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Keith Cadwell

Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.

0 · 944 views · located in Ariss

a character in “Ashes”, as played by Bliss

Description

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"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better."



♦ Name : Keith Cadwell Image
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♦ Side : Ashes

♦ Gender : Male

♦ Height : 5'6"

♦ Eye Color :
A tranquil icy blue shade that often mesmerizes others accompanied by thick long lashes that women often envy.

♦ Hair Color :
A bleach blonde color that is slightly on the long side. His gorgeous locks fall just below his ears and side swept to keep out of his field of vision. It almost appears white at times when in sunlight because of how light it is.

♦ Appears to be :
Fourteen years old.

♦ Face Claim :
Alois Trancy



"There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more."



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♦ Power :
"Can't you feel their very breaths? The world speaks to me." He blends in the forest, shielded by the thriving brush and leaves dangling off the branches of trees. The flowers grow as he sits in the meadow and envelope his body. As he rests in the beautiful blossoms the birds and rabbits flap and hop to his side. The birds sing to him and the squirrels bring him tree nuts. The busy honey bees dance around him and the butterflies tickle his nose. The deer nuzzle his hands and the wolves keep watch from the forest for any signs of danger. He wields the power granted to him by the hard and soft ground. With a few twirls of his fingers he can make the plants around him grow tall and large. He can even make them wilt or flourish at his will. The trees lend him their strength with their broad trunks and sheer physical force. Their roots and branches can hit quite hard and they constantly enlighten him with their knowledge. He can trap you in thorns or cushion you with flowers. Maybe he'll summon his animal friends if he so desires. He can communicate with the nature around him and manipulate plant life to his advantage. He is able to understand animals and send them spying for favors in return. Not all creatures respond to his command unless they deem him worthy. He has many animal companions that come and go, constantly protecting him or warning him of danger. The same goes with the plant life. Not every plant responds to his call, especially the trees. The trees are what you'd call wise folk for their many years of life and experience. They've seen many things and contain many secrets that only Keith can access. He is what they'd call the nature boy, one who dwells in the wild.


"I find there is an art in deception."



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♦ Personality :
Keith has a very complicated persona. When the eight disciples were whole he was known to constantly play pranks on his friends and constantly annoy people with his condescending demeanor. He is extremely intelligent and constantly reading books or trying to challenge himself. Many feel mesmerized and comforted by his strange, yet beautiful appearance. He gives off a positive aura and with one long gaze it's as if he's staring directly into your soul. People feel captivated by his gaze and outstanding charisma. Before the divide he was a very gentle person due to his connection with nature. He is also so knowledgeable about just about everything that you believe almost anything he says and many feel as though he can be trusted. However, no one knows better than the other seven disciples that he is not to be trusted unless the smirk on his face has vanished. But his twisted sense of humor makes him spew out nonsense constantly and lies mixed with the truth because he knows others will believe him and he thoroughly enjoys measuring up their intelligence/stupidity. He also thoroughly enjoys messing with people's minds, personal beliefs, and can often go too far in what he says and may terribly insult you though that's not always his intentions. He's just a bit of an awkward person. Keith also has a low tolerance for ignorance. He can't stand when people make arguments based off of beliefs rather than facts. If you don't research what your arguing with him, don't even bother trying because Keith won't hesitate to make you feel stupid or make a sarcastic remark about how you don't know what you're talking about. Aside from his twisted humor, he is extremely conceited and his deep rooted desires are dangerous. He has never been physically built or on the strong side, he is quite frail in fact. This has always made him desire power over others. He knows he has the wits and knowledge, but not brute strength.

Keith's connection with nature has always been a lovely sight to see. He is constantly napping beneath the trees with fluffy animal friends resting beside him. He is always feeling intoxicated by the knowledge the tree's provide him and amazed by the secrets the animals can tell him. He speaks in a different tongue to communicate with the forest and animals through the soils and touch. He cannot speak to anything without plant life around him for he has to be touching what he's speaking to. But he can always have other plants or living creatures send the word to who he needs. Keith cannot command every plant or animal he sees however. In order to do so, that plant or creature must deem him worthy of their time. It takes him so much concentration and a balanced self in order to effectively speak with wooded lands or the grass. He trains with the trees and wild beasts constantly. He can even communicate with insects for their animals too. Keith is always gentle and clear headed when it comes to using his powers. He cannot play jokes or deceive nature for nature will smite him in return. He learned this the hard way in his early days. Nothing peeves him more when those who are defenseless are attacked or killed. It creates a strange relentless rage inside of him. He doesn't even hesitate to stop someone from harming a fellow creature or destroying the wildlife in which the plants flourish. However, once he stops them he'll heave a sigh and calm himself with a few deep breaths. Before he fell victim to his own desires, he was known for walking with men in the woods resolving conflicts that stirred inside them. Keith felt that man's attempts to harm others or wildlife stemmed from their own pain in their lives. He is good at picking and prodding at one's mind and deciphering one's life with only a few questions he'll ask. By the end of the person's walk they always feel enlightened and touched in positive ways after having a one on one conversation with Keith. They'd always feel that all was well in the world again and that happiness awaited them in the near future. Keith had also always viewed the general human population to be a weak and defenseless race whose emotions render them useless almost all the time. He is aware of man's greed and how they have the potential to destroy the world. This often angers him, but he's also aware there's a lot of good people in the world too hence why he'd take the time out of his day to resolve their conflicts when he encounters humans. But after centuries of immortality, the good seemed to have drowned out in the bad. Especially when the world fell into chaos after the Goddess's death, he saw an opportunity to finally seize power and teach regular humans to learn their place in this world. When the disciples divided, he felt no regrets leaving. He found it rather distasteful at the other five disciples lack of action. It angered him and made him view the others to be ignorant and not worthy of his time. However, he always had such a deep connection with each disciple because of their shared immortality. He grew angry and bitter over their great divide. But deep down inside he felt he would finally have a chance to overpower his friends and prove to himself and everyone that he is very powerful. He often denied to himself of his dark desires and at first had good intentions to just protect the world and place it back into balance with nature. Nature cried out to him in a great pain and sorrow that he was especially overwhelmed by when the Goddess died. The sorrow and disarray of the humans spiraled nature out of control and all he could constantly feel was nature's pain. When he and the other Ashes members finally obtained the Goddess's ashes, he felt such a strong lust for power that continuously surged through his veins. It was not surprising when he lost sight of his original intentions and set his eyes on darker goals. But he always kept up his appearances as a sweet little boy who thoroughly enjoyed life and playing pranks on his friends. Sometimes it can even be hard for the disciples to see through his facade and what he's truly after. But his lust for power and the sorrow of nature slowly drives him mad.

♦ Appearance :
Keith loves to wear different styles of clothes and match whatever he wears. However, he usually has a preference for fancy shirts and loosely fitted pants so that he is free to move however he pleases. He enjoys dressing up for special occasions and even loves to dress up his friends. He has a preference for darker colors however. Usually he'll be seen wearing blue, green, purple or black colors. He also carries a small wooden flute with him wherever he goes. It was given to him long, long ago in his naive years by a dear friend of his. That friend has ceased to live centuries ago.





"Every flower is a soul blossoming in nature."



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♦ Likes :
- Flowers
- Trees
- Animals
- Traveling
- Reading
- Learning
- Writing
- Making jokes
- Playing pranks
- Music
- Warm weather

♦ Dislikes :
- Ignorance
- Death
- His immortality
- Clutter
- Tight spaces
- Being outsmarted
- Conflict
- The cold
- Burns
- Lots of wind

♦ Strengths :
Keith's charisma and charm with people makes him a very likeable person. He is extremely intelligent and always looking for new things to learn. He is also a trickster and a master at telling lies or talking around the truth. Though so many people are infatuated by his charm he usually gets away with the lies he tells. He always sounds believable and his intelligence makes others doubt themselves if they are not perceptive of his mind games. He is very nimble and flexible in fights making him a hard target to reach. He also has a fierce determination whenever he sets his mind to accomplish something. He has a very soft, caring side to him in regards to nature where he will always defend the weak or those who cannot protect themselves, plants, animals and at one time humans too. He has a lot of stamina as well so you better be able to match his endurance in a fight. Since he is able to command a lot of life he hardly ever has to use too much energy. However, at times he feels uneasy facing the remaining five disciples in battle for he knows they can match his strength.

♦ Weaknesses :
While Keith's smarts allow him to thrive in battle, his body is actually quite frail. A few hard hits and he'll be gasping for air and being thrown off his game, if you can catch him that is. Beating on smaller creatures that are not as strong infuriates him and causes him to lose sight of his goals for the most part. Though he has a great deal of confidence, it is also his downfall because he often believes he is invincible when he's far from it. Due to his atonement with nature, someone who can frost over the plants or burn down the trees deeply effects him. Storms make him even more weary for strong winds can uproot the precious life that lives within the ground's dark soils. He gets his energy from the plant life surrounding him and without it he is rendered powerless and afraid. While he also feels a lot of anger towards his former friends in the Originals, he also can't bring himself to actually kill them. He's not sure where the battle to come between them will lead. He's supposed to preserve life, not destroy it which causes a conflict within him. Ultimately that conflict will also be another of his biggest downfalls. Once his foes realize his inability to complete such tasks they have the advantage in the battle.

♦ Fears :
Keith truly fears failure more than anything. He feels these huge obligations to the world keep it in balance. If he cannot even accomplish that with his powers, he's not sure at all why the Goddess even chose him for the job. He doubts himself more and more as he falls deeper into his own darkness and eventually no longer feels his role is to protect or save the world. He always saw himself to be the weak and fragile one amongst the disciples and constantly feels this need to prove himself to everyone. He also fears his selfish desires at times. He sees them as dangerous and occasionally struggles with his new found power from the Goddess's ashes. It throws him off balance more than he had anticipated. He also fears the consequences that might come with using the Goddess's ashes.



"Please enlighten me on your so called facts."



♦ Relationships :

|| Louie ||
Keith always had respect for Louie and his intelligence. He always acknowledged Louie's natural gift with medicine and sometimes he likes to create puns for him.

|| Yvette ||
Keith's feelings towards Yvette are a mix of fascination and distaste for her impulses and stubborn qualities. He dislikes how she doesn't think before she acts in battle. Generally, the two dislike each other especially now after the split. Though before the divide, they did tolerate each other and very rarely did they work together.

|| Henrietta ||
Keith currently views Henrietta to be a genuinely stupid person. She was always easily influenced by his charm and wit and much too quick to trust. Though before the split he'd often challenge her mind and make her think hard in hopes she'd open her eyes a bit more to her surroundings. He came to understand after awhile that she was never actually stupid but let her emotions get in the way of too many opportunities. She'd always put others before herself which he found to be admirable, but much has changed since he left the Originals and the idea of emotions clouding one's judgement makes a person stupid in his eyes.

|| Iraa ||
Before absorbing the ashes, Keith and Iraa were pretty good friends. Keith often would challenge Iraa's intellect by constantly giving her riddles to solve that would frustrate her a lot and make her walk away. But he's always been most impressed at how Iraa would always come back to learn the answer and why, which he has found many people don't do. This made him rather fond of her and almost like his own student. He enjoyed sharing his knowledge with her and how eager she was to learn. Not to mention they both had a lot of fun times together. But after the split, it's almost as if Keith lost his fondness for anyone and currently finds her lack of wit to be a nuisance.

|| Neris ||
Neris and Keith used to be very good friends. They'd often have lively debates and study together constantly discussing a variety of subjects. Keith thoroughly enjoys Neris's intellect and diplomatic demeanor. She never seemed to mind him prodding at her mind in the past. However, when they obtained the Goddess's ashes, Keith's character started to change in sinister ways and the two seemingly drifted apart. Though their past bond is still there.

|| Carter ||
Keith has always found Carter's qualities admirable. They have a similar sense of humor and Carter never seems to mind Keith's constant amusement and need to make things more interesting. In return, Keith has taken a liking to Carter though he knows Carter does not want to be friends with him or anyone for that matter. Keith is perfectly fine with that, and if anything, it makes him have more of an interest in Carter.

|| Alice ||
In the past Alice and Keith had a romantic relationship with each other. Keith was always fond of how smart and witty Alice is and how she can almost always see through his mind games and riddles. In fact, he found her to even enjoy them. What made him really fall for Alice was how she could understand how nature is not an element, but full of many entities. He was always able to understand what she meant by fire also being an entitiy. They both have similar interests and Keith has always enjoyed her company and has a weak spot for Alice. He avoids encountering her at all costs, she's the one person he was never willing to hurt.

|| Seishin ||
Currently, Seishin and Keith outright do not get along. They view each other solely as enemies and Seishin has no tolerance for Keith's betrayal. In turn, this causes Keith to have a very sarcastic and condescending behavior towards Sei and hopes to continually piss him off. In the past, they were a great match as teammates being able to connect with nature and Sei with spirits and decent friends. But much has changed since.



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So begins...

Keith Cadwell's Story

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Carter Gray Character Portrait: Alice Ember Character Portrait: Keith Cadwell
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Carter couldn't help but smile as Keith cheered for him and his victory, but that was as much of a reaction as he was willing to give. Instead, he merely looked down at the ground, more specifically at the man he'd just defeated, with an almost quizzical expression. "And Carter delivers the final blow! He wins! Congratulations!" Keith continued to cheer, and Carter chuckled half-heartedly, only glancing up from the body when he spotted the petals showering them from above. As Keith moved towards one of the gunmen, Carter took the time to kneel beside the larger man and check his body for anything that might give a clue as to who they worked for, if they even had an employer. Most likely they were just a bunch of nobodies, looking for an easy way to boost their standing on Ariss by taking down one of the legendary Disciples. Carter scoffed at the idea; no mortal would even get close to defeating them, even if they had an entire army backing them. Finding nothing, Carter finally stood to see Keith scanning a crumpled piece of paper. He waited for a moment for Keith to speak up.

"Look Carter, we're all wanted!" Keith bellowed, and Carter frowned suddenly as he caught the piece of paper and opened it up. The first thing that caught his eye was his own picture, alongside the other Disciples, and then he finally allowed himself to read the print that declared a bounty over them. He wasn't entirely sure whether or not to feel incredibly pissed off or merely amused by the idea that mortals thought they even stood a chance against the Eight Disciples. Whatever he was feeling on the inside, he managed to keep his expression serious and as steady as possible. Keith, on the other hand, held a rather questionable expression which was somewhat worrying. "How unfortunate." Carter silently folded the piece of paper into a small square and shoved it into his pocket, all the while never taking his eyes off of Keith.

"What the hell is wrong with you?" he muttered, allowing his arms to drop loosely at his sides. "You've been acting like a real psychopath lately, and I know that none of us have been quite.. the same recently, but you're by far the weirdest out of all of us right now." Carter's voice trailed off and he wondered briefly whether he'd even made any sense. He wasn't very good with words, as his ever violent nature often showed, and certainly did not know how to correctly express his concerns to his fellow Ashes. "This whole thing is fucking serious, but you never seem to care, do you?" he growled. Then, when he'd had enough of talking and was in no place to stick around to listen to his reply, Carter moved into the none-too-busy streets and scanned the area. He had assumed that, if some attackers were lingering around the factory, that a sort of 'base' was established nearby to keep an eye on the three Disciples. Searching for the mortals would take his mind off of the situation with Keith, anyhow.

His skateboard rolled out from the main doors of the building and Carter grabbed it, then looked up at the doors once more and paused for a few seconds until another of his bats did the same; though it was metal. This was one different to the bats he preferred using - it was quite heavy, but a hell of a lot more serious. He gripped it in his right fist while he hopped onto his board and pushed himself forward, moving down the road with no real sense of speed. He was in no hurry. He was only travelling for around 10 minutes when something rather bizarre caught his eye. A fire. Carter picked up speed then, pushing with more strength until he was rocketing down the street in the direction of the fire. It was large and fierce enough to send mortals scuttling off in odd directions, shoving each other around in order to save their own necks. Carter narrowed his eyes. This sort of fire was not caused simply by an "oopsie daisy" sort of accident. His thoughts then immediately moved to Alice, as did his gaze. He'd spotted her squatting behind a cover, and Carter sensed an opportunity to race forward, skidding to a halt not to far from her - certainly within her line of sight.

Having discarded his skateboard by simply stepping off of it and nudging it with his foot until it rolled down the street, Carter grinned questionably and tapped the end of his bat against the ground, enjoying the sound of metal on concrete. "G'morning, my dear old friend, Alice," he called in a sing-song voice, using her given name only because he knew how much it irked her. "It really is a pleasure to be seeing you again so soon after our little brawl. Say, fancy a rematch?" he asked, though he really wasn't going to take no for an answer. While talking, his fingers flexed and called forth the darkness from a nearby alleyway, trying to do so as discretely as possible in order to catch her by surprise. With each passing second, the darkness drew closer and enveloped more and more of the street in a rather ominous pitch blackness. He threw his arm back suddenly and the darkness whipped forward towards Ace in a wave of black. If he'd acted fast enough, he'd have caught her in a trap where he'd be free to mess with her mind as much as he wanted. However, if he was even a second too slow, she might've gotten away. Preparing for the worst, Carter raised his bat and readied himself for a physical attack, another puddle of shadows pooling at his feet, all the while feeling slightly uncomfortable by the heat from the fire that burned dangerously close to them.

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Character Portrait: Carter Gray Character Portrait: Alice Ember Character Portrait: Keith Cadwell
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#, as written by Bliss
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"What the hell is wrong with you?" Carter snarled. "You've been acting like a real psychopath lately, and I know that none of us have been quite.. the same recently, but you're by far the weirdest out of all of us right now."

He paused before adding, "This whole thing is fucking serious, but you never seem to care, do you?"

Keith's sinister grin turned into a repulsed gritting of the teeth. Care... For some odd reason, Carter's burst struck a nerve. Before he could even respond, Carter stormed off. His face then fell and he felt a sweat break out on his face. His hands gripped his head and for an instant he felt fear run through him. Something was wrong. Very wrong. He struggled trying to shake this fog in his mind that slowly crept through him. It was intoxicating, enticing, made him want more, yet it took it's hold. Suddenly he began to feel as though he could not act on his will. His desires, his darkest desires overpowered all his morality and guilt. Then his face fell still, almost blank and empty and his breath fell short. This suffocating fog... he could not resist it anymore. A long moment passed before he let out a disturbing chuckle. His crystal clear turquoise eyes slowly grew more and more cloudy and fogged. He stood up straight then crossed his arms as he hurried after Carter. One good look at his face would tell you he was dangerous. His eyes had a discomforting hunger and his smile was diabolical. He was clearly not himself. Quietly he leaped off the ground and seemingly floated to the top of the nearest brick wall. He then leaped to the top of the nearest building. It was like he was a frog. His light weight made him agile. He then hurried after Carter following him along the roof tops. Though what he did not anticipate was the sight Carter discovered that Keith saw soon after. A large fire in the distance. Large and almost danced as it rose in the sky. An artificially made fire. A fire that was almost alive.

"Alice," he whispered as Keith's old self seemed to surface for a few brief seconds. He gritted his teeth and grimaced, it almost appeared like he was in pain. But he got a hold of himself when he saw Carter trailing away in darkness. Like a shadow creeping through the streets unseen. This was an opportunity he could not pass up. Picking up speed, he hopped across the roof tops finding himself eventually passing by Carter silently. He had a brutish grin. If he could rid of his one true weakness, he'd be unstoppable. It was decided then, that he had to get rid of Alice. With her, he could not push himself to achieve his true ambitions. The one's he had always dreamed of deep, down inside. This would be a test, a game. A fun little showdown that would end in dire consequences. It was all but too exhilarating for Keith.

He slowed as he approached the fire. At this point he was back on the ground. Silently he crept through the trees and bushes before seeing a road in which the flames stood tall and mortals laid unconscious on the ground. Alice stood there, gracefully, angrily, fiercely. He had a serious look that all the disciples had seen very few times that revealed his darkness inside. However, he did not approach Alice. He only stared narrowly, masking himself behind the trees and plants.

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Character Portrait: Carter Gray Character Portrait: Alice Ember Character Portrait: Keith Cadwell
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To Ace's content, the moment the mortals spotted the fire, they found it in their greatest interests to run like hell. She'd taken care of the humans -- with unpleasant perks, of course --, now if only she could take care of the argument between the two sides. Speaking of the two sides... it wouldn't take everyone that long to get here, but Ace was sure she had a bit of time to think. Maybe to review a few moves. She managed a small sigh as she spared a glance at her shoulder. How clumsy of her... Such a mistake was not acceptable by her standards, and could surely have been avoided. Mph, now was not the time to criticize herself.

She'd have to fix this before anyone else got here. Ace would also fancy a nice visit with Louie, but... not right that moment, of course. Quickly, she took the ribbon from her hair and wrapped it tightly around her shoulder. Okay, now she had a minute or two to herself to work some kind of strategy out... Well, it would depend on who came first. She would hope it would be Henrietta, Iraa or Yvette. All three of them would be even better, but she couldn't depend on luck, who knows how close the others were.

Speaking of the others... was that a skateboard she heard?

Carter? Already? Damn! The last thing she needed was a bat to the head. Then again, it could be worse... if everyone opposing her showed up... In fact, that's actually a possibility. Ace's heart began to race, though she quickly forced down her panic with a sharp intake, which to most would seem like a sign of annoyance. Though her friends knew her well enough to know she wasn't one to show anger.

"G'morning, my dear old friend, Alice,"

Everything about that sentence pissed Ace off. The way he said it simply irked her, and the fact that he just sounded nervy. He surely called her "Alice" only to annoy her. The fact that he did that just to get on her nerves... It was so infuriating! But to Ace's greatest pleasure, she was able to seem calm and keep her anger at bay. Hell, if Carter was so keen on provoking her, then perhaps she'd piss him off, too... No, pissing Carter off, of all people would be the worst thing to do. "It really is a pleasure to be seeing you again so soon after our little brawl. Say, fancy a rematch?

"Well, I don't see why not." Ace chimed, standing still for a second or two. The more she stood, the more she realized something wasn't right. It was too still. Too quiet. And within seconds it might even become a little dark. Her eyes immediately narrowed, and she didn't take her sweet time to stand around like a buffoon and just wonder what was coming. Now standing, she stole a quick glance over her shoulder. All she saw was flames, though her nerves were anything but settled. She pursed her lips and took a running start, her fire following. Though, it was more of a speed walk than a run. She'd learned over years of and living with and simply knowing Carter, that the most assured way to avoid an attack involving darkness was to move. She didn't know where it was coming from; which was why she wasn't moving too fast. But what would be the most sensible direction to attack---

It happened nearly a split second after Alice began to move; Carter had thrust his hand backwards and she found herself running instead of fast walking. She had to admit, running from a wave of darkness was a new experience for her, but part of her feared this wouldn't be the only time. Gods, she'd have to run faster faster if she wanted to get away. Something told her she was screwed-- and, at the moment, Ace feared the worst. She could hear her heart pounding in her ears. It felt like something was tugging at her, like she wanted to slow down, like she couldn't go faster. Why she was cursed to crumble under pressure, she never knew. Her hands were starting to sweat, though they quickly became fists. Coward, She thinks to herself. I shouldn't be afraid. I should be kicking his ass! And right now, that means running a little faster... maybe a lot faster... Inhaling quickly, Ace began to push herself. She knew she could run faster, and she was going to run faster. At this rate, she wasn't sure if she could get out of the way in time--- but another wave of relief washed over Alice when she realized that she'd managed to outrun the darkness. She was still running, though... In fact, she was running straight toward Carter.

He wasn't the only one who could play offensively. She wasn't going to spend her day running, much less from Carter. If she wanted progress, she'd have to be a little aggressive, just as a fire would be. But if she was going to be offensive, she'd have to get close to him, but he was obviously armed--- with a bat. A metal bat. Not a wooden one, that she could easily burn. He was holding a metal bat. She'd have to disarm him, the only question remaining was how? Within seconds, Ace hatched an idea--- she had fire. She couldn't burn the bat, but she could burn the person holding the bat.

If she could burn his palms, then perhaps by instinct he'd let go of the thing that seemed to be burning him; the bat. She didn't think he'd let go out it completely, but if she could take it from him? He wouldn't have a bat... Ace would have a bat. Perhaps a flaming bat. A flaming, metal bat, in her hands. That sounded fantastic. She had to bite her lip to keep herself from grinning at the thought. But in order to obtain a metal bat, she'd need to actually get it from Carter, which meant coming in close. In this cold weather, there wasn't nearly enough thermal energy in the air to create a fire. She could make areas extremely warm while making other places or even herself colder, but there wasn't enough to manage a full-blown fire. She was dependent on her own energy right now, which meant she could only create a fire that was within a foot of her. Of course, once the fire is created, she'd be able to send the fire somewhere else, but that would be far too obvious. If anything, she wanted to catch him by surprise so she'd have enough time to grab the bat... Her window of time would be extremely small, and if she screwed one thing up she could be whacked on the head. Or shoulder. She wasn't sure which was worse... And she wasn't planning to find out.

Once within a few feet of Carter, Ace lined her knuckles with fire, and a fiery figure formed next to her. She wasn't planning to melee fight just yet; she was only attempting to trick Carter into thinking she was going in for a couple hits. Right now, she just wanted to get rid of his bat. Though, if he were to see through her ruse, it wouldn't go well. Hopefully, he didn't know her well enough to realize going in in such a manner was not her style.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Henrietta Cypress Character Portrait: Carter Gray Character Portrait: Alice Ember Character Portrait: Keith Cadwell
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Keith pleasantly watched Carter toy with Ace. The way he wielded the darkness was always so tasteful. Not to mention Carter's weapon of choice was always those bats of his. Keith had always wondered what was so appealing about those bats. Ace was graceful with her quick thinking and swift movements. She was very fast. Keith wondered if he could ever outrun her. While she struggled briefly in the shrouded darkness, Keith felt mesmerized by the battle. There was truly no need for him to step in, though he craved to. Lost in his thoughts, he was startled by a loud cracking of what sounded like joints. He whirled around only to see a brash Henrietta holding her fists inches away from his face. ImageHenrietta was slyly grinning knowing she had caught Keith off guard. Before he was even able to react she punched him so hard in face he was sent tumbling out into the clearing where Ace and Carter dueled. Keith was dazzled, his vision was fuzzy and he felt like he was in a trance. Though he bounced back quickly then rose to his feet. His blood was boiling and for some reason he felt overwhelmingly angry.

"Henrietta," he spat. "What a waste of precious air."

Henrietta glared at Keith in fury. "I'll make you eat those words!" she shouted as she rushed towards him for another punch. Though Keith was prepared, and the trees around him flourished. They answered to his beck and call. As she launched herself after him, a tree root quickly wrapped itself around her feet and dangled her in the air. Henrietta shouted and cussed as she struggled to free herself.

"So rambunctious. So pitifully incoherent. Why would the Goddess ever choose you as her disciple?" Keith snickered after shooting insult after insult at Henrietta.

"Go to hell asshole!" Henrietta spat. She had to remove these roots. They were gripping her feet tighter and tighter. The more she struggled, the tighter they felt. Inhaling deeply, she used her abdomen to thrust herself upright and get a hold of the roots. She gripped them tightly and began to rip them off her feet with an amazing display of her strength. When she freed herself and began to fall back towards the Earth, she shot Keith a wild smile for the instant she landed she lifted the Earth and kicked it towards Keith. He jumped sideways trying to avoid the rubble though a large rock managed to hit him and knock him down landing on top of him. To Henrietta's advantage, she turned her palms upside down and increased the gravitational forces of the rock on top of Keith. He screamed out in pain. He felt as though his ribs were going to break by the force of this one rock. I won't be defeated by some boulder, let alone this wretched rat! He shut his eyes as he struggled to breathe. He could not get up, he could not move, but he could still use his precious mind. He exerted his conscious, searching for any animals nearby. Luckily he found a flock of birds moving about nearby. When he reached them, they already knew of his face. He had no need of asking them for their assistance, it was already his to have. With one command, they took off into the air and flew towards his direction. Keith's conscious snapped back into his body and he was surprised to find himself sweating under the pressure of the rock. Within seconds, the flock of birds darted towards Henrietta. It took her by surprise as they ran into her and began to peck at her face and break her concentration while also blocking her field of vision. She tried to shoo them away and even hit them but there was too many and then, WHACK! She was hit by a root that flung her about twenty yards backwards. The birds dispersed thankfully and she noticed some droplets of blood where she was whipped by the roots. The impact was so great it broke her skin. But it was most like a cut and a large bruise that would leave her sore for awhile.

Getting to her feet, Henrietta wasn't prepared for a stream of leaves that were gathering behind Keith and scattered before them. Each like a dagger floating in thin air. They ran past her and sliced her skin repeatedly cutting through her garments. When it was over she glared at Keith with a solemn face.

"Is that really the best you can do?" Henrietta stated firmly through gritted teeth.

Keith yawned as if he was bored, "Not even close my dear."

Henrietta's face fell as she heard snarls behind her. Turning her head, she saw dozens of plants that were like little monsters created from vines, leaves, branches, moss and flowers. Essentially all the plant life around them. The creatures lunged after her and as they did their limbs were able to grow and extend. She punched and kicked, try to make them float in air or pinned against the trees, but there were too many and they were all scattered and able to regrow. To effectively used gravity, she needed a focus point. And right now her focus was all over the place. Trying to rid of these creatures was a futile effort. She threw a creature off of her arm then back flipped away from the creatures towards Keith's direction. Keith observed with fascination in a condescending matter. Perhaps the girl did have some wit. She ran towards him then manipulated the gravity around her that made her lighter. Then with a strong push from the Earth, she practically flew towards Keith extremely fast leaving him no time to react and she kneed him hard in the stomach causing him to spit blood from the impact. He slammed against a tree and groaned. Henrietta hit hard, he gave her that. Perhaps too hard for his more fragile body. And then a thought rushed through his mind, Kill her. What in the world? Why would he even think that? That thought was a bit much for him and his thoughts scrambled. His true self was trying to fight the fog in his mind again. But it was close to impossible. Why wouldn't he attempt such a thing? He was stronger. It was then that he stared her in the eye, wiping the blood from his mouth. The game was fun while it lasted. It was time to act serious.

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Carter was right to have readied himself for Alice's escape. Part of him had thought she'd have fallen for the trap and he'd simply have to stroll over to the darkness to manipulate her fears. What he had foolishly not anticipated was Alice's speed, though he felt he should have known after all those years he'd spent alongside her. Cursing, he watched her evade his shadows completely, and he forced himself not to lower his bat to manipulate more of the darkness. Instead, he concentrated and felt the pool of darkness at his feet start to inch slowly up his legs. It was, of course, the best he could manage without his hands free to move them. Not that he was worried in the slightest. Alice was overpowered in this situation; he knew. She probably wasn't even aware of how his power had risen to a level beyond hers. Not only that, but she was also injured. A piece of cake, he thought eagerly as he watched her fierce movements.

As Alice ran forward, so did he, the pools splashing out beneath his boots with each heavy step. There was only a short distance between them, really, but he felt as if he was running for an eternity; probably due to the excitement of the battle. At first he was running into a close-combat fight, at least that was his plan when he'd made his first move, but when he noticed the fire at her knuckles and by her side, Carter grimaced and ducked sideways mere seconds before they met in order to avoid being burned. So much for that, he thought angrily. At the time, he was so distracted that he hadn't even noticed Keith and Henrietta's presence until they were right in his line of sight. As soon as he'd spotted them and registered what was happening, Carter felt a tinge of jealousy, but managed to suppress it well as he came out of his roll and turned in the same second.

Gripping his bat with more fury now, he roared and picked up speed as he darted for Alice once again, closing the distance between them in a matter of seconds. "Bitch," he growled, and swung his bat with as much of his own physical strength as he could. He'd aimed for the head, though he had a feeling she'd be quick enough to evade that, which was why he'd had a plan. The darkness that once sat at his feet was now curling and writhing around his arm, looking more like shadows than anything. If, or when, she might've tried to dodge it, Carter would throw his arm forward and send the darkness towards her form, engulfing her. He wasn't hanging most of his hopes up on this sequence of events because, at the end of the day, it was all a matter of chance and he quite clearly had the upper hand.

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Henrietta found herself out of breath. She was using up a lot of energy. Though Keith did not even seem tired. When he got to his feet after being slammed into the tree, he got up and gave her a stare that chilled her to the bone. It made her fear him. He was not himself... Or rather, perhaps not the person she thought he was. However, she held her stance eying him carefully. The vibes he was giving her told her that he had no problem hurting her. Though she did not feel the same.

"Watch closely, Henrietta," Keith announced. "I was hoping to save this for later, but you're really pissing me off."

Keith half-smiled as he extended his arm. Using his fingers, thorny vines sprouted from the ground and detached, wrapping themselves around his arm. Henrietta stared in disbelief. She never saw him use such a technique before. The vines became a sort of extended arm and at the end they formed a large flower bud. Henrietta clenched her fists, uncertain of his next move. Suddenly, the flower bud projected what appeared to be pollen spores of an orange, golden color. They whirled around her and showered her. She quickly covered her mouth trying not to breathe it in, but her efforts were futile. Henrietta coughed as the contents of the pollen entered her body. Then her eyes widened when she suddenly could not move her body. Her arms and legs were no longer responding, she could not move. When she was about to topple over she then saw Keith making another move. His arm covered in vines suddenly had a large thorn extending out at the end like a sword. He was pursuing her and she could not even budge.

KLSHUK! Henrietta screamed in agony, eyes wider than ever as Keith's thorn pierced through her abdomen. He then pulled his arm out and slammed her across the ground. It was then that she finally regained her mobility and she clenched her wound feeling drained. Her energy was dissipating, but she could not give in. She would not lose. She could not abandon Ace at this moment, Keith was extremely powerful. More powerful than ever, and she could only imagine that Carter was just as strong. She glanced over at the two as they ferociously brawled. This was getting extremely dangerous for her and Ace alone. With sheer willpower, she managed to get to her feet again as she glared at Keith then glimpsed at her wound. Sure there was quite a bit of blood, but he did not stab an artery or anything like that. Perhaps he intentionally did so. She then saw Ace who appeared to have a ribbon tied around her own wound. Wait, where did Ace even get that!? It looked like a gun shot wound. But it was enough to give her the idea to rip off the sleeve of her own garments and wrap it around her waistline in hopes to stop some of the blood flow.

"Surprised, Henrietta?" Keith taunted. "Surely you can put up a better fight than that. The pollen temporarily paralyzes my foes. It's quite useful for a runt like you."

Inhaling a deep breath, she directed all of her focus into her center, into her arms, into her legs. She felt fired up, angry, full of rage, and the adrenaline coursing through her veins. Lifting her hands flat into the air, small balls of gravitons began to form that released a strong gravitational force upon contact. She threw her bolts at Keith who dodged each one. Angrily, she shoved her right foot in front of her causing spears of rock to rise from the ground. She ripped them from the Earth and then projected them with more gravity towards Keith followed by more gravity bolts. He managed to dodge most of them except for a couple of gravity bolts that knocked him back and almost to the ground. They were painful, like a hard fast ball pelting you repeatedly. His arm full of vines released their thorns like darts in Henrietta's direction. Though she managed to reflect them with a reverse gravitational field sending them back towards Keith. He barrel rolled out of the way though a few managed to inject themselves into his skin each thorn about two inches long. At this he winced, they were deep in his skin. They'd have to stay there for now, he had no time to waste. He lunged towards her head on, ready to use his thorn sword again but Henrietta lifted a rock wall to block him. However, he had broken through it, but Henrietta had darted towards the side ready to jump behind him. As she attempted, Keith whirled around and hurled her into a tree which almost broke from the amount of force he used. She did not get up right away. Her wound was throbbing, crippling. But she was still conscious and struggled.

"Shall we play this again?" Keith asked as if he cared about Henrietta's opinion. His thorn sword turned into a flower bud again and Henrietta hysterically tried to move out of the way. But she was losing too much energy from this fight and tiring out quickly. Her limits were being tested. Keith always had more stamina than she did, but at the moment it seemed like an endless supply. He stroked his flower bud as if it were a precious pet before looking back in Henrietta's direction. Then he began to move and out of fear all Henrietta could desperately scream out was, "ACE! HELP!"

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The very moment Ace found herself close to Carter, she lunged, only to find herself leaping at nothing. Seconds before she attacked he'd rolled to the side, leaving her annoyed and even impatient. She wanted to end this fight; avoiding her was only going to prolong the fight. Her brows furrowed as Carter re-approached, and she readied herself for an attack. "Bitch," Ace head the words come out of his mouth and watched as he ran forward. Ace stayed where she was, as the fiery figure besides her quickly found itself behind Carter, though it remained dormant for the time being.

Not even seconds before he swung his bat, Alice's ears had picked up the sound of her colleague's cry of agony. Instantly, her eyes shifted to Henrietta and Keith, her change of focus more instinctual than planned. Her gaze remained unwavering for a good second. Ace was so caught up in her own battle, she hadn't noticed the fight between Henrietta and Keith until now. At the sound of the cry Ace was almost overcome with worry, though she quickly reassured herself that everyone here was evenly matched, and all four of them had a fair chance at winning. As far as she knew, of course. But speaking of the two fights, perhaps it was better to focus--- Too late! Alice had let out a breathless gasp, the brief second she'd taken to sneak a glance over her shoulder taking a second too long. Though she'd quickly realized the chances of being caught off guard, she hadn't enough time to avoid being hit, only enough to turn her head and suffer a direct blow to the face.

The hit itself was enough to make Ace yelp. Even after it was over, Alice found herself still in pain, specifically speaking, her nose was aching. It had taken the brunt of the hit and was now bleeding profusely, and she wasn't sure if it was more annoying or worrying. As she held her arm up to wipe away the blood, she winced the moment she came in contact with her nose. At this point, Ace was more than sure she'd managed to break it. Which also meant the pain she was experiencing wasn't your usual 'it'll go away in a few minutes' pain. "Sure," she suddenly hissed. Her voice sounded more nasally than usual. "I'm the bitch."

While Ace had taken a brief moment to secure herself, she'd taken a step back and made a subtle beckoning motion with her hand. The fiery figure that was once behind Carter was now lunging at him. Particularly at the arm that was holding the bat. Her hopes were that she'd catch him off guard, and she had, she would spring for the bat. If not, her plan was to throw a flaming kick to the back of his head.


[Okay! So, as I was writing this post, it occurred to me that it would be rather hard to include Alice's reaction to both Carter and Henrietta, for her reaction would provoke a reaction from Carter and then after that reaction she'd hear Henrietta and react to that...but... asdfghjk. If it didn't happen in that order, it also occurred to me that the timelines between the two fights would be all messed up. I mean, Keith and Henrietta have unleashed all these moves on each other and their battle has progressed a fair amount, while the fight between Alice and Carter has barely begun. If Alice were to help Henrietta before Carter and Ace had any time to actually fight, well... that would be... really... off, I guess? I don't know. But the reason I didn't include Henrietta's plea for help in this post is because the timelines between the two fights would be off if I did. So... yeah. I'll write Alice's reaction to that AFTER we get a response from Carter. Yay for correspondence!

Also... sorry it took me so long to respond. I was torn because of the whole timeline thingy... Blah.]

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Carter grinned proudly as he felt his own bat connecting with Ace's face, crunching into her nose. However, he had not allowed himself to celebrate too much, as he knew the only reason the hit had actually connected was because she had been temporarily distracted. A few seconds was too long not to be focusing on an opponent, Carter knew. And at this thought, Carter frowned. Ace was a fast foe and, as he had learned from his fight with the mortal, he really ought to stop underestimating his opponents. Back when they were teammates, she would've quite easily outmatched him in terms of her speed and agility, but he'd improved since then. He was faster now; more so than Ace, at least. Not only that, but she'd made the mistake of thinking that Carter would not notice her fiery companion behind him. As he moved back, he could feel the heat pressing against him, though not so much as to cause any discomfort. His eyes did not move from Alice as she wiped the blood from her nose, nor did he even move a muscle upon realising that he could be attacked by the fire at any moment. He kept his expression calm.

"Sure," he heard her hiss, "I'm the bitch." Carter frowned, though his eyes held a certain kind of amusement and a smirk tugged at the corner of his lips. "I don't think I like what you're implying there, Alice," he replied, his voice reduced to nothing more than a low, husky growl. Despite his previous argument with Keith about taking things a little bit more seriously when it came to the situation with the other five Disciples, Carter wasn't so sure that he actually was. He really ought to take a page out of his own book some time. Then again, he wanted to enjoy this fight, simply because he knew just how overpowered Ace really was.

Carter was watching Ace closely and his expression immediately turned sour as he noticed the sudden movement of her arm, as subtle as it was there was nothing she could do that Carter wouldn't pick up on. It was much like what he'd tried to do when the fight has first started. Though this time, instead of a wave of darkness, all Carter could feel was an immense heat moving much closer to him. His first instinct was to turn and block, but he knew that Ace would be ready with an attack as soon as he made a move to. Stuck in a dilemma, Carter hesitated briefly and knew he'd not acted fast enough. The fire was on him before he could even lunge to one side and, finally, a frustrating sensation of panic had manifested itself in his stomach. He felt his skin burning beneath his clothes and it would only be a few seconds before they were gone completely from his back. Instinctively, he dropped his bat to the floor and focused all of his attention on the darkness he'd previously summoned to attack Ace, which still loomed on the street where they'd once been. With the flick of his wrist, he drew it towards himself and engulfed himself in it. Such an amount of darkness would've been enough to douse the fire, if he'd even managed to catch it before it jumped away. He didn't really have much time to check, as he stood up and felt the searing pain of burnt flesh on his back. Not only that, but it hard burnt his favourite jumper.

Now seriously pissed off, he took a shaky breath and allowed himself to scan the streets, as he was stood in the safety of the darkness. Ace was only a few metres away from him. It was only then that he'd noticed his hand was empty. Hissing, he took a step to move out of the darkness when he'd noticed how intense the fight between Keith and Henrietta was becoming. He paused briefly, not sure whether or not to intervene. Sure, he'd started the fighting, but he never thought things would be so... serious, in the sense that he was only having a bit of fun. He was merely teasing Ace when he'd approached. Keith seemed like he wanted to hurt Henrietta, maybe even kill her. Carter's brows lowered in a concerned frown, but he shook the feeling off as he stepped out of the darkness and glared up at Ace. He then smirked, realising that he'd just given her the reaction she'd wanted from the start. He was without his bat and, as such, had no way of physically attacking her without being burned. She probably thought the fight was in her favour now, but Carter knew that wasn't the case. All Carter needed to do was up his game. Like he'd thought earlier, he needed to stop underestimating his opponents. Now that he'd remembered what Ace could really do, he would only need to elevate his own powers to a level that would make it easier for him to deal some damage. Even then, he only wanted to play with her a little. The fight would be over soon, he knew.

"That was smart," he spoke, the volume of his voice picking up where the pitch did not. "Distract me with the fire and then steal my bat," he continued. "Five years ago that probably would've resulted in my surrender. But I'm different now, y'know. Stronger. You're not going to win this fight, Alice. Might as well give up while all of your limbs are still attached." He smiled in that smug way of his, and merely raised his arm. "Let there be darkness," he boomed comically, and then there was nothing. At least, from Ace's point of view. This power was one that he'd adopted upon using the Ashes to boost his abilities and, as such, he knew that Ace would not have been preparing for it. When he'd raised his arm, he focused and concentrated most of his remaining energy into clouding her eyes with darkness, to the point where that was all she'd see. Her other senses, of course, were left in tact, but her sight was gone. This ability, though useful most of the time, was weak and would wear off in about a minute, but he'd use that time to his advantage.

Carter was moving forward - slowly, teasingly - while whistling nonchalantly, when he heard Henrietta screaming for help from not far away. His head turned so sharply that he was worried he might've given himself whiplash, but that was the lowest of his priorities. His eyes moved to Henrietta lying on the floor, scared and panicking. The sight alone made his heart sink, and he inhaled sharply. He hadn't even realised that he'd lowered his arm and, in doing so, gave Ace her sight back. His mind was on Keith and the almost scarily sinister expression he held on his face. In seconds, Carter's eyes darkened to such a level that no one had ever seen before. Darkness moved from every corner of the street and formed behind him; hands reached out for him, tugging at his clothes and playing with his hair after one of them had removed his hat. "Keith," he growled, "get away from her." He said nothing more and simply walked forward, the darkness following him. At that time, he had no clue why he felt the need to protect Henrietta. While, on one hand, he didn't want to hurt Keith, he didn't think he could ever look at him the same way if he killed Henrietta. She was, at the end of the day, the only one he'd ever had a close bond with, and he'd be damned if he let anyone lay a hand on her. "She's mine," he roared as he moved in front of Keith and placed his hand flat against the shorter man's chest.

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Keith shot Henrietta a half smile as he slowly approached her menacingly. She looked utterly horrified, this pleased him. Just as he was about to project his pollen spores, his focus was completely broken when he heard Carter of all people hiss in his ear in a threatening manner, "Keith," he said. "Get away from her." At this Keith scowled. He did not immediately back down and continued to hover over Henrietta even though Carter approached him. What completely threw him off was the darkness carefully treading after Carter. It was as though... as though the darkness was alive. Like it was composed of several smaller beings that continuously grasped and pulled at Carter. His eyes were so dark that for the first time in many years, Keith felt uncomfortable. Seconds later, Carter was standing between him and Henrietta lightly pushing him back. "She's mine," Carter bellowed. At first, this infuriated Keith. He glared into Carter's eyes challengingly still not backing down. And then suddenly he chuckled with a shrug. The vines that were wrapped around Keith's arm began to unwind and fall back into the soils. Before backing away he shot Henrietta another dark glance. It was a long stare. His eyes were clouded and vague. He did not smile nor show any amusement as he collected his thoughts. Henrietta only stared back sadly and seemingly puzzled.

Keith was beginning to grit his teeth before he looked away. He felt uneasy and slightly dazed. There was a mixture of emotions on his face before he returned to his devilish smile and darted his eyes back towards Carter. "Don't tell me you still have a soft spot Carter," Keith provoked. "Just look at you."

As he said this, he made sure to have his back turned at Alice. He refused to look in her direction for the guilt would rush over him. Plus he had caught a small glimpse of her now crooked nose that was full of blood. He feared it would infuriate him even more. Although he wished he could just push Carter out of the wayr, he strongly decided against it. Though his snide sarcasm did not waiver. It just became increasingly worse.

Henrietta watched in bewilderment. A moment ago they were enemies, and now Carter was defending her. Seeing Carter come to her aid suddenly made her feel overwhelmed. If she wasn't in such pain, she would have probably blushed at his gesture while trying to fight back her tears of frustration. Instead only a few sounds escaped her lips as she struggled to get up with little success. For some reason, she felt embarrassed in front of Carter since she was pathetically bound to the Earth right now in an unsightly state. She had to get up. He could not see her like this.

Carter... All she could ponder was his name. She was at a loss for words. Even if it was only for an instant, she saw her old friend again. This made her heart ache. Her own thoughts were racing, wanting nothing more than to stop this fighting and go home together forgetting this even happened. It was too soon to let her guard down though. What if they turned on her and Ace again? It was then that Henrietta noticed a strangeness about Carter. Even though her once closest friend stood in front of her while protecting her, something was not quite right about it. At this moment, Carter felt as dangerous as Keith and it made her somewhat uneasy. What's happening? To both of you? Keith had become a mad man, she already established that. But it did not make sense. Somehow they were exceptionally stronger than anything Henrietta could have possibly imagined. The more she thought about it, the more nauseous she felt which did not mix well in her wounded state. She managed to prop herself up using her elbow. Everything was starting to hurt more in this state of confusion.

"Damn it!" she choked before allowing herself to fall back to the floor. Something strange was at work here. She no longer feared what the two may or may not do to her in this vulnerable state, but rather feared whatever was happening to her former allies. The tension in the air was stifling. Frustration welled up inside of her. She was humiliated. If she was going to lose a battle, she hoped it would have at least been a more graceful defeat. The left side of her face was mushed into the ground and she found herself looking in Ace's direction apologetically. I failed you, Ace. I'm so sorry. She felt ashamed. Ace was not looking too well herself. It seemed as though they both took a beating. The outcome was grim and she was feeling very exposed. She wished she could make it over to her comrade to be by her side. When she heard Keith resentfully ask Carter if he still had a soft spot, she then realized Keith was referring to her. It made her stop breathing for a moment. Soft spot? she asked herself. Her cheeks suddenly felt warm as her gaze trailed back up towards Carter uncertain of what was to come in these next few moments.



[ OOC: Totally did not realize everyone was waiting for me to post. Sorry about that! xD ]

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Ace couldn't help but smirk when she saw Carter drop the bat, and it only took her a second to snatch it and jump back to her original position. She was pleased with the fact that it'd worked, and a little more pleased with Carter's hiss. It was a small factor of satisfaction, but she didn't do much to hide it. Her thoughts were that the fight would be over soon, in her favor, certainly. "That was smart," she heard him say. Her small smirk grew, but only slightly. Her smile was still small; subtle. "Distract me with the fire then take my bat," he continued. Though her smile had been growing just seconds ago, she felt a frown coming on. What's he getting at? She found herself thinking, a small yet persistent sensation of suspicion coming on. "Five years ago that probably would've resulted in my surrender. But I'm different now, y'know. Stronger. You're not going to win this fight, Alice. Might as well give up while all of your limbs are still attached." At this point, Ace's smile had completely vanished, being replaced with a sketchy glare. What could Carter possibly do to turn the battle around? Whatever the answer, Ace had no clue... "Let there be darkness," She felt her grip on Carter's bat tighten and her eyebrows furrow as she saw Carter raise his hand, and to her great discomfort, that was the last thing she saw.

Alice visibly tensed, though she quickly forced herself to relax her muscles, as her shoulder wasn't agreeing with her. She began to gnaw on her bottom lip and she felt an alarming sense of panic washing over her, which to her was the equivalent of being washed out by an unavoidable tidal wave. The overwhelming feeling of helplessness that Alice felt was absolutely agonizing. Thankfully, the peak of her panic lasted for a few seconds, for she quickly convinced herself that the only way to stand a chance without her sight was to calm down and revert to one of her other senses: hearing. She made a point to keep her ears open, listening to any sound she could catch. It was almost as if Carter were dancing on her nerves as he began to whistle. She could hear his footsteps; slow but torturous.

She didn't think her panic could get any worse... Not until she heard Henrietta scream for help. She was helpless, already panicking, and now her dear friend needed her now more than ever, and Ace couldn't do a thing. She was biting down on her lower lip so hard, it begs to bleed, though she neglected to notice. And yet, it was only a second later that she realized her sight had returned. Her first instinct was to turn to Henrietta, and the sight of her ally lying on the ground, helpless, was more than enough to get Ace moving, specifically toward her injured ally. Though she found herself pausing a few feet away from her, as her eyes drifted to Carter. Was he defending Henrietta? Alice was... Puzzled. Extremely thankful, for sure, but... Confused. I-If they were on different sides, then--- She quickly waved the topic away, before turning back to Henrietta and making her way over, kneeling down in the process. She was more focused on Henrietta than she was on anything else; in fact, she didn't care to listen in on what Carter had to say, she really just wanted to get Henrietta to a safer location.

It was only when she heard Keith say something about a Carter having a soft spot that the conversation caught her attention. In fact, she found her eyes turning to Keith and Carter. The moment Keith had said that she realized he was avoiding her gaze, and at this, she was torn between a number of feelings. Part of her was angry; outraged that he would dare do this to Henrietta. That he'd go so far to nearly kill her! Another part of her was desperately trying to figure out what the hell happened. Something happened during the five years that he was gone. What, she couldn't tell, but it changed him. Keith was no longer the Keith she thought she knew so well, he was not the Keith that offered her flower bouquets, he was not the Keith that she'd spended hours answering riddles with. This much, she was able to gather, but even though she now knew this was true, Alice was still clawing to figure out what did this. She would not be satisfied, no, she'd never be satisfied, but she would never be able to accept it until she knew what happened. Why he would do this? Maybe... Was it Alice's fault? Had she unintentionally provoked this? Ace began to bite her lip again, as she started to fed her insecurities, only to end up waving off the topic in an attempt to deny the possibility. ...Though her attempt hardly succeeded.

Her gaze was locked on the two for a few more moments, but her eyes soon drifted back to her wounded ally, only to find herself being drenched in even more alarming feelings. The moment she looked at Henrietta, she remembered what Keith had said in the first place. "Don't tell me you still have a soft spot Carter," He must have been referring to Henrietta, and at this, Alice felt overwhelmed by a troubling sense of jealously, which resulted in an uncomfortable glance back at Carter and Keith, though she made a point to look back at Henrietta as quickly as she turned away. Perhaps too fast.She couldn't even begin to understand why she was... Jealous, of all things, of Carter and Henrietta. But, thankfully, the feeling was brief and left just as quickly as it came.

Inhaling sharply, Alice offered her hand to Henrietta and plastered a smile on to her face. "We should make haste and get out of here." She began. "I think we'd both agree that a visit to Louie is in order... I'll be more than happy to help you up." As Alice began to ready herself to help Henrietta up, she found herself wondering what to do with Carter's bat. She'd forgotten about it up until now, and she wasn't sure what to do with it now. Shrugging, she gingerly placed it on the ground. If she was going to help Henrietta up, then surely she'd need all the strength she could musters. Sure, she wasn't the weakest of the disciples, but she certainly wasn't among the strongest. And seeing how muscle wise, Henrietta was, Alice found herself questioning if she could pull off escourting her ally to Louie's... Though, she wasn't sure if there were any other options, given the current situation.

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Character Portrait: Henrietta Cypress Character Portrait: Carter Gray Character Portrait: Alice Ember Character Portrait: Keith Cadwell
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Carter stood in complete silence as he stared blankly into Keith's eyes, his own anger rising and boiling as he noticed that the blonde wasn't backing down. He hadn't initially intended to act out against Keith as much as he was, but he still didn't take the time to realise how much of a mistake this was. His eyes hadn't shifted an inch since he'd approached, but his mind was racing with questions. The most prominent of which was, why did I protect her..? He'd thought that when he left the others to their own devices, he'd cut off all ties and connections to them. Apparently he'd been wrong about that, and some old, distant feelings were still present. The thought alone was enough to curl his fingers into his palm do deep he thought he might draw blood. He felt the shadows coiling around his limbs, spreading out a little more so that they wouldn't loom over Henrietta too much. And it was only when the shadows whispered in his ear that he even noticed that Alice had taken a place by Henrietta's side. He wasn't worried; he knew she'd never think of attacking on her own, not with Henrietta in such an injured state.

Carter watched Keith's expression shift slightly before he shifted his eyes away from Carter's. If it were anyone else, he might've taken a moment to boast about winning the staring competition, but now was not the time for petty victories. He snapped his thoughts back to the current situation as he noticed Keith turning back with a grin that made Carter's brows sink down further until his eyes were dangerously narrow. "Don't tell me you still have a soft spot Carter," Keith said, and it took quite a few moments for Carter to even register what that question entailed, or that it was meant as a way to provoke Carter further. "Just look at you," he continued, and that was enough for Carter. The shadows were lashing like whips, the hands tugging fiercely at his clothes and his burnt skin. He grimaced against the pain, but he kept his eyes fixed on Keith until...

His head shifted around to face Henrietta and as he caught a glimpse of her confused expression, he quickly turned back to Keith with his head down. An uneasy feeling of guilt washed over his body. If only he hadn't been too busy fighting Ace, if he'd just paid some attention to the fight going on right beside him, she might not have come out of this in such a state. He hated seeing her so hurt and confused, mainly because of how close they were prior to the disagreement of the two groups. He may not be on the same side as her now, but that certainly didn't mean he hated her. He'd been the one to leave, after all. If anything, she would've been the one to hate him.

Having been silent for some time, Carter finally dragged his gaze up to meet Keith's. He felt displeasing warmth of tears running down his cheeks, but that didn't concern him too much. "I don't hate them, Keith," he spoke up, his voice much more calm and steady than his appearance gave off. "I never have." He paused briefly, his fists uncurling to reveal four red marks across both palms, blood trickling from each laceration. His arms hung limply at his sides, but the shadows didn't retract for a second. "A few disagreements do not create enemies," he continued after a while, "So yes, I do still have a soft spot for Henrietta because she still means a hell of a lot to me after all this time, you small, insignificant little hypocrite!" His anger was returning to him once more, his voice reduced to little more than a guttural snarl. "You're in the same position I am right now. If you can honestly look Ace in the face and tell me you don't still have feelings for her, then you're the most evil, heartless person I've ever known, and I can't even bring myself to look at you right now."

For the second time that day, Carter turned and walked away from Keith, further towards the two girls. He stuck his arms out left and right, and the shadows enveloped them all, including Keith. He was silent as he focused, his eyes squinting closed. "This is a new technique, so everyone needs to be quiet... Or it won't," he stopped to grunt awkwardly, "...work". After a few moments, he opened his eyes and let his arms drop as his knees gave out beneath him and he fell. The darkness retracted into a nearby alleyway, revealing that they were only a short walk from Louie's front door. "My god... That was hard." He rolled over onto his back and took heavy breaths, fighting against the burning pain that the concrete caused when his back slapped against it. "You're all welcome, by the way," he growled.

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Character Portrait: Henrietta Cypress Character Portrait: Carter Gray Character Portrait: Alice Ember Character Portrait: Keith Cadwell Character Portrait: Louie T. Orihara
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Keith watched the darkness tug around Carter with a smug look on his face. At his remark, Carter seemed to have grown angrier which initially made Keith's eyes light up with more amusement, but the look vanished as quickly as it came. To Keith's surprise, tears were running down Carter's face. Everything on Keith's mind had become silent at the sight. "I don't hate them, Keith," Carter spoke firmly. "I never have." Keith's lips curled with discontent, though it was not towards Carter that he felt unhappy with. If anything he felt confusion race through his mind and his own urge to cry. But he refused. Instead he glanced away towards the dry earth, not wishing to look at anyone. "So yes, I do still have a soft spot for Henrietta because she still means a hell of a lot to me after all this time, you small, insignificant little hypocrite!" Carter bellowed at Keith. His eyes returned to Carter's with a glare. His blood starting to boil at the insult and his own fists clenching. But he did not dare retort in this moment. It would take a fool not to notice the tension and heat of this argument. Even Keith knew he should not step farther over the line though for some reason he desired to. His teeth gritted as he continued to angrily stare at Carter in the eyes. The darkness around Carter was sinister and abnormal. If all of them had not just been battling, Keith would have felt concern over this.

"You're in the same position I am right now. If you can honestly look Ace in the face and tell me you don't still have feelings for her, then you're the most evil, heartless person I've ever known, and I can't even bring myself to look at you right now."

Keith felt his face drop at this remark. His eyes said it all in this moment, growing less clouded. The guilt... it was overwhelming him. Then Carter turned his back on him once more for the day, leaving Keith with nothing but a hollow hole in his chest. It was agonizing. For the first time in this whole encounter, Keith finally acknowledged Ace. He stared at her longingly and shamefully, with a strange sadness and anger. A mixture of emotions. His arms had fallen limp at his sides and his knees suddenly felt weak. His eyes were fixed on hers for a very long moment. It was one of the very few occasions in all of Keith's years of immortality where he was rendered speechless. If you stared at him closely enough, you'd see his eyes glazed with water. Though he refused to let tears fall in front of them all.

On the sidelines, Henrietta watched in awe at this entire exchange. Her own cheeks felt warm at Carter's remarks. If anything, she appeared to be in a sort of emotional shock. He still cares? You... You stupid idiot! She felt her own thoughts running rampant at all of this. What was she to do? What are her and Ace supposed to make of all of this? She turned to look at Ace only to find her friend quickly looking away from her. As if she caught a stranger awkwardly staring at her. Henrietta frowned. However, that was when she saw the sudden change of demeanor in Keith. He almost looked as though he was in pain. She could not stand at how alone he looked. Something was terribly wrong with him. In this instant, she saw the old Keith she knew. If only she could move. Henrietta struggled to lift herself to a sitting position. Her hand was covered in blood and it made her start to feel somewhat queasy. The cool air around her made her shiver uncomfortably. In actuality, her vision was going through bouts of blur and she felt quite dizzy. Her head and back were throbbing from where she impacted the tree she now leaned against. She then saw Carter approaching her and Ace again while darkness enveloped them. Suddenly, they were only a short walk away from Louie's. Though everyone's voices started to grow faint and Henrietta struggled to keep herself conscious. She only needed to walk a little more to Louie's... Her own body began to grow limp as the last of her strength began to exit her body. But she quickly snapped herself out of it, struggling to force herself to rise to her feet.

Keith was unaware that Carter had learned such a technique. Seeing Carter's burns he felt a sting sizzle in his own flesh. He had forgotten all about the thorns embedded in his skin. Henrietta's doing. His body also ached and was possibly bruised from all of Henrietta's attacks. Though he would take care of himself. He did not wish to stay at Louie's with them. Before he left, he gently grabbed Ace's uninjured arm not saying anything at first. Her warm body temperature made him nostalgic. "You're smarter than anyone I know, Ace." Keith said with sorrow in his voice. A very small yet sad smile appeared on his face. "I know you can figure this one out." Heaving a sigh, he wasn't even sure if he should be doing such a thing. It may call for more harsh words with Carter later. But he felt a need to do this. He decided to give Ace a riddle, just like old times. "Ignited by light, she left behind. Something you'll find with nothing but fire." He then turned away from her and everyone else. Walking away, he desired solitude in his old favorite forest.

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Alice had to bite her bottom lip to keep it from quivering. She stared at the ordeal, and as she listened to Carter's words she felt more and more tempted to burst into tears. An agonizing sense of frustration, doubt and jealously welled up inside of her, growing larger and more concerning with each passing second. Every single dreadful thought she had building up inside of her over the past week was feasting; feasting on this horrendous suspense that really only lasted for a small matter of seconds, but what seemed like years to Ace. Surely if Carter still had feelings for Henrietta, then Keith might still love her? But... Her teeth dug into her bottom lip. She couldn't stand this overwhelming doubt. She doubted herself more than anything else. All the harsh feelings toward Keith began to turn on her; they bellowed that it was somehow Alice who wasn't good enough, who was inferior. Why would it be Keith's fault? Surely he would've stayed his pleasant self, if it weren't for her---

It was only then that Ace caught Keith's gaze and she feared she couldn't blink back her tears for much longer. His look did not bring solace to her; only an onslaught of guilt and heartache. Her face lacked the self-control to hide these emotions, as a disgruntled frown gradually made its way on to her face. She locked eyes with Keith for a long time, and the time that their eyes were locked was excruciating. He looked so... so alone, he looked so sad. She couldn't bear to see him like this. Ace was so focused on Keith that she hadn't even begun to notice that her lip was starting to bleed. Even then, she was still gnawing on it.

Ace's heart raced when she realized Keith was walking toward her. She felt her whole body tingle when he placed his hand on her arm. She stared at him in utter silence as he hesitated to speak. It was at that moment that she realized he was on the verge of crying, and the sight of his watery eyes tore her apart. "You're smarter than anyone I know, Ace." His words brought a rose-red blush to Alice's cheeks. Her blush was glaringly obvious and she couldn't hide it, even if she wanted to. She watched as he tried on a small but sad smirk, and felt a frown tug at her face. Yet again, the only thing keeping her from breaking down was the knot in her throat and the teeth sinking into her quivering lip. "I know you can figure this one out. Ignited by light, she left behind. Something you'll never find with nothing but fire." And with that, he left.

Alice stared at the ground in utter silence, and the softest of smiles painted itself onto her face. "He... He still cares," she found herself murmuring. Her eye contact with the floor never halted, for she refused to let anyone see her tear up. As she thought of the others, her thoughts wavered to Henrietta and Carter. She was so wrapped up in... other things that she hadn't even realized the favor Carter bestowed upon them. She muttered a quick word of thanks before nudging the door to Louie's open and yelling his name.

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Character Portrait: Henrietta Cypress Character Portrait: Carter Gray Character Portrait: Alice Ember Character Portrait: Keith Cadwell Character Portrait: Louie T. Orihara
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Henrietta watched as Keith exchanged words with Ace before walking away. She considered shouting something but decided against it. Ace's gaze was locked with the ground and Henrietta could not help but feel some sort of remorse. A familiar sadness crept through her mind. Before stumbling into Louie's after Ace, she turned towards Carter. She felt compelled to say something but wasn't quite sure what.

"Hey um..." she paused as she glanced into his eyes. Her face felt hot so she quickly looked away while slightly pouting. "I miss you."

Uncertain of what else to say, she turned and limped into Louie's. If anything, she felt extremely awkward and still somewhat humiliated. Plus her discomfort with Louie was not about to help. However, she felt too tired to resist for once in her life. She refused to look down at her wound for she think nausea would overtake her. Henrietta often felt overwhelmed and ill at the sight of her own wounds. Exhausted, she leaned against the door frame as Ace called out for Louie hoping he'd show soon.

"Ace," she murmured. "What the hell just happened?"

It was more of a statement than a question. All of this had her in disbelief. She was not even sure how the others would react to this. It was a lot to take in and the situation had seemed to change direction. There was much to discuss.



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Keith shoved his hands into his pockets as he slowly walked away. He didn't deem it appropriate to stay. If anything he almost did not wish to return, but he knew in the end he always would. He heaved a long sigh, watching a small cloud of water vapor escape into the cool air. It was colder than he had realized. His mind felt very burnt out. After a long distance, Keith made a turn into a forest he was very familiar with. It was dark yet he knew the way by memory. He swerved in and out of the trees avoiding ditches or any sudden drops. Eventually he found himself in a small clearing in the center of the woods. The place was comforting. A few evening butterflies fluttered out in the open and he extended his palm for one of the creatures to land on. As one naturally did, he only weakly smiled before lifting it up and setting it free once more.

Keith sat at the foot of a thick tree. He stared vacantly at the moon shining directly overhead the clearing. It felt as though his entire being was aching inside and out. Any time he tried to form thoughts they quickly trailed off as though he was incapable of forming them. To his surprise, hot tears were racing down his cheeks. He quickly tried to wipe them away but instead they poured down faster and he could not control himself. His body quivered every time he gasped for air in between sobs. Eventually he screamed and dug his fingernails into his scalp, gripping his hair and almost pulling it.

"What is happening to me...?" he whispered as his mind reflected on all that occurred. He kept hearing himself laugh at Henrietta's pain and repeatedly recalled how he stabbed her, so readily willing to kill her. How could he ever apologize or show his face to them without shame? An apology would not be nearly enough.

After some time, he decided to weave himself a bed of branches and roots to rest on. He pondered on his return with growing dread. How was he to face Carter again? Though Carter seemed to be somewhat in the same boat as him. Keith could not deny something awful seemed to be happening to the two. Although Keith's change seemed to happen more rapidly, Carter was noticeably becoming more aggressive. His darkness was changing too. It was very strange. Though it then occurred to him that it was the effect of the ashes. A side effect? They did not account for this. It made Keith feel anxious. He was out of balance, and as his power grew, his connection with nature would slowly subside. Eventually the trees, plants, insects and animals would no longer recognize him. They would stop responding if he did not find a way to balance himself again soon. Keith thought he should immediately tell Carter, though his stomach churned at the thought of going back. But he knew he could not hide out here forever. He had responsibilities to keep.

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Character Portrait: Henrietta Cypress Character Portrait: Carter Gray Character Portrait: Alice Ember Character Portrait: Keith Cadwell Character Portrait: Louie T. Orihara
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Carter stayed on the ground, never moving his eyes from the sky above him, even as he heard the brief exchanging of words between Keith and Ace. He listened intently, and had to stop himself from openly cursing at Keith; he'd given her a hint which, in a way, was an incredibly stupid thing to do. Carter felt his eyelids close and the darkness that came with it was almost comforting, were it not for the raw burns on his back. He'd probably gotten stones stuck in them by now, but he scarcely noticed. Louie would probably wash them out when he came out to fetch them. He would've gotten up by himself, but that last technique had sapped whatever little strength he held onto after his fight with Ace. He wasn't one for his stamina, to say the least. It came as no surprise to him, even after his power boost.

His eyes only reopened when he heard a familiar voice directly next to him. "Hey um..." Henrietta spoke, and Carter met her gaze without hesitation. It was in that moment that the pain vanished, and all his attention was focused on the familiar person hovering slightly over him. She quickly looked away and he frowned in embarrassment, feeling the heat of a blush on his cheeks. "I miss you," she continued, and Carter nodded. He didn't attempt a smile, as he was already putting immense effort into not looking surprised. He'd have thought that she'd hate him after all this time and after what happened between them all, but he'd been wrong about that. He didn't even have time to respond before she limped off, and Carter took that moment to try to lift himself up.

Carter started by heaving a sigh and rolling onto his front, his face mushed into the concrete, before he brought his arms to his head and pushed his weight with all his strength. With a pained grunt, he tucked his knees in and used both ends to push himself to a standing position. He stood on shaky legs, but stayed upright regardless. Then came the awkward task of taking the steps towards Louie's home, which he seemed to handle adequately well.

~

Louie looked up from his desk when he heard his front door opening, and his eyes finally dragged themselves towards the teenager stood in his living room. "Thank you," he spoke in a smooth voice, "You are dismissed." At this, the teen awkwardly bowed his head and scuffled out of the room, then down the hall and past the girl leaning against the doorframe.

With a heavy sigh, he stood and shifted his chair backwards in the same second, then quietly walked around the desk as he heard his name being called. "Yes, yes," he called, "I'm coming." He walked without urgency, despite having been informed of the fight between the four disciples some time before they even arrived. His eyes followed them wherever they went; such was his responsibility, to make sure they stayed relatively safe. It helped him, in a way, to prepare treatment for their arrival, which is precisely what he'd just spent the last half an hour trying to do. By his record, there were several injuries requiring his attention. A broken nose, serious back burns and then there was Henrietta, who had more injuries than he could count on both hands.

As Louie moved silently into the hall, he settled his gaze on Ace's bloodied noise and shook his head disapprovingly, but smiled reassuringly afterwards. "Make your way into the living room, I'll be with you in a second or two." He then turned his attention to Henrietta, who was leaning against the doorframe. Saying nothing, he moved closer and wrapped two strong arms around her, lifting her like a man would lift a woman on their wedding night, then walked smoothly towards the door at the very end of his hallway. It lead to his study, where he did most of his work. Having walked in, he set Henrietta in a comfortable chair and stepped back, analysing her with an emotionless gaze. Then, suddenly and without warning, he snapped his fingers and made a sound resembling, "Ah-HAH." A friendly smile had settled onto his features, but he turned and walked away before he could elaborate.

"Several lacerations, the worst of which being located on the abdomen, major bruising and, I'm guessing, possibly some broken bones," he mumbled to himself as he worked, trying to ignore the blood that hung thick in the air. He moved over to his shelves and appeared to be sorting though the organised bottles, until he came across a large bowl filled with dried leaves. He lifted it into one hand and grabbed a bottle that seemed to bubble with a deep purple liquid, before making his way back to Henrietta. Having laid the bottle on top of the leaves, he pulled over a stool and sat in front of the girl. He plucked two leaves from the bowl and said, "Open." He waited for her to comply before he popped them both into her mouth. "Chew them, they'll help with the pain. They're like the strongest painkillers in the world. You won't feel a thing." He placed the bowl down on the floor and took the bottle from on top of it. He stared at it for a moment, then sighed to himself, standing up again to grab a cloth from elsewhere in the room.

Opening the lid of the bottle, he wet a small section of the cloth with the liquid inside and dabbed each individual laceration; the smaller ones healed almost instantly, but the deeper cuts were taking their time. Once he'd covered her arms, legs and some other areas, he turning his attention on her abdomen. He hadn't even spoken a word to Henrietta during his work as he didn't feel the need to, but every so often he would glance up at her and flash her one of his signature smiles. At one point, Carter had stumbled in and had complained so much that Louie sent him to bathe in the healing mud he'd set up in the bathroom, just to get rid of him. "Uh," he started awkwardly, "I'm going to have to lift up your shirt to see the cut. Just a warning." Hesitantly, he reached for the shirt and lifted it up, placing the soaked cloth against her cut. With his free hand, he took hold of her arm and positioned her hand against the cloth. "Hold it there for ten minutes, and it'll heal itself." Louie stood then, and turned before his cheeks could heat up.

"Ace," he beckoned, motioning for her to sit on another of his armchairs. While he waited, her grabbed another cloth but this time he simply walked into the bathroom and wet it with water, before he came back in. He walked over to her, but not before grabbing a few more leaves to feed her while he tended to her nose. "Open," he repeated, leaves at the ready. He then began to dab carefully at the almost dried blood with the wet cloth, clearing the blood from the nose. When it was clear, he quietly analysed her. "Luckily for you, Carter wasn't using all of his strength when he did that," Louie began, setting the bloodied cloth to one side as his other hand reached for her jaw to tilt her head in different direction. He fought against the urge to roll his eyes when he heard Carter yell "You're welcome," from another room. Louie moved past it pretty quickly. "It is broken, yes, and it will bruise and swell over the next few days, but there's no disfigurement, so everything should be fine... But that bullet wound, that's another story. You're lucky because it went all the way through, but that's going to take a while to heal properly." He carefully applied the same potion to Ace's wound that he applied to Henrietta's, and then sat at his desk once more, sighing as he leaned back in his tall chair.

"And Keith? He has suffered substantial injuries, I hear. Why is he not here right now?"





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Alice watched in silence as Henrietta limped inside. The sight of her wounds reminded Ace of her own, and at that moment she felt an ache coming on. Adrenaline and shock were no longer on her side, and all that moving around was not sitting nicely with her shoulder. She felt a small frown coming on as she looked to the side to examine herself… "Ace," Henrietta’s voice broke her thoughts. "What the hell just happened?"

At that, Ace let out a scoff mixed with a laugh. "You know," She began. "That’s a really good question." Her eyes settled on Carter, who was now walking in. She hadn’t taken the time to realize that Carter should not have been able to teleport them like that. An ability like that was beyond their limits, his limits, and yet--- "Yes, yes," Louie suddenly called. "I’m coming." It wasn't too long before Louie was in sight. She felt herself frown when she caught his nod of disapproval, though his reassuring smile helped turned the frown upside-down. She merely nodded when he told her to make their way into the living room, and did just that. Ace stood patiently while she was waiting for him to finish up with Henrietta, though, not surprisingly, Carter wasn't as patient. It wasn't long until she found herself waiting alone. To pass the time, Ace began playing with fire and smiling as it danced on her fingertips. Ace was about to bounce the fire to her other hand, but as she outstretched her injured arm to catch it, she grimaced from the pain and the fire dissipated. She cursed under her breath before turning to Louie, who had just called her name.

Ace didn't hesitate to take a seat. As she gingerly hopped onto one of Louie's armchairs, she let out the softest of sighs. Her eyes began to close and for once she welcomed the darkness that came along with it. It was amazing how nice it felt to close one's eyes, especially in the presence of weariness. "Open," Louie's voice interrupted her moment of leisure, though she didn't mind. Her eyes and mouth opened and he popped two dried leaves into her mouth. She began to chew and her expression turned sour as a bitter taste invaded her senses, though the invasion didn't last long. Ace quickly swallowed down the leaves as well as the bad taste. Along with the bad taste went the pain, and the disappearance was enough to keep Ace from flinching when Louie began wiping the blood off of her nose. She'd expected some degree of pain, though surprisingly and not so surprisingly, there was none.

"Luckily, Carter wasn't using all of his strength when he did that," Louie began. Ace nearly scoffed when she heard Carter yell from another room. Surely he realized she could've burned all the hair off of his head, if she'd wanted to. "It is broken, yes, and it will bruise and swell over the next few days, but there's no disfigurement, so everything should be fine... But that bullet wound, that's another story. You're lucky because it went all the way through, but that's going to take a while to heal properly." She simply nodded at Louie's words and her eyes began to close again. Fighting was so tiresome. Ace couldn't wait until this eventful day was over.

In time, Louie was back in his chair. "And Keith? He has suffered substantial injuries, I hear. Why is he not here right now?" Alice's eyes drifted open yet again as she heard the question. "Well," Alice began to think aloud. "He seemed like he wanted to be alone. I bet he's---" "Where is that bastard?" Henrietta suddenly spat. Her eyes fixed on Henrietta as she entered the room. She was too wrapped up in her own thoughts she hadn't even realized that her ally was fuming, as usual. Nearly rolling her eyes, she watched as Henrietta paced back and forth, her anger seemingly growing by the second. As Henrietta came to a halt, Ace found an opportunity to continue talking, but Henrietta ended up interrupting her yet again. A look of subtle annoyance crept onto Alice's face. "Well he's not very far, I can tell you that," Henrietta said while crossing her arms. Her brow slightly twitched thinking about this. "I'm not going after him either."

"...Then I will," Ace found herself muttering. "I am fairly if not completely certain of his location." She hopped out the armchair and found herself heading toward the exit. "If Carter leaves before I return, be sure to inform him that I'll be my pleasure to burn him in our next encounter."

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Keith rested against his woven bed, his chest softly rising then collapsing in a steady pattern. He was in a dreamlike state though still awake and for once his thoughts were slow. Though his body ached against the cool evening air, his arms were somewhat blistered from Henrietta's gravity bolts and his stomach was badly bruised from that heavy rock she used against him. Not to mention the thorns embedded in his skin would sharply sting once in awhile. Suddenly a voice rumbled as the leaves of the trees rocked back and forth.

"You are injured, my friend," the tree he rested upon said.

Keith lightly chuckled, "So you are awake, Yggdrasil?"

There was no answer for a long moment, only silence. Keith had felt slightly surprised that his old friend had not spoken all this time. He supposed he would visit Louie some time soon, though wished to be alone when he did so. There were important matters he wished to discuss with Louie that no one else could be around to hear. He had growing concerns for himself and Carter, though he would not admit such a thing to Carter. If anything, he dreaded their next encounter. It would most likely be very stiff. Though at the moment his mind felt a lot more clear than it had before. Clear yet exhausted from his internal struggle.

"There is a shift in your energy, friend," Yggdrasil mentioned. Keith felt the tree's life force ripple beneath his palm up and down the roots.

"Yes, I am well aware," Keith sighed. "Do not trouble yourself with such apprehension. It will be resolved in due time."

"The forest worries for you. I speak on their behalf," Yggdrasil humbly admitted. At this, Keith did not respond. Instead, he felt a gloom hang over him. He hoped he had not neglected his duties to the forest. All the while, Keith did not even notice the way the fireflies busily gathered. They flickered their tails, illuminating the darkness around them. He found himself watching them absentmindedly not even realizing how these wondrous creatures only gathered like this under one circumstance. It could only mean Ace was approaching. Suddenly, they seemed to trickle into a path, more and more of them gathering. It then hit Keith like a brick and he felt his heart skip in a mixture of excitement and fear. Was it really that wise of her to come? He wondered how she even knew he would come here. Though fear tugged at his mind as he thought of the fog that occasionally intoxicated him. If he ever hurt Ace like he did Henrietta, he would never, ever, forgive himself.

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Henrietta Cypress Character Portrait: Carter Gray Character Portrait: Alice Ember Character Portrait: Keith Cadwell Character Portrait: Louie T. Orihara
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"Hey, I'm gonna hold you to that, y'know." At Carter's remark, Alice did nothing but scoff and continue walking. On her way out of the door, she heard Louie request that she tell Keith to visit Louie as soon as possible. Ace didn't respond, she only nodded and walked out the door. A cold breeze washed over her, at least it would have if she weren't the Disciple of Fire. As she walked along the sidewalk and toward the forest she knew Keith loved, Alice let her thoughts wander. Wander away from the fighting, the stress, and the exhaustion... The mess that seemed to be getting worse and worse everyday. First they were dead. Then they were back. Then they were unreasonably powerful. Then... Many things happened. Many things that Ace did not want to recall.

Heaving a sigh, Alice tucked her hair behind her ears and continued walking. Her pace was slow and her steps hesitant. She was in anything but a hurry. In fact, she was being slow on purpose. No reason in hurrying to what may or may not be one of the worst conversations in her life, right? Perhaps she was being over-dramatic... Or thinking too much. Perhaps she shouldn't think about it at all. Yes, that seemed fitting... What was she supposed to say to him? She knew how to talk to the old Keith, but... not this one. Whatever happened in the past five years; it changed him. And not just Keith, but Carter, too. Sure, Carter's change wasn't as significant, but he's definitely changed... He's more aggressive, as is the darkness... In fact, it looked almost--- alive. And Keith, he... Well, he seemed like a madman. But when Carter had mentioned -Alice nearly blushed when she thought about this- Ace, he wasn't a madman anymore. He was just... sad. Lonely, even. And then he gave her that riddle... Oh, what was it again? Ignited by something... Oh, that's right.

"Ignited by light, she left behind. Something you'll find with nothing but fire." Alice recited the riddle under her breath and ran a hand through her hair. She walked for a while longer, slowly sorting through the riddle. In no time, she found herself in front of the forest. She sighed silently, and like magic, the fireflies began gathering. Eventually, they formed a path, and with great hesitance, Ace decided to follow it. She wondered if he was even here. If she should even bother going... But there was no going back now. Of course, she could just turn around and head back to Louie's. She could lie and say she didn't find him... Well, technically, she wouldn't be lying... "Keith," She found herself muttering.

Now it really was too late. Alice found herself looking at Keith, who had woven himself a bed out of branches and roots. She didn't say anything at first, for she didn't know what to say. After a few moments of careful consideration, she spoke. "What... What the hell was that?"