's tone prevented Sereinia from saying any further as she watched him do his deed.

After doing so, Shadow asked Sora to behave knowing the avian's protectiveness to his mistress. Then, he moved to the side to allow Sereinia access to Mayumi. She nodded and immediately went to Mayumi's bedside. She quickly placed her hand on the young girl's forehead and confirmed what Shadow was saying about her temperature. Not looking at Shadow, she listened to his observations in the background as she checked the scar that was stitched by Shadow and the other wound that seemed to be a carved name. It had sealed but it was not completely free from infection as a result the girl has a fever and judging by Mayumi's skin tone. The child was suffering from blood loss and malnutrition. She did hear that Mayumi had slept 3 days straight and without proper nourishment and replenishment of blood will be very slow to accommodate the loss of blood.

"It will be fine Shadow. Go ahead and rest." Sereinia managed to say as she looked over her shoulder and gave a sincere smile.

Afterwards, Sereinia focused her attention to Mayumi but not before looking at Sora. "I promise. I will help Mayumi with everything I can."

Giving her words of promise to Sora, Sereinia started to take out one of her anesthesia concoction from her medicinal bag. She had took it with her before leaving her room. She used a sterilized syringe and injected on a vein in Mayumi's arm. Passing out was not equivalent for not feeling pain, this would numb Mayumi's sensation. It seemed that she would have to remove the stitches that Shadow had done and re-do it to fully see where the infection was. Thus, there was no need to say how painful that could be. Taking out her surgical equipments, she made sure to sterilized them with the proper methods and even tied her hair and wore gloves.

"Hang on, Mayumi."

With that said, Sereinia began removing the stitches on her large scar first. Soon, it was reopened and at that moment pus spilled out from it. It must have been infected from the tools used or Shadow must have not thoroughly cleaned it before sealing it. She immediately removed it and thoroughly cleaned it with antiseptic that if without anesthesia and being knocked out, Mayumi would feel a painful sting. When that was all done, she took out a special thread of hers. There was no need to remove it once the skin had made a connection as it dissolves without harm to the body. But before that, she applied one of her salves that would aid in regeneration and protect it from infection. After doing so, she closed the large scar that overlapped an old one.

When that was done, Sereinia placed her attention to the carved name. She did the same but this one has more pus than the large one. The weapon that made this must have caused it. Cleansing it, she did the same procedure. Afterwards, she looked at handiwork and one could see the even and seamless stitches. With proper application of her salve, there should be no scar or if there is, it would only be a faint line that would be almost invisible to the eyes. She did checked other parts of her body and noticed bruises that seemed to be healing slowly. It was probably because she lacked the blood that helps in the clotting process. Thus, she applied a salve to prevent from infection for now.

Next, Sereinia checked any broken bones and noticed a previously dislocated wrist. Shadow seemed to have put it back in and released a sigh at that knowledge. She also noticed a few cracked ribs but it should be fine once she asked Mayumi to drink the drug that would in bone regeneration. But as she looked further down, she noticed that Mayumi's ankle seemed to be swelling. This must be the other source of Mayumi's fever. She felt the lump and could see a deformity forming around it.

"This is bad..."

Sereinia could theorized that it could just need realignment but if comes to worst, she would need to do a surgery to connect the bones. For now, all she could do was to ease the pressure by creating a small cut. After a while, the swelling has decreased and she could now properly feel that the bone was dislocated rather than being broken. All she had to do was to realigned it. Injecting a small portion of the anesthesia around the area, she then quickly realigned it without much trouble. It seemed that she had more strength than she is credited for. After doing so, she placed a cooling salve around it and then placed a splint around it which would aid in its recovery.

"This should be fine for now..."

Speaking under her breath, Sereinia checked once more Mayumi's body for any other injuries that she might have overlooked. There was none as she was now worried about how to ensure that Mayumi regain some of the blood she lost and proper nourishment. At the same time, she would need for the young girl to take some medicine to combat further infection, medicine for fever, aid in bone regeneration, and iron supplements. Well, all she could do for now is to inject in directly to the blood stream. The bone regeneration medicine was already in liquid form but the other three medicines were in capsules.

"I would have to dissolve this."

Thus, Sereinia began to make her preparations that took quite some time. She would occasionally feel slight jolt of pain from her cracked ribs but they were bearable. After all, she is much more concerned about Mayumi knowing the young girl's condition is much worse than hers. After turning all the medicine into liquid forms, she injected it with orderly and with specific interval of time and certain dosages. When it was all done, she released a sigh of relief. This should make Mayumi feel a bit better as she wiped some of the sweat that Mayumi had around her face. Then, she looked at Sora with a gentle smile.

"She should be fine now."

After doing that, Sereinia noticed that much time had already passed along with the growling of her stomach. It seemed that her concentration had made her ignore the hunger she was having.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Shadow allowed himself to drift off into a light sleep, one that would easily have been broken by something as slight as the sound of a small object hitting the floor, but sleep none the less. His consciousness drifted and his body relaxed in the chair as he slowly began to succumb to the power of unconsciousness and began to dream.

He was outdoors somewhere, but it was familiar. Like a memory. He looked around and saw that the sky overhead was partially cloudy, and that the skyline around him was marked by buildings which stood several stories in height. He walked the streets, recognizing it as the "Central Path" of the Capitol City of Cre' Est where he had eliminated so many targets in the past. Slowly he walked the street, looking left and right as the people around him took a single look and fled indoors. It was not unusual, but it still left a pang of guilt and pain within his heart as he continued to walk.

Eventually, as he continued to walk down the central path, he started seeing faces of those familiar to him. Immediately to his left as he continued on his way passed the blacksmith was a face he knew well. A man slightly older and larger than he, but still with an impressive muscular build and a large two handed sword at his back which he could wield with one hand. He smiled at his friend, but received only a cold glare in return. He remained silent and looked away as he continued down the street.

Another face he recognized as his sister, Era. She too, was looking at him with cold eyes and was held in a stand offish body posture as he passed her, almost as if she was expecting him to lash out at her. Shadow's heart began to grow cold as he continued his now solemn path down the street ahead. More and more he saw faces of those he knew and those he had come to see as friends giving him cold and distant glares as he passed them. It became almost unbearable as he neared the end of his journey when the central path came to an end and he stood in front of the palace where the Royal Family dwelt.

He looked at the mighty structure, slightly in awe since he had come to appreciate the strength and majesty of architecture, and then he looked down to just inside the front gate passed two guards. They glared at him, but did not stop him from entering the garden just beyond the gate which led to the two large doors of the palace. Shadow stopped in the center of the garden, looking around and wondering what it meant and why he was here. However, his answers came all too suddenly as the final piece of the puzzle made itself known.

Standing before him, seemingly from out of nowhere, was the face of the most important person in his life. She stood on the opposite side of a small pond with a fountain in the center, not saying a word. Her expression was not one of anger or disappointment, but sadness. He tried to speak, only to find that his voice did not work and his vocal chords produced no sound. She tried to speak to him, but the sky turned red and her body moved in slow motion as a blade was suddenly thrust through her stomach from behind her. Blood exploded forth from her chest as the blade was turned face up and ripped skyward out through the side of her neck, her body collapsing into two distinct halves in front of him as the pond in between them filled with her blood and the fountain began to spout dark crimson red liquid into the air.

Shadow could only watch in horror as he looked up to see a dark figure there, holding the blade exactly where it stopped when it exited her body. Two glowing red eyes peered back at him from the darkness of that was the figure's form, and he knew all too well what that meant. The haze that was the shadows cleared and revealed Shadow himself standing there, holding one of his Twins in the air with blood smeared across his face and covering his hands. His eyes were wide and feral, his pupils dilated so they were almost invisible which gave him a very sinister and primal appearance. His jaw was clenched tight and his muscles tense, his body nearly trembling from the obvious lust for blood which was coursing through his veins. Slowly, as Shadow tried to turn his vision began to change.

He blinked, and suddenly he found himself dressed in the clothing he wore when he first became an Assassin. Black robes with the red crest of Te'i Sai in the center of the chest as he held the dagger in his right hand high in the air, blood smeared across his face and covering his hands. He looked down in front of him and there she was, split in two lying in the fountain at his feet. He looked up and there was nobody where he used to be standing. However, a figure began to appear out of the gloom ahead and finally took a position where he had once been standing. The figure began to become clearer with time until he saw the face of his old master, Grandmaster Takai himself.

Grandmaster Takai's mouth moved, but no sound came out. The message however, was not lost.

"You'll never escape what you have become... What I made you. You are now, and forever will be the Red-Eyed Demon. Roda I'l Lousta is a part of you now and forever more, and you'll never be rid of its beautiful curse so long as you live. Know despair, Red-Eyed Demon, and live your life forever in fear of your own two hands!"

At that moment Shadow awoke with a start and in a cold sweat, his eyes wide in fear and his heart beating much too fast. He looked around and found that he was still inside, sitting in the chair he sat down in earlier to rest his eyes with Sereinia and Mayumi in the next room. He checked his hands and found that they were shaking. For the first time in a long time he had no control over them as they trembled in fear of what he had just witnessed in his dream.

Shadow leaned back in the chair and took in a deep breath to slow his breathing and his heart rate. It took several seconds, but he finally got his heart rate under control and managed to stop the shaking of his hands.

He stood up and removed his now sweat drenched shirt, placing it in a small bin where laundry was done as he walked to the window and opened it. A cool, evening breeze caressed his face and brought the sweet smell of freshly made food from nearby houses to his nose as he closed his eyes and took in another deep breath. He let it out on a sigh and opened his eyes, looking around in the street at the people going about their lives near the end of their day. It was calming to him to watch other people's content states, and Shadow managed to stop the sweat from coming forth as well as his body relaxed. He walked away from the window and fetched himself a towel and dried his body off in the bathroom, coming back and dropping the towel in the laundry bin as he once again found his way to the window. He didn't bother to replace his shirt, since the evening air was cool and sweet and he just looked out the window as he continued to watch people go about their business.

It's been almost one full year without incident... Why now of all times am I suddenly having these dreams of it again? He thought to himself.

"... Roda I'l Lousta..." He said to himself.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Shadow continued to think quietly to himself as he watched the sun begin to set behind the horizon line that was the rooftops on the edge of the city. As he watched the colors in the sky slowly shift from one to the next he began to reminisce about the times he spent with the others during the early stages of his initial rebellion.

The first person to ever trust him and treat him as a human being was a young woman named Iris Di' Nelma. She was intelligent, kind hearted and sweet tempered and she lived to bring happiness to others. It was one of the reasons she worked as a maid for an important family in Cre' Est's Capitol City. She was the one who first managed to force Shadow to think about his life up until that point when he was seventeen and begin to question his "purpose" in life. As they grew closer Shadow began to lose sight of his paranoia and because of that Grandmaster Takai was able to have Iris poisoned while Shadow was away on another mission. When he went to visit her next she was alive, but only just. She told him of her dreams to live a simple and peaceful life with a family all her own, and that she wished her children could have eyes as "beautiful" as his. Her words caused tears to fall from Shadows eyes for the first time in his life and he was forced to end her misery after she fell asleep by cleaving her heart in two.

After he resolved to make Grandmaster Takai pay for what he had done, Shadow met a young woman who had joined Te'i Sai with dreams of being able to grow strong enough to bring peace and security to her homeland. A naive dream to be sure, but a dream none the less which was brought about by a pure heart and mind. Her name was Taira, and she was a vivacious young woman with a strong heart and an even stronger drive to accomplish her goals. Shadow initially had trouble identifying with her and because of that her training under him was slow to progress and because of that she had suffered wounds similar to those of Mayumi when she was seventeen... However, they were caused by Shadow himself.

Roda I'l Lousta, translated as "Lust for Death" in the ancient language of the Assassins, was the ultimate cause of her near death experience and Shadow had never forgiven himself for inflicting such grievous wounds. During the final battle against the Cre' Est branch of Te'i Sai when Shadow managed to trick the Cre' Itian army into attacking the fortress, Shadow was wounded and blacked out after falling down near a corpse which was lying in a pool of its own blood. When he awoke, Taira was nearly dead at his feet but he had just barely managed to save her. She recovered fully and today worked for him as his most trusted Assassin and scout, gathering information and taking out targets which he could not chase because of other, more important targets or because of time issues.

Shadow turned around and decided to stop thinking about the issue, burying it in his mind as he walked back into the room with Sereinia and Mayumi. He did a quick inspection of Mayumi's wounds and smiled at Sereinia for her work as he sat down next to the table and looked over at Sora. He then remembered something as his eyes widened slightly, and he closed his eyes with a look of pain on his face. He stood up slowly, turning around to face Sereinia with a look of frustration and sorrow in his eyes.

"... I'm sorry for making you see this again..." He said.

He looked down slowly, having only just remembered he wasn't wearing his shirt again. His expression was sour and filled with disgust as he looked at his own body, littered with scars, as it was once again revealed to the world. Shadow was kicking himself mentally for making her see them again. From the base of his neck to the top of his pants with some of them extending below, scars abound. Long, short, wide, thin, new and fading all adorned his body as he slowly started walking away to return to the other room and out of sight of Sereinia.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: The Royal Family of Cre' Est

INK

"You're face does not befit such a sorrowful expression, my beloved."

These words were spoken with a sincere yet gentle concern as the one who spoke gazed at a woman who had the flowers surrounding her enchanted in some manner. However, it was not surprising as the female was truly a beauty to behold in every form. It would not be surprising if the moon or stars grew envy of her. The woman was adorned in a very intricate and form-fitting white gown with detached sleeves. It had beautiful gray embellishments with gold pearls and a very prominent brown rose located at the neckline and golden delicate vambraces with a red gemstone as the centerpiece around the detached sleeves. From this, one could assessed that she was not just an ordinary citizen. There is a great probability that she could be a noble. Upon further inspection, her chosen apparel complemented her straight ankle-length ash-blonde hair left untied but was decorated with an well-crafted headdress perfectly suited for a royalty. The gems that brought brilliance to it was of red and amethyst hued. It enhanced those sad deep purple colored eyes of hers as she looked at the one who had addressed her.

"Then what fits it?"

It was her almost whispered answer as the one who had spoke revealed himself to her. Golden eyes reflected warmth and at the same adoration as its owner approached the female. He was a very attractive male in every angle. His face was of masculine aesthetic but a subtle touch of feminine curves made it alluring and even beautiful. He has golden hoop earrings in both ears but it would be a mistake to think it degrades his masculinity. Actually, it complements him perfectly somehow. It also adds to his sexual charm that his long dark violet hair often mistaken as ebony in color at times would find its way wrapping his well-toned physique. This form would always be craftily showed with his rather choice in loose clothes but complemented with exquisite fabric and jewelry.

"This..."

After that word, he without hesitation kissed the female in front of him. His right hand cradled her cheek while his other hand was placed firmly on her back. She did not reject such a passionate kiss as she simply closed her eyes and placed her arms around his neck. There was no way she could rebuke such an action directed towards her by this male.

"You need not worry too much. We will find our child, safe and sound."

He spoke after the kiss ended and he looked at the female now in his secure embrace. Purple and gold met with an understanding unique only to the two of them. She a small nod to show her acceptance of his words of encouragement. It was just her heart still yearns for her baby that she had only held in her arms only for a few minutes.

"Eonis, is it fine for me to feel this helpless?" She paused briefly before continuing on. "I am the Empress of Cre' Est. I should be... No, I must be strong."

A hand run through her ash-blonde hair and she was pulled into a tight embrace in Eonis' arms. At that gesture, she could not help but feel the burden in her shoulders lighten even just a bit. In his arms, she felt that nothing could harm her in any way. It was unbelievable in her opinion for her to feel such dependency on one person and that person was her lover, her husband, and her emperor.

"Before you are an empress, you are only a woman and above all of that as of now... you are a mother, Regalie." Eonis placed a kiss on top of her head. "It is why it's fine to worry about our child. I also feel the same... I worry but I believe everything will be fine. After all, she is our child."

Regalie gently pulled herself away from Eonis' embrace and smiled with gratefulness. He always knew how to make her feel better with just a few words. She must not give up on the hope that they will be a complete family in the future. Their daughter would be found soon and when that happens. She is certain that it would be her greatest happiness and joy.

"You are absolutely right. We will find her, our precious rose."



Sereinia began to clean up as she wanted to ensure that Mayumi's wounds would not be infected as much as possible. After all, she had had made certain that the younger female's injuries would be healed in the best possible conditions. When it was all done, she could feel her stomach complained once more as she decided to blatantly ignore it once more. There were still some things that she needed to do before leaving Mayumi to her rest. Thus, she checked the young girl's vitals and her wounds once more if she missed out anything. As for the broken ankle, she had concluded that Mayumi would need to be more astute to not put much pressure on it while it is still recovering.

"I only hope she would not be stubborn about getting proper rest..."

Saying it to no one in particular, Sereinia released a small sigh afterwards and then looked at the avian companion, Sora. She offered the bird a small smile. It was very remarkable to see such bond between a human and animal. If she would be bold, she had interpreted that to Mayumi. Sora is family no matter what others might say and she find that thought beautiful. Removing her attention from Sora, she untied her hair as it fell around her like ravishing waterfall. There was a slight pain that tingled at the action but she knew it was normal in the recovery process. It was at that moment that Shadow had made his appearance before her once more.

Without ado, Shadow went to Mayumi's bedside to check on the girl's condition. Sereinia moved away to give him space as she observed him in silent. It seemed that he had managed to retrieve some energy from his sleep. However, it is not enough in her opinion knowing how much he had pushed himself in the past few days. He needed more rest than any of them. She was about to say something when he turned around to look at her with a smile.

"I only did my best. I would still need to look over her to make sure that her recovery would go smoothly."

Sereinia spoke while looking away from Shadow who was already looking at Sora. She did not know what caused such a reaction from her. If she remembered correctly, she had expressed her desire to see him smile more. With that in mind, why is she looking away from it? She truly does not understand herself at the moment. But perhaps, he had mistaken this gesture of hers for something else as she heard his sorrowful tone.

"... I'm sorry for making you see this again..."

This statement was enough to make Sereinia gazed at him as she now understood what he meant. It was then she had noticed that Shadow was half-naked before her. She had truly not noticed at her attention was on other matters. But now looking at it, he had a battle-worn physique as she would described it. Scars littered his body in varying forms, sizes, locations, and origins. It only proved how much violence, pain, and sadness he had gone through up to now. With this knowledge, she felt an ache echoing in her heart as he had began to make his leave.

"Shadow!"

She called out to Shadow instinctively and Sereinia did not noticed that she had closed the distance between them. She had grabbed his arm in a desperate manner. Upon noticing it, she quickly released him and looked away with a slightly flushed face. It was noticeable due to her milky white complexion.

"Do not misunderstand. I am not disgusted or irked seeing your scars." She slowly looked at him.

"These prove the trials you had to face." Her hand touched one of his scars present on his upper right chest.

"The pain you suffered and overcame. Each are undeniable proof that you have live through all of it." Removing her hand from the scar, she looked at him gently.

"I see a man who lives and faces his tribulations with strength." Raising her hand, she removed a few strands of his hair that blocked the sight of one of his red eyes.

"They are beautiful just like your eyes. I have always adored them even now."

It was at that moment that Sereinia's stomach had chosen to interrupt the mood as it grumbled loudly to emphasize that she ignoring its complaint. This made her blushed awfully as she quickly stepped away from Shadow in embarrassment. She was awfully red that even her ears were red as a tomato. Actually, she looked quite adorable with as she covered her face with her hands.

"I apologize... This is so embarrassing..."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Sereinia's response to his trying to leave the room was surprising, having grabbed his arm tightly before letting go of it and blushing. Her face turned a light pink in color and Shadow couldn't help but smile again. As she spoke to him and reassured him that his body did not bother her it brought a warm feeling to his heart that he had only felt when in the company of two people before in his life.

One of them was Iris, and she was dead.

However that fact didn't seem to matter at the moment. Sereinia continued to speak to him about about his eyes, referencing them as beautiful and saying that she adored them.

... My eyes... He thought to himself.

His blood red eyes had always been a symbol of fear and death in the world wherever he went. Even the fiercest warriors had grown to be afraid of them and lost all manner of confidence when they were revealed. Shadow had faced many a would be challenger in the past who claimed to know that the Demon was but a man and could be defeated, but upon Shadow looking at them their confidence disintegrated and their speech patterns became scattered and incomplete. The strongest bounty hunters and mercenaries around were afraid of Shadow's eyes.

Yet Sereinia, a doctor and a kind soul to all, was not.

Then, there was a sound from Sereinia's stomach. A small growling noise to which Sereinia turned a deep red in the face and ears as she turned away from him.

"I apologize... This is so embarrassing..." She said quietly.

Shadow was absolutely stunned. There was a strange feeling in his throat as he looked at her, a feeling he was unfamiliar with as he continued to examine her tomato red face.

But suddenly... It didn't matter.

Shadow, for the first time in years, burst out laughing. His laughter was pure, warm and oddly innocent as he put his hands on his knees while trying to keep himself upright. He grabbed his ribs a moment later as his laughter filled the room, stunning even Sora on her perch. Mayumi was drugged and could not hear it nor would she wake from it, but if she had been awake Shadow was certain in his mind that she would look at him with confusion as well. Shadow laughed for a good minute before finally calming down and resting against the wall.

"... I haven't laughed like that in many years..." He said, wiping a tear brought about by his laughter away.

"Thank you Sereinia. That was just what I needed." He said gently as he stood up straight once more.

Shadow heard a knock at the door and was instantly on guard as the simple joy and innocence to be found in his face vanished in an instant and the deadly seriousness for which he was known made its reappearance. He walked slowly to the door and opened it, only to stare into the eyes of a young woman whom he knew very well. He let out a relaxed sigh and stood to the side to let her into the room.

She stood at five feet eight inches in height and had a sleek and athletic body. Carrying womanly curves in all the right places but still having a similar musculature to Shadow's indicating that she was very, very strong and quite a capable fighter. Her face was heart shaped, her locks flowing down just above her eyebrows and elongating on the sides by her ears to frame her face as the rest of her hair flowed elegantly down her back to her hips in straight, dark brown strands. She looked at Sereinia as she walked into the room, and then looked to Mayumi, and then turned around and looked back to Shadow once more with a bow of her head.

Shadow smiled at her, looking then to Sereinia.

"Sereinia, this is Taira. She is my most trusted Assassin and has been with me since the beginning when I turned against Te'i Sai." He said, gesturing to her with his arm.

Taira took a small bow to Sereinia, a courtesy which she didn't often extend to most as she smiled and spoke for herself.

"I am here to watch over Mayumi for the next few days and will be taking her to a safe location elsewhere in the city for her recovery. During this time, myself and several other trusted Assassins who are loyal to Shadow will watch and care for her which will give you and Shadow the time to recuperate for yourselves."

She paused for a moment, looking to Sora.

"Beautiful Sora, I have heard much about you. Of course your presence is required for this as Mayumi will not be pleased if she finds you anywhere but her side."

Taira's voice was young and sounded so very sweet, but was, under the surface, very authoritative. Her confidence oozed through her tone and told in and of itself the battles she had seen and the experience which she held in Shadow's violent life. Her eyes were soft, but could pierce the hardest metal and her upright posture was enough to intimidate most who ever took a stance against her.

Shadow put a hand on Taira's shoulder and smiled as she looked at him. With that, he looked to Sereinia.

"Mayumi will be away from us for three days, Sereinia. But fear not for her safety. Taira is the first person I have ever taken under my wing and is the strongest Assassin in our small force. She is more than a match for most of the Assassins we've seen up until now, and I guarantee that Mayumi will be safe under her watchful eye."

Taira nodded, closing her eyes while doing so before opening them as her head came up once again. She walked over to Mayumi's body and gently picked her up, taking great care in the way she held her and how slowly she stood to not aggravate the wounds which her body was now recovering from. Shadow opened the door for Taira as she walked away and carried Mayumi's unconscious body away into the fading light. On the rooftops around them were other trusted Assassins in Shadow's little mini army who would follow and protect both of the girls with their lives.

Shadow closed the door and walked towards Sereinia once more.

"I think I will go to bed now. It has been a while since I have slept and I have no intention of letting my body fail on me in the coming days. The Festival of the Gods will take place in eight days from now if I'm not mistaken, so that's plenty of time for Mayumi to reunite with and join us when you show us this Festival."

He smiled warmly to her and turned away but stopped at the stairs leading to the second floor.

"Go ahead and find something to eat Sereinia. I have Assassins all over this city watching over you and Mayumi so do not fear for your own safety as you walk the streets... Goodnight." He said gently.

With that, Shadow walked upstairs and laid himself down to rest...

... Finally...

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Sereinia was caught in the boundaries of many emotions. She felt embarrassment, surprise, disbelief, and admiration. The cause was the sound of laughter that Shadow had released. She had witnessed him smile in a detached manner and at the rare times, sincere. However, she had never heard him laughed before. In their travels from her town to the capital, she had not seen or heard a sound of merriment from him or even from Mayumi. Anyway normally, she had the right to be annoyed as he was unintentionally making fun of her. But, she did not feel any form or irritation emitting within her. Instead, she slowly removed the hands covering her face and gazed at him who was laughing in such a carefree manner. He looked like an adorable child a far cry from being known as feared assassin. Her eyes of amethyst glimmered with enchantment and childish curiosity. She had heard laughter as she grew up from many people who were her friends, acquaintances, patients, and loved ones. Thus, she should not feel such wonder. Despite such logical thinking, she cannot help but to love the sound of his laughter which was quite heartily as he rested himself beside the wall and even had a tear due to the humor at her expense.

Remaining a silent spectator, Shadow soon was able to reclaim his sense of self as time passed by. Afterwards, he thanked Sereinia for making him laugh which had not happened for a very long time. His words brought a small yet warm smile on her lips. She felt very glad to hear those words.

"I am happy to do so."

Like the saying, everything must come to an end at some point. A knock was heard at the door which made Shadow wary. But soon enough, he was able to identify the person and was relieved from what Sereinia could tell. The mystery person entered the room with Shadow's permission and it was a female. This earned a rather curious look from Sereinia. She had heard from Shadow that he had allies and contacts. However, she never knew anyone of his acquaintances or met them except for Mayumi and Sora as his traveling companions. So, she was rather curious especially upon hearing Shadow's introduction about the person now known as Taira.

"It is nice to meet and make your acquaintance, Ms. Taira. My name is Sereinia Lucis Nouralail."

It was spoken with a warm and friendly tone as Sereinia returned Taira's bow with another one as well which was also accompanied with a smile. She was amazed and did not feel even an ounce of wariness or fear upon knowing that Taira was also an assassin. For Sereinia, she admired the combat prowess that Taira possessed. She did not expect another girl much like Mayumi for her to meet.

"Somewhere else?"

Taira's explanation was well-put. In addition, Sereinia did not doubt the strength of Shadow's friends. She knew for a fact that they are surely strong and capable. However, she could not help but still be concerned about Mayumi. The bloody scene of Mayumi on that night flashed within her mind like a haunting specter. She bit her lower lip in reaction. On that note, Shadow must have noticed her uneasiness of being near Mayumi as he spoke.

"...I understand. I truly believe that Ms. Taira and everyone else will do their best to keep Mayumi safe and sound. Please do not be offended by show of concern. It is just that I have been told to be quite the worrier."

Sereinia paused for a moment as she made her way to the bedside table where the medications that Mayumi should take on a certain frequency to ensure her full recovery. She found a piece of paper and wrote down the dosage and even specific instructions regarding Mayumi's broken ankle. Taking them into her hands, she placed them inside a pouch and returned to where Shadow and Taira were.

"Please take this with you. The medications along with instructions on how to use it are inside. It would make certain that Mayumi recover completely and about her broken ankle. Please remind her not to put much pressure on it. She needs adequate rest before she could walk properly again."

There was the tone of an authoritative doctor as Sereinia spoke. It was probably due to her profession as she delivers instructions to her patient which she had demonstrated to Shadow in the not so distant past. However, it was more notable that she had the tone of a very concerned mother or sister more than anything else. Her genuine expression of worry also added to that. As if noticing herself, she immediately apologized.

"I am sorry if I sounded like a motherly hen. I just cannot help it."

After that, the medicine pouch was taken from Sereinia's hand and Mayumi was taken afterwards. Within a few moments, Taira and Mayumi were gone from her sight. There was still the mist of concern clouding her heart. But, she trusts Taira and Shadow's words that Mayumi would be safe. She was only taken away from her self-induced trance when Shadow approached and spoke to her.

"The Festival? Oh! Yes!" Sereinia had completely forgotten about it which made her lightly blush.

"I will look forward to have you and Mayumi with me on the day of the Festival..."

She said with much happiness and a bright smile. Yet again, her stomach made a very unladylike gesture once more. Sereinia held her stomach and looked at it with annoyance and a very red face. But, this time Shadow did not laugh but gentle spoke to her.

"Yes, I will do that. Please do rest well. Good night and sweet dreams, Shadow."

Saying it with such tenderness and a gentle smile, Sereinia watched as Shadow took his leave. When he was now gone from her sight, she opted to follow his suggestion and address the matters of her hunger. Soon enough, she had her money pouch in hand and looking around the city to have something to eat. Unbeknown to her that eyes from Shadow's allies watched her and at the same time another pair of eyes who eluded what kind of intention it may have.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow

INK

For two days Shadow slept and dreamed. For two days he slept silently and peacefully.

At least... on the outside.

Inside, Shadow's dreams haunted him with memories of his early days as an Assassin.

Torture day in and day out... As a child he learned to do two things: walk and fight. Fighting against the other children to the point where they actually died from the beatings they received from their peers everyday. Shadow, the strongest of the children of his generation within the organization, was noticed by Grandmaster Takai and taken under his wing first and later the rest of the Grandmasters.

Training was beyond brutal for Shadow to the point where they had to resort to special herbal concoctions and drugs to keep him alive and on his feet to continue training.

Using his own body as a guide they taught him the muscle groups of the body and their functions, as well as how to both temporarily incapacitate them by demonstrating on Shadow himself. They demonstrated how to permanently incapacitate them on "disposable training dummies", in other words innocent lives taken from surrounding villages outside of the valley. Using his body as a guide they taught him how each of the pathways of the nervous system worked one path at a time, as well as how to both temporarily and permanently shut them down.

Using his body as a guide... They taught him about the major organs of the body and where they were located by cutting him open and showing him his own insides. Carefully cutting open his stomach and avoiding the muscles while slowly parting them so that he could see what lie beneath. Drugs and extreme painkillers could not dull the pain Shadow felt during this portion of training, and as a result Shadow's tolerance to pain only grew yet further given the long hours the Grandmaster spent showing him his own innards.

Weapons, tactics, tracking, reconnaissance, stealth and psychology were among Shadow's main focuses during his training throughout the years. His skill with daggers soared to heights unseen and grew to the point where the Grandmasters saw fit to gift him with a pair made of Orichalcum, the only pair in existence. His ability to disappear and move without sound was second to none and earned him the title of Master Assassin when he was only fifteen years old. At eighteen years old, Shadow was promoted to Grand Assassin with the only title above his being the Grandmasters themselves which made him, effectively, the next in line for the seat of Grandmaster before his rebellion.

Shadow's early missions during his teenage years were "perfection" in the eyes of the Grandmasters. Shadow was cold hearted and ruthless, sparing absolutely nobody. Women, children, elderly, sickly and unarmed people all fell victim to Shadow's wrath during his pre-rebellion stage as an Assassin. He once decapitated a child simply because they got in his way as he was walking down the street towards the alleyways after a mission. He slit a woman's throat while she was sleeping simply because she was the wife of his target though she herself was deemed to be no threat by the Grandmasters. Shadow had killed three elderly men who were speaking amongst themselves in a park simply because they were there and they were "speaking too loud" for Shadow's taste as he was walking by.

Shadow was the epitome of evil in the eyes of the common people and the legends of the Red-Eyed Demon became infamous throughout the continent and soon overseas on other continents. Stories of his deeds were what gave even the most battle hardened warriors of Cre' Est nightmares and was the reason why whenever you saw those red eyes in the darkness, you turned and ran for your life.

Throughout the course of these memories and the details therein of his early years as an Assassin Shadow continued to sleep quietly though his mind was crying from the pain the memories brought. Despite how still he was lying in bed and how peaceful he looked on the outside with a calm and emotionless expression on his face, tears still flowed slowly from his eyes.

Despite the rumors, legends and myths surrounding the Red-Eyed Demon, the fact that remained which almost nobody alive save for a handful of people seemed to know or understand was that he was still a human being. Despite his toughness, he felt pain. Despite the detachment from humanity, he felt emotional pain and heartache. Despite his proficiency with weapons and all things related to being a Master Assassin, he was still a young man who was curious about the world around him and he wanted to be a part of it.

He was tired of being the "Red-Eyed Demon", but the world was not ready for that to happen yet...

... Or... Was Shadow, not ready for that to happen yet?

Shadow did not have the answer to that question yet.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

It had been two days. The word worried is an understatement for the feeling that Sereinia was having at the moment. She stood in front of Shadow's doors. She had a very concerned look mixed with slight nervousness. After all, she did not want to intrude on his moment of rest knowing that he had pushed himself for three days before. However, she had yet to see him leaving his room to even eat. Rest is all good but too much can also be very dangerous. Taking a deep breath, she knocked on the door.

"Shadow? It is me Sereinia." She paused momentarily to see if there was a response before continuing on.

"I just wanted to make sure if you are fine."

After saying that, there was a long interval of silence. There was no response at all. This only made Sereinia worry even further. Biting her lower lip, she knocked once more as she called out to Shadow. There was still no answer behind the door. Looking at the doorknob, she held and turned it to see if it was locked; although, she was pretty much certain it should be. The result the door slowly opened and her eyes widened at this surprise. She had not expected that knowing that he was a very cautious man despite the circumstances. It probably meant that he was very tired to notice which is her primarily concern. Peeking through the small creek, she saw him still on his bed.

"Shadow? It is Sereinia. May I come in?"

Sereinia declared while still peeking behind the slightly opened door. She did not want to enter and ruined Shadow's privacy just because of her over-reactive concern. However, there was no response on his end. It was then she had noticed something glistening that rolled down from his cheek. As if in a trance, she finally entered the room with the door closing behind her. She immediately went to his bedside and instinctively wiped the tears away.

"Shadow?"

Calling out to him, Sereinia held his hand gently and looked at Shadow with concern and warmth. She had never seen him cried before. It was normal as he was still human who feels and he had proven that many times to her. Although, she did not expect for her to see him in such a state. In addition, he seemed so at peace. It made her wonder what painful or horrible vision he was dreaming about.

"Please wake up..."

Gently speaking those words like a soothing lullaby, Sereinia remained on his side. Although, she was certain that Shadow will be surprised at her presence. After al, she was also rather taken aback by what she had seen and remembered something. The gifts that she had brought for him and Mayumi were in her room. Shadow had picked them on the ground and thankfully, it was not lost in the chaos that ensued in. She had wanted to give them at the Festival. But, she was not certain if Shadow would like it. At the very least, it might serve as something to cheer him up. She would go and retrieve but not before waiting for him to wake up. After all, she wanted to be sure that he is now free from his nightmare at the moment.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

((Here we goooo!!))

Shadow's mind was a torrent of thought and it showed as Sereinia reached down to make contact with him. His muscles in his face began to twitch as his head tilted slightly to the side. The expression went from peace to pain an less than an instant as he remembered more about his gruesome past.

It was the battle that would ultimately decide his fate in life. Shadow vs the Grandmaster Takai and Korvaiis, the second in command of the mountain fortress in Roda Valley who was also Kiiro's father. Shadow had his Twin daggers on display while both Korvaiis and Takai chose to fight with a sword resembling a Katana but slightly thicker and more meant for fast mauling using the extra weight than simple fast slicing. They all charged into the fray at once as Shadow parried the two blades off to the sides and used his elbows as he rushed passed them to knock their jaws and take their point of balance. At that moment he whirled around and kicked them both across the head and on top of each other on the ground. They quickly rolled and recovered, fighting well as a team as they continued to press their assault.

One slash, two, three, four, five... It was an unusual rhythm, and not one Shadow had encountered before. Typically the body moved unconsciously in even increments of time and movement but this time they were off beat which was strange for Shadow but he caught on right away. Thanks to their on training, Shadow had the advantage of adaptability and knowledge of how to adjust to the rhythm of the enemy. One slash, two, three, four, five... six, seven, eight. Their rhythm was changing, making it difficult for Shadow to counter attack since the instant one blade was parried safely away another was flying directly at him.

Eventually it took a toll on his and his concentration lapsed for a single second, but that was all it took. One of the blades pierced his chest just below the collarbone, but Shadow managed to drop his blade and grab the sword before it penetrated more than one inch. The blade was ripped backwards, slicing Shadow's right hand. He would no longer be holding a blade in his right hand for a time, making the fight even harder. As time wore on, Shadow's superior endurance and stamina outweighed the skill presented by his two opponents and Korvaiis was knocked out halfway through the fight.

It was now Shadow vs Grandmaster Takai.

The fight continued for several minutes, neither truly gaining and upper hand save for Shadow's lack of rapid breathing vs Takai's being that he was in his fifties and not in the same shape he was in as a younger Assassin. Being a Grandmaster he didn't partake in missions and spent most of his time training other high level Assassins, but that was mainly barking orders so his stamina and endurance had diminished over time. Shadow's youth and experience were beginning to pay off and it showed until Takai managed to outmaneuver Shadow at the last minute and stabbed him in the stomach. Shadow grabbed the blade with his left hand, dropping his own in the process as he was forced to guide the blade through his body since he wasn't in a position to stop it. His knowledge of anatomy and the location of the major organs helped him guide the blade safely through and out the other side as he punched Takai with his right hand and knocked him away.

Standing very still, Shadow slowly removed the sword from his stomach as blood trickled from the wound. Since it didn't strike any major organs or arteries Shadow didn't bleed much from it which was good, but the pain was still intense. Takai pulled a hidden blade from his robe sleeves and charged Shadow with it. Picking up his own blade with his left hand Shadow leaned to the side and jammed the blade forward with all his strength. Takai's blade slashed part of the skin on Shadow's left bicep as he came to a stop, but it was only a surface wound and did not strike the muscle layer beneath. Shadow's blade, however, had cleaved Takai's breast bone at the base and was turned blade up, ready to move at a moment's notice. Knowing he was about to die, Takai dropped his blade as Shadow informed him that he pledged to erase what Takai had done to him and find his path to becoming the human being which was denied him his whole life.

Takai spoke his last words at that moment... "Is that... an Assassin's Pledge, Kyero?" He asked.

There was no answer save for Shadow's blade ripping skyward and cleaving his body above the solar plexus into two halves and exiting through the top of his skull. Shadow's blade, being made of Orichalcum, cleaved bone like butter and made the trip through the Grandmaster's body that much easier.

This final question by Takai was part of Shadow's greatest hatred in life. His true name was Kyero, spelled differently but pronounced the same as Kiiro. The meaning of the name in the ancient language of the Assassins was even the same though was spelled differently depending on context of the word, but ultimately the names both mean this: ... Assassin.

Holding a name which marked him as an Assassin from birth, Shadow chose to simply go adopt the moniker Shadow as his true name from now on because he was tired of being what he was. His pledge to Takai was indeed an Assassin's Pledge, and it was the last such pledge Shadow would make as a member of Te'i Sai.

An Assassin's Pledge was a pledge made by one of Te'i Sai which would be fulfilled under two circumstances: death or success. Whether Shadow succeeded in erasing what Takai had done to him both mentally and physically or died trying didn't really matter because the statement was the promise he now lived by. Every day since then, whenever he found the time, he endeavored to understand normal human life and was curious about it as well which aided in his learning process. To date, he has learned very little, but he is trying and that is what counts to him.

As those thoughts slowly faded, Shadow's tears ceased and his eyes slowly opened to see Sereinia sitting by his side holding his hand gently in hers. He was somewhat surprised, but never the less offered her a weak smile. He had not eaten much in the last few days so his body was weak and he couldn't give her the full smile he wanted to. He slowly sat up as best he could, struggling to lift his own weight for the first few inches but managed to finally sit up and apologize for his long slumber.

Over the next several days, Shadow ate his normal healthy meals and his strength slowly returned to him. Before he knew it, Mayumi had returned to them and was well on her way to recovery thanks to Taira's careful watch and instruction. Days passed yet further and it was finally the night of the festival. Shadow and Mayumi were dressed in traditional Triveilan garb ceremonial robes. Maumi's outfit was black with faint grey lines resembling vines (not spider webs) across her arms and stomach. She also had a red sash around her waist which was perfect for some of her smaller armaments which she seemed to refuse leaving without. Shadow's outfit was black as well but had a somewhat more formal appearance as it had some specially designed material which sparkled in dim lighting. Shadow thought he looked ridiculous in such an outfit, but Sereinia was dressed for the occasion as well so he didn't complain outwardly.

The festival itself was held within the city's central expanses where a large open circular area was reserved solely for the occasion. Innumerable stands and stalls for food, drink, fun and games, and other such things were everywhere you looked and at midnight, to celebrate the Gods, the Royal Family would come down and partake in the lighting of fireworks which would explode in the sky with dazzling shapes and colors for all to see.

... Needless to say, Shadow was nervous...

As they all gathered and approached the festival, Shadow became tense. It was the exact kind of environment he disliked down to his core. A lot of people surrounding him, even if they were happy and enjoying their time at the festival, and way too many places to conceal oneself for an attack. Though his informants said that they had not seen anyone suspicious enter the city, Shadow was on his guard. As they walked by a food stand on the edge of the festival the owner walked out and forced his arm in front of Shadow to stop him and ask if he'd like to try a sample of his cuisine. Shadow instinctively grabbed the man's arm and flipped him, his eyes wide with fright as he pinned the man to the ground. The poor man yelled out in pain as Shadow suddenly realized what he had done and released him, bowing his head in apology for his actions as the man rose and rubbed his shoulder in confusion. He said it was alright but went back to his stand in silence, still rubbing his shoulder.

As they continued on, Shadow's instincts continually failed him as he repeated the action to a young man selling wine, pinned an elderly gentleman trying to get him to partake in a small game of chance to the nearby wall face first, shoved a woman selling small portions of fruit away, and spilling her plate on the ground (earning him a quick slap across the face which hurt the woman's hand), and even accidentally nearly attacked a child who ran into him from behind on accident. Shadow was so on edge and so frightened about his surroundings that he actually had to stop and sit down on the edge of the festival grounds to try and calm down. As he sat there, he tried to meditate a little bit to calm himself and remind him that it was a celebratory gathering and that these people weren't there to bring him harm.

Shadow sat on his bench with his eyes closed and took deep breaths in and out.

... Relax Shadow... It's just a festival and it's supposed to be a celebration... You've never been one for the Gods, but you're here with Sereinia and Mayumi... You need to calm down... He told himself mentally.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Mayumi did not see what would require of her to wear such clothing that would limit her movements, weigh her down and was even hard to walk in. It was simply ridiculous in her opinion, but since Shadow wasn't taking no for an answer she had no choice but to wear it.

As Mayumi followed Shadow and Sereinia, she grew wary of the crowded area they were approaching that was full of shiny lights and stalls of sorts. She didn't understand why Shadow would even suggest coming here, knowing that he too disliked crowded areas.

Everyone she saw had their mouths in an upturned semi-circle and they were all dressed up in the same long outfits. The emotionally challenged girl was failing in comprehending the current situation.

"Why does everyone do that with their mouths? Why is everyone wearing this ridiculous outfit?" she asked monotonously. She really wanted an answer to her questions for this was rather confusing.

Just then, a man from a stall went up to Shadow placing a hand on his shoulder. Mayumi knowing what would happen next took a step away from Shadow, and sure enough, within the next second the man was pinned to the ground. As they continued walking through the crowded place, Shadow repeated the action to several other people who came up to him.

Mayumi had long retreated to the comfort of the alleyways ever since she caught people staring at her and had been watching Shadow and Sereinia from atop a rooftop while Sora kept a close eye on any signs of danger from above.

After a while, Shadow finally had to stop and rest. Taking this opportunity, Mayumi approached him slowly, sensing his edginess.

"Master, why are we here? There's nothing that would benefit us here." Mayumi inquired, her face was void of emotions.

If possible, she would be in the hideout or training in the forest by now. She really disliked crowded places and she wasn’t planning on staying for long either.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

INK

"Master, why are we here? There's nothing that would benefit us here." Mayumi asked.

Shadow looked up at her for a moment.

"I understand your confusion Mayumi... I know how odd this seems to you but I must ask that you bear with it. If you allow yourself to relax and simply enjoy the cool night air and wait for the fireworks, I think you'll find you enjoy them too. I've seen fireworks once before, but they were very small though still fun to watch. These will light the night sky in various colors and give off loud explosions which is rather entertaining."

He stood up, taking a breath and looking at her with a smile.

"Just try to relax. I know I'm not setting a good example right now, but try to enjoy the night and observe these people as they interact with one another. You may find something in this festival that you enjoy doing such as playing some of the games or competing with others in strength and stamina challenges for money or prizes. Walk around and get a feel for how these people celebrate this special day for themselves."

Though he said it calmly and with a smile, it was still an order and he knew she'd pick up on that. She wouldn't like, most likely, but if she could find even one thing to enjoy in this place it would make the experience worth it. If Shadow was going to preserve and rebuild her connection to humanity, he needed to start small. This was not exactly starting small, but there had to be at least one activity at this festival that Mayumi would enjoy participating in.

Shadow himself waited where he was for Sereinia to arrive. She said she had gifts to give to him and Mayumi, but Shadow wanted Mayumi to explore and observe the people so for the time being he'd accept her gift for her when Sereinia finally arrived.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

There was not much to say. When Shadow had awoke from his slumber, Sereinia had decided not to pry into his dreams that had caused for him to cry. Instead, she had returned the small smile of his with hers. At the same time, she spoke her concerns about his health which he apologized for. In the end, she cannot fully scold him as the scene of him crying flashed through her mind from time to time. Adding to that, he was not being difficult when she would asked him to eat properly or take a rest when needed. So, there was no further need to pester him with her feelings of worry. It was like that the days passed between them as she would at times ask how Mayumi was doing. Over all, it had been quite peaceful and relatively normal in her opinion.

A few days before the Festival, Mayumi had returned to them in a far better condition than she was in the past days. Sereinia could not help but smile happily. She had almost run towards the young girl and gave her a tight embrace. Fortunately, she was able to refrain herself knowing that Mayumi would be probably be frightened. She did hear from Shadow that the young girl was not much accustomed in such gestures. Thus, she satisfied herself by welcoming Mayumi with a heartfelt smile and with the occasional checking of her injuries to ensure that everything was on the right track to recovery. Soon enough, Mayumi's ankle was good as new. Still, Sereinia would remind the young girl not to put much stress or pressure on it just to be on the safe side.

Time passed by them and they had finally arrived at the focal area where the many events of the festival would take place. Sereinia was really glad that she would be able to share this celebration with Shadow and Mayumi. Adding to that, she had managed to make the two wear Triveila's Traditional Clothing which was very different from their everyday clothes. Well, she did want them to fully enjoy the festival. As such, she also donned a blue ombre-colored kimono with white sweet clover patterns found at its sleeves and lower half. It is also complimented by a green obi with a white obijime and a brown maple leaf brooch which served as its design. She even wore a zōri instead of her usual boots. Her raven black hair was put into a simple loose bun while 2 brown maple leaf pins adorned her bangs. All in all, she was quite a beauty to see with a simplistic elegance.

Walking with Shadow and Mayumi, Sereinia did not expect Shadow's nervousness around the crowd. It resulted into a lot of incidental self-defense maneuvers. He would apologize and she would follow it up in her own way. Although, she was not able to stop the woman who had slapped him. At the very least, she had prevented the female from making much of a scene. Fortunately, Mayumi was more calm in the crowd as the young girl opted to be on the roofs or alleyways. It is then that she had fully understood that her two companions were much ignorant and uncomfortable with the workings of a normal life.

In the moment, Sereinia was apologizing to the person that Shadow had mistakenly attacked. She had caught glance how tensed he was and somehow, she regretted bringing him and Mayumi here. Perhaps, it would be better for them to return to their lodgings. They could still see the fireworks there on the roof. After her profuse apologies, she noticed a short conversation with Mayumi who afterwards went on her own. She wondered what it was about as she approached Shadow who was still seating and taking his time to get comfortable with the crowd.

"Where will Mayumi go?"

Serenia inquired as she looked at Mayumi who soon faded from her sight. Hearing Shadow's answer, she truly wondered if the young girl would be fine on her own. She could show her around at the very least. However, she was more worried about the man before him. For someone so mature in her eyes, he seemed like frightful child. She found it quite adorable in a sense.

"Shadow, will you be fine? We can still watch the fireworks at our lodging. You, Mayumi, and me can watch it from the roof."

Stopping before Shadow, Sereinia lowered herself and looked at him with concern and gentleness. It was already enough for her that Shadow and Mayumi had accompanied her here. There was no need to push the two of them further. It would be better for them to take just one step at a time.

"I am already happy that you and Mayumi came with me here and even wore the clothes I asked you both to do so. I cannot wish for more."

Taking out something from the hidden pocket in her kimono, Sereinia handed Shadow a small pouch with a bright smile on her face. She was even more beautiful. She had told Shadow earlier that she wanted to give him and Mayumi something. It seemed to be the perfect time to do that.

"I found it while I was shopping around the market. I was not sure if you would like it. But at the very least, I wish it would cheer you up."

After saying that, Sereinia gestured for Shadow to open the pouch to look at its contents. When he did, he would see a small silver chain with 3-leaf clover behind its were the engravings of their name. It could be used as a pendant, bracelet, or could be tied on his belt, daggers, or anything.

"It would be a good luck charm to keep you safe and even if you find yourself around. Just look at it and Mayumi and I are always with you."

Sereinia said with the most sincerest feelings as her deep amethyst eyes glowed with radiant warmth as she looked at the charm and then to Shadow with a slight blush on her face.

"Do you like it? If not, I could get you another just tell me what you like. I am going to give Mayumi the same gift too... It would be just for the three of us."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Shadow accepted the gift from Sereinia and looked at it with a smile. He had never been given a gift of this nature before, and although it was not really meant for it, he saw combat related potential in it if nothing else. He didn't understand these gifts very much, but he did appreciate the gesture and welcomed the gift from her by putting it around his wrist.

"Thank you Sereinia." He said with a smile.

As he was saying it there was an announcement being made a short distance away about the fireworks starting in approximately half an hour and that this was the time to prepare and find a good spot to watch. Shadow thought about it for a moment and looked up and around him towards the rooftops, trying to find the best spot for such an event and he found what he was looking for in a rooftop which was slightly slanted with wooden shingles instead of clay ones. He looked back to Sereinia for a moment.

"How about we play some of these games for a few minutes and then get settled on the rooftop to watch the fireworks? I'll send Sora to fetch Mayumi when it's time, but for now will you show me these games? I don't understand the meaning of some of them at all."

Shadow looked over her shoulder.

"Like that one for instance. He's having people catch fish with a small... net? They try and it breaks on contact with the water most of the time. Is there a reason for such a game or is it just a con to make money?" Shadow asked.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

A childlike smile was present in Sereinia's lips upon hearing Shadow's words of thanks and seeing that he placed it around his wrist. She was really nervous if it would suit his tastes or even Mayumi's. Thinking about it now, she had not spend much time trying to get to know them; however, she is conflicted in doing so. It is possible they might think of her a nuisance if she insists on getting to know them in a vulgar manner. So, she decided to take a slow and subtle approach. She believed it would be the best to do so.

"I am glad you like it."

After saying that, Sereinia stood from her crouched position and straightened the slight crumples on her kimono. It was then that the announcement for the Firework Show played through the air. It would commence within half an hour. She looked around and noticed the people beginning to moving in excitement to look for a good spot. Everyone was looking forward to it. She had also noticed that the guards of the Triveila were now more alert than ever. It is possible that the Royal Family was on their way. Her attention was taken when she heard Shadow suggested to play some of the games before going to their spot and then have Sora fetch Mayumi when it is time. She will just give Mayumi's gift while they watched the fireworks.

"All right. Let us enjoy ourselves for the meantime. I will love to be of help to you."

Sereinia answered as she followed Shadow's eyesight and saw the game of fish. It was a traditional game in Triveila. Upon hearing his latter conclusion, she cannot help but smile and lightly giggle. She was finding this side of him quite adorable. Directing her eyes to the stall, she began to explain.

"It is a traditional game called goldfish scooping. You will use a special catcher called a Poi. It is quite tricky and you can catch a lot of fishes until your Poi breaks. It might seem like a con because one needs to be swift and light to catch the fish and at the same time not to break the Poi."

Looking at Shadow, Sereinia took his hand and lead him to the stall. There were a lot of children and adults watching and even laughing at times.

"Shall we try? I never get a goldfish. I always break my poi even how many times I try. You might have a better luck than me,"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Shadow was a bit surprised when Sereinia took his hand and led him to the fish game, but let her do so since the numerous torches around the area hid his eye color from most people who saw him. As they approached, the man running the game looked at him with a smirk and extended his hand, offering Shadow a poi.

"Wanna give 'er a try there boy?" He asked.

Shadow took the poi and inspected it, turning it in his hand for a moment before looking to Sereinia with a slightly confused look. He leaned in close to her, whispering in her ear.

"It isn't even a good weapon..." He said quietly before straightening out and kneeling down in front of the tank.

Shadow looked at them and accepted a bowl filled with water from the man as he gave it to him.

"Good luck there young man." He said, smirking again as if he knew Shadow would fail.

Shadow's poi was tampered with slightly, with no lock or anything keeping the "net" in place. Shadow noticed this and frowned slightly but never the less looked back to the tank with a determined expression. He looked up to the man and gave a smirk of his own.

"So all I need to do is not break the poi and I win right?" He asked.

The man laughed confidently.

"That's funny boy. You don't win the game, you just win a fish. If ya manage to catch one without breakin' the poi, then you can go again until it's broken if you want. However, not many people have managed to get any of my fish. Only like one or two people in the past year have done so and they only got one fish before the poi broke. Good luck to ya boy." He said.

Shadow looked back down to the tank and smiled mischievously as he closed his eyes and took a deep breath in through his nose and let it out through his mouth. He raised the poi slightly and off to his right side. He was dead still, to the point where anyone watching could confirm he was just a statue on display. He opened his eyes slowly and his eyes began to track a very specific fish in the tank. It was the largest of the group and the heaviest, which Shadow knew would be the hardest to catch given the poi's delicate nature. However, Shadow continued to track it for a good minute, with the man in charge growing impatient.

"C'mon boy! If ya aren't gonna try then git outta here. I got more customers in line you know." He ordered.

Shadow looked up at him, but didn't say anything. He looked back down to the tank and saw a pattern emerge from the chosen fish's path. He lowered the poi slightly, lining up the angle and then suddenly lashed out with great speed, slicing the water and throwing the fish into the air. The fish landed in Shadow's bowl with the poi still in tact and cocked at Shadow's left shoulder. Shadow sliced back the other way, once again sending a fish into the air and into his bowl as he cocked the poi again and sliced back the other way once more. When he caught his fifth fish, Shadow stood up slowly, his poi still in tact as he handed it back to the owner who's mouth was wide open in shock with a look of horror on his face.

"Thank you very much. That was quite enjoyable." Shadow said with a hint of mockery.

He turned to Sereinia with a smile.

"I guess I win then, right?" He asked, holding the bowl forward for her to look at with five new fish swimming around inside.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

The owner of the stall immediately gave Shadow a chance to play the game. Upon him receiving the poi, he softly whispered to Sereinia about the poi not It being fit to be a weapon. If it would possible to sweatdrop, she would have done so. Thus, all she could do at the moment was to stifle her laughter while he proceeded to do the game. There was silence from Shadow as he stood there. It was like he was stalking a prey. At that sight, she could not help but smile. She did not expect him to be so focused on such a simple game of fun. At the same time, she could sense that Shadow had every intention to prove the man's words completely wrong. Somehow, she was looking forward to it.

Moments passed by as Shadow remained still in his position. Sereinia did not find this odd but, the man was getting impatient and why wouldn't he. A lot of people were waiting for their turn along with the curious spectators. She remained silent in all of it knowing that Shadow knew what he was doing probably. It was then at that moment he lowered his poi. The next events were very remarkable in every sense. She had witnessed Shadow fighting and defeating people as if they did not matter at all. However, she never truly admired his skills until now. Probably, it is because there was no one getting hurt or killed in the process. In her excitement, she clapped her hands happily at every fish that Shadow caught. After placing the fifth fish inside the bowl, he had decided that it was the end of the game even with his poi remaining intact.

"I guess I win then, right?"

Sereinia looked at the bowl that was shown to her. She leaned to look at the five fishes swimming inside with much energy. Her eyes of dark purple glowed with childish admiration. It was rather interesting to see her in such a state. She then looked at Shadow with a bright smile and a thumbs up.

"That was amazing! You were wonderful! I want to show this to Mayumi. I wonder if she could also to do this!"

It was then Sereinia's attention was taken to another game stall. It was a ring-throwing one. The prize to be won were displayed. A person that wants to play would have to give a fee and then be given a limited amount of rings to be thrown. Any object that the ring will catch shall be the prize of the player. She pointed at the said stall.

"Do you want to try that one?"

Asking with very curious eyes, Sereinia looked at Shadow.waiting for his answer. They still have some time left before the Firework Show will start. She also wanted for Shadow to have at the very least an enjoyable time. After all, he was trying hard despite feeling awkward and uncomfortable with such a large crowd. She held his free hand and smiled warmly.

"If you do not want to, it is okay. Where do you want to go next?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Shadow smiled with Sereinia when she told him how well he did and looked down at his new fish. He didn't yet know what he was going to do with them, but he'd probably just dump them into a stream outside of town after the fireworks were over. That or hand them off to somebody who would want them.

"That was amazing! You were wonderful! I want to show this to Mayumi. I wonder if she could also to do this!"

Shadow looked at Sereinia with an almost indignant expression.

"I've taught Mayumi a great deal many things, and this would be child's play for her. In fact, I'd be willing to bet she could empty that tank of fish without much difficulty." Shadow said with obvious confidence in Mayumi and a hint of pride.

Shadow looked over at the other game Sereinia wanted him to play. He walked over to it, Sereinia still holding his free hand, as he looked at the rings and the prizes. They all looked rather strange to him, so he looked to Sereinia.

"Which prize would you want?" He asked.

But before she could answer Shadow was handed five rings to throw and was asked to pay for the round. Shadow shrugged his shoulders and paid for it and then took up his designated position to begin throwing. Shadow looked at the rings and weighed them in his hands for a moment, getting a feel for them before setting his eyes on the prize in the far back of the range. It was small, and whatever it was it was shiny. Shadow focused on it for a minute and discovered it was a small metallic music box, and he thought that maybe Sereinia would like that. The box itself wasn't really a box, but was shaped as one might expect on this Festival in Triveila like the Goddess Auxureilla, the Goddess of the Sea.

Shadow narrowed his stance and set his sights on the music box before cocking his arm back and gently letting fly with the first ring. It was almost dead on target, but given the imperfect shape of the rings he was provided, it flew slightly off target to the left. Had it been a perfect circle, Shadow would have gotten it on the first try. Shadow readjusted his aim a little and let fly with the second ring, this time landing it around the Goddesses neck and winning the prize. The music box was brought over and Shadow was allowed to finish his last three tosses, each one landing on a different random prize. One was a fake sword modeled after an ancient weapon used by a great hero of Triveilan history, one was a simple child's toy figure, and the last one was a dream catcher, likely imported from Cre' Est a good many years ago given its age and design.

Shadow gave the toy away to a child nearby who stared at it as Shadow was handed his prize, and the dream catcher he held onto. The sword he gave away to a man with an obvious military history and even though it was fake he gladly took the replica sword to keep at home. Shadow smiled at his prize that was the dream catcher, knowing that if it worked the way tales said it would, his nightmares would no longer haunt his dreams. Shadow took the music box and held it out to Sereinia.

"I'm not sure what the value of a music box is, but I hope you like it." He said sincerely, a warm smile on his face.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Sereinia had a small smile upon hearing how Shadow showed much pride in Mayumi's skills. He appeared to be a proud brother or father. She cannot help but be happy upon hearing his words. It would have been nice if Mayumi had heard it personally. In any case, they went towards the ring-toss game stall. It was clear in Shadow's face that he was slightly confused with the game before them. Still, he asked her what would she want. However, she was not able to answer as the owner of the stall had already given him the rings and he began to play the game. In addition, she does not have any particular prize that she wanted while looking at the prizes. Thus, she could not provide him an answer in the end. But somehow, she was quite flattered that Shadow wanted to win her a prize.

"Oh..."

It left Sereinia's mouth with slight dejection as Shadow missed his first shot. Regardless, she was certain that he would redeem himself with the second shot. As a result, she waited in silence and anticipation and as she had suspected, the second shot attained its target. The same goes with the other remaining rings. Somehow, the one managing the stall was also impressed and with slight disappointment. It was probably because most of the items that were taken were not that cheap. Over all, Shadow did not leave empty-handed. But two of his prizes were given away to a child and a male stranger. She smiled at this gesture of his and noticed that he seemed happy about winning the dream catcher.

"His dreams..."

The thought that passed in her mind as Sereinia remembered the day she found him crying in his sleep. She truly hopes that the dream catcher does what it had been said to do. It would be a great help for Shadow to have a pleasant sleep than be constantly haunted by nightmares she had no idea of. While in deep thought, it was then Shadow presented her with the music box. Her eyes of purple gazed at the said object in a deep trance. Silence reigned between them as his voice seemed to take her out from her reverie.

"Thank you..."

Taking the music box, Sereinia stopped herself from thinking on that memory and focused on what was happening now. She looked at the whimsical music box and then saw Shadow's smile. She cannot help but be very grateful that she had accompanied him and Mayumi despite the trials they had faced and surely would face in the near future. Honestly, she does not feel fear or worry about it at the moment. Holding the music box closed to her, she gave him a very heartfelt smile that only enhanced her natural beauty as some of the passersby blushed at her sight.

"I really like it." After saying that, she gave Shadow a light kiss on the cheek to show her appreciation.

"Shall we watch the fireworks now?" Sereinia quickly said while walking ahead of Shadow with her back turned to him. She did not want him to see her flushed face.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Shadow was happy that Sereinia liked his gift and when she leaned in close he had a feeling he knew what it meant. Sure enough, Shadow received a light kiss on the cheek. Out of instinct Shadow looked left and right out of the corners of his eyes, hoping to the Gods that she wasn't around to see that. Even though he knew she was a long ways away, Shadow couldn't help but be nervous when that happened as there was an unpleasant confrontation which took place the last time a girl kissed Shadow and she was there to see it.

Never the less, when Sereinia turned around and asked to go watch the fireworks Shadow followed her. He walked ahead a little and guided her to the building he had chosen, walking inside with her and leading her up to the top floor. There was no roof access, so Shadow had Sereinia hold onto his neck as he held her up in his arms. His left arm supported her legs underneath the knee while her arms held her body upright against him so his right hand was free to climb the outer wall of the building. Shadow took them up in a matter of seconds and gently set her down on the slanted roof, sitting quietly next to her.

The building they were on was approximately four stories tall and overlooked the entirety of the Festival grounds. Shadow gave a whistle up to Sora, who dove down and landed in front of him. He told her to find Mayumi and guide her here, to which Sora immediately set off to find her.

Shadow leaned back and laid himself down, hands behind his head as he closed his eyes to wait for the big event which would take place in just a few short minutes.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Fortunately, Shadow did not pay too much attention to the color of her face. Sereinia was not sure why she bothered hiding her expressions. It was not like he had not seen her flushed face before. Thinking about it, she was acting a bit odd in her opinion. It was probably due to the rather fun atmosphere here at the festival. She was getting carried away with the flow. It was not really a concrete reason but, she had decided on it. Noticing that he had taken the lead, she followed the man and took noticed of his features from behind. Oddly enough, it was then she had noticed that he was quite tall. She was not paying attention to that even way before they arrived at the Capital. He has broad shoulders. Under the fleeting lights of the festival, ruby red eyes seemed to lightly glow from time to time. They were like beautiful crystals shining. It was very beautiful. She followed him like that and was only snapped from her observations when he asked her to hold onto him.

"Oh... okay..." She answered with an almost light whisper.

In an instant, Shadow carried Sereinia without much difficult. She wrapped her arms around his neck to support her upper body. Soon enough, they were on the roof with a wonderful view of the festival grounds. She could already spot some of the staff working on the fireworks that were going to be used. It was then that Sora was called to fetch Mayumi. After he had given Sora the order, it flew towards a certain direction as she watched until it disappeared in the horizon. It was then she felt Shadow shifting from his sitting position and looked over her shoulders. He had made herself comfortable by lying down on the roof. His eyes were closed as he relaxed for a little bit before the show began. She looked at the sky and she could feel that she was excited as well. After all, the fireworks were going to be set off together with the other countries. It was like the whole world was celebrating.

"It is a nice thought. Even if someone is far from you, just look up. Because the two of you are viewing the same sky..."

Sereinia softly spoke while looking at the sky with a warm smile. She had remembered telling that to her little brother before. According to her brother, it cheered him up when he misses her sister's presence. She did not get to tell her that it was also the same with her. But for now, her brother was looking down on her from the heavens. Releasing a soft sigh, she lowered her head and embraced her knees closed to her chest as she placed her chin on top of her knees. Her eyes reflected a certain sadness in them.

Setting Changes... 22191 => 22174

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Sorry, please ignore this.

Setting Changes... 22174 => 22191

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Mayumi had been deep in thought when Sora landed in front of her with Shadow’s message.

Following her most trusted ally, she found Sereinia and Shadow sitting on a slanted roof. As she got nearer, she sensed a certain aura between the two young adults. Relying on her insight, she had a feeling that it was wrong to interfere at this point, but what was she to do?

Looking on at the two adults, Mayumi felt a strong sense of emptiness in her chest seeing Sereinia being this close to Shadow. If she had seen correctly earlier, they had even held hands.

‘What was the meaning of that?’

Instead of settling down behind them, Mayumi decided to head down and stand in the alley way.

Seeing its mistress head down, Sora followed suit and landed on her shoulder.

“Everything is becoming confusing. Ever since we met Shadow, a whole new world has been opened to us. Is this right? Is this what my previous master wants?” Mayumi questioned only receiving a cock of the head back from Sora.

Mayumi still had many things to learn from this world. Her memories only consisted of constant training and never-ending battles there was never a second where she wasn’t doing nothing but relaxing. Even now, Mayumi was on guard.

Suddenly, Mayumi heard Sereinia’s voice

"It is a nice thought. Even if someone is far from you, just look up. Because the two of you are viewing the same sky..."

Looking up, she sees Sereinia doing what everyone at the festival had done. The corners of her mouth were lifted and her eyes were shining with… something she had yet know of.

Within seconds, Mayumi was on the slanted rooftop staring at Sereinia.

“What are you doing?” she questions curiously.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Shadow listened to Sereinia's words and smiled.

The night air was cool and relaxed, and his senses, though on high alert at all times, were very much relaxed as well. He could not sense anything in the immediate area and it made little difference since Taira was present in the city to help out as well. Being his most trusted friend and pupil, Taira was easily capable of taking care of any problems without Shadow having to get his hands dirty.

Suddenly, Shadow could sense movement and when he opened his left eye Mayumi was on the roof staring at Sereinia.

“What are you doing?” She asked.

Shadow closed his eyes and his smile grew just a tiny bit.

Mayumi was growing more and more curious about the world around her and that was a fantastic first sign that her link to humanity was beginning to form roots. If this were to keep up for even just one year Mayumi would find herself continuing to ask questions and experimenting with what she saw as Shadow had done tonight. With any luck, this would continue unhindered. However, Shadow was prepared to keep his guard up no matter the circumstances so that she would indeed have her chance. If Kiiro dared show his face to her again, Shadow was prepared to kill him.

When the thought of Kiiro entered his mind, Shadow's insides began to boil and his smile slowly changed to a frown and his eyebrows furrowed a little bit as the muscles in his face tightened.

The history of the two was long, bloody and beyond a simple hate for one another. Though they held a silent respect as opponents, they both held a raw and seething hatred that went far beyond the intensity of what most mortals could feel for each other. When Shadow and Kiiro were in the same area and were within a line of sight, the air between them would literally grow thicker and warmer because of the amount of energy their bodies were beginning to produce as their temperatures rose and their focused energies began to gather. The heat of their bodies would rise to the point where their bodies would both begin to release steam in lower temperature environments, even when they weren't yet fighting. When they were fighting the air around them would steam as well, not just their bodies.

From the perspective of onlookers in the past their confrontations were viewed as a battle between two Demigods due to how violent and destructive they were despite how easily they were able to get back up and continue on. The two of them had actually destroyed half of a small village on the outskirts of Cre' Est a number of years ago during one of their earlier confrontations when they were both younger and less in control of their hatred for each other. While Mayumi and Sereinia had seen how destructive a fight between Shadow and other members of Te'i Sai such as the Wraiths could be, it was nothing compared to how destructive he and Kiiro were when they squared off.

This extreme hatred ensured that every encounter drew greater and greater levels of blood and damage for each subsequent confrontation. Their first encounter saw no blood drawn except for a bloody lip on Shadow's part and a bloody nose on Kiiro's while their second saw both receive a one inch gash to their upper torso. Such a consistent increase in blood drawn would ensure that one of their next few encounters would see one of them die. However, neither combatant had any intention of dying anytime soon. They both had goals to fulfill and plans for the future, and the only real question was which of them would see theirs fulfilled first.

Since their first encounter Shadow and Kiiro had traded the upper hand in both combat and tactics. Typically Shadow emerged victorious, though he payed a heavy price for it each time. The main difference between Shadow and Kiiro's tactics was that Kiiro didn't hold the morals which Shadow had since picked up. Shadow wouldn't bring innocent lives into a fight, but Kiiro would and often did. His recent attack on Mayumi was a clear example in Shadow's eyes. Mayumi, though Shadow's new pupil, was not a part of their confrontation and he had no right to bring her into it with such violence. The thought made Shadow's blood boil even further and his eyes began to glow brighter as his anger rose.

It was an odd "mutation", as the Grandmasters had labeled it, that Shadow's eyes would glow and change the intensity of their coloration depending on his mood. The angrier he got the brighter his eyes glowed and the more red they became, especially at night. The calmer he was, the more relaxed and stable and lighter in coloration they seemed to become. During Roda I'l Lousta, however, his pupils nearly vanished and his eyes would be at their brightest and their most deep blood red coloration to the point where you could see them beneath closed eyelids, even during the day. They were almost like two red candles inside behind his eyelids with how brightly they shone during Roda I'l Lousta.

Right now Shadow's eyes were indeed glowing but not to the point where the difference was all that noticeable and they didn't shine through his currently closed eyelids. However it didn't take long for Shadow to open them and looked to the sky, wondering where Kiiro was right now and what he was planning.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Slightly Surprising Sereinia, she looked to Mayumi who had arrived. Her deep amethyst eyes showed her light surprise but soon it was replaced with warmth. She was glad that Mayumi had come to join them. Removing her arms around her legs, she gave the younger girl a small smile.

"Hello Mayumi... "

Then, she thought of what Mayumi had asked her. There was a moment of silence before Sereinia comprehend what the young girl was pertaining to. As a safe measure, she pointed at the sky and then looked at it.

"Admiring the sky... Oh, I have something to give you."

With that said, Sereinia took out another small pouch and gave it to Mayumi. Its contents were similar to the one she gave to Shadow earlier. As Mayumi took it, she gave the girl a warm smile. She was not really sure how Mayumi would react to the gift; however, she was willing to explain anything that she asks about. There was nothing wrong with being curious. It means that one is willing to learn and to know.

"I hope you would like it."

At the end of her words, the sky had its first fireworks fired into the sky. It lit the night sky with brilliant colors while Sereinia looked at with glee and wonder. They were like flowers blooming in the dark sky for a moment of beauty and then become a wonderful memory. The fireworks show had began as continuous launches of fireworks filled the evening skies. The people in their respective spots looked at it with awe and the Royal Family of Triveila was also present in their special place along with a lot of Royal Guards to ensure their safety. However, position, rank, status, career, morality, and all of that does not matter at the moment. Everyone was mesmerized It by the sight of fleeting flowers of the sky.

"So beautiful..."

Sereinia softly whispered as the lights of the fireworks reflected on her form as a small smile was present on her lips. The thought that everyone else in the continent were sharing this same sight. Everyone was seeing and sharing this patronage for the Gods and Goddesses who gave us the gift called life. It made her smile even wider and somehow she filled contented more than ever. She had attended this Festival in the past years. However, she was not that satisfied. Perhaps, it is because of the presence of the two people with her. Her eyes looked at Shadow and then Mayumi.

"I am happy to have this memory with you two. I am. Thank you very much."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

"I am happy to have this memory with you two. I am. Thank you very much."

Shadow instantly was brought out of his thoughts about Kiiro and the Wraiths when Sereinia's voice rang through his ears. He looked over to her and smiled to her.

"I think we should be thanking you Sereinia." Shadow said.

He looked over towards Mayumi and gave her a smile as well.

"How about you sit down with us Mayumi?" He asked, gesturing with his left hand for her to sit down next to Sereinia.

As he retracted his hand he looked up at the sky just in time to catch the next wave of fireworks going off. The sounds of the explosions in the air and the feeling of power they brought with them was almost entrancing. Shadow's smile changed from one of closed lips and contention to one showing a little bit of his beautiful white teeth and an expression of admiration and excitement. Shadow continued to silently watch until the wave was over and there was a temporary pause in the fireworks.

"I've never seen anything like this..." He said quietly to himself, still smiling.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

"Admiring the sky... Oh, I have something to give you."

‘Admiring skies will make the corners of your mouth lift? But I’ve done that countless of times and it has never happened.’ Mayumi was perplexed.

Sereinia held out a small gift and Mayumi looked at it for a few seconds before taking it, wondering what could possibly be inside something that tiny.

"I hope you would like it." Sereinia said.

Suddenly, the faint sound of something screeching caught her attention. Turning around, Mayumi saw colourful bouts of lights shoot into the sky where they exploded into shimmering lights. The explosion startled Mayumi quite a bit causing her to move behind Shadow within a splitting second. Sora seemed to be staring weirdly at its mistress’ odd behaviour.

"I am happy to have this memory with you two. I am. Thank you very much." Sereinia spoke.

"I think we should be thanking you Sereinia." Shadow said.
Shadow looked over towards Mayumi and gave her a smile as well.
"How about you sit down with us Mayumi?" He asked, gesturing with his left hand for her to sit down next to Sereinia.


"I've never seen anything like this..." Shadow said quietly.

“Master what is that? Should I eliminate the cause of it?” Mayumi asked while staying behind Shadow.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

“Master what is that? Should I eliminate the cause of it?”

At that question Shadow burst out into laughter, holding his sides as he rolled to his left side. Not of his own conscious decision he tilted his head forward in his laughter and his forehead touched Sereinia's thigh before he straightened his neck and tried to sit up as he brought his laughter under control, not realizing what had just happened in the slightest as he was too focused on what Mayumi had said and trying to stop laughing.

"... Mayumi, those are the fireworks we were talking about this whole time. They are meant to be festive and something to be enjoyed... I think." He looked to Sereinia with a half confused look before looking back to Mayumi.

"Just sit down with us and watch the lights in the sky Mayumi. Don't mind the explosions or the screeching they cause before they explode."

With that Shadow sat back in his spot and laid back down with his head cupped in his hands which were behind his head. He looked up at the sky again and just sat quietly as he watched the skies, waiting for the next wave of fireworks.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Mayumi stared at Shadow, her eyes wide. Shadow just did what all the people at the festival were doing.

‘Is that contagious?’ Mayumi wondered.

Deciding she had enough surprising events Mayumi settled in between Sereinia and Shadow. When she did, Mayumi felt a feeling of warmness fill her. Something she had never felt before. It felt so right, yet so foreign, but…

‘It’s nice.’ Mayumi thought.

Slowly, Mayumi started to relax as she watched the thing called fireworks. Between the two adults, she felt a weird sense of security, something she had never really felt before. All she had ever felt before being the coldness of the night and the endless cold battles she fought.

Eyes begin to drift close and soon Mayumi was asleep between the two. For the first time in Mayumi’s life, a peaceful look graced her young face. A single tear leaks from between her eye lids and down her cheek.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Sereinia blinked at the rather odd question of Mayumi. At the same time, she find it very adorable in every sense. She would have laugh; however, she was distracted by the sudden sound of mirth that came from Shadow. It would seemed that he also find Mayumi's innocent question quite humorous. But more that, Sereinia felt her cheeks beginning to have the shade of red as Shadow unconsciously contacted with her thigh. There was no damage done and she knew very well that there was no perverted meaning to it. After all, it was just pure coincidence. The one thing she does not understand was why she was blushing at that meaningless gesture. She must be getting too giddy from all of the festive mood. Although, she knew for a fact that the real reason for her reactions were far from that thought. In any case, Shadow took her out from her inner monologue as Shadow explained what the fireworks were for. Asking for her input, Shadow gazed at Sereinia which she obliged with a warm smile towards Mayumi.

"They are a colorful spectacle for people to watch and admire from the skies. They are created for the pure purpose of wonder and enjoyment..."

After Sereinia's explanation, Mayumi followed Shadow's suggestion and settled in a position between them. When that was done, Sereinia proceeded to watch the next wave of fireworks and they were getting more elaborate than the previous ones. It was really a beautiful spectacle. Glancing to her side, she noticed that Shadow was also enjoying the fireworks and if she might be bold to point out, she had never seen him so calm and relaxed. It was a good idea to have them watch the fireworks show. It was then she looked at Mayumi and noticed that the girl had fallen asleep. This was also a first for Sereinia as she never seen the young girl sleep. Well, it was because she had always been the first to sleep and the last to wake up when it comes to Mayumi. But now looking at her, Sereinia cannot help but smile warmly. The young girl looked so at peace.

"Happy Festival Mayumi..."

It was spoken lightly above whisper as Sereinia was about to inform Shadow about Mayumi when she caught sight of a lone tear falling. Instinctively, she gently wiped it away and looked at the young girl with concern. Similar to what she had done to Shadow before, Sereinia took Mayumi's hand gently as a show of comfort if the girl was having a nightmare.

"Shadow... Mayumi is fast asleep..."

Speaking in a hush tone, Sereinia looked at Shadow with concern as she alerted him about the situation. Moreover, she seemed to be like a doting mother or sister in any case when it comes to Mayumi.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Mayumi sat in between Shadow and Sereinia and he couldn't help but smile to himself as he watched the fireworks continue. Eventually, Sereinia spoke quietly to him as the fireworks broke for a moment.

"Shadow... Mayumi is fast asleep..." She said.

Shadow turned in time to see Sereinia dry a tear from Mayumi's cheek, and Shadow's smile faded when he thought about what the tear could mean. Her face was content and there were no signs of any kind of problems on her end so Shadow thought that perhaps it was just a tear of unrecognized inner joy at being here with two people who cared and slowly being accepted into someone else's life. That's how it was for Shadow when it happened to him, so he guessed that Mayumi was having the same experience as he was when he started to learn what it meant to care like this.

"Poor thing must be exhausted what with all that's happened." He said quietly as he leaned over to double check that he wasn't missing anything.

He leaned back and laid down once more, cupping his head in his hands and looking at the sky as the finale to the firework display started to go off. Burst after burst of light and sound cascaded forth through the night sky and Shadow's senses began to sharpen. While it wasn't particularly in response to the fireworks themselves, whenever loud noises began to sound off Shadow's instinct was to become more alert. His adrenaline took a slight jump, nothing like in a fight, but a jump none the less and time slowed for a few seconds until he was able to suppress the urge to enter combat mode and relax once again as the final firework exploded in the sky.

Shadow smiled and closed his eyes, laying his head back and letting a breath out on a sigh through his nose.

It had been a strange evening, but this firework show had made it all worth it. Mayumi's emotions were beginning to resurface which meant that Shadow was on the right track to bringing her back from the mentality that she "was a weapon" and beginning to help her realize that she was a human. It would still take time, possibly even years, but eventually she would realize it and when that happened she truly would become a weapon.

The biggest mistake "warriors" make when they think they are weapons is that they forget their own mortality and they begin to think that since they were trained as a weapon and trained to fight and kill that they should no longer pay heed to their own human limits. That manner of thinking was a quick and short trip to the end of your life, and the less Mayumi though she was a weapon and the more she thought she was a human, the longer her life expectancy would be. Even for Shadow if he though he was a weapon he would have died a long time ago.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

"Poor thing must be exhausted what with all that's happened."

Sereinia looked at Mayumi gently as she tucked away a stray hair of the young girl behind the ears. It seemed that Shadow was not that much entirely concerned as he returned to his relaxed position and watched the final showcase of the fireworks. Thus, it must meant that the young girl was in no danger physically or mentally at the moment. Knowing this, she released a sigh of relief and moved closer to Mayumi. The hold she had on the younger girl's hand remained. When she was young, it was one of her fondest memory asking her mother to hold her hand until she falls asleep. It was comforting to know that someone was beside you and even more so when you wake up.

"Haru ni saku hana
Natsu hirogaru sora yo
Kokoro no naka ni
Kizamarete kirameku

Asa ni furu ame
Mado o tozasu hi ni mo
Mune ni afureru hikari wa
Kumo no ue

Yorokobi kanashimi
Subete idaite aruite iru
Watashi no te to
Kimi no te o
Tsuyoku tsunagu mono

Aki wa mizube ni
Fuyu kozue ni hisomu
Sekai no oku no
Kagirinai yasashisa

Yoru ga kuru tabi
Inori o sasageyou
Ashita kuru hi o
Shizuka ni mukaeyou

Watashi o michibiku
Tooi tooi yobigoe yo
Hohoemu you ni
Utau you ni
Hibiku kaze no oto

Yorokobi kanashimi
Subete idaite aruite iru
Watashi no te to
Kimi no te o
Tsuyoku tsunagu mono"


It was a lullaby that Sereinia had often sang to her little brother before. She had been told that it brought pleasant dreams; so, she hoped it would do the same for Mayumi. Her eyes were closed as her voice was light and whimsical. When the song ended, she proceeded to watch the fireworks that once more filled the evening sky. She felt a sense that this moment here was perfect which was awkward in more ways than one. Shadow and Mayumi grew and lived in a world far different from hers. However, the more time she spent with them, the more she understands about them. People tend to discriminate and hate others just because of reputation or allegations that at times are baseless. Well, she could not completely say that the stories about Shadow and even for Mayumi were lies. She knew well what they are capable of from their travels. But at the same time, she knew that they have hearts and feelings just like everyone else. This thought brought a smile on her face as her eyes remained on the wondrous lights of the fireworks.

"I forgot to tell you and Mayumi. Forgive me, about that. There is this legend about the fireworks."

Her eyes remained on the dancing lights in the dark stage of the sky. Sereinia had a very solemn look on her face as her eyes reflected a gentle warmth. A small smile was present on her lips as she continued on.

"The last firework that would explode in the sky is the brightest and the most beautiful; however, it quickly dissipates faster than the others. Before that happens, you must make your wish. If you make it in time, it will be granted by the Gods and Goddesses."

Placing her free hand near to her chest, Sereinia waited for the last firework to make its show. She had already a wish ready unlike before. Whenever the last firework would appear, she had nothing she wanted to wish even just for humor. It did not bother her before but as of now, she regretted not making at least a childish wish even if it would be a whim. With that, the last firework was fired as it filled the night sky with its unique brilliance and shape. It took the form of the Main Deity of Triveila along with floating lights that resembled water droplets falling all over the town.

"I wish to watch the fireworks together with Shadow and Mayumi next year."

Closing her eyes, Sereinia made her wish silently. One of the raindrop light fell on the tip of her nose which alerted her. It did not hurt but felt much like a warm tap. Opening her eyes, she saw it. A rather childish admiration was present on her face as she looked at Shadow.

"Look Shadow, it is beautiful."

The light slowly fades into nothing and this made Sereinia sad for a bit. However, it soon was replaced with a warm smile as she looked at Shadow and then to Mayumi. It was time for them to go back. The festivity for the evening was over at the moment.

"Shall I tuck you and Mayumi to bed now?"

Sereinia's tone was warped with light humor but at the same time with endearing affection. She was very contented with the events of this night. It was definitely one of the best memories she will ever have.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

"Shall I tuck you and Mayumi to bed now?"

Shadow laughed a little to himself, quietly, and looked down at Mayumi. Her contented expression as she slept was a silent comfort to Shadow that he was doing something right and that gave him greater hope and confidence than ever before. He decided it was time to head back, so he gently picked up Mayumi in his arms and carefully brought her back inside from the roof. When he was done he came back to the roof for Sereinia, picking her up as before but taking her all the way down to street level using the outside wall of the building instead of going in through someone else's window as he did with Mayumi. He didn't mind it if people thought that he and Mayumi were strange, but he didn't want Sereinia to have that issue. She was an innocent who was not truly a part of the battle that he and Mayumi were fighting in and so he was trying to preserve her innocence and separation from them as long as he could.

He had already failed in that regard to an extent when they first met. By saving her from those thugs he ensured that they would forever associate her with the Red-Eyed Demon even if they never came back to see her. At the very least, they would spread word about "Dr. Nora" being associated with the Demon of people's nightmares and that could be a problem for her if she ever returned to that clinic. Shadow would forever fear for her safety in the back of his mind when this was over and they went their separate ways, but there was really no avoiding that now. The only thing that could save her from that was her own actions. If she went back, she would just behave the way she always did and that would hopefully be enough to protect her from people's gullible beliefs.

Shadow hit the ground and stepped off the wall, still holding Sereinia in his arms for a moment longer while looking down at the ground.

"Sereinia... I don't want to put a note of sadness on this night but I hope that you will be able to continue to enjoy yourself like this... At least in small doses... I can make no guarantees of that, but I can guarantee that the longer you stay with us the more likely you are to see violence on a scale you never have before and it will test your resolve more than you know... Are you sure you're alright with that?" He asked, finally looking over at her.

Shadow's greatest concern was Roda I'l Lousta and although it had been over a year and a half since it was last activated Shadow was on edge that it would happen now that he was finding some semblance of peace and comfort with Sereinia and Mayumi. It was the same as before when he first rebelled against Te'i Sai. Taira fell victim to Roda I'l Lousta during the end of that phase when they, along with a few other companions, destroyed the branch of Te'i Sai in Roda Valley in Cre' Est. Though she survived thanks to Shadow and one other's quick emergency surgery, she carried a massive scar down the front of her chest to the base of her stomach from the surgery as a reminder for the rest of her life how Shadow almost killed her.

The last thing Shadow wanted was for Sereinia to experience the same thing, or worse.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: The Royal Knights Of Cre' Est

INK

Sereinia caught a tidbit of entertainment in Shadow's expression based on her inquiry. This brought a small smile to her lips as that was the intended purpose. In any case, she watched him carry Mayumi into his arms without reprimand. But before that, she noticed warmth and a sense of comfort in those red eyes of his. This invited her to gaze at the younger girl once more. She seemed so content and at peace. Mayumi appeared so carefree which truly made Sereinia overjoyed. In the days that she had traveled with the two assassins, she had never seen Mayumi relaxing or even being remotely unaware. The girl had always been wary, cautious, stern, and unyielding. It is no wonder that Shadow always finds these comforting which Sereinia had concluded in her opinion. After all, seeing Mayumi like this was truly an amazing thing. She tucked another loose strand of hair behind Mayumi's ear and then gave her a gentle good night kiss on the forehead.

"Sweet dreams... Mayumi."

It was spoken in such a melodic whisper as Shadow whisked Mayumi away. Sereinia waited at her spot as Shadow had assured her that he will be back for her and she knew better than to doubt the man. She saw him entering a window to gain entrance. Honestly, she was slightly bothered about as people might recognize them as robbers. Even if, their intentions was just passing through. Hopefully, no one would care as all of the townspeople seemed to be drunk with the remaining festivities of the night. Taking a deep breath, she simply remained sitting while looking at the dark horizon. Her mind riddled with worry and the thoughts of what would occur at the future. However, it was more of curiosity than of anxiety. She was not certain if the events that had happened a few days ago had brought a sense of change in her. Perhaps, it did. She now only wonders if it was for the better or not. That was the exact moment, Shadow had returned to help her down from the roof.

"Welcome back..."

Smiling at Shadow, Sereinia was rewarded by being carried into his arms similar to what he had done before. She wrapped his arms around his neck for support and nuzzled her face at the crook of his neck. At this distance, she could breathe in his scent. It was not like the smell of flowers, herbs, or perfumes, but she liked it very much. It brought her a sense of comfort as she slowly closed her eyes. She did not notice that Shadow had taken a different route than the one he took earlier with Mayumi. If she did, the good doctor would have voiced her question about this choice. She liked the place where she was at the moment. It was something she was certain. Feeling that Shadow had stopped from moving, she took this as a sign that they were now on solid ground.

"Thank you..."

Giving her thanks, Sereinia opened her eyes and noticed that Shadow seemed preoccupied with something. She was still being held by him which earned her confusion. He was not looking at him but at the ground as if there was something very interesting there. She followed his line of sight and saw nothing spectacular or out of ordinary. It would not be good for her to move out of his arms on her own as the bystanders might think that she was being abducted or something. So, she remained still and asked.

"Is there something the matter?"

Eyes of amethyst looked at Shadow with concern as she removed her face from the crook of his neck to have a good look at him. This question was soon answered by him who still avoided looking at her.

"Sereinia... I don't want to put a note of sadness on this night but I hope that you will be able to continue to enjoy yourself like this... At least in small doses... I can make no guarantees of that, but I can guarantee that the longer you stay with us the more likely you are to see violence on a scale you never have before and it will test your resolve more than you know... Are you sure you're alright with that?"


At the end of his statement, Shadow finally looked at Sereinia. She could see the concern, guilt, but if she would be bold to speak, there was also fear in those ruby red eyes that she had find solace in amidst the fearful stories that entailed it. There was a moment of silence as she simply gazed at him as if he had said something truly peculiar. Soon, this odd silence was broken by her voice as her answer rolled out her lips like soft waves.

"I am very aware the intentions and goals you have. I completely do not agree with them no matter what reasons the two of you might have. I am also certain that the event on that night will happen once more and it would probably be more worse. I truly understand the danger and the trials that would come before me. It would be hard or difficult than I could ever anticipate. I know this and despite that I can never be prepared for it."

Pausing for a moment, Sereinia had her hand gently touch Shadow's cheek.

"But right now at this moment, I truly want to be here with you and Mayumi. It is what I feel. I do not feel fearful of what horrendous thing that would come after me if I stand by your side. I am completely fine here with you. I do not regret anything."

After saying that, Sereinia warmly smiled at Shadow and then suddenly pinched his right cheek with all the strength she could muster and brightly smiled.

"So, do allow this troublesome doctor to be by your side a bit more? If not, I will pinch both of your cheeks next time."

Sereinia said with a cheerful tone while showing her hands to Shadow. "What do you say? Will you let me go or not?"




"Are you certain it would be a good idea to mingle with bounty hunters in this?"

It was asked by a man with silver-white hair and matching silver eyes similar to the pale moon's light. This was even more noticeable as his sun-kissed complexion bring out it more. He had an athletic physique that was not overdone but showed that he had gone proper, rigorous, and daily training. Another thing to notice is that he had a beautiful face. All in all, he was quite the handsome man. He was leaning on a nearby stone column in the hallways in one of the most oldest and important structures of Cre' Est. His current apparel has the Royal Insignia of Cre' Est which was reserved specifically for the Knights.

"You worry too much Solomon. They don't have loyalty but, they have principles in terms of money."

The one who answered was also a man who was just slightly taller than Solomon. He was also very attractive and appealing to the eyes. Long brown with black tips for his hair, a feminine face with the touch of masculinity, an athletic body, white complexion, and the most notable trait was his eyes. They were of a unique shade of pink that dabbles with red and carnation under certain lighting. At times, he had been identified as the Red-Eyed Demon due to this. But, he vehemently denies this as he does not want to associate himself with a good-for-nothing criminal.

"You're too carefree about this Yarun. This is a mission entrusted to us by the Empress and the Emperor."

A huff was the first answer as Yarun turned his back at Solomon and walked ahead. He did not need to be reminded consistently the importance of the mission assigned to them. It is why they were given the directive to do whatever means necessary to achieve the completion and the success of their mission. With that, he was willing to do anything or get his hands dirty to deliver good news and bring honor to his nation.

Solomon released a sigh at this reaction. He removed himself from the column and followed his partner. This mission was very difficult in every sense; however, he has complete confidence that it can accomplished. At the same time, he is the type that never loses and he does not intend to do so anytime soon. Although, he was not certain where to start as the clues they had in the first place were not exactly helpful. As he was in deep thought, he had finally exited the magnificent palace of Cre' Est, the home of the Empress and her family. But the thing that snapped him out was the explosion and splendor of the fireworks upon the sky.

"The Festival... I forgot about that."

"You always forget such mundane things." Yarun noted as he looked at Solomon with an impatient look. It seemed he had been waiting for him.

"There are times... Any case, do you have any hunters in mind?"

At this question, Yarun had a rather sinister smile on his lips and closed his eyes momentarily. "Oh, I have."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Shadow smiled at Sereinia as she reassured him that she was alright with the idea of continuing on with him and Mayumi.

Suddenly, Shadow's right cheek was being pinched and pulled a little bit, but Sereinia was still smiling at him so he didn't think it was punishment or anything but he had been wrong before. Maybe it was her way of admonishing him for suggesting that she should rethink her decision?

Shadow grunted a little bit more from surprise than pain as he looked at Sereinia, his right eye half closed with a look of confusion on his face.

"So, do allow this troublesome doctor to be by your side a bit more? If not, I will pinch both of your cheeks next time."

Shadow chuckled slightly as she let go of his cheeks..

"What do you say? Will you let me go or not?"

Shadow finally was able to smile at her as he gently set her down on the ground to stand. He took in a breath and looked up into the now calm and quiet sky at the stars overhead. He looked around and felt a new sensation on the wind as it gently blew passed, caressing his face as his eyes closed and his hair gently blew in the new breeze like grass on the plains.

Tomorrow, Shadow would take Sereinia and Mayumi with him to Cre' Est. Things were too hot in Triveila now that Kiiro had interfered and Shadow's targets had fled. He needed to give them time to resettle so that he could come back for them another time. For now though, he would enjoy the night with Sereinia until she too retired to bed herself. Shadow was a little too awake to go to sleep just yet and he wanted to continue admiring the sky for a bit before turning in later. He looked at Sereinia with a smile as he opened his eyes.

"Perhaps you should turn in Sereinia. Tomorrow will be a big day after all as I will be taking us back to Cre' Est. I have a... "base camp" so to speak a few miles outside the Capitol City which is well hidden amongst nature and Mayumi and I will continue our training there, though it is more for her sake than mine. So if you will stay with us we will gladly have you by our side." He said calmly.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Shadow had gently put Sereinia down to the ground as she waited for his answer. The man had yet to tell her if he would let her stay or pursue the matter that she was not safe with him. There a moment of silence between them but it was not filled with tension or anything. Rather, it was comforting in a way as she followed his gaze and looked at the sky above. She had always been fascinated by the shimmering lights in the dark sky. They were like sparkling diamonds creating such a beautiful canvass. She remembered her childhood days where she would lay on the grass fields near their home at Gweynura and just stare at the evening sky. At times, she would even fall asleep and find out the next day that her father had carried her to bed. It was now one of her cherished memories.

"Perhaps you should turn in Sereinia. Tomorrow will be a big day after all as I will be taking us back to Cre' Est."

The sound of Shadow's voice made Sereinia looked at him. Her eyes of amethyst gazed at him as she listened to their itinerary for tomorrow. They will be going to Cre' Est. She had a thoughtful upon hearing the place they will be visiting next. It had been a long time since she had come there. The last time she was there was to help one of her colleagues at the University of Gweynura in his clinic. She was a good friend of hers and a good doctor as well. It would be nice seeing him again after such a long time. Her last visit was about 3 years ago; although, the two of them would exchange letters from time to time.

"I have a... "base camp" so to speak a few miles outside the Capitol City which is well hidden amongst nature and Mayumi and I will continue our training there, though it is more for her sake than mine. So if you will stay with us we will gladly have you by our side."

Sereinia's attention perked up as she heard the word base camp. It was odd but it reminded her of the secret hideout that kids used to do back then. At the same time, she had a lingering thought about her secret base as well. In any case, she was certain that her base definition is different from what Shadow meant. Adding to that, him and Mayumi would be training there. Well, she had no qualms about that knowing the possibility that the one who had hurt Mayumi gravely will most likely strike again. This would give the young girl a better fighting chance; although, the thought of fighting still irks her. Regardless, Shadow had finally given her an answer in which she smiled brightly at it.

"I will be accompanying you and Mayumi."

It was Sereinia's answer with a very definitive tone despite her smile. Then, she looked at the evening sky and felt the light and cool breeze that passed through them. The few loose strands of her hair played with the wind and remembered Shadow's suggestion of going to bed. It was a good one; however, she wanted to look at the sky just a little bit more.

"About turning in, I want to look at the sky a bit longer. It would appear that the festive mood had released me from the hold of slumber."

With that said, Sereinia glanced at Shadow momentarily and then returned her eyes to the sky above. Eyes of amethyst reflected the night glow making it appear as if her eyes were sparkling. The lights from the lanterns and the moon made her skin glow in a rather ethereal manner. She was not bothered if Shadow would join her or not, she would just stay out for a bit and then returned to their lodging for a good night sleep. Although, it would be nice if he would be with her.

"May I?"

Sereinia returned her eyes on Shadow once more as she had an adorable expression similar to a child asking her parents for permission to go alone to a party or something. Her hands was placed behind her back and she had bitten her lower lip as well accompanied by her pleading eyes.

Setting Changes... 22191 => 22174

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Shadow smiled at Sereinia and simply said "yes" to her as he too then looked up at the skies above.

The next morning Shadow made good on his promise and guided Sereinia and Mayumi back to Cre' Est. The trip was uneventful but still entertaining to a fault, what with Shadow asking questions about almost everything they passed along the way and curiously approaching and examining certain things such as passing horse drawn carriages, statues along the sides of the roads, and other random objects they passed. His curiosity knew almost no bounds and it was as if a child were now accompanying Sereinia and Mayumi as he curiously and almost aimlessly wandered from their path along the way from time to time to investigate things he'd always taken for granted and never given any thought to before.

Upon arrival with the Capitol City on the horizon, Shadow led them around the city and slightly north to a small rocky outcrop among the vegetation of the forest. Within the rocks was a hidden chamber leading slightly below the surface of the earth and into a large cavern. The expanse was approximately four hundred feet from left to right and another six hundred feet deep before hitting its wall. This single massive cavern was all natural and undisturbed, save for a few weapon racks Shadow had put there as well as a few other amenities. Shadow and Mayumi's training began that day and lasted for three months.

During that time Shadow intensified her strength and endurance training for the first month and a half, carving decent sized rocks into items similar to dumbbells for her to hold during sparring and forms training to weigh her down and wear down her muscles. He tied larger rocks about the size of a large watermelon to her ankles via a chain to slow down her legs and stop her from being able to kick at all. In between sparring rounds she was made to do isometrics and active workout routines to change the training on the day and change the way the muscles were forced to react to the weight they now carried. When the first month and a half was over and Shadow was satisfied with her progress, Mayumi began training in a completely different manner and Shadow nearly negated sparring and weight training altogether save for one or two rounds to test progress.

This second month was used to bind Mayumi's hands behind her back and blindfold her, forcing her to use not only her ears but her sense of touch in ways that she hadn't before in order to detect Shadow's light footsteps and body heat as he moved about. It took almost a week for Mayumi to get used to it, but eventually she did and her body began to adjust to the new sensations around it. Sensing Shadow's body heat within a distance of about five feet. Being able to hear his silent breaths and feel his footsteps through the dirt that they trained on. If she could detect his footsteps through the dirt she could easily do so through rock or anything else that was harder or more compact than soft soil due to the nature of the pressure waves through them.

The final three weeks before the Festival were spent meditating and recounting what they had gone through, and when it was complete Shadow gave Mayumi one final test the day before the festival. Shadow bound her hands behind her back and blindfolded her once again, this time forcing her to spar with him. Shadow's attacks came in at about one quarter speed to start the match, but gradually picked up speed and intensity as she continued to prove her training had paid off by gracefully leaning, bobbing, weaving and rolling to avoid them. Eventually Shadow landed a hit when he picked up intensity to about four fifths of his natural speed and that was when the match ended. He cut the bindings and let her remove the blindfold as they bowed to each other as Master and student once again before leaving their training grounds for good and joining Sereinia in the city to prepare for the festival.

The day came and went, and with the advent of nightfall came a new air for everyone all over the world as they all waited for and experienced the coming of the new century at midnight.

It was only ten o'clock or so right now as Shadow, Sereinia and Mayumi entered the city streets dressed in their new festival garb. Shadow's new outfit was similar to his last but instead of a glittered surface it was more decorated with what appeared to be stars lining his body and creating a small cascade of white and light blue against a black background. Shadow himself actually kind of thought he looked alright in such an outfit, but still didn't like how restrictive it was.

That aside, Shadow was slightly concerned because Taira had contacted him and told him there was an Assassin presence within this city. It was unlikely they were going to target Shadow, but undoubtedly they were here for the life of someone important. Shadow decided though that this time they were to be left alone so that Taira as well could enjoy this special night. She took him up on the offer and dressed up herself in a beautiful black (for lack of a creative word for the RP) kimono with pink blossoms running along the bottom and the sleeves. She looked wonderful, and she left Shadow and the others shortly after their meeting to go enjoy the festival on her own.

Shadow, in the mean time, walked about the edge looking for that one fish game he had played at the previous festival. He had quite a knack for it and found it amusing to toy with arrogant and otherwise cocky owners who thought he could never succeed at catching the fish in their tanks. He had a bit of trouble locating it, but when he finally found the game he immediately got in line and waited patiently for his turn to take a stab at catching a fish. The little girl in front of him failed miserably and splashed the poi straight down into the water and breaking it. The man laughed at her a little bit and said "better luck next time" which more than ticked Shadow off.

Shadow knelt down next to the girl and offered to pay for her next attempt which amused the man who owned the fish as Shadow took the poi in his hand and brought the little girl's hand to his own as they held it together. Shadow helped her line up the poi, and then when all was quiet Shadow lashed the poi forward making sure to keep the girl's arm in consideration as a fish was launched from the tank into the air and into the bowl in Shadow's left hand. The girl gleefully cheered with joy as the man's mouth dropped and cheers came from the crowd behind them. The girl thanked Shadow with a bow and a little hug before turning to show the fish to her parents as they walked away. Shadow smiled and looked at the man behind the tank.

"My turn." He said confidently.

The man renewed his facade of calm and confidence as he allowed Shadow to pay for his turn. Shadow lined up four bowls on the side of the tank, promising two fish for each bowl which would leave three left in the tank when he was finished. The man laughed out loud and several whispers were exchanged by those that watched as Shadow lined up his poi and prepared to strike the water once more. Shadow waited for almost a minute, angering the man behind the tank but finally lashed out several times. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven and eight. Each time he slashed at the water with the poi a fish flew into the air and landed into one of Shadow's four bowl, filling each of them with two fish before he set the poi, still in tact, down next to the tank and picked up his bowls and walked away. More whispers went through the crowd about someone who'd done something similar before in Triveila which told Shadow that perhaps some of the same people from that festival were here as well.

Shadow set the bowls down on edge of a fountain where other fish were swimming and pushed them over, sending the fish into the water as they happily swam about their new home with the others.

Shadow sat down on the edge of the fountain and looked up at the sky above, wondering what Sereinia and Mayumi were doing at the moment while he was out having fun messing with cocky game owners.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: The Royal Knights Of Cre' Est

INK

"I'll be in the forest nearby if you need me."

Sereinia looked at Mayumi who donned a pretty black and silver detailed kimono. It complimented the young girl's features as it brought them out more. There was no doubt in her mind that the younger girl would grow into a more beautiful woman as time passes by. In any case, she had no arguments with the girl's desire to be on her own at the moment. Sereinia had often watched the trainings that Shadow and Mayumi conducted, and they were far too extreme in her opinion. She remembered one incident where she had stubbornly refused one of the training regimen in fear of the younger girl's safety. Even if, Shadow had told her it was necessary along with Mayumi's approval that it would not put her life at risk. The result of that discussion ended with her not speaking to Shadow for about a week or two. Every time she remembers that incident, she reprimands herself for acting so childish in the heat of the moment.

"Please be careful."

It was spoken with great concern as Mayumi turned around and left Sereinia for the time being. She knew that Mayumi heard her while Sora was left to accompany her in the stead of the young girl. She is very much well-informed that Mayumi could defend herself far better than before. But still, she cannot help but be worried. The memories of that horrible night in Triveila would sometimes flashed through her mind and it scares her greatly. There is this saying that the stronger shall fall at some point. She did not want that to happen at all. At the same time, she respects Mayumi's privacy which created a conflict with her concern and trust. In the end, her trust was put to test as she murmured under her breath.

"I should look for Shadow..."

Sereinia went on her way to look for Shadow while Sora watched over her. The people that she passes by could not help but felt awe and blushed at her current appearance. She was a beautiful sight to begin with but even more now despite the fact that there were a lot of females in their kimonos. There was just something different about her. Her raven black hair was neatly placed into a side bun wrapped with a red flower scrunchy that maintains it. Short strands and bangs framed her angelic face perfectly. This time she was wearing a pink kimono with roses as its imprint along with her obi. She also wore the wooden sandals just a bit modified as it has heels. Adding to that, her actions and gestures were so prim and proper. The people had concluded on their own that she was of nobility or a rich individual. Although, some had remembered her as one of the doctors at the clinic in Cre' Est. All in all, she had a certain way to bring out elegance and beauty in any clothing even how simple it may appear to be. All she had to do was to wear it.

"Sora, do you know where Shadow is?"

Looking at her avian companion, Sereinia asked Sora with sincere politeness and care. As if to answer her inquiry, Sora began to lead the way. Taking this action as a positive answer, she began to follow Sora amidst the growing crowd to celebrate the coming of the new year. However, a folksong of Cre' Est tickled her fancy as she caught the scene of females wearing such extravagant kimonos performing and singing. They looked like well-crafted dolls and their voices were like a haunting lullaby in a good way. No wonder the crowd gathered there to watch them. They were mesmerizing and beautiful in a whimsical manner. But if she was right to conclude, the one who had garnered much attention was the main performer, a petite girl donning such an elaborate and beautiful kimono who had snow blonde hair and silver-grey eyes. The other females with her were beautiful as well however, there was just something different. Although, she was certain there was something broken in those eyes. She wondered if anyone else noticed that.

"Huh?"

Feeling something pecking on her shoulder, Sereinia quickly looked and Sora trying to get her attention. She immediately gave an apologetic smile and bowed humbly to Sora. It was not her intention to ignore Sora or to cause concern.

"I apologize Sora. Let us be going now."

With that said, Sereinia went on her way as the show continued on while she heard the words from the crowd about sirens. The word was simply stored at the back of her mind as she continued to follow Sora to where Shadow would possibly be. However, it was getting quite hard as the crowd grew larger. It must be that the other people from other nations had come to celebrate here at Cre' Est. Fortunately, no one had taken advantage of such atmosphere; although, accidents cannot be detected or avoid in some situations in which she had a collision with another person. It was quite an impact for Sereinia was speeding up her pace while looking above to follow Sora. As such, it was her fault into bumping someone. Instinctively, she closed her eyes and waited for her impending fall on the ground. But, it did not happen.

Instead, Sereinia felt something warm blowing on her and the felt of someone's arm around her waist. She slowly opened her eyes and what she saw was a pair of crimson eyes. One name came into her mind as she spoke the name with surprise and an amount of gentleness.

"Shadow?"

"I beg your pardon?"

It was the immediate response and that was enough to make Sereinia realized that it was not Shadow who was before her. In addition, she finally took notice that the eyes were more of pink than red. It was also then she had taken a good look of the face of the one she bumped into and who had prevented her fall. This was an entirely different person though, it was a male nonetheless. As a result, she quickly moved away from the man as she did not notice the growing crowd of curious onlookers around her.

"I am very sorry about that. I have mistaken you for someone else. Please forgive me. I not only collided with you due to my carelessness but also took you for another person."

There was a undefinable silence while Sereinia had lowered her head in shame and a show of sincere apology. But soon enough, it was dispelled with a light chuckle which surprised her as she raised her head and look at the man before her.

"You're quite funny. I like you. The name is Yarun. Yours?"

The man was quite carefree and spoke with a casual tone along with a smile that was unhindered by anything. It was safe to say that Sereinia was being swept away by Yarun's tempo.

"My name is Sereinia Lucis Nouralail. I--"

She was not able to continue her words as an index finger was placed on her lips with Yarun leaning to close for comfort. His eyes gazed deeply into her amethyst ones while having a smile on his face. This gesture earned a light blush from her.

"Don't sweat the small stuff. If you want to apologize, let's go and have a date..."

Sereinia stepped back to regain a sense of her private space and blinked a couple of times upon hearing the word date. She had encounters with many different men who wanted her attention and heart. Some of them were not quite gentle and a bit of them were never noble as well. At the moment, she had no idea what category Yarun belongs to as the man was very handsome. The type where women would swooned over.

"I don't think you have a boyfriend seeing that such a beautiful lady is left alone. How sad."

It was at this moment that Sora swooped down and landed on Sereinia's shoulder. The gathered crowd gasped at the sudden intrusion of the creature. Yarun looked at the bird with slight surprise which quickly turned into interest. This was the time she had managed to regain a sense of composure.

"I apologize Mr. Yarun. However, I am with a friend and they are waiting for me. If you would excuse us... Perhaps, I would find another way to show my apology."

With that, Sereinia made her way through the crowd as she quickly left before Yarun could say anything after her. She was not sure why she had a feeling that this would not be the last time she would be seeing Yarun. Another pecking could be felt but it was now at her right cheek. She looked at Sora with an apologetic smile once more.

"My apologies Sora... I am quite a handful to watch."

After saying that, Sora flew once more leading the way which Sereinia followed. But this time more cautiously than before. Soon enough, she reaches her destination and saw Shadow sitting at the edge of the fountain seemingly in deep thought. This made her release a sigh of relief and a smile which was certainly unaware of as she approached him.

"I apologize I took so long, Shadow."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Shadow was brought out of his little world by the sound of Sereinia's voice and he smiled before he even looked over at her, but when he did he had a somewhat new smile on his face. It was one of content, that much was certain, but there was something different in his eyes this time. A kind of childish curiosity and excitement was brewing behind those eyes and within the depths of his heart. He stood up and bowed to Sereinia as he looked around once more out of habit for checking his surroundings before looking back to her again.

"It's quite alright Sereinia, I was just having some fun with my new companions." He said, gesturing to the fountain.

The goldfish he won were quite visible in the clear water as they swam about with the other fish more native to the fountain itself. They were happily swimming about in circles and interweaving with the other fish as they continued to mingle and dance just like the people around them.

"I managed to win quite a number of them this time and helped a little girl get back at the owner of the tank as well by helping her acquire a new friend." He said, a slight sense of pride touching his lips.

He looked Sereinia in the eyes and examined them for a long moment.

"You have recently had some kind of encounter, no?" He asked.

"Your cheeks are slightly flushed and your outfit seems ever so slightly ruffled, most likely from bowing or accidentally bumping into people on your way. I'm guessing that you were distracted by a few of the festivities?" He asked, that curious and childlike smile still on his lips.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Stopping before Shadow, Sereinia looked at the fountain when he gestured towards it. Her eyes of amethyst glowed with childish glee as she saw the goldfish he had won from the fishing game stall. They meshed wonderfully with other colorful fishes present in the water. She leaned closer to the edge of the fountain and gently dipped her right hand to the cold water. She welcomed the sensation as her innocent adoration was obvious on her face. The fishes would normally fret away but instead, they came towards her hand and playfully nibbled her fingertips. This made her smile warmly as she listened to Shadow's words.

"They are beautiful Shadow... You are truly wonderful at this. I am envious."

Directing her eyes to Shadow, Sereinia could sense and see the sense of pride for what he had done earlier. She find this side of him endearing. At first, she was rather surprised about such a childish display of his even if it was delivered with subtlety. There was this time while they were traveling from Triveila to Cre' Est. He resembled a toddler asking about almost everything he could see. She did her best to give him the simplest answers to not confused him. In any case, it was a pleasant surprise. Removing her hand from the water, she continued to listen to Shadow while sitting calmly at the edge of the fountain until he asked about her encounters before their meeting.

"Your cheeks are slightly flushed and your outfit seems ever so slightly ruffled, most likely from bowing or accidentally bumping into people on your way. I'm guessing that you were distracted by a few of the festivities?"

The inquiry made Sereinia remember the rather odd meeting with a man named Yarun but also the performance done by the female entertainers. This was indeed a very interesting festival for her. Hopefully, it would not end on a sour note. She wanted to have fun with Shadow and Mayumi if the Gods would allowed it.

"You are correct." She nodded with a smile.

"There was this exquisite performance by beautiful female entertainers. However, there was this one woman that really stood out. You should have seen her. She was perfect yet somehow broken. I believe that is what attracted me to her."

Sereinia spoke the latter part to an almost whisper as she remembered those eyes that seemed so far off from the world. She released a small sigh and let that thought returned to the back of her mind for now.

"Then, there was this man named Yarun whom I collided accidentally. He asked me to a date as my apology to him."

Sereinia looked at the water behind her once more and watched the fishes swam. The strange encounter with Yarun was not something she could categorized as disrespectful or beyond rude. There was manners with a dash of humor and confidence. Well, she would not see why the man should not be confident. He was quite the looker.

"I thought at first he was you. He has eyes that seemed so red at first glance but when you looked more closely they were rouge pink."

She turned to look at him and had an apologetic expression. Sereinia knew that it was not good to be mistaken as someone else. In addition, she felt like an idiot for assuming the man was Shadow just because of the eyes despite how unique that eye color is.

"I apologize for that." She said and then looked at the sky seeing Sora circling above them.

"I wonder where Mayumi is. She said that she wanted to be alone for awhile. I hope she is fine."

Concern flashed across her eyes of purple as Sereinia thought of Mayumi. She was not being pessimistic but the young girl has this penchant to seek trouble even if it was unconsciously.

"Should we look for Mayumi now, Shadow?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Shadow listened to Mayumi's encounter story and thought about the man with the pink eyes. He'd heard of a few men like that in his life, and one of whom he didn't care to meet in any way shape or form. One such man had tried to pass himself off as Shadow but was killed in public by Shadow after ranting to a paralyzed crowd how he was the Red-Eyed Demon and that they should all fear him and provide him with all their gold and jewelery.

Shadow let those thoughts leave him as Sereinia asked if they should look for Mayumi.

He looked up to Sora in the skies and whistled to her, catching the attention of a few people around them in the process. Sora came down and landed near Shadow on a small perch and Shadow instructed her to find Mayumi. Sora immediately took off into the skies to search for her master.

"We'll wait for Sora to return to us if need be, but I have confidence that Mayumi is alright."

He watched Sora fly away into the night before looking back to Sereinia, his face serious despite the confidence in Mayumi he had displayed.

"... I've been getting a bad feeling lately despite the festivities..." He said quietly.

"I fear that something will happen tonight that will cause much pain, but I don't even know what it is. It could be nothing, but the Gift of the Assassins is not often wrong and I fear that Mayumi's Gift may also be showing her similar visions to mine..." He said as he looked away, his expression darkening.

"...... I hope with all I have that I am wrong about this......" He whispered.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Sereinia looked at the sky as Shadow alerted Sora to go and look for Mayumi's whereabouts. The whistle attracted some of the people near them and she could not blame such honest reactions. She watched the loyal avian fly away until not even a speck on the evening sky could be seen. It would not be hard for Sora to find Mayumi she knows this for certain and soon her attention returned to Shadow who told her that they would be waiting for Sora if needed. He also stated that he has complete confidence in Mayumi. This made her smile as she also shared the same trust. However, if you do care about someone, there will always be worry.

"... I've been getting a bad feeling lately despite the festivities... I fear that something will happen tonight that will cause much pain, but I don't even know what it is. It could be nothing, but the Gift of the Assassins is not often wrong and I fear that Mayumi's Gift may also be showing her similar visions to mine... ...... I hope with all I have that I am wrong about this......"

Standing from her seat, Sereinia walked over where Shadow is. She gently touched his cheek in a manner to soothe his concerns. This is all she could do at the moment. Even if him and Mayumi were thrown into a battle, she could only believe in them and help them afterwards. It was truly frustrating at some situations. She truly wanted to be more of help to the two of them. But all she could do is be there to comfort and to show them great concern when they need or they should have.

"Everything will be fine. It will turn out fine..."

Eyes of purple gazed at Shadow with care and affection. Sereinia removed her hand on his cheek and then held his hands with a comforting smile.

"Whatever happens, I will do everything I can to ease the pain. Do remember, I am a doctor." Sereinia ended her statement with a comforting smile.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Shadow smiled when Sereinia held his hand to comfort him, though it inwardly brought him very little comfort in the end. Whenever Shadow had this feeling before it had led to incredible hardships and pain without fail. The scars had never left nor had they ever healed in any way and so Shadow could not ignore it or brush it off in any way. Though he could put on a brave/indifferent face with the best of them, there was no hiding from his own unconscious mind the pain that he was now expecting.

"You're right..." He said softly.

Seemingly without warning the festivities began in full around them. Fireworks, dancing, music, games and all sorts of exciting forms of entertainment abound as the festival began in full with midnight drawing ever closer. The moon was high in the sky above and nearing its peak to mark the official beginning of the new century 600.

Shadow was somewhat startled by the sudden burst of excitement and had unconsciously taken a step behind Sereinia as he looked at the main source of the sudden burst at the center of town with shock in his eyes. He realized what he had done a moment ago was somewhat childish and almost flushed were it not for his lacking of modesty or near non existent embarrassment. He stepped to the side and cleared his throat.

"... Sorry about that..." He said quietly.

He looked at the gathering of people enjoying the festivities and smiled. The children playing games, the adults enjoying the dancing and music, and even the elderly enjoying some of the less physically demanding games brought a smile to his face.

"... This is what it's all about." He said quietly to himself.

Shadow's entire reason for fighting against Te'i Sai was to prevent anything like what happened to him from happening to anyone else. The sight of people who had never had to experience what he had throughout his life always brought a small smile to his lips. Sometimes it seemed hopeless, given the fact that Te'i Sai was still strong despite everything he'd done to them throughout the last several years that sometimes Shadow just wanted to give it up. However, there was always a good reason for him to continue despite his sometimes lacking motivation and heart.

Almost as soon as they had begun, the festivities came to a rather sudden end as midnight came upon them. There were several people who stood up to give speeches wishing everyone the very best during the new year and the new century. Shadow didn't really care for the speeches, but he did enjoy watching the people around him cheer and enjoy the festivities. Eventually, the people around them began to disperse, clearing the city streets of people until, at that moment, it was just Sereinia and Shadow standing alone. Shadow looked up at the moon, now slightly off center from its peak position indicating that midnight had indeed since passed and the new year had begun in earnest.

Shadow sighed to himself as he closed his eyes and took in the night air.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf

INK

Mayumi watched as the man tried to walk away only to fail miserably.

"Guess they really did a number on me aye Lil Miss?" The man said.

‘This won’t do, he’s too vulnerable and here.’

Mayumi approached him and hauled him onto her back once again. Remembering there was an inn nearby; she made her way there through the shadows of the alleyways just in case those men were still around. Upon reaching her destination, Mayumi climbed up the side of the inn with the injured man on her back and got into a room on the fourth floor of the inn. She set the man on the bed gently and went to lock the door of the room so that no one could get in.

She then climbed back down and went to the lobby of the inn to book the room for 10 days, paying for it before going back to the room, but this time using the stairs. The reason Mayumi did this was because she did not want anyone to see the injured man in case those people who captured him came round asking people if they had seen him.

Mayumi went into the bathroom, emerging a minute later with a towel and a basin of water.

She quickly got to work, placing the basin of clean water on the bedside table and soaking the towel in the lukewarm liquid. She then got to work cleaning the dirt and pas off the man’s top half of the body, but since Mayumi had high pain resistance she had the thought that everyone was the same so she was none too gentle on the scrubbing but not too hard either that blood would start running.

Half an hour later, Mayumi was done and the man was almost sparkly clean but with clean wounds sporting him. She had poured a kind of mixture into the water that would help the broken cells heal at a quicker rate, something she had invented herself some time ago when she was still travelling by herself.

‘Should get Sereinia now.’

She went back into the bathroom with the now dirty water and towel before going back out to view her work. Satisfied she went to the window, an opened it.

“I’ll be back.” She told the man before climbing out the window and up to the rooftop.

Leaping from roof to roof, she felt a gentle breeze on the back of her neck as her loyal companion joined her by her side. Mayumi reached out a hand to ruffle the feathers of her golden eagle.

“Is he calling?” she asked and was answered with a sharp nod.

Following Sora, she found her present Master and Sereinia by a fountain.

“Master you called?”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

There was a lingering sadness that filled Sereinia's heart. In the end, she cannot do that much even towards the people she had identified important to her. Memories of the past flashed within her mind like a silent film. Her eyes of purple seemed to darken even further and the smile present upon her lips appeared to have a tinge of sweet sorrow in them. However, the instant that they came, they had also disappeared without a trace as she gave Shadow a bright smile with her eyes closed happily to provide comfort to the troubled assassin. Despite knowing, she could feel well the calamity of doubt brewing within him and even more inside of her as well. The seed had been implanted and it would just wait for the right time to bloom. If it does, she knew that it will leave her broken that not even her pieces will not be picked. Still, she remained holding his hands.

"...Sorry..."

That word left Sereinia's lips at the same time the sudden explosion of the fireworks and the music echoing through the streets. It drifted without having anyone heard it except for the one who spoke it. The festivities for the new year's celebration had began in full swing. She noticed Shadow taking a step behind him in surprise. It was clear he was startled as his eyes of crimson reflected it clearly. She had a small smile on her lips as a result. A few moments passed before he had concluded that what he had done was rather childish of him in more ways than one. Thus, he apologized.

"You do not have to. I told you before, you can show me what you feel without pretenses."

After delivering that statement, Sereinia released his hands and stepped away from Shadow. She looked at the evening sky as wisps of multicolored lights fell down all over the city. This was quite similar to the firework effect at Triveila. She caught one on the palm of her hand as it changes its colors at an interval. It was like a having a small rainbow in at the one's hand. Innocent adoration flashed across her eyes and childish glee reflected on her beautiful face. Closing her palm, she looked around her and noticed the people enjoying the night so happily and carefree.

Once upon a time, Sereinia was just like them with her family. Then, she began enjoying these festivals halfheartedly. Now, she felt strangely satisfied. The answer must be because of the companions she has with her. She would have a hard time believing in the past that she would be in the company of the infamous Red-Eyed Demon and his student if anyone had told her. Even more, she was spending time with them in festivals. Looking at the moon above, it was officially the start of the New Year. This past year had been truly filled with surprises. She only wished that with this new year it will be a good one. The festive mood continued on until the people began retreating to the respective homes or lodgings to get some well-deserved rest.

"Shadow..."

Calling out to Shadow, Sereinia noticed him enjoying the night breeze with his eyes closed. The music that filled the city had now been reduced silence. At this moment, the only ones present at the fountain was her and him. She approached him and had a thoughtful expression. She had yet to give him a greeting for the new year.

"Happy New Year. I wish you a prosperous one."

Then, Sereinia lightly gave Shadow a kiss on the cheek. This time she did not blushed or felt her heart beating fast. Oddly, she was completely calm and at ease. It was nice to share this event with him and Mayumi. This was her true feelings. She had a gentle smile on her face as she then turned to see that young girl had finally arrived. Her face immediately brighten into happiness upon seeing Mayumi. She went towards the girl and smiled brightly. Noticing a few creases at Mayumi's kimono, she instinctively straightened it without warning.

"Happy New Year, Mayumi." Then, she looked at Sora and did the same. "Happy New Year, Sora. I wished both of you a beautiful year."

However, Sereinia's happy face was replaced with a look of concern. Upon fixing the young girl's kimono, she noticed blood stains which are not obviously seen. A frightening thought entered her mind as the events of that horrifying night replayed in her mind. She immediately checked Mayumi for injuries.

"What happened? Are you hurt anywhere?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

"Master, you called?" Mayumi asked.

Shadow's eyes opened and he looked over at Mayumi and nodded.

"I wanted you to come and enjoy the festivities, though the time for that is now passed."

He looked into her eyes for a moment, gazing passed the simple reflection given off by the black and red eyes which stared back.

"... You have something to tell us Mayumi, don't you?" He asked.

Without warning and before Mayumi could provide an answer Shadow's instincts began to run wild. His eyes widened and suddenly began to glow, sending small rivulets of crimson light forth from his eyes and into the night. He looked around from rooftop to rooftop but he saw and heard nothing. For the moment he thought for certain he'd heard footsteps on the roofing, but right now everything was silent. He backed up towards Sereinia and Mayumi, placing his left arm outstretched protectively in front of Sereinia and his right arm stretched out in front of Mayumi as he continued to listen to the night air for signs of danger.

Looking over his shoulder, he looked at Mayumi.

"... Something is wrong..." He said in a low voice.

"... We should go... Whatever you have to say, you can do so on the way but right now we need to get out of this area." He said as he turned around and placed a hand on Sereinia's shoulder.

"Let's go." He said as he looked to Mayumi to lead them away.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf

INK

Mayumi sensed something odd in the air and her suspicion was confirmed by Shadow's words.

"Let's go." Shadow looked at her.

Understanding the silent instruction, Mayumi ran back the way she had came from earlier while Sora swooped into the air searching for the danger they had felt. Mayumi leapt from roof to roof swiftly back towards the inn making sure Shadow and Sereinia were behind her.

"The blood is not mine. I found an injured man earlier and brought him to an inn." The young girl answered their earlier questions but failed to mention the vision she had in the ruined cottage.

Sora seemed to have spotted something but was unclear of what it was.

It wasn't long till they arrived at the rooftop of the inn. Mayumi jumped off the roof letting herself fall before grabbing on to the window sill of the fourth floor room and swing herself in.

She stood in the room and waited for Shadow and Sereinia to arrive.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Shadow kept a quick pace but noticed that Sereinia was falling behind so he lagged for a second and scooped her up in his arms, dashing faster through the streets once she was safely in his grasp so as to not lose track of Mayumi. She made her way to the rooftops and jumped into the window on the fourth floor, and Shadow quickly used the nearby alleyway to wall jump from wall to wall until he reached the required level and jumped through the window. Sereinia was still in his arms as he did so, narrowly squeezing through with her in his arms but landing softly on his feet without ever bringing her to harm.

Shadow stood up and set Sereinia down as he looked at the injured man in the room, giving him a suspicious glare for a moment before taking the time to look back out the window.

Shadow didn't worry about taking any of the work load for treating his wounds as that was Sereinia's forte, not his. The mans wounds looked infected, being older than most wounds he'd seen in a good long time and it was evident that he had been tortured by his captors given the state of his clothing and his body. Shadow looked back out the window and scanned the area, checking the rooftops and alleyways very carefully before pulling a chair to the window and standing guard.

(sorry for constricting your path again Misdemeanor, but in order for the story to flow smoothly I had to)

Some time went by as Sereinia tended to his wounds, and when she finished Shadow decided that it would be a good idea for him to go out and patrol the area. There were still people about in the streets enjoying private festivities such as burning candles, dancing in front of their homes and singing pretty little tunes to each other. It was peaceful enough at first glance, but the air was heavy to him and his eyes still glowed faintly in the night as his frustration began to rise. He could not longer sit still anymore, and so he stood up and opened the window all the way. He put one foot on the edge of the windowsill, prepared to jump out but he refrained from doing so for a moment as he looked down and saw Taira looking up at him from the street below.

He looked up and turned his head, looking back at Sereinia.

"... Sereinia, if you wish to remain by this man's side then you may do so but I would ask that you think about coming with me. Taira is just outside and she can watch over him while we're gone. Either way I must figure out what's going on out there tonight..."

He looked back out towards the open air of the night as he glanced over at her out of the corner of his eye.

"So will you come with me? I'd feel better if you were close by."

He looked over at Mayumi.

"You're coming with me though, Mayumi. You and Sora will be my eyes above as I walk the streets, understood?" He asked.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: The Royal Knights Of Cre' Est

INK

Sereinia's question was not immediately answered but it was good to see that there were no noticeable external wounds or major sources of blood loss that were apparent to her at the moment. Acquiring this knowledge, she released a sigh of relief. It was at that time Shadow had asked Mayumi if there was something that the girl needed to tell them about. Her eyes reflected her curiosity at this topic and judging by the young girl's appearance, there were a lot of things that had occurred when she had gone out on her own. It was not a lot but the blood speaks to Sereinia particularly loudly. But before the answers could be heard, Shadow was instantly before them and his gestures were of danger and protection.

"Shadow?"

It was a query that Sereinia asked. Unlike Mayumi and Shadow, she could not sense danger or maligned intentions from miles away. The same goes to the people that she interacts with. Unless, she was already in such a perilous situation to begin with. Her nature to believe people wholeheartedly and to give chances always wins against doubts and suspicions. In any case, she was certain that Shadow would act in such a manner if he did not sense something terrible approaching. In which, the memories of that Triveilian night flashed once more inside her mind.

"... We should go... Whatever you have to say, you can do so on the way but right now we need to get out of this area."

Stopping herself about remembering those dreadful events, Sereinia gave Shadow a small nod as her answer. It was then he told Mayumi that they should leave with the young girl in lead. Understanding this, Mayumi ran off to the direction she had come from while Sora began its own search of the danger that the two assassins were feeling. As for Sereinia, she trailed behind two in her best ability. After all, she was not trained like they were or even had an athletic stamina to begin with. Thus, it was clearly she would be left behind as the distance grows larger.

"The blood is not mine. I found an injured man earlier and brought him to an inn."

Hearing Mayumi's answer to her earlier question, Sereinia had mixed emotions. They were in between relief, happiness, concern, and wonder. At the moment, she was not sure how to express all of it without appearing a person with mental illness. So, she simply said one thing that she was certain that she was going to do.

"I will treat him."

After saying that, Sereinia felt Shadow picking her up. It would appear that he had noticed that her speed had yet to be par with the two of them. Honestly, she knew that whatever she does their physical abilities will always be far superior than hers in anyway. There it was again a certain feeling enveloping her once more. She closed her eyes briefly and lowered her head as so that Shadow would not notice her expression. For, she does not know what was her face or eyes were showing about her inner feelings/

"I apologize for the inconvenience."

Sereinia spoke softly as Shadow carried her all the way to the inn where Mayumi had directed them to. The moment her feet touched the wooden floor, Sereinia approached the injured man on the bed. She looked at the man's condition and flinched at the images of his wounds. They were infected despite appearing to be well-cleaned. Looking over her shoulder, her eyes were on Mayumi. She felt a swell of pride at this and gave the young girl a small smile. Afterwards, she returned her attention to the man on the bed. Judging by the damages, he had incurred. It would take a quite some time before he could be considered 100% healthy. For now, she grabbed her portable medical kit inside the obi of her kimono and then looked at her impromptu patient.

"Good evening. My name is Sereinia Lucis Nouralail. You may call me Dr. Nora if you like."

Her voice was calming and soothing. There was also an essence of gentleness in it as she gently dabbed the seen wounds of the man with some painkillers. She would need to cut some of the dead tissues to promulgate the living cells to regenerate. Adding to that, she had noticed an injury to his left leg. It was broken by the looks of it and physically checking his ribs by touching it, she could assessed that 4 ribs were fractured. Fortunately, it had not pierced any organs that may lead to internal hemorrhaging.

"You will be fine, sir. I will make sure of that."

Her eyes deep purple looked at the man along with a sincere and comforting smile. Sereinia was determined to save this man's life. In addition, these kinds of wounds would have incapacitated any person if one had no will to live. As such, she was certain that this man had an important reason to continue living in this world. After saying that, she proceeded her work as tender and efficiently as she could. It was like watching a master craftsman or artist creating a perfect product within a matter of seconds without trouble. Time passes by quietly. Soon, Sereinia was done. All the man needed was proper rest, medication, and nourishment. She would also need to watch over the man since this night would be crucial to him to see if there are other injuries she had missed.

"Your safe now." Sereinia gently said as she placed a hand on the man's forehead.

"... Sereinia, if you wish to remain by this man's side then you may do so but I would ask that you think about coming with me. Taira is just outside and she can watch over him while we're gone. Either way I must figure out what's going on out there tonight..."

He looked back out towards the open air of the night as he glanced over at her out of the corner of his eye.

"So will you come with me? I'd feel better if you were close by."

Looking at Shadow, Sereinia gave a small nod as she removed her hand from the man's forehead. She stood from her position. It is true that she did not want to leave the her patient however, there was something so desperate in Shadow's eyes. If her presence with him could ease him at the very least, she would do so. In addition, it was good to hear that Taira was here to keep an eye on the injured man.

"I will be with you." Sereinia answered with a small smile and then looked at her patient. "Please rest for now. A friend of mine will watch over you. I will come for you again."

With that said, Sereinia brought out a pen and a piece of paper as she wrote down specific instructions for the medical care of the man. She knew that Taira would do her best to follow what she had written. After all, Taira had done the same thing to Mayumi before. Putting it on the nearby table, she then went towards to Shadow as he also told Mayumi that she would be coming with them. Honestly, she wondered what was about to happen on the very dawn of the first day of the year 600. At that time, she had no idea.



"You seemed happy. Did you find something interesting at the town square?"

Solomon inquired as he looked at Yarun who had a very noticeable smirk on his lips and that scheming glint in those rouge pink eyes of his. There was no doubt that the guy had found something entertaining to play with. He already felt very sorry about that person or object who caught Yarun's attention. The reason, it always ends in a very big mess.

"You should have come with me Solomon. I found a very beautiful rose, although; it has not yet bloom."

Yarun said with a tone of pure confidence and a mixture of serious intent. He looked at the evening sky through the several lined stone columns. The events of his encounter with Sereinia replayed within his mind that brought a wide smile on his face. This only made Solomon sigh upon witnessing it. At times, he wondered how such a man became one of the Knights of Cre' Est.

"So unfortunate for me. In any case, the night has yet to end Yarun."

At the mention of that, Yarun sharply looked at Solomon and the atmosphere of carefree grandeur dispersed. It was replaced with a feeling of tension and deadly seriousness. Those eyes of rouge pink glowed briefly.

"Is the Empress and Emperor secured?"

Solomon removed himself from the column he was leaning on and answered Yarun's question. "In our opinion, yes."

Yarun closed his eyes momentarily before opening them again. "Let's go." He casually muttered as he walked passed Solomon. "The hunt has began."

Silver-white eyes followed Yarun's movement and gave a brief nod. Once the man passes him by, he followed without another word. There was the scent of dread blown by the wind towards the capital. It is their duty to ensure that nothing of chaos would come close to the palace or to the citizens of Cre' Est especially on the first day of the year 600.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Lee Hart

INK

Shadow smiled at Sereinia and looked back down to Taira in the streets, nodding to her. Shadow took a moment to remove the formal robes and replace his traditional black jacket and regular pants before Taira entered the room, walking over towards the man whom Sereinia had treated as Shadow himself picked Sereinia up in his arms once more and leaped out of the window. He landed with a light thud in the streets below and set her down. He stood up straight and looked around, taking in the sights and scents around him as he continued to move forward through the streets.

With Mayumi and Sora on the rooftops and in the air, Shadow knew that he was covered as he moved forward cautiously with Sereinia by his side. It wasn't that he didn't trust Taira to protect her, but at the same time he wanted Sereinia close by just in case something went wrong. The closer she was, the faster he'd be able to react and protect her. Her kidnapping last time had forced him to realize this in a manner most unpleasant and he was not in any sort of mood to repeat the same mistake. Shadow's grip on sanity was somewhat questionable, but he was not "insane" by definition. When he made a mistake once, he never made it again.

Slowly and silently he wandered the streets until eventually his ears drew him to a verbal confrontation a short distance away. Shadow peeked around the corner of a building and saw a young woman talking with two men. One of them had just knocked another man out by kicking his legs and hitting him in the forehead. It was interesting that his victim had gone down so easily though, as the forehead was not really a point of instant knockout which meant this man either struck with greater force than Shadow had initially given him credit for, or he'd struck another point without it being noticed which was unlikely since Shadow's eyes rarely missed such details.

He didn't want to get involved, but this night was not about confrontation but celebration so Shadow decided to put his search for whatever was going on in the city on hold for the moment as he approached the trio, signaling to Sereinia to remain at the building corner to wait for him.

He walked forward calmly, speaking in a clear but low voice as he came forward. The moon was in front of him and therefore shining directly into his eyes giving them their distinct red glow in the night against his raven black hair and black outfit. He was certain that, although he'd hidden his identity from the people of the festival thanks to all of the candlelight and torches, he would not be able to hide it from these three.

... However, there was nothing wrong with that now.

"I thought that tonight was about celebration, not confrontation. Is what you have to say really so important that you feel you have to knock someone out to make a point? I would advise the three of you to take a step back from each other and sort this out in a more calm and even manner, or I will have to settle it for you." He said, flashing one of his Twin Daggers by flicking it halfway out of its sheath.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Lee Hart

INK

"Yeah, Jude the thief. Jude the Omega. Jude the Omega of the world's renowned thieves guild - the Wolf Pack. Ring a bell, sunshine?"

Jude? A Wolf Pack member?!

He had to admit it surprised him quite a bit. He wasn't expecting Jude the woman-loving, slightly rude, 'uses people as mattresses to save himself' as a member of the thieves guild. Then there was the other guy who hadn't introduced himself whom had attempted to catch Jude but failed. The thief probably had a much larger bounty on his head than Keito's, so he was a little curious as to why Layla hadn't taken Jude instead of himself. She would've gotten more money for him.

"The night we met with your father. Really, really handsome father, by the way. You should've told me you had such a young and respected parent. I would've brought you in no matter what. Just to be in his good bed- books."

She thinks that jerk is handsome!?

If Layla had let him go, why did she go and see his father, and with Jude along with her? That didn't really make much sense. Maybe it was to tell him that she'd let Keito go, but that would just ruin her record. They didn't meet with him to give him Keito's sword, since Layla still had it with her. Was it simply to tell him that she wasn't going to hunt him anymore? That didn't seem like something Layla would tell someone. If anything they had some plan to bargain with his father that Keito couldn't figure out.

"If it's quite alright with you, I'd like my hand back. You're stronger than you look, short stuff."

"Short stuff?!"

After a few more moments, he received a couple of unexpected blows from Layla and he stumbled backward a little, but quickly regained his stance after she freed himself from his hand.

"Layla!"

And then she screamed and toppled onto the ground, causing many heads to turn in their direction. For a moment he felt concerned for her. She wasn't exactly wearing the best kind of shoes to be running in and he was about to run to her to make sure she hadn't hurt herself. Of course, he was completely wrong.

"Oh, sir. I accidentally bumped into t-that man w-with the dark hair and they...They touched me!"

Keito was shocked.

"T-touched you?!" He blurted out nervously, stopping in his tracks. Before long plenty of the male villagers who had been enjoying the festival started to crowd around Keito and himself.

The green-eyed man acted quickly, even taking out one of the villagers as he started to make his way towards Layla. Was he going to hurt her?

Keito on the other hand, stepped back a little and slightly lifted his hands to show that he wasn't going to draw his weapon. Of course he'd be capable of doing so at any second if he didn't have a choice, but his threatening self from earlier quickly diminished as he searched for a better solution. Taking out a bunch of villagers that he doubted had much fighting experience just didn't suit well with him.

"Now wait a minute! You've got it wrong I wasn--!"

"I thought that tonight was about celebration, not confrontation. Is what you have to say really so important that you feel you have to knock someone out to make a point? I would advise the three of you to take a step back from each other and sort this out in a more calm and even manner, or I will have to settle it for you."

Suddenly the crowd froze and heads began to turn in a different direction, the attention turning to a new figure than had walked towards the crowd, eyes glowing red with the help of the moon's silver rays. There was silence for a few seconds before someone in the crowd screamed, "The red-eyed demon!". There were a few gasps and then the sound of heavy footsteps as the villagers began to run and clear away from the four of them. With the villagers gone, it was much easier for Keito to get a better look at the newcomer as the man showed them his weapons, though did not completely unsheathe them.

Keito slightly narrowed his eyes at the man, lowering his hands without a word. He'd heard of the red-eyed demon before, but never actually believed it. Myths meant absolutely nothing to Keito. Even so, a tall man, dark hair, and red eyes stood in the clearing with them. It wasn't a myth.

He cautiously approached Layla, though made sure to keep his eye on the newcomer as well just in case, and then stopped in front of her.

"My sword, Layla. Where is it?" He asked sternly and calmly, glancing at the red-eyed man once before moving his eyes back onto the bounty huntress.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Lee Hart

INK

#2012-10-01 01:55:03, as written by Layla
Iridescent red eyes.

Siren blinked slowly, her heart wrenching itself from it's socket to smack against her ribcage. Pressing the palms of her hands to her eyes, she wanted to keep them there forever and dissolve into the earth so she'd never have to come back to reality - Reality? What is reality? Siren showed none of the quaking fear she felt to the very core of her being as she pulled her hands from her eyes. Her lids did not widen, didn't do anything but blink as if she were merely staring at the newcomer with severe boredom; she didn't even tremble.

Kill me kill me kill me.

Standing swiftly - with a confidence she no longer had - Siren wished she could blend into the crowds and disappear. Wonderful costume choice, Layla. Just bloody wonderful. Her large silver eyes flicked up the length of the Demon - tall, red-eyed, black - Demon. Siren wanted to scream, gauge her eyes out and shred her throat but she'd never been much good at showing her true emotions, not even when her emotions became all she was. Siren was beyond horrified.

Her heart was the only indication of her absolute terror as it smacked itself against her chest and smashed inwards. It flooded her body with a rush of blood, gushing it through her veins as if it were trying to cleanse her body of what she'd seen. Siren's feet stayed rooted to the ground - sucked in as if skeletal hands from Hell were forcing them down and perhaps they were. Perhaps every fear she'd ever had was reality and reality was not real.

She wished this was not real.

Siren was in a crowded place and she might as well have been all alone in a dark alley with Hell for light for the difference it made. Realising she'd been staring right into those ruby eyes and that she was probably possessed or cursed by now, Siren quickly dropped her pale eyes down to the Demon's feet.

Please, please, please go away.

Siren was a believer of Science but she could not deny the reality of the Creature that stood in front of her. She clenched her hands as tightly as she possible could, letting her nails slice into her skin. Siren wanted to rip a dagger through her arm and hurt. For, perhaps, the pain might overwhelm the horror in the very depths of who she was.

Keito said something to her but none of it registered. Nothing except the Demon was processing in her mind. Who is Keito?

Who am I?


Layla. Run live survive escape you're too small and he's too big run nothing you can do don't be afraid you'll be okay smile put on a show Layla don't let them see you cry lie

Run.


"I am truly sorry for disrupting your festivities," she whispered in her honeyed as she bowed, "Please forgive me."

Slipping out of her shoes - even freedom from those wretched things did not ease any of her despair - Siren pushed back into the crowd

And ran.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Lee Hart

INK

"I'll be right back! Hold this for a moment!"

All of a sudden Keito tossed his bag to Ritsu and, nearly dropping it, she clumsily caught it in her hands.

"K-Keito!", she called, but it was too late. Keito had disappeared into the crowd and she couldn't see him anywhere.

She pushed through the streets with his bag in her arms, letting her eyes scan the crowds for his neat, black hair. With the music, talking, shouting, and sound of constant footsteps, there wasn't much of a chance that he'd hear her if she yelled his name.

That jerk. Running off without a word and leaving me to carry his stuff!

She was a little upset, but curious as well. She wanted to know why he would suddenly run off. Layla was it? She heard him barely whisper the name before running off, but she'd never heard him talk about anyone by the name of 'Layla' before. To be honest, Keito never talked about anyone and rarely even talked about himself. They'd been traveling together for five months now, and he'd even stayed in her village for a majority of that time, but she still barely knew anything about him. Whenever she did ask him about his past, he always found some way to avoid the question. He was a complete expert at it!

She wandered around for a bit and spent maybe fifteen minutes or more searching for him, but she couldn't find him anywhere. By now she was getting tired of looking.

Maybe I should just head back to the Inn and wait for him there..

For a moment she felt like she was the only one walking up this part of the street, while everyone else looked to be in quite a hurry to go the opposite direction. But, being the slightly clueless person that she was, she didn't put much thought into it and continued in the direction she was going.

When she turned the corner into the clearing, she felt another body hit against hers and she toppled backwards and landed roughly onto the stone beneath her. Keito's back dropped and rolled a couple of feet to her right and she sat up, rubbing the lower, right side of her hip where she landed hardest as she looked up to see who she had run into.

Ritsu's eyes widened for a second. It was a very beautiful young woman with hair that looked almost white and perfectly fair skin. She was also dressed in a very decorative, and most likely very expensive kimono. She stared in awe for a little while before jumping up from where she was sitting with an apologetic expression on her face.

"I'm so sorry! I didn't see you there and I wasn't watching where I was going! Are you alright I'm so sorry! You're not hurt are y-- Keito?"

A little further back she saw Keito standing with another man a little closer to him. Turning her head, she also realized there was another man, much taller and more muscular than Keito was, but that's not what really caught her attention. The man had the most memorizing glow to his ruby eyes. It was an eye color she'd never seen before, but they were beautiful in a way. Blinking a couple of times to stop herself from staring, she looked back down at the woman she'd run into and held out her hand to help her up.

"I'm sorry about that." She said with an apologetic smile, then looked up at Keito.

"What's going on here?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

INK

Mayumi had cleaned up and changed into a black sleeveless mini kimono while Sereinia tended to the injured man. She had disposed off her old clothes for it showed the scars on her torso. She used to display the scar as a reminder of her previous master but now could no longer do so with the addition of the other two scars given by 'that man'.

Putting on her onyx metal guards and toeless boots, she headed back out into the room.

"You're coming with me though, Mayumi. You and Sora will be my eyes above as I walk the streets, understood?" He asked.

"Yes master."

With that, they headed out. Mayumi went through the rooftops with Sora above her covering a bigger area searching for the danger they both felt. Their teamwork flawlessly carried out as if they were one. Half way through the search, Mayumi noticed Shadow stop to speak with a trio. His voice alone seemed to have made everything around him freeze. The silver haired girl wondered what Shadow could have said to make everyone stop and stare at him. Mayumi put her search on hold and watched the interesting development around Shadow from the rooftops.

Sora noticing Mayumi had stopped searching swooped down and landed on her shoulder. Joining her in watching the little show below.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli

INK

The information which the woman had just given him couldn't have been more unwelcome than at this very moment. Jude had just barely been saved by his captors by the young women, only to have the target on his back to increase exponentially. The Red Eyed Demon?... Well ain't that just great! Not only am I a member of the most infamous thieves guild in Cre' Est the Wolf Pack who have been regularly hunted down by the Assassin's of Te'i Sai, I am now MARKED as a friend of The Red Eyed Demon... Great... just great. Sighing Jude looked down at the cane he was holding in his hands and his legs, his legs which would be unable to carry him if not for the assistance of that cane. Jude could just as easily stay in the inn for a while longer but knowing how the Assassin's of Te'i Sai were, how they hunted and killed so many of his "brothers" he knew he couldn't stay there, not for one more lingering moment. If I am to be hunted by them again I will have to be constantly on the run... Guess my life has become interesting once again, Father.

"Thank you for being honest with me love... Guess that if I am going to be associated with the man I may as well seek him. We shall meet up with them then... For me to thank them and to get out of here... Oh, and don't worry love. I might not look it at the moment but I can handle myself... even with just this cane." With that said Jude walked down to the floor of the inn, grabbing some food and some money from some unwilling patrons. If I am going to be hunted I can't be going out on an empty stomach... or without any money... Not like these people needed it, if they did they would've made better sure that they would be able to keep hold of it. After eating Jude and the woman left the inn, in search for The Red Eyed Demon.

"Hope he isn't as the stories say he is... Don't want to be killed anytime soon you know." He said this jokingly but he knew that the very fact of who he was seeking out that was actually a very high possibility. But right now he had to gamble on the demon, being a monster himself he couldn't be picky about whom he worked with to keep himself alive. I would trade my soul if it would grant me freedom... Heh, what a funny concept. To sell your soul to the devil to be forever damned and imprisoned by him to gain freedom... That is a laugh.

The Streets of Cre' Est

The night air was something which Jude had missed, the freshness and the very smell of the night. It is one hell of a thing to be free... I won't become imprisoned again... I rather die than to lose my freedom. Jude and the woman hadn't traveled that long before they heard the sound of commotion. Judging by the sounds of the crowd it was most likely because of the man himself, The Red Eyed Demon. I'm glad to know there are some people in this world more sought out and hunted down than me... I wonder if it is bad to feel that way? Following the sounds of the crowds Jude began to walk as fast as he could towards them, only to see someone he hadn't had planned to meet again. His muse and his bane, Layla.

As her beautiful figure began running towards them, snow blonde hair flowing as she ran, Jude began to remember the nights they shared together. He didn't know why she was there or why she was running, all he cared about was that she was there. Jude could've lived without her in his life, correction he could exist without her in his life but he couldn't live. No matter how she felt about him at that moment Jude needed to get something from her, something he knew that she would have on her if he knew her at all. As her figure ran near him he saw that she had been bumped into by a young girl. Odd girl... beat me to it I guess... Will have to find another way too... never mind. Jude walked towards them with his cane in his hands, looking down at her Jude took her hand, bringing her to her feet. Placing his hand on her back, feeling the fabric in between his fingers. Haven't changed a bit have you Layla?

"Well isn't this strange... I didn't think I would meet you again like this... or this soon... Did you miss me love?" He questioned her but she didn't seem to recognize him right away, or she didn't want to realize that it was him. Grinning Jude bowed, taking the top hat on his head off as he did, revealing his longer unkempt black hair. He then lifted the eye patch, uncovering his golden eye.

"Ain't this a serendipitous situation... Right Layla?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli Character Portrait: Lee Hart

INK

There was something incredibly off about Layla. She didn't answer him after he asked her the location of his sword. She didn't even look at him, or give him a smirk or a smart remark. She just continued sitting there, completely frozen. Could it be the presence of this 'Red-eyed man'? Sure, the glowing eyes did throw Keito off a little bit, but it's the aura that the man gave off that let Keito remind himself to keep a cool head. That man had far more experience than Keito, and by simply looking and measuring the confidence level the man had, it was better to stay away from him.

Suddenly Layla picked herself up off the ground and turned to run, leaving her shoes behind. She looked terrified, not like the Layla Keito knew at all. The snow-haired woman didn't get very far before a familiar figure turned the corner and collided with her, causing them both to fall back onto the stone.

Of course the red-head instantly became quite flustered and apologetic, repeating the words 'I'm Sorry' to Layla a few times before even stopping to figure out the situation.

"Keito?"

"Ritsu?"

"What's going on here?"

To be honest, Keito wasn't exactly sure himself anymore. All he wanted was to confront Layla and get his weapon back, but then the green-eyed man showed up, and Layla went and caused a scene, which seemed to be something she was too good at doing, and then a few moments later the man with the red eyes showed up. A simple confrontation turned into a real head-splitter in just a few minutes. He glanced over at the red-eyed man for a moment before walking over to stand beside Layla where she sat and picked up his bag to make sure all of his belongings were still inside. He pulled the string and peeked inside, glad to see his clothes still intact and in their original place. Knowing Ritsu, she probably wouldn't notice of some stranger decided to stick their hand in and take something. He tied the bag shut again and threw the strap over his left shoulder and adjusted it so the bag sat comfortable behind his shoulder.

"It's a little hard to expla--"

Layla was pulled to her feet by the hand of a stranger, though a stranger whose voice sounded all too familiar and who spoke to the woman with the up most causality in his tone. Of course, there was also the fact that he pulled her in close and placed his arm around her. Who else would do that to a complete stranger besides the one and only Jude? Still, the thief looked pretty ridiculous in his new attire.

"Ain't this a serendipitous situation... Right Layla?"

"Jude? What the..what are you wearing? You like you were just trampled by a heard of elephants and then stole clothes from some old homeless man you just picked up of the street." In truth, he probably could've looked worse, and in even more truth he didn't really look horrible either, but Keito hadn't exactly forgiven him for landing on top of him that day. "Or did you just loose a bet?"

So now the hunt for his sword turned into even more trouble for him.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli

INK

#2012-10-01 10:42:39, as written by Layla
"Layla!" he shouts, his feet shuffling across the floor boards. The door pounds against the wall as he steps in, like an angry palm against a tight drum. I pull the thin sheet tighter around myself and I wish I was brainless furniture. My father crushes himself on top of me, I struggle beneath his weight.

But I am too small and he is too big and there is nothing I can do.

Sitting up, he presses all of his heaviness into the knee on my chest, choking my lungs and crushing my flesh. He rips my hair and there is the smack of bones on wood. He jerks his shoe deep into my gut and a heavy pain spreads from my stomach. I croak pitifully and he stomps on my body before breaking my skull on the ground. For a moment, there is a blissful oblivion and I could bury myself in the emptiness forever but forever never lasts. My mind roughly awakens me to my father's puffy red eyes and his alcoholic breath - acidic, bitter, broken.

"I wish you died." His sizzling tears burn through my skin.

I wish I did, too.

There's the pounding of a door returning to it's place and the click of a lock pulling shut. I'm left alone in the darkness of my small and tarnished room - like me - with shadows for company. The eerie figures creep over the surface of the boxed walls, threatening to bury me alive. I tremble and pray that Demons do not come for father says they drag the souls of bad children to hell. He says I am the worst of them all.

Red eyes watch from the window high above the ground. "Saya," I whisper as my black cat lands gracefully next to me.

Tomorrow I will find her impaled to the floor next to me with my father's carving knife, with holes where her beautiful ruby eyes used to be, soaking in our blood.


"I'm so sorry! I didn't see you there and I wasn't watching where I was going! Are you alright I'm so sorry! You're not hurt are y-- Keito?"

The sweet voice brought Siren back to the present - How did I end up on the ground? Iridescent eyes the colour of blood embedded itself in Siren's mind. Her heart began to race again, panicking when she realised she most likely lost time. A million different escape routes nudged at her consciousness, all of which were futile against a Demon.

A warm, large hand held Siren's and pulled her effortlessly to her feet. Another rested on the small of her back. She pressed her small waist further back against the hand behind her, clutching the other. Somehow the hands felt familiar and safe. But for the life of her, she could not place her finger on why she felt so protected touched by them. Siren wasn't so terrified of the Demon then, for even if she did die, at least she would not die alone.

"Well isn't this strange... I didn't think I would meet you again like this... or this soon... Did you miss me love?"

Siren froze, her hand, bloodied from her sharp nails, holding onto the man's tighter. The voice was low and raspy, a voice that squeezed her heart in a longing and painful way. She raised her head, looking up at the large man who towered over her. A patch covered one eye but the other had a completely black iris. He was handsome, though - broken. She didn't wish to think about it but the man looked so much like...

The tall man pulled off his cap and lifted his eye patch to reveal an intense, lovely eye of pure gold. Siren wanted to cry.

"Ain't this a serendipitous situation... Right, Layla?"

A soft squeal escaped her lips - I'm a stupid fangirl - and then she wept without tears. Her small body shaking with an agony she could not spill from her eyes as she reached up to run her fingers through his hair. It grew.

"Jude? What the..what are you wearing? You like you were just trampled by a heard of elephants and then stole clothes from some old homeless man you just picked up of the street. Or did you just loose a bet?" Keito's voice asked. Siren sobbed louder, half laughing as she touched his messy hair. He could've been wearing a potato sack and he still would've looked ridiculously handsome to her. But Keito was right - he did look homeless.

"You look terrible," she managed to say, her voice breaking from her sobs. She trailed a finger over the familiar scar on his face, then down his neck and chest. He had so many more scars, some weren't even healed. Each new mark on his body felt like another explosion beneath her skin. "What did you do?"

Gripping his dark hair, Siren pulled his lips towards hers and just before they touched - she punched him across the face.

"Yoooouuu sonofabitch! Holy mother of God I could've been pregnant and you pointed a gun at my head. How could you do that to me? I trusted you! Youyouyou you should be a woman, yet your beard will not let me interpret you as such!"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Lee Hart Character Portrait: Aiden Syr Teodry

INK

Shadow watched as the young woman ran off, but chuckled to himself when she ran into the girl with red hair and was picked up by, oddly enough, the same man whom Sereinia had taken care of back at the inn. Shadow looked back to where Sereinia was and sure enough, there was Taira, smiling over at him and shrugging her shoulders. Shadow shook his head and smiled, knowing full well the kind of stubborn toughness that the man was displaying. When the young woman punched him in the face, Shadow laughed out loud a little bit. It wasn't overbearing or obnoxious in any way, in fact it was genuine and almost warm given the fact that he had shown his weapons to them earlier which surprised him a little bit.

However, his laughter faded as his eye caught sight of something very disturbing.

On the rooftop just to his left appeared a dark figure clad in dark grey armor with the red insignia of the Assassins of Te'i Sai on his chest. The armor was limited to his forearms, shins and upper chest, but that was typically all they needed. He knew from the outfit that they were part of the Vanguard Class of Assassins from Gweynura and that they were here for him which was not new but he hadn't seen them in some time. Then, all around him and the others on the rooftops and in the alleyways, more Assassins appeared until their numbers broke thirty in total. Shadow looked around slowly, turning in a circle as he watched them appear one by one as Shadow slid his right leg forward a bit to take a more active and defensive posture.

One of them, obviously the one in charge, walked right up to Shadow. He held no weapons and wore no armor, but was dressed in dark grey robes with the same red insignia on his chest and in the middle of his back as he approached. His expression was calm, but there was no hiding the slight hint of fear in his eyes and in his stride as he approached Shadow who's eyes were glowing yet brighter with every step he took.

"... Red-Eyed Demon..." He said quietly.

"What do you want here in Cre' Est?" Shadow asked.

"... Blood." Came a short answer as in a flash he had a hidden dagger exposed and lunging for Shadow.

Shadow turned his body to the side and easily avoided the attack as he grabbed the man's wrist, twisted it until it popped, and flipped him over his body and threw him hard into the ground. As Shadow stood up from the maneuver there were crossbows aimed at him which let fire. Shadow whirled around with blades extended and smashed each bolt fired at him away like nothing more than flies. Another flew at him from the rear and he spun around and split it down the middle as it flew at him, even cutting through the metal tip with his Orichalcum forged blades as he waited patiently for the next attack.

It came from all sides though, as innocent people from the streets had been gathered and thrown into the fray. Herded like sheep to create chaos in the pen as they unleashed the dogs within, the people ran about trying to find ways to escape this death trap. Some of the Assassins who were not guarding streets or rooftops to block escape ran in and started to attack. They didn't just attack Shadow though, they attacked everyone else in sight as well. While the majority of them focused on the Red-Eyed Demon, there were those who attacked Keito, Lee, Siren, Jude, Mayumi on the roofs and Taira in the street below.
Though they didn't fight to kill these other individuals, they did fight to cause damage.

Lee and Keito were knocked off their feet and pummeled on the ground for about fifteen seconds before they were then left alone in favor of the Assassins attacking Shadow instead. Taira held her own and protected Sereinia a short distance away as Mayumi dealt with her attackers on the rooftops. Siren and Jude were attacked as well, the two of them both receiving a small beating for about ten to fifteen seconds which undoubtedly felt like a lifetime before they too were then abandoned in favor of attacking Shadow.

Shadow himself had cut down a few of the other Assassin who'd come his way and as the crowd around him began to gather and grow there suddenly came a horrible and feral shriek from the center of the mass. The attacking Assassins all froze, as did everyone in earshot at the horrible and almost primeval cry that echoed forth into the night. Suddenly, there was a tremendous splash of blood that erupted forth from the center of the mass and a head flew one way while the arms and body flew another. The mass around Shadow began to back away and separate slightly as Shadow became visible once again. Both his daggers were held high, dripping from top to bottom in blood as his eyes were now wide open. Pure white eyes with red spheres in the center. There weren't any pupils to be seen, just two glowing, blank red spheres within the whites of his eyes as he smiled wickedly at his attackers.

Shadow came forward very quickly, faster than he had ever been seen to move before and horizontally slashed the belly of the nearest Assassin open with his left dagger while almost simultaneously slashing it open vertically with his right dagger. The effect opened up his stomach and the innards of the man fell before him into the cobblestone streets as he looked down to see his own entrails. Shadow lowered his stance and looked up into the startled Assassins eyes as he suddenly smiled once more and slashed his throat. Blood slowly trickled from a wound that encircled his entire neck before his head fell off ever so slowly. Shadow's head mirrored the effect as he leaned his head in the same direction as he watched it fall.

Shadow looked up and stood up straight, very, very slowly. He smiled at the crowd of innocent people and at the Assassins and other onlookers as he slowly lowered his stance and prepared to attack once more. Pandemonium ensued with Assassin and innocent alike running in all directions to escape the fury which had just been unleashed as Shadow instantly dove into the fray.

Taira shoved Sereinia into a nearby building and shut the door as quickly as she could, getting Sereinia out of Shadow's line of sight so that she would not become a target as she withdrew her own daggers and prepared to fight her master if need be.

Shadow was now on a full out killing spree. An old man ran by his left side and Shadow slashed the tendons in the back of his right leg to cripple him. Brought to his knees, the man begged the unreachable Red-Eyed Demon for his life but Shadow simply smiled at him and slashed his throat. A child ran by Shadow's right side, and Shadow knocked the boy to the ground and stomped on his neck, snapping it almost instantly as he slowly wrenched his foot from right to left on the boy's neck. A woman and her husband tried to escape by running behind him but Shadow kicked them both down at the same time and slashed their throats such that the other's blood spilled across their lover's faces. The last image they saw was of the love of their lives dripping with their blood before they fell into death's embrace.

Shadow's next target was Keito, the youth whom Shadow had known was there for a reason but never found out before the chaos ensued. Not that it mattered to him in his present state of course. Shadow ran forward and knocked the boy to the ground, stomping on his chest for all his worth and sending a crack through his breastbone from top to bottom. Though it didn't crack all the way through the bone, it would none the less be a very painful injury for several days until the bone repaired itself. Shadow picked him up and threw him against a nearby building wall and unleashed a volley of attacks again the boy even well after he was knocked unconscious by Shadow's attacks. Using the butt end of the handles as his weapons, he beat the poor boy senseless and let his body fall slowly to the ground.

Shadow whirled around and his eyes landed on Taira, who was standing in the middle of the street with her daggers drawn and her stance proving she was ready to fight.

Shadow's smile widened and his teeth now bared as he ran at Taira full speed. She had dealt with this once before in the past, but it was a near death experience for her then and she fully expected it to be so now too as Shadow ran at her. She apologized to her master mentally before she twitched to her right and threw a kick at Shadow as he aimed to slash her throat. The kick landed on the side of his stomach and slipped off to the side, knocking him off balance just enough so that his blade missed its target, but Shadow was able to recover very quickly as he stopped and turned to face her again. Master and student squared off as they began to fight, blades clanging together and sweat and blood mixing in the night air around them as they continued their struggle.

Amazingly, Taira's training during the last several years had improved to the point where she was able to hold her own against him. While he got the better of her in most of their engagements, Taira was able to recover and continue the fight for over three minutes before she finally hit the ground and could not get back up. She breathed hard, gasping for breath as she tried to reach for one of her daggers but Shadow stomped on her hand, causing her to cry out in pain as he lowered his body to look her in the eyes. His smile was otherworldly as he tilted his head to the side almost as if to taunt her with "is that all you've got?".

Shadow stood up and stepped off of her hand, but rather than continue reaching for the dagger she withdrew her hand and brought it to her chest. Cringing in pain and fright, Taira slowly looked up at her master as he raised the dagger in his right hand and prepared to bring it down right through the top of her head as a new figure appeared in the streets just behind him and a new and angelic voice rang out into the night.

The voice was as close to that of a goddess as one could get, with the woman singing the words walking out of the darkness and gazing calmly at Shadow with a gentle smile on her face. Had she a pair of wings, one could indeed swear that they had seen an angel rise from the depths and darkness of Hell and ascend to Heaven before their very eyes as she sang her melancholy song. When listening to the lyrics, it was very easy to tell they were designed to subconsciously grab and keep Shadow's attention.

Whisper to the darkness, eyes of red upon me...
In this hour of evil, peering through the night...
Blackened clouds now churning, eyes of red upon me...
Eyes of red upon me, eyes of red upon me...

(Song's tempo increases on the first three syllables and slows on the latter three)

Aching hearts do witness, suffering through the night...
Brought to bear before me, the scars and pain within...
In this hour of evil, a truth will be revealed...
Aching hearts do witness, the Shadow of my heart...

(Change in style with a higher pitch, volume and intensity of the notes with a brighter and almost happy melody. The final line sees a constant decline in tempo until the final words slowly fade in volume to nothing at the end)

Crimson orbs now floating, eyes of red upon me...
Come to me my dearest, I'll take your hand in mine...
Crimson orbs do focus, eyes of red upon me...
Come to me my dearest, I'll take your hand in mine...


As she sang the song the Demon's attention was completely focused on her. He had approached her with blades drawn, but she had shown absolutely no fear or apprehension with her approach. As her melody continued towards the end, Shadow's eyes slowly returned to normal as the strange, Demonic presence within him slowly faded to nothing and his body relaxed at last.

This new arrival reached out to him with her right hand, that same gentle smile on her face and Shadow took her hand in his after sheathing his daggers. He looked out behind him, grimacing at what he had done as he closed his eyes tightly and clenched his fist. Roda I'l Lousta had indeed taken hold, and despite his best efforts during the battle he had not been able to avoid the attack which started it all.

Looking back it was almost surreal.

When the gathering crowd of Assassin had attacked him Shadow saw a particular attack coming in but did nothing to stop it. Though he could easily have brought it to a stop, for some reason his body did not react to what his mind was telling it and the knife edge which came at him had given him a cut across the upper chest through his shirt. That one cut was all it took to mix the scent of his own blood with that of those who were around him and after that point, Roda I'l Lousta became inevitable. Looking around, though the carnage was miniscule compared to what it had been in the past it was still no easier to bear. Shadow looked at the new mystery girl with pain in his eyes as she slowly placed her hand on his face and smiled at him.

"You must be exhausted..." She said quietly as she retracted her hand.

Shadow shook his head and looked at the carnage he had wrought with the streets now painted red with the blood of his victims as he let out a sigh.

"No... Not exhausted..." He said quietly as he looked at Taira, who was now lying on her back holding her hand with her eyes closed and a small smile on her lips.

Shadow walked over to her and helped her to her feet as the new girl trailed closely behind. Taira nodded to the new girl, and received a nod in return. Shadow looked around, glancing at the faces of those who were still conscious and looking at them with pain and sadness in his eyes. He would have apologized, but there was nothing to be said now. Instead, Shadow simply asked Taira to fetch Sereinia while he looked up to the rooftops where Mayumi stood and signaled her to come down.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Linde

INK

#2012-10-02 02:15:42, as written by Layla
Thud.

Siren blinked, confused, before she began to fall. What the bloody hell? Just as she was falling a wicked dagger shot out at her, Siren quickly flipped to the side midair before grabbing her attacker's hand to balance herself. She kicked her right leg against the man's neck, causing him to crash into the ground. A sharp pain spiked into her left shoulder as a sword impaled itself in it. Eyes wide, she grabbed the handle and pulled it out without a second thought - a reflex and a mistake - a blinding pain imploded in her shoulder before blood shot from the wound. When she could see again, she noticed the chaos around her and the figures clad in grey armour, the red markings of the Assassians of Te'i Sai very much clear. Well, damn.

The Assassin she'd knocked down impaled a sword through her thigh. She gasped, doubling over before ripping the sword out - what the heck, I'm already bleeding. "That was... A really," she said slowly, panting from the pain and from the effort it too to parry the incoming attacks with her double swords. Now weapons she could use, "Expensive dress."

Several more blows were landed on her but she managed to not have any of her vital organs skewered or her pretty head decapitated - good enough. Glancing briefly over at Jude, she pulled her hand back and threw her sword at an Assassin who very nearly sliced the already injured man's throat clean. That probably wasn't very smart - one handed swords were not her strong point. Just as she was about to worry, the Assassins who'd been so focused on her moved towards a figure in the centre. No, not a figure -

A fountain of blood.

Figures rammed into her, screaming as if they'd just seen a Demon. Oh Goddess, please, no. No, no, no! Pure red eyes glowed in the world of red. Siren's body went numb as her eyes - hypnotised - stared, unmoving, at the Red-eyed Demon.

"He'll kill us all!"
"Please! Help me and my baby!"
"Daddy?"
"Siren..."


As if a bucket of water had just been poured over her head, Siren was roughly jerked from her trance. She found herself standing near the Fountain of Blood. So close to the Demon, she could smell the madness and death on It - how did I get here? She looked down at the person who'd called her name - she met soft brown eyes. No, eye. The other had been pulled from its socket. The dark skinned girl with the curly hair looked up at her, an arm and a leg nowhere to be found.

Evi.

Siren did not scream, did not even blink. She merely stared into the eye of her bloodied friend.

"Siren..." Evi croaked. "Good- Good to see you still... Have it in you."

"Evi?" Siren asked, confused. "What happened?"

"Think the red-eyed demon got a little... Carried away," she mumbled, laughing weakly. "Hey, Siren. I love you."

Siren watched as tears streaked down her huntress' cheeks, mixing with the thick blood her empty socket was oozing. "I love you, too, Evi," she managed, running a gentle hand over her best friend's curly hair. It was madness and stupidity combined, Siren sitting there while the Demon was on a killing spree - but at that moment, strangely enough, the only thing Siren was terrified of was losing her dearest friend. "You'll be okay. We'll -" a sob interrupted her words. How can I lie? "Patch you up at the Lion's Den and you'll be as good as new. Then you can laugh at me while I drink from a barrel that's about three times my size. Right, Evi?" she asked, half laughing and half crying.

"Sure, Layla," Layla? "Sure. Afterwards we can go hunting together. Every weekend like we used to, right? I can't believe you... Left for... Months..."

"Hey, Evi. Wake up." Layla urged, smacking her friend's face gently. Her remaining eye stared up, right through Siren, to the red lanterns glowing above. The lanterns remained bright and untarnished, as if Hell were not below it. A tear fell on Evi's dark cheek - then another and another until her entire face was covered in a salty mix of blood and water. "Evi, wake up. Wake up!"

Layla was shaking her friend desperately now, her white hair soaked in red from the blood around her - it's raining blood. She called for her friend over and over, until her honeyed voice was not honey but the bitterness of desperation. Her cries were loud and tortured, a horrible sound that echoed throughout the chaos and war - in which the Demon had all the weapons and no one else had any - for that was the voice Layla was gifted with. A voice that could be heard even in a time of utter despair. What did it matter, though, for right now and possibly forever, Layla's voice was Despair. It was not the quiet crying, the free fall of tears under clear rain. This was a horrible, heart wrenching sound - the type that made you hyperventilate with the intensity of it all, the type that felt like they would never end - under a rain of blood.

Tears fell from her silver eyes until there were no more tears left. Evi. Evi, the closest friend she'd ever come to having since Elina. Now they were both gone.

Gone, gone, gone, gone.

Eyes unfocused, she glanced up briefly to find Keito in a crumpled heap - his bones sticking out of places it shouldn't have, blood seeping from every pore in his skin. Layla's eyes were unseeing, yet they took in every inch of every surface, every broken body with their broken sounds.

A voice was singing.

Layla wrapped herself around Evi, holding her tall, beautiful, dark-skinned sister with her missing limbs as if she were a temple of tranquility in an otherwise hopeless world. Layla rested her head, with it's soft snowing hair and empty, silver eyes on the motionless body that now held a part of Layla's soul. A part of her was gone - gone with Evi to wherever dead people went.

It was a part of her she would never get back.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Linde

INK

Layla's reaction didn't take Jude by surprise, he in fact had expected her to hit him. I guess I deserved that... but from the circumstances they were faced with at that moment I believe I am justified... But there is no reasoning with this girl. Although small in stature Layla was able to throw a decent punch, which had caused Jude to stagger a bit. This was not because of the punch but because of his leg which currently wasn't healed properly yet, he tried to hide his wounds enough that she wouldn't notice. No need for her to know about it... She might start getting all emotional on me. Using his cane to keep himself up, in response to her questions Jude gave her a slight tap on the head with the end of his cane.

Jude had noticed that Keito was there also, a fact which had surprised him at first. He didn't know why he was there or why anyone was really there but all that really mattered was that they were back together. However despite the time spent away from each other Keito still seemed to be quite annoyed at the sigh of Jude. I just fell on top of him once... some people would die for just being able to touch me... I don't understand young guys anymore. He gave him a wave with his cane to show that he had seen him, hoping to talk to him later. Jude then turned his gaze back towards Layla, running his free hand through her snow blonde hair.

"Sorry I worried you love... I might tell you exactly why I did everything but for now I don't believe this is the time or place for it... Hope you can wait." Before she could do anything to reject his statement Jude had wrapped his free arm around her waist, pulling her into his body. Jude may have missed most of the festival but at least he got to see Layla in a beautiful traditional dress, which showed off her hourglass figure. He lowered his head down on to her shoulder, kissing her neck as he did. He knew it was one of her weak spots, one of the many he had discovered after the many nights they spent together.

"I wouldn't do anything to hurt you... you know that. And if you were pregnant I guess we would have to settle down wouldn't we..." Lifting his head from her shoulder Jude leaned his head against her forehead. "...Good thing you aren't right... Right?"

Their moment together didn't last long, it seemed as if the night held many more surprises for the two of them and those around them. Because of his years being hunted Jude had gained high awareness to those around him, he can even pick up the slightest scent of killing intent, and he could smell it all around them. On the rooftops, amongst the crowds of people, everywhere, and they were circling in the area around them. I don't know who they are... but anything like this isn't good... not good at all... We have to get out of here. Holding Layla by her waist and with his cane in hand Jude began to walk towards the nearest exit he could find that didn't have any killing intent coming from. They had made it to a small alleyway before Jude saw a man clad with grey armor and with a red insignia he knew all too well. The Assassin's of Te'i Sai...

It had been years since he had been face to face with an assassin, back to the night that his father was murdered in cold blood by one. Just as soon as he noticed the man chaos had been unleashed in the surrounding area, the Assassin's of Te'i Sai had begun to act. Suddenly the assassin struck Layla in the leg with a dagger. Before Jude could approach the man to Jude was attacked by another assassin wearing the same armor as the other. Using the cane in his hands Jude struck the assassin underneath his chin, staggering him a bit. His victory however was short lived, being forced back by the assassin and two others, forcing him to the ground where they continually attacked him. So much for being able to take care of myself... I should've stayed back at the inn. His wounds began reopening, blood streaming all over his body. The side of his head was kicked heavily, causing Jude to cough up blood. The assassin he had beaten into the ground had then mounted Jude, giving him back what he had done in spades. After what seemed like a lifetime Jude's assailants had left him, leaving him bleeding on the ground. Not good enough another second for you bastards? Am I that weak to you... One day... one day I will become the wolf who will bite the head off your organization... You will see... You will regret that you didn't kill me when you had the chance.

The group who had been antagonizing them though had redirected their attention towards The Red Eyed Demon, who seemed to be fairing off better than anyone else in the area. Scratch that... he was creating a fountain of blood all around him. But the only thing which can slay such monsters are either monsters themselves or demons, that man was the latter. He was relentless and ruthless, his actions were precise but Jude felt something coming off of him, a strange blood lust that he had never seen before in his life. Blood filled the streets as assailant after assailant fell to the man's hands. Good thing to know that I am not on his hit list...

The Red Eyed Demon began to lose himself though, he no longer just attacked the assassin's, he had begun to attack innocents all around him. The street was painted red by the blood shed by his hands, Jude only noted a few who had fallen to The Red Eyed Demon but it was enough. An elderly gentleman, a young child, actions which seemed despicable to anyone. But it was when he had brutally attacked Keito that Jude had finally lost himself, consumed by his own emotions Jude tried to stand to attack the man, but was wise enough to stay down. He knew he couldn't win in his state and judging by the man he himself wasn't in control of his actions. But that alone did not sway his hatred of the actions. Jude would've turned his eyes way but he couldn't, something deep inside him desired to be apart of it, to become a monster. Shaking his head he shrugged the idea from his mind, but he couldn't shake the grin that appeared on his face. All that blood... heheh... I would bathe in it. Jude's golden eye seemed to glow eerily, whether it did or not however is unknown.

Suddenly something close to a miracle had happened, amongst the hell and blood which surrounded them Jude could've sworn he saw pure white wings and a voice of an angel, singing a song to soothe The Red Eyed Demon. And is seemed to have worked, Jude no longer felt the strange blood lust from him anymore, it seemed as if the man had become the eye in his very own storm of blood and hell. He watched the man as he continued on, and the scene which was surrounding him. Standing up with much difficulty he walked towards Layla who was holding her dear friend in her arms, sobbing as she did so. Leaning down Jude wrapped his arms around her shoulders to try and comfort her. I couldn't do anything for you... I am useless... I will never let you feel pain like this ever again... I swear it.

Looking towards The Red Eyed Demon he stared the man straight into his red eyes. This is the man I have to bet my existence on?... Guess Lady Luck isn't smiling on me today.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli

INK

Layla punched the thief right in the cheek with an angry force. Even Keito flinched a little at the thought of that being his own cheek. Whatever the guy did to anger her, he probably deserved it, even though Keito had wanted to be the first to punch him when he met with him again. Despite the slightly uncomfortable reunion, Keito heard the sound of a laugh behind him and he turned a little to see who it had come from only to realize it was the red-eyed man. The sound made Keito smile a little, but that didn't last very long when the red-eyed man stopped laughing and he suddenly seemed very alert.

Within just a few seconds, the were surrounded, the red insignia of Te'i Sai seen on each one of them. He tensed, slowly moving his hand up to the handle of his sword. He didn't draw it just yet, but he made sure to be ready if any of them attempted to attack. Keito narrowed his eyes, letting them scan over each of the men that surrounded them, then they moved up to the roof tops. They did a perfect job at positioning themselves, that was for sure, but what were they after? Only a few moments later, Keito's question was answered, and his guess that the red-eyed man had far more experience than himself was quickly proven as the assassin's began their attack on the man.

There were many screams from the villagers as they began to shove and even trample each other in an attempt to get away. Keito reached forward and grabbed Ritsu's wrist, pulling her to the side and backing himself against the wall of a building. He wrapped his arms around her, making sure no one bumped into her or knocked her over. He shielded her for a few more seconds before finding an opening and pushing open the wooden door of the building.

"Stay here until it's quite!" He demanded, shoving her into the building and slamming the door.

He started to move away from the building towards Layla when he noticed her being attacked, but suddenly found himself being knocked to the ground. He landed on his stomach, letting out a small grunt as he hit the ground, then rolled onto his back just in time to avoid a blade that drove into the stone beside him. He made another attempted to draw his sword, but the hard pressure of a boot stepped down onto his right hand.

Damn it!

He brought his leg up, kicking the man hard in the knee with his left foot. It was a good thing he'd refused to wear sandals and instead kept his boots on, but it wasn't entirely easy to move around in his current attire. He pressure on his hand let up for a split second and Keito took this opportunity to push himself backwards and finally unsheathe his blade, doing a well good job at ignoring his now fractured wrist. He swung the blade up, meeting it with his opponents blade. A stabbing pain shot through his hand and up his arm and he slightly loosened his grip, the sword flying from his hand and landing a few feet behind him. Before Keito could pick himself up, the bottom of a boot slammed down on his left cheek and the back of his head hit the stone.

He was completely helpless.

There were a few more blows from the boot and then a blade jammed itself into Keito's left palm. He left out a short scream, which was cut off by another kick to the cheek and one to the side. He was starting to question if he'd ever find an opening to knock this man away from him. His left cheek was broken open now and blood dripping from the wound, it was probably bruised and starting to swell up as well. There was a small, dark chuckle from the man who stood over him as the lade that was driven into Keito's hand was pulled out. He clenched his teeth, keeping himself from letting out another scream. He barely noticed that the man had walked away, now focused on a different target in the center

He slowly rolled himself over and pushed himself up off the ground to stumble to his sword. It wasn't the first time he had taken a beating like that, but it had been years since he'd sparred with his father. He picked up the sword, clutching the blade with his right hand and spitting out a bit of blood mixed with saliva. He wiped the blood from his cheek and straightened up in a hard attempt to regain himself, the sounds of painful cries and terrified screams pounding in his head. There was so many noises, and the grey stone painted with thick blood with the smell of rusty iron filling the air.

His eyes widened for a second as he felt a strong presence approaching him. He spun around, ready to swing his blade, but stopped it abruptly when he noticed it was the red-eyed man, a mistake he would thoroughly regret. He was hit hard, once again being slammed back onto the ground. Another boot was brought down onto him, but this time landing in the middle of his chest and with much greater force than before. Keito's sword slipped from his hand once again as he reached up and grabbed the red-eyed mans foot, but with a fractured wrist and bloody palm, he could hardly apply any pressure.

The foot stepped down harder and Keito heard a snap, followed by am extreme stab of pain shooting through his chest and the rest of his body. He let out a rough gasp, unable to scream with the air just being knocked out of him.