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Ess

Not many can resist her charms, deny her loyalty. Trying to outrun her violet stare, will only hypnotize one into her arms for eternity.

516 views · last seen in Newhaven
a character in “Shadows of The Forgotten”, as played by Essence

Groups

Former Black Guard

Description

Full Name: Essence V. Talon


(9/8/14 Update:
Essence commissioned drawing by a very talented Adele Lorienne. Please visit her site, it is simply amazing! ^.^ So here is Ess! )

http://l-userpic.livejournal.com/118866853/28454383
http://l-userpic.livejournal.com/118866970/28454383
http://l-userpic.livejournal.com/118867096/28454383


Age: Unknown/appears 25 but probably around 30yrs, she has been on her own too long to care to keep track of her age.

Gender: Female

City: Newhaven

Origin Outskirts of Blackhurst

Ability Ess calls it her "Mirage". She is not what she seems and can manipulate her form in an illusion to change her
shape and features. She still learning the extent of her powers and wishes she could create a mirage of a wolf as she has a stronger bond w/ her silver pawed friend, Tala than any human since her brother Ian... but who knows. If she uses her gift too often with in a month, her eyes and/or nose will bleed profusely concluding to blackouts or perhaps one day worse. She does not know for sure. She is afraid one day she will lose herself. Upon display of her gift, her eyes remain a violet with a silver lining of her iris', the only thing giving her away.


A small scar elongates her left eye vertically, which is darkened on purpose so
that the stares of strangers isn't of discust, but uneasiness.Essence is unique and quite a mystery, standing about 5'4", hour glass figure
usually draped in black and red silk gowns or grey tunic and trousers.Her deep Mahagony curls cradle her arms as she stares deep into souls
through violet, silver lined eyes. The longer she stares, the more her gaze glows an emanating light against her pale skin.

Theme Song:
http://youtu.be/CdKwLkEGjhg I Am The One - Dragon Age: Origins Soundtrack
http://youtu.be/mSAgaUoNeso The Party Camp - Dragon Age: Origins Soundtrack
http://youtu.be/EAANKFPchtA Lelianna's Song - Dragon Age: Origins Soundtrack
http://youtu.be/2aIkXR479eQ Stabbing Westward: Darkest Days
VolBeat:Fallen
http://youtu.be/BShyYZQEmBk Make yourself by Incubus
Alice in Chains: Nutshell
FFDP: Remember Everything
Alive and Kicking: NonPoint
Snuff: Slipknot

Personality

Quick witted, sarcastic, very loyal and trustworthy except she can't trust others back.
She ironically tries to hide and not drawn attention to herself. Ess is a surviver first, sometimes lacking morale which can
get her in trouble at times. Ess won't sugar coat the truth and sometimes being blunt makes her seem heartless and cold, but she
is quite the opposite.Alluring and saucy at times, usually proving deadly, she is mastering deception.Her demeanor is
just naturally a tempting flirt, her voice is soft and even in harsh moments it never rises, making her
appear mocking and patronizing to others. She loves to laugh but finds it scarce. Her greatest weakness is
empathy and how she can not always control her shifting.
She vows never to fall in love,(but longs for the companionship) and has few friends because
she finds most creatures to be evil, although the friends she finds are for life. She holds many secrets...

Likes: Animals, men, light eyes and dark hair, a good laugh, liquor, drawing, sleeping under the stars, and a fair fight.

Dislikes: Men, people who let and watch bad things occur, any who will harm children or animals, people who cheat
or lie

Equipment

Black silk hooded cloak, knee high laced boots, she carries an array of poisons
which she will use by themselves or applied to her throwing knives or silver-lined sword (scimitar style) engraved in a forgotten language..the
meaning unknown to her, and several daggers hidden along her body.

History

It seems like she never is allowed to stay in one place for very long, as much as she tries. She was no more than 7 when she last saw her brother Ian. It was late one night in her tiny village of WhirlWind, on the outskirts of Blackhurt and her father Dirk had left their home in a panic at the stirring of women's screams. Dark armoured figures broke into their home, slashing wildly at her father. Her last memory of him was his silent scream, eyes bulging as his head smacked into the wall, impaled upon the mounted deer's antlers. Ian tried to barracade Ess's door, but the wood split as they rammed into it full speed, knocking Ian to the ground, unconcious. Ess never knew if her brother lived. She was taken that night, as were the other girls of the town.

She was taken to Blackpond as a slave by mercenaries with a dark agenda. She first lost her innocense only after a week, made to be the sick fantasies of evil men and women, for a nominal fee. When she tried to rebel, they'd beat her. When she submitted, they'd beat her. When she thought she was broken, defeated, one of the girls introduced her to their "benefactor" Tye, who was even more evil than the rest. She had just reached a delicate age where her gift began to manifest. It lasted only for a few moments, as she lye in bed praying to the stars to be someone else...anyone else. To escape this secret life of the flesh. Ess began to cry and it frightened her so when she tasted that metallic iron upon her lips. Quickly she wiped at her eyes, blinded temporarily. A thick, sticky ooze streaked her pale skin. She jumped to the window, staring blankly at her reflection as it melted from the spitting image of her brother Ian, back to her sad features. That was the first time.

Tye was revealed Ess's gift after his nightly visit with her. He was startled into thinking she was a boy! He liked the idea at first and tried his damndest to teach her to use that gift at will for his own pleasure's. When she refused, he carved a deep, vertical cut underneath her left eye.

"I know you didn't mean it," she whispered. Smiling sweetly as blood poured down her cheek, she reached between his legs with one hand, the other reaching for his short sword left lazily on the floor. She leaned in slowly to kiss Tye deeply and as he bit her lip, she thrusted the blade between his ribs, twisting hard.

"You like boys so much...", she teased, "I thought you wanted to know how it felt to be stuck like a pig!"

As soon as she retracted the blade, Tye's personal guards came rushing in and knocked a hilt of a sword into her head and all went black. When she had awoken, she was lying naked in a dark, cold room. Heavy breathy creeping from each corner as rough hands grabbed her and spat in her ear, "This will take the fight out of you...."
They beat her, raped her, and cut her so bad, she would never know the joys of being a mother. Her "owner" thought she was dead. Ebony was her name and she enjoyed Ess's torment just as much as the men did. But to Ebony's dismay, Ess lived.

Months went by as she healed, where she was put on "light duty" for her owner. She feared she'd never get that foul taste out of her mouth. But she had a lot of down time for once. She spent hours remembering Ian and her father sparring in the early evenings while she milked the cows and gathered water from the town well. Using a broken chair leg, Ess began to mimick those memories, attempting to teach herself those lost dances.

When she was allowed to go to the market for her master, Ess scowered the book shops gathering everything she could find on plant life and the healing and poisoning affects of each.

'Why don't I just make a run for it?', she thought. 'They'd find me..and I"m not strong enough.'

Years went by as she partook in her private lessons. One day, Ebony didn't wake up from slumber.

"Poisoned!", the streets rang out in mixed fear and glee.

Ess only smiled, even though she was not free, Ebony's brother took over the buisness.

Ess took advantage when the occassion arrised for her to flee about 15 years ago, escaping with only a few slit throats on her way. In the evening one dark, starless night, she heard the screams of war as Blackpond was attacked, yet again. The battle had spilled into the street in front of her "home" and she couldn't ignore the perfect distraction for her to slip away.

I wonder if it's Newhaven again, or another nameless army pissed off at this beautiful city, she thought sarcastically

Somewhere in the deep forests, beyond the city, she came across a silver-greyed wolf cub, trapped in a make shift snare. She took pity on the creature, thinking how it reminded her of herself. Ess calls her Tala, meaning wolf, and the loyal loving beast has yet to leave her side. She did find Newhaven before they closed off their gates. There, she kept to herself. Unfortunately all she has known is the business of flesh and continues her own personal solisitation, sometimes just robbing them blind. Ess longs for something more, like most do. She is always keeping an eye out for someone she may be able to trust, who may help her continue her studies with the sword and poisons alike.

So begins...

Ess's Story

Setting

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Character Portrait: Ess
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INK

A forlorn howl haunted the starry sky as the lustrous moon rose slightly over the lower city. Essence gave a tiny smirk at the
sound, her fingers quickly lacing up her bodice. She closed her violet orbs, breathing deeply as she listened to the call echo
through the streets. Opening her eyes she watched one of her regulars step into his boots and make his way out the door. Ess
quitely followed the man she liked to call "Timid", or Tim as she never used her customer's real names. It was all part of the
Illusion sometimes. That, and not all her entertainment was something to be mentioned in public. Most of these were high class gentlemen who either came to Ess for an escape from their lives temporarily, or sometimes just a pretty face to hang on their arm for the night. Ess wasn't mindless and did know how to carry on meaningful conversations, which made her interesting and worth the top dollar she charged for her services. This strategy of having a low amount of high paying patrons, gave her more free time while making quite the profit. An additional perk is knowing your customer is not diseased and their history, also in return makes Ess more valuable.

Ess paused in the doorway, looking after Tim as he turned back towards her.

"Ess, why won't you just run away with me? I could take care of you." He promised.

Essence gave a short laugh, shaking her head. "For a few reasons, darlin'. One, I don't get romantically involved with customers... or anyone for that matter...Two..." She winked. "My other customers would be so heartbroken."

Tim took a step forward, as if about to argue as she gave her next reason. Her stare got serious, violet eyes glowing brighter than before as her soft voice took on a bitter edge.

"Three...You don't even know who I am or what I really look like."

Tim lowered his head, as if ashamed. "I won't give up," he whispered. With that he spun on his heels and disappeared into the
night.

'Maybe it's time for Mr. Timid to find another "girlfriend"', Ess thought. Absently, her hand wiped at her runny nose. Feeling
a bit woozy, she took out a small mirror and looked into the reflection of a total stranger. Yes she saw her eyes, but she
had the darker skin of someone who worked the fields all day, with streaks of straight, golden hair. Glancing at her finger she
gave an annoyed growl at the blood. She stared for a long time into her purple irises ignoring the cold of winter, her breath
fogging up her tiny mirror. When she wiped it clear, her pale skin had returned, the ugly scar that seemed to extend her left eye, along with her long burgundy curls.

"And they say blonds have all the fun.." Ess pulled out a handkerchief and began blotting her nose until she no longer bled. Looking up at the moon, her eyes glistened in it's reflection. Again, the howl came except closer this time. Placing the
handkerchief underneath her bodice, she pursed her lush lips together. Escaping her was an unexpected high piercing whistle
that extended for about fifteen seconds. After a moment she could hear the burdened breathing of a creature running full speed, paws dancing silently across the snow.

The sound paused as a grey-silver lined wolf stepped out into the moonlight. Her blue eyes sparkled like saphires where she
presumed to sit her hind against the snow. Hanging from her mouth, looked like the remains of a rat of some sorts.

"Is the menu of the city getting you down again girl?" Ess laughed.

The wolf whined for a moment, gulping down the rest of her dinner and barked.

Ess squatted down extending her hand towards the wolf. "Tala, come."She commanded. "I promise tomorrow, if the weather permits, we shall go visit the forest." She sighed as the wolf padded towards her. "I kinda miss it too..."

Tala began to cover Ess's face in kisses, as her arms clutched almost desperatly at the wolf in an embrace. Her fur was warm,
unnaturally soft for a wild animal, so much that Ess wished she had a blanket made of it.. She belted out a random chuckle at herself, knowing she wouldn't make a pelt out of Tala for anything.

She stood up, turning sideways to let the wolf into her home as she followed Tala inside. Adding another log to her fire, Ess
cleaned herself up with lavender scented water, dabbing a little on Tala for fun. The wolf gave an exasperate huff and lay down beside the fire.

"What? You don't want to smell puuurty?" Ess teased.

Tala seemed to ignore her as Ess clasped her velvet cape around her hour-glass form. "No time for a nap now Tala dear... Momma needs to find a new teacher." she mused.

Tala groaned as she arched her back in a long stretch. Ess tended to bring Tala with her everywhere she went, even if she didn't want her to go along, as Tala was a very independent and intelligent creature. One that Ess has had by her side for over eight years, after she arrived some time ago in Newhaven. Tala did what she wanted and went where she pleased.

'Almost fifteen years now since Blackpond.' She remembered to herself, shuddering at the memory.

Ess inattentively twiddled her fingers along the hilt of a dagger, spinning it between her fingertips to bring it home beside
her pale skin, adjusting her laces tighter to her bodice. She was thinking of visiting the tavern again, perhaps she would run
into someone who wouldn't mind teaching her a few more things with a sword. Until she felt confident with that weapon, she
wouldn't dare to attempt to carry it by her side. That kind of illusion may just get her into too much trouble.

Essence would go as herself tonight, since she is not looking for any more work this evening. Besides, her bleeds were coming
more frequent and she couldn't afford to be confined to a bed again. Swift and soundless her foot steps fell, extinguishing
all candles around her home so that only the dying fire's coals gave some direction. Swinging the front door open, Tala instantly rushed forward, almost knocking Ess off her feet.

"Really, Tala?" she scoffed. "I thought you didn't want to go?"

Tala ignored Ess as she locked up, continuing forward, her nose casually sniffing the ground here and there. The wolf paused,
her head snapping to attention, ears perked high only to flatten back. Ess stepped beside Tala and cocked her head curiously
at her friend. As if the wolf forgot what she was focusing on, her ears fluffed back to alert and began leading Ess further
into town, the scent of blood growing stronger as they moved closer to the tavern.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ess
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INK

‘Who am I really...?’ Ess contemplated as she stared down at the muddy snow prints streaked with old blood. Tiny crystals scattered along the scarlet trail, Tala’s prints running parallel. She continued to follow her furry friend, eyes glued to the path, yet her mind was lost.

‘For once I’d like to have a friend who is taken with what type of person I am and not who I can pretend to be..’ trailing off she looks up at Tala and continues... ‘And who isn’t an animal..’


Ess did not know whether she should feel sorry for herself or the poor souls who may cross her path. Who was she trying to fool? The last time she was addressed as herself, had been quite some time ago. When she wasn’t parading around as someone else, she was at home in bed healing from excessive blood loss. She spent more time pretending to create the perfect illusion of someone more desirable and skilled than herself, to the point she couldn’t remember what made her smile. Ess knew how to stay alive, which led her into some dark places. Yet, they were no darker than her childhood. In fact, her recent disappointments were a blessing compared to those horrid years.

Up ahead, Tala began barking, crossing her tone into a soft growl. Ess didn’t seem perturbed by the wolf’s subtle warning, but thought, ‘Is it pathetic that the only one I can be comfortable around and not on the defense, is an animal?’

“Not that way girl, this way.” Ess pointed towards the left as the wolf continued off into the shadows at full speed. Something quite agile slipped down an ally, engrossing Tala with such a vendetta, Ess grew nervous.

Moonlight peeked out behind dense cloud, beaming down singular rays almost perfectly along the bleeding trail. Ess’ footsteps grew lighter, barely touching the ground as she picked up her gown and bolted after Tala. The blood appeared to widen and thicken as she leapt over fleshy debris, the gore more frequent with each step.

Essence came to a halt at the edge where moonlight met darkness. A fine line to where torn limbs wrapped in blood soaked clothing were strewn about. Without realizing she was already holding her dagger, Ess patted frantically with her free hand along her chest as she stared at the heaps of carnage scattered down the ally. She searched the shadows for Tala, a mournful howl ringing in her ears. As it faded, glowing eyes walked towards Ess, accompanied by a fearful whine.

“Here girl...” Ess choked. Essence turned in circles, gripping her knife as she looked up and down the near by streets for a guard. Seeing no one, she let out a desperate scream followed by Tala’s frantic barks.

“GUARDS!”

Ess couldn’t make sense out of the segments. How many had been murdered? The earth took on the shape of a battlefield with so many fragments of flesh and bone, in only a small area. The tortured were dragged into this dark alley, and with the amount of wet blood, were alive when they were torn to pieces.

Gripping her blade until her knuckles turned white, Ess knelt beside what looked like a torso. It was bare of cloth, pale from loss of blood with large claw like tears across the flesh. A sickening stench emanated from the stump that made even Tala whine louder and lean into Ess’s side.

“What the...” Ess gagged, the taste of bile tickling her throat. She reached down by her feet where she squatted, scooping up a pile of snow encasing wee fingers half attached to a severed hand. It was so tiny...almost small enough to be....

“SOMEONE!" Another scream rang out, only this time it was cold with fury, biting her lip she fought back hot tears.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mageria Talsheir Character Portrait: Ess
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INK

Ess flinched at the sudden sound of boots hustling towards her and Tala, one hand still grasping her dagger, the other holding the severed hand. Tala continued to whine softly by her side, sniffing in the general direction of the guards, she readied into a defensive stance by Ess’s side. Turning, Ess’s eyes began to glow, her mind involuntarily wanting to initiate her “Illusion”, yet she managed control, sliding her dagger back behind the lace of her bodice.

Ess’s eyes narrowed coldly towards the guards, almost mockingly, “Glad of you to join us...”
She grunted at the simplicity of the command to retrieve the Guard Captain. Turning back, she spat a rancid slime out of her throat. The smell was going to suffocate her, so she back away into the spotlight of the moon. Her gaze traced the bloody trail to the small massacre before her and noticed for the first time, splattered gore along the walls of someone’s home. Oddly, the smears streaked up towards the roof.

Gulping hard she heard a woman’s voice suddenly by her side. Temporarily lost in the site, she hadn’t heard the Captain approach her. She had not noticed Tala’s tail wagging in a friendly manner, her head dipping low, ears back as she kept herself on guard but didn’t make a sound. A silent tear streaked her left cheek, remembering what was still in her hand she extended her arm towards Mageria.

“I....” she began, barely audible. “I don’t know who....how many...”
Ess swallowed, her free hand instinctively finding Tala, sifting her fingers in a peaceful manner, through the wolf’s fur. Her breathe escaped her lips in a long, drawn out emptiness. For a moment she said nothing, and as she stared at the Captain she noticed a crowd begin to form back towards the guards.

“They shouldn’t see this.” she whispered, nodding behind Mageria.

“Captain...I was on my way to the tavern and I guess I wasn’t paying attention to where I was heading, just that I was following Tala here...” Ess looked down at her friend then back into Mageria’s eyes.

“Something caught the wolf’s scent...and there’s no stopping her...” Ess smirked a bit. “I didn’t see anything for sure, just fast movement. But the smell....”

Ess motioned for Mageria to follow, dropping the remains absently as she moved towards a door of a home. Nodding at the blood staind walls she thought out loud.. “Maybe someone here heard something...or saw...” Ess attempted to breathe through her mouth, spitting again. The smell created a rotting like taste in her mouth.

“Whatever it was....Tala lost the scent..”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mageria Talsheir Character Portrait: Ess
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INK

Ess and Trickster combo



Tala refused to go into the home of the massacred family. Ess was not about to drag the poor wolf somewhere if it so stubbornly declined to move. Ess let out a short, high pitched whistle; her signal for Tala to look for the lost scent. With a deep bark the wolf took off in the opposite direction of the scene, disappearing without a sound.

Turning towards Mageria, she watched intently as she began searching the scene, climbing up the wall of the home.

“Tala will signal us if she catches the scent, who knows when she will come back though.” Ess called up after Mageria. When the Guard Captain asked for Ess’s name, she froze. For a moment she wasn’t sure how to answer, but soon recovered some sense and revealed her real name to the woman.
“Essence, Ma’am. I have never been to the castle...am I to be escorted?”

Perhaps Ess had made the mistake of venturing into town without one of her disguises, she began to doubt her decision earlier this evening and feared what path she was on now. She would be known, documented; she could be found. Any smart person may eventually start putting the puzzle pieces together of who she was and her minor passes with the law in the past. Although, it was with her alternate identities she was somewhat nervous. It didn't matter to some the reason for her crimes, or self defense, just that the crimes were committed non the less. She wasn't sure if she should relinquish her blade to the Guard Captain and face punishment for the concealed weapon, or to keep it hidden.

She quickly added, "I offer as much assistance as I can, Ma'am...." Keeping thoughts on the current crime she wondered, "Ma'am, have you ever seen anything like this before?"Slowly she followed the path, away from the tavern; her original destination had been altered but perhaps the result would be the same.

Mageria shrugged. "I've seen a couple of things that could do something like this. None of them something I'd care to face alone, although I've done that as well." She added, running her fingers over the claw marks on the side of her face. Wearily she rubbed one hand through her hair, pulling the copper braid over one shoulder and fidgeting with the end of it. She glanced over at Essence and the side of her mouth quirked up for a moment before she brought it under control. The woman looked a bit worried about something and given Mageria's knowledge about people on the shady side of the law, she could make a few good guesses.

"And given that I'm the Black Knight Captain, I have a more 'flexible' view of the laws. There are something that I will not tolerate, but I'm not inclined to punish someone for a few minor infractions in the past. So you don't have to worry about that sort of thing, so long as what you tell me is the truth."

She stretched and kicked at a clump of snow, thinking about the past and all that she had had to deal with. She had gotten through it and she would get through this as well. Perhaps it was for the best that something had happened the way it had, something to keep her mind off the crippling grief she felt whenever she thought about Grim dying in her arms.
"And you'll be escorted, but only because I'm going that way as well and thought that I might as well walk with you." Pushing her hands into her pockets, Mageria shivered slightly as the wind bit into her extremities.

Ess tucked in her loose curls beneath her velvet hood, as she listened curiously to the Captain. Her eyes took on a momentary glow before returning to their dim violet hue, her gaze following Mageria’s fingers as they traced the scars along her face. Part of her couldn’t believe it to be from a human, but what else was there? She had never seen a monster, except that which would lay dormant inside a man.

“...Something from nightmares..” Ess whispered in disbelief. She shuddered at the thought of something from legends coming out of the ground to swallow her hole. Ess quirked an eyebrow at Captain as she walked beside her.

“I don’t know how much help I can be....I am not even a skilled fighter. My skills lye in deception and survival. I have never knowingly caused harm to anyone other than in self defense.” Ess didn’t know if she should trust anyone, even someone of high rank. She only ever told her secret to one person before, although she knew two knew of her enlightenment. Her mind flashed back to the emotional memory of something prodding her soul for information and quickly dismissed it as easily as it had arrived. She needed to focus on the present and not the past anymore. As hard as it was to forget the abuse and degrading events that occurred in her childhood, she knew she is the person she is today because of those times.

“I suppose, if I had a concealed weapon that I wouldn’t be able to get it back once I leave the castle?” She inquired. Ess felt she could be honest to a point without lying to Mageria. Maybe just leaving out a few distressful details to the stranger for now would be acceptable.

Mageria shrugged. "Don't sell yourself short. Deception can be just as useful as the ability to swing a sword. Sometimes more useful. There's no shame in not being one of those who can kill a dozen men in a fight, but most of those idiots couldn't lie their way out of a bag. It's just a different skill set."

They had taken a few more steps when something cold and wet hit the back of Mageria's head, dropping clumps of freezing cold down the back of her neck. Swearing, Mageria leaned over and dug at the neck of her coat, listening as childish giggles erupted from the street behind her. Slowly she straightened up and turned around, one eyebrow arching up. The giggles stopped abruptly as the kids saw just who it was that they had hit. While most of the Knights were unknown, it was almost an open secret just who she was.
"Give me a moment, please." She asked Essence as she walked back to the two kids, one little girl and what looked like her older brother. The little girl looked scared and hid behind her brother as Mageria got there, both hands propped on her hips. The brother also looked a bit frightened, but stood firm, raising his chin and facing her squarely. Mageria looked at them grim faced for about half a second before her mouth quirked in a smile.
"You two throw that?" She waited for them to nod. "Well first off, you should always know who you're aiming at." She looked them both in the eyes. "And second, it's cold out here and you two are soaked all the way through. Go home and warm up." She whistled shrilly, summoning a nearby Guardsman. "Make sure these two get home, will you?" She leaned in closer and whispered. "And make sure their parents know to keep them inside, and why."

Heading back to where Essence stood, Mageria dug one last bit of snow out from her coat. If there was one thing she hated, it was that cold icy feeling of a damp coat in the middle of winter.
"Now, as to a concealed weapon. You surrender it freely once we get to the Castle, you'll get it back once your ready to leave. We appreciate that kind of courtesy around here."

Ess shook off a bit of slush that had ricochet off of Mageria and smiled brightly at the kids. She couldn’t think of the last time something that simple had enhanced her mood tremendously. As the Captain and her continued on their way she paused abruptly in her steps, her hand already gripping her dagger by the blade. She tossed back her hood, bowing politely to the woman, she extended the weapon, handle forward. A silver etched blade, with curious writing engraved into the metal, was no longer than the length of her hand.

“This is all I carry....for the moment. I trust you not to sell it then.” She joked, as she gave up the blade.

“Since I am not very skilled with weapons, that was the reason I ventured out tonight in the first place. My instructor left town on personal business and I am left empty in my lessons. Where would someone like myself even find a fine teacher?”

Ess hoped she knew what she was doing, placing simple trust into a complete stranger. It wasn’t like she told the woman her life story or anything, but just the same, she hasn’t trusted many in her life.

“I would pay of course...” She added, rubbing her hands together, fighting off the chill. Rolling her eyes in a sigh, as if to say ‘Finally’, the castle gate came into view. A little hop in her step, she increased her speed, wanting to get out of the wind as quickly as possible. It wasn’t strong, but it stung her face, drying out her throat.

Mageria accepted the blade, turning it over in her hand before tucking it away. "Very nice. Heirloom blade of some kind? I don't recognize the writing on it." She grinned at Essence. "And I promise not to sell it. Although even if I did, it'd be easy enough to trace." She glanced over at the other woman and pulled her hood up more securely. If she really wanted to improve her skills. . . .


Ess shrugged as Mageria took her dagger. “It has a matching sword...” Lifting up her hands, palms out to show they were empty she added, “It’s at home, I promise...” Chuckling lightly she whispered, “It was an heirloom to someone, I acquired on accident some time ago. I have never quite figured out what the markings are.” Ess looked Mageria in the eye as she spoke.

"Well, if you want to learn some moves with the blade, some of my people earn a bit of coin by giving lessons. Give me a chance to assess your skills as they stand, and I can figure out who would be best to work with you."

Leading the way through the gates of the Castle, Mageria headed to the side through a side door. It meant a shorter time outside in the cold, which meant that she got warmer that much quicker. "This way please." She worked her way through to the common areas near the Black barracks, pushing the door open to the briefing room. Looking out to the hall, she waved down a server and requested hot cider and sandwiches be brought in. Then she pulled out an incident report and set it in front of her, choosing a pen and twiddling it between her fingers.
"Now, would you mind going over what happened, in detail?"

Giving a short nod she followed Mageria gladly into the Castle. At the sound of food, her stomach growled unexpectedly loud, causing Ess to blush. She was contemplating what areas she would like to focus on in improving her fighting skills. Maybe even without weapons she could learn some defensive moves to put someone out of commission.

Snapping out of her thought, she began recounting the night’s events and how Tala lead her to the massacre. Trying to be as detailed as possible, Ess still couldn’t describe the quick movement in the shadows. The figure was simply too dark, encased in shadow. With not much new information to really explain, she finished the telling of that night. There was a moment of silence before she spoke again.

Reaching for a glass of cider that arrived she quickly gulped a few mouthfuls down in a content sigh. The warm liquid left a heat trail from her tongue, down her esophagus, spreading around inside her belly. “Very much appreciated.” She raised her glass and took another sip.

As she began munching on one of the sandwiches staring at her from a silver platter, she inquired, “It’s not much to go on. Do you have any other questions?”

Mageria shrugged. "Not much, but its a start. The more we know, the better we can hunt. Any information can help at this point." Writing with one hand, she sipped her cider and absently inhaled a sandwich. "You see, when there's a dangerous Enlightenment in the City, my people are often asked to help out. I don't like to send them into a danger that can be avoided, so I try to get as much foreknowledge that I can before planning an attack. That way I can match skills to the situation." She wrote a bit more. "Has . . . Tala, ever smelled something like this before?"


Finishing her sandwich, Ess was thoughtful of Tala. She didn’t expect her wolf to catch the scent of ‘whatever did this’ as she had been gone without so much as a sound or signal to her whereabouts for a while now. Thinking back, she couldn’t remember a time when her silver pawed friend had reacted so steadily to a predator. That wolf was not happy and Ess couldn’t deny agreeing with her furry friend. Something was off, most definitely.

“ That wolf is crazy sometimes, but no. She has not acted so, ever...and I raised her from a pup...” Ess cut herself off. “Course, she refuses to sleep indoors lately, even in the cold. But that doesn’t mean anything...?” Ess’s brows scrunched together in a thoughtful and serious expression, as she began to think deeper as if the animal’s behavior unlocked the secrets of it all. Shaking her head she let out a deep breathe. Thinking too much was a bad idea right now.

A moment later, there was a loud thumping out in the hallway. Mageria ignored it and kept writing. "I've got to spend some time on this . . ." There was another thumping sound and the sound of something being knocked over. Mageira paused in her writing and rubbed her temple with one finger. Taking a deep breath she waited for a moment with her eyes closed. There was the sound of something galloping past down the hall, followed by "Puppy, puppy PUPPY!!!" being shrieked at the top of little girl lungs. Then what sounded like an entire group of children running past.


Ess watched Mageria as she tried to ignore a clumsy noise from the hall. She tilted her head, her hood sliding off her burgundy curls. “ You have a rat problem in the castle?” She playfully teased.

Mageria set her pen down with a slight thunk and stood, smiling tightly at Essence. "Excuse me. There's something I need to take care of. If you don't mind waiting here, I'll be right back." Leaving the room, she shut the door firmly behind her.
Ess’s lips pressed firmly against one another as she bit down, trying not to laugh. She nodded politely as the Captain stepped out for a moment. The second the door shut, Ess tilted her head back and began laughing hard at the children and Mageria.

"If you lot don't calm down, I swear to the Twins that I'LL HANG YOU BY YOUR HEELS IN THE WELL!!

Hopping to her feet, Ess went to the door to see if she could catch sight of the commotion, but the hall was already cleared, the sound of a rather large dog echoing through the halls.

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Character Portrait: Luckas Character Portrait: Ess
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BlackBird and Essence Combo



Ess’s deep red curls bounced lightly, tickling her skin as she turned at the sound of a male voice. Her violet orbs were dim for a moment before flashing brightly, brows narrowing at the figure as she inspected the man. His voice sent a chilling sensation down her spine. Not one that she was afraid of, but one that carried a grudging emotion;of what or why she wasn’t sure. Taking in his dark eyes and hair, she pushed aside the heavy door, letting it slam shut behind her as she stepped forward and paused.

It was as if a switched flipped inside her brain, his face triggered a vision that came and went in an instant. Deep within her dreams his raven strands outlined a familiar violet glow, similar to hers. She saw him staring close enough to feel his breath tickling her forehead. Ess remembered him whispering to her, "Don't worry, now... I won't hurt you. This might be unpleasant, but it won't hurt."

Her expression was displeased and of slight confusion, melting away as easily as it had taken over. Her ‘Professional’ persona began taking charge. Smiling provocatively, she slid her cloak over her shoulders revealing a soot black gown, tightly laced along her hour glass curves. Her lips curved into a sultry smile, her fingers twirling and twisting along her curls absently. She glanced around coyly.

“I’m here with you, good sir.” She teased, her voice soft and almost enchanting. She shrugged, her brow twitching as she thought to herself and answered, “Well, I was just talking to the Guard Captain...so I was invited.”

Essence waited for him to speak, her mind trying to pinpoint the memory.
“Do I know you?” She giggled innocently. “Or perhaps I’ve entertained you before?”
She easily kept up her flirtatious manner as if she were already in disguise. She knew her memory was not just from forgotten dreams, but something more. She got the impression he had a similar confusion and decided to use it to discover more information. Ess winked at the man as she spoke.

“Course if I had entertained you, I think you would remember....The name is Essence.” Dragging out the last syllable of her name she waited for his name in return.

Luckas blinked a few times looking at the woman; his dark eyes examining her figure and registering gestures, mannerisms, trying to find something, anything, that told him who this person was and why he couldn't remember when they've met, but he didn't find it. It would have had to be a brief encounter maybe... It was puzzling, and unnerving, that was a rare feeling for Luke and he wasn't sure if he liked it.

As she walked closer and began speaking with him he started to feel slightly nervous. She thought she knew him too. If she remembered knowing him... How was that possible? He shifted uncomfortably, trying to hide his confusion and smile as he usually did, but for the first time in as long as he could remember... He found it difficult to mask his feelings; he was forced to take a moment before he managed to open a smile and replied. "Miss... Essence, is it? I definitely would not pass on any opportunity of being entertained, however, if you had entertained me, I would certainly remember, but perhaps you would not remember me." He stated, now fixing his eyes on the woman's violet gaze, and feeling a small chill as if he had done the same thing at some point in the past. "I'm Luckas, by the way. I'm... A visitor, you might say. Like a friendly ghost. I roam the halls in search for people to scare or amuse." He tilted his head to the side, his grin widening a bit. "Say... You do look awfully familiar for some reason. You've been living in the city long?"

“ESSSsss.. Is acceptable Luckas....I have been here some time now.."Tilting her head she continued smiling, but it was in a comforting way. “You act like you haunt this castle..or this land.” She rolled her eyes, quieting almost to a whisper and leaned forward as if to approach Luckas to finish her thought, “But I think it is you, who is haunted.”

Her expression went blank, as if she saw through Lukas, another vision taking place of the castle hall.
..........................................................................................................................................................
About 5 years ago in Newhaven
http://youtu.be/0tD3Jmc96aoPan’s Labyrinth

The silence of the night was shattered by a horrid scream. The man who had been motionless on the ground had stood up, with his back still leaned to the wall, and was screaming at the top of his lungs as if he was in absolute agony. The screaming didn't last very long though, as the man began to smash the back of his head onto the wall, forcefully and repeatedly.

Finally, with the sickening sound of a crack, he stopped, sliding back down to the floor, leaving a bloody trail on the stone of the wall behind him; a blank, lifeless, stare in his open eyes.

Essence simply watched the scene in surprise and utter confusion. She could not understand why someone would do that to themselves. She stood, as if to go to the man where he lay dead and bleeding, as she recognized his face. Her lips took on a sick smile as she knew he was no one to miss, no one worth remembering. She turned back towards the street, peeking around each corner for any sign of movement. Ess knew not to stay where she was and needed to get home quickly.
......................................................................................................................................................
Ess blinked lifelessly, staring at the man before her...Luckas. She had been like a statue, pale and unmoving. Her fingers had been still wrapped around a curl, as she came to life it was still stuck causing herself to tug on her Golden Blond strands...? Ess hadn’t realized what she had just done, but she unintentionally changed before this man’s eyes.

Ess indeed was blond now, but in addition she appeared more petite, almost breakable, shorter in height. Her lips were thin, her skin actually had pigment spotted in freckles; yet her eyes remained a shade of purple. The only other color was a thin silver line, encompassing the iris.

“Was it this face you remember.” Her thin lips broke into a sly smile. “I remember you, who visits my dreams.”


Luckas chuckled slightly when Ess implied he was the haunted one, but his smile shut and he took a few steps back when her face suddenly changed before his eyes. Black eyes flashed red as they widened in shock; he remembered her now, but how was it possible that she remembered him?

[Flashback - Newhaven, about 5 years ago]

"Don't fight it. It's useless." The boy said in a soft, almost kind, tone. Luckas grinned, wiping a bit of blood that had dripped from his nose as he faced the petrified figure of a man. This man wasn't on the boy's plans, but he seemed like the perfect prey, so why not? The idiot had tried to pick a fight with him, for no reason other than he had thought him weak; he let the man throw a punch, but now he would see which one of them was truly weak. Luke's eyes were already beginning to spark at a reddish glow as he faced the poor soul; scum of the worst kind, that's what he was. "I know what goes through that feeble mind of yours." He said, his voice in a soft, mocking, tone. "You were thinking: 'Oh, a scrawny looking kid like this, on this part of town, at this late hour... Easy prey, I'll have my fun with him'." He snickered. "Little did you know that the scrawny kid was listening to your footsteps and thinking the exact same thing: Easy prey. Silly, silly you. And so the hunter becomes the hunted." Luckas taunted. "I bet you don't feel like such a big man now, huh?"

Carefully, Luckas looked around the dark alley; not the most secluded place, but it would have to do. In this part of the city, no one would have much courage to check for the source of any screaming. Plus, the street was mostly empty at the moment. Looking back to his 'companion', Luke smiled cheerfully at him. "I know what you're wondering right now: 'Is he going to kill me now? Am I going to die?' Well, my friend... No, and yes. I'm not going to kill you, but be sure you are going to die. If you're lucky you'll die tonight, but I doubt it." At this point he started to go through to the man's pockets. "Money... Cigarettes, those things can kill you, you know?... Hum... Nothing much. I'm surprise you still have money on you. Well, you ain't gonna need it now." He said tossing the man's money pouch to into a dark corner; someone would probably find it in the morning. "Now, if you were a tad bit more interesting I might play with you further, but I'm growing bored of making threats and stuff... So, nighty night, dear anonymous idiot. It's been a real pleasure."

Shortly after saying that Luckas placed his hand over the man's eyes, his own eyes lighting up in red. Within seconds the man began to shiver and fell to his knees, free from Luckas' command to stand motionless, but no longer able to support his own weight; hell in its purest form coming to life inside his mind. His eyes had widened in terror as he slipped further down onto the ground.

"Huh, you're not much of a screamer, are you?" Luckas asked absently, rubbing his eyes as he felt exhaustion beginning to set in, a side-effect he was more than used to by now. "Well, at least you're not completely a pathetic coward." He crouched down in front of the man and stared deep into his eyes. "I wish I could see what you see..." He whispered softly, a childish smile playing on his lips. "I'll let you in on a little secret: I've been called 'mad', 'crazy', and similar things, a couple of times in my life. You probably think you're mad right now. The secret, what they don't want you to know, is: This is what sanity truly feels like. It's my gift, from me to you. Too bad you'll only have a short time to live it."

.....

Luke was simply staring at the eyes of his 'victim', he never got tired of that terrorized look. All the while he thought his brother was the lucky one; he could see what his victims saw, Luke could only wonder what terrible secrets those people kept. In a way, maybe that was good. Unlike Matthew, Luckas still had some control over his actions, but he wasn't sure if he would have that same control if he actually got to see the full extent of their suffering. He'd probably lose whatever control he had left. The first hours never changed; they simply sat with that look on their faces, if they lived through that... Well, that's when it got interesting. Luke didn't think this guy would make it that far though; didn't seem like he had that much fight in him.

Suddenly, he thought he heard something and stood up straight, turning to see a woman standing near the exit of the alley. "Hold still, please." He commanded, before walking closer. Once standing in front of her, he smiled. "Well, well... Who do we have here?" He asked, pulling the woman's hood back to get a better look at her face. The color of her eyes was odd, and made it clear that she had some Enlightened ability. "Don't worry, now... I won't hurt you. This might be unpleasant, but it won't hurt." As he said that, his eyes began to glow in the same violet tone as hers and he saw several moments of her life as if he had lived them. Mere moments later, he broke eye contact with the woman and rubbed his eyes; he was worn out from attacking the idiot, who was still sitting there trapped in his own mind. "Well, I have to say, you have a pretty interesting set of memories... Wow." Luke stated casually with a grin. "Tell you what, I'm going to give you something for the trouble, that idiot won''t need it." He said, walking to the back of the alley and picking up the purse he had tossed aside.

He walked back to the woman and put the purse in her hand, closing her fist around it. "Here's what I'm going to do: I'm going to make you forget you ever walked into this alley and everything you've seen here. You will only remember walking straight home. I'm sure you understand that I can't afford having you tell anyone about this; I'd hate to end up in a dark cell so early in my life."

With that, his eyes glowed violet again. As he focused on the woman's most recent memories, the images began to blur and fade. Once he had gone over them all, he stepped away rubbing his temples. He had pushed himself a little further than he should have, he needed to find some place to sleep and fast. He walked past the woman muttering. "Go home." As he did so. He didn't even bother to look back and see if she was actually leaving or not.


[Reality - Newhaven, present time]


Luke remembered her now... She had caught him in the act, a long time ago when he was still free. The young man was feeling shivers down his spine as it all came back to him; a mix of terror and excitement burning a hole in his insides. He was so much younger then, careless, he pushed himself too far and his ability failed him. He stared blankly at the, now blonde, woman that stood in front of him. Her more recent memories that night were of a man, who she called 'Dean', and who called himself a 'Knight', but was probably neither.

Luckas had paid the man a visit a few days later, but hadn't bothered to even waste his energy on that piece of scum; he simply had the man do something so horrible that the terror of it alone drove him over the edge. He slit his own throat. Luke heard it was quite a shocking sight for his young fiancee to find as she visited the next morning; after all no one could ever understand what had caused a healthy young man to suddenly castrate himself and commit suicide. If only that woman knew what kind of life she would've had... She probably wouldn't have been so distraught.

The shock beginning to subside, Luckas continued to look into the woman's eyes as they glowed in the poorly lit hallway, thinking that perhaps she was right and she was the ghost after all... He was the haunted one. The irony was too much for the young man to bear and he suddenly broke out in laughter. Laughing louder and louder by the minute, Luke leaned his back against the stone wall and slid onto the floor, laughing hysterically and occasionally choking as he tried to stop for air. It took a bit of time for him to finally be able to speak, looking up at Ess with a slightly psychotic smile on his face, still coughing slightly from his fit of laughter. "Oh, I remember you now!" he exclaimed. "I remember it all!" He chuckled. "You are truly memorable, Ess! I, on the other hand... I'm not used to being remembered. It's rather flattering to hear I've appeared in your dreams, I have to say." He said, getting back on his feet. "You're not mad at me for that, now are you? I think we both learned to be more careful that night."


Ess quirked a brow as Luckas fell into a fit of laughter. She thought the irony was quite amusing as well as she bit down on her lip to try not to join him in his hysterics. Her facade melted away, back to her dark red curls and doll like features, the ugly scar looked almost painted beneath her left eye as it stood out so against her pale skin. She couldn’t help it and suddenly burst into her own fit of giggles. Luckas’s laughter became temporarily contagious, giving a slight ache in her chest.

Bits of images flashed before her eyes, the memory flooding her mind:

Feeling the stranger’s mind beside her own, they watched as she re-lived her father impaled to a wall; jumping through a mix of tortured moments as a child when nameless faces tried to break her time and time again. Ess saw flashes of the men she bedded since she arrived in Newhaven, in an embarrassing amount of detail. A sickening wave washed over her as she saw herself in her mirror, her features blurring amidst a constant change, never repeating. There is no telling for sure, how many faces she has taken on. She rarely copies other women, but takes lips and hair from one girl, mixing with the skin of another.

Feeling a bit awkward now, she approached Luke, lightly slapping at his left cheek. “That’s for the degrading emotions you dragged out of me...For that I am not so happy with you. In the future, if you so desire to know what is going on in my head, please just ask.” She sighed relaxing a bit. “I don’t recall everything, mind you, but you left me with a distinct feeling of being invaded...violated. I assume from the bits of memories you know my secrets, so I would then expect you to understand my request.”


She stepped back a bit and winked, “You may be cute, but I don’t like a complete stranger hanging out in my dreams, thank you very much.” She extended her hand in a formal greeting. “Please, not to sound cocky, but understand you are the only other person out of two that know what I really look like and my secret. I would appreciate discretion.” Her lush lips parted, her tongue inattentively slipping over them, “It could hurt my...business.”

She thought about one of her customers, “Tim,” from earlier that night and rolled her eyes at the thought of him knowing her true identity. Twins help her, she would never be left alone. Such a nieve puppy that one is. Ess didn’t feel he was dangerous, but perhaps a bit obsessed.

"Ow." Luke whined as the woman slapped his face, a snicker escaping soon after. "In my defense, you were not supposed to remember the violation." He stated. "That was the point, you know? Can't possibly be the worst thing someone's ever done to you, now can it?" He asked, raising an eyebrow. "Don't worry though, I have no intention of telling anyone any secrets, but I'm sure you understand why I did it, we're not all that different you and I... Or so it seems." He said stepping closer to the woman and examining her as if he could see under her skin. "A creature of habits, not proud of what you do, but knows no other ways, had little rules and codes to make it seem like it's not so bad, not get into too much trouble, not get hurt... Like me in a way. You change your face, I erase mine. Much like you, I protect my business."

He pulled back, and tilted his head in a curious gesture. "I wonder though, do you still do what you do because you accept your place in the world or because you're afraid of what greater thing you might be destined to? I think that, despite your obvious skills in this line of work of yours, that you waste your ability by fulfilling the fantasies of rich fools. Why not fulfill your own instead? Or have you been broken to such an extent that you simply have none left?" He closed his eyes and breathed in slowly as if he had caught the scent of something in the air, then opened them and flashed his usual psychotic smile. "Tell me, are you planning on ever being as strong as you can be or was I wrong to let you live that night?" He motioned as if to reach for her face, but stopped halfway through. "Are you just another disappointment, or can you actually see..." He mumbled, softly, as if speaking to himself, not saying what he expected her to see exactly.

Finally he lowered his hand and pulled away some more, chuckling as if he had snapped out of trance suddenly. Leaning back against the wall and giving a little shrug he added: "You told me to ask... Those are my questions."

http://youtu.be/w31mjtTMvRo Egypt Central-White Rabbit

Crossing her arms casually, Ess leaned back, placing some weight on her left hip. She stared at Luckas for a moment before she answered, smiling with a respectful nod.

“Thank you. I hope you realize, I did not attempt to pursue this idea of you even if I thought I would succeed. Nor did I speak to anyone about our encounter and the skum that ....died unpleasantly. Nice touch by the way. I’m impressed at your gift.”

Taking a deep breath she thought carefully at his observation. “I suppose...we are much alike. I know if I had your gift, I would proceed down a similar path. We both pretend and put up a front, not letting others inside how we truly feel and in your case you have the advantage. We appreciate truth yet we lie to ourselves. We mean well yet are hypocrites.”

Unfolding her arms she leaned in close, her curls almost touching his chest and whispered, “Why would you have killed me? Do you really see me as such a waste? Perhaps you need to justify your own existence, judging others?” Ess chuckled, her fingertips tapping along her thigh in thought.

“I may not have discovered all the answers to the questions you lay before me, but I can tell you this. I am no coward and I have not given up on life. I am still here and have done what is needed to survive...” She drifted in thought, still staring up into Luke’s eyes. “Maybe I have given up on people and that is why I continue to ‘pretend.’ Perhaps I have not found others worth my trust and friendship...or I am still figuring all that out.”

Ess leaned into him, placing her hand against his chest. “Tell me if I am lying.” She dared, knowing she spoke truthfully. “I work to better myself in my studies, in books on anything I can get my hands on. I search for a teacher or teachers of many kinds of talents, and I keep personal goals always in my thoughts. I admit we all can be weak, but our will can make us strong.”

Luckas grabbed the woman's hand and slowly pulled it away from his chest, holding back a wince caused by the pain on the wounded area. Releasing her, he replied. "I feel no need to justify my existence, the fact that I exist is not my responsibility, nor was it my choice, so why should I justify it? And we all judge others, I'm being judged for my words right now, aren't I? The question however, isn't why I would kill you, the question is: Why not?" He chuckled. "Back then, the fact that you were there would have been more than enough, yet I didn't. Funny, huh?"

Luckas scratched at his chest absently, the touch had been enough to remind him of the itchy bandages, and sighed. "And do you appreciate the truth? You have to know something to truly appreciate it, no? How well do you suppose you know yourself? No, I don't think you are weak, or a waste, I do however believe you are so used to pretending that one of these days you might just believe your own illusions. See, almost everything we do is with the simple goal of not getting hurt, physically or emotionally, doesn't matter. If a memory is to painful to bear our minds will block it out, if admitting to a particular truth is too painful we will lie to spare ourselves that pain as well... eventually it reaches a point when everything around us is built around those lies, and we lose ourselves. So tell me: Is not feeling pain worth living an illusion?" He shrugged. "Those things you seek: Knowledge, companionship, trust... They are all illusions as well in a way. The truths written in books are proven wrong and then other books are written, and then proven wrong, and so on. As for trust and friendship..." He chuckled. "Well, no one truly trusts anyone, not completely. Not really. At most people like to pretend they trust, but give them one little reason to suspect another and they will immediately find a thousand more... And then there goes the trust. If something can be shattered so easily, what is point of having it in the first place?"

Luke sighed softly. "See... I've gone through enough minds to know that, while mommies and daddies out there like to say otherwise, people are pretty much the same. There are rare people I've met who have proved themselves to be truly unique in one way or another... And while you are unique, Essence, you try so hard to be like everyone else that it just makes me wonder what's the point." He shook his head. "Suppose I'm just naive that way: I have hope that there is something other than mediocrity hidden out there somewhere. Though I may never know for sure."

Essence smiled sweetly, relaxing more as she listened to Luckas. Agreeing with much he had said, she nodded here and there as he spoke. She remained silent, politely absorbing his words. She thought about how he carried much wisdom from his journeys thus far in life, and she felt it a relief to have someone on a similar level to converse with. They both knew they had more in life to learn and discover and perhaps admit to themselves. Even the sad and depressing she felt was not worse than no feelings at all. She did realize before he spoke, that she has denied herself much throughout the years, but she slowly was changing that. Ess knew she was soon to discover another path, taking her into the exciting unknown.

In reference to Luke’s words on trust, she did not agree completely, but that did not matter. She did however dwell on his final observation of herself: “ And while you are unique, Essence, you try so hard to be like everyone else that it just makes me wonder what's the point."

Essence wasn’t sure if she fully understood that perception. She did know she wanted to be accepted, but she did not have many friends. She did not conform or deny herself in general in order to be accepted, so she therefore was alone. Perhaps she was hiding from the world. Maybe she did not wish to relieve the cruel injustices of her childhood, and therefore tried to act like it never existed. Yet, she knew that wasn’t the case. Maybe she just never found closure, and she needed to discover what that would be to take the next step forward in her life.

After what seemed like an eternity of silence, she realized he was still staring at her, as if waiting for a response. Ess dipped her head in a sign of respect, and her true smile shone through. “You have an ‘Old Soul’ Luckas. You intrigue me and I hope to have the pleasure of more of these encounters with you.” Ess’s violet iris’s dimmed in their glow, a mischievous grin taking over her expression. It was not quite clear what she was thinking, but it was not menacing towards Luckas.

“So, if you had my gift, what would you do with it?”

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Character Portrait: Luckas Character Portrait: Ess
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Blackbird and Essence


Luckas was slightly surprised at the words Ess spoke to him. No one had ever considered him... An 'Old Soul', whatever that meant. People usually saw him as a misbehaved kid, only creepier. He wasn't sure about what that told him about her, maybe she was even more messed up than him, and while messed up people usually bored him... Something about this woman was appealing to him on some level. Not just appealing as attractive women usually were, but in the level of something familiar, which for him was simply the oddest thing.

She asked him what he would do if he had her gift. Luckas flinched at the question, it was almost as if she knew... But then there was no way she could know that, no one knew, only the Healer. Forcing a smile, not to show his confusion, he shrugged. "That's an interesting question. Perhaps I would do the same things I do now, perhaps I would do something else entirely." He snickered. "That... That is an answer I still plan on obtaining one day."

Then he sighed, realizing that a considerable amount time had passed as they stood in the hall. "Are you waiting on someone, still?" He asked. "Seems like they might have forgotten you, although I'm not sure how that's possible." He joked.

Ess glanced up and down the hallway, considering his answer to her question. She gave a tired shrug, “Suppose I was. Wouldn’t be the first time....I’m sure something came up.” Remembering her dagger she cursed to herself but thought it would be an excuse to come back here tomorrow if she didn’t run into the Guard Captain sooner.

Ess had the feeling Luckas wasn’t giving her the entire truth when he answered her, but she wasn’t one to nit pick. She understood him some what, as much as she tried to understand herself...Which was still confusing at times, so she felt they were on a similar level. It was if he was dancing around an idea in his head that he wasn’t sure he should give away just yet. His amusement gave her the impression it may be entertaining.

“Well...I don’t think I remember how to get out of this drafty Castle...” Her expression genuinly confused for a moment as she looked back towards Luckas.

“When you figure it out Luckas, let me know. Perhaps it will interest me to...entertain your idea...” A giggle escaped her lips, her chest rising and falling in a hypnotizing manner. “Or maybe we’ll kill each other one day...I’d rather keep you around though, you seem useful.” Her left eye winking at him, the scar giving the flirt a chilling allure.

Turning she picked the wrong way to exit the hallway, as she knew not what kept the man from killing her that night, years ago. It intrigued her that he would mention his pull to not kill her, but why if he cared not? Keeping the question to herself she stopped and cursed yet again.

“Can you point me in the right direction out of this tomb?” She growled, a bit disgruntled.

Luckas opened a delighted grin at her mention of him being useful to her, he observed the way she flirted, oh so subtly, while she spoke and wondered if she even controlled these gestures of if they had become so natural that she barely noticed them anymore. It was a front similar to his, only dangerous in a different way. Might even be a little more dangerous than his, thinking about it. "Well... Maybe we're mutually useful. I did enjoy myself last time I took care of one of your misbehaved 'friends', what was his name? Dean? No, it was Anthony, actually, but you called him Dean. Poor bastard." Luke said absently. "I wouldn’t mind taking care of another, if it's ever the case. Although, I expect you to be more careful nowadays."

Following that statement he began walking towards the nearest way out. "I'll lead you out." He stated. "You still live in the same address, right?" He asked with a chuckle. Of course he didn't plan on following her home, but he still enjoyed implying that he knew where she lived.

Ess began following Luckas, tilting her head in a curious gesture at his mention of Dean as she remembered:

Rubbing her wrist, she knew bruises were already forming. Course it could of been worse. Dean, as she had called the “knight,” was a classic smooth talker who decided he wanted things a little too rough for Ess’s liking. It had taken several blows to Dean’s throat for him to back away, the wind escaping him. He had been still alive when she left, and she managed to make off with his coin purse. It was quite the profit, considering she was only with him about half an hour. Ess left as quickly as she could, knowing there were dire consequences for robbing and assaulting a knight, if that’s who he really was.

“Ahh....so you were responsible for his distraught....wife? Was it?” Ess couldn’t keep the devilish smile from her lips. She had heard through the grapevine about the man’s tragic suicide. It all came neatly together, most conveniently. As they continued on, she wondered what made her so special enough to basically inconvenience himself?

“So...why do I remember some things anyways? Shouldn’t you kill me for that?” She scoffed.
“Or do you find you actually feel something other than discust for a complete stranger?” She didn’t wait for the answer, as she figured it was a rhetorical question. Ess had a similar experience before, she had almost forgotten about some days.

“Don’t think I owe you anything for that now.”

Luckas led the woman to the castle gates before answering her. "I don't do favors." He stated simply. "And my reasons are for me to know and you to try and find out if you have the time and patience. Besides, we're not completely strangers, now are we Ess? I think I came to know you quite well, on some level, you might even know me. Only time will tell if I'll have have to kill you for that, but I'd rather enjoy it for now, while it lasts." Giving a playful wink, he turned around and began to walk back, looking for a place to settle down and sleep for a few hours, hopefully.

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Character Portrait: Ess Character Portrait: Kirsten Somare
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*Nibbles and Essence*

Ess had not seen Tala since the night before. She was not at her usual spot by the front door when Ess awoke that morning. There was no worry in her expression, not until she called several times for her furry friend with no response.

“I thought you wanted to go hunting Taaaala!?” She yelled into the crisp, morning air. Her neighbor was sweeping out his home, to pause and look at Ess curiously as if she were yelling at herself.

“Damn wolf..” she muttered.

With a sigh, Ess went to grab her Relic sword, hidden away beneath a floorboard. She never did get to see Mageria again last night, to retrieve the matching dagger. Perhaps later that day she would run into the Captain Guard again.

"" “Well, if you want to learn some moves with the blade, some of my people earn a bit of coin by giving lessons. Give me a chance to assess your skills as they stand, and I can figure out who would be best to work with you."

Ess needed to start somewhere to advance her sword skills. She understood it would not happen over night, but it was necessary to better herself and she had been slacking. Long ago she had made a promise, and out of grief tossed it aside as if it had not mattered.

Strapping her sword to her belt, she straightened out her green tunic that draped around her curves. Pulling her breeches tight around her waist, she secured the sword. Ess relinquished her blade from it’s sheath, staring at it softly. Still no idea what the silver engraved markings stood for, she tilted the blade in the morning sunlight from her window. The bright rays casted odd shapes along her wall in reflection before she brought the blade home to her left hip.

“Since your brother isn’t here today,” she spoke tapping her sword hilt absently with her fingers, “..guess your cousins will have to do.” Reaching beneath her mattress she retrieved several finger sized throwing knives. Simple, fairly plain, she hid them along her waist, beneath her sleeves and tucked into her black velvet boots.

Fastening her cloak around her hour glass form, she stared into her mirror, lost momentarily in the porcelain face that watched back.

“Almost forgot....” she flinched, reaching for a red, leather journal. “I haven’t written to Blue Eyes today...” The journal consisted of letters to her past; to someone she lost very long ago who was quite dear to her soul. She wrote:

A beautiful morning it is today my friend. You are missed as always, never forgotten. I am sorry that I haven’t been keeping my promise, but I am changing that. I met a few different sorts of young people last night. One, who may lead me to the path that was your dream...To become a knight and protect the people. I will train hard, and continue to gain knowledge by collecting and determining results based on my own conclusions. No one is to tell us that we are not good enough for this world. That we don’t deserve to be here. Someone..or something is threatening the good people here in NewHaven. What kind of person would I be if I went against myself? If I ignore the evil and let it thrive and not even try, would I still be a good person? You would be so disappointed in me if I did. I taught you better than that I think.

I will make you proud of me, wherever you may travel now, lost from this world.

Love Your friend,
Ess


Tucking the journal beneath her tunic, keeping it close to her heart she made her way out the door. Still no sign of Tala, she headed out the nearest gate on foot having a pretty good idea where to find her this time of day, outside the city walls.

Kirsten rode into the city at a gallop, the speckled horse he was on was lathered with a foamy sweat and froth flew from his lips. He pulled the beast to a stop, the red cloak covering his face slipping back as the horse reared. His black eyes seared through the crowd, looking for a girl dressed as a man. His eyes caught the gaze of several, including a beautiful woman who looked ready to fight. Unfortunately her eyes were not blue and brown but a stunning violet. He spurred his hose over to her, carefully making his way through the horde of people. He stopped in front of her, his black riders forming a tight circle around her.
“My lady, we mean no harm to you,” he said with a slightly amused grin on his face as she reached for her sword. He dismounted tossing back his black hair from his face and nodding to her.
“Have you heard or seen of a peculiar girl. She would be moving around mostly at night, dressed as a man perhaps?”
His golden brown eyes looked deeply into hers, searching them for a trace of a lie as she responded.

http://youtu.be/mSAgaUoNeso DA Party Camp

Essence huffed in surprise as she was stopped suddenly just paces from the gate. Quirking a brow she met the gaze of the dark haired stranger, her fingers lingering upon the hilt of her heirloom blade, eyes darting right and left as she was surrounded. ‘Not a threat....huh?’ she mused to herself. ‘Must be a joke.’

“Yes, I pay attention to every woman who wanders this city, didn’t you know?” She sneered with a sarcastic tone. She looked down at her pants and looked back up into the man’s golden brown orbs.

“I’m dressed like a man...does that mean you are looking for me?” She hissed towards him. Ess had things to do, and was not in the mood to be foiled in her plans. “I don’t know you, so I’d say not. If you don’t mind...” She nodded behind him towards the gate. “I was just going on a hunting trip of my own.”

Ess straightened, her fingers leaving her sword, inattentively fiddling with the cuff of her left sleeve. Her obvious annoyed demeanor quickly changed, lush lips spreading into an attractive smile. “Unless you wish to join me good sir?” She whispered alluringly, her violet eyes glowing slightly, as they usually did whenever she had an emotion of any kind.



“Don’t worry about it,” he said smiling sweetly and taking her hand to press his lips gently upon them, “Perhaps you will give me the liberty of meeting you later perhaps?”
Before he could wait for a response though there was a shout from the rooftops and his eyes focused on his man, waving his arms just a few houses down. He swung back up onto his horse, his eyes fixed on the man in black before riding off without another glace at the girl. He was sure that he would see her again, and soon. She knew things and he found himself wondering how she could use her to find the girl. He mused on this for awhile. Before nodding sharply at his men and turning and riding back to the girl.
"I will join you but only for awhile. Dont try your mind tricks, violet eyes they wont work on me."
He extended his hand, offering her a lift up onto his horse, waiting for her to take it.

Ess laughed sweetly, shaking her head. “I can not help the color of my eyes good sir...” Cutting herself off, she grabbed his arm, using the leverage to hoist herself upon the horse. Adjusting her sword, she wrapped her arms snug like around his waist. “If you find yourself weak and hypnotized against a flirt of a woman, then perhaps that is your problem, not mine.” Ess teased.

As the horse turned abruptly around, facing the gate entrance she nodded, still smiling. She tossed loose curls from out her eyes, exposing her tattoo like scar, etched below her left eye. Ess was a little perturbed but non the less accepting of the company, especially since tracking Tala on foot would take much longer.

“My name is Essence, and I thank you for the lift.” She awaited his reply as they headed out past the city guards, towards the dense foliage of the forest. Riding hard into the forest Ess tucked her lip against her top teeth and blew, an ear piercing whistle echoing into the air. It rang out for about fifteen seconds, rising and falling in a unique melody. She used it often to call for Tala, amidst the other tunes she had taught the wolf to respond to.

“Stupid wolf..” She muttered again, hearing no response.

He shook his head roaring in laughter as they cantered out of the gates, the whistle sharp in his ears.
“The call me Kirsten,” he called back, “And don’t worry, we will find your wolf.”
He offered no explanation of how he knew this, only whistling sharply into the air. He held out his arm, slowing the horse to a rolling canter as a scream filled the air and a brown hawk landed out on his arm. As soon as they hit the woods he slowed the horse, dismounting and pulling Essence from his back.
“Your wolf is nearby, Kie will take you straight to her as soon as you answer just a few things,” He sat down on a log, moving his sword.
“I’m sorry girl, I happen to be a bit of a flirt, I will admit to that. But as you are enlightened I see no reason why you would lie about the color of your eyes. Hide what you will I do not need to know,” he said holding up his gloved hand to keep her from speaking, “Essence, I am in need of your aid. My sister has disappeared from home and mother has sent me to find her. She is strange, silver hair and different color eyes. If you hear or see anything, whistle like you did to your wolf and Kie will find you. He will bring you to me. If you hear of anything, anything at all I beg you to tell me.”
He stood sharply, walking close enough to gently touch her arm but respectfully keeping his hands down by his side. His eyes glimmered, his face fallen; his whole body was acting for his cause very well. He waited for her response, eagerly looking into her eyes and searching her face.

Ess nodded towards Kirsten and his Hawk. She was a bit taken back that he knew she had an enlightenment, but she was not lying. The hint that she was hiding something did send her voice into a mocking response. “And why should I trust you? Who says this woman is your sister?..Perhaps you are trying to kill her?”

Crossing her arms she turned her head aside walking off in another direction. “My eyes...are always this color...” She hissed defensively. Ess has never really trusted any man, except one, so why would she confide in this Kirsten. Turning back to face him, she cleared her throat. “My apologies for being rash, but one can not be too careful around here. I appreciate your assistance, but I have no way of knowing if you speak the truth. If I come across....this sister of yours...we shall see...I can't promise anything."

He nodded, his black eyes shining. His hand rested on the hilt of his sword, running his fingers along it.
“You are wise to doubt, m’lady,” he said dipping his head slightly; “I give you my word as a human being. But then, as you are a cautious women, I suspect that will not be enough to convince you. I only can hope that you will take my words to heart and see how much I need to find this girl before she kills another,” he shook his head sadly, “But I would say that my time here has ended and I must get back to my men in the city.”
He whistled lightly and Kie came soaring down from a nearby branch, settling down on his shoulder. The brown hawk nuzzled into his shoulder. Smiling lightly Kirsten taped the hawk under his beak gently.
“You know what to do,” he whispered and then watched as he spread out his wings and flew towards Essence.
“Raise your arm out,” he directed watching carefully as she did so and Kie landed on her arm, “He will stay with you until you have found your wolf. We will meet again Essence.”
He walked carefully over to the grazing horse that had wandered off to a nearby tree. He took the reins and mounted up, looking down at the girl with wonder and mild curiosity.

Ess gave a genuine smile as she looked from the Hawk to Kirsten. Gently her finger stroked the top of the Hawk’s head, smoothing out some ruffled feathers. She was awed by the bird’s loyalty to this stranger but more so by the fact that he offered her assistance without even knowing (to her knowledge) what kind of person she was. Few offered out trust before it was earned, but she supposed this was his attempt at earning hers. In his observation of their meeting in the future, she couldn’t deny that possibility.

“I suppose we may.”

He turned his horse back to the city, running the poor beast back through the gates and over the stones. His hood back up over his face and the people running to get out of his way as he rode past. Kirsten knew that at the taverns that night, talk of his arrival would be spreading. Who he was and what he wanted would be unknown and that would inflame the rumor. He didn’t mind, he liked it when his prey knew he was there. It amped their fear and fear made them reckless and short-sighted. Even without Essence’s help he was sure that he would find the girl with the different colored eyes, Phantom.

Kie still on Ess’ arm fluttered his wings slightly as she kneeled down to the snow, her free hand running over the slushy mud as she inspected for tracks. It was easy to find Tala’s prints amidst the hoof marks from several horses passing this way. Before standing back up, she noted the pinching of the Hawk’s claws into her left arm and gave a wave of her arm hinting for Kie to take his leave. With her free arm she pointed towards the west, where the trees were thick and darkened with little light passing their branches.

“That way we must go.” She stated to the Hawk, unsure if it would understand, but to her surprise it took off from her arm, circling above as she stood and continued on foot down the dark path. Absently Ess sang quietly to herself...

“Light...and fragile...she’s feather sky blue....”

Glancing toward the sky, she watched the hawk listening to it’s call. Ess couldn’t imagine how free it must feel to fly, light and floating on the wind.

“She flys....so high...up...in the sky...way out of reach...of human eyes..”

By Kie’s cries, she knew it was following her as she ventured forward, pausing now and then in her tune to whistle for her wolf. Her mind wandered back to last night, flashes of blood and gore, the meeting of her first Black knight, and to end with a strange, forgotten reunion of a fellow lost soul. Luckas. She hadn’t honestly decided if she would kill him one day or take him to bed. Maybe both? She laughed. 'He probably wouldn’t even know what to do.’ She cackled to herself.
Muttering to herself, “That would be the day." Still, there was something about him she couldn’t pin point, and it was enough to keep her interest for the time being. It wasn’t like she had anything better to do, except look for her lost wolf. Ess sighed, a bit annoyed. Luckas was, the only other person who knew her some what, even if it wasn’t by choice.

An hour or so passed before she came to a thicket where the tracks ended.
“Okay Tala...come girl..” She called. As she glanced back up towards the sky, the Hawk was swooping down towards her, causing Ess to grow nervous, she ducked thinking the Hawk would land on her head. Instead it preyed upon a field mouse, taking off with the life within it’s talons.

“Shit...What was that?!”

A sudden howl distracted her, she turned just in time to see Tala tackle her to the ground.
“Ah, geez Tala, who was hunting who, eh?” She joked, ruffling the wolf’s furry neck, Tala panting happily in her face. “Still the better hunter...” Another cry from the Hawk, Ess looked over to a nearby bush, Kie eyeing her a bit oddly. She wished she could understand what it was thinking as it fluttered it wings, screamed at her and flew off back towards the city.
~~~~~~~~~~~~
Kirsten slowed his mount as he reached his black riders in the alleyway where Phantom had been the night before. They handed him the Rose Blade, the ivory hilt now blackened and scuffed from the ground below. His gloved hand gently wrapped around the blade and was sorely disappointed that there was not a trace of blood. His men motioned him to climb to the roof top and that is exactly what he did.His eyes burned with anger as he saw one of his best men lying on the roof, dead. He kicked the lifeless body shouting at two men to clean it up. He watched as they did so, the bloodlust rising in him.

'So Phantom,' he thought, 'I guess none of my men will be able to do the job. Guess it’s my turn to hunt.'
His black eyes scanned the rooftop, searching for any more clues when he found them; blood against the wall, sign of a struggle, footprints. Not just two pairs, but four. He smiled as he realized that his quarry was being aided and that she herself could not have been able to handle his best. If she was being aided, well, that meant that news of her arrival would spread through the city. She would have to come out of hiding one day and her “protectors” would be right beside her. He would have his men out on the roof tops, watching the comings and goings of people from the buildings and if they saw something suspicious they would let him know. That, and he also had Essence to rely on as well.

She puzzled him but as soon as he had looked in her eyes Kirsten had known her biggest fear and it made his stomach twist with pleasure. Her eyes were striking and the effect they would have on men untrained unlike him, would be devastating. He had extended out his hand and trust and she had taken it. He knew right away that she had seen right though his sister story but that didn’t bother him too much. If she came to see him, she came. If not well, that would only be a slight dent in his plan. She was a sweet girl and he honestly did not want to kill her but if she began to cause trouble.... Kirsten let his mind wander as he leapt from the roof top and walked back to his horse. He would start his search at the tavern, and then move on to look for healers who had recently done some work on a girl. Based on the blood left on the roof, Phantom was going to need one. He nodded briskly to his men, watching as one by one they rode off, tiny pieces of mirrors in their hands to signal each other across the roofs.
He moved through the crowed street, his blood red cape shining with its gold embroidery along the edges. His horse pranced under him, very conscious of the looks that its rider was getting from those on foot. There was something dark about this Stranger and Kirsten had to hold back a couple smirks as mothers drew their children close to their breasts and men hurried to get out of his way. He urged the dappled grey forward and the horse obediently did so, turning to skip down an alleyway. When he was sure no one was around he dismounted walking to stand in front of his horse.

“Easy Demono,” he said gently, stroking the horse’s nose. The horse instantly calmed, his prancing feet striking the earth one last time before falling still. Kirsten smiled and carefully took the reins, leading Demono through the alley and toward a stable. There he gave him quickly to a stable boy, paying him right there before walking off. His head hurt from all the things that had already happened today and his throat was dry, he needed a drink. His eyes darkened as he caught sight of a little urchin hiding in the dark and he strode past without a backwards glance, the boy reminding him of a younger, less deadly him. He stopped a little girl running down the street and asked her sweetly where the nearest healer could be found. She pointed, her little mouth forming the shape of an O at the beauty of Kirsten. He thanked her and gently ruffled her hair before continuing onward. Kids, he always had a soft spot for them. They were just so innocent and willing to trust.

He shook his head and smiled, thinking back to a kid he once knew. Her name was Eri or Ari, something like that. She had the greenest eyes of anyone he had ever met, including his sister. She boasted about adventures that she had never taken and strangely, she had no fear that he could find. Her eyes were what he remembered most.
Kirsten shook his head quickly before continuing onward, thinking too long about the past was dangerous. Better to look to the future. His eyes flickered as a directed beam fell across his face. He squinted, holding up his hand to block the ray and see who it was. One of his black riders was standing on the rooftop. The light flashed once, twice, three times, and then after a short pause, a fourth time.
He smiled. His prey had been located.

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Character Portrait: Ess
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INK

Essence and her wolf managed to kill off a few hours of the morning hunting. Tala, of course, was up on her by three rabbits.

“No fair Tala, you can smell them before I see the little buggers.”

Tala tilted her head to the side, curiously staring up at Ess, giving the appearance of a cocky smile as she panted from all her excursions. Ess turned her gaze to catch sight of a fat squirrel shuffling up the trunk of an oak. In one fluid motion, without even the slightest pause, one of her hidden throwing knives appeared at her finger tips; spinning her body in a 180 degree turn, she extended her arm gracefully, aiming and releasing the blade at the animal’s head. With a defined curse, Ess watched the squirrel twitch and flutter before falling limp, it’s body impaled through the chest.

“My aim is off today, Tala.” Ess lectured herself, attempting to reenact her movements empty handed this time, as if to school herself when she should of released the blade. When she was satisfied, she repeated the motions a final time in the opposite direction, her left hand releasing another finger size blade into her targets’ skull. With an accomplished grin she strolled over to the tree, retrieving her daggers and prize, stringing the body through a rope she carried the days collection upon.

Making their way back into the city, Ess and Tala stumbled upon a curious scene. Tala ran forward in a sudden burst of energy, playfully scaring some vulturs that were picking away at a corpse. Thinking it was an animal or something, Ess didn’t pay any attention at first until she noticed Tala was not following her. Turning back towards the wolf she approached the pitiful remains of a man, his chest torn open by what could only have been a sword, entrails staining the slush around it. Ess squatted down to inspect the body, noticing it couldn’t of been there more than a day due to the decomposition, although the birds seemed to have been enjoying their feast, not leaving too much to verify for sure. Staring at the man, bulging eyes and look of horror frozen on his face ironically made Ess smile devilishly as she remembered the first time she saw such an expression..

About 16 years ago...BlackPond

Ebony did not awaken Ess with her normal taunting of words or by fire poker. Those days, when Ess blocked out her sickening insults, Ebony would beat her with the poker leaving bruised indents along her back and underside of her legs.

Today, Ess slept in after sunrise without so much as a squeak of her bedroom door. Just as she began to stir, the sun’s rays streaming across her eyelids, a shrill cry from one of the servants rang out into the morning air. Another heart beat passed and the alarm rang high in a nearby watchtower.

“Poisoned!” A man’s voice accused, followed by one of the city guards’ sword cutting through the air, the sound creating a thick thud.

“Get down from there, or I’ll cut you down!” The guard commanded.

Ess jumped out of bed, opening the window in a flash. Sticking her head outside, she watched as in the nearby fields where the warning bell stood, an amusing scene of a frantic man ringing the bell only to be surrounded by several guardsmen. The man above had kicked down the ladder, and refused to let it lean against the tower, preventing the guards from climbing after him.

“No one cares about your blasted sister Derek!” The guard screamed. “You couldn’t pay us enough to care about who killed Ebony.” Ess quirked a brow watching with sudden intense interest as more guardsmen began chopping at the shabby, wooden tower, attempting to take Derek down with it.

“I must be dreaming,” Ess whispered to herself, still a bit disorientated. “It worked? It really worked?”

One Week Prior:

“You're not a bad person, because I trust my gut and my gut says you're the best girl I know and if you hurt someone I'll always believe they deserved it no matter what anybody else says; because you are my friend, and I know you."

It was not long after her conversation with her young, blue eyed friend that Ess came to a decision. She had spent the past few months reading about the uses of different plant life; the pros vs the cons. There were many that caught her attention, but only one she found easily and plentiful just outside the city: The Water Hemlock. The leaves and flower like tops were harmless, but the stems contained some kind of sap that was quite poisonous.

‘Sometimes mistaken for wild parsnips or artichokes.’ She read. Of course Ess didn’t really know what parsnips or artichokes were, but she figured it must be something edible. She also discovered that sometimes quails would eat the hemlock and if people ate the quail, they could be poisoned by proxy.

‘Early symptoms of poisoning included agitation and delirium,(Not too much difference in Ebony’s personality there...Ess thought.) progressing into vomiting, stomach pains, excess salivation...’

“They drool too much?” Ess laughed out loud. “Like dogs?”

‘Final stages may include hemorrhaging, heart failure, convulsions, seizures..’

It definitely seemed painful enough to her, if not poetic.
________________________

Essence pulled herself away from the window and slowly approached her door. There she stood, listening to the commotion. She was slightly disappointed she wasn’t there for Ebony’s final moments, curiosity taking hold of her. Cracking the door open to peek, she witnessed several servants running in and out of Ebony’s room, down the hall, followed by a healer shaking his head slowly to himself. When she thought it was clear, she jogged down the hallway to peek into Ebony’s room where her body still lye. Ess’s eyes widened in absolute awe.

Ebony’s body was half on her bed, her head touching the floor. Oozing from her open eyes, trails of blood were drying down her cheeks and along her forehead. Her lips were wide, frothy in white, yellowish foam. 'Drool...’ Ess thought amusingly to herself. The woman’s expression of pure pain and horror gave Ess an excited feeling, a mischievous smile curling her lips. Ess had been worried she didn’t dilute Ebony’s food enough with the sap and had gone a little overboard with it. In the kitchen the night before she had laced her wine, the soup, and the sauce on the meat and potatoes.

Ess quickly ran back to her room at the sound of another servants’ voice, “She hit me because we didn’t have anymore soup and then began to throw up all over herself.” The woman complained. “By the time the healer came in this morning, we were holding her down as she thrashed in her bed. It was all we could do to stop her from slamming her head or biting off her tongue..”

With a crash, Ess could hear the tower fall, Derek running full speed into the brothel as the guards taunted him. She remembered a little nugget of knowledge that proved useful, since she lived in BlackPond: The city guards could be bought off, but not the castle guards.

“Nice touch on my behalf,” she grinned a wicked smile, thinking back how it only took some extra silver to accomplish her goal. Course their family’s lack of popularity couldn’t of hurt either.

Jumping back into her bed, Ess picked up her book, flipping through the pages frantically.
“I wonder if I can use poison on knives....” The teenager muttered to herself, her eyes glowing brightly in simple happiness.
~~~~~~~~~
Present

Essence stood, a curious laugh escaping her lips as she motioned for Tala to follow, leaving the body behind without a care in the world. ‘Probably deserved it,’ she thought to herself, the city gate almost within sight upon the horizon.

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Character Portrait: Mageria Talsheir Character Portrait: Ess
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It was almost 930 in the morning now as Ess, accompanied by Tala, made their way towards the Castle. As she had entered the town, the citizens were a buzz about a small battle that occurred not too long ago this morning, the description of the men involved sent a warning bell through her brain. ‘So...’ She thought, ‘ I knew that man was not to be trusted..’

Quickly she had gutted and skinned her prizes from the morning hunt. She wasn’t sure if the Captain Guard would be available but she decided the sooner she got there the better. Still wearing her sword at her hip, the guards had stopped her at the gate, requesting the relic as they would escort her inside to meet their captain. With a deep sigh she unwillingly relinquished the sword. “As long as it stays within eye sight this time.” She stated flatly. One of the guardsmen went to frisk her before allowing her to pass, Ess grabbing his wrist hard, a sudden growl escaping her lips.

“Touch me..and you wish you were never born...”

Tala growled softly by Ess’s side, one of the guards lecturing, “You had better keep that wolf under control or else...”

“Hey! I don’t control her, she controls me.” She laughed, giving the smart ass comment.

“Just let me see the Captain, I have business with her.”

It seemed like she would never be allowed to enter as she began bickering with the guards. She was refusing to let either of the men search her, finding it demeaning.

“Go get a woman to do it then, will ya. I haven’t got all day....and the only way I’ll let a man put his hands on me without paying, is over my dead body!”

~~~~~

Mageria had been dealing with typical early morning details, working with Jason to help him get his Enlightenment under control, inventory, that sort of thing. Except for working with Jason, it was all things that she was doing simply to kill time while she was waiting for the Council meeting to start. So she was glad when she a runner brought her a message that there was someone at the front gate who wanted to talk to her, the description matched Ess, and she had felt really bad that she hadn't been able to return the woman's dagger the other day. Grabbing it from the lockup, she went down to where Ess was waiting just in time to hear the last. With a sharp whistle, she brought everyone's attention to her, dismissing the guards with a nod and smiling apologetically at Ess.
"I really am sorry about last night. I meant to be right back and then I got called to a meeting. You can't exactly tell the Queen that you'll get to her as soon as possible." She held out the dagger in one hand, offering it back.
"If this is all you're here for, then I'm sorry it took so long." She tilted her head to the side. "But if you were still interested in learning some new tricks . . . then I've got time."

There was something about this woman that interested her, something that spoke to her as a Captain. Over the years she had learned how to spot people who might have what it took to be part of the Guard, and she thought that this Ess might have that special something. She didn't know the full set of skills that the woman possessed, but fighting skills alone didn't make someone useful. There was something in the back of her eyes . . . something that said she had been through hell and still kept fighting. That sort of spirit was not something she was inclined to let go without trying to lure them to her team.
~~~~
Ess’s lips widened in a large smile as Mageria approached, dismissing her guards. Nodding politely she graciously took back her sword from the guard at her side before he trotted off, adding the matching dagger to her other hip.

“My apologies Captain, guess they hit a nerve.” Looking down at Tala, she gave a soothing pat to the wolf’s head, the animal’s tail wagging happily the second Mageria came over to them. “No luck with picking up the scent...” She added quickly, feeling she should probably report the body she found, “But I did come across another body this morning, about half hour west of the city, just off the main road. Looks like it was there a day or so. Vulturs did a number on it.”

Ess quirked a brow at herself wondering what he deal was the past couple days, finding dead bodies all around and shook her head trying not to laugh. In response to the Captain’s offer, Ess’s eyes beamed with curiosity. “I would not dare say no to such a gracious offer. What do I need to do?”
~~~~
Mageria held one hand out to the side, inviting Ess in. "It's . . . been an interesting couple of days." She glanced at Ess and shrugged. "You'll hear about it soon enough. While my people were backtracking the trail that we found they came across a couple of people fighting. They stepped in, and took the victim to one of the aid stations. The next morning, the station was attacked as well. That's why they couldn't take care of the body, they were busy taking care of the wounded." She started to lead Ess towards the practice grounds.

"Now, the first thing we have to do is go through your skills and see what needs work, what needs tweaking, and what just needs polishing." They reached the grounds and Mageria opened a cabinet, showing a wide variety of practice gear, blunted knives, swords, and anything else that could be used to kill somebody.
"If you don't mind using some of this, we can get started." She shrugged out of her own coat, choosing two long daggers and stepping back.
~~~~
Essence followed the Captain inside, untying her belt as she came to a halt, her eyes watching her rummaging through practice weapons. She nodded here and there at the appropriate points as the Captain spoke, setting aside her primary weapons. Her fingers quickly tied back her thick curls, before falling upon a set of short swords. She didn’t see anything at the moment weighted quite like her blade she was accustomed to, but she had practiced with chair legs before, so this was an upgrade.

“Stay, Tala.” She commanded her furry friend, the wolf laying down lazily.

Stretching, her wrists twisted, the swords rotating in circles in front of her form, getting a feel of the new weight. She was excited for this chance, but slightly nervous, although she wouldn’t show it. Ess eyed Mageria closely, as if inspecting every detail of her form, down to the details of her skin. It was almost eery, as she didn’t wait for another word to be spoken, she rushed forward to begin the evaluation, beginning with a basic assault. Ess’s right arm slashed through the air towards her belly, the left moving across Mageria’s chest. Expecting a standard block to each, she launched her left foot, kicking at the Captains left knee.
~~~~
Ess didn't give any indication of when she was going to attack, which was good. On the other hand, she made no bones about seizing her up, which made it clear that she was going to attack. Mageria blocked both slashes smoothly, knocking them to one side or the other. As she moved she shifted one foot back slightly, moving her weight to balance it. This also lowered her center of gravity, so that when Ess's foot lashed out at her knee, she was able to dip down and catch the foot with her arm, keeping her blade down and catching Ess's ankle with her forearm. Straightening abruptly, Mageria swung Ess into the air to land on her back.
"Good. Smooth attack, good execution." She stepped back to give her time to get up.
~~~
Ess lost her breath as she flew onto her back, her fingers tightening around the hilts of the swords, making sure not to drop them with her fall. She didn’t dally, her body arching forward as she jumped to her feet, regaining her balance, nodding at Mageria’s counter. Her expression remained the same as she attacked again, thrusting her right arm forward, the blade arching upwards towards Mageria’s throat, leaving her left arm with the freedom to block possible openings she created between the two; making sure not to lean too much into the advance, keeping her balance.
~~~~
Mageria knocked the strike up and over her head, leaning in a bit to slash with both blades at Ess's torso, testing the speed of her reactions. The other woman was good, she'd obviously had decent training and she'd been practicing, but she needed more help to be all that she could be. She kept balanced on the balls of her feet, waiting for the next move that Ess might make.
~~~~
As Ess’s right arm was knocked upward, she immediately brought it down to meet her left in a cross defense, blocking her torso. They went back and forth quite a bit, Ess never discouraged even when she was knocked on her ass a few more times, she only kept advancing. At one point her back was exposed, her expression not of worry but as if she was mentally punishing herself, instinctually she bent her arms over behind her neck, a preemptive block along her back. Spinning around, she found herself open and trapped, her blades stuck within Mageria’s attack. Testing to see if she could catch the Captain off guard, she smiled, her eyes glowing as her features melted away to the mirror image of Mageria. Ess gave a wink, attempting to break the hold, her ‘Enlightenment’ taking over.
~~~~~~~~~

Mageria was momentarily startled, blinking just a bit and looking a bit dismayed. "Do I really have that much white in my hair?" Not giving Ess a chance to respond, she freed her blades and twisted her torso, catching Ess in the gut and knocking them both to the ground.
"So," she panted. "You're Enlightened then. Can you do anyone, or just who you're looking at?"
Mageria swung one blade in a quick over hand strike, aiming at Ess's (her own?) shoulder.
~~~~~~~

Essence rolled onto her side, avoiding the strike, barely, the large dagger skimming her shoulder. Summer saulting forward, Ess stood looking down at Mageria.

“I just need to obviously know what they look like...the memory is all I need.” She smiled, her eyes still a purple, she noted, “Your eyes are blue...I can’t copy that.”

Ess paused, catching her breath, waiting to see if Mageria would advance, she stood blades ready. “And...”She huffed.. “I can’t copy voices..but If I practice I can imitate. I’m definitely not the average..whore.” She joked, letting the facade fade, her own tattoo like scar coming into focus beneath her left eye, red curls dangling from her bun.

“I am also versed in poisons...throwing knives...self tau-” She was cut off parrying another advance, wondering if she was decent enough, worth the Captains time to become something even close to her fighting skills.

~~~~~~

Mageria grinned lightning fast. "Good. I hate average people. They bother me." She slashed another couple of moves at Ess's watching as the woman blocked them, but just barely. Then she stepped back.
"Enough. Good so far." She jerked her head at the side of the yard. "There's some targets over there. Show me what else you've got." She followed after. "Poisons as well? Definitely interesting. I don't have a lot of experience in that myself, so you'll have to talk to one of my medics if you think you need tips."
She waited until Ess had lined up to throw her first knife before speaking. "But after this . . . what are you planning on doing?"

~~~~~~~~

Essence let out a cleansing breath, her shoulders relaxing slightly, tossing the blades to the ground. She knew she needed to work on her stamina, as her muscles were a bit stressed already. Ess’s finger sized blades were still hidden beneath her sleeves, along her waist, and within her boots. She paused before the targets all at different ranges, starting within five feet to twenty and more. The tiny flat knives appeared in doubles in each hand, hidden between her fingers as she was already in the motions of releasing four blades in a tiny cluster, only to spread out across two different targets. They did not all land in the center, as she was not perfect, but she thought of it as in reference to a human figure, landing where the hands or shoulders would be. The second they left her hand, she was already kneeling low, slipping into her boots, reloading her grasp, releasing four more as her arm rose in a fluid, swimming like stroke. Those last blades sank into a further target in a straight line across the center. She was already moving to retrieve her daggers as she spoke.

“After this moment? Uh..Generally speaking I’d like to give up whoring.” She chuckled lightly, thinking of the money she had save up over the years. "Long term goals you mean?"

~~~~~~~~

Mageria nodded. "Yeah. Long term, do you want to be a mercenary, an assassin, a merchant, what?" She watched as Ess pulled the knives from the boards, nodding a bit to herself when she saw how deeply they were stuck in.
"Honestly, I don't know how you'd do as a straight fighter. You've got skills already that work with your abilities that wouldn't work for someone who does nothing but swing a sword." She spread her arms a bit. "I mean, look at me. I have no Enlightenment, so I had to use what I had to the best of my abilities. You on the other hand, have a set of skills and abilities that could give you enough work and satisfaction, not to mention money if you decided to go free lance; that you could leave whoring in the dust."

She took a step closer. "What is it you want, Ess? What is it you really, truly want?"

~~~~~~~~~

Ess’s smile faded as she thought about the answer to Mageria’s question. Her brows narrowed as she stood as still as a statue, her expression frozen in a doll like persona. Her voice was low, almost venemous.

“I wouldn’t mind burning BlackPond to the ground...and seeing to the deaths of the people who enslave children into brothels like I was...” Her voice cracked, her skin redding in a hint of anger. “I want to help others. I don’t want to be one of those people who say there’s nothing that can be done to make a difference.”

Ess looked up into Mageria’s blue eyes, the glow in her own dimming in her emotion. “As for a title..I don’t have any idea what title would best suit me. I do however find my skills would probably fall under assassin more than anything, yet I am tired of being a loner and want to understand brotherhood...”

Ess shook her head slightly, unsure exactly how to honestly answer, as she didn’t know if she had figured it all out. “Some people...just need to suffer...” She spat.

~~~~~~
Mageria nodded. "And some people need to find a place to belong. Somewhere where no story is too out of place." She started to say something more, when a runner interrupted them. Panting slightly, the young girl handed two slips of paper to the Captain. The first was a sealed bit that Mageria ripped open.

I thought we had a deal.

Mageria felt her forehead wrinkle as she looked at the message, signed only with the mark that stood for the Alpha of the Wolfpack. She didn't know what Sean had going on, but it couldn't be good. Stuffing the slip into her pocket, she opened the other to find it was a scrawled message from Thomas that the Council was about to start and since she had missed the last meeting, she had no choice but to attend this one. With a sigh, she turned back to Ess, hoping she wasn't missing her chance.
"I'm sorry, I seem to keep being interrupted. Some of my people are practicing around here, if you want you can stay and watch them, maybe talk to them and find somebody you'd be comfortable working with. I have to go make nice with the Council members for a while now. And I'm afraid this isn't something that you get out of quickly."
With a guilty smile she got dressed again and moved quickly out of the yard, passing a few people on their way in, dressed in Guard uniforms. They all smiled at Mageria, one of them reaching out to pat her on the shoulder, laughing at something she said. As they passed, one of the men pulled off his tunic, revealing that his entire back was covered in scars, the kind that a disobedient slave would get, if he lived long enough. The people with him teased him gently, laughing about how he couldn't possibly be hot enough to strip yet, even with his Gifts. As they passed Ess, one of the women looked over and nodded absently before doing a slight double take at the sight of the scar on her face.
Her own face bore a similar scar, faded almost to a silver line. Smiling gently, the other woman flicked her fingers in a sign from the streets, a wish for good luck. Rounding the corner, the group worked their way out of sight.

~~~~~~~

Xypher liked to get to the meeting room early just to prepare any documents or anything else that he needed for the council meeting on that day. As he prepared his things, advisers and a few noble spectators slowly made their way into the room to join him. Some taking a seat around the table, sorting through piles of pages and records to find what they were looking for in particular. Some of the more chatty characters on the council were talking to one another. Then there were the peracetic nobles who would do their best to convince council members to do good things for them. Some money was passed and a few dirty looks glanced one way or another. On a fun day, when a councilman was really fired up, they would throw punches at one another like a bunch of ruffians. When Xypher would point that out to the council, they'd just ignore him and continue fighting. It was always a hoot when the council was in the same room together.
While Xypher watched a couple of nobles lobbying a councilman by the door, Mageria walked in and suddenly the nobles scattered. There was something about the Black Knights -- despite Mageria's honest nature -- that made people fear them. Was strange and infuriating to see how much rumours could cause people to fear.
"Where's the Queen? Shouldn't she be here by now?" One man said.
"I do say! She's thirty minutes late already. We can't start the session without her present."
"Why not?"
"This is a monarchy. We are only here to give suggestions. Without the Queens direct permission this meeting is useless."
The council continued on with the ridiculous debate about the Queen while Xypher continued to file through old battle records to see the last time that there had been a peaceful interruption to the war like the one they were having now. As he recalled, it turned out bad for Newhaven as they didn't want to make the first move on Blackpond and this time, he didn't want Newhaven to make the same mistake.
He looked up again from his work to the door where he saw a servant boy standing, paralyzed in fright. He probably wasn't used to listening to a group of rich people arguing over how the monarchy should be run. Xypher slowly stretched his way out of his seat, being sure not to go to fast and reinjure his knee from an old battle wound. He staggered over to the man, who had a letter in his hand. "Is there someone in particular whom I could call over for you?"
"No sir. The letter is from a Wolf. Addressed to the council, sir."
"Thank you." Xypher said, grabbing the letter from the serving boy's hand. He opened the letter right where he stood, opening a dreadful smile as he read through, trying to interpret what it meant. It was horrible whatever it was. Soon however, he understood and the dreadful smile turned into a devious one.
He walked back over to his seat and took out the knife that he kept with him. He took care, gently cutting out certain parts of the letter, throwing the ball of wasted letter into the fireplace to burn away.
"Oh Mageria!" He called out through the noise of the arguing men. "I need you over here for a second. I have some war plans that I need to talk over with you."

~~~~~~~~~~

Mageria had been heading to her seat when Xypher caught her attention. For the most part she considered her presence at these meetings to be a complete waste of time, considering that she wasn't even in charge of a large portion of anything. The Black answered to the White Knights, and much as she didn't like that fact somedays, she had to deal with it. Which really should have meant that she didn't have to sit through this gaggle of cranky Council members arguing over bits and pieces of what should be shared evenly or according to need rather than wealth. So hearing that Xypher had something that actually would use a portion of her mind was a welcome surprise.

Winding her way through the crowd, absently noticing the way some of them scattered, she managed to get over to him with little fuss.
"Yes, Warleader? Something from the past or a plan for the future?"

~~~~~~~~~

"Both actually. It regards a fateful night that brought a bright young girl into a position of power and I'm not talking about the Queen Mageria."
Xypher pushed the letter across the table to where it was under Mageria's nose. "Oh please tell me what his last words were Mageria. What was the look on his face when he realised that the student had killed the teacher. Did he beg... no, I imagine the man would laugh. So Mageria, are you just going to sit there or tell me what really happened?"

~~~~~~~~~

Mageria cocked one eyebrow and looked at Xypher incredulously. "Are you going to sit there and tell me that you believe anything written on a piece of paper? If so, I have a map I'd like to show you; it shows the position of an ancient cache of weapons blessed by the Twins." She widened her eyes and spoke in the same tone of voice you'd use to talk to a small child. Then she shrugged and looked again at the paper.
"Seriously, what the hell do you think you have here?"

So that's what the bastard meant.
I thought we had a deal.
That note had gotten to her just before she was called to the Council chamber. Obviously it was from Sean. Which meant that he was finally following through on his threat to expose her secret. For whatever reason, he was throwing away the only bit of leverage he had. The idiot.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Do you believe in the Twins? Because they are all based on stories that for the longest time were never written down. If you believe that nonsense than is it really a stretch that I believe in a small note? There's also an eye witness testimony I could bring in if you really need me to give any more proof."
He lifted his hand and smacked it down on the piece of paper which held all of Mageria's guilt baggage and pulled it back to his person, tucking it safely in his pocket. "I have all I need to prove to the council who, may I add is already displeased by you that you are just a worthless scumbag who isn't deserving of any funding. What do you think the White Knights will think of this? What will the Queen think of this? Do the back guards know, because if they don't they will soon. So I give you the choise. I could tell the council and become the big hero who uncovered a mystery or you could tell them yourself. Either way, I'll be satisfied."

~~~~~~~~~~


Mageria leaned toward Xypher and spoke softly. "You want to be a hero, Warlord? You can stand up in front of the entire Council and tell them what you've found. And then you can explain how you "found out" about all of this. And [i[then[/i]," she leaned in even closer and her voice took on a deadly soft quality. "And then you can explain to the entire Council and the Queen and everybody else how you approved my promotion to Captain, even under such unusual circumstances." Her smile took on a chilling quality.
"The Queen herself has told me that so long as what I do is for the good of Newhaven, it's ok. I've outlasted what is it, three White Knight Captains, now?" Her smile tightened. "As for the Guard, I've had six years to handpick people and build their loyalty to me. Personally. They know, exactly what I'm capable of, and what I'm willing to do for them. You want to try and come between me and my people, Warlord? I suggest you think otherwise."

"You have no proof Xypher. You have a piece of paper and the offer of a 'witness' who would be coming from a group whom we've been fighting for the past few years. Not exactly unbiased information."

~~~~~~~~~~


Xypher moved his face in even closer to Mageria's until each could see the others sweat racing down their faces as if they were attempting to beat each other down the other's face. The intensity in their eyes enough to cut through solid steel. "Isn't it funny. The man who made you what you are is about to make you fall apart. The history books will not think of me as the untrustworthy one of the two. They will only know what I tell them. They'll learn of what a witch you were. Casting your charm over everyone to make them believe what you said was true. They don't need to know where the witness came from. I can pay enough money to convince her to say anything I want her to. You know that and I know it."
He abruptly moved back a few inches still cutting through each other with their glares. Behind all the madness of the crowds still arguing, a secret war was being waged. "Your ass is on the line Mageria and there is nothing you can do to make it fall apart now. Your arrogance just shows to me how much of a bitch you really are. I have more than the proof I need..."
"EVERYBODY SHUT UP!" The voice shrieked through the shouting.
Everyone rushed to the closest seat they could find. Soon, the only seat for Mageria was the one beside Xypher. He smiled and pushed the seat back for her to sit down. Ella walked into the room, with an entourage of serving girls following her. Some were tightening her corset, while others were doing her makeup. She had obviously just woken up and already many were whispering and chuckling at the sight. Still, the two warriors looked each other with their piercing gazes.
"So if everyone -- oh, that's too tight --- Sorry. If everyone is ready to begin? Ok then, we'll go by the list today. Abraham..."
"Sorry, my Lady, but there is something really important that I need addressed immediatly."
"I'm sorry Xypher, we are going alphabetically today and you'll be the last to speak."
Xypher rested his hand on Mageria's leg. He hoped that it made her feel a bit of comfort because things were about to get really uncomfortable for her. He slowly moved his hand up her outer thigh. "My Lady, I apologize then for speaking out of turn. I need to tell the council that... AHHHHH!" Xypher had jumped out of his seat, holding onto the back of his leg. He had taken Mageria's side dagger on her leg and cut himself with it just close enough to the artery on the back of his leg that it didn't seem like an accident. None of the council members would know that as the table had guarded everyone from the true sight.
"She's trying to kill me like she did Morgan! Read the letter! " He threw the letter from his pocket on the table, now bloodied by his hands. "There are witnesses!"

~~~~~~~~~~~


Mageria slowly pushed away from the table, acutely aware of the stares and whispers that exploded around the room. Deep inside her she could feel a chill of fear blended with a white hot rage, both of them churning together until she couldn't tell one from the other. Around her she could see the looks of fear and confusion, the fear mostly from the civilians and the confusion from the guards. Planting one hand on the table, she stared hard at Xypher, shaking just a little bit from the effort involved in trying to keep from appearing calm.
"Believe me, Warlord. If I had killed Captain Morgan, I would have no trouble taking you out. For example, you would not be jumping about screaming right now."
She felt like she was balanced on the edge of a knife. She could continue to deny what had happened, or she could own it and deal with the results. The truth was, she had killed Morgan and if she could, she would have done it again and danced on the bastard's grave. He had been a monster and no one knew just how bad until he was gone and the house of lies and fear he had built up fell apart in his absence. He had killed needlessly, he had stolen from the dead and he had tortured people just for fun.

And she had ended it all with a single sword thrust, seven years ago.

Mageria felt herself sliding mentally into a very cold dark place. She had accepted long ago just what she was capable of when pushed to the limit, and now was the time to test that. With a vicious kick, she moved the table out of the way and strode to the center of the room, holding her arms out to either side.
"Here I am then. The woman accused of killing one of the most vicious and insane bastards to ever grace our halls. The question is," she turned and faced Xypher. "Do you really think I'm the worse monster?"

Setting

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Character Portrait: Mageria Talsheir Character Portrait: Luckas Character Portrait: Ess
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Ess and Blackbird


Essence nodded to Mageria, understanding that duty called, “I will stick around this time..” She stated after the Captain, unsure if she heard Ess. Picking up the practice blades to put them back into the shed, she watched a group of people walk by her, a woman scarred from her own story, signaling a familiar gesture wishing her luck. It was a manner she had not seen since she was a teenager and it made Ess curious to where the woman was from. She kept to herself though, remembering Tala. As she picked up her belt, re-strapping her weapons around her waist, Tala sat whining softly at her, still laying over where she was left. Tala saw in Ess’s eyes the silent ok to come forward accompanied by a quiet chuckle, the wolf dashing across the grounds to her side. “Whatcha think girl? Was it stupid of me to show the Captain one of my secrets?” She asked her friend, rubbing the wolf’s ears. Tala seemed to like Mageria, which was odd, since she didn’t usually like anyone else besides Ess. Guess the wolf was just as protective as Ess was of her.

A smile found it’s way back onto her face, Ess yelling to the wolf, “Ready?!” Her body jumped back into a squatting position, the wolf copying her almost exactly, wiggling her butt around in the air playfully in tune with her tail. Ess drew her sword and matching dagger and began to dance around her friend, causing the wolf to bound spo’radically in different directions. It was a familiar game they played, Ess trying to teach Tala to avoid her strikes and at the same time it helped her improve her stamina. She didn’t care if she looked ridiculous prancing around with the wolf, as she thought Tala was very smart and quick at this game. Only in the beginning was the wolf caught off guard, but that was when chair legs were their practice swords.

“Disarm!” Ess commanded, the wolf launching herself through the air, her jaws clamping around Ess’s wrist. In theory, the wolf would use her full strength, but for the purpose of this game, she simply dropped her master’s hand at a whistle, but only after she dropped her blade. This way, Tala was given the idea to hold and thrash until the enemy dropped their weapon before letting go. Tala was almost an expert at this game to the point where Ess wanted to try it without commands, she just needed a test subject.


Luke had slept poorly, yet again. Again, he didn't know what he had been dreaming of. As he walked around the Castle halls no one seemed to pay him any mind, it was funny to him that they didn't see that his place wasn't there, but then... Where was his place anyway? Hum... Better not go there. Absently he walked towards the training grounds as he heard sounds of activity there. Walking absent-minded, with both hands in the pockets of his 'borrowed' clothes, Luckas entered the training grounds and stopped walking as he caught sight of a woman dancing her blades around a wolf. Tilting his head curiously, he watched the movements, intrigued by them. Luckas was never much of a fighter, Lena had gave him one or two lessons, but he never had the discipline to train. Approaching the woman and the wolf Luke chuckled. "I am haunted, it seems!" He exclaimed. "Tell me, should I expect to see you everywhere I go now?" He asked, a smirk crossing his face.

Essence straightened at the sound of a familiar voice, playfully she spun so that she was beside Luckas, she let her sword stay idle by her side while her dagger teased along his shoulder. Her manner was flirtatious as usual, yet she kept it well hidden if it was just instinct or if she meant it. “Is this the part were you try to kill me?” She giggled into his ear. “Or...”She whispered, the smell of her lavender perfume emanating from her form as she caught her breath. “...You proclaim your undying desire for me...”

She waited for a response before stepping back, sliding her blades to their home at her waist. Ess raised her hand in Tala’s direction, signaling her wolf friend to relax, her growl throaty and low as she stared up at Luckas, unsure what to make of him. For the most part, Ess kept her mind clear, unsure still exactly how Luke’s “Enlightenment” worked and to it’s extent. Staring at Tala, her expression changed at a sudden epiphany.

“Tell me Luckas...would you mind testing a theory for me?”

Luke shifted a little uncomfortably, but only for a moment. He was getting better at hiding whatever feelings and impulses the woman caused on him, soon they would no longer show, unless she managed to get better at provoking him as well. He kept his eyes on the wolf as the animal seemed uncomfortable, predators were good at spotting other predators. Finally Luke turned his black eyes towards the woman's violet gaze and snickered. "One does not exclude the other, my dear. After all, I thoroughly enjoy my business. I wonder... Do you ever enjoy yours?" He asked her.

As she asked if he would help with a theory he gave her a curious look. "That depends if your theory also interests me... I'm a curious individual, I can't deny." He told her.

“Depends on your version of enjoyed...and to exactly what part.” Ess laughed before continuing, with a sharp whistle, stepping back, Tala slowly began to approach Luckas showing the tips of her white fangs. Tala paused inches from Luke, sniffing the air, as if she were memorizing his scent.

“Using my talent to get what I want....yes..But since I have never ‘entertained’ without a price...then no...at least...”She smiled wickedly... “Not yet.”

Ess wanted to play, her eyes continued to glow in her curiousity as her complexion changed only slightly, her hair shortened into jet black locs, her form lengthening in height to shortly reflect Luckas almost to perfection. There was an oddity to the mirror image, one couldn’t put their finger on. Her expression went cold, her stare attempting to penetrate his own, wanting to see his reaction to facing...himself. She kept silent, wondering thoughtfully to herself as Tala kept circling the man, the wolf’s head was low to the ground, steps carefully calculated, expecting movement.

"Not yet, huh?" Luke asked, his eyes sparkling a red glow as he smiled at the woman. He didn't know what he wanted with her... If he wanted to kill her, or not... He was sure that she would be great if he tried, she had so much pain to relive, but at the same time, maybe she would actually be able to understand him; how often did someone like that come along? His only manifestation of the thoughts going through his mind was a soft sigh. "What a pity. Perhaps one day we can entertain each other." He offered. "I can show you exactly what I consider enjoyment... I don't think you actually got to see it last time."

Staring at Ess' eyes, almost hypnotized, not paying any mind to the animal circling him, knowing the wolf was right to suspect considering the thoughts he was having, he was slightly startled to see the woman's image shift onto his own. His black eye widened in shock and delight, as both feeling invaded him at once. He smiled wide, reaching out slowly to Ess' face, but not touching the image. It was like staring into a mirror... A mirror... This was way too good. "You're better than I ever imagined." Luckas mumbled, a tone of admiration rarely ever shown in his voice. "Say, do you mind going with me somewhere? I heard some people going to this big meeting... I wanted to try and sneak a peek at that." He didn't say what exactly he wanted to do, but he knew that's where Mageria would be. Essence's eyes gave her away, but for a few moments she probably could fool the Black Knight Captain into thinking she was nuts, or that his brother wasn't dead. It was too good of an opportunity to waste.

Keeping her disguise in tack, she let out a mocking laugh, attempting to copy Luckas from their last encounter. She had some practicing to do if she was going to mimic him to perfection. Staring at his mannerisms and gestures she picked up a few quickly. She nodded towards him, whistling at her wolf again to her side.

“That’s what the Captain said...just moments before you arrived. ..”She attempted to mimic Luckas’ snicker and added, “I am curious as well...Lead the way.” Ess and Tala followed Luckas to the council chambers, just as the clammer of voices came to a halt.Tala had run ahead of them, ignoring Ess's call, as she whispered, "Tala!" Her voice was attempting to take on a deeper tone as the wolf snuck through the bodies standing guard, slipping beneath a very large table.

Suddenly a man shouted high above the rest, ""She's trying to kill me like she did Morgan!" Ess thought, quirking a brow, her expression a mix of hers but plastered upon Luke's mirror like image. Were they talking about the last Guard Captain? She kept in disguise, not wanting her gift to be made public to the strangers around her. Ess noticed Tala making her way towards Mageria as she lashed forward.


' With a vicious kick, she moved the table out of the way and strode to the center of the room, holding her arms out to either side.
"Here I am then. The woman accused of killing one of the most vicious and insane bastards to ever grace our halls. The question is," she turned and faced Xypher. "Do you really think I'm the worse monster?"'


Essence may have not known the Captain Guard, but she saw the woman struggling to hold composure, barely holding on. It was an all too familiar scene to Ess, one she had fought through before only to fail. Her eyes were wide in wonder, a smile curling her lips, wondering if Mageria would cut down that man where he stood accusingly. Ess had heard rumors of the deceased, having the distinct feeling she would of done worse if she were in Mageria's place.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Luckas Character Portrait: Ess
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INK

BlackBird/Essence Combo


Ess had to give Mageria props for not exploding into a violent, messy rage and cut down that Warlord. She didn’t feel she could of kept her composer so well in tact. Ess wasn’t just impressed, but she couldn’t put her finger on what she was feeling. Tala had obviously trusted this woman, and Tala didn’t trust anyone. Even though Ess didn’t always take her wolf’s ‘advice’, she knew to trust her gut. She looked from Mageria to Luckas as she passed and spoke, “I’ll deal with you later, Luckas.”

Quirking a brow, she brushed a black loc of hair from her eyes, keeping her composure so not to let her ‘Mirage’ fail her in a room full of people. Out of her peripheral vision, she noted Tala following Mageria almost out the exit. Ess made a clicking sound using her tongue against her teeth to get the wolf’s attention back to her side. Turning her head towards Luckas she leaned into him, whispering in his ear..”What was that about eh? You date her sister or something?” Ess smiled, the expression forming into one of Luckas’ snickers. She absently wiped at her nose, a small drop of blood appearing on the back of her hand.
~~~
Luckas was not expecting what he saw as he led Ess into the meeting room. He didn't make a sound or took another step into the room, he lingered near the doorway, arms crossed over his chest as the man called by the others 'Warlord' made his accusations. He was lying through his teeth, Luke could tell and so he couldn't get his eyes off the man, a reddish glow sparkling behind the black. He wondered what the man wanted to gain from this and felt a sick and familiar urge to rip the truth out of him slowly and painfully. Only when Mageria walked past and said she'd deal with him, he remembered that Ess was still mirroring his image.

He turned as Ess asked what it was about. Luckas looked one more time towards the 'Warlord and the other Council members, memorizing their faces as they began to deliberate, before pulling Ess by the hand and out of the room so they could talk freely. "There's nothing left to see here." He stated. "We wanna be near the Black Guard right now. That's where stuff's gonna happen." He said absently, releasing her hand quickly as he already had managed to lead her out to the hall. After they had walked far enough from the room Luke spoke again. "And that back there was..." He chuckled. "We can say she had one bad date with my brother. My twin brother." Luke said, looking Ess up and down and snickering, "Matt was an evil monster, even for my standards, and when he attacked someone he would leave nothing of that person intact. Captain survived though. When we first met she thought I was a hallucination. It was hilarious. More than that: My gift has no effect on her. She's the reason I'm here; it's fascinating." He stated, with a slight nod, randomly leading Ess through the halls.
~~~
Essence let herself be led by Luke, out the room into the hall, noting a familiar, predatory desire in his black orbs. She hadn’t cringed or shook with anger when he touched her hand, like she would by another without an invitation. It had felt...oddly what normal she imagined would feel like. Keeping her gaze upon him as he spoke, she felt Tala keeping pace by her side, nose low to the ground as if she was following Mageria’s scent. Ess didn’t know what she was getting herself into, but she couldn’t deny her curiosity for the danger she tasted in the air.

“What’s going to happen, Luckas?”

Keeping in pace with Luke, Ess heard the clammer of heavy footsteps moving back towards the Council Chambers, the hallway growing empty. A ping of pain awkwardly hit her stomach at the thought of more than one of Luckas running amuck, when she had intended her ‘Illusion’ for another purpose. She could not even begin to understand what Mageria must have went through, as Luke explained the quick version of his late brother. Ess was worried slightly that she had made a bad impression, unintentionally to the Captain, but kept her equanimity, smiling softly.

“Makes sense now...Luckas, watch my back a minute...make sure no one is looking.” She whispered, sliding against a cold wall, she began shaking her head, tossing her black hair about, until red curls replaced those locs, falling loose around her shoulders. Her form was back to it’s normal height and hour glass shape, filling out her tunic and cotton pants. Looking up into Luckas’ coal like stare, she felt like she was falling, a quick dizzy spell passing over her in seconds. She stood slowly, nodding to continue onward, not noticing another drop of blood falling from her lip.

“So...When do we get to play?”
~~~
Luckas' eyes narrowed slightly as Ess asked when they would get to play, he was thinking of ways to get Xypher. He felt so strongly about the whole thing, for some reason, that a part of his mind was unable to focus on anything else other than the urge to get to the man alone and make him swallow his words. Still, he went back to the first question the woman asked. He absently retrieved one hand into the sleeve of his shirt and used it to wipe a drop of blood from her face, before turning and continuing to walk as he answered. "I'm not sure what will happen, but... Without being here for longer than a couple of days I know for a fact that if those noble idiots want to disband the Black Knights, or worse, get the Captain arrested for whatever she did, or they claim she did, those guys won't take kindly to it. I only know one of the Knights personally, although he wasn't a Knight when I met him, and if the others are anything like him, they won't take kindly to it either. Something is definitely going to happen when they find out what was said in that room." He concluded.

Turning a corner Luke walked in silence for a couple more steps before expressing what was going through his mind. "That Warlord person... Xypher, I think his name was... I want him." He stated, his voice coming out in an angry growl as his eyes lit up in a red light. "I need to get him alone." Turning his eyes back to normal and heaving a sigh he added, in a tone similar to one of a bored infant. "He'll probably be stuck in that stupid meeting for a while though." He said giving a light shrug. "I wonder what'll happen to the kids..." He mumbled, suddenly remembering that Lily had told him Mageria got in trouble for bringing the kids to that castle, he imagined the Council had been the one to give her trouble, based on how she'd spoke of them in the infirmary. "They better not toss them in the orphanage." He muttered under his breath, stuffing both hands in his pockets as he walked. "I hated that place."
~~~
Ess watched Luckas curiously as he approached, wiping at her face with his sleeve. Quirking a brow, she kept her reaction to herself, not sure what that small guesture was about, focusing on Luke as he answered her questions. Ess was debating the possible outcomes Luke voiced about the Captain, remembering the times she had to take dark matters into her own hands; when she had to make quick decisions for her or another’s survival. It brought a light of understanding to her, one she could relate to with Mageria as she realized they shared similiar morals.

“I hope she did kill Morgan..” Ess muttered, an intrigued glow escaping her eyes as she passed a wink in Luke’s direction. “I remember hearing about that man...he deserved worse, so if my assistance is required, I’ll gladly offer it when all hell breaks loose...I mean...what else am I going to do?”

Ess slid her hand across Luke’s shoulder, as if she meant to comfort his anger, although her words only proved to be encouraging. “I could...get this Xypher alone....so we can play. Maybe you can share a secret or two with me?” Ess couldn’t hold back the wide grin that spread across her lips. “Of course...if you don’t want my help...” She trailed off teasingly, her mind a bit excited at the thought. Never has she attempted something that was so far from a personal level, where she could make some kind of difference for another, and not need anything back. The feeling felt warm inside her chest, and she wondered if that meant she was sick or crazy. Mostly because the idea of participating in torture didn’t repulse her, only made her heart beat quicken, adding pink color to her snow white cheeks.

With a shrug she added, “I grew up in a whore house...somehow I doubt either one is better than the other....” Ess’s eyes narrowed into thin slits at the thought of more innocents crossing over down that path only to never return. She hoped that wasn’t the children’s destiny. Maybe Mageria would take the kids somewhere safe, or even with her. Who knew what trials lay before them all.
~~~
"She did it." Luke replied. He wasn't absolutely sure of it, but he could pretty much feel it was true. "I don't know anything about the man, but I'm sure he deserved it somehow. " He added, absently. He knew that it was unlikely for Mageria to kill a person over nothing, so if she killed the man, he probably had it coming to him somehow.

Luckas had to control a small wince as he felt a hand on his shoulder. Physical contact was something that actually bothered him if it came unexpectedly, he wasn't sure why, but it always had. Like many other things, he had learned to hide that fact and mask his reactions. The gesture was something that was usually accompanied by calming words, however, Ess' words caused a bit of surprise on Luke. He turned to look at her and found a wide grin spread across her features; she wasn't bluffing. He usually worked alone, and he didn't share his toys with absolutely anyone, but again he saw something incredibly familiar in her eyes and he wanted to see how far she would go. "If you can get him alone... We can play then." He said, opening a grin of his own. "And what secrets do you mean?" He asked tilting his head to one side curiously.

"I know that." He stated absently as she mentioned the whore house. "No, the orphanage wasn't that much better. Older kids..." He shrugged. "My enlightenment... I've had it since I was little... It's unusual, but that's what helped me stay in one piece. It looks better today than it was back then, but still... I doubt Captain will let them just dump those kids there like trash, but then... I'm sure the Queen remembers well the time she spent there." Luckas stated, with an amused smile. He remembered Ella from the orphanage; the girl with the curse. He recognized her the one time he saw her in the dungeons in Blackpond, although he had no clue who she was at the time. Funny that she'd end up taking the throne, out of all people.
~~~~
Ess bounced a bit happily, in her step as Luke said, "If you can get him alone... We can play then." She wasn’t sure if she would be allowed to help, as he seemed like one who enjoyed that ‘personal time’ with his victims. Ess understood how pain could be taken in as pleasure, but she never was able to take her time as it had always been rushed..pure instinct. Looking forward to her chance, she casually brushed off Luke’s question of what secrets he held.

“Like you said,” She whispered alluringly, “That is for you to know and me to find out..if I am patient enough to hold out for those answers..” Ess tightened her belt, adjusting her blades at her hips... “I can be ..VERY patient.” Essence felt Luke’s eyes upon her still and kept smiling, a tiny dimple appearing at her left cheek. She couldn’t place the look precisely, but knew there was something hidden, something worth sticking around for. If he was anything like her at all, she knew there was something more than he let on, and she appreciated the bits of information he shared here and there. Ess wondered if she was being tested, not quite judged but slowly evaluated if she was worth the young man’s time.

Tala gave a light growl at her side, which only made Ess giggle. Anyone with a brain saw how Tala did not trust Luke, and Ess wasn’t sure she did either, but she had to trust her gut. Pursing her lips she quickly made a light noise from the intake of air, catching the wolf’s attention as they paused just down a bit from their destination, Guards standing at alert around the corner.

“Ella...” She muttered to herself lost in thought.
~~~
Luckas nodded as he had almost led them down the wrong path, as his attention was caught by the conversation, taking a turn to get them back on track. He hadn't exactly taken the shortest path, that was true, he wanted the time. As Ess told him she would be patient in finding out the answers she wanted, he couldn't help but laugh at that. He'd surely give her a challenge if that was the case. After all, he had never willingly given away any secrets, and he didn't plan on starting anytime soon.

He chuckled more as he heard the wolf growl at him, a smart animal it was. "She knows." He stated absently, snickering away at his own thoughts. "You should follow her advice." He told Ess, with a little smirk. "I'm just a terrible influence." He said with a shrug, as they walked past a few doors and entered a common room where Black Knights and the Guard would hang around when off duty. There were a few people there, but they paid them no mind. All they'd have to was hang around and wait for the news to spread. He gave Ess a curious look and question. "So... How are you planning on getting him alone, exactly?" Luke asked, raising an eyebrow in a fake severe expression. He couldn’t hold it for long though and broke into a wicked smile, anxious to get to play again. It had been quite a while since last time.
~~~

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mageria Talsheir Character Portrait: Luckas Character Portrait: Ess
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BlackBird, Trickster, and Essence

With a bored shrug, Ess glanced from Tala to Luke shaking her head at his observation as he stated, ' "I'm just a terrible influence.”’

“I am my own influence, therefore I come to my own conclusions.” With a sweet, honest smile Ess shifted her stare from Luke’s; the blackness seemed to go on forever into the depths of his soul, she knew whatever he was keeping inside was hidden in that abyss. “You may believe that I am acting foolish Luckas, but as much as my conscious here ..” Ess paused, rubbing Tala along her shoulder blades. “..tries to warn me otherwise...I am not afraid of you. Quite the opposite, actually. And I don’t mean to sound full of myself, or threatening. ...I just can’t put my finger on it..”

A subtle giggle escaped her lips, as she mouthed silently, ‘You should know’ to his question of how she planned on assisting him in his ‘playtime.’ Ess would do just about anything she needed to, to get what she wanted. Her head snapped up at attention as the room began to fill with men and women, shortly thereafter Mageria began addressing all of the current situation. Ess kept silent as the Captain admitted to killing the late Captain Morgan, just nodding in approval. Lightly she crossed her arms across her waist, her fingers tapping against the hilts of her sword and dagger. Bunching her brows together she took in the chatter, men and women arguing. Some wanting to fight, others wanting to know what was to become of themselves. The selfless individuals who spoke up, were the ones Ess agreed with. There should be a way to take care of the problem. Of course, Ess was never one for politics, as she was either driven by logic or instinct. On occasion those two would work together, but most of the time she was shoving forward based on emotion only. As Mageria left the room for her people to discuss the situation, Ess sighed, keeping Luke in the corner of her eye.
~~~
Luckas was leaning up against a wall, arms crossed over his chest absently looking around the room as he chuckled. "I never said you should be afraid of me, in the sense of me hurting you, although in a way you probably should. I said that I'm a terrible influence. And what do you mean with 'quite the opposite'?" He asked curiously, not being able to identify what was quite the opposite of being afraid of someone. As Mageria entered the room, however his eyes and his attention were completely devoted to her, not for what she was saying, but for what was behind it. The Black Knights were no more; the most powerful force known to Valcrest, disbanded over simple bureaucracy. Was it true that everything was just that fragile? He wondered what would be necessary to break down the Newhaven Council completely? Were they any less fragile? Probably not, but he was going to find that out soon enough.

As Mageria left and the men and women of the Guard were left to discuss their options, Luckas broke out of his thoughts. He didn't know what they were going to do, but he knew what he was going to do about this.

"I need to ask Captain a question." He stated simply, turning to look at Ess. "You know, before we think about playing."
~~~
Ess’s smile dissipated to a lack of expression, as she shook her head not agreeing with Luke’s words, ' "I never said you should be afraid of me, in the sense of me hurting you, although in a way you probably should. I said that I'm a terrible influence.” ’ She had explained what she could at the moment, and didn’t feel this was the time to debate. When he questioned Ess, wanting to know what she meant about ‘quite the opposite’ she hid her amusement that it was not clear and simply stated with a distracted yawn, “I’m the one haunting you, remember? Who knows how I will feel tomorrow...maybe I’ll kill you then..” She winked.

Essence stretched her arms, nodding in agreement. “I need to speak with Mageria as well..course if you would rather go alone..I can wait.” She said, not wanting to be disrespectful. Ess was, after all technically the stranger around here, and Luckas and Mageria had some sort of history..even if it wasn’t all pleasant and she wasn’t sure if her, the outsider would be welcomed. Naturally, Ess didn’t let on her concern and simply waited for the response.

~~~~
Luckas laughed a bit loudly, which momentarily caught the attention of a few people, however they were too concerned to care about who he was and soon went back to what they were doing. "You'll kill me?" He sighed once the laughter subsided. "Well, suppose there are worse ways to die than by the hands of a pretty lady." He stated with a little shrug.

"I don't mind if you tag along, it's not like we share intimate secrets or anything, but... You might want to sneak a little peek at what those guys are up to, might lead to something fun. You can do that if you want, I'm not a jealous person." He snickered. "Well, maybe I am a little bit sometimes." He stated with a small wink.
~~~
Ess simply smiled, holding back a laugh of her own, still not understanding why this man’s laugh was so contagious. Tala wagged her tail a bit, as if she was interested in the prospect of Ess killing Luckas, she nuzzled Ess’s hand lovingly. As she soothingly ran her fingers along Tala’s ear, Ess made her way for the door, nodding for Luke to lead the way.

“Aww...you think I’m pretty?” There were mixed feelings with her words, the tone honestly surprised yet the words seemed mocking. The intention was not meant to be rude, but Ess didn’t hear that compliment when she was in her normal form...at least not for a long time.

“Don’t tempt me Luckas, I may want to see what kind of man you are when you become Jealous. I bet it’s deliciously down right scary.” Ess tossed her curls aside from her face, the glow of her violet gaze dimmed back to her normal deep shade. “Besides, the Captain and I are always in the middle of a discussion and she suddenly has to go attend to business..and...” Ess smirked, a little snort escaping her at the irony... “...each time she leaves...you show up. So there are some things that are still up in the air.”
~~~
"I have eyes, don't I?" Luke responded, a very discrete tone of pink showing on his face as he hadn't realized he'd paid the woman a compliment in the middle of all his talking. As they walked through the door and out to the hall, however, it was already gone. He snickered slightly. "Now I'm curious as to how you suppose you could make me jealous." He stated tilting his head a bit in thought. He grinned. "You wouldn't be disappointed though."

He chuckled. "Well, while I tend to want to follow the Captain around all the time, funny enough, I wasn't even doing that when we ran into each other.I didn't even see it was the Captain you were talking to either. When you said 'Guard Captain' I didn't think you meant the Black Guard." He stated with a small shrug, walking down a corridor, he stopped in front of Mageria's bedroom door, and knocked on it as gently as he could. Not saying anything and just waiting to see if she'd open the door. He suspected that if he called she wouldn't open the door for him.
~~
Mageria hadn't managed to get up by the time that there was a knock on the door. She considered ignoring it, but her sense of duty was too strong. Even though they didn't identify themselves, it could have been one of her people, which meant that she had to answer. Her room was still dark, no one had been by to light a candle and she hadn't had the will to do so. She had instead been sitting there staring; feeling a small burning flame in her chest. Somehow, she was going to keep her people together, those that choose to follow her. She wouldn't turn away from them, no matter who had turned away from her.

She would protect the people of Newhaven, the ones that she had truly given her oath to. It wasn't the Council that she was sworn to; it was the men, women and children that she was bound to protect. The whole reason that her world was crumbling around her was because she had believed that seven years ago; it was just as true today.

Somehow, she would find a way.

Taking a deep breath, she slowly pushed herself up and pulled open the door, blinking a bit at the sudden light. Her eyes quickly flicked between Luckas and Ess, standing there together. A slight smile quirked the side of her face as a ember of fire could be seen in her eyes. The two of them, together. That could lead to some interesting times. Silently, she stepped back, opening the door to invite them in.
~~
Tala bursted forward in a flash of energy, happy to see Mageria again. “Blasted wolf..” Ess muttered almost falling over as Tala jumped around happily, licking at Mageria’s hand. Leaving the wolf with the Captain, Ess noticed how dark the room was and shuffled her way inside, finding the closest set of candles to light, as Luke and her entered the room. A few heart beats passed, the room slowly filling with light while Ess found a lonely chair off against a wall. Casually she sat, leaning back against the wall, balancing on the back two legs. She kept silent, looking from Mageria to Luckas, absently cracking her knuckles.
~~~
Luckas didn't make himself as comfortable in the room as he usually would pretty much anywhere, rather he just walked in and leaned against the wall nearest to the doorway. For a second or two watching Tala before he opened a grin and put his attention on Mageria. "You know, not to seem arrogant or anything, but you should've accepted my offer. People just underestimate the value of mind control nowadays apparently." He said with a small shrug. "Suppose I should apologize for the..." His eyes glanced over to where Ess was sitting and he chuckled. "It was supposed to be funny, but the timing was just terrible, it seems."

Crossing his arms over his chest, Luckas attempted to hold back the manic grin that would give away what was on his mind as he addressed the question he wanted to ask at this time, however, the red glow in his eyes showed his intentions rather clearly. "The reason I'm here now though... You told me not to do anything you would have to deal with, so I've taken my time to come here and ask: If I do something now, would you still have to deal with it?"
~~~
Mageria knelt down, petting Tala and ruffling her fur. Leaning back against the wall, she slid down and crossed her legs, jerking her head back as the wolf attempted to climb into her lap. "Settle down," she ordered gently and Tala obeyed, laying down and looking up at her in mute appeals for more scratches. Mageria obliged, working her fingers through the fur around her ears.
It took her a moment to respond to Luckas. "Honestly, at the moment? It depends on who you were going after." There was another long moment of silence. "I have a reasonable idea of why most of the Councillors want to get rid of me. Things I've done or seen . . . I've made some enemies over time. But Xypher? What in the Gods names has happened that he is so desperate to get rid of me that he'd do all that? It could be any number of things, all of which could be a disaster for the people I'm supposed to be protecting."
Mageria absently kept petting Tala, the movement soothing. She looked up at Luckas with a gentle angry smile on her face, a look in her eye that almost matched that in his. "So the question is, if you were to do something to a certain someone . . . would I care?"
~~~
Ess tilted her head, letting her curls drape over half of her face, listening to both Mageria and Luckas her eyes flarred briefly in a vibrant purple before fading again. She could feel the
woman’s pain, hearing it in her words. Keeping quiet for the most part, she whispered under her breath, thinking out loud, “Maybe...it doesn’t have to do with you...maybe you are just a pawn...someone in the way..” Ess cleared her throat, giving a small smirk as she pondered which dress would be appropriate for her little venture later, shifting her eyes back over to Luckas.
~~
Luckas snickered softly at the response. "This Xypher person..." His eyes lit up a bright red just to mention the man's name. "I know his type well. One of those people who are content with what they have until they see an opportunity to get a little more, and then a little more than that... They're parasites, leeches, scum." He said, barely containing a growl behind his words. "If you want a more specific reason, however, that can be arranged." He stated, a childish smile breaking through his anger at the thought of being useful. "To make it simple, yes. The question is, if I was to have my fun with a certain person, or his associated people, would that be a problem?" He asked, his eyes turning back to their usual black as he smiled down at the woman. "I'd hate it if my playtime somehow ruined our friendship, Captain. Especially since I still haven't got the answers I need." His smile turning a little more wicked as he added. "However, that's a conversation to be had at another time."
~~~
Mageria sighed, not stopping in her absent petting motions. She never really thought she'd be petting a wolf, but there was something about it, as if she could recognize a kindred spirit. And it was calming, which was something she really needed at the moment. Leaning her head back, she thought for a long moment, studying Luckas through half lidded eyes. Finally she came to a decision.
"I took an oath to protect the people of Newhaven, Luckas. Through whatever means necessary." A brief, hard smile crossed her face. "Just because they're trying to kick me out doesn't mean that I'm going to abandon my oath in turn. Xypher . . . just placed himself between me and those that I'm supposed to protect. And he was so desperate to do so that he stabbed himself in the leg to try and sell the idea."

She stilled, somehow giving the impression of a hunter, waiting for the correct moment to strike. "I need to know why. And I need to know how many people are involved. And I don't have the time or resources to do it in my traditionally non-traditional methods." Mageria looked Luckas directly in the eye, knowing that she should never be considering such a thing, but not caring at this point. And. . . she acknowledged that there was a part of her that really wanted some revenge. "So go have your fun with the Warlord Xypher, Luckas. Let me know what you find out." A chilling smile crossed her face. "Just be sure you clean up after yourself."
~~~
Essence rocked forward onto all four legs of the chair, standing quick with a graceful flare, approaching both the Captain and Luckas. “Glad to have your blessing M’am...because this is where I come in...” A mischievous smirk crossed her lips, as she bit down on her tongue to contain her excitement. “Course...if you didn’t mind, I would need you to keep an eye on Tala for me...she can’t follow.” Tala gave a curious bark, tilting her head up at Essence that caused her to laugh. “Ok..well you can watch the Captain here for me, eh?” She corrected to the wolf. Sometimes she didn’t know if her furry friend was really a person, and it often made her wonder with her excess amounts of intelligence that only continued to surprise Ess.

“I was starting to think I had bad timing, with everything that has happened. I was trying to find a way for myself to be...useful to you. Perhaps then you’d want to keep me around.” Ess’ smile dwindled a bit as she stared into Mageria’s eyes, her own twinkling as she stated flatly, almost without emotion. “I would of done the same thing Captain.” Her tone grew cold with an almost creepy like edge, “I’ve done worse to less deserving...MEN.”

Essence cracked her back, stretching her neck to loosen up some. She had errands to run, things to do to prepare, as she didn’t have everything she required. “Does anyone know...” She looked from Luke to Mageria, “What kinda gal he fancies? Blond...? Brunette?” With each word, Ess’s hair changed from one color to the next, falling back to her default red, the length and curls never faltering.
~~~
The soft 'thud' of Ess' chair hitting the ground was what kept Luckas' mind in the room, as he was already thinking of things he'd finally get to do again, a delighted grin plastered on his face. It was like a five year old itch desperately needing to be scratched. No... It was more than a itch: It was a hunger, or sorts. The predator inside had been successfully bound five years ago when the White Shadows took him in, but now those quiet days were over... And everywhere he looked there was prey, one more delicious than the other, it had been a struggle to keep control of his urges. This would be the most wonderful release, he needed it, and he was given more than enough consent and encouragement to do it. He was almost sorry to had promised Ess he'd let her join him, but he did, and so he would stay true to his word. He was also a bit curious to see what she'd do, he couldn't deny.

He waited patiently for Ess to finish talking so he could answer Mageria. "Have you or your men ever learned of the Dark Mirror's, far more charming and talented, brother before, Captain? I always clean up after myself very neatly, don't worry." He then turned to Ess and grinned. "Who's to be sure he fancies women? I mean, a lot of men would much rather my boyish charms." He said with a slightly flirtatious wink. He wouldn't deny he had lured a couple of victims that way, probably saved a few kids from a very traumatic experience. Not to mention those were excellent kills, those men had more ghosts than a haunted house. After let his thoughts wander for a while, he changed the subject to the other question in his mind.

"Say, Captain... I'm wondering... They wouldn't have the guts to throw those kids in the orphanage would they? I mean, Lily and the others?" He asked, his tone a slightly softer one. "Because if they would, tell me whose mind I need to make up to avoid that."
~~
Mageria looked back at Ess. "I honestly have no idea what 'type' Xypher would fancy. Probably your best bet would be someone not that noticeable, but who can give him what he wants. Maybe somebody who has more information that he can use against me? I think he'd pay more attention to that." She waited a moment. "I'd be glad to have Tala along, though. A reason to hold my temper." She thought for a moment more, looking between the two others. "Please, just don't do something that will cause you too much pain. I'd hate to see two hurt yourselves because of me."

Mageria looked over at Luckas, raising one eyebrow. "Honestly, do you think I'd let them do anything to the children? If they try . . . well. If they try, they'll find out just how much I learned from the dear departed Captain Morgan." She looked down at Tala and scratched her behind the ears. "One of the 'gifts' your brother left me with. I know exactly what I'm capable of . . . and I'm willing to do it, if the need arises."
~~~
Ess nodded a bit, her mind wondering. She couldn’t take on the form of someone familiar, without research and practice to make the ‘Mirage’ believable, so she would go with something to satisfy the man’s urges. Playfully she tapped Luckas on the arm at his smart ass comment. “You just want me to mirror you again, is that it?” She teased, turning her head her eyes still trailing him from a sideway glance, giving her a mysterious persona.

“If you really don’t mind Tala,” Ess stated to the Captain, “ I’ll go over a few things with you before I leave. She really is a smart girl..” Ess dragged her nails lightly underneath Tala’s chin, causing her leg to kick happily. “Yes you are..” She whispered to the wolf.

Ess couldn’t hold back a giggle at Mageria’s words of what she would be capable of, if pushed so far. “Something tells me I don’t want to ever cross you.” One of these days, Ess was going to sit down and have a few drinks with the Captain where they could swap stories and pick one another’s brain. She felt there was at least a few things she could learn from the woman, even though it appeared they were not far in age from each other.

Essence stepped back towards the door, looking from one to the next with an almost impatient smile. “So..where do we go from here?”
~~~
Luckas nodded quietly and firmly as Mageria stated she wouldn't allow anything to happen to the kids. He didn't usually take people's word on things, but for some reason he couldn't bring himself to doubt her, not even in thought. He discarded the matter as if it was settled that the children would be perfectly safe. When she mentioned his brother had shown her exactly what she was capable of, an odd expression crossed his features and he mumbled under his breath. "That must be a very comforting thing to know."

Once Ess asked what they would do next, he leaned closer to her and whispered playfully, going back on the conversation a bit. "I'm not exactly my type either, but that's a conversation for another time." Raising his voice to a more audible level, he answered the question. "Well... We need to do a little digging and find out what to dress you up as; servants are wonderful means to get this sort of information. We also need a nice quiet spot to lure him into, but I think I know just the one. Then... We do what good predators do: We stalk our prey until he's nice and vulnerable." He stated. "Unless you rather go about it in some other fashion, I'm not picky." He shrugged. "You said you had to talk to Captain about some thing yourself, no? If that's still the case I'll wait out in the hall while you do that." He had some things he needed to tell Ess if she was going to help him with this, and he'd rather not discuss them with anyone else. Meanwhile, he'd take some time to think. Giving Mageria a slight bow, he walked past Ess through the bedroom door and out to the hallway, closing the door after himself and leaning against the opposite wall to wait.
~~
Mageria watched Luckas leave the room before quietly clearing her throat and looking up at Ess. "If you were planning on 'mirroring' Luckas again in the near future; I'd appreciate it if you didn't do that around me. I may have learned some things from his brother, but it was . . ." a dark shadow flickered across her eyes. "Not something I'd care to remember. Ever. Also, I did kill his brother, and it's taken me a couple of years to get past the instinctive urge to stab Luckas whenever I see him. So, not the best idea to startle me with that."

She rubbed Tala's ears once again, snorting at the look the wolf gave her. "So what was it you needed to tell me?"
~~~
Essence sighed as Luckas left, turning back towards the Captain, the smile on her face fading at Mageria’s words. “I was actually trying to get a rise out him, believe it or not....and I did in a way. I learned more afterwards, please accept my apologies.” Ess spoke humbly, changing the subject to Tala as she went over some basic commands to use, if ever Mageria needed to, explaining some things that were quite obvious; like the wolf’s uncanny urge to protect and how she obviously agreed with the Captain on some opinions of Luckas. “Feel free to test her...dislike for Luckas if ever you wish for amusement...or whatever.” Ess only half heartedly joked, hoping to crack a smile on the Captain’s troubled face.

“Before I go, my only other concern was that we never seem to finish speaking, you and I. I was just curious if there was anything you’d be willing to teach me...” Ess paused, lowering her voice as she continued. “Or if you felt I was worth the work.” Briefly describing how she grew up, kidnaped and sold into a brothel at seven, Ess nodded before turning towards the door, motioning for Tala to stay. “I would like to see some things change in this world, therefore if you need more of my help..I will gladly be here.” Ess smiled sweetly, ear to ear. “In the mean time...you have Tala there...who seems to like you tremendously. Take care of each other while I’m gone.” The wolf motioned to move but remained where she lye, a small whine escaping her throat.

“I will be back...so don’t think you can keep her forever.”
~~~
Mageria spoke quickly and quietly before Ess could get out the door. "I have a great deal I think that I could teach you, and perhaps some things that you could teach me." She looked down and took a deep breath. "Honestly, I was wondering if you'd want to have anything to do with me after everything you've found out. Reason or not, I did commit treason. And associating with me is not going to lead to glory and riches any time soon. But if you want to continue; there are any number of things that I believe you could help me with."

“I will be back...so don’t think you can keep her forever.”

Mageria cocked one eyebrow at Tala as Ess went out the door. "Which one of us was she talking to?"
~~

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Character Portrait: Crystal Rivers Character Portrait: Luckas Character Portrait: Ess
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INK

Essence stepped outside Mageria’s room, closing the door gently behind her. Her eyes were locked onto the floor, lost in thought temporarily although she did notice Luke standing opposite against the wall. Ess wasn’t sure what style she would be looking for, for her disguise. Male..female....flashy...subtle...some skin...a lot of skin. A slight smile curled her lips as she muttered, “I don’t suppose you’re going to want me to model my ideas for you? Course...I would like to take a hot bath first.” Ess paused licking her lips teasingly as she passed Luckas, her arm brushing his ever so slightly. “...And well, I feel you would have to wait outside this time for that.” Ess was a tease, and she wasn’t sure if all of it was instinct and subtle humor, or the fact that maybe she did find Luckas attractive and she was trying to hide the awkward feeling inside her stomach. Course, she had a talent for that, which was how she was always able to pretend to be another person to satisfy someone’s fantasy. She was a great actress.

“In the mean time Luckas, should we go over a strategy? Back up plans?.....” Ess winked.. “I also have...insurance for this kind of task...”

"Lady, you shouldn't tease a man like that, especially not one who can use mind control on you." Luke snickered. "I might give that impression sometimes, but I'm no kid." He warned. "If I wasn't such a gentleman you'd be in so much trouble right now."

His tone made clear he was joking, but maybe he wasn't entirely. Luckas sometimes found himself saying things to Ess he wasn't even sure were serious or all in good fun. He still hadn't completely shaken off the odd feeling he got from her presence, and he wasn't sure if the fact that she was so determined to figure him out was comforting or annoying. He wasn't sure if he wanted her around or if he wanted her gone... If liked her better as a friend or as prey. She was tempting, that was a fact, but he'd never had a friend before.

Finally, he got to the subject at hand. "I'd love to know what you mean by insurance and we should talk some things through, yes, but first I need you to listen, and this is important: I can get too carried away with this. I mean, I might actually break the guy's mind beyond recognition before we even have the information Captain wants. So, while I'll be trying my very best to keep it to a minimum, at least until we get something out of him, I might not be able to. Now, this is the important part: If my eyes are bright red, no matter what happens, do not touch me. Not even if the guy breaks out of my hold and runs a blade clean through my chest: unless you see black, stay the hell away. Are we clear?" He asked, looking the woman right in the eyes. He really didn't want to hurt her. At least not until he chose to do it.

Essence couldn’t hold back her laughter, her head falling back almost limp as her eyes rolled up in her eyelids. “I...don’t believe I would ever hit on a child, my dear Luckas...nor do I fear you would be forced to resort to mind control...”She trailed off batting her eyes, her lips pursing as she made a soft kiss like gesture into the air in his direction. A momentary slip of her composure, she used that gesture to attempt to keep his attention away from how her eyes softened a moment, a wave of mixed emotions slamming her hard before she took back control of the subtle change. She had given something away and it made her nervous at the very idea of her emotions going past the pleasantries of normal business. Never, had Ess given herself the opportunity to consider anything else beyond how she would aquire her next bit of coin. She always felt that path would make her weak, vulnerable and she refused to let herself fall apart, losing herself like she had once before. Never did she wish to relive that moment. A painful memory flashed through her mind, quickly disappearing:

[13 years ago]

“Please don’t let it be him...”Ess prayed frantically to herself. Her violet orbs fell upon the names, her brows narrowing in anger as she screamed out in defiance at the stones. Falling to her knees, her fists began pounding against the earth, finding their way to the tombstone. With several cracks she had broken her hand, yet she ignored the physical pain as it was nothing compared to the realization of her loss. Ess disappeared in her blind rage, cursing the Twins, herself, and even her friend. Her wails of despair echoed into the city, carried off by the storm in a haunting mockery of her pain. She had met her breaking point that she had tried so hard to keep away from; she had fallen off her precipice disappearing into the abyss of sorrow.

With a soft sigh she brushed the feelings aside as if they never prodded her mind.

Clearing her throat, her painted smile faded as she focused on Luckas. Nodding at the appropriate times she knew he was correct in warning her about his gift, that she needed to be mindful of her casual demeanor and not touch him. The way he stared into her, gave her a spine shivering tingle that fluttered throughout her entire body. It was not a bad feeling, only the nervousness came back, this time she kept it well hidden. He was strange, Luckas. She saw something inside he was battling with, but couldn’t decipher it just yet. He was letting her accompany him on something most private, giving fair warning to protect herself while he had expressed conflicting concerns between his dark side and something else. The general concern for some random children who mainly meant nothing to him personally and then to shift into plans of torture and demise of foes...It reminded her, of well, herself. Sometimes feeling like she was split down the middle, and she knew Luckas had no idea how deep the split actually went inside Essence, even if he did take a peek into her soul.

Finally she spoke, “So...no skin on skin then?” The smile creeped back into view. “I get it Luckas. Only....does this mean I can’t lasso you with a rope to move you?” Ess was curious if he only meant direct contact, or if random objects acted like a conduit between him and another and would not save one from his fury.

Luckas watched Ess carefully. There was definitely something about her; something special, and he couldn't quite tell how exactly it affected him, but he couldn't deny it did. It was odd, being affected by someone, he couldn't remember the last time that happened, that if it ever actually did. Lena was someone he feared and respected, and someone he could learn a lot from, Captain was someone that simply fascinated him for what she had managed to live through, in a few moments he'd even thought he felt admiration for her, but either way he didn't have interest in them personally. They weren't people he would ever let this close, not matter how close Lena had gotten, it was never as close as this... And maybe it was way too close for both their sake. "Absolutely no skin on skin." He stated. "You could try and lasso me, tie me up, wear gloves, whatever else, but odds are I'll fight you. I wouldn't take that chance if I were you; I'll be blind, def and void of any reason, and the slightest touch is all it takes" He warned. Then he relaxed a bit and shrugged slightly, adding: "There is also the possibility that I'll pass out afterwards, but I think I can trust you not to take advantage of me, right?" He asked raising an eyebrow and giving her a fake suspecting glance, before turning it into a wicked grin. "Because I'd much rather be awake for that." He said, winking playfully as he began walking.

"There's this tower I like to hide in and no one usually goes there, so that is a good place to lure him into, it's secluded enough; I'll show you where it is. Unless you'd rather lead him out of the Castle, but that might be a little harder to pull off, I mean... You may be a talented actress, as I'm sure you are, but the guy probably won't be that stupid."

Essence walked beside Luckas, holding back a fit of giggles at his comment of tying him up. She decided to leave that one alone. A sweet, calm like smile remained on her lips, her eyes flickered in a subtle glow with her emotions as Luckas mentioned him trusting her. She remembered their first meeting..well second meeting, almost like a battle of wits discussing man’s flaws and how trust was one of those things that was fragile and could be shattered easily. Ess agreed with much he had said, and couldn’t ignore the fact that he was giving her a shot in the dark. He most likely was similar to her, in that she built a wall around herself to prevent any permanent damage from seeping in, if that trust was broken.

“I think I’d rather you be awake for that as well...so no passing out. I’d take that as a personal insult.” She teased. Quirking an eyebrow, she scrunched up her nose , still smiling as she answered his offer of trust in her own way, “I’ll mind the red eyes Luckas, but I don’t leave people behind.”

Rolling her eyes, Ess muttered under her breath, “What is it with boys and their forts?” Then again, as she thought about it, she was like the cool girl allowed into the “Boy’s Only” Club. A bit louder she asked, “Let me guess Luckas, this tower of yours is scattered with human skulls?” With a chuckle she turned to face him, “Stupid people are not a challenge, so I hope he’s got more brains than a rock.” Ess began thinking of how she would lure the Warlord to this said tower, and depending on what information Luke and her found out, depended on her main strategy.

“Generally speaking hun, I see this going into the direction of me leading the Warlord to you...maybe having a bit of fun myself...and incapacitating him..at least temporarily so you can have your fun, without worrying about a sword through the chest.” Ess would show Luckas what she meant later in association with her back up plan and “Insurance Policy.”

Ess rolled her shoulders, as if they were sore. “In the mean time..I need to relax if I am to have enough strength to play...which means for me...to go visit the tavern for a drink. You are welcome to join.” She stated to Luckas, reaching by her hip she retrieved a single gold coin which she tossed lightly in his direction. “You can buy me a drink.” She slowly winked.

Luckas sighed softly when she said she didn't leave people behind; that was cute, but it just gave him something to worry about. He didn't say anything more though, the last thing he needed right now was to admit that he worried; that would be a whole other concern all in itself and he wanted a clear mind. Going back to the teasing was the best way he found to keep that out of his head. "Well, whenever you want to take advantage of me I'll be wide awake, believe me."

When she asked if the tower had human skulls in it, Luke laughed out again. "What? No, silly woman." He choked on laughter. "First: I don't play with dead stuff. Second: It's just a bell tower, nothing much." He said with a shrug. "And how do you plan to incapacitate him? I need him awake and sober for this, so no drugs." He told her. "Even if they ware off quick, they might cause some side-effects with my enlightenment."

Catching the gold coin in the air, Luke quickly slipped into his pocket with an amused grin. "Tell you what, pretty lady... Assuming you now know how the get out of the castle by yourself, why don't you go ahead and I'll meet you there in a few minutes? I have a little ritual of my own I'd like get done before we have our fun." That said, he began to walk towards the 'noble area' of the castle, waving playfully over his shoulder. "Don't have too much fun without me."

Ess shrugged and added, “What if he is awake and sober...but can’t move?” She was thinking to herself about the many different...toys and products she acquired over the years to satisfy such a purpose. Raising her left hand up a bit she spoke softly, “I promise..on pain of death...not to ruin your fun Luckas, or interfere...” Her smile faded into her serious persona, nodding as she did understand his complexities of his enlightenment, at least from what he mentioned. She was exceptionally excited to see exactly what he was capable of, since she honestly couldn’t remember everything from their first encounter, but she was still left impressed.

Again, he complimented her oh so subtly, her expression questioning yet she kept her lips silent.
Rolling her eyes slightly she sighed, “Ok, but don’t take too long. I’ll keep a seat warm for you.” Placing a kiss on her hand she blew it towards him as she spun around back the way they had come, remembering an exit they had passed that would lead her back towards the gate. “I can’t make you any promises that I’ll behave while you’re away.”

Essence made her way to the Inn fairly quickly, sitting at an empty table by the door. Nodding to the woman behind the bar, she held up two fingers, hinting that she wanted a double. The woman nodded, knowing Ess’s usual choice of hard alcohol. As the glass was set down before her she quickly downed the liquid, letting the burning sensation coat he stomach before motioning for another. Sipping the second drink, she handed the woman a few coins, leaning back in her chair, heels upon the table. Half the day was just about over and so much had already happened. Tossing around some ideas in her mind, she contemplated what she would see from Luckas and what she would reveal to him in turn. In a half smile, she sipped her drink again, violet eyes fluttering about the room from patron to patron. As she lost herself deep in thought, she began to remember one of the first times she had engaged in such a pre-meditated action...

[NewHaven about 10 years ago...]

Essence sauntered forward, heels clicking against the stone floor of the courtyard, as her hips swayed side to side in a hypnotizing desire. Dressed from head to toe in a dark, red-like purple satin, the cloth hugging her curves, dragging along the floor, was sleeveless. Her thick curls fell messy and loose down past her shoulders, encasing her soft pale skin from the night’s chill. Carrying no visible weapons, her fingers fiddled with a small pouch that hung from her left hip. Two curious rings decorated her left and right middle fingers. One was simple, a plain silver band with a curious hook like claw that extended across her palm towards he wrist; the other was a white gold, topped with a metallic purple sapphire. Ess had applied only a hint of color to her lips and eyes, earthy tones that embellished her violet gaze and drew attention away from her tattoo like scar beneath her left eye. Breath taking was an understatement, yet she wasn’t completely conspicuous, managing to blend with the crowd to attract only the occasional stare which could of been credited to her perfume. The scent was enticingly sweet; a mix of lavender, honey, and vanilla.

The night was alive with entertainment, music and plenty of drink. Torch light surrounded the main gathering in a particular circle, the shadows dancing across her face. Ess looked around, looking up at the castle from afar, absently wondering about what it looked like inside. Everything seemed to slow down as her eyes locked upon her target, she temporarily fell deaf as she honed onto Devon Fields, pushing out the tired music that haunted her ears. Devon was tall, blond, green eyed son of a noble whose charms got him almost anything or anyone and his peers simply turned a blind eye. ‘Weak and pathetic,’ Ess thought to herself with an attractive smile. She would not approach him directly, but found her harmless lurking would eventually draw his attention as she mingled with the men and women of the party, calling herself Talena Lumin.

For a moment, she felt she was being watched and when she glanced around with a nieve expression, Devon and her locked eyes for a second before she turned away with a slight yawn. Turning slowly she disappeared into a circle of men and women, temporarily losing Devon’s gaze. Keeping her attention on him, she saw how he looked away only to double take her figure , his eyes flashing quickly from person to person as he tried to pick her out of the party. It worked out wonderfully when the crowd parted around her, displayed perfectly for the noble, wine glass in hand. Pretending to not notice him as she finished off her drink, she didn’t have to fake her bored expression as he dropped his current conversation to approach her.

The next few moments were typical; they introduced themselves, Devon giving the facade of knowing ‘Talena’s’ family because she played herself off as a cousin of a noble family and Talena, in turn, indulging the man to a dance. Her violet orbs kept to their dim contrast, her mind void of any emotion as she inspected the weasel and his obvious fake persona. Smiling sweetly as he boasted and lied about his adventures and conquests, she was light on her feet as she was twirled left then right, heels seeming to not touch the ground. Politely she kept her attention on him, all the while the wheels inside her brain twisted and turned remembering the rumors, only to see for herself what darkness he left upon the women from her side of town. Ess was getting better and better at discovering the demons hidden away inside the souls of men, and it wasn’t hard at all to see the familiar sick glimmer in his green eyes as he complimented her again and again.

“You honor me, M’lord.” She whispered softly, her gaze luring him closer to her as the dance completed.

“May I get you another drink, M’lady Lumin?” Devon bowed politely giving a devilish smile.

Ess nodded knowingly as he went to retrieve them both another glass of wine. Quickly she thought about how to switch the glasses, remembering how the noble drugged each girl before he had his way with them, never much for the fight as he seemed to like to take his time with his docile playmates.

When Devon had returned, she automatically reached for the furthest glass from herself, knowing he would pull away. Ironically he was taken back a bit, the glass slipping for the stone floor with a small shatter.

“Oh, I am terribly sorry M’Lord. That was my fault.” She apologized, taking the glass presented to her. “Let me grab another for you.” With another sweet smile she carried her glass with her as she pretended to sip it, leaving a noticeable lip smear to show she had held onto her own drink as she retrieved another for him. With her back to him, she poured the wine into another glass, walking back pretending to finish off the entire contents in one breath. Stumbling a bit she handed Devon the drink.

“Perhaps, I have had too much tonight. Would you escort a Lady back to her home?” Ess willed her cheeks to glow with a pink tone, giving the illusion she had indeed over-indulged that night. Devon smiled, quirking a brow at how she inhaled the drink and nodded as he repeated her action in response. “What kind of gentleman would I be if I refused?”

Stabbing Westward-Darkest Days

Once they made their way away from the crowd, Ess stumbled a bit more, her hand touching her head as if she was dizzy. “Devon...I feel....sick...” She lied, her legs giving out from under her, yet she never hit the cold ground. Devon had caught her as she ‘faded from consciousness’ and without a word he lifted her into his arms, turning into another direction of his home.

Ess remained limp, listening to the sounds around her, feeling Devon’s body tense and his heart race in excitement. She almost thought she heard him laugh to himself, but she was never sure. Before she knew it, they had entered a room somewhere, and she was carelessly tossed onto the soft surface of a bed. Essence noted the sound of Devon unbuckling his belt, letting clothing fall to the floor, soon after he gripped her ankles, dragging her forward, her legs falling like a rag doll on either side of his hips. She let her mind drift as his rough fingers slid over her skin, tugging at the lace of her gown here and there, fumbling with the hooks of her corset. Keeping her composure and illusion that she was passed out, she simply waited.

Ess was happy that the drug had managed to kick in before Devon defiled her. Peeking with one eye, she saw his body grow limp and with a confused grunt he slid off her onto the floor. Slowly she lifted her head questioningly, opening both eyes as she wondered if he would move. Minutes went by before finally standing quickly, she dressed herself. With much effort she managed to yank the naked man onto the bed, using the sheets from the bed to tie him down. She wasn’t sure how long he would be out for, but she sat in a nearby chair to watch.

An hour passed before the man stirred, Ess’s eyes snapping to attention she rocked forward to stand over Devon, her curls teasingly tickling his bare chest. A wild glow in her stare emanated from her form, a devious smile curling her lips while her fingers playfully trailed along his chest and along his inner thighs. “Wakey wakey..” She sang, placing a kiss on his cheek.

As he opened his blurry eyes, his confusion was great causing her to giggle quietly. He moved to speak but was cut off as she backhanded him hard across the face, the jewel of her ring imprinting along his cheekbone. Now he was awake, twitching about as he attempted to break loose. Eyes wide, he glared at Ess, “Tricky Bitch you-” She cut him off again, shaking her head disapprovingly to keep silent as she slapped him harder this time across the other cheek, her ring slicing a superficial cut down across his lip.

“I’m sorry...you were saying?” She muttered mockingly before stuffing a rag into his mouth. “What? I can’t hear you?” Crawling over Devon’s nakedness she straddled his hips still fully clothed herself, her fingers inattentively playing with the ring on her right hand. With a twist she turned the claw like point around as if it was an additional fingernail. “You almost made it too easy, sugar..Tell me...do you like how this feels..” She teased as she grinded herself into his hips, her tiny silver claw finding its way towards his chest, she slowly pressed and dragged it across both pecks simultaneously. The blood trickled down onto the bed as he thrashed, attempting to knock Ess off of him, yet she tightened her thighs, bucking wildly as if she were riding a stallion yet to be broken.

With his muffled screams she wanted to take her time, but knew she had to get to the point before someone heard him. When she looked into his eyes, she only saw memories of her own defilement and torture. Her vision taken over by one memory in particular…

BlackPond over 15 years ago...

Tye was revealed Ess's gift after his nightly visit with her. He was almost as bad as Jasper with his repeated abuse, so as much as Ess tried to hide her fear, it manifested in her Enlightenment. He was startled into thinking she was a boy as she took the shape and form of her lost, older brother. He liked the idea at first and tried his damndest to teach her to use that gift at will for his own pleasures. When she refused, he made a deep, vertical cut underneath her left eye.

She fought through the pain as she whispered, “I know you didn't mean it.” Smiling sweetly as blood poured down her cheek, she reached between his legs with one hand, the other reaching for his short sword left lazily on the floor. She leaned in slowly to kiss Tye deeply and as he bit her lip, she thrusted the blade between his ribs, twisting hard.

"You like boys so much...", she teased, "…I thought you wanted to know how it felt to be stuck like a pig!"

As soon as she retracted the blade, Tye's personal guards came rushing in and knocked a hilt of a sword into her head and all went black. When she had awoken, she was lying naked in a dark, cold room. Heavy breathy creeping from each corner as rough hands grabbed her and spat in her ear, "" “This will take the fight out of you....""” Repeatedly beaten, raped, they had cut her so bad she would never know the joys of being a mother…


She started with his face, leaving raw gashes that would normally heal into an ugly scar but she didn’t plan on letting him live that long. They seemed fitting to match the damage he had done to the other women, almost ritualistic. Putting much emphasis on the sharp tool, letting it linger before the man’s eyes, she gradually inserted the blade into his ear canal, causing his eyes to roll up into his head. Grabbing a pillow she shoved it over his face trying to silence his screams. Only when they softened did she pull the pillow back. Sliding her body down along his, she began jabbing her toy along his stomach, similar to the way a fork cut into an under easy egg, slowly a thick substance leaked out from the many holes. By the time she reached between his legs, the man was in tears, blood raining down onto the bed. Pausing a moment, she reached for the ring on her left hand, giving a twirl of the jewel, it opened, revealing a curious black liquid. Dipping the end of her claw into the muck, she closed back up the ring, watching as the goo coated the silver tool.

“This, won’t hurt much...” She frowned, a bit disappointed at that aspect as she impaled his male organ with the weapon, knowing the poison would soon numb him completely. Devon’s body lurched forward, only to be knocked back from the restraints, he spat the rag partially out in his despair, only to have it shoved deeper into his throat.

“It’s almost over, fortunately for you darlin’.” Essence growled as she crawled off the man, using the loose sheets from his restraints to wipe at the blood along her arms and chest. In the time it took her to gather herself, blowing out some candles to darken the room, the last thing she saw was his naked skin turning black as his wails softened. She knew the pain was going away as the skin darkened quickly. She took one last candle and brought it over to the man, gently lifting his head to look down at himself.

“Do you see Devon? It’s going to fall off before the toxin reaches your heart...” She stated happily, slightly lying but it still got the rise out of him she wanted. He was indeed weaker now, but he had head butted her in the forehead as she spoke. With a curse, she put out the candle on his nipple, digging the hot wax into his flesh.

In the darkness she laughed, muttering incoherent rants about the women he had tortured and raped. She remembered as many names as she could before she spat on him, leaving for the door. Ess knew he would be dead within the hour, with or without help. With a sigh she peeked out the door and slipped away into the night.


---------------------------------

Crys had made it to Newhaven in a decent amount of time. She didn’t rush to the city as if she could stop anything, because she couldn’t, but she had increased her pace after she had finished speaking to Ari. She hadn’t been as far as one of the cities in almost three full years, but she had heard enough from the other assassins to know the shape of things around them both.

As she entered the Inn a bell rand above the door, announcing another customer had walked through it. A few people were inside, she could sense them, and hear their voices, but no one she knew; and definitely none of them were Wolves. There was no one behind the bar at the moment, but that was good in a way; it gave her a quiet moment to look around, so to speak.

She might have looked a bit odd to whoever bothered to watch her movements as she paced slowly silently counting steps between tables and running her hand through the length of the counter, amused to find that, at least to her, the place looked exactly the same as it once was. She had to appreciate Sean’s attitude on that, at least. It almost brought back memories, even though the wooden surface of the counter was smooth and lacked the several knife wounds and scorch marks the previous one had, and the floor boards didn’t make the familiar screech in response to her footsteps. The whole place was squeaky clean and impeccable in a way it had never been before. Almost familiar, but… Not quite. As if someone had taken an item of sentimental value and replaced it with another exactly like it; the same, but not quite.

As she finally settled down in a stool by the counter she heard a female voice speak quickly as Sheila wandered in from the backroom. “You’re not welcome here.”
“I thought this was a neutral zone.” Crys replied, unfazed by the woman’s attitude; she was expecting that.
“It’s not neutral for you, but since you’re here I can take the opportunity to personally tell you to go straight to hell and rot there.” The woman replied.
“I’ll be sure to head that way after we talk.” Crys replied, with a little laugh, turning as the woman walked past her to serve a customer at a table. “Sheeeila… I’m not leaving…” She snickered. “It’s just easier if you tell me what I want to know.”
“I’m not telling you anything. Just crawl back to whatever rock you’ve been hiding under...” She then proceeded to mutter something under her breath, it was barely audible, but enough for Crys to get.
“Whether I do or not leave him alone is none of your concern.” She replied, an angered expression forming on her face. “He is a grown man, in case you’re not aware.”
“Oh, I’m aware.” Sheila snickered, again walking past her.

Crys now realized there was someone else by the counter, just a couple of steps away and stopped to hear the sound of one single gold coin dropping on the counter. She didn’t hear what the customer had ordered, but she heard Sheila’s response. “That’s not enough, pretty boy.”
The young male replied by snickering softly. “Yes, it is… Take it.” He didn’t raise his voice above a whisper, but even though his tone was gentle, something about it caused a chill to run down Crys’ spine.
“Huh, it is enough.” Sheila agreed suddenly, causing Crys to turn, now knowing that something was off.
“No, it’s not.” She stated, dropping another coin on the table. “This should do it, however.” She stated, turning towards the young man. “What did you do to her?”
“You?” He mumbled absently, sounding a bit shocked before chuckling slightly. “Pardon me Miss…? I’m with a friend, and suppose I was trying to impress her. I only have this one coin, however, and so I made use of my gift. I honestly didn’t think the Pack would miss one lousy coin all that much. I much appreciate your gesture. I will repay you one day.”
Crys frowned slightly, wondering if she knew this person, he seemed so startled to see her there for whatever reason. Still, he didn’t lie when he said he meant to impress his friend, he was actually keeping his voice down enough not to be heard from where Crys could tell the only other female customer was. “Rivers…” She started simply, since she felt it was fine to give him at least that. “… Crystal Rivers. And you, Mister…?” She trailed off leaving room for his name, same as he had done for her, and then moved on. “It’s clear that you like this woman enough to steal from people who can easily kill you for it… Who am I to stand in your way, right?”
“… Just Luckas...” He said. “And, who knows? I might just have a death wish or something.”
Crys chuckled. “Alright, Luckas… Believe what you will. It was nice meeting you.”
He retrieved the drinks from the counter and began to walk away without saying much more, however she caught a whisper as he walked away.

“It was nice meeting you in person, Crys.” He whispered.

Crys tilted her head slightly, wondering what the hell that meant, however she simply let the strange man go and turned her attention back to the matter at hand. “So, where were we?” She asked Sheila, with a fake smile.

She remembered when Sheila showed up in the Pack. Jake had run into her in Blackpond and helped her out of some trouble… He sent her to the camp with a letter to the leaders saying that he thought she would be a perfect recruiter; and so she was. However, the woman had never liked her for her own reasons, and after a few occasions in which she had demonstrated her dislike very clearly, the feeling became mutual.

“I said go to hell.” The woman repeated. Although this time she stopped across the counter from Crys. “Would you like a drink, since you’re here?”
“I’d love a drink, I just don’t trust you not to poison it.” Crys replied. “I don’t have all the time in the world, Sheila. I need to know when you last saw Jacob, and where I can find him.”
“Of course you do.” The woman said. “When it’s convenient, right?”
Crys stood up, her seemingly endless patience was beginning to wear out and she leaned forward on the wooden counter, her face closer to the woman. “Enough with the innuendos already… Just tell me what it is you think I did wrong this time so we can move on with our very separate lives.” She muttered.
“Honestly Crys, to sum it all up: I think you would have done us all a huge favor if you had just decided to stay dead. Especially Jake, the poor guy really deserves a break.”

That was it. It wasn’t completely Sheila’s fault, but the woman should have known that when someone crawls in the dirt for hours trying to catch the next breath, spends days just trying to keep her heart from failing, and consequently loses everything, all within a month, ‘you should have stayed dead’ is just not something you say without causing something to snap. And something snapped inside of Crys so painfully that she didn’t think twice to plant her foot on the stool she had been sitting on moments earlier and push herself up and across the counter, pulling one of her Sai and launching herself at the woman, aiming a stab at her face.

Sheila only had time to grab a metal tray to defend herself with, the Sai dagger collided with it forcefully; once, twice, three times before the impact knocked the woman over to the ground. With very little room to move behind the counter, Sheila planted both her feet against the metal tray to push Crys away, pulling out a short sword that was sheathed at her waist as she jumped to her feet. “I believe I hit a nerve.” The woman stated, slightly pleased with the fact that she had managed to get through Crys’ calm exterior.

Crys was knocked back a few steps, but kept her balance enough to not fall back. At this point the rage had subsided, but it didn’t mean she was going to sheathe her weapon and walk away. Not without answers, and she didn’t have time to waste. Gripping the metal tray with her free hand like a shield, she advanced towards the woman, letting her attack. Crys camly dodged the first blow, blocked the second blow with the metal tray and the third with the Sai, trapping the blade of the sword between the blade and one of the metal prongs of the weapon, pulling it down and out of the way. She then slammed the metal tray against the woman’s face, momentarily stunning her and causing her to loosen the grip on the sword, which was then knocked out of her hand.

It could have ended there, except Crys still wanted her questions answered and, admittedly, she wanted Sheila to suffer a little. The woman’s hand placed on the counter as she tried to catch her balance had provided the perfect opportunity, and Crys pulled her second Sai and stabbed right through it, pinning the woman’s hand to the wooden surface.

Sheila let out an ear-piercing scream at the pain caused by the blade. “You… Psychotic… Bitch…” She muttered, as Crys held the tip of the other blade pressed against her skin at a very dangerous spot below her eye.
Crys sighed releasing the Sai that was jammed through the woman’s hand and pinned to the wooden counter and reached under the counter, feeling around the space where a few bottles and other ingredients were kept until she found a lemon. “I’m sorry Sheila, but really… I have somewhere else I need to be and you’re just not being helpful.” She stated, speaking softly and squeezing the lemon slightly in her hand.
Sheila tried to slowly reach for the Sai, to release her hand, but the hand holding the blade to her face stiffened only slightly and she reconsidered. “I’m going to get you for this one day… I swear I will!” She muttered.
“Fine, as you wish. Until then, you’ll answer my questions and tell me ANYTHING else that might be useful to me. You have ten seconds to start talking.” She told the woman, pressing the lemon against the blade of the Sai that was pinning her hand, threatening to slice it open and let the acidic juice flow onto her wounded hand. “Ten… Nine…”

“You’re bluff-“The woman didn’t finish the sentence, Crys had sliced the lemon open and the liquid had run down the blade of the dagger, causing her to scream in agony. “On the Twins… I’ll kill you…” She muttered.
“I don’t bluff: Now talk.” Crys stated, threatening to squeezing more juice out of the fruit.
“Jake was here, the day before the Festival. He told me to inform Sean that he was with the Black Knights and something else about a woman from Blackpond meeting with the Queen and mentioning the Pack. Three of our people walked in not soon after and confronted Jake, that’s when this woman came inside to help him. They didn’t seem to know each other well, but he was friendly with her; they casually mentioned the fact that she had followed him and mentioned ‘the others’ at one point of the conversation, so I assume she was one of the Blacks, or a part of the Guard. They knocked our guys down, and I didn’t catch much more of their conversation since I went to the back, but there was this other man here and by the time I came back there were other people on the floor and Jake and his friend were leaving. I haven’t seen him since, so… Well… A little while ago he mentioned going to Blackpond; he seemed to feel strongly about the situation there for some reason. If he’s not with the Blacks I assume that’s where he’ll be.” The woman informed. “That’s all I know.”

Crys sighed softly, placing the split lemon on the counter and lowering the Sai that was pressed to Sheila’s face. The tip of the weapon hadn’t even left a mark on the woman’s skin; despite the steadiness of the wielding hand, the touch of the blade had been gentle enough to leave it intact. Sheathing the dagger, Crys picked a cloth and a bottle of rum. “This will sting, but don’t move or you might make it worse.” She informed, soaking the cloth and wrapping it around the blade, using it to press Sheila’s hand against the surface of the counter as she gripped the Sai by the hilt and yanked it out with one steady pull. As she sheathed the bloody weapon, she kept pressing the wounded hand against the counter. Sheila’s breathing was unsteady from the pain, but she didn’t as much as move a muscle. Crys took the time to take the woman’s hand and wrap the rum-soaked cloth around it, binding it tightly, before leaving the establishment without another word exchanged; the bottle of rum still in her hands.

----------------------------------------------

Luckas spent a good few minutes 'interviewing' the servants who cleaned the dirt in Xypher's chamber, cooked his meals, and overheard his conversations. He was very disappointed; the man was as boring as one can be. It seemed the old man only had one woman in his life, and that was his dead wife. They couldn't get him that way, but Luke had an idea of what might work. It would probably be the most entertaining part of the whole thing. Xypher wouldn't make a good kill for him, but in a way that was good; if they had to end him nicely and quickly he wouldn't be at a loss.

Walking out of the castle and onto the courtyard, Luckas shivered, realizing he hadn't been outside since the previous day; he'd forgotten how cold it usually was this time of year, but he simply brushed it off, putting two hands in his pockets and forgetting the cold after only a few steps.

There were several Inns in the city and Luke hadn't asked Ess which one she would be going to, which was dumb, but he was lucky to find her in the first place he looked. He waved the gold coin she had tossed at him earlier and headed straight for the counter before even walking over. The barmaid wasn't there yet, so he leaned casually against the counter of the bar, waiting.

Someone walked in a minute or two after Luke, but he didn't turn to look. Whoever it was didn't seem to acknowledge him either, better this way. The newly arrived customer was a redheaded woman and an odd one as it seemed. She seemed to be walking aimlessly through the entire place mumbling something under her breath. That went on for a little while, until she settled down in a stool by the counter, sitting with her right elbow leaned on the counter and her back was turned to him. The barmaid came from the backroom of the bar and said something to the woman about her not being welcome, and they exchanged words here and there. Luckas was getting the odd sensation of knowing that redhead from some place and it just made his stomach twist painfully; how many of those was he going to get?

Finally the barmaid addressed him. "What are you having, hun?"
"Two of what the pretty lady over there is having."He said, discretely indicating Ess with a nod and dropping the gold coin on the counter, fully aware of the fact that it wasn't enough.
"That’s not enough, pretty boy." The barmaid told him, crossing her arms over her chest.
Luke leaned forward, whispering softly. "Yes, it is... Take it.
"Huh, it is enough" She replied, beginning to pour the drinks.
"No, it’s not." The redhead spoke suddenly, dropping another coin on the table. She had turned to face Luke and now he knew where he had seen her before. "This should do it, however." She continued, facing him and asking in a severe tone: "What did you do to her?"
"You..." Luke mumbled, a little shocked that he'd just stumble into her this way. It felt like seeing someone come to life out of a dream. It was odd and amusing. Quickly he came up with an explanation for what he was doing, taking the chance to maybe introduce himself. "Pardon me Miss…? I’m with a friend, and suppose I was trying to impress her. I only have this one coin, however, and so I made use of my gift. I honestly didn’t think the Pack would miss one lousy coin all that much. I much appreciate your gesture. I will repay you one day."
She was suspicious of him for his shock in seeing her, probably wondering, like he had, if they knew each other. Apparently she brushed it off, because she replied giving just the opening he needed. "Rivers…" She started simply, but Luke already knew that. "… Crystal Rivers. And you, Mister…?" She gave him room to introduce himself, perfect. "It’s clear that you like this woman enough to steal from people who can easily kill you for it… Who am I to stand in your way, right?"
Luke flinched slightly at the last words she spoke, but just brushed it aside as her having bought into his talk, playing with it instead of showing it had bothered him slightly. " ...Just Luckas...” He said. “And, who knows? I might just have a death wish or something.”
She chuckled as if she didn't believe him. “Alright, Luckas… Believe what you will. It was nice meeting you."

Luke didn't respond this time, he simply took the drinks from the counter and walked to join Ess at the table, a slight frown crossing his features as he whispered to himself. "It was nice meeting you in person, Crys." He would have to tell Jakey about this, he was sure the man would be delighted to know Luke had met his 'better half'.

With this thought still in mind, as Luke sat down across from Ess sliding one drink across the table to her, he had a strange grin on his face; the one reserved for annoying good old Jakey. This would be good...

Snapping out of it, he shook his head slightly and spoke. "So, did you have time to misbehave or was I quick enough?" He played. "Xypher. Well... The man is practically an eunuch." He stated, still shooting glances towards the counter. "Captain was right, someone familiar he would want to converse with might be our best bet. Say, do you think you've spent enough time with her? I think he'd believe that she wants to face her accuser." Luke suggested.

Essence finished off her drink, a curious smile leaving her lips as the memory faded. The bell rang in the door a few times here and there but she kept her eyes down most of the time, until she noted Luckas entering, passing her with a smile he headed straight for the bar. She nodded and winked, thinking to herself how that boy looked like he should eat something; that they both should most likely if they were to have their strength up for later.

As she waited, a moment later another patron entered the Inn. Ess didn’t pay much attention until she noted out of the corner of her eye how the woman walked about curiously, as if she were memorizing where things were. Ess quirked a brow, not quite understanding at first why the woman lacked direct focus on her surroundings and then it clicked. There was much overcompensation with the red-head’s sense of touch while she seemed to pause and listen to her surroundings. ‘Must be something off with her vision.’ She thought to herself, unsure exactly.

Ess retracted her gaze, reaching for her wrist she retrieved one of her small daggers, twirling it between her fingers. Slipping her hand along the smooth surface of the table, Ess dragged the tip of the blade deeply through the edge as she carved her name into the wood. She looked up as Luckas sat across from her, sliding her drink within her grasp.

“What’s that look for?” She inquired, watching Luckas closely, half hearing the red head and the woman behind the bar arguing softly in the background. ‘“Go to hell...”’...Was mostly what she got out of the conversation as she focused on Luckas.

“Ah...I managed to keep to myself...decided that I didn’t want you to miss out.” Ess shrugged casually, her tone was careless remaining upbeat. As Luckas spoke about Xypher she sighed, “Ok so you were productive, good to see. I impersonated Mageria while we sparred before you and I ran into each other in the practice grounds, so I know it’s feasible.” Ess paused, leaning in closer towards Luckas, she slid her arm across the table, hiding the blade beneath her sleeve. “I can mimic the Captain, but I would need some practice to impersonate her voice...then there’s the blue eyes I can’t do..” Raising her glass she sipped her drink, her cheeks giving a gentle red glow as the heat of the liquor spread across her face. Some people found drinking was over all bad for the blood, but in Ess’ case, while it thinned out her blood, it held back any potential bleeds since it promoted better circulation for her.

“Luckas...” Her eyes brightened with an idea. “You have many memories of the captain I’m sure...are you able to...pass those on to me? It would make the process quicker, to know more of her speech patterns and how she tal-” Ess was interrupted by a sudden commotion of metal against metal, snapping her attention away from Luckas towards the women at the bar. Apparently they were not on very good terms and seemed to be battling it out on the bar counter itself, amidst curses and threats. An amused grin took over her expression, her teeth peeking through as she watched the women argue; about what she wasn’t sure. Ess glanced over at Luke as she drank heavily from her glass, giving a curious almost questioning look. “Is that your fault or something?” She joked.

"Whatever do you mean?" Luke asked with a mischievous grin as Ess asked about the look in his eyes. With a small chuckle, he added: "One secret at a time. I'd hate to see you lose interest in me."

In the back he could hear the barmaid and Crys talking, but he really paid them no mind, keeping his focus on Ess as she mentioned the difficulties in passing off as Mageria. Luke listened intently, leaning back in his chair and absently thinking of the best ways to get around those details. When she suddenly asked if he could pass his memories onto her he sat up straight. he never tried that before, he wondered if he could though... His memory manipulation skills were similar to Lena's, so it was likely. He only had two full conversations with Mageria though, one of them happened three years ago when she thought he was a vision.

As he heard the sounds of metal clashing he jumped to his feet to get a better look at what was going on at the bar as he replied. "Oh, I wish." He snickered, when Ess asked if he had anything to do with that. However he continued on with their conversation as if there had been no interruption. "In theory, I could, but we've only actually had two full conversations in three years. Although, I'm not sure the one when she thought I was a ghost counts as a full conversation. If it helps... We can try..." He laughed out, as a high-pitched scream echoed through the room. "Assassins are so incredibly fun." He said absently as the barmaid stood with her hand impaled and pinned to the counter by a Sai dagger, its twin touching her face menacingly. Turning his attention back to Ess, rising his voice slightly as the woman screamed again, he continued. "We can try that, but we'd need a more private place..." He stopped talking as the screaming stopped. "... Because neither of us will be able to see a thing of our surroundings while we do it." The sounds of the bell above the door announced that Crys was leaving the Inn.

Luckas sat back down and finally reached for his glass, drinking from it and leaving it half-empty, or have-full maybe, depending on one's opinion. He glanced towards the door and an amused grin appeared in his face. "Do you know who that was, by any chance?" He asked Ess, with a snicker that said he had incredibly good gossip to share.
Ess smiled, thinking how ironic it was that he commented on her losing interest in him. “Hmm, good to know I still have yours.” She couldn’t remember how long it had been since she spent so much time with a man, noting that half the day was already gone and she still had her clothes on. It was quite a different experience, the nervousness creeping back inside her stomach, lingering with a dull pain. The change was exciting but it was something she was not very familiar with, and she knew that the fault could only be credited to herself.

“Well..” Her voice grew louder over the women’s curses and screams as she watched the one with the Sai dagger release lemon juice upon the other woman’s wound. “Us redheads can get away with just about anything.” She smiled up at Luckas as she answered his notion to go somewhere private. “I was wondering how long it was going to take you to suggest that.” Leaning back in her chair she downed the rest of her drink, relaxing.

“Seriously though...”She looked over Luckas with a perplexed gaze. “When was the last time you ate boy? Come on...I’ll heat you up something at my house and we can see if my idea works. There’s much to prepare for.”

She shook her head curiously. “Am I suppose to know who that was? I’ve never seen her before. Course I usually don’t talk to women..” Ess chuckled. “Too complicated, and always fighting over a man in one way or another.”

Luke raised an eyebrow when Ess asked when was the last time he ate. It was just so unexpectedly thoughtful. "I... Uh... Yesterday." He admitted, scratching the back of his head. "In my defense, you distracted me." He added, crossing his arms over his chest and tilting his head. "And... Boy?" He asked. "Haven't we had this conversation already?" He asked with a grin, emptying his glass and taking a few glances around before saying. "That blind redhead who left just now... Was the leader of the Wolfpack until three years ago. Word out there, officially, is that she was killed by the current Alpha. She hasn't been seen anywhere in three years." He shrugged. "Makes me wonder why she's here, now of all times."

Standing up, he added. "I wouldn't advise you to fight her over any man." He nodded towards the woman behind the counter. "Something tells me that was friendly conversation." He shrugged lightly. "Not that you would have to fight her over me... There's plenty to go around." He told her playfully, snickering softly as he stomach emitted a rather loud growl. "And thanks for reminding me I'm hungry." He laughed. "Can we go? I might bite you otherwise."

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Character Portrait: Luckas Character Portrait: Ess Character Portrait: Ari Lupir
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Ess, BlackBird, Nibbles Combo:>)


Ess pushed back her chair, making her way for the door. “You are younger than me...although a man..you’re still a boy.” With a laugh she added, “Don’t take offense..just accept it Luckas.” She knew age didn’t mean much, as it was one’s mentality that mattered, but she thought it was funny how she may have slightly touched on one of Luckas’ nerves. Ess fished out a few more coins, feeling a tad bit bad for the bar tender’s current state, leaving her a hefty tip.

“Huh??” Ess stared at Luckas long and hard..”Really...THAT was..” She looked almost offended as she eyed Luckas. “Why the Hell, would I challenge HER?” Ess didn’t understand what Luckas was getting at as she opened the door and exited, only a few more minutes towards her home. Ess only had ever heard rumors and rumors..well...never did one justice. With a sigh she whispered, “I guess anything is possible, except me sharing...” She smiled half heartedly, playfully giving Luckas a shove. “You definitely don’t want to see me jealous either..”



As they approached her home, a simple cottage size building with one large room, Ess noticed a note on the door. Snatching it down, she didn’t even bother to read it as she crumpled it up knowing who it was from. After unlocking the door, she quickly threw a few logs onto the dying fire to add some light to the room, as she kept the curtains closed on her windows. She paused, as if debating what to do with the note before she tossed it into the fire. Unhooking her belt, she lazily draped it along her bed, her fingers slipping beneath her Tunic to retrieve her leather journal. Her eyes froze over a simple, old looking Teddy Bear dressed as a knight that guarded her pillows only to snap out of her trance, she grabbed the Bear and placed both the stuffed memory and journal on an empty shelf.

Ess sighed, mostly silent as she lit more candles and began retrieving clean bowls from a cabinet. Wandering back over to the fire, she hung a tiny caldron over the flames as they grew, it containing a stew she had made the day before consisting of assorted meat and veggies from the market. Unwrapping a small cloth, she revealed half a loaf of bread she cut in halves for herself and Luckas, placing the pieces beside their bowls on her mini table beside the fireplace. As the fire roared, many of the shadows dissipated revealing entire walls covered in Ess’s drawings; wolves, dragons, self portraits of her different selves (including her true form), Tala, what appeared to be a family portrait of her father and brother, and a smaller picture of a young boy simply labeled ‘Blue Eyes.’ All of them were drawn in ink, with exceptional details, only the eyes had color which added to the illusion that they seemed to follow her where ever she went.

“Sit Luckas, relax..stay a while.” Ess smirked, pointing towards a ceramic bowl and pitcher of water before a grand mirror that reached towards the ceiling. “Go wash up first..it’s my silly pet peeve, people who eat with dirty hands.” With a shrug she gave the stew a stir before wandering over to a large white tapestry extending from floor to ceiling; painted with what looked like a dying Oak tree. She carried a candle over to it and stepped behind to change. Ess didn’t care that Luckas was in the room, or that he probably saw her hourglass silhouette shadowed behind the cloth as she threw on a simple red cotton gown, stretchy and comfortable. Ess appeared from behind the cloth holding the candle in one hand and a set of men’s clothes in her other hand. The shirt and pants were a plain black, the material loose and soft. Quirking a brow she wondered out loud, “You think these would fit you? I made them some time ago but they won’t fit me...you can have them if you want.” Essence didn't need them and she didn't want Luckas to think she was being charitable, so not to cause offense or wound his pride.

"So, what you're saying is that I'm a man-child, is that it?" Luckas asked, slightly amused. He didn't quite get why Ess seemed somewhat offended by his comments. He was just playing, and his tone showed it clearly, but he brushed it off as she shoved him saying that he wouldn't want to see her jealous. "Oh, I don't see why I would ever see that." He said innocently, with a small chuckle.

As they arrived at her house, Luke was quiet for quite some time; his eyes registering things such as the note at the door, later tossed into the fire unread; the teddy bear on the bed and the journal that were put away together in a shelf. He took his time looking over all the drawings on the walls, the one of the boy caught his eye and he couldn't seem to look away from it... It was familiar somehow, but maybe he'd seen it in her memories at some point. Looking away from the drawing he finally broke his silence as he walked to wash up as she asked.
"Your drawings are impressive, you know." He stated, washing his hands and face and frowning slightly at how pale his face looked in the mirror. He didn't turn to where the woman was changing, however he took a very discrete glance in her direction, which was followed by a little smirk. He only turned to face her when she asked him the clothes would fit. He stared long and hard at the clothing, half wondering if they did fit, half wondering if he should take them. The infirmary had been the only occasion in which he accepted anything from another person, but he was naked then.

The clothes Mageria had given him were a little long on the arms and legs, but they did fit just fine and, aside from the little blood stain in one of the sleeves, they were new. Luke never carried anything, he was used to taking what he needed in the moment he needed it, in any way he needed to. Be it food, clothes, money... It didn't matter. "They might, yeah." He answered simply, still unable to actually say he'd take them. Finally he spread his arms and looked down at his clothing before looking back to Ess. "Why, do I not look handsome in these? I thought they were quite stylish." He joked, then he waved the blood stained sleeve. "Although the shirt might be permanently ruined."
~~

" “Your drawings are impressive, you know."

Ess smiled, her cheeks flushing softly with color at the compliment, almost forgetting the drawings were even there. Feeling a bit embarrassed she answered slowly, “Thank you Luckas...uh..just something I do to pass the time...sometimes I fear I may forget what I cherish most..or what they look like.” She glanced along the drawings of her family and her childhood friend with an accomplished nod, unrolling the shirt and pants to see how they sized up to Luckas.

“They seem alright...and definitely warmer than what you have on.” Ess stepped back draping the set onto the bed. “They are there if you would like them.” She added a wink, “I will admit Luckas, you are handsome..but don’t tell anyone I caved...you know how rumors are.” She looked over the blood stain on his sleeve and only answered his comment on how the shirt may be ruined, with a questioning gaze. Was he hurt? She didn’t want to pry, so she simply turned back towards the fire, serving the re-heated stew into the bowls. Absently she went to get Tala’s dish on the floor, pausing abruptly with a small laugh, forgetting that her furry friend was not around. She felt almost naked and alone without her faithful companion and had to remind herself that she indeed was neither of those things.

Ess seated herself at the table only after she quickly washed her hands, motioning for Luckas to join her, not waiting for him to sit himself before she began nibbling on the bread, dipping it into the stew. After a few moments in silence, both of them munching away at their meal, Ess paused to pour them both a glass of water. “So, you said in theory, my idea should work. Is it going to be painful? What do you want me to do? The memories transferred, if it works, will emotions be included?” Ess let the flow of questions escape her, her words almost colliding together. She shook her head at herself, thinking her current action reminded her of her childhood friend, how he would always ask a lot of questions all at once, before taking a breath. Essence hadn’t realized until now that, that had rubbed off on her.
~~
"...sometimes I fear I may forget what I cherish most..or what they look like."

Luckas flinched slightly at that sentence, shooting another glance around the drawings on the walls as if he now saw them as extra people in the room. It made him nervous for inexplicable reasons and he didn't speak for a long while, still giving the walls discrete glances as he sat at the table and started digging into the food. The silence gave him time to think of how much he was trusting Ess, and how much that could cost him... He also wondered what she would think of him if he told her... Who he was, what he knew he was... Could she ever understand...

He broke out of his thoughts at the sudden wave of questions. "It won't be painful, all you have to do is relax and maintain eye contact. No emotions are involved aside from whatever feelings you have at the moment." He answered, in one breath, just the same way she had asked. Then he stared at her for a little while before asking something out of the blue. "How did you get that?" He asked, tracing his finger along his own eye as if drawing her scar on his face.

Essence steadied herself at Luckas’ question, her fingers swiping the last bit of bread around the bowl to pick up the remanence of stew as her chewing slowed dramatically. She wouldn’t raise her gaze up to meet his as he stared at her. Not knowing how to respond exactly even though this wasn’t the first time she was asked that question, Ess simply painted a smile on her face, pushing herself to her feet, evading the question. “Would you like more to eat, Luckas?” Ess abruptly turned towards the fire, the flames reflecting in her violet orbs as her smile faded. She didn’t know how much Luckas had absorbed of her soul, but she had assumed he knew about certain demons that remained buried beneath her surface, including how she obtained her scar. Crossing her arms, her hands clasped her elbows tightly as if she were shivering from a chill, remembering with a sigh that she had told him to ask her questions instead of invading her personal space and he was remaining true to her request.

“...I acquired many scars with this one around the same time...” Ess began hesitantly. With a shrug, she kept her back towards Luckas as she continued. “...I had my revenge...many of those responsible for my pain..are no longer in this world..” Clearing her throat she glanced over her shoulder at Luckas, “It’s a pathetic story..I’m sure it would just bore you.” Even though she was trying to avoid the answer to Luckas’ question still, she wouldn’t lie to him and she knew if he pursued the knowledge, she may just re-tell one of the many tragedies of her life. Ess suddenly felt mentally weak for even considering such a tale to someone she barely knew...but then again she hadn’t felt such an odd connection with anyone in quite some time, and it scared her tremendously.

Luke had been leaning forward on the table, but immediately pulled back when Ess avoided his question and stood up from her seat, leaning back as far as he could. He was used to hitting people’s weak spots, but he usually did it willingly. He didn’t think this would be such a delicate subject; he simply wanted to use the example to get a point across. Her reaction, however, proved that his question was much more important than he thought it was.

Not really knowing what to do, he absently chewed on the last piece of his bread until there was nothing left, listening to the little Ess was willing to tell, and seeing how difficult it seemed for her to tell him that much. Looking at her in that particular moment made him wonder what memories truly were; blessings or curses. Suppose it depended on what memories one kept, but either way they all posed as weaknesses in a way or two.

Slowly, Luckas pushed his chair back and got on his feet. Walking over to where Ess was standing, he stood as close to her as he thought he could without being intrusive and reached out as if he was going to grab her shoulders, but stopped himself half way through the gesture and lowered his hands, letting them rest at his sides. “You don’t have to tell me any more, if you don’t want to.” He whispered. “Just answer me this: If you could forget all those terrible things that happened in the past. If you could erase those memories, and still be you, but not knowing what made you this way… Would you want that? Do you think it would be better?” This he hoped she would answer. It wasn't just important... It was everything.

Looking up from the flames, Ess inhaled deeply as she turned to face Luckas. Something natural, that had been lost emerged from inside herself, dropping all facades Ess let her walls fall in that moment. She took a tiny step forward so that they were just far enough to not be touching, but the heat of her skin emanated from her entire being, radiating like the fire behind her. Gently she looked up into his dark eyes in a peaceful, thoughtful manner.

“You want to know, if I would willingly erase my past?....To avoid pain and still be who I am? That isn’t possible, Luckas because I would be someone else entirely.” Ess eyes flickered and glowed with her heightened emotion, brushing a loose curl from out her gaze. “We define ourselves by our pain and triumphs. How do we learn and better ourselves if not from those memories? We can’t always choose what happens to us, but we can choose how we continue on in our lives, what to do with the cards we have been dealt.” She paused, taking in a breath, her eyes gazing back and forth from his own, down towards his mouth as she watched his expression, looking to understand where these questions came from.

“I would rather feel pain, than be empty. Sometimes we need to act irrational, to be sane in the long run. I choose, to be a stronger person. I chose to suffer for a time, because I thought it was my punishment for my failures. I am beginning to understand differently now, but I would not be standing before you now without going through what I did. I understand that there may be some memories I have wished to do without, but in the end, what’s the point? We might as well just light a fire and burn in our emptiness.....ring out...give up.” Ess closed her eyes a moment, inhaling through her nose before opening those beautiful eyes back up at Luckas, shaking her head. “I admit, I was weak once. That I am still lost in some ways. I know what it’s like to be a slave and have no free will, so I appreciate my life now and my ability to choose, even if they are not always the right choices.”

Essence didn’t realize how her hand reached up to touch Luckas’ cheek as she whispered, “Life doesn’t always make sense and is never easy, but the journey is just as important as reaching the end, Luckas. How would you realize what you love and hate?....How would you make sense of all the chaos that is in this world?...I’ll tell you what still hurts just as much as knowing I can never be a mother.....” Ess retracted her hand, her warm, soft skin brushing down Luckas’ chin. “It’s losing loved ones. But I would rather have known them, than never met them. Even if they disappoint or hurt me...because Luckas...because they have helped shape me into the person I am today...” Ess pointed knowingly where the picture of the blue eyed boy hung on the wall.... “That boy...that child....showed me many things..had more knowledge and wisdom at that age than I did...He taught me that I am beautiful...that I do matter...That I should stand up for myself and defend my life. That if you really do love someone, you trust and support them, even if you don’t always agree with their actions...that we can forgive...”

With a shaky laugh, her eyes glimmered with tears she never let skim the surface of her skin. She caught herself in her rant, a bit surprised she unraveled like a ball of twine, her skin blushing a deep red as she kept her gaze upon Luckas. “I’m sorry...guess I went off the deep end a second there...Not what you expected huh?” A shy smile curled her lips, her mind wondering if she had said too much.

Luckas stood facing Ess hearing her words intently, as if in a trance. Although his body was as still as he could be, his mind was racing furiously underneath his cold exterior, something inside his chest was aching painfully for reasons that, once again, he was unable to understand. She had said what he expected her to say; what he wanted her to say, what he needed someone to say... It was validation in a way... Purpose... Meaning... Maybe those thing existed after all. Maybe this was someone he could share his secrets with one day... One day, maybe soon, but not today...

Opening a rather faint smile he moved back to his chair and sat, leaning back on the chair and looking up at the woman before speaking. "Let's say then, hypothetically that you had this one terrible event happen in your past... Something so horrible that merely scratching the surface of that memory brings more pain than any normal person could possibly handle without giving up their sanity... Knowing the nature of those memories, knowing the little you know about what they could do to you... Would you still want to remember? Would it be worth it? He asked. "If you had been who you are your whole life without knowing, if you were aware that once that door opened it could never be closed again... Would you want to know then? Isn't ignorance bliss in this case?" His tone was one of someone presenting a simple logic problem, but something in Luckas' eyes gave away the fact that it wasn't such a simple question to him.

Essence smirked at the word as she breathed, “Hypothetically hmm...?” Her brows narrowed a bit as she studied Luckas, understanding there was something deeper he was hinting at, but what she couldn’t decide. He had stood before her and actually listened to what she had to say. Not many ever cared to do that, even if there was a personal reason behind it. She didn’t understand why it mattered what she thought as he continued at her with more questions, studying her in return.

“It’s only human to be hesitant or frightened of pain..emotional, physical, or both. Is it easier to live a lie? To deny oneself? Yes. Everyone has experienced such opportunities to avoid or escape pain, and it’s natural to do so. Yet, one can never really escape the past and it will catch up. Does one choose the path of insanity and despair, strength and prosperity, or perhaps one discovers insanity only to recover. Whatever is devastating enough to tear through a person, once that gauntlet is passed, the release is euphoric.” The glow from her eyes brightened as she bit down on her bottom lip at a thought, snickering to herself. Clearing her throat she seemed to float across the floor, seating herself back across from Luckas. “I think the journey would be most devastating, this extreme pain. If it is something to even consider, then it is worth it. Opening new doors has only proved beneficial in the long run....just have to find a way over the bottomless pits.” She started to laugh, “You know...the ones with the soul devouring demons with scary sharp teeth..” She stood abruptly, making her way over to the leather journal she had placed on the far shelf. Quickly ruffling through some pages, she paused at an eerie drawing, her laughter slowing. Looking up she turned the journal about to display her version of a demon.: A small, lanky, yellow slit-eyed creature with dagger like teeth. The skin was almost transparent hinting that whatever was inside this thing burned with a hideous fury. “I’m not religious at all, by the way, but this is what I think of when I am battling my demons. I believe we all have them inside us...sometimes they win battles..however small...But when we win battles...they are forever life altering.” She paused again before finishing, “If you give a meaning, a reason, or find that purpose in something else that makes the pain worth it...then to hell with Ignorance..”


Erin and the boys had taken Ari back to the Dark house, the place they always stayed in Newhaven whenever Kirsten’s or their prey had fled Blackpond and instead sought safety in Newhaven. They were safe from the questioning stares of the townspeople and the ruffians that roamed the city here, no one knew about it and they always kept it low profile. It was stupid of them to have brought her out so soon. Erin glanced over at Alecto and glared slightly. He knew this would happen; the kid always liked others suffering and he had obviously dug too deep to reach that pain. Erin shivered, knowing perfectly well that she had suffered again and the person who was on the receiving end had suffered just as she had and had probably fallen unconscious. Alecto’s eyes flashed and he reached out to gently touch her face, caressing it and moving so that Erin was forced to move out of the way. Erin growled slightly, not taking kindly to being shoved aside by someone who was lower in rank then he was. Alecto smirked, seeing the look of fury on Erin’s face before turning his attention back on Ari. His fingers brushed over her lips and he leaned over her, kissing her eyelids. Erin rolled his eyes, it wasn’t going to wake her any sooner, kisses or not. His mind was quickly changed as her eyes fluttered open and her lips pulled into a soft smile before her eyes focused and her face fell. Alecto shifted so his back was facing Erin who now was glaring daggers down at Alecto’s back. If looks could kill Alecto would have been long dead. Erin pushed Alecto away slightly before kneeling gently in front of Ari as she sat up, rubbing the sleep from her eyes.

“Good morning princess,” he whispered, her flinch wiping the teasing smile from his face. He looked back at Alecto whose face remained a complete mask as he watched them.

“What happened,” she whispered, her pale arms spreading out in a stretch as her lips formed an O as she yawned.

“You were able to get a message to your lover,” Alecto purred, stepping forward to stand beside Erin, “They were riding for Blackpond when you were able to reach them.”
His brows knitted together as his eyes flashed dangerously. Ari’s eyes mirrored his, widening as a memory hit her.

I, no Alex, was riding fast toward Blackpond when I, we, felt her, Ari inside. Nothing but images. Blackpond, torture, a strange man, red cape, pain, unbearable pain. Newhaven, safe. Collect. Darkness.

“Alecto,” Erin asked gently, touching the very unusual empath on the shoulder gently. Aleco broke his gaze away from Ari and she was released, her body slumping as the telepath lot the connection through Alecto. Erin took Alecto by the arm and steered him out the door, closing it gently behind the man’s back. He then turned back to Ari, his face apologetic.

“Forgive him, he and the boy share a very special connection. As for your friends, it would be safe to assume that they are already riding here as fast as their mounts can carry them. We have archers and thieves stationed on the rooftops keeping an eye out for the red head and the large man. Once we are sure they are the ones you seek, we will escort you to a safe location,” he nodded, the whole plan playing out before his eyes perfectly and without a hitch. He smiled sadly as she beamed, clearly pleased by this plan and the idea of being safely into the arms of those who obviously cared for her. His mind wandered as she leapt to her feet, bustling around the room and making her face look presentable, washing it and then quickly running her fingers through her long hair. He stood as she frowned, looking at the golden strands that fell to her waist.

“I’ll have to cut it again,” she said absentmindedly, noting the curious look on Erin’s face, “When I shift, everything changes, I’ll never be able to scar permanently or keep my hair really short. Every change I slowly make my way back to what I looked like before I became an outlaw.”
She watched Erin’s face carefully, her eyes catching the slight twitch of the corner of his mouth, the smile that could be there hidden carefully. She shrugged and began to furiously comb through her hair, pausing only when Erin took her hands in his and lead her back to the bed, sitting behind her and taking it upon himself to get the wild snarls from the tresses. Ari closed her eyes, finding that she enjoyed the feeling of her hair being played with by someone else and she sighed as he began to braid it. Erin was fascinated by this woman, or was it girl? She had the bouncy energy of someone young and aloof but she held so much potential once she had mellowed out. He let out a little sigh, wondering what it would have been like to have a family and a life were killing wasn’t done for fun. If only the victims of their raids and kills had known that the men who were doing this were not heartless but instead yearning. Of course they were bound to Kirsten and maintained their image of terror and pain by wearing all black, and only speaking when Kirsten wasn’t around. Some of the men had even forgotten how to speak because their mouths had been closed for too long. He looked down at the hair he was playing with and the girl sitting in front of him, her sweetness and innocence drowning those around her. He snickered at the thought of her joining the Night Hunters; this sweet little thing who probably couldn’t lift a sword, much less know how to defend against one. Still, the thought of a woman in the group was very tempting. He let the idea drop, making a note to mention it to Kirsten the moment he got back.

“So,” she said, shifting slightly. Erin could tell that the silence was getting to her even if it was just a few moments worth. “How did you become a Night Hunter? How does Kirsten bind you?”
Erin was moderately surprised that she had bothered to ask, but he was taken more off guard when she mentioned Night Hunter and Kirsten. She must have known Kirsten from some time ago, it wouldn’t have surprised him in the least that she had met him some time or another. It was the fact that Kirsten had told her so much about his group that caused worry. Erin frowned and cocked his head slightly, his fingers still moving gently through her hair as he pulled it into a braid. Was there a good way to respond to this? Maybe. But it went against everything that he had been taught by Kirsten and the others. However, when he opened his mouth to speak, the door flew open and Alecto stood there, his eyes wide with excitement.

“They’ve been spotted,” Erin said flatly, looking at the blonde haired boy that stood trembling in the doorway. Alecto shook his head and glanced at Ari, then back at Erin.

“We have to get her out of here,” he said quickly, watching as Erin’s face transformed into a mask of dread. “Neway, the telepath, he got a message from Kirsten. Only it wasn’t Kirsten. He’s coming with orders to kill her.”
Erin quickly finished braiding, the reality of the situation hitting him. Kirsten’s hunter side had been released and now it was set on death. Already he could feel the stirrings of the Blood Lust rising in him and he hurriedly tied off her hair and pulled her to her feet. If she was frightened she didn’t show it. His eyes brightened for a moment and doubt crossed his face as he realized that she actually wasn’t afraid. He shook his head slightly, his enlightenment fading as he chose not to use it. Alecto stood by the door, a dagger in hand along with a shorter black coloured bow. Ari gently reached up to caress his face, her eyes locking onto his.

“Don’t be afraid,” she pulled him forward, grabbing the bow and dagger from Alecto as he turned and ran ahead of them. Erin knew that soon all of the Night Hunters would be waiting for her to walk past. They’d have to hurry, already Kirsten’s hunt and lust was becoming theirs. There was a noise from behind him and he spun, just missing a blow to the side by a younger Hunter. He snarled and pinned the Hunter to the wall, starring deep into the kid’s eyes. It was Catlen. The young beast speaker was fighting to get lose, his eyes blazing with fury. Erin gently sent calming vibes to the boy, smiling encouragingly as the struggle stopped. When he was sure that the message had been received not to start hunting yet he turned to see Ari and Alecto tangling with four other Hunters. Erin ran forward, barking out orders and they retreated. It was handy to be second in a situation like this and he was suddenly very grateful that Alecto had the capability to restrain himself as well. The three companions continued down the hall, the other Hunters, again completely dressed in black from head to toe with only their eyes showing lined the hallways, their hands on their daggers. Erin was slowly tiring, and his head hurt from having to control so many people’s emotions and he knew as his mind grew weaker, the more open it would be for the Hunt.
Alecto now lead, Ari pressed close against him so that nothing would go wrong. Behind Ari Erin stumbled and finally stopped, his own hand reaching for his dagger. Both Ari and Alecto turned, their eyes widening as the men moved away from the walls and came to stand behind Erin.

“Run,” Alecto called, grabbing her arm and pulling her forward. The men behind her, now lead by Erin, sprinted after them. They had fallen for the hunger. Alecto was able to get her to the door before it consumed him too and Ari nearly missed the slash of the black dagger across her tender throat. The Night Hunters could see the throb of her jugular just right under her white skin, the rise and fall of her chest and smell the sudden flash of her terror. Erin stepped forward, reaching out to snatch her by the arm. She turned, her hair hitting him across the face and she ducked her shoulder and slammed herself into Alecto who had begun to move forward. She winced as she crashed into his ribcage, the sound of the air escaping him in a low growl as his body slammed against the wall. Without a moment’s hesitation she lifted her elbow, listening as it slammed into Erin’s chin with a snap and he went reeling backwards, his jaw locked. She grabbed the door and threw it open, kicking out at the Hunter that had grabbed her by her long hair and tried to drag her back. She felt nothing as he collapsed to the ground his body withering as the pain hit him. She saw the flash of colour in their eyes and she bolted away, right before the pain hit her and she stumbled, leaning heavily against the alley wall as her body convulsed. It was over in a few moments but she stay there for a moment, panting. Her green eyes swirled with silver, her hand reaching up to clutch the small wolf pendent still hanging between her breasts. She shivered and jogged forward, making sure to tread carefully so that there would be no trace of her steps later.

She was alone. Really and truly now. Kirsten and the Night Hunters would find her no doubt and soon in a city like this. She didn’t have any experience in the city really and it took everything she had not to run for the city gates. She looked up at the darkening sky and frowned as she slipped into the mass of people on the next street. She shivered, feeling venerable as she wandered through he streets before breaking away. She could see some of Kirsten’s men wandering around and she slipped into the nearest alley, her heart racing. She abandoned the bow, seeing how it was no use to her without the arrows that were still on Alecto’s back. Her brown knitted together and the corners of her mouth pulled down as her hand ran absently over the hilt of the black dagger that she had on her. She looked up between the buildings and angrily brushed away a tear that had fallen to a rest on her cheek. She took a shuddering breath before continuing forward, her heart beating furiously against her chest as if it wanted to flee. She kept her head held high and she continued forward, treading lightly and sticking mainly to the shadows. It wasn’t long until she saw Erin, walking slowly down the alley, tracking her and with a worried look she skipped down another road, nearly dyeing of fright as she saw another of Kirsten’s Night Hunters coming up that road. She dove toward the nearest door, her body slamming violently up against it as she slid into its shadow. Her heart raced as the Hunter ran past her up to Erin, his body close enough she could have reached out and touched him, obviously to consumed with some other news to notice her.



“Hum…” Luckas chuckled looking at the drawing. “I always imagined these demons to be more… Human-like. You know, like darker and creepier versions of our selves with red eyes and manic smiles on their faces… Oh, wait…” He said, breaking into laughter.

Even though he joked, Luke had paid close attention to what Ess was saying, it made a lot of sense. After all, some things are just worth the risk. He tilted his head and smiled rather cheerfully. “I hope you remember what you just told me. It might save your life some day.” He sighed and mumbled under his breath. “Hell, it might even save mine.”

Ess’ head snapped up listening past Luckas’ voice to catch the familiar shuffle of boots and clammer of armor, her fingers releasing her journal to the wooden floor. Her attention turned towards her front door as if hypnotized, raising a hand towards Luckas to be still immediately going for her sword and dagger that was still on her bed. As she withdrew both her weapons a curious sliding thud echoed off her door, causing Ess to curse quietly to herself as she was expecting something quite different from what she found as she peeked out from one of her curtains. Men dressed all in black, similar to those she encountered that morning with their leader and his hawk. Kirsten was the man’s name, if she remembered correctly. He indeed had left a curious impression on her, one that she was not willing to trust. Ess had no idea who was at her door, for she could not see into the shadow and she hoped she wasn’t running into the man again, but at least this time she wasn’t alone.

Ess licked the tips of her fingers, squeezing the life out of the candles by the windows before she whipped open the door, ready to strike at whatever threat was before her. Instead, she found a woman falling onto her back as she was using the door for support. Ess violet orbs widened, her gaze shifting furiously between the men in the street and the girl at her feet and in a matter of two seconds she made her decision. Biting down on her dagger, she freed up her left hand, taking a rough hold of the girl’s arm only to drag her further inside before closing the door quickly however gently behind them, locking it tight. Was this the woman Kirsten was searching for earlier? The description didn’t match up, but who knew if this woman was enlightened and to what end. Peeking back out the curtain, Ess was trying to determine if she was seen in her haste.

“This day just gets better and better...eh Luckas?” She whispered over her shoulder as she proceeded to quickly explain to Luke about her morning hunt and the company she encountered. Switching her gaze towards the girl, Ess’ brows met as she spoke, “So...who the hell are you and what kind of mess did I just get myself into?” Her tone was serious but slightly amused, remaining on the softer side so not to be heard from outside.

Luckas remained seated for a little bit, but the moment Ess moved towards the door he picked up the journal she had dropped. Considering the option of skimming through it, but discarding it quickly, he placed the book carefully on the shelf where it had been safely kept moments earlier. He stood back while Ess opened the door to reveal this blond girl that had been leaning against it. He wandered to the window and peeked outside to see the black riders that were wandering up and down the streets.

Watching curiously as Ess pulled the girl in and closed the door behind her, and raising an eyebrow to Ess’ explanation of her morning encounter, Luckas wondered how this would get in the way of what they were planning to do. Ess asked the girl who she was and what kind of mess was she in, but she didn’t reply quite as quickly as Luckas would like.

Moving closer to the new arrival, Luckas looked down at her, as she hadn’t even gotten off the floor, and spoke without any hint of emotion or interest in his voice. For now this person was simply a distraction from what he wanted to do, and to him that could mean extra fun or something he needed to get out of the way. “Stand up straight.” He ordered, patiently waiting for her to stand and enjoying the expression on her face as she realized she had no choice but to obey. “Look at me.”

The moment his eyes caught hers they lit up, shifting from their deep black to a bright green as he went through her memories. The scenes flashed and passed by: The forest… A dungeon… Torture… Riding to Newhaven… Everything in the past day was reviewed in excruciatingly vivid details, after which he simply pulled his gaze from her and returned to his seat.

“Ari Lupir, Wolpack recruit, shifter, but only takes animal forms, if I’ve seen correctly. She was taken from the forest, to Blackpond, tortured, brought here to those guys out there, healed, and now they are ordered to hunt her down and kill her.” Luckas informed. Then he turned to Ari and snickered. “You know, for someone who claims to trust no one you trust shady characters rather easily. Just saying.” He then gave a light shrug and turned to Ess. “Help her, toss her out… Whatever you like... I’m good either way.”

Turning to Ari, his eyes flashed red and he smiled. “I sincerely hope your Alpha comes for you though. I’d just love the opportunity to pick his brain on a few matters.”



She growled, shaking her head to remove the images from her head, everything, every moment she had relived even if she wished she hadn’t. Obviously it was his enlightenment that gifted him the ability to do this and she hated him the moment it all clicked. She looked up at the girl, her eyes hard as she withdrew her emotions form view. She hated being controlled by others besides herself and to make herself feel wild she slowly let her enlightenment take control, the silver in her eyes slowly coming through.
“Don’t you dare talk about him, she snarled as she took a step forward. She couldn’t help it, that struck a nerve and she became extremely defensive. She shook her head trying to regain control and resisting the sudden urge to shift into a bear and with one deft swipe, take off his jaw. What he had pointed out about the trusting thing, well.....she was just very glad that he hadn’t dug deeper to see the reason why she “trusted” like she did. When she was sure she wasn’t going to flip and tear someone to bits she opened her eyes which she realized had been closed.
“True and not,” she said in a monotone voice, “Trust me. And what right do you have to push yourself into my memories?”
She couldn’t help the tiny growl that rose from her throat as her eyes narrowed. She glanced over the frail, skinny boy and then dismissed him as unimportant, instead turning her attention to the girl. She could smell the wolf that clung to her, its sweet smell permeating every inch of the room.
“What he said is only somewhat true, but to spare you the details I will just tell you this,” she said dipping her head momentarily, “Kirsten’s men, the Night Hunters did save me from my pervious fate and now instead of one Lord, I have to deal with a small army of professional killers. So, I thank you for dragging me into your home but I would hate to intrude on you and your lover here.“

Ess absently twirled her blades, her wrists stretching to their familiar weight as she quirked a brow at Luckas. “Wolf Pack? As in...the Alpha who supposedly killed the girl we saw at the Inn?” Shaking her head to herself she sighed, not liking how political all this drama appeared to be. A crooked smile curled Ess’ lips as Ari began scolding Luckas for his mental intrusion. With a laugh Ess leaned into Ari, the points of her blades threatening to pierce her chest, “Don’t mind Luckas...it’s just something he does. It ticked me off too, but there’s no stopping him really....But you don’t seem to be a direct threat, right?” Ess nodded retracting her blades, turning about to peek back out the window as she asked Ari, “Why would they save you and then try to kill you? Is it some kind of sick fetish?” Ess began giggling at the last comment as Ari stated, “...I would hate to intrude on you and your lover here.”

Ess thought to herself about what to do with this woman, as Luckas seemed to not care either way. As always her conversations seem to get interrupted, by no real fault of anyones, but it was getting tiresome, and they need to work on their plan sooner than later. “We weren’t enthralled in the heat of passion or anything, if that’s what your worried about Ari..besides..I haven’t decided if I would charge him or not for it.” Glancing over her shoulder she playfully winked at Luckas only to add, “The name’s Essence by the way....” Crossing her arms Ess leaned back against the wall beside the door... “So, Ari... What do you plan on doing now?”

Luckas seemed incredibly amused by Ari’s rage. “Well, if you don’t like the conclusions I’ve drawn from twenty four hours of memories… I can simply dig a little deeper.” He said in a low growl, his eyes flashing green again, but only for a split second. “And excuse my manners, but people lie and I truly trust no one. I have no time to waste with whatever bullshit story you were planning to come up with while lying on the floor.” He smirked slightly. “And don’t bother trying to shift and bite my head off. I can control you even if you do and you really wouldn’t want to push me into it.”

He then turned to Ess and answered her question, the growl returning to his tone. “The Alpha; as in the one who sent our dear friend Xypher a letter this morning.” He informed. “This…” He smirked slightly, glancing towards Ari and imitating Sean’s tone as he spoke. “… Kid, is the Alpha’s recruit. I just happen to think it would be delightful if he came by so I could discuss said letter with him face to face.”

“We weren’t enthralled in the heat of passion or anything, if that’s what your worried about Ari..besides..I haven’t decided if I would charge him or not for it.”

Luckas laughed lightly at the words. “Hey, speak for yourself.” He played. “And please give me notice if you plan on charging me coin, so I have time to steal it.” He asked her, a little devious grin spreading across his features. “Although, if I recall correctly, I already paid you coin about five years ago…” He stated, tilting his head to the side and looking up at her with the corner of his eyes. He was pretty sure Ess wasn’t going to just throw Ari out without any help so he’d have to help her as well if he wanted to go back to what they were planning. “How small of an army is this and what kind of enlightenments do they have?” Luke asked, turning to face Ari again, his tone a little less aggressive this time.



Ari flinched, her eyes narrowing with the sudden doings of the Alpha that she had no idea about. It hurt just a little to know that he had opened up but had kept many many other things hidden. She couldn’t blame him, she was just a recruit. She frowned, realizing that acting out in anger probably wasn’t the best option. She wouldn’t let the boy dig at her, not anymore. Sean may have been her weak point but she needed to get over it. Ari smirked, her cheeks flushing as they flirted. She coughed and shifted quietly.
“I wasn’t bullshitting my way through this,” she murmured, “Only trying to figure out what the hell had just happened.” She looked up at Essence and then back at Lukas. “As for how many, you cannot ask me that. If I could answer that, I would. As for enlightenments, there are many: Beast speaking, telepathy, and there are empaths. There is also a pain blocker; I don’t know what you’d call it. There were probably more, I wasn’t there for long.
Then, then there is Kirsten. He...he can go into your mind, find your biggest fear and then bring it to life through illusion,” she paused, her eyes locking onto Luckas, you didn’t have to read her mind to know that she was comparing the two and was shocked.
~~
Ess sighed, giving obvious annoyance at the idea of the Alpha causing Mageria this trouble, that Luckas and herself had to sort through. “Leave her be Luckas, she obviously is oblivious to what the Alpha has been up to, you can see it in her eyes. I think she’s just lost a little, maybe?....I know how that is.” Ess’ violet gaze flickered in a soft glow as she inspected Ari closely, right down to her pores and the blond variations in her hair. “Hm...telepaths..”Ess spat, not excited about the idea. “Is there even a way to block that? Like visualizing a stone wall or something..or perhaps...someone else’s memories?”

Tilting her head to the side, she pivoted away from the door as she looked at Luckas curiously. “My my, aren’t we in a rush to get me alone again, eh?” Ess did have some questions she wanted to ask Luckas, but certainly not in front of Ari, but that could wait. Ess could tell Luckas was a bit restless and she figured he knew her well enough to not turn down someone in need. She would try to keep out of the technicalities, the only thing she personally knew was that this Alpha had done Mageria wrong and so many others would suffer at his selfishness.

“I don’t feel like waiting around for someone to break down my door...should there be a distraction?...Maybe a bait n switch?” A wicked smile crossed her face, looking back over at Ari. She wondered if she could pull off Ari’s mirror image, giving Luckas a distraction to toy with..while Ms. Ari made her escape... “Ari? You can change into...any beast?”

Luckas listened in silence as Ari listed a few enlightenments. Telepaths couldn’t harm Luckas, he was resistant to most forms of telepathy, but they could probably resist him as well, which was troublesome. He usually made empaths nervous… Like poor Alistair, the healer couldn’t stand to be around him for more than five minutes… When she started talking about Kirsten, however, Luke’s eyes examined her closely and he leaned forward, oh so slightly, in his seat. Still, he remained silent.

He looked at Ess pretending to be offended. “Hey, I’m a telepath!” He exclaimed, putting on a pouty face. “That hurts my feelings, Ess, I thought we were friends…” He started, but broke into laughter a few moments later, not being able to hold up the act any longer as he explained. “There are a few techniques and tricks to shield your mind from telepathy, but it takes a lot more time to learn than what we have.” He told her. “Another time, maybe, I can teach you.” He grinned at her, noticing her expression as she looked at Ari, he knew what she was thinking. He wasn’t all too pleased with the thought of those guys going after Ess thinking she was their target, besides, it was unlikely that they could keep them fooled long enough for Ari to get out of the city safely. He didn’t have a better idea though. “What kind of distraction do you mean?” He asked. “The ‘sir can you help me find my puppy?’ kind or the ‘by the twins everything’s on fire!’ kind?” He asked. “I can do either. I like the second one better though.”


Ari looked nervously from each of them, her eyes flashing slightly.
“Any animal,” she said in answer to Ess, her body shivering, “except for birds for a long period, I can’t stand the feathers.” She gave a small smile and then as a thought hit her, her smile broadened. “I would say we don’t need a distraction, besides it won’t work the Telepaths will be everywhere digging. If you want to help me escape out of the city, hear me out.” She paused, thinking quickly and nodding as it came to her. “You have a wolf Ess yes? I can smell her everywhere. I can do wolf very, very well. If we can find a way to give me a description or image of her, I might be able to mimic her coloring. Luckas? Is your enlightenment only limited to searching and coercion or can you put up a front on someone’s mind? Like a shield around mine so that they don’t know I’m actually a human.” She nodded slightly, if he could that would work wonders and if not she would have to be extremely careful. “If you could spare the time Essence.... you could take me to the nearest city gates or someplace where if I were to become human again I would blend.”
She paused, closing her eyes and envisioning it out like a dream. When she reopened them she slowly shook her head, “Damn it.” She didn’t wait for the knock to change into something small, a small ragged looking cat. She had kept her mouth shut, letting loose only a small whimper as she changed, just as the knock sounded. She yowled, flicking her tail and ears towards the clothes on the floor. Her tabby form scampered past Luckas and into the shadows, slipping though them and under the bed where she let her mind settle, thinking only cat thoughts as she waited for Erin to disappear.

Ess’ brows came together again, her nose bunching up in a look that questioned Luckas and his playful pouting at her words against telepaths. “Oh ha ha, You know ONE telepath is enough for me...especially at once..” She snickered, thinking to herself that Luckas had called her a friend. Even if it was in a playful ruse, he still said it, similar to how he absently kept calling her 'pretty lady.’ Just little things to hint to Ess that he was trying, maybe wanting to trust her. Maybe even enough to explain why he would offer her defensive tips against enlightenments like his.

Straightening her body she wandered over to her bed, kneeling down beside the headboard to remove a curious box from somewhere she purposely avoided to reveal. Lounging lazily along her bed she began sifting through the box, pulling out tiny viles in all assorted colors. “A color for every purpose...for every mood...” She muttered to herself, thinking which mixture she would play with today. Glancing at Luckas from out the corner of her eye, a loc of hair playfully dangling in front of her glow she thought about his desire to cause chaos for a distraction. “How bout lighting someone on fire?” With a wicked smile she laughed, not giving away whether she was joking or not.

Ess picked out two viles, one purple and one black, tucking the rest back inside the box. She turned over onto her back, arms outstretched in front of her towards the ceiling as she looked between the two, weighing out in her mind which one she would prefer. As she listened to Ari’s suggestion, she motioned, still holding the viles, over to the wall where Tala’s picture hung. “My wolf...who is currently MIA, that’s what she looks like...”She paused with a sweet smile curling her lips.

A knock on the door and the sudden transformation of Ari into a kitty cat did not seem to phase Essence as she rose from the bed, snickering at the cat as it disappeared into the shadows. “Interesting..” She whispered only to turn towards the door snapping loudly with a strange accent, “PISS OFF!” Ess slid the viles down her dress, snuggling them between her breasts before her form melted away; her burgundy curls straightening and darkening to deep brown, her skin glowing with a tan sun-kissed radiance, and her lips and nose were a size smaller than her norm with a higher cheekbone definition. Ess smiled to herself, clearing her mind as she looked at Luckas with a fake innocence.

Luke shook his head in disappointment when Ari said they wouldn’t need a distraction. It seemed like he really wouldn’t be having any fun with this. “I can’t shield another person’s mind. That’s not how my enlightenment works, neither is it exactly the way you said it is.” He stated in a slightly annoyed tone as if he was trying to discuss philosophy with an infant. “One thing I can do, if you grant me access, is project your memories and maybe your thoughts onto others. That way if a telepath was to search for you, he won’t be able to know your exact location, your mind would literally be all over the place. Do you understand?” He asked. “I would have to be close to you to do that, however and wouldn’t be able to keep it up for too long; an hour, at most. I’m not risking my life for anyone, especially the Alpha’s pet project.” He muttered, narrowing his eyes slightly, but relaxing a little bit soon after and turning to Ess with a little grin. “Oh, I don’t plan on sharing you with any other telepaths… They better stay out of my territory.” He stated, his tone not making clear if he was joking.

“Oooh, can I?” He asked, hopefully when Ess asked about lighting someone on fire. Aside from that he kept quiet in his seat, resisting the urge to kick the Ari-cat as it made its way past him, settling for kicking the girl’s clothing underneath the bed instead. Maintaining his relaxed posture as Ess replied to the knock on the door by telling whoever it was to piss off, he remained seated and silent, honestly starting to get bored of this whole thing.


Erin didn’t need to open the door to know that Ari wasn’t in there and he shrugged turning to the group of men behind him. It wasn’t his job to deal with women who were pissy and he nodded sharply, making sure they dispersed before calling out an apology and ambling off. His head hurt and he shook his head gently, this was wrong.
Ari ambled out, after she was sure he was gone before jumping up, looking at the picture. She began to arch up, her body shifting into an exact replica of Tala except for her eyes and she dove under the bed, emerging with the black clothing in her jaws as she looked pleadingly towards Ess, then back at Luckas with a tiny growl. She didn’t want to drag them further into this and she pawed at the door, whimpering slightly. She could smell that she wasn’t wanted here and she’d rather take that chance of running to her death then staying here with these two together. Ari liked Ess, she was willing to help but the boy...Not a chance. She growled and furiously began to claw at the door. Her mind screaming to be let out.

Once Ess was sure the person at the door had left, with an odd apology, she relaxed a bit, still in her Miraged form. Essence’s mind raveled in Luckas’ responses to her and Ari’s. Thoughts raced to possible conclusions in several directions, only to rest into a calming almost meditative state. Luke acted as if he cared for no one but himself, and perhaps most of the time he did. He maybe wasn’t too fond of Ari because of the Alpha of the Wolfpack (which he stated), but she didn’t quite believe him when he said he wouldn’t risk his life for anyone. Perhaps that was still to be foreseen. She liked the idea of Luke not sharing her with the enemy, even if he seemed unsure of her at times, he hinted at his greed in his escapades and may just resort to hoarding whatever plans he had for Ess to himself. Ess kept an emotionless smile, lost in herself momentarily, the painted facade giving no hint to her soul except an eerie sense to those who didn’t know any better. Giggling at Luke’s obvious interest in lighting someone on fire, Ess just nestled that bit deep into her memory for another time.

Snapping her attention to Ari, Ess smiled a bit impressed. Kneeling down she extended her hand, almost forgetting it was Ari and not Tala and couldn’t help herself as she gave Ari some scratches between the ears. “So pretty...” Slinking across the floor, Ess opened one of the many floorboards, taking out a familiar pouch full of coin. She winked at Luckas wondering if he would recognize it as she tucked it into the pocket of Ari’s clothes that she held in her mouth before explaining the quickest way out of the city. Standing with a gentle smile, she turned for the door, unlocking it slowly as she peeked outside not seeing a single man in black around. Before she opened the door wide for the ‘wolf’ to escape she whispered softly, “Good luck young lady, hopefully we meet again and hopefully not on conflicting sides.”

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Character Portrait: Luckas Character Portrait: Ess
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INK

Luke raised an eyebrow at the coin pouch as he recognized it immediately, honestly surprised to see it again. He didn’t say anything however, not until the wolf-girl had gone out the door and had time to walk a fair distance. Then he stood up from his chair and stretched lazily before walking up to Ess. “So, what are the vials for?” He asked, smirking and playfully attempting to peek at the spot where she had hid them. Looking up at her eyes, he gave a light half shrug. “You know, Pretty Lady, I like your real face a lot better.” He said with a small wink, before walking back to the chair dropping down on it rather comically, almost knocking the chair, and himself, to the ground in the process, watching Ess carefully the whole time as if somehow he expected her to vanish the moment he looked away. While the compliment had been an absent one that he had let out on a careless moment, turning it into a nickname somehow made it easier for Luke to handle this weird affection he seemed to have for this woman; it was a name and nothing else, it was alright to say, it didn’t mean anything. “So…” He started, crossing his arms behind his head and staring at the ceiling for a bit. “Do you have any more questions or do you want to pick my brain now?”

Ess watched the Tala copy disappear into the coming dusk, awkward shadows teasing her perception as the streets temporarily cleared. Something was changing. She wasn’t sure anymore where she was headed, and it absolutely terrified her while simultaneously causing her smile to broaden. Closing her eyes, she inhaled slowly through her nostrils, taking in the sweet scent of distortion before closing the door tight, locking it behind her.

Ess responded to Luke’s playful advances to sneak a peek down her dress with side steps and dodging movements, countering his gaze. She couldn’t help the smile, thinking how she hadn’t laughed or smiled so much in so long and that she just couldn’t prevent it as easily as she wanted. “The vials, dear Luckas..” She teased, “are my insurance.... One needs a back up plan, or two.”

Ess let her head drop, her gaze staring at her feet a moment. Her mind tucked away the casual statement of Luckas again admitting he thought she was attractive, it adding more fuel to her conclusions which she kept to herself for the moment. She raised her arms up towards her head with an elegant grace, her hips swaying gently as her body arched into a wave like motion. “I think this ‘Mirage’ is quite flattering in the art of distraction.” Ess whispered, her body twirled in a curious dance, her core and hips working into a steady pattern before she came to a halt with a gentle laugh. With a sigh her facade melted away back to her doll like features. “Got to save my strength anywho..”

She watched Luckas find his seat with what she saw as disorientated steps, she giggled as he almost fell. Ess plopped herself onto her bed, lying on her side she rested her head in her hand propped up by her elbow. The fire began to die down a bit, as she was hit with a sense of deja vu, seeing Luckas leaning back in his chair casually, the light from the flames reflecting off his black orbs. It was a moment before the memory of the dream hit her. It had been so long since she had it, but she remembered clearly how their first encounter had left Luckas’ presence in her mind. Blinking she shook off the feeling, knowing her staring blankly in awe at Luckas would create some questions. “Sorry, spacing out.” She could only think of one immediate question for Luckas in that moment, and it was a bit odd.

“Have your eyes always been black?...Or is it a result of your...talents? Just...” She shrugged, “...seems like they should be grey...transparent.. But instead they are like a hole in your wall you keep at your beck and call.” Ess paused shaking her head, not knowing if she even made sense to Luckas, adding playfully remembering a comment he made earlier about her drawing, “Maybe you are manifesting into one of your demons...or maybe your a reflection of one of mine.”

Ess waited for him to respond before she suggested, “So, shall we try out my idea?” Her mind was scattered, and as confusing to some it may be, it strangely comforted her, spreading her emotions thin.

Luckas tipped his chair a bit too far at Ess’ question of his eye color and fell flat on his back with a little groan, he chuckled however. “You are one to talk of unusual eye colors, Lady.” He stated jokingly. “My eyes are black for as long as I remember, and I have had my gift for just as long as well.” He answered, not elaborating on how long exactly ‘as long I can remember’ was. “Maybe that’s all I am, the manifestation of others’ nightmares… Perhaps I’m not real after all…” He mumbled, partly to himself. It was a rather comforting thought for some reason. “My whole existence is the result of a bad dream and the sheer power of someone’s most twisted thoughts… Maybe I’m the only one who is truly still human… People speak of humanity as if it was a good thing, but is it really?” He continued that in incoherent mumblings until Ess spoke again. “Huh? Oh, sure we can try that.” He answered, sitting up on the floor and crossing his legs like a kid, looking up at her. “Just lookie here.” He said, with a little grin, pointing at his deep black eyes.

Down in a Hole - Alice in Chains

Ess turned onto her stomach with an amused grin as Luckas fell, sliding face first towards the end of her bed so that she could look into Luckas’ eyes, all the while contemplating briefly his words: “. “Maybe that’s all I am, the manifestation of others’ nightmares… Perhaps I’m not real after all…” Ess was partially entertained by his rantings, but at the same time saddened by them. If he really believed that then why keep going in life if nothing mattered, if his actions were pointless. Why care? Inhaling slowly, Ess relaxed resting her chin on her arms, letting her mind go blank curious to what was about to happen.

Luckas took a deep breath as he looked into Ess' eyes. He tried to pull his mind into what he wanted her to see and separate the rest. In his mind he relived every conversation and brief encounter he'd had with the Black Knight Captain, it worked, but a part of Luke's mind was still caught up in his previous thought and something else came forth in his memories, something Luckas himself didn't quite recall.

Luckas' eyes were opening as he woke up. He felt himself choke as someone was holding him up by the back of his shirt and the collar was pressing against his throat. The unusual amount of light flooding the usually dark basement meant that the door was wide open. Once the five year old boy felt he could open his eyes, he noticed he was being held up over a girl’s dead body. “Look at her! See what you did, you little piece of shit? You killed her! That’s what happens when you disobey, you little freak!” With an angry growl the boy was forcefully thrown across the room, pain invading his body as he collided with the stone wall. “Stay on that side of the line!”

More and more the man shouted, but Luckas wasn’t listening. The boy’s eyes were fixed on the pretty, lifeless, features of the girl lying on the dirty floor. Did he kill her? Had he done that? He couldn’t remember anymore, his mind was blurry, his head hurt… How could he have killed her? He couldn’t have… It couldn’t be…

Boots blocked his view as the man stood before him, forcing him to listen. “You are a killer, a monster, and that is all you’ll ever be. Accept it, embrace it, and learn to play by the rules. It’s the only way to ever leave this room alive.”


Luckas broke eye contact with Ess, crawling his way as far away from her as he could and jumping to his feet even before the image of the woman's house came back to him. Blindly, he stumbled over the chair he had knocked over moments before in his desire to get away. Unable to look at Ess, or say anything, he simply made his way to the door and stormed out leaning on the outside walls of the house, breathing in the cold night air. What was that place? Who was that girl? Had he actually killed her? Why was he remembering this now? Now of all times! He pressed both his palms against his face, hiding from the world, but unable to escape himself. Luckas let out a muffled scream. The unkown man's voice echoing in the back of his mind. "Accept it, embrace it, and learn to play by the rules." Maybe he was a nightmare someone else had dreamed after all. Maybe he was never real.

Ess stared back into Luckas’ eyes, slowly, as if paint splattered across her line of vision, everything went dark, her home disappearing from view. Ess was seeing through Luckas’ eyes, as if she were inside his head. Flashes of Mageria flew by, minutes of information condensed into mere seconds; down to the way she spoke Luckas’ name for example and the emotion only some could see, behind her eyes that she fought to hold back, in the Captains own mask of deception.

The images were ripped away, quickly replaced by a blinding light in utter darkness. Ess’ mind couldn’t think while Luke’s own memory flooded into her brain. They stared at a dead girl, to a dark figure of a nameless man as they were scolded, punished and abused for the terrible act. When her vision came to and the connection was severed, she caught Luckas’ stumbling to evade the room already recovering from an apparent fall, her brain quickly sorting through what she was just shown. It didn’t make sense. Did it have to do with the ‘hypothetical’ questions Luckas was drilling her with earlier? Was it a forgotten pain? Hidden shame?

Ess blinked, quickly rolling herself off the bed and onto her feet, not hesitating in her pursuit of Luckas as he escaped outside, a despaired scream rumbling from him as he seemed to be having some sort of panic attack. Before she even reached him, her mind fumbled in the pieces, overwhelmed with questions and concerns. Who was that punishing the poor boy for something a child most certainly did not do? She couldn’t believe it and knew from enough abuse how the victims were sometimes manipulated into feeling they were responsible for whatever horrors or despair they were experiencing first hand or by proxy. The voice echoed in her ears, as if she still could hear the man, “It’s the only way to ever leave this room alive.” Tears welled in her eyes, yet her expression was almost angry when she halted by Luke’s side, searching to see his eyes before she stepped closer, heeding his warning if they were red. “Luckas....what just happened?....” Ess paused waiting for an answer and saw he was still lost temporarily inside himself, not quite understanding how to act. She needed him to focus so she raised her voice a bit hoping to snap his attention to her... “Luckas! Look at me!...Who was that who hurt you? Is he still alive?” She growled.. “If he is..” She trailed off, not sure what to expect but she needed to take a breath, for Luckas’ sake, to figure it all out and not bombard the man with too many questions at once.

Luckas slid down the wall onto the floor, face still hiding in his hands, he was trembling now on account of the cold and the freezing rain, but he couldn't even take notice; he was trying to hold onto the imagery, to some detail, to anything that could tell him who he was; who he truly was... He could hear Ess was speaking to him, her voice beginning to break through asking who was the man hurting him... If he was still alive... Luckas had no answers. As he replied his voice came out weak, but rose more and more in his frustration. "I don't know, I don't know, I DON'T KNOW!" He shouted, taking a moment to breathe out and get a hold of himself before running both his hands over his eyes and through his hair as he looked up at her finally, his eyes had their usual black color, but for the first time in a very long time they showed fear. "I don't know who they were, I don't know where that was... I don't know if I killed her... What if I killed her? I can't remember..." His voice broke as he leaned his head back against the wall and closed his eyes. "I don't even know who she was..."

After a moment more of half coherent ramblings, Luke managed a deep breath and spoke; his voice now more firm as the shock began to fade. "I was found, me and my brother, in the basement of this shop at age nine, when the owner died, apparently of natural causes. We were taken to the orphanage after months in a hospital ward... The medics said that we had probably been locked there for a period of at least six years. I don't remember any of it. Nothing before my first day at orphanage. Nothing. At least, I didn't until now. When I lived with the White Shadows, their leader at the time, the only telepath who ever managed to affect me, she tried everything... I never managed to see a thing before the orphanage. She said that pushing any further would be too dangerous... That the memories were so painful that my mind built a wall around so strong that it could break beyond repair if we tried to push through it..." He heaved a heavy sigh. "I still wanted to try, but she wouldn't let me." He mumbled, still unaware of the rain or his own shivers as he sat on the cold ground. "Suppose we're even now, huh? You got to violate me a little bit." He joked, managing a weak smile.

Wonderwall - Oasis

Ess’ eyes widened as Luckas yelled in frustration, noting the familiar blackness staring up at her from where he had slinked upon the ground. Kneeling down beside him, ignoring the freezing specks bouncing off her back, she adorably rested her head on his shoulder giving her best smile she could muster at the moment while she listened to him. “Sounds like an evil person to have locked up children in a basement...”She whispered, not breaking her gaze from Luckas. “Well...you didn’t attempt to break through this 'wall', it just happened this time. Maybe this is a sign, that your body is ready for bits and pieces to be revealed...maybe I’ve hypnotized you with my sweetness and maybe I’m just good for you.” She winked, her smile only broadening, motioning for him to get up and come back inside where it was warm.

“You were only a child and you don‘t remember exactly what happened so you can‘t rush conclusions either now. You can’t cast blame or judge with nothing to back it with.” Adding another point, she shifted the conversation slightly. “Should I blame myself for all the horrid things I was forced to do in order to survive the brothel?” Shaking her head knowingly, she continued to hint at her open door.

“Do you still think you’ll have to kill me?” She teased, standing she tugged lightly on his arm, attempting to lead him back inside. “Or maybe we have more in common than you even thought in the first place.” For some reason, Luckas' words from an earlier conversation appeared from the back of her mind; the meaning creating more questions for herself: “I hope you remember what you just told me. It might save your life some day.” He sighed and mumbled under his breath. “Hell, it might even save mine.”

"...maybe I’ve hypnotized you with my sweetness and maybe I’m just good for you."

Luckas laughed softly at those words. "You think so, huh? Well you sure think highly of yourself, Pretty Lady." He chuckled as he stood up slowly, still trying to retain the image of the dead girl, but it was already fading from his mind again; fading into that part of him that he had never known. He couldn't help the feeling that she was important however, that she was important to him personally for some reason. "I think that I killed her, because that would explain a few things... And haven't you blamed yourself? At least for a moment, haven't you?" He asked, again mumbling, partly to himself, although still expecting an answer. He ran a hand through his hair, a little startled to discover that he was soaked. "Looks like I'll need those clothes after all." He stated absently.

“Do you still think you’ll have to kill me?” She teased, standing she tugged lightly on his arm, attempting to lead him back inside. “Or maybe we have more in common than you even thought in the first place.”

Luckas seemed to flinch at those words, and he stared at Ess for a long minute thinking about them. No one had ever seen so much of him before and she spoke of them having things in common. Luke was unsure what to make of it all, he was unsure of what that told him about her exactly. "I think..." He started, moving towards her and half-stumbling forward, momentarily forgetting that he had just had his mind prodded minutes ago, he caught his balance as he continued in a soft snicker, leaning in close to her as if telling a secret. "I think this is one of those things that can destroy or save a person... And we'll never know which it'll be, until it is." He then walked past her to walk back inside. "We should go back to the castle soon, if you think you have what you need."He stated, finally going back to his usual demeanor as if the whole meltdown had never truly happened.

“Well you sure think highly of yourself, Pretty Lady."

Shrugging her shoulders, pulling a soaked curl away from her eyes her smile faded a bit. “Maybe, but more likely it’s part of the persona...giving ourselves the image of confidence. Could be stemmed from a deeper, internal source of hope..or it could just be my successful attempt to make you smile.”
Ess shivered, wrapping her arms around herself in a gentle hug, hopping in place slightly wanting to keep warm. “Seems you and I are not use to certain changes in our lifestyles, but today is just full of ‘em. Of course I’ve blamed myself...it’s natural...this is just my feeble attempt at being your...friend.” She whispered, giving him a half smile, not even quite sure what she had just said.
Following Luckas inside, her only response to his last comment of this making or breaking a person was a curious look, “I look forward to that day then.” Locking the door behind her, she left Luckas with his option to change into the clothes she left upon the bed, while she began digging through floorboards at a hidden assortment of supplies. It appeared as if she was prepared long ago to flee, with the option to do it at any time if necessary; several leather satchels were filled with jerky, raw ingredients most recent and fresh for her serums, plenty of money, and some clothes. She paused upon a few basic swords that she had on hand, thinking how she may just be following the Captain wherever she was planning to go with her loyal guards.

“Well...I’m already prepared for the coming trip into the unknown... so check. Luckas...do you ever carry a weapon? I could give you one...you know besides that brain of yours.” She listened to him, keeping her stare along her supplies and began thinking over Luckas about how she would need to get to the castle to acquire an uniform, something that Mageria would wear and also to go light perhaps only with a weapon along her thigh, similar to the Captains. Standing,she lazily draped herself across her bed with a sigh, feeling her body ache subtly from her excursions throughout the day. “We can leave in an hour...there’s still plenty of time. I think we need to get warm...You can eat some more if you like..get some strength up...rest a bit so we don’t make ourselves vulnerable...” Closing her eyes she mumbled, “Do me a favor..Mr...I don’t do favors...” A tired giggle escaped her chest. “Wake me up in half an hour..”


Luckas smiled quietly at the word 'friend', but was careful to hide it from Ess. It wasn't a word he heard often, and even though friendship was never something he sought, or even understood, it was an intriguing idea nonetheless. Once back in the house Luckas changed into the dry clothing quickly, absently hearing the sounds of Ess going through things, by the time she was done looking through the supplies, he had changed and sat at the same chair he had been sitting before, barefoot, and absently checking his boots for any holes. He lifted his head curiously as she asked if ever carried a weapon and offered to give him one. "I'm not that good against opponents who fight back, so I figure it would be a waste of a sword." He replied absently with a light shrug. "Nice of you to ask though." He knew he needed training. That had become clear to him a long time ago, but the thing with Luckas is that he trusted almost no one. Lena had taught him a few things, but she hardly had enough time to work him into something decent. Aside from his gift, Luke was just about as harmless as he looked and he looked pretty damn harmless.

Luckas slipped his boots back on, glad that, even though the soles were pretty worn, there were no holes in them just yet. He nodded quietly when Ess asked him to wake her in thirty minutes, not helping a small chuckle at her comment about favors. He shot a small glance in the woman's direction as he pulled his chair closer to the lit fire; he was still freezing from sitting on the nearly frozen ground outside. Ess was right though, these clothes were far warmer. He took another quick glance towards Ess and confirmed that she had in fact fallen asleep. Thirty minutes... Luke sighed, looking around the house, watching all the drawings on the walls carefully and trying to be as quiet as possible, but feeling bored and uneasy as he sat there. It had been a strange and exciting day for Luke and despite the little scare he had just gone through, he was hardly tired. Eventually his eyes reached the shelf where he had placed the journal Ess had dropped moments earlier, he shook his head, mentally scolding himself a few times before he finally let curiosity get the best of him and he stood up to get the book, one eye always on Ess as he took it out of the shelf and returned to his chair with it.

His mind set on just skimming through the journal to ease his curiosity and putting it back, he opened the book absently flipped the pages, not minding the writing and simply looking at the several drawings contained inside, most of them the same ones drawn on the walls of the house, Ess' different faces, the little blue eyed boy... Tala, annoying little creature, Luke just knew he was going to end up bitten... Suddenly Luke caught sight of something that caused him to lean forward in his seat, his eyes widened and slightly sparkled in red as he saw the drawing, a grin widening on his face. The drawing was all black, dark, and out of the darkness eyes stared back at Luke. Several eyes, of all different colors, but all the same in a way and unmistakable; his eyes. One single line of writing followed the image:

"Why are the Eyes, the gateway to the soul? Why so many for one soul?"

At this point, Luckas was way too intrigued not to read, and his curiosity spoke louder in his mind than any shred of a conscience he might have left on him, drowning any possible remorse over invading the privacy of someone who had offered him comforting words and even friendship moments ago.

The journal entries were addressed to 'Blue Eyes' and they were written as if speaking to this boy. The first few entries Luckas went through made clear that Blue Eyes was dead, and Ess confessed to her friend how much his death had affected her. Those entries spoke of things Luckas never felt, things he was unable to understand, at least up until this point in his life. He didn't know what it felt to care for another to a point where their absence is unbearable. He'd seen it many times in the healers' camp when people watched their loved ones die, he saw it when Captain's friend died as well... He stopped for a few moments going over those words, trying, but failing, to imagine the extent of that pain.

Is it pathetic to miss you so much, Blue Eyes? To love one so deeply that it hurts to eat...it’s hurts to breathe. I feel no reason to keep going, but I do to a point. I wake up every day remembering your words...the words of a child who promised that even in death, would never leave me. I believed you, and although I never forget you so that in a sense you are always with me, I have never felt more alone.

I am eating again...but sleep my days away as it is easier than to live each day out in pain.

I don’t remember the last time I drew something...

I haven’t sang since the last time I saw you...

I don’t deny my own words to you on life, I just find it harder to swallow them now.

Losing the will to live, barely surviving without a purpose I am unsure where to find that edge to continue on.


Not long ago Luckas would have said that it was indeed pathetic, but he remembered the dead girl and wondered if he had ever felt such pain, maybe this is what he was so afraid of. Was he really this pathetic underneath it all? He shook his head, shoving the thoughts aside as he continued to read. A few entries, or pieces of entries catching his eye here and there.

It’s ironic that with my freedom to NewHaven I would chose to gain coin through the same means as my slavery burdened me. Is this all I am, a whore? Do I have any other skills? Is there really anything more to me? Perhaps I am just wasting away..wasting myself...

Is it wrong to feel good about killing another human being? It wasn’t in self defense this time, but a vengeful and preventative act. He wasn’t innocent...he hurt so many, my friend, similar to those who hurt me as a child for all those years. I know you would understand, but if you were still alive you may be scared of me. The emptiness inside is numbing more. It’s as if the hole is still there but filling with shards of tiny purposes. I think I could get use to this...maybe one day I can fill the emptiness inside.

So...how does one tell the difference between Heaven and Hell?


Again, Luckas shifted in his seat as he found himself here and there amongst the woman's entries...

Stupid. Stupid. I don’t even know where to start Blue Eyes. I took a job, not knowing much about the client. First mistake.....he attacked me...wouldn’t allow me to choose what I was willing to participate in...I escaped..with his coin purse and a few bruises...but I’m ok. Tala was not with me, as I try to keep her low key as not to draw too much attention to my real self. I mean..how many people have a wolf? Right...So the past hour is a hazy blur. I’m pissed off, having to relive some horrid memories that I thought I was past. What I remember is that it was late, walking home alone, came across two men in an ally....next thing I know is one is on the ground slamming his head into a wall and all I remember is a face...a teenage boy..raven locs....purple eyes...no black....maybe both? His smile made my skin crawl...but at the same time...he didn’t hurt me. In fact I came home with two coin purses instead of one. I don’t know who he was....maybe I dreamed it all?...There’s something familiar about him...

It was a dream....I’m pretty sure. Mostly because Tala was sound asleep and she would of been alert and angry if there was an intruder. The dark eyed boy ...I opened my eyes to find him smiling beside me as I lay in my bed with Tala curled up behind my legs, all warm and snug like. His smile.....so sad....and he was silent as he brushed one of my curls from out my eyes..and then I blinked and he was gone...What is happening to me..?

Every night this week this stranger has visited my dreams...same way every time

Is it weird that I missed not having that dream last night?

He seems older now..this shadow in my dreams. Now he sits by the fire in my home, watching me sleep curiously, his eyes a terrifying red. As much as he seems frightening...I’m drawn to him and I want to know more...but I always wake up if I move from the bed.


Luckas slowly lifted his eyes from the book, and he shot a glance at the sleeping woman... Feeling a slight chill at the fact that he was exactly where she had dreamed him to be. Maybe he was someone's nightmares after all... His eyes lit up red, burning bright for a moment as he watched her face, but the light went out as he continued to read.

I dream less and less now a days...kinda disappointing...

He snickered softly at one entry, shaking his head in amusement:

Today, I took on an appointment, but I was bored and troubled.....In a disguise, mirroring the client’s own wife I ‘broke’ into the home assaulted him, stole money and happily acquired a pretty set of finger sized daggers....What a lovely addition to my collection. I know what you may say my friend, but I took one look at this man...saw his lies....saw his lechery...and knew I would not touch him with even my sword. At least I didn't kill him...

"Should've killed him. I would have killed him." He whispered to himself.

Why are the Eyes, the gateway to the soul?

Demons do exist..inside of us all.

Last night....I dreamt the black eyed stranger was everywhere...
Inside my home...around the corner...down an ally...watching me from afar at a lonely table at the bar...Eyes flashing all colors...his smile so sad....yet his gaze seemed to penetrate my very soul...he saw me for who I am...he knows what I’ve done....His sad smile turned almost manic in his sinister laughter..I can still hear it..

During my dream I was a bit shaken...but when I awoke I swore I could hear him breathing..and I longed to know him.


Luckas frowned slightly wondering why she kept calling him sad. Wondering why he felt like he had actually been there like she had imagined him, or maybe he wished he had... Seemed to him he would have learned a lot more by following Ess around like she dreamed he had than stuck in the White Shadows camp, where he actually was most of those years. Even if he didn't understand why she had never forgotten him, why she wanted to know him... Ess was right in her statements; they had plenty in common.


“I'm not that good against opponents who fight back, so I figure it would be a waste of a sword..."

"...Nice of you to ask though."


Ess’ breathing slowed, but grew louder in their rhythm when she drifted off to sleep, the last thing she thought of was how maybe they could trade off in skills as teacher and student: He could give her lessons in defense against telepaths and she would give him self defense ones in turn. Memories, not her own manifested into dreams, flashing from one to then next in almost the same manner she absorbed them earlier from Luckas, Mageria’s voice whispering in the back of her mind.

“You’re dead. You’re not real, you’re dead and I don’t have to do what you say because you’re not real.”

“Why aren’t you doing what I tell you?”
Mageria didn’t even look at him, refusing to even acknowledge that he was there. He started to reach out and touch her, and she leaned away, not wanting to let him get his hands on her even as a hallucination. When he made it clear that he would continue to try and touch her if she didn’t answer, she stopped and glared at him. “What?”
“Why aren’t you doing what I tell you to do?”
She sighed. “Because you’re dead. I saw your body back at Newhaven and I know you’re not real. So therefore, you don’t have any control over me.”
The teen rocked back on his heels. “Do you see things that aren’t there often?”
Mageria sighed. “Only recently. Why?”
He tilted his head to the side. “Are you Enlightened at all?”
She shook her head. “No, not the slightest. Go away and leave me alone. You can come back later.” She started to move away and he jumped in front of her.


The memory scattered like broken glass, revealing another behind it...

Luckas looked down and smiled like a child that had gotten away with something truly mischievous, then pretend to think for a while, tapping his chin with his index finger. "Hum... I probably shouldn't tell you... Should I?" He mumbled, grinning. "Fine, as a token of my appreciation Captain, I'll tell you what I saw: I saw something I didn't knew even existed, and I might have gotten a little too close to it in my curiosity. And when IT tried to kill me... I found out IT is in fact a HE. Because, see... My ability only works on people, and it worked, thankfully. Even though it sure didn't look like a man, he thought like a man, at least momentarily... And you were very much on his mind the whole time Captain. On his mind, on its mind... Both, I think." He leaned further into the wall and looked up again. "As it occurs to me that you might not believe me, if you like I'll gladly show you proof. The little mark he left on me is still quite fresh." He said, reaching for his chest, where he had been bandaged the day before.

Ess was seeing everything again, as if she were Luckas, realizing by what he wore this memory was from the night her and him had been...reunited...

Luckas hesitated, going silent for a moment before asking another question, now looking at the ceiling and trying to pretend the question was innocent. "Say... How well did you sleep last night, Captain?"

Mageria hesitated and shrugged. "Nightmares, of course. Would you expect any less?" She sighed. "They seem to be following a theme lately." She stated it simply and left it at that. "Why do you ask, Luckas? You don't seem the type to worry about another person's health like that. No offense."

Luke laughed out at the words 'no offense'. "You're too polite, considering the circumstances." He nodded, still smiling. "And I do worry about your health, Captain. Perhaps not for what you would call 'the right reasons', but I do." He sat up straight again, and nodded. "The reason I ask is because I haven't been sleeping well myself. And while I can't always remember my dreams exactly, since I got here... Well... It's gotten worse." He stated, showing off his left forearm that still had the reddish marking of the word 'stop' scratched on it. "I've also been seeing and hearing things, even while awake, ever since I looked into that thing's mind. It's bothersome. Especially because it all seems to have something to do with you." He scratched the back of his head and sighed. "I guess I'm trying to say that... I want to help you, when time comes for that."


Ess began to stir, the dream fading from her mind. As her eyes peeked open, she saw Luckas by the fire, appearing quite mesmerized by something in his lap. At first, she thought she was still dreaming, everything was so familiar until she realized what Luckas had in his lap was her leather journal. She couldn’t move in the mix of emotions that plagued her at that moment, her heart beginning to pound in her ears. Closing her eyes to try to get herself to focus, she kept up the notion that she was still asleep.

How could he invade her things like that? Why did she leave it out in the open to be found? Why did it interest him so to read the depressed dribble of her inner most despairs? How far did he get? She wanted to scream in her embarrassment, to lurch at him and tear it from his grasp to just toss it away in the fire so that no one could read it ever again. Minutes went by as she tried to decide on her reaction, trying to bury inside her frustration with the situation. Finally, still with her eyes shut, she abruptly spoke, her voice letting him know she was pissed, but still managing to keep her tone calm and low.

“...You miss my company that much, you couldn’t wait to find out more? What do you wish to know so bad about me, my dear Luckas?”

Luckas was about to close the book and put it back when Ess' voice reached his ears. He winced, staring intently at his shoes as if he was a scolded child.

“...You miss my company that much, you couldn’t wait to find out more? What do you wish to know so bad about me, my dear Luckas?”

Her voice was calm, but it was clear that she was angry, why wouldn't she be? This was private and he had overstepped; he knew that. He was silent for quite sometime, wanting to say anything to make this look a little less invasive, but there was nothing, Sure he could lie; he could say he didn't even get the chance to read anything, that he had just opened it right then, maybe that would make it a little better. The problem with that was the fact that lying was the one thing Luke wasn't capable of. Finally he stood up and quietly placed the journal back where it had been. "I'm sorry..." It was strange to say that without the sarcasm. "... I guess, I was bored and them I got curious." He returned to the chair and leaned back on the backrest, heaving a sigh. "I was just going to skim through it, find that drawing you showed me before, but then... It... Got interesting..." He mumbled, scratching the back of his head. Luckas truly look like a scolded child, staring at his feet and mumbling apologies. He felt stupid for it, but he really couldn't help it; he knew very well that that book was important and it was personal, and he took it anyway.

Ess’ eyelids flew open when he didn’t answer right away, still not moving from where she lay, only watching him carefully as he rightly put the journal back upon the shelf. Her anger grew, literally biting her tongue to keep her temper, her violet eyes ablaze with the obvious displeasure of the situation, burning a hole into Luckas as she studied his reaction. It was clear he knew what he had done and wasn’t denying it, which made Ess calm just slightly. Sitting up she sighed, “I usually keep it on me...it’s my fault. I would of probably done the same thing...apology accepted...but only if you really mean it.” This wasn’t anything by any means, worth holding a grudge over, but she felt like the purpose of the journal was ruined...that maybe something was taken away and out of spite she still wanted to burn it.

Still studying Luckas closely, the glow in her eyes faded as she shook her head. “I’ll be honest with you hun, I can tell you read something that you are not understanding...so just ask me. Not everything is written down or explained in there, that’s the problem with those things. It’s what we choose to disclose, either for shameful reasons or...” Ess snickered, “...Self incriminating ones...”

Deciding the best way to get rid of her anger was to keep herself busy, she stood, changing out of the semi wet dress she had slept in, into a pair of black leggings that had closed feet with a matching black shirt that fitted snug along her hourglass curves. She could easily slip other clothes over these and not have to worry about them. Finding a small belt, she lifted her leg onto the empty chair beside Luckas, buckling a simple looking dagger along the outside of her thigh.

Luckas kept staring at his boots the whole time. He did feel sorry and he didn't like feeling it one bit, it started to make him a bit unnerved. He'd done a lot worse in his life than go through someone's journal why didn't he feel sorry then? Why was he feeling so damn guilty for this? It was so stupid. Finally he broke his silence. "I don't say things I don't mean and I don't need any explanations on things I shouldn't know in the first place." He muttered in a barely audible tone, before standing up and raising his voice to normal level. "We should just go... We've been away from the castle long enough; the meeting probably ended hours ago."

Things had gotten a little more personal than Luckas was comfortable with in the past couple of hours and, after this he just wanted to talk about something else, anything else, that didn't have to do with anybody's past.

Ess brushed through her hair, watching how Luckas wouldn’t even look at her now. As she braided it up similar to Mageria did hers, the tone of her voice changing softly as she stretched her vocal cords to match the memories and experiences of Mageria with an impressive start. Quickly slipping a curious ring around her right hand, a silver claw turned inward along her palm, she finished dressing in her cloak, pulling the hood up over her head the material drooping over her face to hide her from plain view. When she spoke, her voice gradually drifted from her normal tone, to mimic the Captains. “Luckas...I believe you. You’re right, enough hanging about...Just keep in mind that you’re not the only one weirded out by all this...I thought I was still dreaming when I saw you by the fire...”With a sigh she trailed off, her smile peeking out from beneath her hood. Ess had not changed her appearance, but yet the way she carried herself and moved showed that she had definitely made much use of the memories Luckas gave her. It was almost uncanny in the simplicity and detail that usually may go over looked when comparing people; each step and each word improved the fantasy that she was becoming the Captain. “Let’s get on with the show then, my dear Luckas.”

"Maybe we're both dreaming an none of this is real... Maybe I'm still locked up in that basement, maybe you never really left Blackpond to begin with... Who's to say it isn't all just one big illusion? Maybe nothing really changed." Luke was mumbling under his breath again, taking notice of the change in the woman's tone and thinking that things were just getting weirder by the minute.

Luckas was quiet as they walked the path back to the castle, trying hard to focus on the task ahead, but it had been one strange day and his mind was a little bit scattered all over the place; he needed it in one piece, he couldn't lose control... He said he'd get the information out of Xypher, killing the man before finding out his motives would be failure and that wasn't an option. With only the corner of his eyes he watched Ess, registering all the changes in her posture, in her walk... It was impressive how easily and how quickly she changed. If he didn't know any better... He shook his head, amusement showing clear on his face even though he still kept to himself until they reached the insides of the Castle at which point he mumbled the word "uniforms" and began leading the way towards the Black Knights's ward, hoping it'd be easy to snatch one with all the confusion of people preparing to move out.

As they reached the Black Knight's ward things looked agitated. There were broken things being carried around and it didn't seem like the Guard would be all that welcoming to visits right now. Luckas turned to Ess with a rather intrigued expression on his face. "You think we should tell the Captain what we're doing? I mean... If she happened to show up while you're luring the man, that could be a problem." As he said that a member of the Guard approached them. "Hey, you two, what are you..." The man flinched for a second, but he took a second look at Ess and went on talking, shaking his head as he did so. "You shouldn't be wandering around here, so why don't you just turn around?"
Luckas tilted his head to the side curiously as he noticed the man had reached for his sword... Things had certainly grown more tense in the past few hours. "We're allowed." Luckas stated calmly. "Answer me: Where's your Captain?"
The man relaxed some. "You're allowed." He agreed. "Captain's at the medics ward."
"Really?" Luckas asked. "Tell me more."
"She and Pondus had one hell of a fight. They both ended up really messed up."
Luckas flinched a little bit. "Pondus? Ain't he the dead guy?" He asked absently, then he shook his head. "Never mind. Thanks a lot mate, move along, now."
The Guard went on his way and Luckas looked at Ess, scratching his head. "Well, I'm going to the medics’ ward then. You wanna come with or you rather maybe go find some uniforms?" He asked.

“Maybe we're both dreaming and none of this is real... Maybe I'm still locked up in that basement, maybe you never really left Blackpond to begin with... Who's to say it isn't all just one big illusion? Maybe nothing really changed."

Ess shook her head, not liking the idea that all of this was a dream. She rather enjoyed the fact that Luckas standing beside her was not just the dreams haunting her, fragments that were not understood, now slowly were coming together. When she had rested her head on his shoulder, he felt as real as anything else she had experienced in her life. It didn’t make much sense to her why he wanted it all to not be real, so very bad..or maybe it did make sense. There are some things she could do without, but there’s no sense in wishing the impossible. Keeping her thoughts to herself, she felt a subtle ache in her chest for Luckas at how awkward all this seemed for him and she began to feel guilty for her anger towards him, even if she was in her right to feel that way. Having control over her temper once again, the glow in her eyes faded which was helpful not to draw unnecessary attention to herself before things even begun.

Entering the castle, Ess was in utter awe how much had changed in the past couple hours, the place was a disaster. She went to whisper something to Luckas, when the Guard approached giving Ess a double take. Dipping her head a bit, to continue to hide her face she smiled in her silence, letting Luke take care of the small matter. ‘Very useful this one is..’ Ess pondered to herself as the guard wondered off.

“I’ll meet you and the Captain in a few moments then..” She muttered, still tweaking certain vowels to resemble Mageria’s speech. Without another word she slipped past a few men, hustling down the hall, disappearing around the corner.

Luckas simply nodded, walking in the opposite direction towards where he knew the infirmary was, whispering under his breath. "Be careful now, Pretty Lady."

Setting

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Character Portrait: Ess Character Portrait: Phantom/Spirit
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INK

Essence was glad to have been down these halls a couple times already, so the appearance of belonging wasn’t hard to pull off when she knew where to go. For the most part, everyone was too busy to pay any real attention to her as she maneuvered through a cluster of pissed off ex-guards men/women. Someone had stepped out into the hall, just as Ess went to pass, making her way towards where she saw several people disguarding uniforms, only to bump shoulders with a woman. Ess’s soft purple gaze met the girls own, an apologetic smile curling her lips as she noted one was brown the other blue. Not daring to pause more than a second she whispered confidently, “Excuse me, Miss..” before turning about, the hood of her cloak falling past her burgundy braid as she walked away. ‘Silver hair...’ she thought to herself with a small chuckle, the irony of the connection just too much to bear. Everything seemed to be connected in one way or another today. First Kirsten, Mageria, Luckas, Ari....and this other woman. What part did she have in it all to play? Ess wondered if she was going to meet Kirsten again and she didn’t know if that would be a good thing. Course she wouldn’t willingly explain she had come across his hunted prey, but maybe it would be a fun tease.


Phantom smiled softly, pulling her hood back up over her face, and was turning to follow Sophie and Bran when she ran into another Guard. Her eyes automatically snapped to the person at fault, her lips parting slightly. She blinked, her eyes flashing slightly as she saw that the woman’s eyes were a brilliant purple and a horrific scar under one eye brought out the color. She shrugged slightly, hearing the muttered apology from the woman as she continued forward. Something struck her then, a shiver running down her spine as she turned back but the woman was already gone. It was a nagging feeling as she looked back, her heart racing. The woman had studied her, not seeming at all shocked about the different colour eyes, the silver hair. Something told Phantom that this woman had run into the Night Hunters, and possibly the girl she was looking for. She wanted to run after her, but Bran and Sophie had stopped and were waiting for her, besides it wasn’t safe to run around the complex alone right now. She marked the girl in her memory, reminding herself to keep a wary eye out for her if anything happened before jogging to catch up with Bran and Sophie.

Ess managed to find the room empty, quietly closing the open door behind her as she scanned the many bins of dirty uniforms, quickly searching for something in her size. Preferring something clean was not an option from what the Guard had mentioned about the Captain getting into a brawl, so something blood stained was needed to make the hoax believable. Slipping out of her boots and cloak she closed her eyes taking in a cleansing breath as she focused on Mageria’s image. Gradually the change began with her hair, the dark red turning brighter in a fiery tone accented with a white streak that sourced from her right temple, intertwining through the braid. The captain was a bit taller than Ess, with more muscle mass in general resulting from the years of battle, her arms and legs stretching out her clothes as her features contorted and meshed.

‘Too bad this is just an illusion,’ Ess thought to herself, a bit jealous of the defining muscle Mageria had, but if things worked out she would soon enough gain strength as well. An illusion this was truly, for Ess would not have any additional strength but her own. Cursing slightly that there wasn’t a mirror for her to confirm her work, her fingers traced along her face, finding the changes in her lips and nose seemed accurate, along with the claw scars on the left side of her face and the one larger that bisected her right cheek.

Faded voices from the distance beyond the door, seemed to get closer as the door opened slowly a cheery woman muttering to another at the current gossip of the Castle.

“..I heard she has to leave by tomorrow night..forever..”

“Not forever?..Blasted Twins..”

“What the hell happened to her?”

“Pondus came back from the dead..”

“You’re pulling my chain..”

“...Have you seen her?”

“No. Figure she could use some clean clothes though, the poor deary.”

Ess’ mind raced furiously not knowing exactly what kind of condition Mageria was in, but luckily the two women who entered the room were oblivious to her current wounds, so Ess just went with it. The women paused in their banter in shock to see Mageria standing before them, slightly hunched over but appearing to be in one piece. Ess managed to manipulate random spots on her skin to take on the developing of bruises as the women stared at her in awe.

“What are you doing out of the infirmary, Captain?” The servant women questioned, only to get a sharp elbow to the side by the shorter girl who whispered... “Shouldn’t be calling her that anymore Dina....”

‘Here goes nothing,’ Ess thought to herself giving a pained smile. “..You know me..I don’t like feeling helpless...I need a clean uniform.” Ess’ voice cracked at first, but she kept her at ease appearance, for any discrepancies she was trying to work out on her voice, could be overlooked from the Captains supposed state.

“Of course...” The shorter women spoke as she went to retrieve a clean uniform to fit ‘Mageria.’ “Glad to to see you’re in better shape than we were told.”

Ess gave a small sigh, trying to give the women a tired smile. “Thank you ladies, I’m sure I’ll be feeling it in the morning.” Ess graciously accepted the uniform, the women hinting that they thought they should be helping her dress, but Ess simply slipped the uniform over her other clothes, pausing here and there with a grimace of pain as she muttered. “That will be all ladies.”

The women nodded, disappearing back out the door, making sure to close it behind them, “I’m going to miss her...”

Ess giggled, as she readjusted the belt and blade along her thigh, slipping back into her boots and draping the cloak back over her form. “Guess I don’t need a mirror after all..” Keeping the illusion she pulled the hood back over her head, mostly to cover her eyes, casually making her way back out the door to meet up with Luckas and Mageria. Ess was amazed how even servants had a substantial amount of respect for the Captain, and wondered what it must be like to have such loyalty from so many. Ess didn’t even know Mageria, but from what she experienced and saw, this women had something about her that commanded such loyalty, given of free will.

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Character Portrait: Ess
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INK

Essence meandered the hallways attempting to blend with the hustle and confusion, not wanting to draw attention to herself as Mageria just yet, for that would ruin her plans for the evening. It was starting to feel a bit natural in her posture and walk, yet she kept her head down still covered by her hood and only attracted a few confused gazes who thought they recognized her. A tall figure casually stepped in front of her path, his voice was deep yet friendly as he spoke, “Excuse me love, but do you have a cigarette?”

Ess kept her eyes to the floor, shaking her head she muttered in an accent she used often for random encounters, “Ah, sor’ray sweetness....I tr’ay to st’ay aw’ay from those things. I do enj’oy breathin’.”

The man chuckled, trying to get a look at Ess, but she adverted his brown eyes, stepping around him and continuing on towards the medic ward.

“Aiden! Stop chasing tail and grab your shit off my cot.” Another voice rang out.

“Man, she looked awfully like-” Aiden muttered before his shield was thrown into his side, interrupting what his imagination was trying to piece together.

“..I swear Aiden...I’ll toss you out the window..”

‘This place is just too crowded right now..’ Ess realized to herself as she casually flowed past the entrance to the medic ward, her eye straining to peek inside. Knowing she would soon cause more suspicion if she just went walking inside to greet Luke and Mageria, she decided she needed to clear the room..she needed a distraction.

Her fingers slowly traced along the wall, keeping a close watch on those around her to see if they paid her any attention, her hand closing gently around a lit oil lamp hanging from above that she brought to her side. Just as she passed around the corner, momentarily no one within eye sight, she turned abruptly swinging the lamp into what appeared to be a cleared out room, the glass crashing into a bare cot bursting into an array of flames. Ess couldn’t help but stare as the bed quickly went up in smoke, spreading along another cot in a matter of seconds. When she was sure the small blaze was isolated, an amused grin spread across her lips as she sprinted forward in the direction she just came, “By the Twins...everything is on fire!” Ess screamed frantically, squatting down in a facade of panic she hugged her knees tightly to her chest as a rush of men and women ran past her following the smoke, a servant girl screamed in distress, “I just cleaned that room!”

Curious onlookers filed out into the hallway, making it easy for Ess to stand and sift through the crowd, unnoticed. She could hear the chaos of instructions being fed back and forth amidst the crowd, confusion compiling.

“Don’t use the tapestry! ....”

“At least wet it first!”

“Smother the flames, don’t roll around in them!”

“Don’t push me, or I’ll feed you to the fire..”


Ess giggled to herself, progressively making her way into the ward, still keeping her eyes towards the floor. Her presence could be noticed from the sound of her boots clicking along the floor, and the sudden tail wagging of Tala from where she sat near Mageria. Behind her, figures continued to run past the entry way as if they themselves were on fire, others from the room ran past her and out into the hall. Smiling at her own mischief, Ess wasn’t worried, for the chaos was small and would be held under control in no time, but just giving her long enough to see the Captain.

As she approached, she quirked a brow at Luckas on the floor, his arm bleeding from a recent wound. Ess couldn’t hold back a giggle, standing over Luckas so he was the only one who could see her face, “What did you do to Tala now?”

Setting

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Character Portrait: Ess
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INK

Peeking out from her hood, Ess smiled at Mageria nodding a bit as she went for the requested bottles and gauze. “If I didn’t know better Luckas, I’d think you enjoyed pain...” She muttered softly, her eyes squinting in a wince as she took in the Captain’s state. Making sure no one was close enough to see her, her skin tones began to change to mimic the intense bruising and swollen eye. Walking about with only the use of one eye was going to be a bit of a challenge, but nothing she felt she couldn’t handle. Clearing her throat, Ess began whispering in a tone similar to the Captains, continuing with the facade as she attempted to get it correct in the effects of the bruising along her throat. Any pressure she may have felt earlier was completely gone, since any oddities in her copy of the Captain could be brushed aside to the aftermath of Mageria’s current state. “I like the white, I think it’s very becoming...the highlight..maybe I’ll inquire it into my own hair.”

Ess planted her feet on the floor in a gesture that asked, ‘So what do you think?’ Glancing between Luckas and Mageria, she gave Tala a reassuring pat along the wolf’s side. “The plan...ah well plans change a bit..that and I couldn’t afford to have my cover blown with all these bloody people around...” Violet eyes flickered in a momentary glow before dimming again, “No worries...no one is hurt Captain, just needed a small distraction.”

Turning her attention back to Luckas she spoke in her normal tone for a moment, “So, you going to take care getting a message to our friend, requesting his presence? I assume it will be where you pointed out to me earlier....and you can keep a watchful eye on things from a distance, while I work my magic.”

Tugging on her hood, adjusting it to droop back down over her disguise, she asked Mageria a final question before leaving the ward. “Any advise before I go, Captain?”

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Character Portrait: Evin Bana Character Portrait: Luckas Character Portrait: Ess
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[Small Village near Newhaven – Earlier in the day]

Evin was taking the last few bites out of his food. It was better than he expected, especially since the last time he was there, the father of the young girl was the one who ran the small café. Now it was the young girl’s older brother ran the business. He wasn’t sure if it was going to be good, but it was surprisingly refreshing. He would have to go to the café more often.
“Excuse me, you still have to pay.” The girl walked up to him. He didn’t even realize that he forgot to pay. He reached into his pocket…

[Flashback]

The archives of the White Shadows were a real gem. Not everyone was allowed inside the archives and most who were aloud needed supervision or direct permission from those who were aloud full access. As a former assassin, it didn't stop Perry from sneaking around there. Not many would be able to catch him as easily as they thought they would be able to. He had trained too much in deception be be caught doing anything wrong.
Through the books and scrolls he went, but for some reason he couldn't find what he was looking for. It was something that wasn't there. It was something so tangible that he could almost feel it as if the book could actually feel pain, like it had a story to tell. Soon enough, there it was. The book laced in emerald green lining. Much more finely detailed than the pathetic Myths of Magic book that he had found such a long time ago in the archives of the Wolfpack. Just what I needed." He said with a open mouthed smile. He flipped through the pages until he heard a noise from outside. He quickly shut the book, and hid behind a large stack of books on the floor. Curled in a ball he hoped that whoever it was wouldn't find him.

Lena knew the clan's files back and forth, and yet, sometimes she needed to check one of the books for a certain name or image there contained. She made her way through the lines of tents absently until she reached the construction, one of the few still standing constructions in the area, and nodded politely to the two healers that were watching the entrance. As she stepped inside, however, she heard noises of book piles falling over. She snickered slightly, imagining it was probably one of the young apprentices trying to sneak a peek at the mythology books. "Who's there?" She called, stepping closer to where the noise had come from, slowly like a feline stalking its prey. If she focused just enough she could hear breathing, but it was too quiet to be a child, if it was a child there would be more noise by now. That's when she took a more serious tone to her voice and reached for a dagger she kept hidden on her person. "I know there's someone here, you better show yourself, I'm not kidding."

Perry didn't want to be caught, especially by the leader of the White Shadows. She was a person who's trust he needed absolutely. Just like Evin, he needed her to believe that he was an honorable man. Maybe even a friend. Whatever she was going to believe it had to be positive. He looked around for something that he could do to stop Lena from finding anything negative to get on him. Only one thing came to mind.

He slowly moved his arm into the line of sight that Lena had, but thankfully she didn't notice. When he had the book in his hand, he threw it over his shoulder, letting it hit a stack of book a couple of feet to the left of him. It was enough of a distraction to allow him to get out of his hiding place and work his way to the exit, but he couldn't remember where the exit was exactly. In that moment of panic, he just stood still and in the open. It wasn't something that any respectable assassin would do, so he quickly shot out the first words that came to his mouth.

"Lena, I was looking for you earlier, but I couldn't find you. I wanted to look for a book and since I couldn't find you I took matters into my own hand. I know it wasn't right and I thought that since I'm rather new here that I could get away with it if I was caught, but I really don't want to be dishonest. I hope you can forgive me.

Lena's attention was caught by a noise of books falling over and moments later she sighed softly as she heard a familiar voice blurt out excuses. She turned, slowly concealing her dagger, and relaxing some. Perry was not supposed to be there, but he wasn't an intruder at least. "What book was so urgent that you couldn't wait for me in order to get it?" She asked raising an eyebrow as she walked past the man to where the fallen books were, looking down at them and noticing a particular one that seemed to have made a slightly odd trajectory as if it had been thrown. Slowly, she began picking the books one by one, looking them over and finding their right place. "I'll excuse you this time, but I hope I don't find you here again." She said absently. "Mind giving me a hand with these?" She asked, not looking away from the books directly, but still watching the man with the corner of her eyes.

When Perry was asked to help out, he did a little hop and was about to move to stack the books, but remembered the book that he needed to look at. He could tell that she had some attention on him though, her head was looking down at the books she was picking up, but her body was slightly tilted in his direction, letting him know that she had him in the corner of his eye. Instead of walking over to the books to help, he began to talk... more like ramble.

"Well I was looking for a journal from one of the healers old." He said. While he continued to talk, he moved his way slowly so that his body was directly blocking the line of sight from Lena to the book that he wanted. "I heard about this combination of herbs that can be used to make it look like a dead body doesn't even have a wound on it, even if they have a huge wound." This is when he was able to use his nervous twitches to his advantage. He moved his hands behind his back, and swayed on the arch of his foot back and forth, just to make it look like he was nervous to talk to his leader. "I know it isn't really useful to a healer, but you can understand can't you? As an assassin, I have a morbid curiosity of sorts." He flipped through the pages, counting each one individually in his head until he reached the page numbers he was looking for. "I guess it isn't so urgent as much as I just don't have the patience to wait. I'm sorry m'am. Five hundred and fifty seven." He said out loud absent minded. It was the page he was looking for and in his excitement; he forgot to keep it in his head.

Perry passed it off like it was nothing and ripped the page out silently; crumpling it in his hand. He shut the book and started to walk over to help Lena with the books. It seemed like she was already finished. Only a few more books to go. Just because he wanted to try to be as big of a suck up as possible, he grabbed the last few books with his free hand and placed them at the top of the stacks, smiling absently at Lena while he did so.

"Hum..." Lena mumbled in response to the explanation Perry gave on the book he was looking for. "As a former assassin, I do understand that." She mentioned absently as if to remind him that she had knowledge of most tricks assassins used. "However, everything is useful to a healer, at one time or another." She added, glancing at the man and noticing his twitches, he didn't seem to want to hide them at all. "Five hundred and fifty seven" She whispered to herself, diary pages weren't numbered, that she knew of, only if he counted them really fast... but she would look into it at a later time. As he put the last few books in place, she turned to face him fully and stared for a little while. He was an odd one, this man. He never seemed to want to hide anything, and while that might be good, it was odd. Everyone had something they'd rather keep hidden; why wouldn't he? She ran her fingers through the lines of books absently and stated. "Well, I remembered what I need, so suppose I won't have to find the book I came here for after all. Strange how the mind works, no?" She sighed. "I think they're all in place, but I'll check again tomorrow. Unfortunately for me, I'm the only one allowed to organize these. On the other hand, it makes it easy for me to keep track of anything missing." She said, still casually. Motioning towards the exit she added: "Shall we? Or is there still something you need?"


[Reality]
“Umm… Sir, are you alright?” The girl looked up at Evin, who was just staring at his table with the empty cup and plate. “Sir?”
Evin ignored the girl for a few seconds. He was completely confused about what he had just seen. It was like a daydream, but it had nothing to do with him at all… and it was so vivid.
“Sir, please answer me. Is there a healer here? I think there’s something wrong with this man.”
Evin started to look around the room franticly for someone who might have been trying to mess with him. An assassin who knew something about his past and was trying to psych him out in order to get the edge on him in a fight. Then he saw something that he didn’t expect. A decrepit healer who looked so rugged that he could barely recognise her. “Lena?”

Lena had just gotten her order and had patiently waited for the girl to walk away before making her tea. The herbs were the only thing that helped with her recurring headaches... Or at least they used to, because they didn't do a thing for her this time. Reaching out towards her temples, she closed her eyes not to show the blue glow to anyone who might have been looking at her. The memory that flooded her mind was one she had forced herself to bury long ago, out of anger or maybe guilt, it was a little bit of a shock to have it come back this way. Maybe it was this place...

“Lena?”

Or maybe not.

As the pain finally gave in, the familiar voice spoke and Lena recognized it immediately as being Evin's. She took a long, deep breath, fully aware of the man's eyes on her, and waited for the pain to go away completely before turning to face him where he sat. She had plans to speak with him, amongst others, but not quite yet. Not right now. She stopped herself from letting out a frustrated groan, not daring to stand in fear that exhaustion might knock her down. She greeted. "Well, hello, Evin." Still wondering if the familiar place or the man's presence had caused that particular memory to resurface, she ripped a piece of the bread and absently dipped it in the soup before eating it, acting as if it was completely normal for her to be sitting there after not giving word to anyone for almost three years.

Evin assured the young waitress that he was alright before he shifted his feet in Lena's direction. He slowly walked over while Lena continued on with her soup. He looked deep into the contours on her face and the frailty in her body. She looked far older than she really was-- How old was she? Evin wasn't sure, but in the three years that she had gone missing, she had aged at least ten.
"You know, in three years you really let yourself go, Rose." He said when he finally reached her table. He grabbed a seat and claimed it as his own, dragging it over to Lena's table before sitting at it. "You look more like what they used to make that soup."

Lena choked slightly on the hot soup at Evin's words, looking up from her bowl to see the man had sat at her table. "I look like an onion?" She chuckled. "That's awfully flattering in a way." She stated, with a slightly amused expression, going into thought for a few moments before dipping another piece of bread and stuffing it in her mouth, chewing on it for a few seconds before finally looking the man in the eyes and seriously addressing his comments. "The past three years have been somewhat rough on me, that's true. The mountains aren't an easy place to survive in, and I've been ill for a little while, haven't fully recovered yet." She explained. "So, what brings you to these parts? Aren't you and the others still camped out in the desert?" She asked.

Evin continued to watch her eat as she talked. Onion soup was probably the better kinds when it came to soups. "Why are you even asking that Lena? I know how nosey you are. Things, as you already know I'm sure are changing. The Wolfpack is weakening and Sean's puppets are beginning to cut their strings. I'm no longer afraid of him or his puppets. That's what's changed." The waitress again walked up to him, probably checking up on him. She began to walk away again, but Evin grabbed her arm and gently pulled her back. "I'd like what she's having if you don't mind." The girl took that down and then walked off. Evin turned back to Lena. "When I said you looked like shit I took into account where you had been living. I can't imagine how the people of Effort used to look like then. No wonder they didn't survive the war."

"Huh..." Lena mumbled, still seeming amused. "It's like I used to tell Bastian: Assassins are nosy, healers are only curious. And I'll always be a little bit of both. I'm surprised though, does that mean you were once afraid of Sean? Doesn't seem likely of you." She ate another piece of bread before adding. "Effort's people frequently received their supplies from Brightvale, that is why it was so important to turn the two cities against each other, without Brightvale Effort was completely isolated from the rest of the Land. That is why they didn't survive the war... Still, they didn't go down without one hell of a fight." She smirked. "You can be sure that neither will I."

The girl came over to the table with his soup and placed it gingerly on the table as not to spill any. He gave Lena the bread and picked up his spoon. "Never understood why people did bread in soup. I hate soggy bread." He commented as he continued to fill his spoon with a combination of broth and chopped onion. He took a sip of it and was rather disappointed in the flavor, or the lack of it. Not everything that this place made was as good as it used to be. "Sean is a powerful individual. Not the best assassin, mind you, but knows how to mould minds. It’s too bad for him that the minds he moulds have minds of their own. I didn't necessarily fear Sean, but I did fear his followers." He paused to think about Lena's last comment. "Neither will I". What battle was she fighting? It wasn't his business to know. Unlike what Lena had told him, assassins were well informed. It had nothing to do with being nosey. Not asking her what she meant by that comment was just proof. A silent protest that she would probably never understand.
"Now don't take this as me being nosy, Lena, but there are things you know about Perry that I probably never knew. You probably knew him better than I did actually. Did you show me that memory for a reason?"

“I wouldn’t expect you to go down any other way.” Lena replied simply to Evin’s comment. “Sean is too weak minded considering how much he relies on mental acuity. I’m not saying the kid is stupid, mind you… I’m just saying that it is not his strongest trait, even though he seems to think it is. If he cared half as much about the Pack as he does for getting even, he’d be something to fear, but I don't think that will ever happen.” She finished the bowl of soup and absently began to pick on the bread Evin had given her. She ate it in silence for quite a bit before she addressed his question about the memory.

“I didn’t know you were here, Evin. My enlightenment tends to act out when I’m too tired or under emotional distress and I am really, truly, tired today. This place brings me memories… Other memories… Which are in a way related to the Shadow, so it’s possible that my mind took me there for that reason. As for why you saw them… I’m not really sure, maybe the place didn’t trigger the memory, and you did. Perhaps, my mind associates you with him, in a way.” She gave a small shrug and saved half the bred for later, rolling in a piece of clean cloth and putting it in her bag. “I honestly don’t think I knew him any better than you or anyone else did, in fact I take a small bit of comfort in that thought.” She stated simply.

"Sean may be weak minded, but he does have a strong resolve. Sometimes that can be much more threatening. As a group, the Wolf Hunters were weak minded, but their resolve was enough to almost wipe us off the map. I'll forever look at Sean as a worthy threat." Soon he was done his soup. He wiped his mouth and got up from the table, putting the money for both his and Lena's food on the table. "If you've already paid for your food, then just take the extra money. Now I've got someone I'm looking for, but if we get the chance, I'd like to continue our conversation about Perry. I have a feeling you know more than even you want to admit." Evin walked out of the cafe without speaking another word.

Lena frowned slightly at Evin’s mention of the Wolf Hunters being weak minded. That wasn’t something she would ever agree with. However, she made no comments on that fact; better to let the dead rest and the past remain asleep… At least for the moment….

She let Evin walk away leaving the extra money for the waitress as she went looking for a place where could get some rest.

[Newhaven – Later that night]

Lena arrived in Newhaven later than she wanted, but the meal and the rest had done her a lot of good, and she seemed less tired, even if she was still visibly weakened. Making her way to the castle, she had little trouble getting in. It seemed the castle guard was a bit distracted with some sort of commotion. Odd… Much more so as she caught a visibly terrified guard running past, the strong scent of urine giving away that the man had some sort of accident. His visible confusion seemed all too familiar to Lena. She heaved a sigh as activated her enlightenment to see that man’s last memory was outside the upper entrance to the old bell tower. So she made her way towards the entrance that led to the bottom of the stair leading up to the old bell. “Stupid boy…”

----------------------------------------------

After leaving the sick ward and giving Captain the chance to get some proper rest, hopefully, Luke and Ess parted ways again. It was Luke's job to get a message to Xypher saying that the Captain wanted to meet with him. It took a bit of time for him to think of a message to send, trying to think of how Mageria would put it. He made the message simple and watched from a distance as the servant delivered it, he watched Xypher's expression, the man had doubts, but he was too intrigued not to go... Perfect. As soon as the servant parted ways with the Warlord, Luke cornered him again and erased the scene from his mind, sending him back to his duties. A grin spread across his features as he followed Xypher from a distance as he headed towards his destination, with a guard as company despite the instruction to go alone... Nothing that couldn't be handled. Things were running smoothly so far.

Ess just couldn’t decide between the two vials in her hand, staring long and hard she remembered that they needed Xypher alive and not drugged. She didn’t dare do anything that would compromise either Luckas or herself, so she tucked the black one away, leaving the purple easily accessed along her belt. Maybe the decision wasn’t so hard after all.

Leaning back against the stone of the tower, Ess hunched over for quite some time, waiting for Xypher to give his appearance. Just when her lower back started to ache, she heard footsteps echo along the stone floor. Stretching upwards, the pain was mild but she played it up in her illusion, letting the hood slide off her battered face, exposing a worn and bruised Mageria. Biting into her tongue, she turned and spat a bit of blood onto the ground, adding to the act.

“Surprised I’m still standing, Warlord?” The Mageria clone rasped, followed by a burdened breath.

Xypher paused in his step, nodding towards the Guard at his side; the man wandered past Ess and entered the tower, the noises from inside indicating the man was doing a search for hidden surprises. A quick return explained to Xypher that there was no open threat, “Wait out here...Make sure we are not disturbed.” He commanded his Guard. The man positioned himself beside the entrance, back along the wall; his demeanor was stiff and alert, straining to see in the surrounding shadows.

The Warlord bowed in a mocking display of respect, gesturing for Ess to enter the tower first. Keeping her expression cool, controlling her temper she nodded and limped in first, knowing full well not to expect an attack from Xypher. He obviously felt the same to be alone with ‘Mageria,’ that the situation was too tense and a straight forward attack would only cause more complications: Mageria could just make it worse for herself, or Xypher may condemn his twisted cause.

“What’s really left to say, Cap-..” Xypher began, cutting himself off with a chuckle. “Well, Talsheir...can I call you that, since you are no longer Captain?” Xypher approached a worn out, cracked bell that hung in the tower, pass ‘Mageria’ who remained only paces away from the Warlord, staring him down with her one good eye.

Ess kept her voice low, as if it pained her to speak. “You....honestly expected me to just walk away?...” Ess forced herself to cough, her expression still cool, but her hoarse voice taking on an edge, “Does it look like I will simply roll over and die?”

Xypher quirked a brow, a small grin creeping into view as he paused, “I know you are a stubborn woman, but I thought you had enough sense to know when you’ve been beaten.”

“..Just tell me why..” Ess spat, casually gimping around the opposite side of the bell, her fingers had a mind of their own as she turned her ring around, giving her middle finger the extended appearance of a tiny claw which she managed to keep far from Xypher’s sight.

Xypher scoffed at ‘Mageria’, “...Because I can....I did...and I couldn’t turn my back on what I knew.”

Ess doubled over as if she was in immense pain, retrieving the tiny vial by her waist to which she opened and discarded down the bell shaft only after she dipped the tiny claw into the purple serum. “....You know that’s not it, Warlord...and you know I’ve done much for this city....but I guess that doesn’t matter to you....You who only cares about your own power and influence..” Ess muttered, holding herself up as she snaked her way around the bell to walk past Xypher. Stumbling towards the opposite side, she appeared as if she were trying to avoid the Warlord. Quickly her body snapped upright, her hand slashing through the air across the man’s face in one fluid motion. In the Warlords surprise, an elbow caught Ess across the face, knocking her to the ground, the man was utterly perplexed at the insult of the minor assault, his hand touching his face curiously.

“You dare..? I can have you-” Xypher trailed off, stretching his face as if it were falling asleep, the feeling in his flesh disappearing as the nerves went numb, the paralysis already beginning to spread into his blood.

Ess stood easily, defiantly smiling up at the Warlord, wiping at a bit of blood along her lip, “I dare, because I can...and I can’t ignore what you've done..” She watched, tilting her head to the side as Xypher went to reach for a weapon by his side, his fingers failing him, unable to grip the blade. “Is something wrong, Warlord?” A small giggle escaped Ess in her normal voice, the sound taking on a morbid delight as she knew the poison was spreading, and faster than she expected. Soon it would incapacitate the man, enabling him to only listen in his temporary paralysis. She knew for a fact the man’s mind would be fully functional, intact, but his body would be numb, the nerves unresponsive to the commands of his brain.

A minute or two might have passed, to Ess it felt like forever as she stepped closer, the dagger at her thigh already readied in her hand as the man came to his knees when he tried for the exit. Muffled, drooling gurgles escaped his throat as Xypher tried to speak, his tongue and lips failing him. With what seemed like an excruciating amount of effort, he swung his arm in Ess’ direction but was easily dodged when she simply stepped to the side. Playfully she kicked the man hard in his side, just the gentle push he needed to fall onto his back. “Big..bad Warlord doesn’t feel so powerful now...does he?” Ess teased, the dagger trailing along Xypher’s throat sadistically from where she knelt beside him, still in her illusioned form.

Luckas grinned widely as he watched the Warlord enter the tower with 'Mageria', leaving him a little guard to toy with while he and Ess exchanged words. Luke casually walked in the direction of the tower, slowly so that the guard would walk in his direction and catch him halfway there, too far to be heard from the inside of the tower. Perfect.
"Buddy, the tower is closed, move along now." The guard told him, putting a hand on his chest and pushing him back, trying to intimidate him into leaving,
Luckas took a step back at the shove, but smiled kindly at the man and gave him a fake curious look. "Closed? Why's that? It's a bell tower, why would it be closed?" He asked.
"That's none of your concern." The guard replied, again pushing Luke back. "Move along now."
Luckas again stumbled back. This time he laughed for a few seconds before turning more serious and speaking in a soft growl. "Make me."
"Listen I really don't have time to waste on you, kid. Piss. Off." The man said, pushing Luke again, once for at the word 'piss' and once for the word 'off'.
Luke giggled softly. "You want me to piss? I don't really have to go right now. Why don't you go piss yourself, mate? Piss yourself."
The guard was giving Luke an amused look that soon turned into a horrified one when he felt himself obeying the odd demand. The man then reached for the sword at his waist, but was stopped again by Luke's voice.
"Stop. Hold still." Luckas ordered, smiling wide at the guard's terrorized look as he realized he couldn't move, not even speak. "You poor silly man..." He snickered, pulling the sword from the man's belt and pointing it at his face. "If only we had time to play... You're just my type, I can tell..." He then fixed his gaze on the guard and made him forget why he was there in the first place, walking past him to the entrance of the tower while he was still slightly stunned. Glancing over his shoulder he snickered as the confused man noticed his wet pants and ran off at full speed. He would never know he was supposed to be guarding the Warlord that night. Luke pressed his ear against the door curiously and gave it a very discrete knock, as if to ask if it was alright to come in.

Ess sighed, cracking her neck as she crawled over Xypher, to sit across his ribs with one knee touching the floor on each side. “Your muscles should bet useless right about now, but don’t worry...it’s not permanent..” Ess winked, letting the facade of her swollen eye dissipate, snickering at the man as his own gaze widened in confusion. “I’m not sure if all your pain sensors are numb as well....shall we investigate?”

Ess started off easy, lightly dragging the dagger along Xypher’s left cheek without so much as a flinch. Nodding, she made a second pass pressing firmly to split the flesh along his chin. “Perhaps we need to go deeper?” Ess sneered, violet eyes glimmering in her amusement as she watched the man’s reaction closely. She expected he would be not an easy nut to crack, which delighted her, knowing Luckas would still have much to look forward to.

Resting the dagger along her thigh, she slid down the man to the freshly dressed wound along his leg from Xypher’s earlier self infliction. Using the claw implement upon her finger, she slowly penetrated the wound until her knuckles began digging into the bleeding flesh, seeing a slight change in his eyes. “Getting warmer...?...How about something you’ll definitely feel later?” Reaching for the man’s hand, her fingertips traced between his fingers, a surprising groan escaped the man’s throat as she twisted, bent and snapped his thumb backwards in a painful position. Another moment passed and she had broken every other finger on both Xypher’s hands.

Ess quirked a brow, as she thought she heard a noise from the door, almost inaudible. Leaning in close to the Warlord, letting the claw linger before the man’s iris she whispered close similar to a woman speaking to her lover, “I’m saving the best for my friend...he should be here any second.” As she finished speaking, she felt eyes on her, a childish giggle echoing off the walls while she debated taking out the man’s left eye. “Don’t worry my friend...” She muttered still in Mageria’s tone as if speaking to another in the room, her form still straddled over the Warlord, “Don't be jealous.”

Luckas entered the room, his eyes watching Ess carefully, as if he barely noticed the man who was his target, she seemed to be having fun with this; it was such a pity to interrupt. "Lady, I know it's tempting, but I need him to have his eyes... For now at least." He spoke, walking a bit further into the room, but standing where Xypher couldn't see him. "He can't move or speak, huh? That spares me some trouble, I gotta say. Quite a handy little trick." He snickered softly pacing around the room, but always walking where the Warlord couldn't see him. His footsteps echoing in the stone room. Finally he stopped, standing over the man's head, and crouching down so that he was looking at Xypher's face upside down. "Hello there." He smiled, delighted at the horrified look in the man's eyes as he saw his face at last. "Oh, you knew my brother... Awesome, so all I have to tell you is that he wasn't half as dangerous as I can be." He snickered softly. "Oh, I know what you're thinking. What kind of a sick person keeps a psycho like me around just to unleash on hypocritical bastards like you?" He chuckled. "Well... Apparently, this lady here does." He nodded towards Ess, giving her a playful wink. "Paralyzed, huh? just how much, I wonder..." He smiled. "Lift your head."

Xypher did in fact lift his head, even though he was unable to hold it up, and it dropped back, hitting the stone floor. Luckas laughed. "Ouchie, sorry man." He leaned closer to Xypher and smirked. "I know the likes of you, Mister Warlord; you think you have the right to decide what is best for everyone, because you're just that great. Is that it?" He shook his head in amusement. "Well... If that's the case then I get to decide how and when you die, because, well... Who's going to stop me?" He grinned. "Now, lay back and relax... This is going to be painless for now, so enjoy it while it lasts." As he said that he fixed his eyes on the Warlord and they changed from their usual black to a light green tone. "Let's see what's behind that brilliant mind of yours, shall we?"

Ess gave a childish yet playful pout at Luckas’ words on Xypher keeping his eyes. “Hmph...Yea I know they are kinda essential right now...” Using Xypher as leverage she pushed herself to her feet, giving Luckas and the Warlord some space, a short chuckle bounced along her shoulders when she tried to keep it quiet. She liked the idea of keeping Luckas around; this was an entirely different experience in more ways than one, and there was no denying her excitement while she watched him toy with the paralyzed figure. Not knowing if it was a comfort to share this kind of twisted display, she appreciated not having to do it alone.

Essence leaned back against a wall, so that the two were in front of her and the door was at her right, absently listening for any possible interferences that may interrupt their play date. “..Remember my friend, the serum won’t last forever...it will wear off.” Ess muttered a bit disappointingly. Violet eyes glowed in anticipation while she toyed with the tiny claw along her ring.

Luckas chuckled when Ess stepped aside. “Women, huh?” He said playfully, winking at Xypher as if expecting the man to agree with him. He grinned, now addressing Ess. “Don’t worry Lady, none of his body parts will be needed for much longer. I’ll let you pick your favorites once business is done.” He stood and walked around the fallen warlord, crouching again next to the man and leaning closer to him. Xypher closed his eyes and Luke chuckled. “That doesn’t work old man. Open your eyes. Look at me.”

The man obeyed, and Luke’s eyes turned a light green as he stared deep into Xypher’s frightened stare. The man’s memories held little other than council meetings, War plans and memories of his loving late wife. Nothing really promising until he found the memory of a meeting between the Warlord and another man, whose face Luke never really got to see, because the memory was immediately cut off by one of his own.

[Flashback – Some dark place of the past, about 10 years ago]

Luckas awoke to the blinding light of the open basement door and groaned angrily, trying to ignore the voices arguing just outside the door.

“They’re unusable! We need to get rid of them!”
“Master says we should be more patient, that they will learn control.”
“How many more of us will have to die before they learn control? It’s not worth it!”
“They are the most powerful ones yet, Master does not want them to go to waste. They are irreplaceable.”
“I don’t care, I won’t be next!”

Luckas jumped up as the door slammed shut and darkness surrounded him once more. He could hear shouting on the other side of the door, but with it closed he couldn’t make out the words… He went back to sleep.

. . . . .

“Hey, kid… Are you alright? Wake up.”

Someone was gently shaking Luckas and he desperately wanted, whoever it was, to get away from him, but he couldn’t move… He was just so tired… Why was he so tired?

“These kids need a medic… Doesn’t look like they’ve eaten anything in days” Another voice spoke. “What the hell is this place?”

The voice closer to Luke sighed. “I don’t know, come on, let’s get them out of here and call the captain.”


. . .

The pain that followed was the very familiar pain of being cut off by another telepath, Luke knew there was only one living telepath who was strong enough for that and as he fell to his side, holding onto the sides of his head in pain, his eyes changing from a light green to a bright blue… He managed to utter a couple of words to identify his 'attacker'. “You evil witch!”

“We had an understanding, Luckas. And I warned you what I’d do if you disobeyed my instructions.” A cold voice sounded in the room as Lena made herself visible by climbing the last few steps of the stairs, her eyes fixed on Luckas as he whined and groaned on the floor. “Stop fighting me.” She told him.
“Go to hell!” He shouted, still visibly in pain, as he tried to stand, but failed, dropping back to the ground.
Lena sighed. “Don’t be stupid boy. Yield!”
Luckas screamed in pain and went into uncontrollable shivers, but didn’t stop putting up a fight. “No, no, no, no.” He muttered angrily.
“Luckas…” The woman said in a severe tone, pacing a few steps closer and looking down at him. “You’re being silly now… If you keep this up you’ll hurt yourself. You remember what happened last time... We don't want that to happen again."

Something seemed off as Luckas ‘worked his magic,’ a sudden shiver taking over her form as she wiped a bit of blood from her lip and nose. Ess had used her gift quite a bit today and she knew she shouldn’t stay this way for much longer, yet she refused to release the illusion until Xypher was good and dead. At that thought she watched confused as Luckas fell to the floor in what appeared to be a considerable amount of pain. Ess pushed herself off the wall, looking from the closed door back to Luckas, kneeling down to his side as he barked out, “You Evil Witch!”

Taken a bit back, she quirked a brow at Luckas then at Xypher who was still motionless upon the floor and stood back upon her feet as the 'intruder’ revealed herself. Listening as words were exchanged, Ess let it go in one ear out the other as all she focused on was Luckas writhing in pain upon the cold stone; her eyes glowed like tiny purple flames in her anger, her fingers already retrieving the blade along her thigh as a throaty growl escaped her lips, “Let....Him...Go....”

Ess was already approaching the woman, not waiting for a response, raising the dagger up and over to her left attempting a downward slash, her left leg raising to kick the woman in the stomach.

Lena was a bit distracted with Luckas, she didn't want the kid hurt, but she needed him to stop fighting so she could remove the block she put on Xypher's memories. She knew Luckas could get a little irrational when close to making a victim; he didn't like being interrupted, so he fought simply out of frustration, and if he kept going he'd surely knock himself unconscious.

Not that she hadn't noticed the other person in the room, but her focus wasn't on the woman and, as she advanced towards, her Lena flinched slightly at seeing Mageria's face, before logic told her that Mageria would hardly consider her a threat to Luke. The color of the woman's eyes confirmed that it really wasn't the Black Knight Captain, but the time she took to reach that conclusion cost her the chance to completely get out of the attack. Between a dagger and a kick, she chose the lesser of two evils, twisting her body, she let the kick hit her side as she pulled away to dodge the dagger, aiming a very well calculated hit at a pressure point at her attacker's wrist, causing her to drop the knife. The hit was followed by a punch to the woman's chest which, considering her kick had taken much of her balance, knocked the woman down on her back. "I'm not hurting him. He'll be fine if he stops trying to fight me like a stubborn child." Lena told her. "And if I were you I'd stay down, Captain... I'm not in the mood for playing right now." At whicch point she glanced from the fallen 'Mageria' to Luckas, still shivering on the floor, to a wounded and visibly paralyzed Xypher lying on the floor. "Warlord?" She frowned. "What the hell is going on here? Luckas!"

The dangerous tone in Lena's voice caused Luke to quit his hopeless struggle, and he relaxed, rolling onto his back on the floor and looking up at the woman. "Whoa... You look like crap!" He said giggling like a maniac. "It hurt worse last time, you're getting soft, Lena."
"So are you... Since when do you travel with a buddy? I'd be proud of you if I wasn't so furious." She said, glaring at him severely, as he giggled. "What is happening here?"
"Just a little party." Luckas said chuckling as he sat up, rubbing his eyes as the blue slowly faded from them. We're having fun, aren't we?" He said, slapping Xypher's wounded leg."

Lena crouched down near the man and sighed. "Doesn't look like your handy work." She said examining the wounds. "Now I see why you've brought company." She said, extending the glare she shot him to his friend. "Don't think I will let you two kill this man."

Ess hit the ground, cursing to herself as her eyes searched for her fallen blade.

"And if I were you I'd stay down, Captain... I'm not in the mood for playing right now."

Ess rolled onto her knees, pausing to actually listen to this woman, glancing curiously towards Luckas, her tone still mocking Mageria’s, “This... Your Mom... Or something Luckas?” Ess laughed, glaring back at the woman, not taking her look lightly. Ess should of been intimidated, especially when Luckas backed down, but there was this part of her that was still quite annoyed with the situation and how their fun was interrupted. With a frustrated sigh she spat sarcastically in her normal voice, the sweet tone adding to the sarcasm, “Oh, so glad he has your approval..." Shifting to her feet, she cracked her knuckles while her eyes flickered back to Xypher, “Why does it really matter if this annoyance lives or dies anyways?...Do you even know what’s happened?”

Ess playfully kicked the Warlord in the side of his head as she made her way over to the door, leaning back against it to watch Luckas and this stranger. Her vision blurred slightly, a few more drops of blood sneaking down across her lip which she managed to brush off casually as a sniffle. Quietly she pondered the random appearance of this person who most certainly seemed to know Luckas, and visa versa, her fingers lightly teasing at the small black vial hidden inside her cleavage beneath her borrowed uniform. Gently those fingers began massaging her temples at a subtle ache which slowly spread across her forehead, a few wet speckles of blood appearing along her ear lobes, which she couldn’t hide as her hair was still up in a braid. She hesitated before she reached for her hood, pulling it tightly around her face, the glow of her eyes the only thing peering out from her shadow. Ess refused to relax into her normal state, feeling since this party was interrupted that perhaps it was time to go, but not before hearing what was going to happen; not without Luckas. Ess still had time.

Lena made no attempt to stop Luke's friend from kicking Xypher, even as she pulled things from her bag and began to fix the man's broken fingers and bandage them. "You don't tell people I'm your mommy, now do you Luke? Because that would be, by a far, the creepiest thing you've ever done."
Luckas stopped laughing like an idiot and shot the woman a glare. "Of course not." He muttered. "Why are you bandaging this piece of scum?"
"Look, I don't care what the hell is happening here or why, but I already told you, I won't let you kill the man." She realized Xypher was regaining movement, slowly and frowned. "You dosed him with something? I thought you were holding him under your command Luke?"
"If I was he would've broke free when you blocked me, stupid." Luke muttered.
Lena didn't answer, ignoring, but registering the insult as she went through her bag, pulling a vial from it and pouring its contents down the man's throat. At this moment she leaned close to the Warlord and whispered something in his ear, before helping him up and out the door.
Luckas glared at Lena as Xypher escaped walking and bandaged, his eyes burning a bright red as she shut the door and turned to face him.
"How stupid are you, boy?" She hissed. "What the hell are you thinking dragging the city Warlord to a filthy bell tower to torture him, what the hell are you thinking Luckas?!"
"You don't know what he did." Luckas replied, his tone was calm even though his eyes gave away his anger. "He deserves it."
"I don't care what he did." Lena replied. "Do you know what would happen if that man turned up dead? He's not a drunken idiot you pick up in an dirty alley, HE'S A DAMN NOBLE!"
"They would never trace it back to me."
"We've talked about this, haven't we? I caught you once, don't assume I'm the only one who can. What part of it can't you understand? You arrogant, irresponsible, idiot, brat!" Lena shouted, her eyes lighting up in bright blue for a split second before fading back to normal. Finally she took a breath and seemed to calm as she added: "You can forget about what I promised you."

Luke jumped to his feet at those words. "You can't do that to me, you promised."
"We had a deal, you didn't keep part of that deal... Deal is off." She stated simply.
"I never actually broke the deal! That's not fair!" Luke shouted.
"You didn't break the deal because I stopped you Luckas, don't treat me like an idiot, because I'm not an idiot. Actions have consequences, remember? Or do you immediately forget everything you've learned the moment I'm not keeping an eye on you?"
Luckas snickered in response. "I'm sorry, were you saying something?"
"This is not a joke, boy!"

Luckas stopped smiling and stood watching Lena with curious eyes, there was an urgency in her tone that was just odd, as if she was desperately trying to say something, but without actually saying it. Silence lingered until the woman spoke again, so suddenly that it startled Luckas only slightly.

"You." She glanced towards Ess. "Are you really going to keep that illusion up until you faint? Because Luke is weak as a mouse and he probably can't carry you. And I sure as hell won't do it." Her tone was slightly amused and she smirked at Luckas while mentioning he was weak to see his reaction. "Besides, don't think I don't know your real face by now Essence. I have my own means." Finally she turned to face Ess and gave a slight nod of her head. "My name is Lena Turner, by the way. I was once leader of the White Shadows, and Luckas and I made a deal when I decided to spare him from a cell in the dungeons five years ago. Since his part of that deal was not doing something as stupid as this, I'm afraid he doesn't get what I promised him."
Luckas scratched the back his head awkwardly, giving Lena a look that someone who didn't know him better would mistake for guilt. It was a actually the look of someone who felt bad for being caught. "Look, maybe we can... Renegotiate our terms?" He sighed. "You know how important this is to me."
"We can discuss it, but don't think there won't be repercussions for this."
"Yes ma'am." Luke muttered. "Say... What did you say to the Warlord?"
"I said that if he tells anyone about this I will deny it." She open a slight grin. "He probably will tell."

Ess snarled at the two bickering back and forth like indeed the woman was Luckas’ mother, this was just ridiculous. It was quite clear she gave a shit about Luckas in one form or another, and Luckas, well as always was a bit of a mystery to Ess, and how he felt about this woman looked similar to how he acted around the Captain. With a sigh, Ess had not even attempted to argue with the newcomer about releasing Xypher. It was done, and they seemed not to gain much ground after everything; such a disappointment. Ess pushed aside the two’s yelling, trying to pinpoint the woman’s name...Lena....Lena....The second she mentioned her and Luckas’ deal being off, it clicked inside Ess brain, a frown trailing her lips. Slowly, she let the facade break, her form relaxing at Lena’s mention of her name, Ess rolled her eyes. “Of course...you know who I am...why does this not surprise me one bit...freaking packs of telepaths running amuck!” Ess added a snotty remark, “I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself, thank you...I’m FINE.”

“My name is Lena Turner...”

Ess tilted her head at the name. Curious that she knew the name, especially the last name. “Turner..huh?..Healer camp?” Shaking the thought away she sighed, turning her attention to Lena’s story of Luckas. With an amused laugh which she tried to hold back, Ess looked Lena in the eye, “So...You caught him in the act after I did, around the same time?..” Her gaze shot over to Luckas, “I thought you said you learned something from our ‘friendly’ encounter all those years ago...about being more careful?”

Clearing her throat, Ess muttered an interjection at the two’s conversation, “...Luckas is obviously in control of his own actions, but I did encourage this, so giving him the opportunity to ...re-negotiate this deal of yours, from what I’ve seen, is needed. I...would hate to be apart of the reason for him losing site of what he is searching for...answers....right?” Ess’ head still hurt as she wiped more blood from along her neck, a tiny trail descended from her ear canal. She quickly stripped off the uniform, finding comfort in the loose black attire she wore underneath, light but warm. Ess began giggling at the thought of Xypher speaking of his experience tonight, as Lena stated she suggested he keep it quiet because she wouldn’t back his story. “It doesn’t help that the Captain in currently under the watchful eye of the medics and Xypher claiming she tried to have him killed is just too amusing, and not quite believable.” Her lips kept a weak smile planted upon her face, “Whatcha think, my dear Luckas?”

Lena chuckled slightly at Ess' rant about there being too many telepaths around, and she only gave a light shrug to her affirmation that she was fine; she knew the woman wasn't fine. "Hey, I've only been a healer for about thirty years, but if you say you're fine, who am I to argue?" Lena shot a small glance at Luckas as the woman mentioned them first meeting years ago. She chuckled. "Well... I didn't catch him in the act. That's not how it happened."
"She hunted me down, actually." Luckas said, giving Lena an annoyed look.
"I was called to try and save one of his victims and managed to unlock the man's memories of this psychotic little teenager I thought had gone to prison months ago. Needless to say I was intrigued. And then, the little idiot found out I knew his face and attacked me. He failed to kill me and so I tracked him down."
"...And tortured me for close to two years afterwards." Luckas added, glaring.
Lena snickered. "Oh, come on, that can hardly be called torture and you had quite a few kicks with those anatomy books Annie was not supposed to lend you." She stated calmly, raising an eyebrow at him. "Not to mention you were always free to leave at any time."
"Which I didn't because you blackmailed me, you damn healer!" Luke argued. "And when are you planning on keeping your word? Or maybe it's just that you can't."

Lena didn't answer immediately she simply took her time to watch Luckas more carefully, now that he wasn't a whimpering mess, but saying nothing on what she saw. Finally she smiled at him and answered his question. "Soon enough, but we'll discuss that at another time. Like I said, we can renegotiate, but it'll be a slightly more complicated task than just staying out of trouble."

Luckas' eyes narrowed just a bit, he didn't like the sound of that much, but if he was completely honest with himself he had to admit that he hadn't kept his word, and now he needed to accept whatever the woman wanted him to do. Finally his eyes moved from Lena to the floor, where he spotted Ess' dagger and picked it up while mumbling. "Fine, whatever." He took the dagger back to Ess and whispered so that Lena wouldn't hear. "Sorry. I guess I owe you playtime, Lady." He gave her a wink, raising his voice to normal level as he added with a snicker. "Well, if the old man talks at least it won't be a completely a fake accusation this time." He joked. "Too bad it'll be just too insane of a story for anyone to buy it." He laughed.

Lena was just standing watching the both of them with an expression that made clear she was thinking a million things, but that didn't show a single one, and when Luckas turned to face her again he immediately noticed that the expression on her face had little to do with him and more to do with Ess for whatever reason. Finally he broke the silence and asked something that he had been wanting to know for quite some time. "Where have you been?"
Lena smiled. "That, boy, is something else we can discuss at another time." She answered. "For now I suggest we leave before someone comes verify the Warlord's insane story."

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Character Portrait: Luckas Character Portrait: Ess
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INK

Ess kept looking at Lena from out the corner of her eye, not sure of what to make of the woman but already liking her fiery attitude. She noticed rather quickly how often she called Luckas ‘Boy’ and how much she could see it annoyed him. With a laugh she muttered, “I soo get it now...” Ess accepted the dagger from Luckas, slipping it back along her right thigh as she made her way towards the stairs Lena had advanced up earlier and began descending down them assuming Lena and Luckas would follow. “I will hold you to that promise Luckas." She muttered softly. “I don’t know about you two, but I need another drink...”

As tired as Ess felt at the moment she kept her mind alert, almost empty as she stared into the passing shadows. Coming eventually up to her door she found another note upon it, this time she read it, grunting with a shake of her head. When she reached for the door knob, it was unlocked; the realization that she did indeed lock it before she left causing her body to flinch and tense up before she glanced back to see Lena and Luckas walking up behind her. Slowly she mouthed, “..Visitors..”

Ess was not in the mood for surprises, but she casually opened the door, shutting it behind her so that whomever was inside did not know she had company. She had discretely left the note upon the ground outside, it reading: You....Owe...Me... The room was dark, except for the dying embers of the fire from earlier, but she could still see the shadow of a figure sitting by the table before her. With a sigh, she knew who it was, a tired groan emanating from her lips.

“Essence! I see you got my note... m’love we need to talk..” The figure whispered, attempting to be charming and suave. “Why do you ignore me?”

Ess’ expression went cold and empty as she responded, not even moving from her spot. “You did not deliver the information I require Scott, therefore you don’t get payment, and you are no longer needed or wanted.” She hissed, her voice venomous as she didn’t even attempt to hide her growing anger.

“Aw, don’t say that baby doll, you hurt my feelings.” Scott teased, his voice was edged in an icy tone as he continued. “I thought we had something...come on, let me convince you how much you won’t regret my touch.”

Ess quirked a brow, her cheeks flushing in a deep red, her eyes taking on an almost blinding glow in her anger as Scott continued on in vivid detail how he would attempt to please her and what a gift to women he is. Ess had enough there when he crossed that line, flying forward away from the door, her knuckles turned even paler as she squeezed the hilt of her dagger ready to strike.

“That’s right sweetie,..You know you want it...”

How ironic she thought those words were; the claw still along her hand although void of any serum, at least enough to matter as she slashed at his eyes. She couldn’t bare the thought of him looking at her anymore and in her advance, he caught her wrist giving it a painful twist in his defense, muttering in pain, his free hand cradling his eye. With her other hand she unsheathed her dagger, holding it dangerously beside his groin. “I ...Never....agreed to anything but coin you bastard...” She whispered defensively. “Get the Hell, out of my house...Or I will separate you from your most prized possession...Your Ego..” Scott chuckled lightly, but did not move knowing Ess never gave empty threats. “Do you really think I’d come alone, sweetness?”


Lena held Luckas back a few steps as they followed Ess out of the castle and through the streets, and Luckas could just feel the question coming. "How much did you tell her?"
"I didn't really tell her anything. It's nobody's business." He muttered, making clear that he didn't want to consider the possibility of that quite yet.
"Why not? Lena asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Because not." He muttered.
"Well, I was under the impression that you trusted this woman, Luckas." She stated absently. "It seems, that's not a regular occurrence for you."
"I Don't trust anyone." Luke mumbled.
"Bullshit." Lena chuckled. "Don't be such a coward for once, kid."
"I'm not a coward!" Luke protested.
"Sure Lukey," She chuckled. "Sure."
"Don't patronize me you stupid old witch!" He muttered, his eyes sparkling red as he glared at her. "And stop meddling, it's none of your business." He muttered, looking down at his feet.
"Fine, Luckas. It is none of my business, I apologize." She took a deep breath. "So, tell me what you saw in the man's memories... You seemed rather desperate to go back in his mind."
"He met with this man, but I couldn't see his face... I wanted to see his face. Xypher called him Wyatt... I couldn't hear much, but it seems they had a deal of some sort."
"Is that so?" Lena asked, seeming actually interested.
"Yes, but thanks to you I didn't get to see anything more." He complained.
"Oh, but..." Lena stopped in her tracks as she noticed Ess had entered her home and shut the door behind her, she gave Luckas an intrigued look, which was returned.

Luke didn't know what was going on until he saw the note on the floor. "Hum..." He was going to go in, but Lena caught his shoulder to stop him.
"Wait." She whispered, pulling him into a dark corner as a man walked his way to peek through the window. "There are three of them. That guy, and two in the house." She took a deep breath. "I'll incapacitate them, but you have two minutes before I reverse it."
"Two minutes... A minute for each..." He mumbled. "Alright. Go." Luckas told her.

There was no need to look to see if Lena's eyes had lit up, soon enough the man who had been looking absently through the window, probably expecting a signal or cue to enter, stood upright with a distant and panicked look in his eyes. Luke didn't waste any time, even though he was never fond of making it quick and painless, and took the man's knife from his belt, sinking the blade into the back of his neck, pulling it out and letting him drop dead before entering the house. Once inside, Luke spotted Ess and a man standing close to each other, Luke assumed that this man was the one responsible for this commotion. There was also another man standing in the corner of the room. All of them frozen where they stood, probably reliving some unpleasant moment in their heads. Luckas walked to the man in the corner, and sunk the blade between his eyes. "Sorry for the mess." He whispered as the man dropped dead on the ground as well. Luke calmly walked to where the third man could see him. When the two minutes ended, both him and Ess slipped back to consciousness. As soon as the man was lucid enough to pay attention to him, Luke spoke with a delighted snicker, waving the bloody knife in front of his eyes. "There's no one left to your back now, buddy. So I suggest, you rethink whatever it is you were planning on doing here, because I'm not at all inclined to let you die as quickly as they did." Luke's eyes gradually lit and took on a red color as he spoke, and by the time he finished the sentence and went silent his eyes burned red like fire as he glared at the man. The look alone was terrifying, but it was the least of that man's problems if he wasn't very careful right now.
~~

“I didn’t come alone either..” Ess trailed off, her vision failing her while a distant, high pitched whistle buzzed inside her ears, drowning out everything else around her. It was only for a few moments, but in that short time she re-lived the night she was taken from her home by strange men in black. It was always some dark shadow or faceless men who came for her. That night she had slept soundly, until she over heard her brother and father arguing in the other room, about what she wasn’t sure. Screams filled the air from outside her window accompanied by the breaking of her front door.

“Ian, get your sister out of here!” Her father commanded as men rushed him, slamming his body into the wall; Ess watched in horror as her father was impaled upon Deer antlers, blood spilling out of his mouth in his silent scream.

“Daddy!” Ess screamed, trying to run to her father, only to be stopped by Ian, picking her up in his arms, rushing them back inside her room. He dropped her in a rush as he attempted to barricade the door. Ess sat on the floor crying out for her father, the door breaking into pieces as it was bombarded by two large men, knocking her brother unconscious to the floor.

“Get the girl...forget about the boy..” One of the men commanded. “The boy is not apart of the deal.”

Ess felt herself lifted once more, kicking and screaming for Ian as she was carried out the door, leaving him upon the floor as the home was set on fire.

~~
Ess finally blinked, her cheeks wet with what she thought were tears except anyone looking at her would think she was still having ‘the bleeds’ from her earlier excursion, her tears shimmering a bright red. Ess almost dropped the blade she still held beside Scott’s pelvis. Gradually her hearing became clear, Luckas’ voice by her side, catching the last bit of his sentence: “...... I'm not at all inclined to let you die as quickly as they did."

When she collected herself completely after a small pause, she forced a smile. “My dear Luckas, this is Scott...Scott..this is a friend of mine I bet you are praying to have never met. Since you don’t seem to get the hint that I’m off limits, the question whether or not to let you live..seems pretty obvious..” Ess glanced up at Luckas, pressing the blade firmly along Scott’s manhood.

“Now..now...lets not be hasty. I still...have information you need..” Scott attempted to negotiate, his voice a bit shaky as he didn’t take his eyes off Luckas.

“You..told me nothing worth my time before...what makes you think I will listen now?” Ess sneered.

“...I told you your brother is alive!” Scott argued frantically. “I can tell you where he is.”

Ess rolled her eyes. “Rumors...only rumors...you have nothing to go on, you told me so before...He was left to burn in my home when I was seven, the night I was taken. I don’t believe you.”

“My sources are reliable.” Scott muttered. “I hear..he’s looking for you too....” The man laughed maniacally as he sputtered in pain, as Ess knicked his flesh with the blade without warning. “...Not for the reasons you think...”

Ess growled. “Screw this. Luckas? Please have our friend hold still for me?”

Luckas watched the exchanged between Ess and that Scott person with slight interest, his eyes slowly turning back to their usual darkness as he listened.

“…Luckas? Please have our friend hold still for me?”

Luke nodded and smiled at Scott. “You heard the Lady, pal: Hold still He commanded, glancing at Ess with slight concern noticing the red trails down her cheeks, but not wanting to mention it in front of that man. “If you’d like him to be able to talk, or scream, let me know.” He told her. “I sometimes like it when they scream, but then not always…” He shrugged. “Depends on my mood.” He said, all the while smiling evilly at the man.

Luckas didn’t turn to face the doorway as he heard Lena enter; he simply addressed her, opening a little smirk. “This one’s not a noble and, as a matter of fact…” He took a peek at Scott’s mind, leaving the man a bit more freaked by him. “…He won’t really be missed.”

Lena entered the house and found a chair to sit on, rubbing her temples in exhaustion from using her enlightenment that way. Still she chuckled softly at Luke’s comment. “Two dead bodies… Three dead bodies… Doesn’t really make much of a difference, now does it?”
Luckas laughed. “Too bad you’ll have to carry them, huh? I’m way too weak to do it.”
“And I’m too old.” She replied, with an amused tone. “Besides, you made the mess, you should clean it up, right?”
“Huh…” Luke mumbled absently. “I don’t think I ever had to worry about cleaning up… I’m used to leaving my messes lying around.” He said absently, honestly trying to count how many messes he left around Newhaven.
"Well, killing people is not all fun and play, you know... There's some work involved with cleaning it up." Lena stated. "It's about time you learn."
"You saying I'm a lazy killer? How many bodies have you buried?" He asked.
"I'm not sure, but I've buried my share." She replied, giving him an annoyed look all of a sudden as if he had hit a nerve with the question. "And well... That guy's bleeding on the floor you know... Someone's going to have to clean that up too." She added.
Luckas sighed dramatically. "You know, you really rip the fun right out of our murder." He told her, with an annoyed look.

“Oh, my dear Luckas, too bad you couldn’t command them not to bleed...hmm? But that’s not much fun.” Ess teased as she listened to Lena and him banter about the blood on the floor and getting rid of the bodies. Ess had backed away from Scott when she knew he wouldn’t be going anywhere, stepping closer to the dying fire where she used a metal poker to stir up the flames. She added a couple logs onto the coals, letting the poker get hot in the embers. As Ess waited she used her sleeve to wipe at her stained cheeks.

“Why is it, that whenever I meet a telepath, I am forced to relive depressing things?” Ess complained with a childish whine. “At least...there were things I never noticed before...suppose I can’t be annoyed for the assistance...” She trailed off in thought, smiling over a Luckas, holding the heated metal in the air between him and her when she turned to face him. “Don’t you think screaming may draw too much attention this early in the evening?” Ess approached the man, one hand holding the dagger still and the other holding the fire poker, she leaned over the man as if she were going to kiss him. A few flicks of her wrist, the dagger cut through the man’s pants and flesh between his thighs without a moment’s hesitation, Ess didn’t even pay much attention to Scott’s expression at first for she was too distracted at the fact more blood was staining her floor. Using the poker, she pressed the red metal against the flesh with a sickening, popping sizzle with the smell of burning flesh temporarily finding her nostrils. “Stop bleeding on my floor....it’s rude..”She whispered, stabbing the blade through the fallen appendage and tossing it into the fireplace.

Ess wiped down the blade across Scott’s shoulder before bringing it home along her thigh. “Yes Luckas...it would be be only polite if you help me clean up this mess...” Ess turned back to the fire, sticking the poker back into the coals to heat it up hotter this time, her attention turning to Lena. “I’m sorry, where are my manners...Lena, if you would like there is a bottle on the shelf near you...Private stock...please help yourself if you’re interested.” Ess covered her mouth in a small coughing fit, ending in a shaky laugh. When she pulled her hand away, it was sparkling with an arrayed mist of blood that she immediately wiped along her thigh. “I think I need a drink too...”

As the scent of burnt flesh filled the room, Scott wasn't screaming; he couldn't, but his eyes were so wide Luke was honestly expecting them to pop right out of their sockets; the thought of it caused him to have to hold back a giggle fit. He tilted his head playfully at Ess as she mentioned it would be polite of him to help her clean. "Well, Lady, the last thing I'd want is to be rude to you." He smirked. "Now that's for sure."

When Ess indicated a bottle and told Lena to help herself the woman stood and found said bottle, as well as a clean glass, watching the woman as she coughed up blood, noticing that Luckas shot her a look of pure concern when she was too busy wiping it off to notice. Casually, Lena picked a vial out of her belt, something she had been using herself to relieve her own side effects, since she had the tendency to get nose bleeds during extreme situations, and poured a few drops of it into the glass before filling it up with the drink. Setting the full glass and bottle on table. "I don't drink, but you do look like you could use some. And a good night sleep, I might add." She said, sitting down again and smiling.

"Hum... Luckas was watching the paralyzed Scott with indecision in his eyes. "Well, I don't want to spill any more blood... Too messy." He stated, scratching the back of his head.
Lena sighed. "Strangle him, break his neck, smash his skull... Really, what did you do with those anatomy books, Luke?"
"I looked at the naked pictures... Of course." He replied, with a slight smirk.
"Huh... Is that so?" She asked.
"Well, I did read them sometimes... Actually, always wanted to try this one thing..." He smiled at Scott. "Hold your breath." The man obeyed and Luke grinned. "I said I wasn't inclined to let you die quickly." At which point he got himself a glass and sat by the table, pouring himself a drink; eyes on the man as if watching a spectacle, waiting to see how long he'd last.

Ess’ fingers released the poker to hit the floor with a thud, gently massaging the spot between her eyes as she nodded to Lena. She was unable at this moment to even giggle at Luckas’ or shoot back another smart ass comment, that they seemed to exchange throughout their encounters. Slowly she turned and slid into an empty seat, instinctually bringing the glass of alcohol to her lips, sucking down a few gulps before quirking a brow up at Luckas. “Ah, those pictures don’t teach you what to do....” Ess mumbled with a slight snicker, resting her head upon her hand she stared at Scott with an amused expression. “Oo entertainment..”

A few moments had passed, the color in the man’s face turning a shade of purple/blue as oxygen was denied into his blood. The display was different, for the human body’s natural response to holding one’s breath would be to automatically fight to breathe, a natural effect that could not be prevented willingly without some sort of external interference. Yet, the man continued to suffocate. Playfully she clanged her glass to Luckas’ and sipped the drink again, letting the burning sensation of the liquid linger around her tongue before it sank into her belly. Scott definitely seemed to be suffering in his last moments, so Ess didnt even need to watch his last seconds as she got up once again, shuffling across the room to drag the other body closer to the front door. Peeking out the window, it was happily clear, as most were either inside their homes or at the taverns this time of night. She did reside on the lower end of town, so many kept their eyes on their business alone. With a bit of effort, Ess grabbed the fallen form by his arms, to drag him out the door and leave it down the ally not too far from her home. She figured at least this way it would be found away from her house, and leaving it along the city wall would cause a delay with it’s discovery. “Come on Luckas, lets get this over with..”

Between her and Luckas, they had dragged the three bodies and piled them into the ally, Ess kicking at the snow to cover or melt the bits of blood that left a trail. She was silent for the most part, just tired and working towards the idea of laying down with another drink or two. When they had finished and were almost back to her house Ess smiled at Luckas with a satisfied grin. “So...our first date didn’t go exactly as planned, but I had fun. Our second should prove to be quite a bit of fun, at this rate as well.” Ess winked, brushing against his arm as she made her way back inside the home.

Luckas was delighted to watch Scott suffocate, waiting patiently until the man finally fell to the floor, before finishing off his drink and moving to grab him by the arms and following after Ess with his corpse. They didn't drop the bodies too far and considering who those guys were there probably wouldn't be much time wasted in solving their murders anyway. Even though he wished they'd gotten Xypher, Luke was pleased to have delivered the final, agonizing, blow to Scott. The man was surely deserving of his punishment. He didn't mind the silence as they walked back, allowing himself to get lost in thought for a bit until finally Ess spoke. Luckas stopped walking, raising his eyebrow. "Date?" He asked, blinking a few times with a confused expression. Finally he chuckled following Ess back inside. "Lady, you're stranger than I imagined." He stated, in an amused tone.

Lena had remained seated as the other two disposed of the dead bodies, looking over the drawings on the walls, a couple of them in particular caught her eye and as Ess walked back in she pointed at the portrait of the blue eyed boy and asked absently. "Who is he?" Ignoring the glare Luckas shot her behind Ess' back, she patiently waited for an answer.

Ess was chuckling silently at the reaction she seemed to get out of Luke, but her smile immediately disappeared, the glow in her eyes fading as Lena inquired about the drawing on her wall. Without looking at Lena, she walked over to her glass to finish off it’s contents as if was water and she hadn’t drank anything in days. Slowly she refilled her and Luckas’ glasses, looking up at the drawing and to another of a brown haired teenager just above the boy. Pointing up at the girl she muttered, not exactly answering the question, “...He was that girl’s brother..” Ess took another swig from her cup and moved to sit on her bed. She couldn’t help a slight annoyance of such a random question to someone who didn’t have the foggiest who Ess was, really. A stray thought passed into her mind, the change of tone obvious in a flicker of her eyes as she narrowed her stare upon Lena. “Why?...Do you recognize him?....Either of them? ...Because they are dead..”

Ess glanced over at Luckas, attempting to change the subject. “Did it happen again, Luckas? Did you remember something else?...Did you find out anything?” She let her thoughts drift back to Xypher and how Luke fought to keep whatever he was seeing, but she was secretly afraid a repeat of her encounter earlier that evening may occur again, and she wanted deep down to help her new friend. Not saying much else, not knowing what should be mentioned in front of Lena, Ess waited for an answer. She wanted to know if they had just wasted their time that evening, or they had gained any ground what so ever.

Lena's eyes momentarily landed on the drawing of the teenager, and she nodded slightly at Ess' questions. "I had this friend, she lived with my clan for a few years after her family was taken by disease. She had the brightest blue eyes anyone's ever seen." She paused for a second, a rather sad smile crossing her for moment, but fading quickly. "She married and moved away to Blackpond, and after that I saw her maybe twice before she died. Her little boy was three years old at the time, if my memory is correct. Suppose I just remembered her." She chuckled. "Funny how the mind works, huh?"

"Hilarious." Luckas muttered under his breath, shooting Lena yet another glare as he sat down, reached for his glass and took a drink. "As a matter of fact, I did remember some voices, but that's about as far as it goes. Not more than what I already knew."
"You think you'd recognize the voices?" Lena asked, looking at him with interest.
"I might, but doesn't really help much." He shrugged, taking another drink.
"You don't know that. It might." She said. "I'm glad you're remembering, it'll make things easier later."
Luckas grinned hopefully. "Later?"
Lena raised an eyebrow at him. "After you fulfill your part of the deal, Luckas."
"You know how to help me then? Because you said..."
"I said I always keep my word." Lena stated. "What about you, kid?"
Luckas frowned slightly, not enjoying the implication that he was dishonest, even though it was deserved. "I'll do it, whatever it is, you'll see."
"I surely hope so." She said, smiling rather evilly as if she had some sort of punishment set aside for him.
Luckas grimaced at her expression for a moment, but recovered quickly thinking that at least it might be a good challenge. Turning his attention back to Ess, he added. "I also saw a meeting the Warlord had with a man he called Wyatt. I didn't see his face and didn't get too hear anything aside from usual pleasantries before Lena interrupted. The man desperately wanted to hide this, however, so it couldn't have been innocent."

Ess appeared to guzzle her drink at Lena’s words, her eyes narrowing as she turned away from Luckas to shoot an un-trusting gaze upon the woman. ‘...Blue Eyes..' Her childhood friends had mentioned their mother, and bits of what Lena said sounded almost familiar, tempting her to ask another question but Ess scolded herself. She had let her paranoia get the best of her before, as much as she tried to follow her gut, it had made her act a fool in the past, chasing ghosts with the slight feeling of insanity in her sorrow. Still, she couldn’t shake her curiosity simply stating in her glare, “....Small world, isn’t it..?” Shaking her head she mumbled, perhaps only every other word audible, “...I think about them...every day...”

With a sigh she finished off her drink, laying down across her bed on her stomach, her head where her feet would normally go; she outstretched her empty glass towards Luckas for a refill. “Wyatt, huh? What kind of name is Wyatt?” Ess’ form shook in a random hiccup, a silly smirk crossing her lips, as she backed up on the conversation some, “...Encouraging the voices instead of trying to tell them no? Is that such a good idea?” She joked. The pain inside her head started to fade, her bleeds also seemed to have ceased as her eyes drooped just enough to show her exhaustion. Ess began pondering what tomorrow would bring; where the Captain’s path may lead her and Tala, what Mageria was willing to teach her and perhaps what changes Ess would welcome or shun away. She almost didn’t notice that her glass was full once again, her hand shaking from holding it out for so long. “Lena...do you want some water...?”


Lena nodded slightly. "Very small world indeed." She said simply, discretely giving Luckas a look.
Luckas ignored Lena as he refilled Ess' glass and his own shrugging slightly at her comment. "I usually am the voices, Lady. And no good ever came from telling me no, I'll have you know that." He said playfully, stretching in his seat and stifling a yawn.

"I'm good, thank you." Lena told Ess, refusing her offer of water and looking from her to Luckas, raising an eyebrow. "I think both you kids need a nap." She said; her tone was amused, but she was serious. "Luke, where have you been sleeping?"
"In the Castle..." He stated. "Although, I think I'll be moving out tomorrow." He joked.
"Good." She said, standing up from her seat. "I'll walk you and we can renegotiate on the way."
Luckas emptied his glass and stood up, giving a slight nod. "Okay, we can do that." He then smiled at Ess. "You don't mind me spending time with someone else for a bit, right Pretty Lady?" He then winked playfully and added. "I'll sneak up on you again one of these days." He snickered. "When I'm least expected."
Lena let out an impatient sigh at Luckas, as she bowed her head slightly. "I appreciate the hospitality, Miss Essence. Meeting you has been truly fascinating." She smiled. "Hopefully we'll cross paths again in the future."

Essence slowly rose to her feet, setting her glass down upon the table. “If you are the voices my friend, then I should of listened to them more often." She gave a tired smirk alternating quirked brows playfully as she spoke. “You go and play...nice.... Luckas....Hopefully you’re not gone too long, we owe each other promises." With a sigh she nodded to Lena, thanking her for her assistance. “I am almost positive we will meet again, Lena.”

Ess politely opened the door for them as they left, making sure to lock it behind them. Ess groaned letting her head thump against the door, the sound louder than she expected, causing her to jump. Tomorrow she would get Tala and figure out where the hell she was following Mageria off to. Ess stepped away from the door to a familiar floor board where she retrieved a few satchels, making her rounds within her home to grab what she valued most to pack away. First she unhooked the tapestry of her Oak and folded it into the leather bag, next she gently snatched down the many pictures across her wall, folding them inside her journal. Glaring down a the blood stains she sighed, not even attempting to start on them now so they would just have to wait for tomorrow. Finishing off her drink before she changed into a cotton, green dress that she had forever it seemed, she laid back in her bed to write another entry in her journal.

I feel like I’ve awakened from a deep sleep, unsure if I am still dreaming. If I am dreaming, I do not want to wake up, ever. Course, If I am truly awake, then it seems my dreams have manifested to life. Perhaps I should be scared, but in all actuality I am more intrigued than anything. If my dreams can become a reality, then perhaps there is hope for the absolute outrageous. Then again, I may be finally teetering over the edge of sanity. When one’s nightmares are at war with one’s hopes, spilling off the pages into time...what is there left to dream?

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The sun was barely in the sky when Ess began scrubbing at the stubborn blood stains upon her floor. By the time she was close to finished, a couple hours had passed and yet the wood still bore a red tint to it. Quite tired and frustrated with her progress she threw the cloth across the room, into the fire with a sizzle and pop. “I’ll just buy a new house...” Ess growled to herself. Course, she didn’t think there was a point to that now since she would be leaving and who knew for how long. Another hour went by and she had cleaned and packed everything of importance to her. Now she would just need a horse to help lug all her supplies and nostalgia out of the city to wherever Mageria planned on going.

Ess treated herself to a much deserved bath; soaking for some time until the water lost it’s heat. Her muscles felt more loose, relaxing her quite a bit. For the first time in years, her morning ritual changed. She would not be expecting any patrons for her ‘services’ today, nor any other day again. It was a massive step for her and it created an uneasiness inside her while at the same time made her smile. Ess kept reminding herself that just because she was use to it and it became easy, didn’t mean it was right and it was time for old habits to die.

Ess wore her curly locs down, a couple braids starting at her temples, tied behind her head so it was out of her face. Dressed in a red corset and baggy, black pants; she slowly laced up her knee high boots, tucking several daggers beneath the leather before letting the cloth fall lazily to her ankles. As she tied her belt along her waist, adjusting her dagger and matching sword, she easily concealed another dagger between her breasts. She didn’t know if she was over doing it, but she had a feeling if things were tense in the Castle last night, then today would be worse, and she needed to fetch Tala and hopefully find out more details of what was to come from Mageria.

Her first stop was to the stables, where she picked out the best horse her money would buy, dropping the heavy pouch into a woman’s hand. The white stallion was magnificent, young, and full of vigor; a small, black, diamond tuff of hair along his left cheek.

“He’s not broken yet...he’ll be too much for you Miss...” The woman began, already tucking away the coin.

Ess grinned, a glint of excitement in her eyes. “I know how to ride...and I’m not worried about him one bit.” She whispered, gently stroking the horse between his eyes. “Does he have a name?”

“My son....calls him Shockwave....but you can change it if you want, you did pay for him.”

Ess nodded with a chuckle, looking into the horse’ big brown eyes. “Shockwave, huh? Guess, we shall see..” She turned and made her way towards the Castle, mumbling how she would be back for her stallion after some errands.

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Essence had to redirect her path, finding the entrance to the Castle was bit under duress, and the amount of White Guards would prove difficult to pass, especially with her array of weaponry she currently carried. She thought there had to be another way in, as she began wandering along the Castle walls in search for another recourse. Ess figured there had to be, perhaps secret or forgotten, but she needed to see the Captain to figure out where she would be following her to and when.

Ess paused in her step, the hairs in her ears tickling her at familiar light footsteps behind her, the sound increasing in speed as something tried to run up behind her. With a chuckle, she turned abruptly to her left in a hop, knee bent as her foot intercepted a bolder she pushed off the stone, her other foot colliding with the high wall as if she were trying to climb against gravity. As she landed back along the snow covered ground, she caught glimpse of a furry creature just missing Ess as it flew below her feet. “...Ah, not this time Tala...” Her wolf gave a friendly bark as she turned, trotting over to where Ess now kneeled, covering her face in kisses. After a few loving scratches, Ess hugging Tala around her neck she stood, a look of pure confusion until she saw the Captain hobbling a bit down the path. “I was going to say, where did you leave our Captain Tala?” Ess’ eye fluttered to another figure and nodded as if it was the obvious answer as she focused on Lena. “Of course.....” She sprinted into a jog towards the two, haulting beside the Captain, her hands reached out to offer assistance, but she quicky drew them back. “Captain! You are in no condition to be having a casual stroll. Let me help you....” Ess smiled and waited, not wanting to cause offense, for she could read the distaste Mageria had for her current condition and felt that she would be acting in a similar manner herself if their places were switched. Ess gave a playful wave of her fingers at Lena, “Good morning to you too, Miss Telepath.” She winked.

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Mageria glared a little bit after Lena, she'd really wanted the answers to her questions. It seemed very important, important enough that Lena didn't look as if she'd had much rest since she disappeared three years ago. However, it wasn't as if she could chase the woman down and question her, not in her current state. So she'd have to bide her time, wait for a more opportune moment.

Instead she turned and smiled wryly at Ess, waving away her offer of help. "Not exactly a casual stroll, just something that needed doing." While she'd wanted to give the information about an Enlightened-focused killer to the Wolfpack to begin with; there had been more of a reason that she went this morning. She'd wanted to look Sean in the eye and let him know that much as she might have been down, she wasn't out. Not quite yet. She'd find a way back to where she belonged.

Turning back towards the Castle, she started leading Ess in. When one of the Guards tried to stop her, she simply stared him down, waiting a few moments as he started to fidget, then sweat, before finally letting them through.
"You look like your ready to go, Ess. But are you sure that you want to be following us out to the middle of nowhere? You have a life here, that you'll be leaving behind." She sighed wearily. "I just don't want you leaving without thinking it all through."

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Ess nodded as Lena left her and the Captain, followed by a sigh as Mageria tossed her assistance aside. She was expecting as much, so she didn’t push anything further. Ess did notice how the Captain glared after Lena and remembered her own cryptic conversation she had had of her own last night and chuckled. “What, she dancing around your questions too? I may have only just met that woman, but she is strange...fiery but a bit irritating.” Ess shrugged, slipping into deep thought, contemplating Lena once again as they arrived to the Castle. Once the Guard gave up in trying to prevent her and the Captain from entering, Ess scoffed, mumbling, “That’s what I thought...”

Shaking her head at Mageria’s comment to leaving the city behind, she answered, “M’am, what am I really leaving behind here? Only name I made for myself was in disguise and was as a whore...course that was business and business only. I left more behind at far more hellish places before this life anyways.” Ess winked at the Captain. “I am all packed and ready, and besides, I was thinking if you need...I do have my home on the lower side of the city and someone could stay there to keep and ‘eye’ on things. Just may want to mention to them that they may receive visitors looking for me..” Snickering at the last part, she rested her arm along the hilt of her sword. “Where are we all going anywho?”

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Mageria smiled just a bit. "We'll be sure to 'discourage' them in an appropriate way." She moved towards the stables were she knew her people were getting ready to move out, loading supplies into wagons that they were 'borrowing' for the day. They'd return them.
"We've got a camp out in the middle of nowhere; one we used to use for training. No one but us knows about it, so it should be safe. It'll be tight, it's only built to hold about half out numbers; but we'll manage. Somehow." She sighed. "Not that we have a choice in the matter."

She looked around at the quick and efficient packing going on. Lena had been right, much as she hated to admit it. Her people had things well in hand and it looked as if they would they would have the last load ready to go in the next half hour. The children were standing to one side, their packs at their feet and Puppy curled up next to Lily. She went over and leaned against the wall next to them; watching the hustle with half lidded eyes.

Mageria looked over at Ess and half smiled. "Looks like we're almost ready to go. You ok with that?"