The land of Valcrest, its cities, history, as well as the Wolfpack and its rules, are my own creation and are not to be used without my consent. (As well as any of my characters).
This RP is, as of this moment, full and no longer accepting.
Blackbird26 – Your friendly GM. ^_^
[The White Shadows]
I was told as a child that the Land of Valcrest was blessed by the Gods with its beauty and magic. Now, I’m no longer certain of such fact. Centuries of war have ripped the beauty of this Land, now only a shadow of its former glory remains, kept alive by old tales and legends. The magic now is simply viewed as a tool to be used by one side or another as an advantage in battle. No one speaks of blessings nowadays… I wonder what the Gods would have to say about that.
I’m no longer a child now, and I can go as far as to say I was never truly innocent, growing up where I did. I know for a fact that Blackhurst was a city of Enlightened. The scholars who once lived there only sought knowledge on their own origins, they never thought their actions would cause the Land to self-destruct; they simply wanted to understand where they came from. It was an innocent quest for knowledge that led us here. They found what they were looking for... And were killed for their knowledge.
Surely, those people were being naïve. They should have kept quiet as to what they were doing, they should have kept what they discovered a secret. If they had, none of this would have happened. I assume, no living person outside of my clan knows how exactly this war has started. Dani Rivers was the last outsider to hear the story. I violated the laws of this clan by telling her, we are sworn to secrecy, for obvious reasons. When the Enlightened started being killed I thought it might have some relation to that particular piece of history, so I thought I should tell her… I’m still not convinced that it was an unrelated incident, in spite of having no actual facts to back up those suspicions. Something about the whole thing resembles something I’ve read somewhere; however, I can’t quite remember what. I have read a lot of things in the past couple of decades.
I always tell my apprentices this:
The term “Enlightened” today is associated with a magical ability an individual possesses. It once meant being knowledgeable, wise. That is why we study. Being born with a specific ability doesn’t mean being born fully capable of mastering that ability. We are all born capable of great things, not all of us are capable of achieving that greatness, or even fully understand what greatness means. To most, greatness still means power. To most, power still means force.
Sounds very preachy, I know. I thought so too when I arrived in this place. The angry, impulsive child I was back then found it easier to simply curse the world for being as it is. Many similar children have arrived since then, now more than ever; orphaned, homeless and lost children. Filled with rage, void of any type of understanding; the perfect tools for any heartless egomaniac to use with the purpose of fulfilling its own delusions of grandeur. Some have been twisted to such purposes. I have even heard rumors of cults and sects being raised far in the south.
For me, it was difficult to accept the change I was being asked to make in my ways. It took me time to finally listen to what I was being told. My enlightenment was not the curse I believed it to be; the real curse was my lack of willingness to develop it. Fear, perhaps.
What does this have to do with anything? Well… Everything is relevant when it comes to this Land. Everything is connected in a way or another. Every action causes a reaction, if not now, in the future. The past is never truly dead… It sleeps, soundly, until one day it begins to stir in its sleep and causes the ground to shake, sometimes even crumble beneath our feet.
And so we fall; only time will tell when we will finally ever hit the bottom. That is… If there is even a bottom to hit after all.
Helena Turner – Leader of the White Shadows
A diary page left behind dated ten years ago. That was all Lena Turner left of herself for the ones who had followed her for 25 years.
A new dawn came for the White Shadows and many others followed. Now, three years later, they are barely starting to return to the ruins of Blackhurst where they once built their homes. One foot there, another one in the desert ruins of Brightvale. The healers were finally closer to what they once were, thanks to the endless efforts of Lena’s young daughter. However, their numbers are now severely reduced, and the unbreakable faith that once drove them to die for their beliefs was, in the very least, shaken. Many healers deserted, a great number of them left Valcrest for good after having seeing the war reach the only safe place left. It was undeniable that those people were not prepared for such a thing. For those who stayed, however, there was still the never-ending and exhausting task of providing help to those who needed it.
Legends tell that the Goddess called Heart was one the most rebellious of the 14 children of the Gods that fathered Valcrest. Impulsive and irrational, some would say. Her passion for the mortal beings only matched by her anger towards Mother and Father for forcing her to leave them and the forest where she and her twin made their home. She revolted and chose a mortal man to father her children, encouraging her siblings to do the same so that, this way, they would never truly leave Valcrest. Unlike her brothers and sisters, Heart became attached to her children and so, she used her powers to summons the packs of wolves that lived in the snow covered lands to the north into the forest as her final gift to the children of the forest, explaining to them that the wolves were always true to their hearts and loyal to their family and so, as long as they remained together, they would always be protected. She warned them that they would always be stronger as long as they were able to remain as one.
Heart’s twin brother, Mind, on the other hand, was not one to grow attachments to any mortal creature. He left his children in Valcrest for the sake of maintaining balance in the world, for without reason there could be no order. He used his sister’s gift to pass his teachings to his sons and daughters, telling them to always remember that the wolves always maintained a hierarchy and every member of the pack played his part for no task was unimportant. The leader should always be the wisest, strongest and most respected amongst the members; otherwise he would be challenged and cast aside.
And so, when Heart and Mind left Valcrest, they left behind their clan, today known as The Wolfpack.
This legend has been told to children of the Wolfpack as a bedtime story for generations. It was Crystal’s favorite as a child and it was also Dani’s favorite way to remind her of her responsibilities. Ever since she was little she would hear her mother say that the Pack had two leaders to represent the Twins, because if only one person ruled the clan alone, there could never be balance, and without it the clan would fall.
Now, however, Crystal Rivers stood in a very difficult position. Exiled to the desert for the past three years, she had her hands tied as her clan fell to pieces. The Wolfpack was no more. What was left was barely recognizable as the proud assassin clan that it once was. The people who once lived there still lived there, for the most part, but the clan was no more: that was how she saw it.
The betrayal had been painful. Not only the assassination attempt that left her very close to death, but the attacks on her parents’ honor after everything they had done for the clan.
The few people who had followed Crys into the desert didn’t complain about the new life, in fact, most of them seemed to think that it was far better than what they had three years ago. Life in the desert was less conflicted, and they mostly enjoyed the company of the mercenary clan that had taken them in, as well as few remaining healers.
Even so, Crys couldn’t seem to get over the fact that the Wolfpack had fallen apart under her command and, of the few choices she was left with, she was still tempted to try and salvage the past somehow, knowing very well that there was probably nothing left to save by now.
Once upon a time, the Wolfpack stood tall, proud, and untouchable. Those days ended with the appearance of a group of men and women called the Wolf Hunters. Those people, who called themselves victims of the assassins, terrorized the clan for generations. Killing, without mercy, anyone that stood between them and their targets, they posed a severe threat to the Pack’s survival.
In one night, one damned night, the Hunters attacked the camp. In one blow they took out all the recruits, most of the instructors, and of the leader’s family… Only one survived. That night came to be remembered as the Red Night and, until this day, it remains as the biggest massacre to ever occur within the Pack’s territory.
In the morning that followed such massacre, a young Dani Rivers, shortly after burying her parents and twelve year old sister, along with great part of the clan, announced that she would declare war on the Wolf Hunters and that she would not rest until every live lost that night was avenged.
Two long years and many lives later, the Wolfpack celebrated their victory over the Wolf Hunters. The clan was rebuilt and thrived for over 20 years after that under Dani’s command.
The above story was the official tale that had been told to every new arrival and to all the children born in the clan ever since that fated night. Sean Fletcher had grown up believing it, and so did his brothers and sister, and everyone else in the clan.
However, that story was a lie.
Dani won the respect of her clan by winning a war that she fought out of guilt, not revenge. The truth, the actual truth, was that Dani had lied to her mother, to her clan, and brought a Wolf Hunter into their camp. Along with him, death followed. The Hunters raise hell to avenge the death of the boy named Sebastian, however… He was never dead to begin with, he was alive and well living amongst the assassins.
Now, almost thirty years later, after the truth has been exposed, the Pack tries to rid itself from its past and change under a new leadership. The situation of the assassins had improved, but the clan as a whole suffered a severe blow by having the most important part of their history exposed as a lie. Those who remained under the new leadership are struggling to stay together, even with all that has improved. The truth is: the Pack is yet to find its place in the world again.
Three years have passed since Shadows of The Past. The several factions, as well as the cities, have cleaned up the debris left by the final battles/parties/storms, and attempted to move on with their lives in the best way they could. Some of them now find themselves struggling to simply leave the past behind, others attempting to build a new future from scratch. Others are finding that things can in fact get worse than they have ever been before. Some are even catching a small glimpse of light in the end of a long period of uncertainty.
The fighting amongst the factions seems to have cooled off for the first time in a long while. In spite of the of the peaceful that it gives to the Land at first glance, some wonder if this is really peace, or if war is simply evolving into a much more silent killer.
Which is the actual truth, or if the truth is something else entirely, beyond what simple mortal minds can grasp… That, only time will tell.
Official story of Valcrest:
The land of Valcrest originally consisted of five great cities and some smaller villages. It has a vast forest and one great river that run from one side of the land to the other. The first two cities to be created there were Blackpond and Newhaven. These two cities exist ever since there is a record of human life in Valcrest and they co-existed in harmony for many centuries until the other cities were built and the land started to expand. Several power struggles started to shake the peaceful existence of the two cities, after many years of minor disputes, the two cities finally declared war. Out of the three other cities, the city of Elffort took the side of Blackpond and the city of Brightvale took the side of Newhaven.
The fifth city, Blackhurst, decided to remain neutral. Ironically it was the first to be attacked.
After the great war that raged for many years across the land of Valcrest, out of the five cities that existed there, only two remained. Originally in opposite sides of a dispute that has been long forgotten, the cities of Blackpond and Newhaven continue to fight each other until this day.
1. Valcrest: The land of Valcrest was once rich and full of life. Now its territory is only a shadow of what it once was. Most of the population is now concentrated around the forest, the two remaining cities and the plains and the desert. The mountains to the south and the ruined town of Effort remain unpopulated until this day, only visited by those who leave the land through that path, which are a rare few, since the easiest way out of Valcrest is through the north.
a) The Woods (Center of the land): The great forest is the center of Valcrest and, at present time, the most populated area. Deep inside of the forest, lies the territory of the assassin clan; the Wolfpack. The small mercenary groups that could once be found there have now disappeared, fled from the Pack’s sudden urge to take over the territory of the forest. The open trails that cross the forest and lead to the nearby cities are mostly respected and watched from a distance by the assassins, but straying from them may cause anyone, even the most experienced tracker, to become lost. Wandering into the wrong territory unannounced is something that can get any person killed fast.
Several small streams can be found amongst the trees, but only one bigger lake is present, in the outskirts of the Wolfpack territory, making it off limits to any human outsider that walks that forest.
Wildlife is abundant as well as other sources of food. Mostly wild boar, rabbit, and deer can be found easily for hunting purposes. No one has actually been attacked by predators larger than a snake in these woods, but it is told that wolves live there as well, and in quiet nights their howling can be heard in any point of the forest. Adjacent to the forest and at a distance sometimes considered uncomfortable, are the two remaining cities of Valcrest. No more than a day on foot can get a traveler from one city to another and from any one of them to the depths of the forest.
b) The Plains (West): This territory now is far less inhabited than it once was. However where the ruins of Blackhurst now lie, the healers once made their home. It has been three years since the army of Blackpond chased the White Shadows away from their home, and only now they are starting to come back. The still fertile soil, once used to grow healing herbs, flowers and spices are now void. One or two food crops are currently planted there, mainly for the purpose of keeping the few healers that have returned fed.
The healers once received supplies from the two cities; however, after fleeing to the desert, the healers have cut their ties with all factions involved in the war, and accept the same amount of aid as they provide: None. They help those who reach their camp and advice anyone who is in need of help controlling their enlightened ability, but now the once open territory of the White Shadows is only available to a chosen few, and members of the Crimson Shadows have been placed at their gates to make sure of it.
A long, long, time ago in this territory, the great city of Blackhurst once stood proud and tall. The city looked like one ever growing village, the houses and shops mixed together and scattered within its stone walls, The ruler’s home only recognizable for being larger and more isolated. The army mostly consisted of archers that guarded the walls and could shower attackers with arrows at miles away… Once past them though, the city was defenseless. Most people who lived on the inside of the city walls were scholars, medics and teachers, peaceful and educated people. Outside the walls smaller villages formed as ramifications of the larger city area, those villages were composed mostly of hunters and craftsmen, as well as their families. When Blackhurst suffered its defeat in battle the villages stood and their inhabitants refused to leave. As consequence, many massacres occurred in that area. It is rumored that most of the population of the city consisted of Enlightened and that was the actual reason behind the furious attacks on the city and its population. Both sides carried too much fear of what would happen should Blackhurst choose to get involved in the dispute. Those, however, are only rumors. The true motives behind the destruction of Blackhurst are, until this day, unknown.
c) The Desert (South): To the South of the forest lays a small wasteland where the merchant city of Brightvale once stood. The people who once occupied the city of Brightvale were experienced horsemen and sturdy travelers. Some were known to brag about traveling to the furthest lands known to men in order to acquire their goods, and therefore had seen it all. The Completely deserted once the city was destroyed, the area was rarely visited and only inhabited by a few bandits and runaways that preyed on any unsuspecting and bold adventurers that crossed the territory. Most people saw no point on going through these parts unless the person was leaving Valcrest forever or in need of hiding, however a few years following the abandonment of Brightvale, the mercenary group known as the Crimson Shadows claimed the territory of Brightvale as rightfully theirs. From then on, they made sure no travelers were harm unless they posed a threat to the clan, many times they escorted travelers through the desert and to the mountains, for a small fee, of course.
The mercenary group consists of descendants of the people of Brightvale and Effort; brave warriors as well as a friendly and talkative bunch, the Crimson will extend their welcome to anyone who is in need of shelter, for a night or longer, as long as the traveler is smart enough not to abuse their good will.
Currently the ruins of Brightvale have become a refuge to great part of the White Shadows as well as a, small, exiled group of assassins. Protected and assisted by the Crimson, by the order of their leader.
d) The Mountains (Further South): Beyond the desert, snowcapped mountains determine the limits of the Land. Protected by the stone walls of the mountains, the brave men and women of Effort once lived. The people that once lived there were known as proud warriors and horsemen. They were also known for their mining skills and for fabricating the first explosives seen in Valcrest. They were not the most educated people in the land, but were honorable and proud men and women. A population made extinct when they marched into war beside Blackpond and went into direct confrontation with the nearby city of Brightvale. Having their supplies cut short and their territory being the constant target of attacks… Effort also came to an end. The mines and homes left abandoned until this day.
2. The city of Blackpond (North end of the forest): The city of Blackpond is one of the most ancient and traditional cities to ever exist in Valcrest, its creation only preceded by that of Newhaven. The war with the neighboring city has left its marks on the proud kingdom, but through everything and anything; it has survived.
King Rory had ruled Blackpond for many decades. He was loved and respected within the city walls, as well as Commander Hastings. For the most part, the mass of Blackpond’s population, even though struggling against poor living conditions, had faith in their leader and were proud of their city’s warrior spirit. The city had its problems, it was clear, but what they lacked in wealth or beauty they made up for in spirit. A city filled with warriors and survivors, admired even by its enemies for never allowing itself to break or bend.
However, sorrow filled the city when word spread of the events that occurred in the castle. The news of their King being murdered would by his most trusted officer, along with the news of Hastings’ death spread quickly, first throughout the castle, then across the city streets. Not long after, it became known that Rory had a son.
Under the new leadership, Blackpond seems to have gradually lost the little order it had left when it came to its living conditions, and in the short period of three years, it has slipped into complete and total chaos. Crime rules the street and no punishments are given to those who rape, murder, steal, and vandalize as they please. It’s every man for himself and women and children are safer (in theory) locked on the inside of the house. Even then, when the people of Blackpond leave their homes, there’s no guarantee they will be back unscathed.
These days, anyone who wanders into the, once mighty, city of Blackpond can immediately see that something is very wrong with the city, however, those who are wise enough to know their place would never dare say it; and those who aren’t are usually never seen or heard of again.
3. The City of Newhaven (East end of the forest): Newhaven is nowhere near its former glory, but it’s slowly getting there. With the announcement that those responsible for the killing of their king, and the news of a new heir to take the throne, great part of the rage and fear that once roamed the city streets has subsided. In three years, the people of Newhaven are finally beginning to see a light in the end of a four year struggle to regain its former balance. However, Newhaven is far from being free of problems.
Even with the efforts of the City Guards and Knights combined, the rate of smaller crimes has gone up considerably due to the number of citizens to lose their homes, families, or businesses during the several attacks the city has endured. Small gangs of thieves have begun to form on the less privileged areas of the city, making it now impossible for people to walk the streets unarmed as they once used to. Some businesses are being closed as others are reopening. The economy in Newhaven is not at its possible worst, but it’s fragile. The city funds are growing slim, and there has been talk amongst the city council (and rumors amongst the population) of increasing taxes. Still, even if still shaky, order seems to have slowly been restored to city, especially since Blackpond seems to have lost its interest in attacking Newhaven, ever since the death of their most beloved ruler.
4. Assassin’s Camp (Within the forest): Between the grounds of the two cities, deep inside the forest, lies a clan of assassins, they name themselves the “ Wolfpack”, or simply the Pack” and they have prospered for years eliminating targets on both sides of the feud. The camp consists of one huge clearing surrounded by woods and several hidden paths that lead across them. Inside the clearing there are several cabins made of logs, and also a few tents. One big, more secluded cabin is the home of leaders. In the very center of the camp there is one big camp fire which is lit every night.
In the last three years the Pack has suffered with internal disputes after their leader was thought to be dead and then was discovered to be alive. However, the young woman was unfit to fight properly to maintain the leadership of the clan, and was forced to flee to the desert. A few actives followed after their former leader that night as well. Ever since, many others have considered abandoning the clan as well. The Wolfpack is actually in a better place than it was three years ago, however their place in the world in uncertain and the tense relations between the clan and its former members, as well as the Crimson Shadows, has made living a little bit more difficult; to say the very least.
1- Read these rules, read and post on the OOC before submitting a character. I will view your profile and look at your other RPs when you apply, it's there to be read, am I right? I also reserve myself the right to request a writing sample before approving your character (in case I found none on your profile).
2 – No God-modding , autohitting, or any other of those annoying habits that make people call you a douche and complain to me. You may autohit NPCs unless I state otherwise, but killing someone else’s character without consent, or attempting to do so will get you a nice boot print in the ass, be warned.
3 - Battles between PCs must be discussed through PMs beforehand and have a conclusion both players agree to. Keep in mind Enlightenments contain side effects, and do NOT, under any circumstance, start a pissing match on the OOC. There is going to be plenty of fights to go around, don’t expect to win them all!
4 – There is no posting minimum or limit in this RP. As long as you give your fellow players enough to work with and a little bit extra just for fun, that’s great. We love reading as much as we love to write, don’t be afraid to be creative.
5 - I’m fine with romance, but don’t expect things to stop so that you can concentrate on your love life. It just doesn’t work that way. No need to tell you people to keep it clean, but… I will anyway: Keep it clean!
6 – Try to post at least every 3 days, unless you are waiting on a reply. If you can’t, let us know. If you have to drop, let us know and write your character of, or ask if someone wants to adopt it. ABANDON your character if you’re dropping out.
7 – Don’t make more characters than you can handle.
8 – Feel free to spend time in the OOC lounge and share a laugh or two with us. ;)
9 – This RP is mostly character driven so feel very welcome to bring your own ideas to the table.
10 – There shall be no divine interventions unless if relevant to the plot. Which means that: if it must be done, it will be done by me or a fellow co-GM. The Twins are not playable characters in this RP and the Myth of Creation is just that: a myth. There is no proof to verify that there are actually Gods. It is a blind faith.
11 – I will NOT tolerate disrespect, whining, trolling, or arguing on my thread. Do NOT PM me about another player unless said player is violating the rules and I missed it. I have no interest in gossip and I’m not a babysitter. If you have problems with another player, work it out with them.
I’m a friendly person and whatever assistance you need I’m here. However, I’m also GM of this RP. Being so, it’s my duty to enforce these rules. And I will enforce these rules. So if it comes necessary for characters, or posts, being edited I will take no whining about it.
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These poor, unfortunate souls were once a part of this great world, but have been abandoned. Why don't you consider viewing their profiles and making a decision on whether or not you can roleplay them accurately?
[Blackbird26] A brotherhood of people who aim to cleanse the land from enlightenment.
[Blackbird26] Mercenary group that resides in the Brightvale ruins in the desert.
The White Shadows
[Blackbird26] Group of Healers the resides in the ruins of the citiy of Blackhurst in the Plains.
“The new guy is good!” He exclaimed, addressing the big guy and not bothering with the fact that Jake could hear him.
Jake frowned, not happy to be around people all of sudden and even less with the fact that they all seemed eager to poke him in every way they could come up with as if he was a new toy.
He had followed Lamya without a word and not caring to wonder why the hell she thought he would ever lead any army, for her or anyone. For all he knew this was just another way to mess with his head and he wasn’t going to indulge her by asking questions. He just wished she was actually crazy to the point of willingly letting him out so he could slit her throat.
For what she had said, he thought the place would be just a big room crammed full of people, but the place was more like an underground village of sorts, or maybe 'complex' would be a better term. There was a whole wing that were sleeping quarters and then there were several other facilities, cafeterias, bath rooms and latrines, common rooms, and Jake was almost sure he’d seen a bar. The living standards in that area seemed not only better than in the rest of the dungeons, but better than in the city as whole. He hadn’t taken the time to explore much, and he was sure there was more to the place than just what he had seen, but he figured there would be time for that later. The first thing he did was find and available bed and claim it, and that in itself had taken quite a while since there were a lot of beds and most were taken, but he finally found a spot; a room with ten other people, one of them a very annoying fifteen year old kid.
The kid was the least of his problems though. The real problem was Rick. Jake had little contact with the man, but enough to know that he was dangerous and if he knew what he had in his hands, it was more than likely that history would repeat itself. He wasn’t a praying man, but at this point all he could was beg the Twins that his message had made its way to Mageria safely.
“Hey, mate! You’re awake! Where did they move you to?” Viktor suddenly called.
Jake heaved a sigh, not really wanting someone going through his minds right now, but he replied anyway. ”Not sure, they put with me with this bunch of other people… Did you get the message to her?”
“I think so… I blacked out, but I had already told her what you wanted. If she’s as far as Newhaven I better get some more rest before trying to find her again… The further the target the more tired I get.”
“I understand.” Jake replied, absently going through his pockets and finding something he had forgotten was there. He finally found the little chess knight. He remembered the day Ali found out Sean had burned every piece of woodwork she left behind; Bastian’s chess set included. The only thing left of it was a single black pawn, which Sean sent to her ‘as a souvenir’. She said she was going to make herself another set, but she never really got to it. She carved random pieces and left them behind when she was done with them. There were probably chess pieces scattered all over Valcrest by now. Jake couldn’t help but think that she was doing that on purpose, but could never understand why.
“Who’s the blond girl?” Jake actually jumped up at the sudden voice in his head; he had forgotten the telepath completely.
“A friend.” Jake answered simply, sitting up straight in the bed he had taken for himself and ignoring the stares of some people.
“Are all your friends women, pal?” Viktor joked. “Is she unattached?”
“You gave up Sham that easily, huh?” Jake asked, amused. “And I have male friends, they’re all unattached as far as I know.”
“Funny man.” Viktor replied, but didn’t insist on asking about Ali, which Jake was grateful for.
“Why are you so interested in my personal life, Viktor?” Jake asked the man.
“If you were in here as long I have… And, you know… If I had someone I’d let her know I’m alive. I can contact that little blondie for you, or… The redhead one you were dreaming about just now.”
“Stop. Stop right there.” Jake told the man. “If you ever look into my dreams or memories again, when I find your damn cell I’ll get in there just to break your neck, are we clear?”
“I’m sorry, Jake. I didn’t mean to intrude. I was just waiting for you to wake up. Won’t happen again.”
“Just let me know when you can find Sham again, until then: Stay the hell out of my head.”
Glancing around the place, Jake caught sight of the little thief that tried to take his locket; the boy was a frail looking thing with pale white skin and blonde hair so light that seemed to be just as white as his skin. That kid could easily disappear in a plain white room wasn’t for his bright blue eyes. The big man he was with was exactly the opposite: Dark hair, dark skin, enough scars to show that he was in no way frail, as if his size alone didn’t give that away. He remembered something Bastian always used to tell him: You can never have too many allies.
Jake sat up as the teenager’s blue eyes caught his and he tossed the chess knight to the boy. “What’s your name, kid?”
The boy picked up the piece in the air and examined it for a moment before walking over and replying. “Irvin…” He grinned. “You know, I’d much rather have the jewelry.”
“I’d much rather be somewhere else, but we can’t always get what we want, huh?” Jake replied, ignoring the stares of the other people in the room, as this was the first time he had spoken since he got there.
“Fair enough.” The boy chuckled. “So, what’s your story, though guy? You look like a Wolf, are you? Will they come for you?” The boy asked, settling down on the edge of the bed, facing Jake.
“No one will come for me.” Jake stated simply. “I’m a lone Wolf, get it? And the name’s Jake.” He told the kid.
“Oh, that’s too bad. I was hoping we’d finally get to see some action around here… So awfully boring once you’ve been here a while...” He shook his head. “Say, do you play cards, Jake? Are you a betting man?”
“Depends on what you want to bet.” Jake said with a light shrug.
“Hum… How about a secret? Can you think of anything more valuable than that?” The boy asked with a little grin.
Jake frowned slightly, this kid looked familiar, but he didn’t know why. “A secret, huh? What kind of secret can a kid like you have?”
“Oh, I have plenty.” Irvin answered with a shrug. “A few of them may even interest you. As a matter of fact, I have a better game… You seem like a smart man, Jake. So here’s the game: I’ll ask you a question about me and if you get it right you score a point, if you get wrong I score a point. And then you ask me a question about you… So on and so on… The first to score ten points wins.”
Jake rested his back on the headboard of the bed and crossed his arms under his head. “Alright. I’ll start: Where was I born?”
“Blackpond.” The boy answered immediately. “Am I right?”
“Right. That’s one for you.” Jake nodded. A few people had gathered around to listen in some of them whispering amongst themselves speculating on who was going to win this weird game, other were just interested in the answers.
“What is my enlightenment?” Irvin asked, with a slight grin.
“You can manipulate water.” Jake replied immediately.
“That’s impressive…” The boy chuckled. “You got that from the little I used it on you? I was sure you were going to say it was the ability to freeze. That’s one for you.”
“I did get that from the little you used it on me. How did I know?”
The boy thought for a very long time before laughing. “Oh, I don’t know. How?”
“You began to freeze my arm from the inside out, only my arm, it wasn’t cold around, not even your hand was cold, so I assume you lowered the temperature of the water present in my body in order to do that.” Jake stated.
“You studied enlightenments, it seems…” Irvin mumbled, seeming a little impressed. “Yes I can control water temperature and, as you know, there is water everywhere.” He smirked. “I can literally make a person’s blood boil in their veins, if I want. That’s two for you…”
The game went on for a little, between questions and answers and comments exchanged it summed up to a good couple of hours of talk, until finally both of them had nine points and it was the boys turn to ask a question. He grinned at Jake as if they were playing chess and they boy had moved every piece just right to get the man where he wanted. As if this whole little game was just a ruse from the start… It was, they both knew it, but know Jake would know why. “Alright now, Jake… You can win the game if you think hard enough.” Irvin said in triumphant tone as he shot the question. “Why do I look familiar?”
Jake flinched at the question. The boy did look familiar, but he really didn’t know why.”
“Think.” Irvin insisted. “I know you can find the answer if you concentrate, where do you know me from, Killer?”
Jake nearly jumped to his feet at the word Irvin spoke. He remembered it now.
[Flashback – Blackpond, approximately seven years ago]
“I-I’m s-so s-sorry… I-I -I s-swear…” The man stuttered; his eyes wide as he stared at the blade being held so close to his wife’s neck.
“Shut up! You’ll speak when I tell you to speak. Are we clear?” Jake told him, his sword pressed against the side of the man’s face; he used it to force the kneeling man to turn his head, taking his eyes away from the woman and facing him instead. “Are we clear?” He repeated.
The man nodded in sheer terror as he looked into the teenager’s blue eyes and saw the rage burning underneath. The last time he’d seen those eyes they were wide in terror, but so much had passed since then… Some much blood had gone through those hands already, so many of his bones had been broken… Jake was no longer a frightened little boy; he was a Wolf now and he would never have fear in his eyes again. Looking down at the man, Jake grinned. “It’s been a very long time, hasn’t it?” He asked, in a soft growl. “I can see that you remember though. I remember you… The scared-looking one in the back… You just wanted to steal and leave, right? We had nothing to steal though. My sister had nothing but herself and you people had to take that away for kicks!” He nodded towards the woman who was being restrained by Sean. “Does your wife know what you did? Do your children know? Do they know how you hung a little boy, just about their age, to a tree and left him to die? Do they know what kind of scum you are?” Jake pressed the blade harder against the man’s face, breaking through his skin only slightly. “Tell them.”
“W-what?” The man stammered.
Jake stared at the man coldly as he replied. “Remind me of my sister’s final hours: Did she cry? Did she beg? Did she put up a fight? Tell us everything: Start from the beginning and spare no details.”
“Y-You’re crazy. I can’t… Please…” He begged.
The man didn’t obey and as a response, Sean gripped the woman by the hair and pulled her head back, holding his knife near her throat, not touching her, and motioned as if sliding the blade across her neck. “Next time, will be for real.” He said calmly, now pressing the blade against her neck, keeping it there. “Talk.”
“I’ll do whatever you want, just don’t hurt them.” The man asked.
Jake’s eyes narrowed at the words, and he kicked the man in the chest with full force. “I’m not like you!” He hissed. “Can’t quite vouch for my friend here though, so do as I say!”
The man shivered in fear and pain, his voice trembling as he started talking. “We wanted to steal and leave, yes. We entered the house thinking it would be empty, it always was, but not that day…”
“I insisted I was old enough to work, she had finally let me try. We agreed she’d stay home and wait for me…” Jake explained. “Go on.”
“We would have just run off, but Ike…” The man sighed heavily. “Our leader was frustrated, we had hit two other homes early that day and come up with nothing but liquor bottles… He was frustrated… We were all drunk and frustrated…” He paused for a moment, but felt the blade touch his face again and continued. “We broke in, started making a mess, when Ike suddenly let out a scream and cursed. I ran to him and saw he had a crossbow bolt sticking out of his arm. Man, was he pissed! When I realized who had shot, the girl had already been caught and restrained. I think she heard the noises and came from the bedroom with the weapon, but only saw Ike, since we were some in the kitchen and some on the opposite of the room, out of sight from the doorway… I was in the kitchen then, but that’s how I think it happened. Two of the guys held her arms behind her back, Ike immediately slapped her across the face. She turned back to face him and spat on his face. He was even more pissed then.” At this point the man didn’t seem able to stop talking; his eyes fixed on Jake, staring into his eyes silently begin for forgiveness as he went on. “Some of the guys laughed, I knew Ike hated being laughed at… I knew this wasn’t going to be good for her. He grabbed her by the neck, forced her to look at him and pulled out his knife, pressed it against her faced, slowly, she winced when it broke her skin, he slid it down her face talking about what a pretty thing she was. She just glared at him, but didn’t say anything. At this point he was just meaning to scare her, I think, but there was a noise outside, and maybe she thought it was you, and she changed her attitude. She told Ike to just kill her already if he was going to do it. ‘Kill me and get the hell out of my house’, she said. He saw she was scared of something, she wanted us out at any cost and he realized that. That’s when something in his eyes changed and he slid the knife down her face, down her neck, to her chest. When he cut open her dress… That when she was finally looked terrified. I never forgot, how fast her eyes widened in fear, those beautiful green eyes, they grew so wide it’s like they screamed. The others started to laugh again, but now they were laughing at her, at her terrified eyes. Ike grinned, and said we weren’t in a hurry. I was. I wanted to get out, I wanted to be anywhere else, but I couldn’t move. One of the guys found a stuffed animal on the living room couch and he waved at her saying that if she played nice we wouldn’t hurt the kid… You.” He paused again, swallowing hard before forcing himself to go on. “Ike dragged her onto the kitchen table, by the hair… She didn’t fight them anymore after the promise of not hurting you. She screamed and cried at first, but didn’t fight, then she stopped screaming and just whimpered, and eventually, not even that. She just lay there, staring blankly into nothing… Eyes wide in terror, mumbling not even to us or herself, but to the Twins I think… ‘Just don’t hurt him’, that’s all she’d say.”
“Where were you through all that?” Jake asked; his voice void of any emotion even though every word the man spoke was like a burning dagger through his heart.
“At first I stood in the living room, I could hear her screaming and pleading… I wanted to run away and call someone, but I never did, and then Ike called for me. Said I was missing out. I walked to the kitchen then and stood in a corner. I didn’t want anything to do with… It, but I forced myself to look at her face, to look into her eyes, to see her break, I forced myself to remember. I begged the Twins to forgive me… I don’t expect the same from you.”
Jake stared at the man, his face still void, he didn’t look to the man’s wife or children as he confessed his sins. Sure he hadn’t actually told them how his ‘friends’ had repeatedly violated, burned and cut Jake’s sister, all the while laughing about it. Some of them still laughed as Jake made them confess, knowing he would kill them for it, but this man had confessed enough and the kids didn’t have listen to the more graphic details of those five hours of torture. “And then what?”
“There was another noise outside, this time it was you. When she heard someone was coming she pleaded again, she begged that we let you go. Ike just laughed and told us all to hide and we did… We waited until you went in and saw her…”
This time as the kneeling man spoke Jake saw it in his mind as if it was right in front of him; his sister’s eyes wide in terror as she saw him, her lips moving; rambling pleas for mercy… No mercy was given; they laughed. Their voices echoed in Jake’s mind for so long, for so many sleepless nights, when he was younger he used to think to himself that that was what true evil sounded like… As he grew older, good and evil became so intertwined within that it just didn’t make sense to think that way anymore. He broke out of his thoughts to the sound of the man begging forgiveness in shaky sobs, Jake didn’t want to hear it; he was ready to run his sword right through the man, one clean stab through the heart… The man’s next words stopped him, however, as he pointed to the floorboards underneath a chair.
“I kept it. I don’t know why, but I kept it.” The man mumbled.
Jake frowned slightly and sheathed his sword. “Don’t move a muscle.” He stated, walking to the spot the man had pointed to, kicking the chair away and opening the floorboards to find a soft leather bag, inside it there was a very old, patched up, but still intact, stuffed animal. It was something similar to a black dog, with horns and a long spiked tail. Jake stared at it for a very long time. “Drake…” He mumbled. The ‘dragon’ Jess had clumsily sewn together for him when their mother died. That little stuffed creature was his favorite thing in the world when he was a child… If only he hadn’t left it lying around the house that day… He sighed, pressing the toy against his face for a moment, before standing up from his crouch and turning to the man, who had remained on the floor, motionless. A voice whispering in the back of his mind, a voice he had long ago tried to erase:
“Here are some questions to ask yourself Jake, when you are deciding who is a good person. Does this individual knowingly hurt others? Does this person only act to better themselves and help no one else? Do they regret their mistakes or feel bad for them?”
That man did regret and he was in pain, but he had made a life for himself so it couldn’t possibly have been enough pain. “I won’t kill you.” He stated. “I want you to live. I want you to live and remember her face, her eyes, and know that I’ll never forgive you. I want you to live with the fact that your family will always know what kind of a coward you are.”
“Jake…” Sean argued. “You’re just letting him live?”
Jake didn’t turn to face Sean, his eyes fixed on the little toy dragon. “Death is not enough punishment.” He stated.
“You’re right, I suppose.” Sean agreed. Jake was still staring at Drake, but lifted his head when he heard Sean’s voice again. “You’re lucky we’re not allowed to touch children.” A high pitched scream followed his voice, but was almost immediately silenced. When Jake turned his head he caught sight of Sean had done; of what he was doing…
“Sean, what are you doing?” He asked; his eyes widened in honest shock.
Jake honestly never imagined Sean to be the type to ever hurt a woman, but he had cut the man’s wife, right beneath her eye, and carved a letter K, slowly moving on to a letter I… A strange grin plastered on his face as he replied. “You want him to remember… I’ll give him something to remember.” He explained, now carving the next letter; an L. Under his grip the woman screamed in pain and terror, tears coming out of her eyes as she hopelessly tried to squirm away from him. Sean whispered for her to hold still, that he didn’t want it to hurt more than necessary.
Jake couldn’t move, even if he wanted Sean to stop what he was doing: He was frozen and all he did was watch as Sean dropped the woman on the floor. Sobbing, she immediately crawled her way to her three children… It was the first time Jake had turned to look at the kids. His eyes caught the youngest of the two boys, he was absently stroking his mother’s hair as she clung to him, his eyes filled with rage, so much like Jake’s had been not so long ago. The scene reminded him of something in his past and it ached badly inside his chest.
Sean was already making his way out, but Jake hadn’t moved, and when he did, he walked towards the blond pale boy and dropped the stuffed dragon at his feet. He didn’t look down at the boy as he spoke. “You’re not a coward like your father, like me, but if you ever decide to become one… I’ll be waiting.” He turned his back and started to walk away, clenching his fists as he heard the woman whimper. “I’m ugly now.”
Irvin’s grin was wide and proud as he saw the look of horror in Jake’s eyes. “I’m glad you remember. I remember you… The scare-looking one in the back… The one who stood there while my mother screamed…” The boy said in a soft growl, loving the irony, cherishing that victory over Jake.
Jake closed his eyes at Irvin’s words, his words, the irony stung painfully. Jake had never forgiven himself for letting Sean go through with what he did to that woman. He entered that home to obtain some sort of closure, but he came out of it knowing that he was no different from the man he had gone there to kill; a coward. It still shamed him to know that.
“You won the game.” Irvin stated. “I’ll get you your prize.” With that he boy stood, a few people moved to get out of his way, some of them shooting glances towards Jake, not quite understanding what had just happened between him and the boy. Irvin returned with a ugly looking stuffed animal, battered and torn in a few spots. He dropped it on Jake’s bed with a light shrug, “I’m too old for a bedtime buddy, but it’s your first night in this weird place… So I thought you might want him.”
Jake tilted his head a little confused by Irvin’s behavior now. “You kept it?”
“You let my father live because he never forgot. You couldn’t forgive him, but you let him live, and that was something. I’m willing to let you live, Killer, because you haven’t forgotten either... I might even forgive you one day, who knows? Your friend, however, the one with the knife, I won’t have the same mercy for him.” He said, sitting back down. “Don’t you people have better things to do? Game’s over; piss off.” He muttered. People immediately dispersed, except for the huge individual Irvin had been speaking to earlier. He stayed close to the boy at all times, like a body guard. Irvin follow Jake’s eyes to the older man and chuckled. “Don’t worry about Oliver, he looks mean, but he’s a puppy. Just don’t piss him off.”
“You won’t get him, not even with a thousand puppies like Oliver on your back, Kid. The guy with the knife is the leader of the Wolfpack now. He has about three hundred trained killers with knives to protect him. You won’t survive trying.”
“I have to try.” Irvin stated. “Even if I can’t survive, maybe I can take him with me.”
Jake sighed. “Tell you what: If you help me out of this place and give me your word that you won’t run to the middle of the assassins’ camp holding a knife… I will help you get your revenge, if you’re patient and do as I say.”
Irvin smiled. “Well, I was just about to suggest that… You seem to want to leave this place as soon as possible and I need training. I think I can help you. Hell, I would’ve been out of here months ago had I wanted to.” He sighed.
“Why haven’t you left then?” Jake questioned, raising an eyebrow.
“Why would I? Life here is much easier than on the city, Killer. We’re warm, well fed, protected, or at least as protected as one can be in Blackpond… Why leave and struggle on the outside? Still… I can’t kill the Alpha stuck in here, can I?” He asked with a grin, standing up. “Now, come on… If you want to get out of here alive, we have places to go and people to meet.”
“What?” Jake asked, standing up and scratching the back of his head.
“Getting out of here ain’t a two person job, Killer. You need to make some friends and most importantly, you need to know who to avoid and how to avoid them. Not everyone is fond of deserters and they’ll try to stop us.”
“Deserters?” Jake asked, beginning to follow the boy out of the dormitory.
“Twins give me patience… I’m going to have to teach you everything aren’t I?” Irvin asked, highly amused as he walked Jake through the complex.
There were days when the sweet smell of bread would attract her to her favorite bakers to grab a fresh bun. The bun would be steaming hot and Ivan, the baker would pour the just made purple icing on it that would seem to dissolve in the mouth when she finally took a bite of it. Sadly, during the siege, Ivan’s bakery was taken out by a flaming projectile from one of the catapults Blackpond had brought with them. The humble baker couldn’t afford to rebuild and moved out of the city after. It just so happens that the baker managed to sell his lot for a hefty sum however. It was the place where the assassins rebuilt their inn.
Ella looked up at the building which was quintessentially thirty six feet of hate. The three story building gazed down at her with an overwhelming look of pure evil. What was once a place where innocence was created was now just a shack full of dirty deeds housing even dirtier individuals. Anyone who supported Sean in her eyes was dirty and dirtier yet was Sean himself. Not just because of what he did to Mageria, but also for what he had done to the Wolfpack and Evin for that matter. She had been around Evin for an entire year and she understood the importance of the Wolfpack to Evin. Evin had explained to Ella the many reasons which had made the Wolfpack great in the times that he wasn’t encouraging her to literally kill him. She found it funny how just a few words and a whole lot of willpower could change the course of many people’s lives so quickly.
She looked up even further, flinching at the first few raindrops that hit her face. She looked at the very top of the building, which seemed so familiar. There was a part of the bakery that had stayed intact. Just a few pieces of wood with a distinct green paint job. Those very same planks of wood were used in the construction of the top of that inn. It was just enough of a reminder of the innocent days for her to feel safe. Somehow she knew she’d be alright walking into this building.
Ella began to walk again, almost falling flat on her face. It turned out that the rain had frozen and turned the roads into a crystalized hazard. Everything looked the same, just there was a shiny tinge to it that made it looked like the eyes of someone who was using their enlightenment. Carefully, she made her way to the door, opening it to get out of the hazardous grounds.
Heads turned when she entered the inn. It wasn’t as if they recognised her or anything, as a matter of fact, they could barely see her face under her hood. It was just a peculiar sight to see a woman, who was quite obviously in a dress underneath her cloak, walk into an inn run by the assassins. All that could really be seen from under the hood was her mouth and a few loose strands of her blond hair. For a few moments she just stood at the entrance of the inn, looking at all the people who were gathered around the common area, enjoying drinks and eating food. There was a man there that stood out from all the others however. A well-dressed man who seemed to have gotten attention from others. He seemed just as out of place as she was. She instantly caught her attention not because of that however, but she had no idea who the man was. He dressed as a noble, but she had never met him and there wasn’t a single noble that Ella hadn’t met. It made her suspicious as to how a man like him, one of obvious wealth didn’t know Ella. How did the man get the money to live the life he was most obviously living?
Ella sat down at one of the bar stools furthest away from everyone else and then proceeded to call the innkeeper over.
“How may I help you?” The black haired woman asked in a soft, friendly voice.
Ella sneered at the woman who gave off this glow of perfection despite having a few marks from what was probably a previous fight. “You could help me by bringing me Sean. I’d like to talk to him.”
“Sean isn’t in Newhaven, but if you’d like, I could always send him a message.”
Ella slammed reached for her pocket and slammed her hand on the table. People looked at her for a second. She continued to keep her hand firmly pressed on the table. “Maybe you can get your head out your ass and listen to me for a second. I don’t care what it takes for that son of a bitch to leave his shell and come to Newhaven, but I have something I’d like to speak to him personally about.”
The eyes of the innkeeper slut narrowed, focused on the equally intense stare from Ella. “I’ll warn you that I’m a skilled assassin girly.” She hissed.
“I guess if you even tried to pull that fat, ugly head out of your ass you’d recognize that I’m the Queen of Newhaven.” She lifted her hand, revealing the ring that tied her to royalty. “I’ll take the best room you have, for free of course and will be expecting Sean to be here in two days’ time or I might consider closing this establishment and having those who work in it executed. Now get me a drink. Something without alcohol if you may.”
Ella was happy with the work she had done. She felt a sense of victory when the slut went to get her drink. She relaxed into the stool and grabbed her ring, putting it back in her pocket. She let the satisfaction sink in. All she hoped was that this wouldn’t get to her head.
“What am I looking for?” Donovan asked.
“Trust me: You’ll know it when you see it. If those guys are anything like their leader they just scream ‘creepy’ wherever they go.”
Donovan chuckled as he dismounted and handed Indrani the reigns of his borrowed horse with a bow of his head and a smile, blushing slightly as his hand brushed against hers. After the boy wandered off she smiled at Sean. “Your brother is adorable. So much like you at his age.”
Sean ignored the comment completely and simply began to walk. “I’ll be at the Inn, just meet me there, alright? And watch yourself.”
“I always do, Alpha.” She chuckled as she rode away in the direction of her favorite stable.
It was raining and freezing cold, pulling the heavy cloak he was wearing closer to his body, the Alpha couldn’t help thinking about how much he’d rather be home with a hot cup of tea right now. Sean always disliked leaving the forest for more than the duration of an assassination, which of course could mean minutes or weeks, but as soon as he completed the job he was headed home. He was much like Dani in that sense; she never really liked wandering the crowded city streets, if she was ever seen in one of the clan Inns it was as a kid, a very long time ago, but rarely even then. Sean was pretty much the same.
He stopped for a moment before entering, looking up and down the street with the corner of his eyes, taking notice of Doni in the frozen rooftops… He’d have to graduate that kid when they got home and his suspension was over. Didn’t matter how stupid he had been, Don had really become a gifted assassin, and the fact that he managed to even take a shot at Crys proved it.
Finally Sean opened the door of the establishment and immediately every Wolf in the common room rose from their seat in surprise. Sean paid them no mind; he simply removed his cloak and hung it in a coat rack behind the bar, running a hand through his hair repeatedly to get rid of the excess of water that had managed to get past the thick fabric of the hood. As he did that, Sheila walked a straight line to him, smiling wide at. “Sean, love!” She exclaimed, rather loudly. “To what do we owe the honor?”
Sean smirked slightly. He knew Sheila didn’t really like him in one bit, but the fact that she could be that pleasant to anyone and still be believable is what made her so damn good at her job. Not to mention she was pretty to look at, and he didn’t mind pretending to believe her false flattering. “My business is my business...” He stated, smiling back at the woman, looking around as he did so. His eyes caught sight of Ari and internally he felt a wave of relief, but the look he gave her was the most severe he could manage, making sure that she saw him before he turned his attention to Sheila again and heaved a small sigh. “I got myself a recruit, now and… Man, what a headache.”
Sheila chuckled. “The kid’s giving you trouble, I see.”
“I doubt I’ve seen the last of it.” He replied, reaching for the woman’s face and gently touching the bruised area. “Whatever happened here?” He asked, a slight frown crossing his features. “Is there someone out there who we should have pay for this?”
Sheila smiled a slightly more honest smile this time. “You’re so protective, sweetie…” She said in her sweetest tone. “I can fend for myself however, and this is a rather personal one for me.” She moved closer and hugged him gently as she said. “I appreciate the concern though.”
That hug lasted a very long time, much longer than a normal one would, while Sheila whispered things in Sean’s ear; things she was smart enough not to say out loud even amongst other wolves. To anyone watching the two, however, it would seem as the woman was being overly affectionate with her leader and the gesture was being very much appreciated. As Sheila pulled away slowly she let her hand slide from the back of his neck all the way down his chest, playfully as she asked. “And what can I do for you in this cold dark evening, love?”
Sean laughed, but he couldn't help a slight chill down his spine at woman’s gesture. “I’ll just have a cup of hot tea and my key for now.” He smiled. “But who knows? It is a cold night.” He stated, walking past everyone in the bar and taking a seat next to a hooded woman on the furthest end. He didn’t look at the woman as he spoke in a half-annoyed tone. “If you want the best room in my establishment, you’ll have to share it with me… And pay for it. We pay our taxes to your city and that’s about as much as you’ll ever scam out of us, Your Highness." He spoke the last two words in less than a whisper. Perhaps Ella didn’t know, or didn’t care to know, how dangerous it was to announce the fact that she was the Queen in a place like this. “And don’t think we’re speaking now on account of any stupid threat you made, because you have no authority in here. This is my territory and if my recruiter had actually taken your little bitchy remarks about execution seriously you would have had your throat slit faster that you could even think of the words ‘oh, fuck!’.” He whispered, making a pause when Sheila brought him his tea, taking a small sip from it as he spoke in a calmer tone. “Now… State your business if you will… I am not here at Your Highness’ request and I have far more important business on my schedule.”
At this point the door of the Inn opened once again and a young woman walked in, her golden eyes sparkling slightly in the poor lit room as she opened a wide smile. “Lovely weather, isn’t it?” She stated as several eyes turned in her direction. Some people seemed annoyed by the total lack of sarcasm in her tone as she said that. They were probably mentally cursing the Twins for their rain, but of course most people didn’t know how to appreciate the gifts they were given in Life. They only knew how to whine about it. Indrani was never one to whine about lack of water, so she didn’t see why those people should whine about the excess of it.
She shook her head thinking that most of them wouldn’t last an hour in the desert, even less in the mountains… City folk would be city folk and nothing more. “Mead.” She stated simply as she reached the counter, she didn’t sit just yet, her eyes catching sight of Sean as she stopped by Ari, playfully poking her as she greeted. “Hello stranger! Long time no see. You know, that little assassin camp is turned upside down because of you… it’s quite an amusing thing to see.” She remarked, leaning against the counter and shooting a very discrete glance at Sean, wondering what could have possibly distracted him from scolding his recruit, before turning to the people Ari had been conversing with before she arrived. “Who are your friends?” She asked, giving a thankful nod and paying with a shiny gold piece as Sheila brought her drink.
He almost released her as she jumped, the poke in her side releasing the nervous energy she had been hiding. Stephan thought he would have to take a defensive stance; to defend if that’s what was needed but was glad as Ari beamed at the woman, hugging her tightly around the waist before leaning back against him again.
“Really? Me,” she asked innocently, her eyes widening as her face took that sweet innocent expression as she laughed. She rolled her eyes slightly and took a deep drink of her draught, her hands shaking slightly. She placed the mug on the counter, clearing her throat before looking back at the woman. “This is my hero, Stephan. He’s saved me three times now and this....” she paused looking at the man across from her before responding, “Is someone I just met and have yet to catch his name. So... how much trouble am I in do you think?”
She felt Stephan tense beside her and she turned to look up into his face, his eyes were still locked onto Sean and she had to caress his face to get him to look back at her, mouthing something as Indrani took a sip of her drink. He nodded and Ari froze her heart racing in her chest as her eyes flickered to Sean and then back to his black eyes. She turned to sip her drink, letting her enlightenment come through just ever so slightly. It was a mistake. Her animal senses couldn’t focus, couldn’t stand the smell and the light and she nonchalantly reached up to rub her head, wondering why her enlightenment wasn’t working as well as it normally would. Stephan saw and his eyes began to scan the crowd, checking everyone’s face and looking for a suspicious character. Ari turned back to Indrani, her face appearing unconcerned, but her eyes said otherwise.
“So I guess this is how he’s going to play it...drag out the suspense of the punishment before actually giving it, huh,” she muttered, low enough so that only Indrani and Stephan could hear, shrugging lightly, “Well....I know I shouldn’t let it get to me but it is. How on earth did you get over here?”
“Thomas. I suppose you’re here to pass judgement?”
Thomas glared at her, sullen rage showing in his eyes. “What did you expect? The Black Knights have always been able to duck most laws, but even then you always had to answer to the White Captain and the King.”
Angrily, Mageria pushed off the wall. “And that worked so well, didn’t it? Morgan was a monster that ran free doing whatever the hell he wanted.”
“And you killed him for it, didn’t you?” Thomas matched her glare for glare.
“I did what was necessary, in order to keep Newhaven from becoming a name to be feared.” She felt light headed from trauma, but still she stood strong.
“I guess we’ll never know that, will we? If you had concerns, you should have reported them.”
Mageria barked out a painful laugh. “Oh I did. And then was beaten half to death for daring to do so.” She leaned in closer. “Nobody listened. So I was on my own. And I did, what I had to.”
Thomas backed away, raising his hands. “And I’m going to do what I have to. You committed treason, Mageria. There is no excuse for that. And now you have to deal with the consequences. You already know that your Guard and Knights are no more. But we can’t leave it at that, not for what you’ve done.” Thomas squared his shoulders, looking deadly serious and grave. “Mageria Talsheir. You are here by exiled from Newhaven, on charges of treason. Should you ever return, you will be executed. You have until tomorrow evening to depart, or the writ will be carried out.”
Mageria looked at him for a moment before pushing past him. “Fine then. Just let me get bandaged up so I’ll stop bleeding on your nice floor.” She swung around and smiled a nasty smile at him. “And get used to cleaning up your own messes, Captain. You won’t have us to blame things on anymore.”
Thomas stared back at her for a long moment before turning and leaving. Mageria closed her eyes and leaned back wearily against the wall. Nothing that she didn’t expect, but that didn’t make it any easier.
A moment or two later, she heard a soft noise to her side, followed by “Captain?” Mageria rolled her head painfully to the side, seeing Sham standing there looking pale faced and worried. Out of somewhere, she dug up a smile.
“Sorry about that Sham. You didn’t need to see that.”
Sham moved closer, shrugging her shoulders. “Someone else needed to see it, otherwise you’d pretend that nothing was wrong and get in more trouble. But . . . what about Jake and Dom?”
Mageria sighed, feeling overwhelmed by the load on her shoulders.
“I don’t have the right to ask this of you anymore but . . .”
Sham interrupted her. “I’ll go back.”
Mageria nodded. “Do what you have to. I’ll send backup when I can.” She sighed. “When you get back . . .”
Sham stopped her. “I know where to go.”
Mageria raised an eyebrow, as much as she could. “Do you? And why don’t I know about this?”
Sham grinned. “Well, we decided to make things easy on you. Otherwise you’d worry too much.”
Mageria let her breath out softly, feeling a sense of comfort. “That’s the one thing that has kept us together.”
Sham bowed her head in acknowledgement. “We don’t leave people behind.” She turned and walked down the hall, getting ready to head back out to the road for the second time that day. Mageria watched her go before painfully turning and limping into the infirmary, letting the medics descend on her and manhandle her onto a bed without protest.
He had opened his mouth to say something when the door flew open once more. Isyer grinned at the grumbling moans of some of the patrons at how much cold air had been let into the place with how frequently the door was flapping. But he dismissed them as he saw who entered. Another woman, this one with much better appointments than the other people in the Inn, dressed even better than he was himself. It must have stuck everyone odd because even looking over his shoulder across the room, he saw everyone staring at her for a moment. Isyer made a mental note of where the woman sat and went back to his food, taking another bite as the two people next to him had seemed to forget about the question for the moment. But, once again, his attention was draw over his shoulder to the woman as she started shouting to the innkeeper, making a claim that she was the queen. Isyer's eyes narrowed slightly at this claim, but he saw the light of the fire glint off the signet ring the woman displayed so brazenly. If she wasn't the queen as she said, she was a fucking good thief to be able to lift that item, and ballsy as hell to wear it around town and make wild claims. So... he figured she must actually be the queen. No thief would be stupid enough to do something like that. The Bard, as he liked to call himself, sighed, shaking his head a little bit and going back to his food once more. He needed to finish his meal before things got crazy in this place. A few long pulls off the glass of brandy made him feel a little better, too. Sheila had been right, it was an magnificent drink.
Another opening of the door saw Isyer rolling his head backward to look to the ceiling as he let out a disgusted groan, "Ughh... who is it now?" He looked over his shoulder once more, watching as a majority of the people in the room rose to their feet for the man who entered. The king of the assassins? Isyer made another mental note of everyone who was standing," Now that's not a good way to keep yourself hidden, is it?" He chuckled a little to himself before looking at the man again. Isyer's eyes narrowed once more as he looked over the man as he talked with Sheila. After a seriously overdraw hug, the man walked over to the table that the queen was sitting at and started talking, too quietly for him to hear from where he sat. Isyer shook his head," This place is getting a bit too exciting for me. At this rate, the entire town guard will be filing though in a grand parade." He looked over to the two standing next to him, noticing how... frightened the woman standing there looked. But he shrugged it off and went back to eating.
And as the door opened again, Isyer didn't even bother looking. At this point he really didn't care if the Twins themselves were walking in bent over blowing trumpets from their assholes. He was tired of looking. And after all, he could tell from the sound of the footfall on the wooden floor that it was a single person walking toward where he sat. Not too heavy a person, probably a woman from the way she walked, but definitely skilled on her feet. Isyer didn't even look up as the woman came up to the two standing next to where he sat and started talking to them. Isyer let them forget about him sitting there, listening to their conversation as he continued to eat, savoring the taste just long enough to scarf the food down fast. The drink he took a little more slowly. He had a sneaking suspicion that he was going to have a nasty headache before the night was over and he didn't need the alcohol making it worse. So, he sat there quietly, waiting for something to happen. He still had the two small steel balls in the palm of his non-eating hand, carefully rolling them around in his grip as he waited to see how things would unfold,' Certainly turning out much more interesting than I had anticipated," he mumbled to himself quietly before taking another large bite.
She scanned the room to look for other assassins in the moment. People who would regular the bar wouldn’t even care who entered the room or not and would just go back to their antics as soon as the entrance ended. There was a small group down the bar a little bit who really didn’t know how to hide their presence at all. The noble and the two next to him were defiantly in this category. The couple was odd. The girl eyeing Sean in fear as the boy seemed to protect her. Ella knew the face that the girl was making all too well as it was the same type of face that she would make to Evin when she was in troubled. The girl was obviously a recruit getting herself into some trouble and the boy was maybe a lover. Whether he was an assassin or not was something else altogether however.
Then the noble, who kept looking at Ella. He could have been listening in on Ella’s conversation with the slut, but it wasn’t only Ella that he would look at. Everything he did was suspicious as could be. He really wasn’t from around here if he was checking his food for poison like he was. Anyone in Newhaven knew that the Inn was neutral territory. The noble eyed other people as they wandered around too, including Sean and the assassins who had stood up when Sean had walked in. This was enough to let her know that he wasn’t an assassin, but the guy was defiantly ready for anything at a moment’s notice. She thought if there was anyone else who even noticed it. If they did, how would they react to this suspicious man?
Ella didn’t have time to think about it as Sean began whispering all about his antics to her. She removed her hood and adjusted her hair to make it look prim and proper while Sean spoke. She seemed completely uninterested in what Sean had to say, but of course that was just the impression she wanted to show.
When Sean was finally done spewing his venom, Ella showed him the ring that she had on. It wasn’t one marking her to royalty, but the one that Evin had given to her before she had left the Wolfpack for good. It was the ring given to actives; the sign that she was an active in the Wolfpack.
“An assassin doesn’t make threats Sean, she makes promises and don’t test that for a moment because what I said to the slut was a promise. That much I can promise you.” She said with the intensity of the rattle on a rattle snake. So much hatred was bottled up for him and what he did to Mageria was the last straw for it. “I’m sure it would have been smart for that bitch to kill me without a direct order from you though, wouldn’t it? I believe there are rules against doing things like that, or have you thrown the rules out like you did to the true Alpha of the Wolfpack?”
The slut finally came to Ella with a drink. She wasn’t sure what it was and wasn’t really as afraid of drinking some poison as the noble man seemed to be. Maybe it was just some nervous habit the man had.
She reached into her other pocket to grab the book she had been writing in earlier that day and placed it on the table. “I don’t see a reason why you should be given this, but I’d much rather give it to you than I would Rick. Not that I like either of you bastards any more than the other.” The rattles got louder. “However, if I gave it to Rick, I’m not sure if you’d ever get a chance to see it. Shame I can’t give it to the real Alpha though and not some pathetic shit.”
Indrani took a sip of her drink, her eyes going through every patron, carefully. Most of them were wolves, some she'd seen before, others were more discrete, but the graduation rings gave them away. Her eyes fixed on the man Ari had introduced as Stephan, she watched him carefully before moving onto the the stranger who Ari said she had just met. The man dressed fancy, but his posture was that of someone who was used to places such as this, even if not this one in particular, and he seemed as if expecting something to happen, even if most of his attention was on his food. His eye gave away that he was enlightened, and she noticed him fiddling with something in his hand... "Hum..." She mumbled to herself, feeling a little unnerved by the man, but turning her attention to Ari and always keeping one eye in Sean's direction. "Oh, I wouldn't worry so much about that. You ran ahead of your group, yes, but you were taken, it's not like you ran off to Newhaven by yourself. It shouldn't be that serious, probably a scolding for wasting the clan's time and resources and endangering other assassins... Who's your instructor?" She asked absently. "And I rode here, silly. The Alpha needed horses." She said, rolling her eyes in annoyance. "And the idiot thought I was going to put two of my horses under his care, no sir." She stated, taking another drink. "I don't understand though. He seemed in a hurry to take you back to camp, I don't know why he's stopping to chat..." She mumbled. Watching Sean's face he didn't seem to enjoy the company of the woman he was conversing with, and then she saw something she wasn't expecting: A sign. Sean looked at her and nodded discretely towards Ari. As she saw that, Indrani turned towards Sheila and grabbed her arm as she was passing through. "Did Sean get a key from you?"
Sheila slowly released her arm from Indrani's grip as she looked at her a little startled. "Yes, he did."
Indrani heaved a sigh and muttered "Bloody idiot!" under her breath, before turning to Ari and her friend. "I don't know what Sean is doing, but he wants you out of here, and apparently he's not coming." With that said, she emptied her glass. "When you're in the Wolfpack Inn, and the Alpha wants you to leave, is best to follow his advice." She stated calmly, looking around to see if she spotted something that Sean might have seen.
Kirsten smirked and walked into the building, pulling off his riding gloves and slamming them on the table causing Erin to leap up from his seat, the chair flying back to clatter against the floor. The man’s eyes narrowed as Kirsten laughed, sitting down in the chair across from him and throwing his muddy boot up on the table. Erin growled slightly, watching the mud from the boots run from toe to heal and onto the wood, the grit and dirt spreading slowly in puddles. Kirsten’s red cloak dripped water onto the floor, leaving two large puddles and his hood only showed the tip of his nose and his lips, water dripping off of them as his lips pulled into a thin smile.
“What’s the news on the girl,” he said, picking at his fingers and only glancing at the boy when he didn’t speak. “Well,” he said pulling his boots off of the table and leaning forward in his seat.
“She got away but we’ve found her again...in The Inn,” Erin looked away from Kirsten’s eyes, blushing as he shrank back from Kirsten’s wrath.
“Damn it! That place is neutral ground....We can’t go hunting in there,” he slammed his fist into the table, his lips pulled into a snarl. “How did this happen? I gave you simple orders Erin!!” Kirsten’s eyes blazed, his body quivering in anger. He could tell he was hurting the Empath that much was obvious as he sorta shrank back without him having to lift a finger. He watched, considering how to kill his second as he pulled a dagger from his belt, digging the tip into the table as he stood, the chair groaning as it was shoved across the floor. “Tell me something good Erin or Alecto is about to get a promotion.”
Erin stared at Kirsten, he was in a blood rage, that much was obvious and this one was the worst he had ever seen. He knew as well that the threat put forth would be followed through on. Kirsten had already disposed of several Seconds and Erin had been there to see the last one...it wasn’t pretty. He stood tall as Kirsten advanced around the table, looming towards him like a dark shadow, the room beginning to change around them.
“Ari entered the bar with a man and a while later, she was followed in by a woman and again, a man and a woman. Your telepath was able to get a message out that it is the Alpha but at the moment he is not paying attention to the girl,” Erin said in a dead tone, his eyes flickering as the room returned to normal.
“The Alpha? You mean you have a Hunter in there,” Kirsten shook his head slowly returning to himself.
“We’ve been sitting in there the moment she escaped,” his eyes were fixed straight ahead, not looking at the man who stood in front of him, but rather through him. “Already we have six archers on the rooftops, all the gates are being watched and our most skilled are circling the Inn as we speak. They won’t move without your permission and not one inside, but rather three. The streets around the Inn are being watched by the less skilled. All wait for your command.”
Kirsten nodded, mildly surprised that Erin had been able to execute all of this and get the reserves out and ready as quickly as possible. He rubbed his temples, three inside a nest of assassins; that was big. If they tried to make a run for it outside, Ari would be dead before she even got a breath of fresh air. The Inn was seen as neutral territory and he certainly did not want the entire Wolfpack on his back if he attacked. Then again, Ari was a wolf which meant that they would Hunt him down anyways. He decided to take his chance and nodded to Erin. Watching as the Second walked quickly away, he couldn’t help the smile that spread across his face. Attack it would be.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Ari took another sip of her drink, her eyes staring into the glass. She didn’t much care for it now; in fact she was still frightened. It had nothing to do with Sean, but what Stephan had told her. She laughed lightly at the horse remark, maybe she would have to ride off to the mountains and collect a few of the horses that were up there solely for the Wolfpack. She made a mental note to ask Sean about it, her mind stumbling over what Indrani had asked her. Had Sean not told her that she had been taken in by him?
“Sean. He’s my instructor,” she muttered, keeping her attention to the contents in her glass. She looked curiously at the desert queen, cocking her head slightly as she told them they had to leave and she reluctantly nodded. Ari made to stand when something caught her eye. There was a flash of movement; several men had stood to their feet and Ari felt her body freeze as she saw they were entirely dressed in black.
Stephan knew where they were, knew their numbers inside the inn before Ari had even sat down. He honestly thought that they weren’t going to be stupid and launch an attack. He cursed himself for not immediately pulling her into a room and hiding her from their sights but then who knew that Kirsten was psychotic. These Night Hunters were taking a large risk. Stephan grabbed her hand, pulling her toward the door with a curse, somehow his dagger already drawn and clutched tightly in his hand. Some of the Wolves looked confused, that or just drunk and only a few of them reacted. His eyes widened as they fell to the ground, unable to move, their hands clamped over their ears as they screamed. Only two Hunters advanced forward, the other occupied with tormenting the others and it looked as though anyone who stepped near him was automatically incapacitated. He opened the door, flinching back as several black arrows buried their heads into the wood next to him. He stepped back, shutting the door and turned to look at Ari with an innocent smile.
“Of course they’ve got this whole place surrounded by fucking archers.”
He turned, stepping forward and his wrist flicked, the dagger in his hand now protruding from the Hunter’s chest. The hood dipped to look down at the weapon, his hand reaching up to nearly touch it before he crumpled to the floor. Several of the wolves were now also attacking and he turned as Ari stepped up behind him, her eyes burning silver as she stared at the man who was still tormenting the Wolves who were curled up on the floor. Her hand reached out, a moment later the man flinched, clutching his neck and swearing. They had lost sight of Indrani and Sean and Ari peered over heads to try and find them. Stephan grabbed her hand, pulling her toward the Bar, ducking behind it as the door opened and more Night Hunters swarmed into the place. Shelia ran past, ducking down for a moment and looking Stephan in the eye.
“Love, there’s a tunnel in the basement; it will lead you out into the sewer. I suggest you get her out as fast as possible,” she looked at Ari and smiled gently, “Stay safe, be strong for him.”
She ran off then leaving them a room to cross full of Night Hunters and Wolves. All locked in a battle to the death. Stephan took Ari’s hand gently, her eyes looking up at his as he counted to three.
Isyer was still in a little bit of shock from the turn of events. Everything had been calm and copacetic while he had been eating. People were talking, business was going, things were still. The only thing that had been wrong was how many times that damn door had been thrust open to let the cold air into the the inn. The food had been quite good, the drink had been better. It had been nice and relaxing. Up until now. Everything had gone to shit in a matter of seconds. Isyer spun on the stool to survey what was going on. Some men, dressed in all black, were on their feet and moving with a purpose toward the men who had stood up when "What’s His Nuts" entered the place a while ago. Most of those men were fighting back. The man and woman that had been next to him were making a bee line toward the door with utmost haste, something that didn't bode well. The people who were guilty were usually the ones trying to flee the fight and get out to safety, so those two probably had something to do with this. And through it all, Isyer could only catch glimpses of the queen through the press of fighting forms. Isyer dug his hand into his belt pouch one more, digging out a hand full of the steel bullets, holding the first one between his forefinger and thumb like a marble ready to be rolled. His eyes carefully picked through the people one by one, trying to figure out who was in the wrong here, deciding who he was going to help. Who was the underdog in this situation? It seemed like "What’s His Nuts" men might have been drinking too much, never expecting anyone to launch an attack in their own dwelling. So they seemed maybe a bit slow on their reaction times. So... Isyer smiled as he decided he'd help them. Why not, right? You have to pick a side in every fight. No one is ever truly neutral.
Isyer narrowed his eyes to slits as he focused on his first target. He had to pick each person out individually since everyone was moving so quickly. Trying to hit multiple targets would only lead to collateral damage. So, he could pick them off one at a time. His first target was the closest of the black clad men fighting with one of the assassins in a tight melee struggle. Isyer ginned wickedly for a second as he released his hold on the steel ball. His eyes flickered blue once more as the ball streaked away from him, ripping though the air with a whiz and imbedding into the back of the black clad man’s thigh, causing him to drop to one knee in agony and allowing the assassin a quick and easy kill. Isyer looked around again, still sitting calmly in his seat as he watched everything happen. No one seemed to be paying any attention to him at the moment, and he liked it that way. This wasn’t really a standup fight yet, especially with more of the black clad thugs running in from off the street. He was going to kill them, now, if only for letting in all the cold air.
Isyer caught sight of something through the fight though. There were a group of the assassins arrayed across the floor, holding their heads in pain, all surrounding one of the black dressed newcomers. Isyer’s eyes narrowed slightly,” How many of us are there in here? By the Twins..” He grinned wickedly for a moment, focusing his sight on the man and letting loose another steel ball at the target. Once again, he wasn’t trying to kill the man, just take him to the floor and possibly eliminate his ability to use his enlightenment. Then the assassins could finish him off and Isyer would remain an innocent bystander in it all.
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."
“Captain, if you don’t let them take care of you, I’m going to beat you myself.” Carefully he pushed her down, signaling for someone to come work on her.
“Yes well, nobody else will work on Grim when he’s hurt.”
Matthew snorted. “Well maybe our medics have bigger balls nowadays. They’ll take care of things.”
Mageria couldn’t really argue with him, given the fact that one particularly madding man had started prodding her stomach and it was taking a significant effort not to punch him in the face. Taking a deep breath, obeyed his instructions to lay down, closing her eyes and trying not to flinch as he pressed on her stomach in an effort to find any internal injuries. When she was allowed to sit back up, she had to accept help, avoiding the glare that Matthew was giving her.
“If you’re going to be stupid about taking care of injures, how the hell do you think you’re going to survive being exiled by tomorrow night?”
Mageria winced. “Heard that, did you?”
Matthew snorted. “Aye. Not as if the two of you were trying to be quiet. And you taught me to listen at doors yourself.” He shrugged, unrepentant. “But I didn’t expect that crap.”
Mageria sighed. “I committed treason, Matthew. You expect them to throw me a parade?”
“Well, no. But a longer grace period maybe.”
Mageria held very still as the medic sliced her shirt off. Given that she couldn’t raise her arms to take it off, it was a reasonable compromise. But it was a little irritating to lose clothing that way. Once it was off, and peeled away from the drying blood; it was revealed that her entire torso was a mass of bruises and welts, mute testimony to what she had gone though. There were also bruises all along her arms, in the shape of a man’s hands, but those weren’t as serious.
“I’ve got, OW!” The medic had started cleaning out the cuts. “I’ve got until tomorrow night, what more do you expect? The rest of you get a week or more, at least.”
Matthew rolled his eyes. “As for that, we’ve got a plan.”
“Sham mentioned that. You wanna let me in on it?”
“When we’re a bit more . . . alone. Till then I don’t think you want it to become common knowledge, do you?”
Mageria would have shrugged, if she could have. Instead she just sat mutely while the medic finished cleaning the welts and started slathering some sort of cream on just about everything, then carefully wrapping everything in bandages. When he was finished, it didn’t matter that she was naked from the waist up, she was basically dressed in bandages. She coughed, feeling a growing pain as the bruises on her throat started to spread. Out of nowhere a vial of murky green liquid appeared, she drank it down without protest. Then she was being pushed down again as the medic pressed a vile smelling poultice to the swelling. Sighing, she resigned herself to letting someone else take care of things for a while. At the foot of the bed Tala provided a comforting weight, somewhere along the line someone had pulled off her boots and now the wolf was keeping her feet warm. Humming softly, she listened to the sounds of people walking around talking softly to each other.
“NOO!” Veronica jumped from the bed, the right arm doing the motion of a swing, as if it tried to hit the air with an imaginary sword. The scarlet haired woman breathed fast, sweat falling from her temples to the chin. Seconds passed while she kept the position, trying to understand what just happened. Veronica relaxed the muscles and slowed the breathing, it's been a day since she last saw Luke. 'Or has it been two days? Ah, doesn't matter.' She walked to the window, it was still dark but the Sun would soon rise from the horizon. The woman laughed, having a room was a benefit she only won with the promotion and that was perfect at the moment. “Or right now every single one would be awake.” She didn't mind speaking her thoughts loudly when she was alone, an habit she kept since she was a child. Veronica took a towel and removed the sweat from her face and hair, she picked a black dress made of expensive cloth, the gift her father gave to her when the promotion was announced. It fitted well, but the lack of something more... protective was not helping her. The clothing that seemed as a waistcoat was made of leather, the inside of the cloth was much more comfortable than the outside showed. She wore the two belts that held her swords, both crossed, and a third that held the longsword. She put the first pair of boots she saw and walked to the dinning hall. The boots barely made any sound when they met the ground, which was a good thing, since no one needed to know that she had a nightmare that night. She looked at the window facing East, the Sun was about to burst in the horizon. Minutes passed until she reached the dinning hall, completely empty and the worst happened. 'Nothing to eat.' Veronica was about to walk without destiny in the castle when a man walked through the door that lead to the kitchen, a sandwich in his hand and a letter in the other. It took a few seconds until he saw the woman and recognized her. He smiled and waved with the hand that held the letter. He walked to Veronica, finishing his sandwich a few seconds before he started to talk with the woman.
“Sorry ma'am, didn't recognized you with the dress. I just arrived, and the leader from the Crimson Shadows replied,” Veronica's stomach roared “I'd say he's pretty anxious to meet you, ma'am. Now, pardon me.” He gave Veronica the letter, and exited the room, without an expression in his face. The woman sat on a chair close to a window and read the letter.
While I appreciate the interest, and concern, I will not be open to discussing matters that are private to my clan over letters, especially with a stranger, even one as friendly as you.
If you wish to speak to me regarding my clan, I will be in the White Shadows encampment as you receive this. Meet me there.
It took a few seconds to Veronica read the letter, and a few more to she understand that the man named Dastan was already waiting for her. She walked to the kitchen, and asked for two sandwiches, She ate them in the way to her own room, where she took a traveling cloak. Less than twenty minutes later she arrived at the stables. The movement awoke the horses that were sleeping. Time passed, and Veronica exited the stables with her dark horse. The city's streets were quite, the sounds consisted of nothing but the horse's steps, almost no one to be seen. Veronica didn't cover her head with the hood, she wouldn't do it until she exited the city. The gates opened and the cold breeze met her head, her hair dancing with it as she saw the landscape. She wore the hood and shortly after that the horse started to gallop.
[White Shadows encampment, 2 hours before twilight]
The travel to the Blackhurst's ruins didn't bring many things. Veronica stopped twice to give water to the horse, and met no one in the way, except for a few birds. The encampment exhibited ruined walls and gates, and Veronica little knew what she would need to do to cross them. As she and the horse stood close to them a voice could be heard from inside, interrogating her name and what brought her to the encampment. The woman took a deep breath, she wanted them to hear. “My name's Veronica, I seek the man named Dastan, he invited me to come here.”
Dastan was talking with Alistair to pass the time, getting all the details he could out of the man, concerning his time away from the White Shadows, and everything that had been happening lately. Through him, Dastan discovered that Lena Turner had recently returned to Valcrest, which was very interesting. However when Dastan asked how the woman was doing and where she had gone, Alistair suddenly became nervous as if he wanted to answer, but wasn't allowed to. Before he had the chance to say anything, however, someone came calling for him, at the same time as one of the Crimson came calling for Dastan.
Waving over his shoulder at the former healer, Dastan followed his mercenary to a spot where he had full view of the gates, the man nodded towards the woman who was there. "She says you invited her here, Shaykh. Do you know her?"
"She called me by name?" Dastan asked, still watching the woman.
"Yes, sir." The man replied.
Dastan waved the man off and walked a straight line to the gates, stopping right in front of the visitor and looking her over before flashing a smile. "Well Miss, you look prettier in person than you do in writing, that's for sure." He stated, stepping out of the W. Shadows territory and retrieving all of his blades from a weapon rack near the gates. "I'm assuming you wouldn't feel comfortable giving up those pretty swords you're carrying, so why don't you walk with me a bit?"
The woman nodded and started to walk, she could eventually hear the man's steps in the snow. The landscape could have been beautiful once, but Veronica didn't know if it still was or the monotonous white gave her that impression. “My name's Veronica, but I'd prefer if you called me Zein.” The woman kneeled close to a tree and moved the snow close to it. She could feel that the sword at her hips just touched the ground. The dress poorly helped at warming her legs, and the boots were not suited for walking there. “You know, it's been a while since I've been away from Newhaven... I kinda miss these small moments.” She stood up, almost instantly cleaning her dress and hands. She could see that the horse moved to the encampment and the healers took him somewhere. Veronica turned around to face the man named Dastan. “But we aren't here to speak about me. Maybe you should begin?” She smiled, inviting him to follow her. Without waiting for any reaction she turned around and restarted to walk, her right hand starting to ache due to the snow.
"Zein, eh?" Dastan asked curiously. "Very well, Miss Zein... The respectful way to address a leader in my clan is by surname, therefore most of my kinsmen call me Shaykh. However, I always ask my friends to call me Dastan. So you may call me either one, depending on whether you prefer to be friendly or respectful." He said, watching her with only the corner of his eyes as he walked after her. "And I'm afraid we are here to talk about you, Miss. You contacted me, so it's only natural that I want to know who you are. I'm not about to go on about my clans affairs with you, a complete stranger, before I know why do you feel that it concerns a Lady from Newhaven such as yourself."
The woman still walked when she hear the last words, and yet she answered without moving her hear. “Ah... as rational as a leader should be. As you can see, the news about the recent... conflict between your clan and the Wolfpack recently reached Newhaven, or more precisely... the castle. And I've also heard that things are about to worsen and too much blood already fell in this earth. I'm here because I may be able to help you and your clan due to my position there” Veronica stopped walking and faced the man “I'm not officialy representing the castle, I'm here because I feel that something bad will happen soon or later and I also believe I can help due to my position as a...” The woman was facing Dastan “As a White Knight.”
Dastan's brown eyes narrowed and darkened as the woman mentioned she was a White Knight. His posture also changed to a far more tense one as he stared at her. "Miss Zein, as pure as your intention may be, or at least appear to be... Do you honestly believe that involving your city or its army into this will avoid any bloodshed? Your noble parents didn't teach you our beloved Land's history while you were growing up? Or perhaps the story is told differently in Newhaven..." He said in a slightly bitter tone. "I'll enlighten you: Your army's interference is the reason my city of origin is in ruins today. Newhaven and Blackpond turned Brightvale and Effort against each other, and now the Crimson are all that's left." He snorted angrily taking a step closer to the woman. "My clan is free. We live free, and we'll die free if it comes to that. So, unless you have one reason as to why I should believe this case to be any different from all the other times anyone from your city or its rival has offered me their assistance... Our conversation is done. The Crimson Shadows can fight their own battles, thank you very much. Newhaven and Blackpond have done enough for Valcrest as it is."
“My father tried to teach me that it was only safe where his money was, and since I'm actually here,” Veronica emphasized the last word, “it's pretty clear that he failed at that. The man that taught me everything I know died four meters away from me three years ago when we were fighting for the lives of thousands.” Veronica unsheated the longsword, quickly stabbing the soil. “His name was Jon, this sword belonged to him and I'm only alive because he died. When he was alive he taught me many things, three of them incredibly important. First, there are no coincidences. Second, Polarity rules the world. As you can see Shaykh, there's fire and water, darkness and light, active and passive, the wind and the earth, the Sun and the Moon and in a war there's always two sides. When the soldiers can't fight anymore or the leaders are dead the war ends, but there's always another war somewhere to peace exist somewhere. Things moved on at Blackpond and Newhaven, but according to the reports I've been reading in the last three days, and in my opinion Dastan, the bloodlust just moved from my city and Blackpond to the Wolfpack and your clan. It's just a matter of time to the active act and the passive react.” She saw the man opening his mouth to speak, but spoke faster than him “And third. Jon taught me that there's no better way to demonstrate that your intentions are pure than fighting for it. And here we are Dastan, I don't care if you use your Enlightenment, but if I win you're the one that will pay me a drink someday.” Veronica smiled, but that faded away as she unsheated the swords on her hips, holding them in a reverse grip. She cut the dress with the right sword while her left foot moved forward. Veronica spun both swords on her hands while the cloak fell to the ground. When the movement ended her breathing accelerated. “I'll give you ten seconds to start, and you know you can't say no to a duel, Dastan Shaykh.” She saw that the colors of his eyes changed, and that only motivated her to fight even more.
"Very well, Miss Zein..." Dastan muttered. He had turned his back already when the woman went on talking and challenged him to a duel, but he was never one to back away from a fight, it didn't matter how much he wanted to walk away, so he stayed put. "If that's how you want to play it." As he said that he turned to face her again, and got rid of the crimson red cape he had been wearing over his shoulders, revealing bare arms and thin clothing underneath. Even so, the cold didn't seem to bother him in the least. He unsheathed both his swords at once, holding them in a reverse grip, the tips of the curved blades nearly touching his elbows as he did so. "I'll tell you what I was taught: I was taught to be the best fighter I could be, and then push myself further. However, I fought more than enough to learn for myself that fighting proves nothing; not even who the best fighter is." He smirked slightly. "Have it your way though."
As he spoke his eyes darkened further and further and staring into them was similar to looking down at a bottomless pit; there was nothing there but sheer darkness. Beneath their feet, both their shadows moved on their own; threatening to rise at any moment if summoned. While the dark eyes and shadows gave Dastan an extremely frightening look, the man opened a smile as he corrected the grip on this right sword, lunging forward and aiming a slash at the woman's chest with it, keeping his left sword free to defend with.
While the man runned towards Veronica she laughed, “Anything for a nice drink, eh?” she moved the left sword, her arm and the sword making a V. When the man was close enough she spun on her right foot, if she timed correctly she would have corrected Dastan's sword motion. Dastan's sword was met by Veronica's, however, he didn't really expect anything different. He kept pushing the blade of the sword against hers, smiling at something over her shoulder. He summoned the woman's shadow behind her back, and an exact replica of her blade was now making its way towards the back of her neck. Veronica felt something moving close to her neck, she was blocking his sword with the left hand. “Oh, you...” she removed her left arm from the block while she dashed to the right. Her right arm and the sword making an arc from right to left. She could feel a small flow of blood falling from the back of her neck.
Veronica wondered if Dastan was a Shadow Manipulator when something cut her neck, the occasion confirmed it. She quickly jumped to the left as she saw her own shadow moving. "So that's your game?" Veronica laughed, still doing her dance with Dastan. "Not that impressive, well let's heat this up, shall we?" The woman run towards Dastan, raising her right arm to make a down-cut. She was aiming at Dastan, but the motion wasn't supposed to hit him. Dastan tilted his head curiously as Veronica ran towards him raising her sword. Calmly he sheathed his left sword and raised his left arm, placing his bare forearm in the path of the blade, a black shield appearing to protect it from the blow. However, feeling something move behind him, he'd forgotten one small detail; it was Veronica's shadow he had conjured, leaving it unattended would cause it to mirror the woman's movements... From the opposite side... "Bloody hell." He muttered as he turned on his heels to block the shadow with his sword. Walking backwards and removing both the sword and shield from the block, he quickly moved behind the shadow, making it stand between himself and the woman, before dispelling it.
"Let's make this impressive then, shall we?" He spoke, both his eyes darkening to pitch black, as the red cape he had discarded earlier rose from the ground, seemingly by itself, and flew towards Veronica's face. Dastan's exact shadow-replica launching itself at the woman with both swords.
"Your orders Shaykh?"
"Mercy." Dastan whispered.
"As you wish." Jon replied.
Having given orders not to aim for a killing blow, Jon slashed with both swords simultaneously, the right sword slashing at Veronica's abdominal area from right to left and the left sword slashing at her chest, from left to right. “Impressiv-” the woman had to cut her phrase to avoid the vicious motion. She dashed backwards, fast enough to avoid the shadow sword to meet her abdomen but slow enough to allow it to cut the dress. Watching that the shadow would be unable to make a move for a second she decided to try her luck. Veronica spun the left sword on her hand while her right elbow met where the chest of the shadow would be, the blade shortly following. Her back throwing both to the ground, the blade locking the cloak to the ground. Despite falling to the floor, Jon seemed unfazed by the hit to his chest or the blade pinning the cape to the ground, with one single rip, the shadow freed the red fabric from the blade and wrapped it tightly around the woman binding her arms with it. The shadow-swords now gone, Jon's hands now gripped the edges of the fabric, pulling on them slowly and gradually tightening its hold.
“Oh come on...” Veronica cut the fabric that held her left arm, almost breaking it within the act. She used her weight and strength on the right arm to pull the shadow and the fabric over her, throwing the remaining sword at Dastan, although she blindly aimed, it seemed that the sword would make the way to one the man's knees. Jon immediately turned his 'face' towards Dastan and vanished into thin air. Dastan had noticed the incoming sword a little too late and while he mostly managed to get out of the way, it nicked the side of his leg. Jon reappeared in front of the man, arms crossed over his chest in a protective posture.
"Yes. And did you have to ruin the cape, idiot?"
"I will take the Master's clothing into more consideration in the future." Jon replied, with a slight bow of his head, before conjuring a dark bow and arrow and aiming it at Veronica.
"Mercy." Dastan repeated, and the arrow was aimed at woman's left shoulder instead of her chest.
"How much longer are we playing this game, Shaykh? The Sun will be down eventually. The Moon is not our friend."
Dastan chuckled. "No need to take that long, now."
A soft snicker echoed in the back of Dastan's mind as the shadow released the arrow and advanced, now holding a double-scythe instead of the bow and following the arrow with a slash of blade to Veronica's legs. "As you wish Master."
When the shadow disappeared the woman rolled to catch the sword that should have held the shadow to the ground, she sheathed it and faced and tried to reach her longsword while Dastan and the shadow apparently had a dialogue. Veronica removed the longsword from the ground as the tip of an arrow cut a small portion of her flesh. She jumped backwards to avoid a hit from the strange weapon the shadow wielded. While jumping she hit the double-scythe with the tip of the sword, allowing her to enter the “Vom Dach” position, the sword made her movement, an arc from right to left that should have decapitated any living creature. She took a few steps to the right, adapting the position so the tip of the sword would face the head of the shadow. The woman smiled. “Well... he can't die, now I'm certain. But your leg shows me something else mister Dastan.”
Dastan raised an eyebrow as Veronica sword slashed across Jon' neck, however she shadow remained intact, as if the sword had cut through water. "If you weren't distracted staring at my legs this would be over by now, Lady." He joked. "Here's a few definitions of what a shadow is, Miss Zein: The rough image cast by an object blocking rays of illumination; An imperfect imitation or copy; A ghost, or phantom; A constant companion; a dominating presence or influence... I could go on." He said with a smile. "A shadow can be all of that and more, but it cannot be killed, because it cannot actually live."
As Dastan spoke Jon moved towards Veronica without order, hooking one of the blades of the scythe on the sword and pushing it downwards, spinning so that tip of the upper blade moved in the direction of Veronica's face, but stopped before it touched her, still bound by his orders.
Veronica's arms trembled, and she laughed, “Well, it was worth the try, but it looks like your friend cares a bit for you,” her left forearm and elbow met the blade and slowly started to pull it up. “Which is quite understandable, since without you he wouldn't...” she allowed the shadow's strength to pull the sword, guiding it so the blade wouldn't harm her head, “exist.” She spun and dragged the shadow with the sword, the scythe still attached to it. Veronica stabbed the ground with the sword, she spun again on her feet, unsheathing and throwing the short-sword, this time aiming to his shoulder. She looked behind, the shadow disappeared, the woman removed the sword from the ground and started to run towards Dastan, still laughing. “Count it as a courtesy, since I've the feel that you avoided my death twice so far, but I'm still not willing to pay you all the alcohol in the world.” When the man got in range Veronica made the arc, moving from her bottom left to her upper-right.
Dastan chuckled slightly as the woman managed to avoid Jon's attacks and throw a sword at him yet again. Jon disappeared like last time and reappeared next to Dastan just in time to block the sword. Dastan dispelled the shadow, however, while Veronica ran toward him, he unsheathed his short swords and holding the blade of his right sword pressed to his forearm he caught the blow of the sword, amusement all over his face as he took a couple of steps back. "All the alcohol in the world? Wow, my reputation is better than I though!" He exclaimed. Then he sheathed his right, sword, but kept his left one at hand, just in case the woman had too much of a competitive streak on her. "Tell you what: My camp is a lot closer than any Inn, and we have a good supply at hand, not the best quality, but plenty to go around. That'll save us both some coin and I much rather be drinking right now." He smirked and added. "I can always finish you off at another time."
The woman smiled as she grabbed the swords that were lying on the snow, sheathing them after a few seconds, making the same with the longsword. Veronica took a few steps back to get her cloak, wearing it as soon as she could. She turned to Dastan, the man surely walked fast. “Hey! Care to wait?! I'm not that fast!”
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.
The blind woman stood patiently listening to the woman’s ramblings for quite a bit of time, frowning as she tried to sort out something consistent in her words: Seems she was looking for someone.
When she felt the woman lean close to her and pull back, stating that she couldn’t see, Crys couldn’t help a small chuckle, although laughing caused considerable pain it was somewhat relieving. Finally she reached out with her left hand and found the woman’s shoulder gripping it gently as she leaned forward, trying to grasp the woman’s attention for more than a split second. “Who is this friend you’re seeking? If you give me his name, maybe I can find him for you. Otherwise, do you mind if I walk while you ramble?” Having said that, she slowly walked around her new acquaintance towards the direction she assumed the medics were. She had a slight feeling that she might drop unconscious eventually and she’d much rather do that in the infirmary.
Luckas strolled in casually into the medics ward and was greeted by one of the medics, an older woman with blonde hair and hazel eyes. “Is there something I can help you with, young man?” She asked, looking Luckas from head to toe as if asking if there was something wrong with him.
“I’m just here to see a friend.” He explained. “I was told she was brought here.”
“And it can’t wait until morning?” The woman asked, raising an eyebrow at Luckas. “You look awfully pale.”
“I’m just like that.” He mumbled, frowning at the woman. “What are you implying?”
The woman smiled kindly at Luke’s annoyed expression. “Nothing... Who are you here to see?”
“Captain Mageria.” Luckas answered already glancing in the direction of the Captain.
The woman shifted uncomfortably and lowered her voice. “Only a few minutes… And don’t upset her, I would hate it if we had to tie her to the bed.”
Luckas snorted a laugh. “I’d love to see that, but don’t worry… I won’t stay too long.” He stated, walking past the woman with a polite nod. Casually pulling a chair from a corner of the ward and placing it near Mageria, ignoring Tala’s low growls at him. He snickered softly as he spoke. “Well, you look like crap, Captain… Seems like you had all the fun while I was away…” Luckas commented, leaning back in his seat and staring idly at the ceiling. “I don’t understand this I hear about Pondus, isn’t he the guy who died?”
[Crimson Shadows' Encampment]
Allison was perched on top of the temple tower watching her surroundings; or rather listening to them. Her eyes were closed and she could feel the soft breeze beginning to chill the air as the Sun went down. She has spent her day, after she parted ways with Crys, with her mother's journal, separated from the rest of her group, but still keeping an eye on things as per Crys' request. It was calm in the desert all day, calm and quiet, too quiet. Meditating had become a ritual for Ali in the past three years; one that had been imposed on her before, first by Theron and then by the White Shadows, but one she was not very very fond of until she moved to the desert. The Crimson had stories, which they told their children, about how Air whispers to them through the wind that blows from the mountains. Indrani truly believes that the spirits of her forefathers live in the waters of the rivers... These stories, although only superstitions and legends meant to keep Effort and Brightvale alive somehow, sunk into Allison in a way that led her to relate to the elements somehow, Water specially. Water always calmed Ali, that's why she always escaped to the lake when she lived with the Wolfpack. Reading her mother's journal she remembered her childhood by a little a river, fishing with her brother, just sitting lazily with her feet in the water... It made her feel at peace like she hadn't felt in a very long time.
She never got far into the journal itself. Rather she reread the first pages repeatedly, after a while it felt like she could hear her mother's voice... She whispered in the back of her mind... She whispered in the wind from the mountains...
I don't know which of my children will be reading this, if any. I hope you all survive and grow up to be as happy and brave as I know you are today, but I know the true face of the world is never the one we dream of, it is cruel and cold enough to take a child's life before it even had a chance to begin. Since I don't know which of you will be holding this, I will refer to you simply as Child.
I know I will die soon, reason why I'm leaving this journal with someone I would trust with my life and yours. Remember this in the future, should you ever need guidance you should go to her at anytime. The White Shadows are outstanding people, but not one of the many I have met in my life has ever come close to Lena. I hope she follows my instruction not to read this though, I would hate it if she knew how highly I think of her.
As I was saying, I know I will die. No. I am dead. As you read this, I am certainly dead. I want to flee, to take you away, but if we flee they will know who we are and they will track us down. We have better chances of surviving an attack than that foul beast they send after the ones who try to escape. The ones who survive never survive for long, and they never truly return. It's a fate worse than hell, and I will not risk putting you and your siblings through it. I would rather see you dead.
The man who does this will die by our hands, so says the village seer. We will kill him defending our homes; that man with evil red eyes. I have never met him, but I have heard of him, and I have seen his work. He tears your mind apart until he finds what he wants, and then you think it will stop after he leaves, but it never stops. It doesn't end... It's a terrible way to die. He took your grandfather, and I will never forget the horror in my father's eyes as he died; I was a little girl, but I remember it well.
My dear Child... I know that you probably see our demise as a pointless act of War. Perhaps, by itself, that's what it is. As you read this, I hope you understand that if you consider the grand scheme of things our lives meant nothing, but our deaths count much more than anyone can ever imagine. We give of our lives to defend this land. It is a burden we are born with, that we carry through our lives, and will carry to our graves. You will as well, my love. Even if right now, you still don't feel it. It is natural to try and avoid it, escape it, but understand that you cannot truly evade your fate. Perhaps somewhere else in the world, but not in Valcrest. The magic of this Land binds us, connects us together, it moves us... It flows within our veins, in every plant and animal, underneath the earth, through the air... It is everywhere and in everything and without it, we are less than nothing. We depend on it to survive, and it depends on us to exist, it's a very thin balance; one we would not like to see disturbed.
Finally, my dear beloved Child; never forget who you are. Never forget you were loved. You are loved still. You are loved forever.
Amanda J. Blake
Allison read and reread those words, trying to make sense of it even though her mother stated that the book would explain it. Truth of the matter was: She was afraid to go through it. What if she finally began to feel the weight of some invisible burden she was destined to carry? Was fate a real force to be feared? Ali always saw it as a word people used to justify their ideals. She never believed it, but there was one thing she agreed on: Everything in Valcrest, no matter how small, always seemed to be connected somehow. Ali had moments through which she saw those connections everywhere, but eventually she ended up telling herself she was getting paranoid. No matter how many times she told herself the same thing though... She never stopped seeing the connections here and there.
All of a sudden a sound that didn't quite belonged reached her ears, coming from the direction of the forest; The sound of tree branches being torn out of the way, the sound of animals startling and fleeing, making room for something... Something greater than them. Her eyes snapped open glowing blue as she focused on trying to see as far as the trees at North; She couldn't see that far, however she had a bad feeling, and it was enough.
Bow in her left hand, she made her way down as fast as she could managed, pulling an arrow from her quiver as she headed towards the camp. By the time she arrived there, battle horns were sounding as a warning, silenced within minutes as the assassins arrived, at least a hundred of them, maybe more; a dark cloaked wave of death... The Pack was finally fulfilling their threats and launching an attack on the mercenaries.
Allison discovered right then that Indrani was away... And so was Dastan, and so was Crys and so was Evin... Their side had nothing better than her and Jackson for leaders; this would be a massacre. "Travis!" Ali shouted as she gripped one of their assassins by the back of his shirt. "Listen to me: Get everyone who is decent with a bow on top of the buildings, blend our fighters amongst the Crimson and make sure to secure the civilians inside the temple!" As she spoke she shot an arrow over the man's shoulder, hitting an assassin in the throat.
"Where will you be?" He asked.
Ali was already moving away, but she responded with a groan that sounded a lot like "The best seat in the house."
The Crimson were arming themselves in a hurry: Men, women and any child old enough to support the weight of a sword. At Trevor's request they sent their little group of archers (mainly hunters) to the top of the torn constructions. Effort builders quickly armed traps on the ruined buildings. The Wolves weren't coming in their highest numbers, and the Crimson outnumbered them slightly if counting all the armed kids who should never have to feel another's life in their hands, but they still had the advantage over the mercenaries. A lot of Crimson were killed before they had the chance to see what the commotion was about.
"Blondie! I thought you said the Pack would never fight this openly!" Jackson said, arming his bow and running after her.
"They never have! I honestly don't know what the hell got into Sean!" Ali made her way back up the tower, activating her enlightenment do that she could easily spot the enemies below. She could see the entire camp from that spot; it was a not a pretty sight in the slightest and it was bound to uglier by the second.
"Son of a bitch... He's finally lost his mind!" She muttered as she began to shoot the assassins below. One of them looked up in her direction with an orangey-yellow glow in his eyes and fired an arrow; not at her, but at the tower... The arrow exploded as it hit the stone and Allison heard the rocks begin to crumble. "Holly shit." She muttered, as the man drew his bow one more time.
“Well, you look like crap, Captain… Seems like you had all the fun while I was away…”
Mageria would have laughed, if it didn’t hurt so much.
“Fun is one way to put it. But you should see the other guy.” she whispered raspily. The bruises and swelling on her throat were making it hard to do much more than breathe, let alone talk. Rolling her head back to where it had been, she closed her eye, relaxing just a bit. Crazy as it sounded, the idea that Luckas was there let her let her guard down for just a moment, let her stop fighting the drugs the medics had poured down her throat. Luckas had his own reasons for wanting her alive and well, until he achieved those goals, he’d do what it took to keep her alive. She always hated laying around in the infirmary, she couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was going to come around the corner when she wasn’t looking and come after her. Ridiculous, but she still felt that way.
“I don’t understand this I hear about Pondus, isn’t he the guy who died?”
She twitched her shoulder in what might have been a shrug.
“I thought he was dead. The man who died in my arms looked like him, spoke like him, had his memories . . . he even seemed to think he was Grim.” She swallowed and started coughing. Her abused stomach muscles started screaming in protest and she couldn’t sit up enough to breathe. Luckily Luckas leaned in and helped her up with one arm under her shoulders, propping her up until she could take a deep breath again, heart pounding from exertion.
“I knew Grim Pondus was dead. And then, this afternoon, someone who looked just like him walks in and demands to have his sword back. Worst possible time to push my people. And I . . . made things worse by not even wanting to believe that it was him. There was a scuffle and he went berserker . . . That’s when I knew it really was him. Somehow. And I was the only one who could take War on without killing him or getting killed in the process. It was what you do for a friend.”
Mageria lay carefully back down and rolled her eye back over at Luckas, breath still a bit raspy.
“Not to sound conceited, but I really was the only one who could. I didn’t make Captain just because I killed Morgan. Though that might have helped.” She sighed again, letting her head sink down into the pillow, hurting in every inch of her body. “But this could have happened at a better time, I must admit. Makes you wonder which of the Twins looked our way.” With a sigh, she let her eye drift half closed. “This day is not what I expected when I woke up this morning. But . . .” she glanced over at Luckas. “Where’s Ess?”
Veronica followed Dastan to the gates, wondering how many hours the travel to his camp would take. She left her swords with the crimsons that protected the gate and vaguely spoke to Dastan that she would only pick up her horse and then they would travel to the camp. She checked the wound on her shoulder twice, it stopped bleeding, but would probably leave a scar. She saw her horse and walked to him, a man petted him on the head, he surely wasn't a crimson soldier, he quite remembered her of someone, a man that she thought was dead a long time ago. She started to scream and run “You bloody! gods damned! disgusting idiot!” Veronica was ready to punch him on the face, but as she saw the scar on his face the punch ended in a hug that threw both to the ground. Tears moved across her face, Vane was alive and well. “You idiot.”
The managed to laugh as he hugged Zein on the ground “Come on! The snow is cold! Now get up, it's been a few years last time I saw you.” The scarlet haired woman stood up and Vane shortly followed, the horse took a few steps away from the two, leaving a small trail behind him. “You didn't grew a single inch!” The woman giggled before answering him, “And you are still as fast as a rock!” Veronica wondered if she was in a dream for a few seconds, but then she remembered Dastan, his shadow, and why she was there, her smile faded. Vane noticed that, but before he was able to speak a thing Zein told him. “Look, it's a long history and I really need to travel right now. And I hope you aren't thinking that I'll let you here.” She walked to the horse, picking the riband, smiling.
“Right now?” Vane smiled, he couldn't withstand another moment in the encampment. “As if I'd ever allow you to go without me. But I hope there will be a battle in that place, just to show to you that I'm still the best archer in the world.” He walked at Zein's left side, the horse walking on her right. Dastan was still close to the gates, probably ordered a crimson to get his horse ready. “Dastan! We are ready to go, and this idiot here” she moved her head, making a motion to the man at her left, “is Vane. Probably the best archer that you will ever meet.” She laughed softly, keeping an eye on Dastan.
The mask never changed, it never conveyed its feeling. Unmoving, uncertain, always staring always still. Never any emotion, never any expression. Just the soft whispers that echoed through the deep. Why was everything black? He vaguely recalled asking that, all colors had disappeared save for some cobalt that seemed sneak in. Like the last lights of day just fading off into the horizon, but otherwise all was shadow.
She moved slowly, fluidly, as though everything was decided eons before she acted. The mask of stark pearl lifting and lowering speaking in hushed tones. Words that none could hear. Grim would have stayed forever though, enthralled by the majestic sea. The grounds of glass, and of course his patron, the embodiment of hope. The only light in darkness.
“… I can’t do this anymore.”
Grim shifted uncomfortably, head bowed as a child, his usual remorseful pose. Hands at his side clenched, frustrated, shoulders taut with stress. Legs that refuse to buckle, holding firm to what little ground he could take.
“To what purpose would that serve!”
He raised his head yelling in anger, black bangs shook loose from the sudden shift. His index pointing straight into the fell. Taking a half step forward the disapproval reflected in flecks of emerald.
“How many! How many more must die! Do our lives mean nothing to you? How many more must perish before enough is enough? Please I emplore, I beg! Make this madness stop..”
Grim was a man of stone, but of late he was breaking. Pressures that were mounting were starting to show wear through the behemoth. Rending him asunder piece by piece, working through by inches. Dejectedly he threw his pointing aside, falling heavily to his knees. Face veiled behind messy obsidian locks, eyes cast away from sight.
“I… I don’t know…”
“I’m so afraid of this Enlightenment..”
His eyes opened meekly, taking in the colors and shapes of the sick room one bit at a time. Trying his arms to find them surprisingly free of manacles. Immediately nurses and various staff rushed in on his position. Two of the Black Guard pulled into a readied stance, prepared to take action if it was necessary. Hands began applying salve to his face, their hands flashing through his field of vision. He couldn’t help but jerk away, the defensive instinct to pull away from a blow to the head. Yet they were patient and worked without word. Though a few were jittery, as though they were held under knifepoint to aid the Blade.
He shooed them with a wave of his hand. Pulling himself upright from the poorly flounced bed and onto his feet in a few minutes time. The blood rushing back to his head brought on dizzy spell, but he powered through it. Finding balance on the cold floors and feeling the air about sway and flow. There was swimming all through his head but it didn’t seem to hinder him much. Forcefully he slid one foot forward trudging the rest behind it, working on just walking for now all his will bent upon it.
The healers were not pleased by his efforts and many chided or bargained with Grim to lay back down. Their pleas falling on deaf ears, composure finding itself in Grim’s numbed body. It wasn’t long before he had them tailing him, guard in toe, toward the armory again. The jaunt working out the creaky joints and drawing life back into the soldier.
“Pondus you really must lay down, You’re not completely healed.”
With minimal effort he threw the door aside, the guardsmen positioned there clearly remembering their last encounter. They had merely stepped aside when the Raging Demon approached this time, their bodies were sore enough for one day.
“I’ll lay down when I’m dead.”
This time though, when he looked for his weapon, the Giant’s Knife was missing. A frown crept over his features, and he turned idly to face his would be protestors. Forcing them aside when he marched straight through the crowd. Mageria was always one step ahead of him, guess that’s why she was their captain. His weapon was missing, and he just knew she was behind this.
“I don’t like the color pink, it makes me feel sad, because its so pink.. I mean really who in their right mind pinks about pink? Pink is just so pink. I’ve always kinda liked purple but it’s kinda pinkish too. Though not as pink as pink.
I don’t know, maybe I’m too hard on pink, I mean pink is pink after all. It’s pink in the flowers, and sometimes jam is pink. I kinda like jam when its pink. Ooooh and sometimes people are pink! Isn’t that insanity? Who would want to be pink! Pink is the worst pink there is! Pink is the lowliest pink on the pink scale!
I myself am not pink I think, but I have a friend who is pink, and he has a friend who isn’t pink Ooh oooh oooh!
Do you like strawberries? I like strawberries, mostly because they’re red and not pink. Though sometimes they’re pink and then I don’t like the pink strawberries because pink is just too pink for red strawberries.
That’s why no army wears pink armor either! Because I don’t like pink, and if they wore pink armor, especially pink armor. I’d have to murder them for being pink. Pink is such a stupid shade of pink. I just- ugggh!
Though.. I did like this dress I saw one time it was pink. But it wasn’t pink like pink, it was well, not pink. A sort of different pink. You know like pink that isn’t pink unlike pink that is pink….”
Morrigan had never managed to answer the question but she had managed to find her tongue somehow. Still bumbling about and dancing lightly on her feet. Slamming into the occasional wall or rolling on the floor. Following the wounded Crys like a puppy that was ignorant of its own existence. Reflecting on the finer points of pink and stubbornly refusing to let it go. Viewing her obvious cuts and bleeding as perfectly normal for a stranger. After some time though she did manage to run out of air for the conversation, and actually managed to walk a few halls before chiming in again.
“Do you like pink?”
“You are really pathetic Sean. I may have an identity crisis, but can you blame me? I went from orphan, to prisoner, to assassin, to princess and finally queen all in a matter of five years. All you are is a kiss ass leader with an inferiority complex. Are you making up for something Sean? Is that why you hire sluts like her to run the whore houses like this? You kill me and there will be problems for your poor little cult, Sean and you know that. For that reason, I will not be sending anyone to speak to you.” She stood up out of her chair, purposely spilling the half-finished drink over the. Anyone who watched her do it wouldn’t have noticed that it was on purpose though. She looked at Sean with an innocent smile as if telling him that she didn’t do anything wrong.
Then all hell broke loose. A group of non-assassin types broke into the inn in a stupid bid to make a scene. Ella flinched and looked behind her to see the assassins fight this group of mercenaries. “I have a feeling it will be a nice day to go shopping tomorrow. Maybe I’ll go out around noon to get some fruits for a picnic I’ll take in Newhaven’s park. Maybe you could join me. I hope you like crowds though because most people like to go to the parks if it’s nice out. I’ll hope to see you.” She said ignoring the commotion going on around her. If anyone in this place was dumb enough to kill the Queen, even in the crossfire of the whole scene, they would be making the biggest mistake of their life. Both the Wolfpack and this mercenary group would be to blame for it and they would find themselves in loads of trouble when Newhaven would decide to react. It also gave Sean an idea of how she really wasn’t afraid of a fight.
In all the chaos, she noticed that the noble man himself was a strong enough fighter to hold his own as well. This man made her nervous. People who dressed like him and had the types of skills he did were not who they appeared to be. Maybe she was worrying too much about it, but after witnessing the carnage that went on in the council full of nobles after hearing of the event which has since been dubbed the “Black Scandal” she didn’t know who to trust.
She was walking behind the couple who seemed to want to get away from the chaos as soon as possible. They ran to the door, but several arrows drove themselves into the wood beside them. It was enough of a deterrent for the couple, but not the Queen. She continued to walk to the door, reopening it and waiting for the second barrage of arrows to hit the ground before she calmly walked through the frame and back out in the freezing rain. Some of the mercenaries on the rooftops redrew their bows while some did the smarter thing and didn’t continue to aim at Ella. She looked up at them, still calm and collected. The look was enough for the rest to stop aiming at her. It turned out that they did have hearts. Well, all expect for one. One of them continued to eye down Ella with that arrow. If there hadn’t of been sound of rain hitting the icy ground, she would have heard the mercenaries trying to convince their friend to stop trying to kill her. Finally, one of the mercenaries— with the biggest heart of all—sent an arrow through his companions head to prevent him from killing Ella. Sean would have to thank her later for creating a divide between the attacking mercenaries.
She walked all the way back to the castle alone and without trouble. All she could think about was what had started happening. The chain reaction had begun in the direction of chaos compared to the three years that had gone by in total serenity. “How much longer can it last?” she muttered as she walked over the drawbridge. In the courtyard, there was a group of guards waiting for Ella to arrive back safely. They were all worried yet condemned her as if she was a little child who had stolen from the cookie jar. It was humiliating, but it wasn’t going to stop her from doing it again the next day or any other time she wished to do it. She’d just have to get a little more creative the next time.
“I heard Shaykh came here to see you.” Alistair’s voice sounded in her ears and broke her out of her thoughts.
“Dastan came to see me, yes. What we discussed, however, was confidential.” Annie replied. “Why do you ask?”
“He’s deeply disturbed. I’m concerned.” He stated simply.
“He is under a lot of pressure, can you blame him?”
“Oh, so it has nothing to do with…?”
“Confidential.” Annie stated simply, cutting off Alistair’s question. “You’re not a healer anymore, but I’m sure you still know the meaning of the word.”
“I’m sorry, of course.” He said, ending the subject. “What did you make of Lena though? She didn’t look so good.”
“Long trip.” Annie mumbled, not wanting to think about it much.
Alistair was going to insist, but a messenger interrupted. He gave Annie a letter and pointed towards a man, who was already leaving. He wore black uniforms from Newhaven. Annie gave an intrigued frown as she opened it, he eyes widening at words.
I don’t know how much you know about the events of four years ago, but due to current events I’m afraid I must be vague. This concerns a man known by many names but I believe you knew him as Perry. He had an item in his possession that made him very dangerous, especially those who might be sheltered in your camp; one that your mother asked me to be on the look out for. This item has recently been seen in the Blackpond Castle.
Things here have recently become complicated, but I promise I will do what I can.
“Al…” She mumbled. “This isn’t good.”
Alistair took the letter from Annie’s hands and read it over, his expression mimicking hers as he realized what it meant. “Goddess, have mercy… Not again!” The man ran his hand through his hair, pure fear in his eyes. “We need to get that bloody weapon out of the Castle.”
“We don’t know if the current owner knows how to use it, Al. We can’t overreact. If this person doesn’t know what it is, we can’t just draw attention to it.”
Annie’s attention was drawn by a loud and sharp whistle and by the Crimson Shadows responding to it by grabbing their weapons and beginning to run at full speed in the direction of the desert. One of them stopped and bowed before Annie, an apologetic look in his eyes. “I apologize in the behalf of the Crimson Shadows, Lady Turner, but we have been summoned back to our encampment.”
Annie hesitated, but grabbed the man’s arm before he walked away and took the note from Alistair’s hands and passed it onto his. “Give this to you leader. Tell him it needs to reach Allison or Evin as soon as possible. And it’s urgent.”
“Aye, Lady, I’ll make sure he gets the message.” The mercenary responded, running off after the others.
“Alistair…” Annie started after the mercenary left.
“You want me to go with them.” He chuckled.
“I can’t dispose of any healers, but then you’re not a healer, are you?” She smiled.
“That I am not.” The man stated. “I am taking your medicine kit, however.”
“Take whatever you need.” She told him.
[Desert , meanwhile]
Three Days Grace – Get Out Alive
Ali had a split second to make a decision, she could take a shot and risk having the tower crumble beneath her feet, or try to run down before another exploding projectile hit the stone below her.
Time seemed to have stopped and for a split second Ali remembered Evin’s words to her in their last day in the Wolfpack.
"It was said that Time could dodge lighting, the fastest thing known to man, but if you asked him to dodge the raindrops as well he just couldn't do it. They say he came close at times, but it was just impossible for him to be perfect. Sounds like a great way to train don't you think?" He smiled, looking directly in her eyes.
"Is that why you are out here in this weather? Because if Time himself couldn't do it, I'd say the odds are against you." She said, cracking open a little smile.
"Time was an interesting guy. He could literally stop or go back in time, yet he could never find the time to get everything done. No matter how hard he tried. Given time, he would have been able to do it. Don't count me out just yet."
Making a decision she aimed between the man’s yellow eyes and released the arrow at the same time as he released his, not waiting to see if she had hit him, but trying to make her way down the tower as fast a she could as yet another explosion hit it. There was just not enough time and Ali felt the ground crumble beneath her feet.
Everything went dark for a while. Pain invaded her body, but she found that, luckily, the blast had tossed her away from the crumbling rocks and face down on the sand. Her bow still firmly held in her left hand as she struggled to move through the pain. Faintly, the sounds of battle came to her ears and she enhanced her hearing, trying to tell footsteps and voices apart. A whistling sound cut through the air and she just knew it was coming at her. Forgetting the pain she rolled to the side and crawled away as fast as she could as the warm impact of another explosion pushed her forward one more time. Sand rained down on her and the arrow exploded on the ground, where her head had been just a moment ago. “Son of a bitch!” She muttered under her breath, not enjoying the fact that she was allowing herself to be hunted this way. “I’m not a wounded animal.” She muttered, her eyes lighting up in blue. “Don’t count me out just yet.”
A grin spreading across her features, a half-delighted, half-angered expression, she stood up straight and nocked an arrow, drawing her bow and holding it drawn; closing her eyes and waiting for that sound of the arrow being released; that all too familiar sound. “Come on, you bastard. Come on! Come on!” She muttered between clenched teeth, waiting for the sound. “Show me where you are… COME ON!” And then suddenly, she heard it. The ‘twang’ of the string being released, shortly followed by the whiz of the arrow cutting through the air, hissing as if the wood burned in mid air, definitely him. Ali released her own arrow, pinpointing the archer’s location by the sound, before trying to outrun the exploding arrow once again… This time the blast was a lot closer and it knocked her down, her ears ringing painfully as she tried to push herself up again. This time her arms gave out from under her and she slipped out of consciousness.
“I won’t die here.” That was all Ali could think of at the moment. She would have laughed if she had the strength. Five short years ago, she wouldn’t have cared to fight so hard; she would have welcomed Death with open arms and a smile… She would have welcomed the thought of seeing her family again. Her family was another now, they were very much alive and she would fight like hell to see them again. She wouldn’t die there. “Crys…” She whispered to herself, remembering that she was supposed to send out a warning if there was trouble. It was her one instruction… Crys needed to know.
. . . .
"I don't Ali. At this point I barely even care. I am warning you of one thing: This is it. If you refuse to anything he throws at you, or break the rules, I won't lift a finger to help you. You better believe me. If anything, I'll put you out of your misery myself. That's what you always wanted, wasn't it? So when you meet your brother on the other side you can go ahead and tell him he died for nothing, because you're too much of a coward to take a little pain."
Crys knew very well that was enough to set her off. No matter how fast Ali would come at her, she could block her easily. Ali was terrible in hand to hand, Crys was not. Even so, Crys took the first punch to the face before blocking Ali and pinning her face-down on the ground. When she spoke again it was in her most calm, and dangerous tone. "I've done all I could for you, Allison. When I brought you before my mother for the first time she said you were a wounded animal, the best to do was to put you out of your misery because you would never become anything. And I protected you because I knew she was wrong, but this is it. I can't hold your hand anymore. This is something you have to do for yourself. You have to decide if you want to live through the pain or die a coward."
. . . .
Ali chuckled. “I save your life and you’re a little bit proud?”
“I’ll be completely proud when you stop caring about what I think. I’m not your instructor anymore, neither are you ten.” Crys replied, snatching a bottle from a passing Crimson as they walked. The man didn’t seem to be bothered or insulted by the gesture at all, he simply laughed it off. “Love it how you can do almost anything to these guys and they just laugh.” Crys stated. “Try to snatch anything off an assassin and you’ll just lose your fingers.”
“Not entirely true. I did steal from you once.” Ali stated. “Remember?”
“Are we reminiscing, now?” Crys asked, laughing. “I caught up with you and if you weren’t just a little kid you would have lost more than just your fingers, believe me.” She stopped walking and turned to face Ali. “What’s on your mind?”
“Too many things at once, I’d say.” Ali replied. “Mostly, I’ve been thinking about how things changed so much in such a small time frame. When I’m not thinking that, I’m wondering what the hell we’re going to do now.” She smiled. “But I know you don’t want to hear someone else ask you that.”
“Why should I have to tell you that? The Pack is dismembered Ali, I’m not your leader anymore, there are no rules… You can do whatever you want now.”
“I don’t know what I want to do. I do know what I don’t want.” Ali said, seriously. “I don’t want to be alone again.”
Crys sighed. “We’re all alone when it matters. You know that. We’ll all die alone.”
“I don’t plan on dying anytime soon, Crys.”
. . .
“Advise your mercenary friends to reconsider their allegiance, Allison. Unless you want to witness yet another massacre…” He whispered. “How many more families can you bear to lose?”
She sighed softly. “Sean, you’d be surprised with what I can still bear. Just remember: the less I have to lose, the worse it will be for you in the end.”
. . . .
Another ‘twang’ followed by the whizzing/hissing of the fiery arrows alerted Ali that her opponent was very much alive despite her efforts to hit him. The sounds of blasts were followed by those of screaming women and children. He was attacking the temple where the civilians were. How was it possible that no one had stopped him?
Ali’s right hand filled with sand as she clenched her fist in anger. Before her eyes snapped open she heard his voice, muttering like she had. “Come on, wake up. Wake up. You’re better than this, Bright Eyes.”
Ali felt her heart stop for a painful moment. Only one person had ever called her Bright Eyes in her entire life… This couldn’t be happening. They were dead, every last one, she checked and re-checked… It couldn’t be true. Shaking her head and convincing herself that it was just a coincidence, Ali forced herself to stand and armed her bow again, aiming for the man she could now see, his fiery yellow eyes glowing as he relentlessly attacked the only safe place those people knew, releasing the arrow. He dodged her shot, quite easily, and turned to face her, walking in her direction, walking through the shadows of fighting men and women as if he believed they couldn’t touch him and indeed they hadn’t touched him… As he walked closer she saw in the light of those yellow menacing eyes a face that she thought she’d never see again. Older, changed, but unmistakably his. “AJ?” She mumbled, taking a couple of steps backwards in her shock. She wasn’t the only survivor after all, but what had happened to her friend? Why was he trying to kill her? She flinched again, and again she stepped back as she saw him strap the bow to his back and pull out a sword. He wanted to kill her.
[Flashback – Blackhurst ruins, a little over ten years ago]
“There you are!” A cheerful voice echoed through the ruins of Blackhurst as Ali found the person she was looking for in the temple. “AJ, why are you hiding here? Your parents are worried about you!” She scolded the older boy.
“They’re not my parents.” The boy replied with anger in his tone. “I have no parents, I’m an outsider!” He shouted, standing from where he had been sitting on the stone. “That’s all I’ll always be!”
“You’re not…” She mumbled. “AJ…” She slowly paced towards her friend. “Why are you so angry? What happened?” She asked. “Did someone mistreat you?”
“I’m not… I didn’t… I’m not Enlightened, Ali; Just one more reminder that I don’t belong.” He mumbled, obviously fighting to hold back tears. “They’ll never accept me now. I’ll never belong… I… I should just leave.”
“Everyone is looking for you, Andy.”
“Don’t call me that! It’s not my name!” He shouted out.
“It could be. You could belong if you let them in. You’re just scared, that they’ll abandon you.” She reached and touched his arm. “I like Andy, it suits you.”
“I’ll always be AJ.” He muttered. “I’ll never have a real name. Never, until I know the right one; that I promise.” His eyes were facing the stony ground of the former temple as he spoke, his fists clenched at his sides.
“AJ, please, let’s go back to the village… It’s dark…” She pleaded, the gentle touch on his arm turning into a slight grip.
AJ grabbed her hand to release his arm and pushed her away. “Stop pretending you’re scared, I’m not going back with you!”
Ali had fallen back with the push he gave her and now she sat glaring at him in anger. “Yes, you are, because I’m not going back without you!”
The boy glared back at her for a few moments, but soon his eyes softened slightly and he laughed in amusement. “Bright Eyes, you’re way too stubborn for your own good.” He sighed, offering a hand to help her up; she didn’t take it. He patiently waited for her to stand before starting to walk back to the village.
[Reality - Desert, present time]
That boy… That orphaned boy her neighbors had taken in… That non-Enlightened boy… How was it possible? Ali’s shock ended abruptly as she felt herself raise her bow to block the violent blow of a sword, a pained expression crossing her features as she heard the wood crack under the man’s force. He was pushing the sword with both hands against the bow and Ali could feel her feet slide back a few inches with force. She planted both her feet firmly on the ground and glared into the man’s yellow gaze. There was nothing there that she still recognized, it was a dead gaze. Abruptly she pulled back, letting the man’s own force bring him down to his knees; it gave her enough time to drop her bow and pull her daggers out of their sheets, lowering them to block his blade as he rose to his feet slashing upwards with the sword, towards her face. Again and again he advanced and she blocked him, in her mind she asked every single one of the Twins to bless Indrani a thousand times for all the training she had given her the past three years, hoping it would be enough.
Somehow he managed to push her more and more against the wall of one of the ruined building, she held both daggers between his sword and her face, his eyes pierced into hers and he spoke in a whisper. “You’re way too stubborn for your own good.”
Ali felt a sudden wave of rage wash through her at the words; son of a bitch… She had mourned his death as if he was family… Backstabbing piece of shit! She spat on him and as he flinched and pulled back she kicked him hard in the stomach, knocking the wind out him for a moment, and again he pulled back. Now Ali was the one attacking, numb to any pain, and to any reason; she wanted to hurt him, she wanted him dead.
AJ didn’t seem prepared for that kind of fury, he flinched a little bit more at every hit and eventually the sword was pushed aside by one of the daggers as the hilt of the other was smashed quickly and forcefully into his nose; once, twice, and then again until he lost his balance and fell on his back; the sword dropping from his hand. Ali quickly straddled his chest and pressed both her blades against his throat. “You’re not a Wolf. Who are you?”
The man laughed, giggled even, and seemed unable to stop for quite some time, his blood-stained face showed the most pure amusement, it almost made him look like the kid she once knew. “What tipped you off, Bright Eyes? I’m not one of those puppies, no! You really don’t understand, do you?”
“I thought you weren’t Enlightened.”
AJ spat at her words as if the word ‘Enlightened’ was the worse of insults. “I’m not.” He muttered. “That’s not what I am.”
“What are you, then?” She muttered in response. She wanted answers… She deserved them after everything.
“I… Am… A man-made beast… Not a Godsend freak.” He smirked. “You should have watched my hands, Bright eyes.” He told her, winking playfully.
Ali once again heard that hissing sound, coming from one of her pockets this time. “Son of bitch…” She managed to stand up and get rid of her coat, tossing it aside to explode in mid-air, but she had dropped her knives and her guard was way down. AJ took his shot, and tackled her down; his weight pinning her to the ground, he pressed his forearm against her throat, reaching for a dagger on his belt. “It’s time to go home at last.” He whispered.
Ali didn’t feel the blade as it sunk into her abdomen, but she realized what had happened when her voice came out in gasps. “Not… Going… Without you…” She grinned, pulling an arrow from the quiver at his waist and stabbing the man in the throat with it.
AJ gasped at the pain of the stab, choking and trying to catch a breath. Ali pushed him off of her; big mistake. AJ still had a firm grip on the knife he’d stabbed her with, and it was removed from her wound, intensifying the bleeding in her stomach. She ignored it, unable to feel the pain and the warm blood pouring from the wound. She reached to pull the arrow and end him, but he grabbed her wrist and let out a few hoarse words. “The… Order…” He said. Pulling on his shirt he exposed a mark branded onto his chest; a symbol of what appeared to be an eye with a sword stabbing through it. “For…Give…” He never managed the next breath and Ali never managed to pull out the arrow… They both slipped into absolute darkness.
[White Shadows’ Camp]
Dastan had momentarily lost track of Veronica as he asked one of the men to retrieve the horse he had rode from the desert. His camp was only about an hour and a half away in a relaxed pace so he wasn’t in such a hurry. Night was falling and he had been away all day, but he was sure Indrani could handle the camp without him just fine. His eyes caught a message that was brought in for Annie at the gates, just as Veronica came by, bringing along a man who he assumed was a friend. Dastan examined this man for a brief second before grinning at her statement. “Oh, I don’t know about that Miss Zein… I happen to know an archer who would certainly disagree with that. Me? I believe my eyes much better than your word, no offense.”
As he said that the Crimson he’d asked to gather his ride arrived, holding a light grey mare by its reign. Mirage wasn’t, in any way, the most beautiful of Indrani’s horses, but perhaps for that particular reason she was the most loved by a far and Dastan would often refer to the mare as the most spoiled creature in the planet. She was also, by a far, the fastest; reason why he asked to take her. The mare snorted softly in protest as he mounted and he chuckled. “Aye, must you always call me fat, you spoiled little beast?” He said playfully, gently patting the horse’s neck. He was still laughing slightly when one of his men ran into the encampment, ran a straight line to him ignoring his company. The man seemed to be in a panic and as Dastan leaned over to hear his whispered words, he fell into a panic himself… Even if all that showed on his face was pure rage. Placing two fingers in his mouth the Crimson leader let out a sharp and loud whistle that echoed through the plains; calling his men for battle. He glanced at Veronica and there was no hint of his usual playfulness as he spoke. “Apparently the active side has acted.” He looked at Mirage absently stroking the animal’s neck as he added. “I’m afraid they won’t like my reaction.” That said he kicked at the animal’s sides urging her to run at full speed in the direction of the desert, leaving behind a group of startled mercenaries gathering weapons to follow him on foot.
[Desert, about 45 minutes later]
Dastan reached the ruins of Brightvale to find a full blown battle at its peak. His eyes quickly scanned the ruins and he noticed that the tower of the fire temple had crumbled and several other half-destroyed building had now been destroyed completely. The Crimson flags that marked the mercenaries’ territory were in flames and everywhere his people were dying.
His eyes caught Jackson and he rode straight to the man. “Where is Indrani?!” He asked, dismounting and allowing the startled horse to run its way towards the mountains; knowing that she’d come back later when it was quiet.
“She left with a couple of horses, said she needed to visit a friend in Newhaven… I didn’t quite believe it, but didn’t question.” Jackson informed, causally pulling Dastan out of the way as an arrow flew by and returning the shot with an arrow of his own. “Crystal and Evin are also away at the moment, Allison was the one ordering the assassins around, but I lost track of her a while ago.”
Dastan simply nodded at the man, unsheathing his weapons and running into battle; cursing himself for making so much use of his enlightenment with Veronica… He’d need to wait a while before using it again.
“Apparently the active side has acted.”
Dastan’s words brought a shiver to Veronica’s spine, many thoughts crossing her mind as she mounted her horse; she barely noticed that Vane mounted it, his bow at hand and the quiver with all the arrows at his back. He waited any reaction from her. Seconds apparently were minutes while the words ‘Too late’ echoed on her mind. Vane touched her shoulder with his right hand, vaguely making it hurt. “Look, I don’t know what’s going on, but I think we should follow that man.” Veronica nodded, kicking the animal’s sides. They crossed many Crimsons before she got close enough to Dastan. The horse they were riding was not exactly new, but the many situations he survived made him strong. Ten minutes passed by when they reached Dastan’s side.
“Doesn’t matter what you think about us or what you will say right now, we are going to help.” The woman didn’t even look at Dastan to see his reaction, she removed the man from his encampment at the very day it was attacked, and Veronica felt like she should pay the debt.
[Desert, thirty minutes later]
“Zein…” Vane started to speak, he could hear the sounds of the battle, hundreds fighting, many dying. “I know, I’m hearing it… just like old times, eh?” The man laughed kindly, but both knew that it was only the deep breath before the plunge. Unlike Veronica, he could hear the sound of people falling to the floor, but soon his expression went serious. “We start from zero this time, orders?” Veronica giggled, “Forget hierarchies, protect the Crimsons and drag the Wolves away from the camp. And for Twins sake, after you kill someone that has arrows, make sure to grab them, I’ve heard that the Assassins make the best arrows in Valcrest, and you don’t have that incredible amount of arrows that you should have, Daemonos.”
When they reached the camp both could barely believe what they saw, towers, buildings and other structures were completely destroyed. Vane whispered, “That building, women and children.” Veronica stopped the horse and dismounted, she unsheathed her swords, holding them on a reverse grip, Vane followed her, and arrow awaiting any order on his right hand. Forgetting about the horse, both scanned the battle, trying to identify friends and foes. “Protect the Crimsons, aim for the head.” were her words while she saw the scene. Kids were fighting against adults, and they surely were not ready to do anything. One man was about to blow his sword against someone that should be 12 years old when one of Vane’s arrow went through his cranium. He made another arrow ready, barely carrying to speak the word “One.”
Veronica laughed and started to run, her cloak lying on the floor at Vane’s side. She saw another arrow making its way to another man, when the woman reached the battle a man just at her side fell, an arrow perfectly put on his head. Her swords made an almost inaudible sound as she cut one foe’s throat with the right sword. ‘One.’ She spun on her feet, the left sword entering another man’s clothing, she cut his throat with the right sword and removed the sword on a normal grip. ‘Two, no way I’m losing to you, Vane.’
Vane took a few steps as he saw Veronica running, he made another arrow ready, carefully aiming at one foe that was in the middle of a block. When the arrow’s tip met his target he already had another one ready. He was slowly walking to the fight. He aimed at someone that was at Zein’s side, just to surprise her. “Three,” Vane didn’t need to see that the arrow hit the target, he was far too distracted to dodge. Another arrow flew; he kept an eye on the whole field, checking Veronica every now and then. His bow’s string trembled once again, another foe down. “Five.”
“Just die!” were the words Veronica screamed when she punched a man on his face, her swords laying on his chest and shoulder. The woman removed them, the polished blade now had the blood of many man on it. ‘Three.’ That man had an exceptional will to live, but she shouldn’t be thinking on that, another one fell, the throat almost open, a man that apparently was his friend soon followed him to the ground on his rage. ‘Four and five.’ An arrow hissed close to her ears, a man that was ready to stab her fell to the floor. She smiled while finishing a man that was ready to swing his sword against a Crimson. She nodded to him and restarted her way against the Assassins. ‘Six.’
“Idiot.” Vane released the string, finishing a man that was about to kill Veronica. “Seven.” Two men started to run against him, both screaming. Vane’s arrow pierced through a head, but the second man was far too close to get the arrow ready to shoot. He waited the man to do a motion with the sword, which he dodged easily. Vane took an arrow from the quiver and stabbed the man with it, right over his ear, and guided him to the floor, making sure that he could remove the arrow and it wouldn’t break. “Eight and nine.” He released the bow string again and the arrow flew to it's destiny. “Ten.”
Veronica made her way to the middle of the fight, many children fighting, and many men too. She blocked someone’s attack with the right sword, he was one of the Crimsons. The woman guided his sword to the ground and threw the left one against an Assassin’s chest. She looked at the man to her right; he nodded and ran against someone, the sword ready. She took her sword from the man’s chest and made her way against another foe. ‘Eleven and twelve.’
Sean didn’t bother giving Ella any more words, he stood quietly where he was as she turned to leave, seemingly unfazed by the commotion of people fighting. “Watch your step on the way home, Kid.” He said, raising his voice only slightly. It might have seemed as if he was threatening Ella as he glared at the back of her head, looking quite upset, but the comment was in no way directed at her. He waited patiently for her to leave before nodding at Sheila. The woman pulled a whistle from her pocket and at the sound of it about fifteen assassins came down from the upper levels. Sean gave them a sign of hand, nothing more and they immediately attacked the invading group without mercy, pushing the fight towards the exit of the Inn.
Indrani listened to Sean’s words and immediately understood that the tunnel to the sewers contained a few traps. “Really, Alpha?” She chuckled when more Wolves were called down to help. “You can’t handle these guys without help? I’m so disappointed in you.” She had pulled two curved daggers into her hands, but she only bothered to move the moment she spotted a hunter manage to get past the Wolves towards the bar, she then got in the man’s way, slashing at his face with one of her blades. She would’ve thought he didn’t notice her except he easily dodged the hit and quickly countered. She struggled to block the hit, the guy was a little faster than she would expect for someone his size, a little faster than she thought would be normal; in fact, a little too fast.
Sean chuckled at Indrani’s comment, but his expression was serious. He had pulled both his axes and was holding them behind his back, scanning the bar. Amongst the fighting Wolves and Hunters a few civilian patrons were hiding under the tables, way too afraid to try and reach the exit, movement was difficult due to the increased number of armed people waving swords and daggers around, and someone could easily get a limb sliced off be walking in the middle of that mess. His eyes finally caught everyone, something in his instinct told him Ari would be safe with that guy she was with, even though he didn’t know who he was, and getting out wasn’t really in Sean’s plans, so he figured he’d give Indrani a hand as he caught her struggling to fight off a man who seemed to be way faster than a normal fighter should be.
The man was obviously enlightened. There was no way anyone could ever be that fast otherwise. Indrani seemed so caught up in trying not to get her head sliced off by the man’s blades that she didn’t even see where Sean had come from. Next thing she knew the guy was fighting both of them without the least of difficulty. “Where’s that ridiculous contraption of a weapon you so love to use?” Sean asked, ducking under one of the man’s swords and attempting to hit the back of his neck, finding nothing but air as he had already moved.
“Not very practical for a bar fight, love.” Indrani replied. She chuckled despite almost having a blade slash her face. Sean took notice of that, and the fact that the man was way too fast. No matter how fast, in what way, or where, they tried to hit; their blades met nothing but metal or air and this was heading nowhere. He could do this all day, but not Indrani; he needed her out.
“Hey, Princess… Take it as payment for the horses.” Indrani heard Sean say. She didn’t understand what he meant at first, but a split second later it became clear when the Hunter turned to stab him and the idiot dropped his weapons instead of trying to stop him. It was useful. As the blade went through his abdomen Sean managed to grip the man’s arm with all his might to stop him from pulling out the sword. In that moment, the man put all his attention on Sean and as he raised his second sword, pointing it downwards to run it through his chest, Indrani caught his arm a split seconf before the blade broke through Sean’s skin, with one quick motion she ran one of her daggers across his throat, slitting it open and killing him instantly. “You dumb bastard!” She exclaimed, as Sean fell to his knees, still holding on to the sword.
“Just go already.” He muttered out. “Doni is… Waiting outside...”
Sean fell to the ground along with the Hunter, trying to breathe through the pain of the stab. It wasn’t such a bad spot, if he got medical attention soon he’d live… “Hey, Sean.” Indrani called. He looked up to see her walking away. “There were two horses, so you still owe me for one.”
Sean choked a bit in laughter. “You… Mercenary bitch…” He blacked out to the sound of her chuckles.
Indrani had lost Ari and Stephan and wasn’t sure if they had made it down, but the way things were going there was little time to think and she had to assume they had, or would. As she passed Sheila behind the counter she shot the woman a glance, knowing what her real feelings were towards Sean she stated casually. “If you even think about letting him die I’ll come back and murder you. Have a nice evening.”
"Twenty one," Vane whispered after he saw the man fall to the sand, it was way too easy to finish people when they were fighting others, but if Zein ordered that, then it would be done. The man got another arrow ready, his eyes trying to find someone that needed help when she saw her. The blonde lied on the sand, a blade in her abdomen and an arrow on the man's chest. Vane ran to them, putting the arrow back to the quiver. By the time he got close to the blonde his bow was on his back, Vane put his right hand over the girl's throat, trying to check her pulse while he moved her right eyelid with the left hand. The girl had blue eyes, and the pulse was weak, to say the least. Vane stood up, made his bow ready and arrow flew, when the Crimson turned around to check who just killed his foe Vane's mouth opened, doing his best to scream. "This one's alive! Gimme a hand!" 'Twenty two' echoing in his mind while he moved close to the woman's ear, whispering "Today's not your day, Cutey Eyes."
The man blocked her attack, Veronica laughed while her right hand met the man's nose, when he tried to breathe she adjusted the grip of her left sword, and made an arc from right to left, bringing the man to the sand. She reversed the grip again, and walked to her next foe. 'Twenty three,' the following man had a longsword, and wielded it with perfection. Veronica got her attention fixed on him, and the man noticed. He started to run against Veronica, the sword ready to make any motion. Veronica ran against him, calmly waiting for his move. He moved his sword, making a downward arc. The woman just took a step to right to avoid the hit, punching the man on the right cheek. He was visibly angry, he rose his sword, trying to create a leftward arc with it. Veronica blocked it with her left sword, and proceeded to cut one of his arms with the right one. She walked to him, spun on her feet and pierced his back with the left sword. She removed her weapon, and walked to help a Crimson. 'Twenty four.'
Before moving the woman, Vane cut a piece of clothing from the man. The flow of blood moving from her abdomen was constant to say the least, and a pool of blood was already made at her side. Vane started to stanch the wound with the clothing. "Do you know a safe place where there's people to take care of her?" he asked to the Crimson, barely looking at his eyes, the man nodded, "that building, there are women there that should be able to stanch it, but..." Vane looked at the man's eyes, his expression showing more that he could speak. "There's no but here, hold the clothing." He cut more pieces of clothing from the man, removed the sand and put inside his jacket's pocket. He removed a bigger piece of clothing, this one he put inside another pocket. He nodded to the man, held the girl and stood up. His back made the pressure on the wound, but the blood still flowed. "Protect your home, I'll take care of this." He ran to where the man pointed, many phrases lying on his mind.
He soon reached the area, a few women screamed, he put the girl on the floor and motioned his head, somehow inviting someone to come close. Two women and a man got there as Vane removed the pieces of clothing from the jacket. They women acted like they recognized her, the man was interested on what Vane was doing. "Here," he removed the clothing, a small amount of blood moved through the wound, "keep making pressure" he pointed to the pieces of clothing with his head. "If she gets a fever, try to cool her down, understood?" He looked at the three in front of him, the man kneeled and started to apply pressure on the wound. The women mumbled that they would get water to clean it. Vane stood up, looking to the battle, "I'm counting on you." He started to ran to where he found the blonde lying. He killed more two while he ran. Once again he kneeled and checked the man. Dead. He broke the arrow that was on his throat, putting it inside his pants' pocket. He picked up a bow that lied close to the where the girl's body was a few minutes ago, Vane kept the bow on his back, removed an arrow from the quiver and allowed it to fly. He got another one ready, "Not today, Zein, not today."
The woman blocked the sword with her right arm, the now red steel making pressure on her forearm, with two other motions she made the man fall to the floor. 'Twenty eight,' she helped another Crimson that struggled against two men, adding two more to her count. The woman was ready to throw her sword against a man when she heard Dastan's voice, it sounded more severe than before, and would have brought many shivers to her spine if she was close to him. Veronica smiled, if she was right, that meant that she would finally be able to see his shadow's true strength.
Acting all too playful Luckas made a foolishly abrupt move towards Tala and growled back at her… That did it: The wolf immediately jumped on him and, hadn’t he been expecting it, she would have caught his neck and not his forearm. Luckas only let out a low groan of pain at the bite; it hurt like hell, but he wasn’t much of a ‘squealer’ as he would put it. He calmy lay on the ground with Tala over him, still gripping his arm tightly. He did appreciate the fact that she could have easily pulled a chunk of his flesh of his bones, but hadn’t; she was simply slowly sinking his teeth onto him, growling still. He looked the wolf in the eyes and snickered. “You have poor since of humor, you know.”
Crys was losing sense of direction, more and more, as this strange woman followed her around, rambling without any rest. So much that at this point she had absolutely no clue where she was anymore. She could hear her new acquaintance stumble after her at every step occasionally colliding with a wall or pillar, seemingly unaware of the world as she went on about how she disliked the color pink, because well… It’s just so damn pink. Crys didn’t know whether to be amused or concerned for this girl, but she wasn’t bothered by her despite her incessant talking being way too distracting. Between that and willing herself to not poke her wounded eye, there wasn’t much attention left in Crys to figure out where she was going.
Heaving a small sigh of relief when her stalker stopped to catch a breath, Crys tried to make sense of the situation, finally she discovered that she indeed didn’t have the slightest clue of where she was, and so she leaned against a wall, feeling that she might just pass out any minute, not the best thing when you’re not sure of where you are. Slowly taking in a breath she tried to sense other people’s presence, faintly she noticed some frightened people nearby, but found that in her weakened state it was hard to tell people apart. “Hum…” She started walking in that direction thinking that at least it was a direction.
“Do you like pink?”
Her stalker had managed to catch her breath and Crys chuckled at the question as she tried to think about it; she had no clue what pink was, even less if she liked it. “I don’t know.” She stated absently. “What does it look like?”
“Tala, enough.” Even when her voice was so raspy that it could barely be understood, it still carried a tone of absolute command. Slowly, Tala opened her mouth, letting loose of Luckas’s arm and backing up, growling the entire time.
“Come here.” For a moment, Tala didn’t move, but then she hopped back up on the bed, circling around to curl around Mageria’s back, eyes still focused on Luckas with razor like precision. She could feel a low continuous growl through her back and the wolf still had a bit of blood on one lip. Mageria put one hand on the wolf’s back, still trying to catch her breath and feeling her chest ache as she did so.
“Luckas, you’re not an idiot. Many other things, but an idiot is not one of them. What the hell has gotten into you?” Behind her she could hear some kind of commotion, but quite frankly, she was in enough pain that she couldn’t turn around and look. Instead she was forced to wait and hope that whatever it was, wasn’t that bad.
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