Assassin's Pledge

Assassin's Pledge

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Balance and Corruption conflict with the turning of a new era as the Assassin once known as the Red-Eyed Demon leads a band of unlikely heroes into the yet untold future of a continent and all its people.

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Introduction

The Original Story Concept: Assassin's Pledge follows the story of a young man named Kiiro Ryu, known to everyone as Shadow Drakano. His past is full of tragedy and violence which is why he seems to lack emotion and constantly distances himself from others.

Shadow was born to Meya Ryu, a young woman who fell in love with the most dangerous man ever to sail the oceans of the world. His true name was known only to Meya, but his title as the Red-Eyed One of the Seas was more than enough to herald the coming of a dark days whenever he headed for land. Shadow was born in the year 551 Post Union, and grew up for the first five years of his life under Meya and her husband's care to become a normal young scholar. His home was attacked one day and he witnessed his mother, who was nine months pregnant, being raped and beaten while his father was chained to the stairs and literally being slowly cut to pieces. Once his father had been gutted and decapitated, his Meya's throat was slashed just inches from his face and her blood sprayed into his mouth.

The grisly sight was enough to cause Shadow to go into shock, and though he was young, he lost all grip on sanity after witnessing that horrible night. By some miracle he survived his house burning down around him and wandered into the countryside where he was found by a man named Takai, who was the leader of the Assassins of Teisei. He took the boy under his wing and taught him everything he knew, promising the boy power and the opportunity for revenge. As a gift, Takai found the men responsible for killing his family and kept tabs on them until Shadow was old enough to seek vengeance some four years later. Shadow grew up as the perfect Assassin, being brainwashed and manipulated in such a way that he forgot all the lessons he was taught as a boy about always being fair minded and even tempered, and instead became a ruthless killing machine. Neither man, woman, child nor the elderly were safe from his blade.

Some time later, Shadow came to understand the feelings of friendship when he met a young woman named Iris Di' Nelma, who treated him with kindness and respect despite who he was. Being his first real friend she was the only person he ever cared about, and when Iris fell deathly ill and asked Shadow to be the one to end her suffering, Shadow reluctantly complied and fell into depression. It was then that he realized just how much pain he had been causing as an Assassin and vowed then and there never to take another innocent life, and that he would one day abandon Teisei to find a new life for himself.

Three years later, when Shadow was twenty years old, he found the opportunity he had been waiting for and together with another Assassin named Taira he killed Takai and abandoned the fortress of Teisei. Together they found new friends, and made important discoveries as Shadow began to eliminate the pawns Takai had placed in powerful positions around the continent. One important discovery was that Meya had planned all this since almost a year before he was born, and that she was responsible for what he had become. She knew about Teisei and Takai, and that with the blood of the Red-Eyed One flowing through his veins it was only a matter of time before he rebelled against Teisei and began his own path. She had wanted him to take over Takai's work, which would have indirectly set himself up as the most powerful man on the continent. Controlling figureheads who were second in line for the throne, should the rulers of the five nations die, he would control those who ascended the throne and control the whole continent. Shadow refused and ended up killing Meya some time later, after manipulating the army of Cre' Est into attacking Teisei and nearly wiping them out in the process.

Shadow then decided to continue his work of eliminating all of Takai's pawns scattered across the continent, no matter how long it took to find them and no matter where it took him.

Assassin's Pledge Role Play scenario: This roleplay ignores the fact that Shadow was born a normal child and also ignores everything about Meya, insisting instead that Shadow was born into Teisei and raised all his life as an Assassin from the get go. The reasons for his abandoning Teisei remain the same, and so too do the events leading up to Teisei's battle with Cre' Est. Shadow made new friends who were not present in the original story, but never the less continues with his mission of eliminating important figures that Takai set up for power before his death.

What's going on in the rp as of now: Teisei as an organization has fallen to Shadow and his friends, and a new plan has been brought forth by Kain to train an army of peace keepers who will aid in restoring and holding balance between the ruling powers of the five nations. As of now, they all struggle for power over one another due to poor leadership and balance has been torn asunder. Right now, Shadow and his friends must find a way to restore the balance of power while simultaneously restoring peace to the people of the continent who are now at each other's throats due to poverty and desperation. But with only a world of violence to go on, can Shadow bring about such a change even with the aid of his new companions?

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Had it been a normal day in the port town of Ral'Shie in Gweynura, there would be well over two hundred ships in port. Hundreds of people would be scurrying about in their efforts to unload and deliver the cargo on board. Hundreds more would be searching the market stalls along the port for items of interest, and the sky would be filled with birds and the winds would carry the sounds of the sea across the town.

Today though, was anything but normal.

With the discovery and contact with continents previously unknown, the Capital had sent members of the Royal Guard to keep the peace at port where trade was conducted on a regular basis until an acceptable level of security was maintained by those involved rather than a militarized overseer.

One of Gweynura's generals, General Opton L'Czi, was in charge of the military's actions, and he maintained a well kept watch on the town as the new trading routines began to settle down.

Pirate attacks had increased as well, and today marked the beginning of a brand new assault.

The seas were ablaze with the sounds of cannon fire as a small army of pirates began laying waste to the port. Overrunning the docks in droves from over fifteen ships, they descended on the port town like a swarm of locusts. The Royal Guards had mobilized, but were unprepared for the scale of the attack at hand.

Over seventy innocent lives had already been snuffed out by the assault, and dozens of Royal Guard members were dead or dying. Bodies now decorated the docks and streets as people were gunned down and stabbed to death by the advancing pirate force.

General Opton had since been wounded, and took shelter form the assault behind a damaged building to try and regain his composure after being shaken so badly by the assault. While he tried to recover, the surrounding area was in turmoil, and he cursed himself for being so powerless.

The situation seemed hopeless for the Royal Guards, with their numbers beginning to dwindle and their general wounded, and even more hopeless for the citizens fleeing the attack as the pirates raided the port and came ashore. Brawls between pirates and Royal Guards exploded in the streets, with innocent people getting caught in the crossfire.

Shortly after the attack began however, a new stream of participants in the battle came forth. The town militia, organized by the strongest warriors the town had produced, came to meet the attack and ward the pirates from their homes.

Utter chaos ensued, but through it all, a single solitary figure watched from a ledge on a rooftop near the town's central square, waiting for his chance to engage in combat as the pirate force began to slowly retreat from the city streets to regroup back at the docks.

His black hair flowed gently in the breeze, and his long jacket waved out lazily behind him as he kneeled at the edge of the roof.

He watched silently and looked around, observing as other prominent figures in the carnage began to appear and take control of their immediate surroundings. By his count, there were four individuals who really stood out as above average warriors, each one fighting with amazing skill against the overwhelming force ahead of them.

He studied the battle, minding the ebb and flow of the chaos and awaiting the perfect moment to enter the fray as the fighting began to intensify.

With families now fleeing through the streets, and the town militia, Royal Guards and pirates engaged in combat, the body count could only rise from here.

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Of course it would be today. No, no, it's alright. It just makes me a little mad that the day I decide to rob the port theres a FREAKING WAR!!!
Matt jumped through the crowd with cat-like speed and reflexes. He jumped around the crowd, ignoreing the rivers of blood, ignoreing the bloodcurtling screams that rang through the air. His only concern was getting out alive. Hundreds of people could see him now. A first during work. This sucked. This would have gone perfectly had this not happened. He'd be halfway to the next town by now, looking for a merchant. Matt's cloak wooshed behind him as he jumped in the air, literally hopping off of peoples head to escape. He jumped off one solders head and up the side of a building, stabbing his black dagger into the wood to help himself. He looked back down at the surely confused guard.
No, wait, that guard was dead now. Sucks for him. Er... sucked, rather.
Matt crouched on the roof, catching his breath. Was it worth it? He pulled a large bad of sparkling pearls out of his cloak.
Nope. But it was close.

The setting changes from Cre' Est to Ral Shie

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Myrna had wandered into this bustling port city but a night before, the latest in a series of stops in what was essentially an aimless journey, but one that had provided the sheltered woman with much insight. Each town, city, or bit of countryside that her sandaled feet had traversed was as different from its neighbor as the last, but so too had there been things in common within each.

Conflict, unfortunately, was one of these things. Today, for reasons indecipherable to the gentle monk, it had reached a level she would not have been able to postulate previously. The feel of the arena, the one-on-one match, or even the most grueling practice against the limitations of one's own body, all these were battles she was familiar with, matches that she had faced and won with grace and determination. This though... this was chaos, and there was nothing masterful in it.

The roar of cannons was loud in her ears, and the hooded figure could feel the reverberations up her legs and straight through her very spine. People; militiamen, pirates, civilians... all fought, and all were dying. Unwavering, strangely serene purple eyes scanned the bitter spread laid before her, swaths of blood already being carried down the sewage drains and away from the bodies that so desperately needed it, and her heart wept for those she could not save. Outwardly, however, her composure did not falter even for the briefest of moments, and she began to search for a solution, as was her wont.

The question was, could a solution even be reached, or would it simply take until there were none left to fight for the swords to at last still, the cannons to silence, the blood to stem in its inexorable flow into oblivion? It would seem that there was little time to think upon it, for the young woman found herself beset by what appeared to be a band of pirates, perhaps those who had come aground in hopes of procuring the earliest loot. Their rough voices, garbling unsubtle threats, she allowed to wash over her as if they had not spoken at all, and Myrna tried to continue forward, uninterrupted, only to be blocked by a hand axe in her path. her gaze followed the length of the haft all the way to the face of the man who wielded it, a youth of perhaps a few years older than herself.

The monk did not speak, but merely gently pushed the axe aside, shaking her head. The movement dislodged her gray hood, and something in the man's expression changed, his self-satisfied smirk widening into a grin. Myrna did not understand, and might have spoken, but the pirate made to grab her arm, something that she would not permit.

Dancing free of the too-close quarters, she tried once again to open her mouth to speak, but it seemed that these men wished only for blood, and two of them rushed at her simultaneously with wild cries, each holding a sabre of some kind. Breathing deeply, Myrna simply moved, and where the men had expected to meet flesh they found only empty air, much to their own befuddlement.

"I ask you," she intoned softly, staring their leader straight in the face, "to leave me, and this place, in peace." The response was a gust of harsh, barking laughter.

"Oy, lads, the wench says we should pack up and get outta here! Let's show her what we think'a that one, eh?" There was a general murmur of assent from the others, and then another too-loud, too-clumsy rush. Sighing to herself, Myrna fell back into the most basic of her attack forms. The first man to come at her could only stare with wide eyes when his blade stopped between small, feminine hands, and she used his surprise to her advantage, twisting the blade out of his grip and into her own, in enough time to fluidly parry the other longsword coming at her.

She disliked weapons as a rule, and so Myrna discarded the thing, instead launching herself into the air from a dead stop, delivering a roundhouse kick to the longsword-man's head, and dropping his partner with a carefully-aimed blow to a pressure point at the juncture of jaw and neck. That left the two sabremen and the one with the axe. One of them, a red-haired fellow with a bandana, was foolish enough to disregard what he had just seen as a fluke and rush her by himself. Myrna stepped away, letting him rush past her before planting her elbow most decisively in his back.

Apparently, the other two had discovered that they probably ought to attempt some level of coordination, and advanced simultaneously, forcing her a few steps backward to dodge their frontal assault. The remaining swordsman was down a few seconds later, but the leader of this little band was clearly a cut above his men, and avoided the open-palmed strike meant to disable his left arm, managing to nick her cheek in the process when a miscalculation moved her slightly off-balance. It was true, what her instructors had told her: real battle was nothing like a practice match.

It would seem that this meant nobody needed to play fair, either, as she was dismayed to discover after several near-misses from what would have been considered illegal strikes in her homeland. Out here, it was about survival, she supposed, and sometimes that was at odds with the rules.

In truth, she'd rather not deal with this right now. Instead of prolonging the match for the sake of instruction as she might have with a novice student, therefore, Myrna slammed the heel of her hand into the axe-man's jaw, watching with something akin to sympathy as he collapsed like a ton of bricks to the cobbled street below. Dusting her hands off absently, she progressed forward, leaving the five unconscious but very much alive men in her wake. It was possible she would face worse than this if she continued, but she was determined to find a way to end whatever had brought this bloodshed on, or at least to help mend wounds where she could.

The setting changes from Ral Shie to Cre' Est

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Mark sat up and rubbed his eyes sleepily. Was there an earthquake going on? No, cannons. Oh, okay then. He plopped back down onto his sofa. Wait. Cannons?! Shooting back up, Mark jolted wide awake from his nap. Zooming to look out the window, he moved his long hair out from his face just to be sure he wasn't dreaming. Her, no his, beloved port was besieged by friggin' pirates!?

Mark tugged to his clothes as fast as he could, then hauled on his armor. Unfortunately he had to go with the lighter kind due to the lack of time. Finally to top it off, Mark folded up his hair under a cap using pins. The ending result was that the last 3 or 4 inches still could be seen, so Mark looked exactly like a boy; only thinner. Adding his helmet and sword, Mark headed out into the battle.

Right before he began fighting, Mark telepathically asked the sword this: Are you going to cooperate today Hildebrand? After a few seconds, the blade hummed back in reply. Yes! Thank you Hildebrand! Then Mark stepped out the door. The chaos outside was worse than it seemed at first. Almost immediately after he stepped outside, a pirate lunged for his chest with a battered knife.

Mark parried the blow easily, then hit the ruffian in the temple with the blunt end Hildebrand. As the pirate fell unconscious, Mark continued defeating more invaders in the same manner, heading towards anybody who needed help. Eventually, he ended up gathering children into one spot and asking people to protect them. By now, Mark's mind was overloaded with thoughts. How could they kill so many people?! Why would anybody do something like that?! Gold? Money? Treasure? What!?

The setting changes from Cre' Est to Ral Shie

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Midori stood on a rooftop, watching the chaos unfold. Pirates...what a wasteful life. Another man on a roof not far caught her eye. She liked the look she saw in his eyes. The man knew how to fight, and how to handle himself. He was an interesting one. She kept her left hand on the hilt of her sword. It was a ruse, really. She only used her Katana as a last resort. In combat, she had yet to actualy draw it from it's sheath.

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Shadow sat on his perch surveying the area. Less pirates and more militiamen had taken up the space in the streets below him, as well as a new figure coming through aiding the wounded and a bunch of children.

It was a young man from what he could make out, but something was off a bit. The armor was interesting, and obviously not from the local Empire. He paid it no mind though, as he had more important matters to attend to. He looked out and watched the battle, his eyes darting too and fro to find the best target.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a dark figure come out from behind one of the now destroyed houses and approach the armored youth. The figure wasn't a pirate, but obviously had ill intentions regardless.

He drew one of the Twins from behind his back, its blade ringing out as it came free of the sheath and shone brightly in the sun.

Shadow shifted his weight, as this jump would be more than he normally did, but was none the less accustomed to. The leap would be approximately twenty feet to his target, and another twelve feet down to the street level.

Easy enough.

Shadow prepped himself, bringing the blade forward and parallel to the ground against his forearm.

He leaped form the rooftop, and he knew he would hit his target, but something he wasn't expecting would happen first...

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When Kain had traveled to Ral Shie to fulfill his latest contract, he was expecting a fairly simple task. He was deeply annoyed when he noticed that there seemed to be a pirate attack happening this day. The boom of cannon fire and the screams of dying men brought Kain back to his own days as a pirate. He operated with much more finesse than these fools. This attack reminded him of another pirate raid, about five months ago... it was there Kain first met the fearsome Red-Eyed Demon. It was also there that Kain met a charmingly vicious women. He smirked at the thought of those two, but his smirk quickly turned into a frown.

"Dammit Raven, I miss those two heartless killers..." The raven on Kain's shoulder softly cawed in his ear. "You're right girl, at least I still have you." He gave the bird a quick stroke on the beak before walking over to his bedside table. The cheap tavern he had selected offered a small room, but the owner didn't ask many questions, one of the reasons Kain chose the place. He opened the small drawer, and pulled out his gun. Smirking, he strapped the polished black weapon to his hip, before putting on the perfectly carved clown mask that served as his "calling card." Before leaving the room, Kain made sure to put his knife in its sheath, and to strap his new sword to his back. The thought of using the weapon gave him chills, but its demonic appearance furthered his own reputation for madness. Making sure everything was in place, Kain opened the window. "Alright Raven, lets go kill these killers." Kain launched himself out of the window, disappearing into the shadows of the alleyways.

Kain jumped from building to building, while Raven soared overhead. The raid was worse than he realized, so he moved quicker, using the leaping stride taught to him long ago by a master assassin. When the pirates were in view, Kain pulled out his gun, and took careful aim. From so far away, he could not pick out the leader of this mob, but he could differentiate from pirates and civilians. Setting his gun to single shots, Kain let loose three bullets. Each one hit their target, and three of the pirates fell in a spray of blood. Kain didn't break stride for a second. Kain was now very close to the battle. He crouched on a roof of a high building, and began firing at the mob. Years of training have made Kain a crack shot, and every squeeze of the trigger brought death to an unfortunate pirate. Kain was itching to really fight though. He stopped firing as he heard a woman's scream. The pirates were in the houses, and Kain couldn't kill them if he couldn't see them. Grinning behind the mask, Kain jumped off the roof, flipping in midair before landing softly in the shadows of an alley.

Kain quickly followed the sound of screams to a small house. the door was caved in, so Kain drew his knife and cautiously entered. The screams were coming from upstairs. Kain silently climbed the stairs, and listened. "Shut it ye damn bitch, or the brats get it!" a man shouted. The screams turned to whimpers. Such complacency... but what was a woman to do? her precious children were in danger. Kain stood in the shadows of the doorway, and saw there were three pirates. One was clumsily attempting to rape the woman, while the other two held the children. there was the fresh corpse of a man on the floor; obviously the poor woman's husband. Kain looked at the woman, and a small shock went through him when he saw her hair color. Red, just like hers... but no, the eyes were green. Hers were the same startling blue as his own. Kain pulled two of his throwing knives, and with practiced accuracy, let them loose at the heads of the two men holding the children. before the blades even hit, Kain quickly stepped forward, flipping his knife into a defensive grip. as Kain lifted the blade over his head, he heard a dull thunk, indicating his blades had hit their intended targets. Before the rapist knew what was happening, Kain had rammed the knife into the man's back. The man screamed and twitched, and Kain noticed the impact was enough to crack several ribs and at least one of the central vertebra. Kain grabbed the man and flung him off the woman, stabbing him in the heart before dropping him to the floor. Kain turned to survey his work. as expected, the men were all dead, the children were cowering in the corner staring at him with teary eyes, and the woman was in shock. "Th...thank you... " she finally managed to stutter out. Kain turned back to her, cocking his head to the side as he looked at her... there were similarities, but not enough to stagger Kain. "I cannot do everything for you. You and the children will have to clean up the mess. guard your doors, and do not go out till next morning. Oh, and when you do, be careful. The streets will be stained with blood." Kain walked out of the room, a storm of anger building within him. These monsters would die today, and not a single one would survive.

Kain ran out into the streets, ready to throw himself into the full battle. before he made it, he noticed another person in trouble. There was a small knight, with an over-sized sword trying to fight. The small fool wasn't even aware of the stranger approaching from behind. This person didnt seem to be a pirate. Possibly an assassin from one of the weaker organizations. Kain pulled out his gun, and, noticing the stranger wore a helm, unlocked all three barrels. Kain moved himself to the left, so the little knight wouldn't get injured from the bullets. Taking a moment to aim, Kain shot the sneaky person. There was a thunderous bang, and a bright explosion of bone and brain and blood. Kain stepped from the shadows into the red haze, smelling the familiar scent of blood. Kain began laughing, a deep, chilling laugh. "That was fun... I should go and kill the rest this way..." Kain said to no one in particular. At that moment, Raven landed on Kain's shoulder, cawing at the scent.

"Oh, that's right my dear, I haven't fed you yet.... Well, how about you wait until after I'm done? there will be plenty of carrion for you then!" The raven cocked its head at its master, and then sharply rapped on the mask with its beak, causing Kain to flinch back. "Hey! stop being so spoiled, you will get a great meal! I just don't want you getting injured by these animals!" Raven cawed loudly, and started flipping some of Kain's hair. "Fine, I'm sorry for yelling at you... now, go perch somewhere safe so I can finish up here." Kain watched as the raven took off from his shoulder. Following its progress,Kain looked up in time to see a dark figure falling down toward him. His eyes widened in shock before he dashed backwards to give the figure space.

The setting changes from Ral Shie to Cre' Est

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Shadow saw the gunshot flash out of the corner of his eye and that gave him a split second pause.

As he looked on, time seemed to slow down in his field of view as the sight of his target's skull bursting on impact with the bullet of the fired weapon caused him to hesitate.

No, not one bullet... Three bullets

He recognized the sound of the gun as well.

Could it be him?

There was a maniacal laughter which he also recognized as the air filled with a reddish haze from the bursting skull, and Shadow took in the scent as it filled the air.

Blood. It had a very distinctive smell, and it was one that Shadow quickly welcomed.

Shadow then realized that he was still on target and quickly adjusted his position to land without attacking as the figure who had fired the gun stepped out into his path and then promptly retreated to give him room to land.

Shadow landed with a light thud, and went down to one knee to steady himself before standing up straight. He let out a breath and looked to the figure standing just at arms reach.

"... Kain..." He said under his breath.

He let slip a small smile as he stared into the deep and piercing blue eyes of his old friend.

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Kain was quick to aim his gun at the newcomer, but when the man stood and spoke his name, Kain couldn't help but break out into a huge grin. He quickly pulled off his mask and ran forward, clapping his friend on the shoulder.

"I was wondering if I'd ever run into you again! Its been too long Shadow. Life has been RIDICULOUSLY dull without you and... Kaiden..." Kain thought for a moment, but continued smiling, and said, "So, you here to take care of this raid? or are you tracking someone as well?"

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Shadow clasped his friends arm in greeting.

"Indeed, I am tracking someone."

Shadow's smile faded.

"Now is not the time for this though. There will be time to catch up later, but for now, we must deal with this nuisance before I can continue with my mission."

Shadow drew the other fourteen inch dagger and listened as it too, like its sister, rang out as he drew it from its sheath and came to greet the world around it.

Shadow's eyes narrowed and his jaw flexed. He lowered his head slightly, and whispered, more to himself.

"... Time to kill..."

With that, Shadow bolted down the road and ran to the first pirate he came across which wasn't far from the armored youth whom he had planned on rescuing. His attack was met by an attempted swing of a sword to his neck, but Shadow ducked the attack and jammed his right dagger into the soft flesh of the man's lower abdominal region.

He ripped the blade downwards, and pulled it free just as it hit the pelvic bone. The man's innards began to spill and the scent of blood once again filled the air around him. He smiled at the sight and smell, and turned to face the regrouping pirate force towards the docks.

He stood up straight and walked forward calmly, not taking any heed to the rest of the battle around him. He wanted the heart of the opposing force, and he would meet it head on alone if he had to. But he knew he was not alone, as all around himself and Kain there were others fighting back who would be of invaluable aid in the efforts to riding the poor ravaged town of its assailants.

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Kain put his mask back on and turned toward the small knight. "Be more careful fledgling, we cannot protect you all the time. Either become aware of everything at once, or leave this battle to experts." Before hearing a response, Kain ran after his friend, firing at the pirates indiscriminately. Soon the port was covered in a red, clinging mist.

As Kain continued his path of destruction, several pirates decided he warranted enough of a threat to be dealt with. Soon, Kain was surrounded by a group of five.

"Looky 'ere boys, we got us a clown!" On of them thought to taunt Kain. Very unwise.
Kain aimed for the man's head, but another said, "Careful there joker, you cant kill us all before we kill you."

Kain grinned savagely. "He...hehehe.... HaHAHAHA!!!!! You fools don't know what you're dealing with!" Kain shot the man in front of him and quickly shot the man behind him, smirking at the eruptions of organs and blood. the three remaining pirates attacked. Time seemed to slow as Kain's adrenaline skyrocketed. One swung his cutlass from overhead, another was using brass knuckles, and a third was pulling a pistol from farther away.Kain dropped into a crouch, and dashed towards the man with a sword. A stab is quicker than a slash, so Kain used his knife to stab the man in the gut, and because Kain was now within arm's reach, the blade could not harm him. instead, Kain grabbed the swinging arm, and pulled it down onto his shoulder, effectively breaking the elbow. the cutlass fell to the ground, and Kain flipped the injured man in front of him, so the man with the brass knuckles accidentally punched his own comrade. the meat shield took away the impact of the knuckles, and Kain quickly pushed the two men to the ground. by this time, the man with the pistol was about to shoot. Kain saw him already taking aim, and moved just in the nick of time. the metal sphere whizzed past Kain's right arm. Fortunately for Kain, pistol technology was still limited to single shot weapons. If only they were as ingenious as Kain, then they would be a threat to him. Kain Pulled hi own gun and shot the gunner in the head, blowing the skull to bloody bits. Kain walked to the two men on the ground, and shot the stabbed man before leaning down toward the knuckle man. The man tried to punch Kain in the face, but Kain quickly brought up his knife, splitting the man's hand down the middle. Kain grinned as the man howled in pain.

"You will die soon. But before you go, I want you to know that when I told you you had no idea what you were dealing with, I was not referring to myself. I am not so arrogant. No, I meant him." Kain gestured toward Shadow. The man turned a fear stricken face to the grisly sight of destruction Shadow left in his wake. The man slowly looked back to Kain.

"What manner of demon's are you?!?" Kain laughed harshly before saying, "Well, he is the Red-Eyed variety." Kain stuck his blade in the man's mouth, seeing his mask reflected in the man's eyes. The man was paralyzed with fear as Kain slit both sides of the mouth open. The man screamed helplessly as Kain stood up, and walked behind the man. Shoving his hands in the man's mouth, Kain viciously pulled, until he heard the satisfying crack of the man's jaw dislocating and ripping apart. Kain then twisted the head around, snapping the head. The sound was not unlike a large branch breaking.

"Me? I still don't know what kind of demon I am." Kain ran forward to join Shadow in the thick of battle.

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Mark whirled around when he heard the gunshot. An, of course, he just HAD to turn around fast enough so that the blood splattered over the part of his face that wasn't armored. A millisecond later, a guy fell fell from apparently the roof. Meanwhile, the gunshot's target appeared to be a pirate, who was about to stab Mark himself in the back. Lovely. These pirates have such a wonderful honor system./ Mark thought sarcasticly. Also, the two strange guys seemed to know each other. Before long, the shadow-like one left. The other one however, had taken it upon himself to say something... Fledgling!? What the-?! NO WAY!, Mark thought, horrified at the guy's rude warning.

Mark decided to shake it it off though, and resumed knocking out pirates. Although some may call him foolhardy for not killing them, there was a reason. There was something about Hildebrand when he decides to cooperate; the blade seemed to go through flesh as easily as a hot knife through butter. And of course it wasn't the most pleasant thing to watch. On the other hand, if Hildebrand refused, which happened more often, the blade would turn blunt and wouldn't cut through anything. But most of the time he wouldn't respond and simply be a normal sword.

A group of pirates had noticed Mark's refusal to go and die, so naturally they decided to gang up. And naturally he won. After a few comments and jeers from the pirates were ignored, the fight began. Whirling around, Mark easily parried the clumsy slashes of the ruffians. Then he launched himself forward, slicing right through three of the men that stood in his path. Despite himself, Mark flinched at the easiness of Hildebrand through enemy torsos. Before long, the group was dismembered.

So much for 'fledgling'.

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Myrna had fought her way through a veritable swath of bandits, having stopped a few times to bandage wounds or apply the incidental poultice, and as a result she arrived closer to the docks just in time to see two men standing momentarily amidst what could only be described as a pile of bodies. One was wearing a mask the like of which she had seen only once, upon observation of a troubadours' show. It was immediately obvious, however, that neither man was a jester, and for a moment, the frightened whisper of a tavernkeeper's daughter echoed through the strains of memory.

"You mean you don't know the assassins?" the wide-eyed, merry woman's voice became slightly vibrato with tremors, and Myrna had wondered what kind of fear could truly do that to a person.

"They say the leader of the assassins once tried to rule the world. Me? I think it's that demon-eyed one that's the worst. He's killed hundreds, I'm told, and knows no mercy. No, Miss, if someone tells you they're an assassin, you'd best be off as soon as you can, though by the time they say so, it'd probably be too late anyway..." Shaking her head, the woman had moved off, leaving Myrna to her simple meal.


It would seem that the second man was the red-eyed one from the tales, but Myrna had learned long ago to reserve judgment until one could be certain of circumstances. Of course, she could not pretend the circumstances were making these two look all that good, given all the carnage about them, but she understood well that not everyone espoused mercy over justice the way she did, and she was loath to condemn anyone for holding a point of view contrary to her own.

The battle still raged, but the immediate vicinity had calmed somewhat, at least enough that she could begin to move between villagers, checking for wounds severe enough to need immediate attention but not so severe as to be certainly fatal. Even as she checked for pulses and vital signs, sh kept her senses trained on her environment. This was a lesson her people learned early, and well at that. While she did not expect either man to attack her, there was no need to take such a notion for granted.

Assume nothing, and you will never have assumed mistakenly. What value has a correct assumption, after all, when such things are just as easily learned the right way?

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Matt peaked over the roof back down at the fighting. One... two... three... five. Five people caught his eye. Not in a good way though. Aside from the girl healing a few inoccents as she fought, the others... those dudes were demonic! Especially the red eyed one and his friend. Ripping out that dudes jaw... yuck. Matt cringed. Maybe it was best to just leave. Get out of town and never come back. Yeah, that sounded like a good plan.
So why wouldn't his legs move?
Something was holding him back from leaving. Something glued him to the spot. He didn't know what it was, but this wasn't the first time it had happened. And what he had learned was not to fight it. If he was glued to the spot, than experiance had told him that moving was a bad idea. Oh well. Back to hideing.
Matt hid behind the roof again, counting his new pearls.

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Shadow calmly walked through the streets towards the docks. As he passed by a young monk who was tending wounded and frightened townsmen, he cast her a glance out of the corner of his eye.

He looked forward and halted.

There were only three men in front of him, one of them a Royal Guard member. Two pirates and a Royal Guard standing against him... This was getting interesting.

"Stop where you are Demon!" The guard Shouted.

"Ye best turn back now, or I'll be forced to draw me piece and blow yer head clean offa yer shoulders!" The pirate on the right proclaimed.

Shadow smirked.

"And to what do I owe the pleasure gentlemen... You-" He pointed at the Guard, "You're no pirate, so why do you stand against me?"

The Royal Guard clenched his teeth.

"You are responsible for the death of my brother and his family! His wife and two children! Why wouldn't I stand against you?!" He shouted.

Shadow's smirk disappeared and was replaced by a momentary flinch of agony.

He closed his eyes. His past was almost literally painted with the death of countless innocent lives. He had spared nobody. Neither man, woman nor child. Young or old, large or small, none were spared. He had cared little as to who fell to his blade when he was younger, but as he grew, the value of life became more and more apparent, especially after he met... her. Shadow knew that killing these pirates was not what was called for, but none the less, for the survival of these people, and for the sake of his success in his mission, it was a necessary precaution.

Shadow's eyes snapped open and he rushed his opponents. It took less than a second for him to close the near fifteen foot gap between them, and as the Pirate drew for his gun, it was already too late. Shadow jumped into the air at him and spun a full three hundred and sixty degrees, bringing the Twins up and whirling around with him with deadly speed. As he came around and his turn came to its final stage, he gashed the man's arm just above the elbow, severing the muscles and tendons which allowed him to hold the weapon.

As he landed, he gripped the dagger in his right hand tightly, and brought his closed fist up under the man's jaw. The blow lifted the man clean off his feet and into the air, and Shadow jumped up to follow, turning once again and throwing his leg back into the man's stomach, sending him flying into a now already broken fruit stand. The man crashed into the stand with horrifying force, and snapped the already broken boxes even further, and sent fruit into the street.

He turned and faced the Royal Guard member and the unarmed pirate who were frozen in fear at what they had just seen.

He was an arms reach away from the Guard, and so he put his hand on his shoulder.

"If you wish to leave, then do so now, or you'll suffer the same fate as these two." He said calmly.

The Guard was still frozen for a moment, but quickly regained his composure.

"Never! I will not stop now! I will take revenge for my brother and his family! My family!!" He screamed.

He batted Shadow's arm away and drew his sword, but Shadow moved closer, sheathing one of the Twins and using his now free right hand to jam the man's sword back into its scabbard.

"... Last chance..." He warned.

The man spit onto Shadow's jacket, and the Red-Eyed Demon's eyes flared. The coloration within his eyes fluctuated between light and dark red, and the Guard knew then and there that he had just sealed his fate.

Shadow let go of the sword and redrew his other dagger, slashing the man across the chest. It was just deep enough to scrape the ribcage, but not break through, and the man fell back gripping his chest and screaming in pain. Shadow wasted no time, as the other pirate was still watching and was in the process of stabbing at him.

Unfortunately, Shadow didn't react in time due to his focus on the Guard, and he caught the edge of the blade in the side, cutting a small chunk out of his jacket and taking a piece out of his shirt. No skin was broken, but this was his favorite jacket, and not only was there some other man's saliva on it, now it was ripped.

"... That's it!" He yelled.

Shadow brought the twins up and slashed out the man's eyes with lethal precision, avoiding the skin around them. As the pirate screamed in agony, Shadow used the butt end of the dagger in his right hand to knock the wind out of him by bashing him in the stomach at the solar plexus. He watched the man drop to his knees, and then, Shadow's smirk returned.

He took the dagger in his left hand and positioned it, blade inwards, towards the man's kidney on his right side. The blade in his right hand went to the man's other kidney on his left side. Shadow took in a breath, and thrust them inwards, slicing everything in their path, and the man let out a gasp. Shadow ripped both blades towards himself, gutting the man from both sides and watching his entire mid torso split open as he kicked him backwards. The sight was gruesome, but Shadow seemed to relish in it.

He watched as the man's intestines slowly spilled out into the street, as well as his now dismembered kidneys and stomach. He could see the man's lungs rapidly losing their ability to take in air as he fought desperately to cling to life, but his fate was already upon him. Shadow watched the life drain from his eyes, and his gaze slid slowly to the Guard, who watched in horror at what took place in front of him.

Shadow walked over to him and knelt down in front of him, smiling.

The Guard was frozen in pain and fear, clutching his chest and blood seeped out from behind his armor.

Shadow placed the dagger in his right hand away in its sheath, and positioned the left hand dagger at the man's neck right beside his common carteroid artery. The man looked at the blade, then back to Shadow, and shook his head.

"... I gave you the chance to live, and you made your choice. Rest in peace, you poor fool." He said cryptically.

With that, Shadow slammed the knife inwards, and pulled it free. The man's eyes almost instantly went grey and his body fell limp to the ground.

Shadow stood up and turned his gaze towards the docks. The town's main body ended about seventy feet from the docks, and Shadow now stood right at the edge of it. The pirate force had now gathered and was standing in an almost military fashion, with three rows of men all lined up across the docks poised and ready to fight. He made a quick estimate of how many were there, and came to the conclusion that there were approximately sixty men still left from the original two hundred or so who raided the town.

Shadow smiled to himself and placed both daggers in their sheaths. He cracked his neck, and felt his adrenaline finally beginning to rise.

... The docks will be painted red by the time this is over...

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Yep. The red eyed one is the worst.
Matt made some weird cross between a grimace and a smile. This fight was starting to die down a little. Half of him wanted to jump in and fight for himself. But the sweet and metalic smell of blood kept him back. He could smell it from here. If was way worse down there. But he wanted to fi-i-i-i-ight!! He bounced up and down with each extended syllable. Maybe I could just go get Circean. ... just in case. Right.
Matt hopped down from his roof, his legs unfrozen. He bounded across the rooftops and into the window of his room that he rented. He could even here fighting downstairs. Imbeciles... He grabbed his black bladed sword and slipped his dagger into the bottom of the handel, uniting the blade once again.
"Miss me, girl?" He mumbled as he unsheathed it. Then he heard screaming dowstairs. Matt sighed.
"Curse me and my soft heart." He whispered. He bounded dowstairs and punted the nearest pirates head into the wall. He didn't even see what he was doing. He heard some shout of thank you but whatever. He cut the next pirate in the chest, leaving him to bleed. He swung behind himself without even looking and bocked an axe. He turned around and faced that pirate. Damn he was ugly.
"You guys are this close to making me mad." Matt said calmly, holding the fingers on his free hand close together.
"Awfly cocky for a runt!"
"Shut up." Matt frowned as he swung the axe around with his blade and planted it in the pirates shoulder. Another pirate swung at him, but Matt jumped. But it was a little late. As his luck would have it, the blade cut open the pouch that held his new pearls. The white beads fell out and scattered on the floor.
Matt landed on a table, and glared. Every pirate could feel the pure malice comeing from him. A few civilians fled upstairs, scared.
"... and that." Matt slipped his dagger out and held it in his left hand, his sword in his right. His voice was monotone, emotionless. "Is the straw that broke the camels back."

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Myrna watched the red-eyed man with passivity in her expression, inwardly torn between the desire to stop what she saw as a gratuitous display of power and the need to continue helping the man beneath her doctor's hands, that he might survive where those three men would not. Lowering her yes to the patient in front of her, she tried not to hear what followed, but as it was taking place no more than twenty feet or so from her, there was little she could do.

The man she tended heard the cries, too, and his eyes flared wide, arms flailing weakly as he struggled to get away. "They come... in the shadow of death...! No, nononono, please.... keep them away from me, keep them away!"

Using her position above him as leverage, Myrna calmly placed her hands on the man's shoulders, forcing him to look into her eyes. "Hush," she murmured softly. "For you, the worst is over. But you must allow me to treat your wounds."

The man, delirious as he was, could only look into irises of a most uncanny violet and feel himself relax, almost against his own will. And yet, he was so convinced of the inherent gentleness of this soul that he could not help but obey, catastrophic as his own mind was in the moment. He could see only peace wherever he looked, and it all seemed the same shade of near-luminous violet. How could one be so... serene in the middle of this? Whatever this was; the man himself found it harder and harder to remember. The last thought he had before submitting to his body's drive towards unconsciousness was to wonder whether it might be possible for him to feel that peace someday, too.

Myrna stood, having done all she could for this poor soul. Dragging him as gently as she could, she laid him at the side of the road, somewhat out of the way of the main battle. At least this way, they wouldn't be accidentally stepped on.

It was her intention to follow the red-eyed man, to see if there was something that might be done to cause him to cease in this meaningless waste of life that could only be called a massacre. Scanning the area quickly, she was surprised to discover that it was not at all difficult to pick certain patterns out of the crowd. There was a young knight, there the other assassin. A woman was perched on the roof not too far away... she knew not why her eyes naturally picked out these people, but trusted her instincts enough to know that there was significance in it.

It was with that thought, then, that she padded noiselessly after the crimson-eyes one, hoping that this time she might do something to make his carnage a little less complete.

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Kain frowned when he noticed Shadow was once again making a spectacle of himself. Oh well, in the art of killing, there was no one better than Shadow... though Kain hoped to be a close second. Looking toward the docks, Kain noticed the remaining pirates seemed to regroup toward their ship. Kain estimated between fifty to sixty left. Shadow was much better at counting out large groups of people. No matter. Kain took to the rooftops to survey the scene. TO his immense pleasure, Kain noticed that there were several kegs of gun powder unloaded and near the ships. This was going to be fun.

Kain jumped from the rooftop, landing lightly and taking off into a hard sprint. Kain made it to the kegs, and began flipping them. Several pirates noticed him, and the group was now after him. Kain started laughing until he noticed they were pulling their pistols out. And Kain was standing near several kegs of explosives. Kain began rolling the kegs as hard as he could towards the oncoming horde. The pirates began tripping over each other, but soon learned to jump. Kain heard the crack of a pistol, and dropped to a low crouch as quick as he could. Not quick enough unfortunately. The bullet managed to nick Kain's shoulder. In anger, Kain pulled out his own gun, aimed, and fired. He smiled as the bullets struck one of the rolling barrels, setting off a delightful explosion. Fire and debris blossomed out, and struck the other barrels, which proceeded to bloom in similar fashion. Kain stood laughing while the screams of pirates filled the sky. Bodies were torn apart by the impact and the fire. Men screamed as shrapnel from the kegs tore them apart. Perhaps fifteen men had died instantly, and another ten were wounded to varying degrees.

Then, another gunshot sounded. Kain's eyes widened as he realized the pirates were trying to use his own trick against him. Clever bastards. Kain dove forward, but did not fully avoid the explosion that erupted behind him. The shock-wave knocked the wind out of Kain and sent him painfully to the ground. before he started moving, Kain used his senses to assess the environment. Pirates near him. He would have to recover before moving, or else they would surely kill him. Then, a loud cawing was heard overhead.

"Back away boys! Death is here for him." Pirates are a superstitious lot. Raven landed next to Kain's head and pecked his ear. Kain smiled, knowing how he could turn this to his advantage. Kain launched himself into the air, landing into a crouch. Raven landed on his shoulder, giving out an ominous caw. Kain looked at them from behind the smiling mask.

"Well, it seems like not even death can stop me." Kain said as he reached behind his back. Even through the leather gloves, Kain could feel the chill of the strange sword he carried. He quickly unsheathed the blade, letting the pirates have a good look at the serpentine blade and the detailed skulls. "Your souls are mine!" Kain shouted as he jumped toward the group.

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Shadow watched, very much amused, at Kain's display. Once the kegs of gunpowder had been set off, the resulting explosions were quite the spectacle.

The impact of the explosions hit Shadow quite hard, but he didn't flinch, being just far enough to avoid losing his footing, but never the less knocked a bit of the wind from him. He took in a breath and let it out, wondering how it was that, even after all this time, after all they had been through, Kain hadn't changed one single bit.

Shadow rolled his eyes, set his blades in their sheaths and sat down on a pile of wood nearby which had once been a merchants stall for selling cloth and fabric.

He watched as Kain ran towards the oncoming group of pirates and smiled.

While not as skilled as Shadow in the arts of killing, Kain was certainly not a stranger to it, and so he sat and watched as his old comrade began to besiege the pirates who were now scrambling to get themselves back into some sort of order through the chaos Kain had created.

He looked around, and noticed that almost all the individuals he had seen earlier who gave off strong auras were coming closer, save for the girl on the rooftop, who Shadow hadn't seen since his attack on the man sneaking up on the armored youth earlier.

He knew she'd be nearby, since by the look of her, she was adept at combat.

Shadow simply leaned back, intent on enjoying the show, but instead of relaxation, he was forced out of his seat by another small group of pirates descending on his position. He rolled his eyes and stood up slowly, drawing the Twins from behind his back once more, and crossing them in front of his body in an X pattern.

He waited, wondering if this would be enough to intimidate them, as he more or less had enough fighting and death for one day. His excitement for battle got the best of him just a minute ago with his previous kills, but now that the battle was already nearly done, he surprisingly wanted nothing more to do with it, and felt almost unwilling to fight, as he knew that his love of battle and his Assassin's instincts would lead him to kill his targets.

The group was unfazed by his display, and so he rushed them.

And after I finally got to put these bloody daggers away too... He thought as he grumbled to himself before cutting into the first of the group to reach him...

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Kain yelled with savage fury as he swung the two-handed blade into the soft pirate bodies. The weight and craftsmanship of the blade gave it amazing cutting potential. Two men approached from the left, and Kain spun around, cleaving one man in half at the ribs. The blood spray and violence stunned the other pirate, and Kain took the moment of hesitation to swing the blade down on the man's shoulder. The pirate was split down the middle, till the blade impacted his pelvic bones. Kain dislodged the blade from the bone and looked around. The rest of the pirates seemed to be retreating. Kain smirked at their cowardice, and began running forward. Seemingly out of nowhere, Raven zipped past him, halting his advance. She landed on his shoulder, and cawed softly in his ear.

"I suppose you are right girl. Chasing after them would be foolish. I suppose I am satisfied that we struck true fear in their hearts. Very well, I shall go find Shadow. AS promised, you may go eat your fill. Try and find bodies farther back, hidden from view. When you are done, come find me." The raven nodded her head, and took off, eager to fill her belly with fresh meat. Kain looked at the cold blade, surprised there was no blood on the blade. "Curious..." Kain sheathed the giant weapon and began looking around for his friend.

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(Ral Shie)

Shadow had only just finished decorating the wall of the building behind him with the blood of the the last pirate in the group that attacked him when he noticed the rest retreating onto their ships.

The last pirate fell to the ground, and Shadow saw Kain approaching his position, so he sheathed the Twins and walked towards the ships, but then stopped, and looked at Kain.

Why is he not pursuing them? He wondered.

Shadow looked at the pirates on board the ships and saw that they were genuinely afraid and at the brink of sheer panic themselves after Kain and Shadow's display of ruthless killer intent.

Shadow decided to follow suit, and simply walked over to greet Kain before watching the pirates begin to turn their ships around and leave the town be. He smiled at their cowardice and lack of warrior's pride, but none the less was thankful for the lack of further bloodshed.

He had done enough of that today.

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Blood, blood, and the streets ran red with blood. It was part of the verse in an old poem she'd read somewhere, in the secluded library lost on the twisting passages of the temple atop Mount Kor. Ironically, enough, it had been describing a vision of hell itself, though in truth Myrna supposed that for some at least, there was little difference between this very port city and the bowels of the underworld so many spoke of with such fear.

She stood, wiping bloodied hands on a rag she had incidentally acquired, having no wish for the smell of it to linger too long in her nose, though this hope might in fact be futile. There had been a great commotion of explosions, through which she could make out the figure of the masked man at the center of it, though so too did the red-eyed one acquit himself deadly. She supposed she should feel fear that she might be next, but for whatever reason, this emotion was not one to linger on her emotional barometer. One only need fear those who dealt death i one feared death itself, and she had long ago learned that there were worse things than this.

So while she had no desire to possibly martyr herself by coming between these two and whatever it was they felt they were justified in obliterating, she would have had any of them made to damage an innocent. Indeed, the fact that she had been able to save many of the wounded militiamen was testament to the fact that neither of those particular men had been involved in their damage. Surely, any blow they delivered would have been two lethal even for her considerable talent.

And when the remaining pirates were allowed to retreat unmolested, she thought that perhaps she had seen something of their intent. Overwrought and gratuitous as she found the displays of prowess to be, she was quite glad to note that they were not entirely without some concept of mercy. Either that, or they simply saw no merit in killing cowards. The results were functionally the same either way, and thus she was not going to complain.

In fact, her decided course of action was to be quite the opposite. The masked one seemed to have taken quite the spill earlier, and the villagers had been tended to as far as she was bale for now. As a doctor, her duty was therefore clear.

Approaching the two with caution but not apprehension, she raised her voice just enough to be heard over what remained of the din. "Sir," she asked of the masked one, "were you injured, in your fall?" Myrna figured that her appearance would speak well enough of her profession: the bloodied rag, the roll of bandages about one wrist, and the belt-pouches of herbs made her purpose obvious.

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"Damnation! Its a black magic sorceress!" Kain shouted, pointing at the strange girl who approached the two. He paused for a moment, hoping for laughter. Getting none, Kain continued, "I jest milady. And to answer your question, no, I was not injured. Thank you for the concern though. Now, who might you be, and why are you not dead or cowering in fear?" Kain pulled off his harlequin mask, allowing his sweat-streaked face to get some air.

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Mark slowly walked down the desolate streets, taking in the carnage. The cobbled stones were a rusty red, and small rivers of crimson liquid flowed from the piles of dead bodies that were the work of the soldiers and pirates. Most everybody had either retreated into a building or ship, depending who you were. Except for a few people, apparently. There were the two guys from before, but now there was a girl with them.

Glancing around, Mark wondered what he should do now. Go and see them? Go home? Might as well see what's up with the weird people. So Mark walked casually over, and asked," Hey, what's up?", suprisingly normal, considering the chaos a few minutes ago.

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((Okay...any way for me to jump back into this at all? I'm completely lost...))

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(((TwiliXDragon, if the last post doesn't specifically state your character, you can still post an update as to what your character is doing. the only time you need to watch out is when characters interact with each other. So, if you are going to post that your character is observing the slowly forming group, then you can do so at any time. However, the latest post by angelwolf addresses the group, thus, you cannot come n just yet to interact with our characters. Feel free to post that your character is observing the scene or whatnot, deciding what to do before approaching the group. Sorry, we should have been a bit clearer about that from the start)))

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(I don't mean to be pushy everybody, but to twiliXdragon and dionkar, this kind of chatting is meant to be done in the OOC section, not here in the posting section. So from now on, if you have a question, ask there please, as asking here can be distracting to the others. Thanks.

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Myrna simply blinked at the man's joke; she'd been called worse before, and perhaps she appeared as such. It was hard to say what a long few hours of combat and battlefield medicine had done to her visage; neither of them looked all that pretty at present either.

Apparently, however, he was content to move on, and after removing his mask provided a satisfactory answer to the question. She might have chosen this moment to inquire after his companion, but a young person apparently decided to approach the three of them as casually as you please, and insert a question of their own. "Their" because well... Myrna wasn't exactly certain of the person's gender. They dressed and appeared to speak after the manner of a man, but... she wasn't a doctor for nothing, and there was something missing from that assessment.

Dismissing the matter as ultimately irrelevant to what had been asked, she chose to respond to the first question first. "My name is Myrna, but I prefer Myr, if it's all the same to yourselves. I suspect that I am alive because I made effort to remain that way, and not cowering in fear because I see no real reason to," she replied simply, with the slightest of shrugs.

Next, she addressed the youth. "I shall assume that question is not to be taken literally, else the answers would be readily apparent. As to circumstances, I do believe that one of these two would be better suited to answer that than I." It was hard to tell if her way of answering questions was reflective of some kind of internal humor or a complete sincerity. In truth, she had been taught to phrase questions and phrases as exactly as possible, at least to the monks' way of thinking, and was still adjusting to the ways of idiom, hyperbole, and understatement.

This was not to say that she was completely devoid of humor, either, however, and there was a certain subtle nuance to her tone that would indicate a dry wit, if one were searching for it.

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Shadow turned to the armored youth, appraising him up and down for a second before casting a glance at Myrna, who seemingly came to a similar, if not the same conclusion about this young 'boy' who stood before them.

"... This is not the time or place for idle chatter young man. If you wish to keep your head through battles to come in your life, you'll take things more seriously." He stated coldly.

Shadow looked at Kain for a moment and then turned away, walking back in the direction of the center of town.

He still had his mission to complete, and his target was now obviously on his way to another town after all the commotion that just took place. He had to find his target before they disappeared from his radar.

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Kain sighed and looked at Shadow's retreating form. Addressing the newcomers, Kain said, "You will have to excuse my friend, he is very blunt and not much of a conversationalist. Anyway, you are a strange little monk, and you nearly got yourself killed earlier. I would strongly suggest you two be more careful in the future. Dangerous towns and whatnot. Although..." Now Kain turned his attention to the monk. "Judging by your calm demeanor and your attire, you were obviously trained in a number of different disciplines, and in your studies, learning to overcome the fear of death must have been a basic lesson? Fear of death really is illogical, as from the moment we are born, we are all destined to die at some time or another. You could say we humans are thrown beings, forced into this world only to be forced back out eventually... However, these pirates are not about death. They are about plundering and pillaging and other "p" words. They are also fond of raping. You don't have to be young or attractive, though those types of girls get caught up the fastest. In my time I have witnessed too often the after effects of rape. Even the strongest willed women break. So., take greater care next time. I should go finish my contract as well." Kain slipped his mask back on, and continued after Shadow, curious as to who he was tracking this time.

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"I thank you for your concern, sir, though I think you are misplacing it." Myr couldn't say she was particularly fond of being characterized as a "little monk," but the fact was still true that it could be much worse. Frankly, she didn't think it fit; she wasn't that short, all things considered, and she wasn't a child besides. Nevertheless, she was well-used to being underestimated, and thus was largely unaffected.

Both men had left, leaving her and the self-professed lad to themselves. "I don't suppose you have a 'contract' to fulfill, do you?" she inquired, again with a trace of humor. Rather than wait for the answer, however, she too set off in the direction of the middle of town. Her intent was to make her way to the tavern for a break or something, and then to leave. She'd done what she could for the people here, and the smell of blood that lingered was becoming nauseating.

Of course, with no particular direction to go, she knew not where she'd be headed next; perhaps simply the nearest city. Upon reaching the tavern, however, she found it packed quite full and rather than wait for a meal, she decided to brave the road out and find her dinner along the way. It wasn't too hard for a vegetarian such as herself to find adequate sustenance in any of the many forests surrounding most of the continent's towns.

Decided, the monk set her sandaled feet on a path out, unaware that it was the most likely road the two assassins would take as well.

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Kain quickly caught up with Shadow. "SO, after all this time, you haven't changed one bit. Still as brooding and mysterious as ever." Raven flew back over to Kain's shoulder. She quickly wiped her beak on the leather coat Kain was wearing before flying over to Shadow's shoulder.

"Ye mangy bird! why did you have to wipe blood on my coat?!? Hm. Apparently, the hag missed you." Kain said, grumpy at Raven's "teasing."

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Shadow didn't answer, nor did he look back, but instead stroked Raven's chest, much to the bird's delight. He gave a flick of his hand and she departed his shoulder and returned to Kain.

Shadow still didn't look back, keeping his eyes on the road ahead, but answered to Kain's previous remark.

"I see you haven't changed either my friend. Still acting the constant fool in order to lull everyone around you into a false sense of security."

He turned his head slightly and smiled, but his hair hid his eyes from view.

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"Well, one could argue that I am, in actuality, quite the fool, but that causes people to make a false assumption that, just because I am a fool, I am not dangerous. And, as you know, assuming I am not dangerous is very dangerous indeed." Kain smirked and said, "So, who is your target this time? I need to fulfill a contract as well. A family was robbed by a common thug. However, the elder son tried to fight off the man and was murdered in the process. Seeking vengeance, the family sought out my services. Their reward as well as mine shall be justice done. Unfortunately, I am still not as high-minded as to turn the other cheek as the young monk back there would have obviously done."

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(Ral Shie)

Shadow's smile faded.

"... So you seek a target as well? Interesting."

Shadow returned his gaze to the road ahead.

"I am seeking a man who used to be one of Takai's puppets back during my time in Teisei. As soon as word reached him that Takai was dead, he disappeared. I had meant to find him much earlier, but circumstances changed my focus shortly after I met you and Kaiden. He is an evil man, one who has corrupted his role in the Empire's hierarchy in order to gain himself personal wealth and run good people off their land and out onto the streets."

Shadow took out a folded piece of paper from his jacket pocket and tossed it back to Kain.

"That's his portrait, and I know he was in this town. After all the commotion back there, he'd obviously have fled, because his lodging was on the opposite edge of town. I know he survived. He's so paranoid that he'd be the first to run at the slightest sign of trouble... Such a coward, he deserves to die."

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As the two walked, Kain scanned the buildings. When he finally spotted the shady pub he was looking for, Kain walked in, pulled out his gun, and sent three bullets straight into the chest of a man trying to order a drink. Kain made sure the man was dead before holstering his pistol and walking back out, catching up to Shadow again. "Well, that completes my contract. Too easy."

Kain gripped the paper tightly, and waited until he and Shadow were safely out of the city limits before saying, "I've seen this man, and you are right, he is leaving. I noticed him when I was coming into the city. he was already heading out. apparently, your reputation is working against you this time. Word travels quickly, and he wouldn't want to chance meeting you. Tough luck Shadow, he has several days ahead of you. However, now that I am with you, perhaps we could mask your identity. I just need to put my normal clothes on."

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Shadow turned his head, this time far enough for his eyes to become visible.

The look in his eyes was murderous.

"... Days... He knew I was coming that long ago?" He demanded.

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"Indeed. You are, after all, the fabled 'Red-Eyed Demon.' Unfortunately for you, your assassin persona cannot simply come off." To illustrate his point, Kain slipped off his mask, giving it a theatrical twirl before slipping it on his belt. "However, I may have something that will help you. You remember my fascination with herbs, yes? I may have discovered a blend that can change the color of a person's eyes."

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Shadow blinked.

"... Interesting to say the least..." He said, a look of suspicion in his eyes.

"I'm not sure if I'll need it yet, but I will keep your offer in mind. In the mean time, I need to keep moving. You're welcome to come along if you wish since you seem to have nothing else to do." He said.

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Aww... it was already over. He knew he shouldn't have left. But there were other people left... only a few. Two were the red eyed one and his buddy. He walked them talk then they went there separate ways. Aww... thats no fun. Matt reached into his posket and brought out some of the now red pearls. They had saoked up the blood of those pirates that had held him up when they were on the ground. Now the were stained red forever.
Cool. That ought to fetch a good price.
The watched the pair of assasins go down the road and decided to follow them. He had nothing better to do. He walked along the rooftops, listening in on there conversation. They seemed to be a rather interesting pair.

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Mark stood and waited as the people around him said there peices, and left. The same thing always happened when he tried to be friendly. It was always something to do with 'childish boy' or 'inexperianced squire' or 'are you sure he's a boy?' Something along those lines. Oh well. Mark trotted back home, keeping all the gruesome images of death the were splattered all over the streets.

When he got their, Mark tugged off his armor and placed it in his pack. Then Mark brought out Hildebrand. "Thanks", he whispered to the blade. Mark brought out a rag and clean his sword, top to bottom. Sticking his money and a few rations inn the pack as well, Mark where he would head next.

Jogging briskly down the cobbled way, Mark hurried to the road which would lead him from the bloody town.

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Somewhere on her way out of town, Myr became aware of a presence behind her. Turning, her eyes alighted on the young knight from before, and a small smile crossed her face. "I suppose you, too, have chosen to seek your fortune elsewhere? Do you know to where you are headed? The road is a lonely companion, at times, and I could use someone to while the hours with, if you are not opposed to it."

Setting her gaze forward once more, the monk passed the gates of the town and let out a sigh of relief at the sensation of fresh air. Out here, at least, it did not smell of blood. That metallic tang was one she knew well, but did not enjoy in the slightest. As for the knight, if they chose to catch up or respond, that would be quite nice indeed; if not, well, she was indeed quite accustomed to solitary travel, and found nothing troublesome in it.

People here, Myr had discovered, placed a great deal of value on their freedom, and thus she was not about to press the point at hand. If it was the warrior's desire to remain separate, this was but a matter of preference, and not something to be offended by. Rather than concern herself with waiting for a response, therefore, the monk began to hum softly to herself, a lullaby from her home, lilting in melody and gentle.

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Mark looked up a happily when Myr asked if he could join her. Nodding vigorously, Mark hurried up to meet up with her. Mark followed her as they entered the town.

"My name is Mark, what's yours?", he asked cheerfully. "Where are you going?", Mark added.

It was always fun to goto new places. Especaily if you wanted to forget the one you were just in. Rummaging through his bag, Mark then pulled out a couple of coins.

"Want to drink some tea? My treat?", Mark asked temptingly.

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"It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Mark. My name is Myrna, though I tend to go by Myr." A man's name... very well then. If that was the way Mark preferred to be addressed, it was alright by her.

"As for the tea, I would be most happy to take you up on that, but I do think it might be best to place some distance between ourselves and Ral'Shie first," she replied, gesturing to the town still visible on the horizon behind them. "I know not where the nearest settlement is after this, but I do not imagine it could be more than a few days' travel at most."

The two walked in silence for a time, but Myr could tell that Mark was the friendly sort who would not frown upon a bit of idle chatter, and so she spoke once more, for the sake of starting a proper conversation. "Am I to suppose that your formal address is 'Sir Mark'?" she asked, gesturing to the knight's gear he was wearing. Myr had met a few knights, but most of these were in the service of the government. Mark seemed a bit different, as though he had no real employment, at least not of the permanent sort.

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Placing his money back into his pack, Mark walked in silence with Myr until she asked him his proper title.

"Well, yes, I suppose.", Mark answered sheepishly, rubbing the back of his neck. "I am a free-lance knight. Not a mercenary... but I do wander.", he continued. "Well, you see, my father was a minor lord, and since he hasn't passed his lands on to me yet, my mission is to travel throughout the kingdom. I am supposed to learn the land, and the quailty and nature of the people, plants, and government in each place I visit.", Mark explained. "So basicly I just live there a few days, get to know everybody and explore a bit, then I'm off.", he concluded.

"Hah, and I bet your wondering about the weirdness of my armor.", he added, looking down. "It's been passed down my family for ages, and no, I don't work for the government, in case you wanted to know.", Mark informed her. "So where are we headed?", he asked.

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Ugh. Boreing. They were only talking. Matt decided to ditch the two assasins. He had better things to do. What about those other two that were there? Maybe they were doing something.
But wait... they left... riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. Matt shook his head as he bounded off. He'd wished hed had known that before he came after these too. Now he had no one. He needed a drink. He jumped from roof to roof, heading for the nearest tea shop. Tea sounded good right now. Matt was cold, and a hot drink could really hit the spot.

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Myr listened to her companion speak with genuine interest. When he had concluded, she fixed him with a slightly-disconcerting violet gaze. "I think that sounds like a most wonderful thing to be doing," she relied honestly. "I wander as well, though with no particular purpose. I suppose that I, too, am coming to know this land and its people."

"As for your armor, I cannot say that I know enough of such things to tell if it is strange. I have gathered, however, that my own manner of dress is unconventional as well," she continued, gesturing to her loose clothing, bandaged arms and legs, and the straw sandals that covered the soles of her feet. Indeed, the attire of a monk was most uncharacteristic of anything she had seen, and many times had Myr contemplated purchasing something a bit less standout, the result being not a complete wardrobe adjustment, but the sturdy wool cloak under which she assumed the veil of anonymity. It had thus far served well to hide her unusual eyes and angular facial features well enough that she was not commonly bothered by the sort of people the masked assassin had warned her about.

"Where are we headed?" Myr tapped a finger on the side of her nose, an odd habit she had picked up from one of her instructors, and one that appeared whenever she was considering a question she had not particularly thought about before. "I suppose I go where the road takes me. If you had something more specific in mind, I'd be happy to come along, however."

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Matt jumped off a rooftop and landed in the street, in front of two other people who were talking. He glanced at them for a second. Had he seem them before? Oh yeah, they were the two talking with the assasins! Cool. Matt smiled and made a quick nod and ran down the street to his favorite tea shop.

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Mark stared at the weirdo that landed right in front of them. Unfortuanately, the guy was went into the same teashop Mark and his companion were headed for, so they would meet again. Mark inspected Myr as she spoke. Indeed, the lady was dressed as a monk, which would explain a lot

"We might as well go to that teashop over there", Mark said while gesturing in that direction. "Even if a strange person is there as well.", he joked. Eventually the pair made it to a teashop.

The knight opened the door, holding it open for the monk. "Ladies first."

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Myr was largely unaffected by the appearance of the young man in front of them, though she had not counted on it taking quite so long to reach the edges of town. Ah, well. Sometimes things did not work as you expected, and she was beginning to rethink her refusal of the tea offer from earlier anyway.

Thus, when Mark suggested it again, she chose to comply this time, and followed her companion for the moment, raising one blond eyebrow ever-so-slightly when he proclaimed that ladies should enter first. She would not comment, however, and simply thanked him softly before following the roof-climber into the tea shop.

The space was small and comfortable, with many wooden tables and chairs, and the whole thing smelled strongly of spiced tea leaves and flowers. It was Myr decided, a most pleasant sort of space to spend some time, and she was glad she had not refused the offer in the second instance. It appeared for the moment that the only other occupant was the young man from before, but she could not say that she particularly minded. You met all sorts, wandering as she did, and she had come to discover that most people, even the odd ones, were nothing to be too wary of.

Selecting a seat, she slipped into it and was almost immediately greeted by a waiter, who asked her what it was that she wanted. "Do you have jasmine and rose-hip?" she inquired, smiling a bit when the young man nodded. "Very well, I'll take that then."

The waiter scrawled something down on a piece of paper before turning and looking at Mark expectantly.

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Matt so desperatly wanted to make conversation. He was kind of lonely at the moment. But they seemed perfectly fine talking with each other. He didn't want to disrupt that. Strange... this place seemed so calm seeing as there was just a FREAKING PIRATE ATTACK. But whatever. A different waiter walked up to him, holding a menu.
"Surprise me. I got money." Matt waved him off. The waiter nodded and walked off. That was his usual order. He was never dissapointed by what shops brought him. And he actually liked playing this game. If they brought him anything other than the most expensive thing on the list, he would pay it. Otherwise, he would take it and leave. Matt sighed, taking in the wonderful scent of the shop. He put his feet up on the table, leaning back. It was a mistake though, seeing as his pearls fell out of his pockets and scattered all over the floor.
"Those things are causeing me more trouble than they're worth." He said to himself as the blood red beads rolled around. He sighed and stood up, begining to pick the infernal things up.

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Myr had just received her cup, and was daintily inhaling the fragrance of what she judged to be quite a nice cup of tea when a clattering could be heard, one that reminded her of the sounds of children at play in a game of marbles. Looking downward, she observed neutrally that there appeared to be several pearl-like objects (save for the slight reddish hue marbled onto them by an agent unknown) rolling about on the floor.

The man with the strange proclivity for jumping off rooftops, was presently engaged in the rather arduous-looking task of scrambling about and trying to retrieve these. Blinking as though to make sure she was seeing correctly, Myr shrugged to Mark and left her seat, letting those spheres that had come her directions collect in her hands as she wandered about the floor on her knees.

In truth, she probably looked quite strange, but this in itself was nothing unusual, and she did not think much of it. Having gathered all those pinkish orbs that occupied the area immediately about her table, she moved over to the fellow picking up the rest, holding out her cupped hands with something of an amused smile.

"I do believe you are missing these, sir."

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"Oh! Thanks." Matt smiled brightly at her, accepting the rest of the pearls. Why was a knight helping him? Did she not know he was Moonlight, a well known theif? Cool. Matt put the pearls in his pocket and turned back to her.
"You wouldn't happen to have a... bag of some sort, would you? They keep falling out." He rubbed the back of his head nervously, his fingers running through his white hair.

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Mark raised an eyebrow. Those 'marbles' looked pretty suspicious to him. Slowly he rose form his chair moved swiftly towards the guy. Hmm... that was the same guy who jumped from the roof. Bending down, Mark picked up a single marble and held it between his fingers.

"I am Sir Mark. What's your name?", he asked, not taking his eyes off the small ball. Something about that guy was familiar...

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As it was, Myr was still far too naive to even consider something like thievery as the reason this man possessed the gems he did, and so she was not in the least bothered by the fact that he had them at all. Rather, she offered a soft smile and a nod before standing, brushing some dust off her loose pants before straightening to her full (and decidedly unimpressive) height.

Mark seemed quite a bit more suspicious than she, but perhaps this was in his nature She could not say with any degree of certainty, though the question he asked seemed innocuous enough. Myr tilted her head to the side ever-so-slightly in anticipation of the answer. She was never loath to meet new people, and it seemed her sociability would be well-satiated today, given all that had happened.

As for a pouch of some kind... Myr wasn't known for carrying excess items on her person, but she usually had a spare satchel or two, just in case she found some useful herbs. Patting down her pockets, she reached into one in her vest and produced a small leather bag with a string cinch, about four inches square. "Will this do?" she asked, offering it to the young man.

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"Matt Somer at your servi- Oh thats wonderful!" Matt exclaimed as a bag was held out to him. "Thank you so much!" He took the bag from the girl and slipped the red pearls into it.
Wait... Matt peeked inside the bag and counted. There should be twenty three exactly... there were only twenty two in here. Where was the last one.
Oh. In that mans fingers.
"Anyway, Matt Somer at your service." Matt bowed low at both of them. He looked at the man, then at his pearl between his fingers. "Um... may I have that back now?" He asked politely.

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Ther was something fishy about the marbel, but Mark couldn't put his finger on it... That's it! The round ball resembled a pearl greatly, except for the strange red color. Mark looked at Matt while giving it back.

"So, what's your bussiness here Matt?", he asked curiously.

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"Eh, I wander." Matt snatched his tea off of the passing waiters tray without looking. The waiter was surprised, but didn't say anything and walked off. "I go where the wind takes me." He dropped the last pearl into his new bag and strung it to his hip. He took a sip of his tea and nodded. Not bad, he supposed. After a thought or two, he untied his bag and displayed it in front of them. "Hey, either of you two interested in these pearls? I'm looking to sell them."

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Another wanderer... for some reason, Myr seemed to be meeting more of those today than she'd ever done before. Perhaps her occupation was only strange on some parts of the continent? It was a question that bore asking, but perhaps not for now. Sipping her tea, she watched the two of them in conversation. Mark still looked a bit suspicious, but either the one calling himself Matt did not notice or did not care.

Large purple-hued eyes blinked a few times as the strange individual offered to sell. "I think you would find more appropriate clientele elsewhere," she pointed out practically. "I cannot speak for Sir Mark, but I wander as well, and do not carry much money, nor would I have any need of such things, pretty though they might be."

Myr had never been one for frivolous things; the monks that raised her had actively discouraged an aesthetics of the impractical. To her, those things that were most useful or natural were also beautiful in a sense. This, she had come to understand, was not a dominant position, and it had initially surprised her how many people made fortunes hawking baubles at marketplaces across Cre'Est.

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Matt sighed slightly as Myr declined his offer. He turned to Mark next. "How bout you? You interested?" He downed the rest of his drink and picked up a nearby menu. Yep. They gave him the most expensive thing here. Almost made him sad. This was a nice shop. Felt a little wrong to rob it.
Oh well. After this conversation, he was gone. He had better things to do. But still, he wanted to keep this conversation going as long as possible. It got lonely as a thief, and Matt was thrilled to have company.

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Shadow thought to himself for a moment, and decided that it was best not to move yet, as any attempts to catch up to a target who was days ahead of him would be fool hardy and reckless. So instead, he simply turned once again to Kain as they stood at the edge of town.

"I think I've had a change of heart Kain... I think it would be a good idea to stay in this town, at least until tomorrow morning. Then we can set out to find my target."

Shadow cast a glance back towards the now empty streets.

"I think our presence here is something of a concern to most of the common townsmen, especially after our displays in the streets earlier. Do you think we went too far? I did get a rather reprimanding glare from that girl with purple eyes after all... What do you think?" He asked expectantly.

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Kain let out a hollow laugh at this statement. "Shadow, since when have we ever been concerned with going too far? I feel we did just fine. We struck true fear into the hearts of pirates, we saved innocent townspeople, we furthered our own reputations, and, with luck, we have dissuaded many a fine young lad from turning to a life of crime." Kain paused, and looked at the ground. "I understand killing is not something pleasurable, but there is a distinction between mindless murder, and killing to protect yourself and others. If those pirates gave even the slightest clue that they didn't want to continue their pillaging, I would have let them go. But they continued to the end, and even then they chose to flee like cowards, presumably to find an easier target. They learned nothing, and the fewer we left alive, the fewer there are to kill, rape, and steal from other innocents. Would you like to go back and help them clean the blood and bodies? If so, lets stop off and get something to drink first, and maybe a warm meal. There should be a tea shop around here somewhere."

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Shadow smirked.

"I guess you're right. I haven't been in serious combat like that since we hunted down my brother Asasirihito six months ago... I guess the lack of battle has made me... dull."

He looked back towards the streets of town as he scanned for the location of the tea shop.

"... You think?"

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Mark looked a the bag of 'marbles'.

"Umm... no. Say, would you mind if we sat here for tea? I haven't ordered anything yet...". On the dot, a waitress appeared behind him," What would you like sir?

"Ah.. how about some herbal tea then?", Mark replied. Then the maid hurried off and the knight sat down in a chair.

"I hope you don't mind?.", he asked cautiosly.

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"Nah, It's fine." Matt smiled. Why stand when you can sit?" He pulled up a chair and sat down, leaning back slightly. This was a misake though, cause he fell back and hit his head. He groaned, his arms sprawled out on the ground.

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Myr winced when Matt's head hit the ground. That didn't sound like a pleasant experience in the slightest. Still standing as she was, she offered the dubious young man a hand up, moving to sit once he was upright once more, whether or not he chose to accept.

A waitress reemerged with Mark's tea, and Myr stared down into her own for a moment, contemplative. What was she doing here, anyway? Certainly, Matt and Mark were nice enough people, and she did not in the least mind their company, but she was getting that feeling she had sometimes, the one that informed her she needed to be somewhere else. Ordinarily, she would have followed her instincts and left without a second thought, but also ordinarily she would not have been accompanied by anyone, and in this case she felt it would likely have been rude.

She looked up, realizing that silence had reigned for longer than she would have expected between the two of them. "Are you going anywhere particularly, Matt?" she asked politely, not really thinking that silence was the best option in a situation like this.

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Kain smirked. "Yes, there is definitely a little shop down the road a bit. I remember getting some food there as I was heading into Ral Shie. Nice little place, if a bit pricey. If we do go there, we will need disguises. Easy enough for me..." Kain reached into his bag, pulling out a royal blue shirt. The light material somehow kept a high collar, and the low neckline made Kain look dashing, in Kain's own opinion. In any case, he was fairly sure Kaiden had enjoyed the shirt... He quickly shuffled to different thoughts, pulling out a pair of finest quality black silk pants, and black calfskin leather boots. He quickly changed into his dress clothes, and took a moment to comb his silken hair. Last, Kain put on a leather belt with a fanged skull buckle, and on this belt he attached his gun holster. He quickly stashed the rest f his gear into his pack, carefully wrapping his large sword in canvas to disguise it as artist supplies.

When he was finished, Kain stood up, feeling much more comfortable in these lighter clothes. Raven landed on a branch nearby, and cawed loudly. "Why thank you Raven, I do look rather good, dont I?" Kain said. Raven flew over and grabbed Kain's hair, yanking it hard. "Hey! You need to treat me a little better!" The bird stopped its antics and landed on Kain's shoulder, nuzzling up to his face while making soft purring noises. "Damn your adorable ways, ye demon bird. I knew it was a bad idea to let you socialize with that pirate girl back in the day. she taught you her capricious and devious ways." Kain shook his head, and looked at Shadow. "Disguises weren't really your forte, so what is your plan?"

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Shadow smiled at Raven's antics and gave a small chuckle.

"You're right, disguises really aren't my thing... I guess I'll just go in as is, and if people give me a hard time about it, I'll just silence them."

He gave a wave of his arm towards the town.

"After you maestro" He said with a slight bow of his head.

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Kain raised an eyebrow. "Just a second ago, you were acting as though you developed a conscience, and now you are saying you will silence innocent civilians because they may act rashly to your presence, which has gained a fearsome reputation over the years... Shadow, you are a strange individual." Kain walked in silence for a moment. As they rounded a corner, the small shop came into view. Kain continued through the doors, dismissing Raven before he walked through. "Table for two, preferably by an open window please." Kain told the hostess. He and Shadow were seated, and given two small menus to look over.

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Shadow waited until the hostess had left earshot before speaking.

"I didn't mean I'd kill them, merely silence them, as in knock them out or intimidate them into shutting up. Less of a mess that way."

He kicked his feet up on a spare chair from a table next to them and closed his eyes, leaning his head back to rest his eyes after the long and frustrating day he'd just gone through.

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Mark glanced at the new customers, then double-glanced when he thought he saw the ones from the fight. They were! It was the stealthy one and the annoying one who saved his life! Mark smiled the biggest of grins and waved at the pair. Even though one of them was wearing a disguise, he could still tell who it was.

Leaning over, Mark pointed the pair out to his comrades before receiving his drink from a waiter. Oh, he knew there was a possibility of him being annoying, but he still hadn't forgotten the other guy's rude comment and the fact that the same guy saved Mark's life. So might as well go and thank him.

Mark looked closer at their table and surveyed the pair. It was them all right.

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Matt rubbed his head with one hand as he accepted Myr's offer to help him up. "Thank you. And nah, I'm not going anywhere in particular." And the Mark started pointing out the other two guys. Wow that disguise was pathetic. That was almost TO easy to see through. Wait... yeah, they were! The boring ones. Meh... Maybe they were interested? Matt was concerned with just getting these pearls away from him. He took a napkin and balled it up, throwing it. It bounced off the disguised ones head and landed on the floor.
"You two! Over here!" He waved, taking another sip of his tea.

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Shadow's eyes came open slowly, and he leaned over to pick up the napkin that fell to the floor after bouncing off of Kain's almost ridiculous circus disguise. He held it loosely in his hand and smacked it against his pants, cleaning a bit of dust off of it, and folding it neatly before placing it on the spare table next to him as he glanced at the three travelers from earlier sitting at another table just across the room.

He didn't know whether to smile or shake his head.

All of them were younger than he was, which in the past had led to annoying consequences with previous companions, but to be polite he smiled and gave a light wave back anyway.

"It seems we were beaten to the idea of brief relaxation after all that excitement by our new acquaintances my friend." He said to Kain under his breath.

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<<<<<<<Quick note. Kain's pants are cotton. not silk. was confused, didnt want to edit because roleplaygateway reposts as opposed to simply editing. so there :p>>>>>>>


Kain sighed. "They threw wadded up paper at my head. Who knows where that's been?!?! It could be disgustingly dirty for all we know! And you are holding it!" Kain stopped his rant and slowly turned to where the wad had come from. The knight from before. And the healer. And some whelp. Wonderful. Kain put on a fake smile and waved back at the overenthusiastic knight. His eye twitched in mild annoyance. Thanks to Shadow not bothering to keep a low profile, they were found out. and now something stupid would be bound to happen, as has always been the case in the past. Kain opened the window, and saw Raven perched nearby. "Well Shadow, we have been spotted. Go make friends while I order. I am in no mood to deal with buffoons. The monk, perhaps, the knight, maybe after the lass has wizened up a bit. The thief... well, I've dealt with too many of them in my life." Kain leaned casually back in his chair, carefully shifting the balance so he wouldn't fall over, like some amateurs might.

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Myr laid claim to no no particular level of social intelligence. On the contrary, there were still many things about the world that she was coming to understand. She was, however, aware that throwing things at people was generally considered rude, and winced slightly as the napkin made contact with the pirate's head. At least, she supposed he was a pirate, when he wasn't bus being an assassin or... whatever it was he chose to resemble now. Rather than assume his disguise was off, she believed it more a function of her own lack of understanding. The look she gave Matt, therefore, was slightly reproachful.

At any rate, the two seemed to have noticed them, and she wondered for a moment what they were doing here. When they'd left the battlefield, they'd seemed to do so with purpose, but now they had just casually strolled into a tea shop, nonchalant as you please, and she was a tad confused. Moreso because only the one with the bird seemed to have disguised himself, whereas she personally thought his friend was a tad more distinctive, given the eye color.

Ah well, at any rate their business was none of hers, and she would not bother them, especially since the one appeared to be quite irritated. Rather, she finished her cup of tea and set it delicately on the table in front of her. The waiter was immediately back and asking if she wanted another, but Myr shook her head politely. If she was here on Mark's coin, she did not wish to inconvenience him. Actually, she was thinking it might be better to pay for herself, but then the rules of courtesy were confusing and she was not sure if this would be a slight in some sense.

She met the eyes of the pirate and the assassin in turn, seeming to apologize a bit for the rather untoward manner of her present company, but there was little more she could do. Whatever the situation might be, she simply hoped it did not become hostile; such things would be a burden both on the parties involved and the owner of the tea shop, who had nothing to do with any of it.

So Myr simply sat straight in her chair, hands folded in her lap, with the air of someone with almost inexhaustible reserves of patience but the eyes of a wary soul, both of which were in fact quite true. It could be said that she was not terribly good at masking her personality, though perhaps this would be a mistake. Nobody around here would know her well enough to say, least of all herself.

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Shadow scoffed at Kain before standing up and stretching his arms out. His elbows made a loud crack above his head, and he let them fall to his sides before approaching the table with the knight, monk, and thief.

"Greetings. We met earlier but never became truly acquainted. My name is Shadow, and the annoyingly overdressed man over there is my... acquaintance, Kain. I would say it's a pleasure to meet you, but given the circumstances of how we met I cannot make such a claim."

Shadow pulled a spare chair over, sat down, and appraised the group before him one member at a time.

The knight was obviously not what she pretended to be. Despite the height, armor, and hair hidden beneath the helm, it was obvious to Shadow by her scent that she was a young woman. Men and women smelled differently, even when dressed in similar clothing, and Shadow had years of experience telling them apart, but it was obvious the the young knight wished to be seen as a boy, so Shadow made no comments.

The monk was a strange one, having eyes with a color fairly similar to his own, but being more of a purple-ish hue as opposed to the blood red coloration of his. They held the same mysterious and knowing qualities that his did, and he found he took more of a liking to this one for her maturity and the air of intelligence that she exuded. She would make an interesting companion for sure.

The thief was... well, a thief. There were no special skills that Shadow could see on the outside, given his appearance, but never the less, if he was still alive today after what happened earlier, then there was something to be said of his survival skills, and Shadow had to admire that.

"Do I have the pleasure of learning your names?" He asked casually.

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Matt smirked as the napkin bounced off Kains head. That worked far batter than he thought it would. That and it was hilarious. Still he seemed mad... oh who cared. It was a napkin for gods sake! Get over it... god... Then he blatently stated that he was a theif.
NOT cool.
He had a cover too! Even if it was kind of crappy... but still! Matt considered shouting that he was no such thing, but that would probably make people suspisious. So instead he just scoffed at the accusation. He hoped that would cover it up. But even if it didn't, he cold still just run. He hadn't met a person yet that was faster than him. But Mark was in the way of the nearest window... hmm... Matt ajusted his chair so he had a clear jump for an escape. He just hoped he wouldn't have to use it. Then the red eyed one came over.
Matt visibly flinched. That guy was bad news. But he calmed as he asked for there names. At least his sight wasnt on killing them. That was good.
"Ehehehe... Names Matt." He smirked, faking the unbelievable confidence that he usually had. "May I ask yours?"

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Shadow saw the flinch but made no comment. It was quite obvious to Shadow after a moment of analysis that the thief was uncomfortable around him, undoubtedly due to what he witnessed from earlier.

He looked to the monk and knight, awaiting their answer to his question, and for another chance to learn about the people sitting in front of him.

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Myr watched the interaction between the thief (if that was indeed Matt's profession) and the assassin with what appeared to be a mild interest, perhaps with traces of amusement. Matt seemed to be slightly taken aback or intimidated by something, most likely the red-eyed man in front of them.

She might have been, once, but such was hardly the case now. It had taken her some time to come to the understanding that not all people were as mild as the monks that had raised her, but once she had, it was a simple matter to accept such things as a matter of course.

The assassin asked for names, and she felt no reluctance to give hers, but... "I believe you already have mine," she replied with a twinge of wryness coloring her tone, "but I am called Myr, or Myrna, whichever you prefer. I do not believe I caught yours, however." A small smile quirked the corners of her mouth. She knew not if the man would give his own moniker in return, but it could not hurt to ask, just in case, and she indicated both the standing man and the sitting one with her glance at the inquiry.

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Shadow smiled at Myr for a moment.

"Indeed, I did have your name, but a proper introduction is always nice when speaking informally off the battle field. As I stated when I approached the table, I am Shadow, and my friend over there is called Kain Ravenscar."

Shadow's gaze slid to the knight in the other chair.

"And you... sir knight?" He asked, with a hint of sarcasm in his voice.

Shadow knew what Myr obviously did as well, that the knight who looked a boy was in fact a woman. The eyes and the skin, as well as the tell tale scent women exude, gave her away, though most were not so observant as their lives demanded focus on other things.

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Mark gritted his teeth when Shadow used sarcasm to address him. Thankfully, it would not be visible.

Trudging up a smile, Mark answered," I am officially known as Sir Mark, but I dislike titles." Then the young knight gave Shadow a genuine grin, deciding to forget his insult for the moment. Shadow... something about him... assassin? If you out all the pieces together, yes. Myr, monk? Of course. Kain, pirate? Most likely. Matt; thief? That would explain a lot. However, Mark did not mind it as long the guy didn't do it in front of him.

Mark could not shake off the feeling the sarcasm in Shadow's voice had a meaning. The guy could probably see through Mark's mask. Didn't that guy know the title of 'sir' went to females as well as males? Or, at least, they did a long time ago when girls could legally be knighted. But, unfortunately, those times were over.

Looking down sadly, Mark gulped down the last of his tea. The boy set two copper pennies in the waiting hand of the serving girl, paying for both Myr's and his own drink. Then Mark shoved his money bag back into his pack. He watched as other servers swept in, clearing away empty cups. When one asked if he wanted another drink, Mark nodded, asking for the same type of tea he had before.

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The young knight's reaction to his comment told Shadow that she was adamant about remaining known as a boy, so Shadow decided to respect her wishes.

"I see. So, what drew you all to this town, especially with tensions among the citizens and Royal Guards so high these days? What with all the new trade and the pirate attacks which follow them?" He asked.

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Kain listened while Shadow made new friends. Fairly uninteresting lot they were... or perhaps they were all simply terrified of Shadow. No, that wasn't true. The monk had no problems, the knight was simply timid, and the thief was antsy. Best watch that one, it would not do to let them steal while Kain was around. During this time, Kain ordered a sampler plate offering a variety of small foods, and a tea which was an extremely bitter tea that few could drink. Those that could stomach it would enjoy a tremendous rush of energy for several hours afterward. Kain enjoyed the effect. The waiter brought a small bread basket, and Kain wasted no time in cutting up a few pieces and throwing them out the window for his hungry raven. She swooped down and gratefully began eating. feeling no inclination to join the conversation, Kain sat in silence, enjoying the natural scenery outside the window and occasionally throwing more scraps to Raven. Kain was stunned by the density of the three people's skulls. Shadow walked up to them and introduced himself straight away, yet these dunces had to ask again for his name! Perhaps his presence is more stunning than Kain realized. Of course, Shadow never had quite the same affect on Kain as he had on others. Hearing Shadow's latest statement, Kain decided to enter the conversation.

"I'd say we were more than just acquaintances Shadow." Kain said, walking over. Good day miss Myrna, Sir Mark, and... Matt. In case you didn't catch it before, my name is Kain." Kain gave a bow to the three, pausing to give Matt a deadly look. Addressing the thief, Kain said, "When you have a moment, I would like to talk to you in private about those pearls of yours." To the entire group, Kain said, "I am also interested in what brings you all out here, so kindly continue with the conversation you were having before I rudely decided to barge in, though my rudeness isn't quite as bad as throwing dirty paper at a stranger's head, which is far ruder than parading around as the opposite gender for Chaos knows what reason.... Anyway, continue." Kain smirked, interested in how this group would handle his behavior.

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Shadow listened in silent horror and embarrassment to Kain's interruption.

He put his hand over his face when Kain mentioned 'parading around as the opposite gender', as Shadow had respect for people's wishes to remain anonymous, no matter how they did it.

Kain clearly had not changed, and it proved to spell trouble for them and their new 'friends'.

If Kain didn't lighten up, the three traveler's might have more than words for them soon.

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Myr nodded sagely. She had been a bit curious as to the one called Shadow's actual name, but perhaps that really was it. Either that, or he did not wish it to be known. Fair enough, she supposed.

Mark seemed to be taking on something of a melancholy, staring down into nothing with a contemplativeness that she had thought reserved for herself. Not that she minded, of course, but from the little she knew of him, it seemed uncharacteristic. Perhaps he was troubled by something Shadow had said? Myr might have missed the implications of sarcasm, or perhaps she had simply been mentally elsewhere, as she was wont to be on occasion.

Introductions completed, then, the pirate Kain, who hitherto had been sitting in relative silence and solitude at another table, sauntered over to the group. Whatever she had been expecting him to say, it had not been something quite so... belligerent. She could not fault him for being upset at finding himself Matt's target, but the comment about Mark was simply unnecessary, and Myr glanced quickly at the knight.

Nevertheless, when she spoke it was with a mild disposition and no trace of offense. "My presence here on this day was a complete coincidence; I wander about the countryside at will, and I am afraid there is naught more to it than this." A blond eyebrow arched ever so slightly, almost as though she were waiting for some form of challenge, refutation, or biting comment. In truth, she had dealt with people like this on before... all sarcasm eventually fell before the stone wall that was patient honesty, or at least it had for her.

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Shadow let his hand down from his face after hearing Myr's story.

He gave her a genuine and pleasant smile, and bowed his head lightly.

"I see." He said pleasantly.

"Let me try to clear up Kain's less than pleasant entrance. That's his way of saying 'Hello, my name is Kain, and I'd appreciate it if you'd stay out of my way. If you do, we won't have problems, if you don't...', and I think you can fill in the rest for yourselves."

Shadow shot Kain a warning glare, which he had used before when silently telling Kain to back down and let him do the talking.

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"I don't like you." Matt said bluntly as he glared at Kain back. "You're mean. No wonder the patient one is your only friend."
Matt took out a single blood red pearl and flicked it at Kains forehead. It bounced off and Matt caught it in the air. That dude was VERY rude. First off, the napkin was clean. And second, if Mark was indeed a girl, then why the crap would you blatently say it out loud? She obviously wanted to keep it a secret. Matt stood up, pushing his chair back with his legs. He could already tell he would have problems with this one. Maybe he should just leave. He turned to a passing waiter. "Surprise me again. And this time, dont bring me the most expensive thing." Matt glared at him. The waiter ran away with his metaphorical tail in between his legs.
Matt then turned to Kain, slamming his hands on the table loudly. "Have you ever heard of such a thing as cover? Ya know, wanting to keep an identidy secret? Ever heard of that? I understand breaking mine. Yeah. But Sir Mark over here has done nothing to you." Matt pointed to the boy... girl... person. "I dont care how powerful you are. There is no excuse for that behavior. And I have pretty low standerds for what is good behavior. Now straighten up your act, of I'M going to straighten it FOR you."

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Shadow pulled one of his daggers from behind his back, leapt from his chair, and hiding the blade against his forearm, held it up to Matt's throat, whispering menacingly to him as he leaned down close to his ear.

"You'd best calm yourself. Thanks to your outburst, we now have all eyes in this miserable excuse of a tea shop on us. I would advise against drawing further attention."

Shadow slowly removed his blade from its position and placed it behind his back without making a sound.

"Besides," he said quietly, "You wouldn't last more than about two seconds in a fight with Kain. Although he may not look it, he can be just as lethal as I am."

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Kain gave a smile and a slight bow to Shadow. "Well, I must say it is a great honor to be considered an equal by the Red-Eyed Demon himself." Straightening, Kain walked around the table, putting a hand on Mark's shoulder and saying, "I am terribly sorry if I offended you. Allow me to buy you another drink, or perhaps dessert! They serve wonderful pastries here!" Leaning in and whispering so only Mark could hear, Kain said, "I will be honest with you. All of us, with the exception perhaps of the pompous little thief, know what you are. Your disguise is decent for a novice, but you forget details, which people like me and Shadow pay very close attention to. Things like your skin tone and texture, your scent, and your profound lack of facial hair all give you away. If you like, I can give you some tips in private on how to improve your disguise." Kain stood and quickly turned, bumping into the thief. "Terribly sorry master thief, I fear my brain may have been damaged from various objects thrown at it. My mistake." Kain then flipped over the small table, landing next to Shadow with his usual feline grace. When Kain straightened, he noticed Shadow was looking at him with an eyebrow raised. Kain only smirked in response. To those who didn't know better, this seemed like an innocent enough exchange. However, Kain and Shadow learned the little nuances in each others' behavior, and Shadow knew Kain was too aware of situations to simply "bump" into someone. Shadow also knew under normal circumstances, Kain would not apologize afterward. The flip and the smirk sealed the deal; Kain was up to his old games. Kain clapped Shadow on the shoulder, and when he was pulling his hand away, Shadow noticed a glint of red. Kain, being extremely nimble, had stolen the thief's pearls. the thief wouldn't even realize some were gone until much later, as Kain was bound to have put in a replacement object, so the thief could only know they were gone if he actually checked on the pearls. Kain casually strolled over and sipped his tea, handing some of his food to Raven.

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Myr flinched a bit at the obviously overwrought exchange between Matt and the pirate. Shadow had been right about one thing; the waiting staff had all paused in their activity to observe what was going on. She couldn't say she approved of the method by which this was conveyed to the seeming thief, but nonetheless she understood the need to go unnoticed. She, too, maintained a low profile whenever possible, preferring to observe rather than be observed.

Kain attempted to cover it up with a slightly too-loud offer moments later, but it appeared to have served their purposes well, for the eyes in the room tended to blink a few times in confusion, then go back to whatever task had been at hand. Still, it would behoove all of them not to do too much more to make nuisances of themselves.

She was brought back to the present and away from her ruminations when Kain bumped into Matt before flipping over the table they were sitting at. That was odd... she could have sworn something else had happened there, but she had not been paying enough attention to notice exactly what. The look that passed between Kain and Shadow was enough to confirm this, and Myr's eyebrows furrowed. She hoped it was nothing that would overly hassle the young man. Though apparently somewhat brash, she did not believe him deserving of any misfortune.

Then again, she doubted very much that her opinions would carry very much weight with the two standing around the table. Speaking of which... that did look a little conspicuous. Kain appeared to have wandered back to his table and was now tossing food out the window for a purpose she could not presently discern, but Shadow simply stood.

"The two of you are welcome to sit, if you like." In truth, she was actually not certain whether or not her companions would have been willing to make the same offer, but Myr figured that remaining beneath notice was advantageous enough to all involved that it was worth the risk of some slight discomfort or awkwardness.

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Matt barely flinched as Shadow put a knife to his throat. His glare at Kain softened a bit before he sat down again. But his eyes never left the body of the pirate. He watched as the cocky prick suddenly had a change of attitude and offered to get something for Mark over there. His ears twitched as he then heard him whisper. "Pompous little thief indeed..." Matt smirked, whispering. They were obviously underestimating him... BIG mistake. Teisei hadn't picked him to steal stuff for nothing, you know. In fact... Matt glanced at Shadow. Red eyes... Hadn't he seen him before? He had worked for him too, didn't he-
Kain bumped into Matt as he walked past, knocking him out of his thought. Kain played it off easily enough, but Matt knew better. He reached for his bag of pearls under his cloak, feeling or them under the fabric... They were there. He let out a small sigh. But he'd still have to check them closer later. Until then, he resolved not to let the bastard out of his sight. He was surprised Shadow didn't recognize him. Not like he'd never seen him before. Everyone who used to work for Teisei knew of Shadow at least. Oh well. No fame for poor old Moonlight, he supposed. But who was Kain? A cocky, arrogent, sarcastic prick. THAT'S what he was... Matt growled under his breath. These thoughts were getting him nowhere. Best to pay attention to the situation at hand. Matt closed his eyes, trying to find his mask again. As he opened them, that innocent twinkle returned. His mask was back in place. He was surprised it had fallen in the first place. Totally uncool.
Wait... THAT WAS A GLINT OF RED IN HIS HAND!! HE HAD TAKEN THEM!! Ugh... calm, Matthew, He reminded himself. Remember your mask. He took a second to respond. He had to think.How would an arrogent youth act?
Oh wait. Duh.
"GIVE THOSE BACK YOU BASTARD!!!" Matt stood up again, this time knocking over his chair with the backs of his legs.

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Shadow had no choice now.

Too much attention was being drawn, and so there was no point in being cautious any longer.

He drew both daggers from behind his back, flipped them forward so the blades were away from him, and let them form an 'x' in front of his chest as he stepped between Kain and Matt.

The whole restaurant erupted into chaos at the sight of his weapons, and all the people inside were now scrambling for the exits. As soon as the last panicked souls departed, Shadow spoke.

"I gave you a warning, and you have chosen not to obey. Your skills are great young thief, but not great enough to get you anywhere against the either one of us. You would do well to calm yourself, and leave Kain to his antics. He will return your pearls in due time, as he has no interest in bloodstained jewelry. If you persist with this behavior, I will be forced to kill you, as I cannot afford to have an overeager and loudmouthed thief giving away our presence here over something so petty as a few missing pearls, which you could easily re-attain and bolster, I might add, by visiting the local Lord's mansion. He has plenty to spare. Now... for the last time, sit down!"

Shadow scraped the metal of the daggers against each other as he separated them, letting the sound of ringing metal echo throughout the room as they came to rest at his sides in an open, but none the less aggressive stance.

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Damn it... Matt wasnt used to this. To steal from him so EASILY. It made him mad. VERY mad. But still... better to lose the pearls than his life. Maybe yelling hadn't been the best things to do. Matt glanced at Shadows daggers and then at Kain. Kain really had gotten on his bad side, but Matt had respect for Shadow. He thought about it for a minute, choosing his words carefully.
"... Im am sorry to have caused such a disturbince." He said slowly, his words conveying wisdom beyond his years. "I just went through a lot of trouble getting those, is all. However, I can see now that yelling was not the proper course of action for me to take. I apologize to you for my rash behavior. I regret it very much." Matt took a step back towards the door. The waiter from before nervously came up and held out Matts tea. Matt took the glass calmly, but then smashed the cup in his hand.
"However, I still am very wound up. And I fear I may have another outburst. So I think I should just go now, before my mouth gets the better of me. I will return for my pearls in due time." Matt turned to walk to the door. The waiter spoke up, fear obviously in his voice.
"S-s-sir... y-your b-b-bill-l..." He said quietly. Matt silently took out his money. He grabbed a few coins and dropped them on the ground. There were probably a few extra, more than enough to pay for his tea and the broken glass, but he didn't care at the moment. "Take em."
Matt walked outside and drew his black bladed sword, swinging it at the nearest building. The blade cut deeply into the brick, leaving a deep scar in the house. He sheathed it silently and jumped on the roof, walkig away.

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Shadow relaxed as Matt spoke and exited the building, and then shot Kain another glance, this time, more of a reproachful one than anything else.

"Your antics WILL get someone killed one of these days Kain. I'd suggest against any further action until you have given everyone reason to put up with you as I do."

Shadow sheathed his daggers and sat down opposite the knight.

"You have said very little through all of this. Have you anything to say Sir Mark?" He asked as gently as possible.

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Mark froze when Kain rudely pointed out he was a girl. Sure some people had noticed before, but never had said anything. Mark sat there, in total shock wonderinng what the heck he should do. Such was his suprise that the young knight ignored the chaos the surrounded him. Finally, drawing a deep breath, Mark spoke.

"Well that was rude.", he said bluntly, and very loudly. "Hey, Matt. Come back here. It's not a good thing to leave agruements festering. Kain, Shadow? All three of you should only use violance as a last resort."

Mark got up and walked over to Kain. "I would prefer to keep my gender unknown, if you don't mind.", he said, slightly awkward. "And i think that we all should help in the clean up of the restraunt. At least, I will." The knight walked over to Matt's broken glass, knelt down and began to gently pick up the pieces.

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Myr closed her eyes and sighed softly, the mere fact that the events had drawn the gusty exhalation from her in the first place something of a wonder. She was curious as to how all these fellows had ever managed to survive.

Well, okay, the answer to that was obvious enough. Shadow and Kain could kill anything that really took issue with them, and Matt... well he could probably manage to sneak or fight. It was obvious that none of them were accustomed to talking their way out of trouble.

When Mark at last chose to speak, Myr nodded at the suggestion of helping with the clean-up. Without looking at either of the two who still accompanied them, she made her way over to the nearest waiter, still shaking a little bit and constantly casting glances in Shadow's direction. "Excuse me," she requested softly, waiting patiently when the man jumped, flicking his gaze back to her. Projecting calm assurance and peace, she continued. "Would you be so kind as to let me borrow that towel?" She gave a small smile to indicate that she was as nonthreatening as she appeared.

There; a hesitant nod, and a smile to mirror her own. Ducking her head politely, she accepted the cloth and knelt beside Mark, mopping up the excess tea, before piling her companion's collected shards of cup inside and folding it carefully. The waiter appeared to have regained enough confidence to move, and accepted the bundle from her as soon as she stood. "Many thanks, miss, sir," he managed, nodding to Mark as well before making his retreat.

"Well," Myr said, turning to the others, "I do not think the staff will report this incident, but I cannot say if that applies for any of the people who just ran out. I think we have perhaps stayed long enough here, do you not?"

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Shadow pitched in a little bit to help with the clean up as well by sorting the tables and chairs the panicked people had scattered throughout the room. He finished his task and walked to the open doorway, looking outside, and seeing that there was a person waving down a Royal Guard, he knew he hadn't much time before more trouble found him and Kain.

Shadow also saw something he rather wished he hadn't seen.

A single grey piece of fabric waved in the wind before disappearing behind a building nearby, and the tone of the coloration was unmistakeable.

He shot Kain a glance that was both a warning and informative, letting him know that trouble was on its way, but it was to be avoided.

He approached Myr and Sir Mark, extending a hand to them.

"Well Myr and Sir Mark, despite the atrocious first impressions, I enjoyed our time together and look forward to more travels with you and our new friend the thief. Kain and I must leave now, or else we'll be dealing with the Royal Guards outside upon our exit, which is more trouble than it's worth. We shall depart and await you and sir mark outside the south Gate of the town."

Shadow walked to the window in the back of the room and opened it, looking back over his shoulder to make sure Kain would follow.

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Kain was rather enjoying all the chaos he had caused. It was fun to rile up little children like that Matt character. Kain couldn't help but laugh through the whole ordeal, but finally sobered up some when he noticed Shadow wanted to leave. Sighing, Kain said to Mark and Myr, "Sorry about all the excitement, I generally try to be on my best behavior around beautiful young women and authority figures, but some people just really get me in mischievous moods. I would love to stay and help, but I must get going. Good day Lady Myr, and May we meet again Sir Mark." Kain gave a slight bow, and then walked over to the waiter. "Sir, how much is my bill? and how much do you usually make in an evening?" The waiter seemed terrified, but managed to stammer out, "No charge! and we usually manage about forty to fifty gold pieces in a day." Kain nodded, and pulled out the bag of bloodstained pearls. He briefly inspected one, and noticed that the blood was already drying. They were fairly useless now, unless Kain found a necromancer interested in the pearls for their dark rituals. The poor fools believed the most ludicrous things that Kain could only laugh. Kain pulled out a sack and counted out seventy six gold pieces. He handed them to the waiter and said, "If anyone, be it guard or any others, come in here asking about me or the Red-Eyed Demon, you will report only that there were some rough looking men here earlier, none matching the description of the Demon, and that they had a minor altercation and left. Understood?" The waiter nodded and Kain gave him a warm smile. "Good! I am terribly sorry about all this. Take some of the extra gold as a tip and buy yourself a nice drink. Maybe a rum or a whiskey. Whatever you enjoy. Oh, you don't mind if I take what's left, do you?" The waiter shook his head and thanked Kain. Kain picked up several meat pies before finishing his drink and jumping out the window with a final smile to the remaining people in the shop.


Catching up to Shadow, Kain said, "I know, a bit over the top, even for me. But that thief was obnoxious. Besides, you overreacted as well, pulling your knives out. Either you or me could have handled the whelp with our bare hands, the Twins were just too much. Subtlety my friend, that is the key! Anyway, I paid for damages, reimbursed them for a day's worth of profits, and snagged some meat pies. Enjoy, as we will be traveling a bit." Kain handed Shadow a pie before taking a bite out of one himself. "Marvelous, very flavorful. By the way, the pearls are entirely useless. Foolish child let the blood dry."

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<<<<<<<<<<Ok, I apologize in advance for posting this in the actual activity area, but I get the feeling people don't check the ooc chat, and a minor issue that is starting to bug me is that people don't seem to read all the activity from their last post. I say this because I noticed people seemed to not know exactly what was going on, just kind of a general feel. So please, read all new posts before posting your own reply! It makes everything flow more smoothly. And, Since I'm posting this anyway, I might as well also add to check your spelling and grammar before posting. it isn't a flawless post if it has spelling and grammar issues. I am a freelance Grammar Nazi outside of my regular job of being a drugged out rock 'n' roll clown... so yea. CHECK YOUR POSTS! That is all. I do cocaine.>>>>>>>>>>>>

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Shadow turned his back to Kain, looked at the pie in his hand, and let it drop to the ground, splattering it face down in the dirt.

"We have much bigger problems now Kain than worrying about subtlety. Had I not drawn the Twins, that tea shop would have become another bloodbath."

He turned around and met Kain's gaze.

"... They are following me again Kain..." He said in a low voice.

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Matt hopped across buildings all the way to the other side of town. Eventually he found far enough house and he sat down. Silently he began to go over what he knew about Shadow and Kain. Shadow was the legendary Red Eyed Demon, and Kain... Kain was Kain. Simple enough. Shadow had extraordenary senses, smeel was especially adapt. That would serve as a problem. He couldn't hide his own smell... or could he? He told himself to look into the matter later. Kain was bigger, stronger... all around just better than Matt. Although he silently guessed he was faster. There wasnt a thing alive faster than him. It was his best attribute, honed through years of survival. Shadows weapons were obviously those daggers. And Kain... hmm. Matt struggled to remember the weapons he used during the pirate attack. A sword... and some weird projectile weapon. The weapon seemed to shoot tiny peices of metal in a straight line. Okay, easy to deal with. Move fast enough that he cant shoot accuratly. The bladed weapons for both of them could easily be dodged if need be. And in the need of a getaway... dang.
He didnt know Kains tracking abilities. He might easily be able to find him. Now how to-
"Hello Moonlight."
Matt turned around to see a tall man in dark robes looking straight at him. "Can I... help you?" He asked hesitantly.
The mans gaze did not faulter. "As you know, Takai has been dead for a while now."
Matt blinked several times. "Who?" The man nearly fell over.
"Takai? Leader of the Assasins of Tensei? Remember?"
"What?" Matts eyebrow raised, "I thought his name was Tensei!"
"No, it's Takai."
"No way!" Matt stood up. "When did this happen!?"
The man smirked. Moonlight was just a child. This would be easier than he thought. "When he was bor-" The man was cut off suddenly by a dagger to the back. That kid was fast.
"You... you..." The man fell over, and Matt pulled out the black bladed dagger. "You... tricked... me..." were his last words.
"No." Matt smirked as he slid his dagger back into the handle of his sword. "I really didn't know his name was Takai." He sighed, begining to walk away. These assassins were dumb... distracted by idle conversation. If youre going to strike, strike. Dumbasses... Matt hopped onto another building.

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Kain sighed. " I don't suppose you know how many are on you this time?"

Kain paused for a moment to stash a two more pies, and then put the rest in a tree for Raven. "Track us from far away. act like a normal raven, we don't want the assassins to get to you. We will meet again soon." The raven cawed in frustration, but Kain interrupted her. "This isn't open to negotiations Raven. Now, go." The bird looked sadly at Kain and Shadow, and then nuzzled up against Kain's face momentarily before flying over to Shadow, rubbing up against him briefly before taking off. Kain frowned, watching the bird disappear. Kain pulled out his gun, unlocking all three barrels and checking to make sure it was fully loaded.

"Alright Shadow, how do you want to deal with them? And why are they still operating? I thought we obliterated the remnants. Perhaps the most crucial bit of information is knowing if they are aware of me or not. Shadow, I need to know if they know I am your ally. If not, perhaps we can trap them. Also, would this group personally know you, or do they only know to hunt down the Red-Eyed Demon? Knowledge is power... but it seems like we will have to capture one to find out the appropriate information." Kain heard a faint rustle and turned lightning quick to the source of the noise. Only a squirrel. Damn, he was getting jumpy.

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Shadow looked to the top of the tea shop and ran to it. Using a small box as a platform, he leapt to the edge of the roof and flung himself up, scanning the rooftops until he saw what he was looking for.

He jumped off the roof, back to where Kain stood waiting, and gave him a nod of approval.

"It seems there's a three man tracking squad based on the northern end of town. I can tell by the mud on the prints they left behind. The north end is the only place in town which has any mud left after small drizzle of rain that came through a few days ago. I'd guess they are here to keep an eye on me, nothing more, or they would have made a move already."

He began walking in the direction of the South Gate.

"I suspect that Konjou is still alive, as he is now the head of the Assassins of Teisei with Takai dead. My brother is vanquished, but Konjou lives on, and this scouting party tells me that his forces are still building and not yet ready to deal with me. I don't know if they are prepared for you, nor do I know if they know about you, but either way, I think we'd best play it safe and assume that they do so that we are prepared for the worst."

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Myr watched the two leave, somewhat perplexed at the directions she'd been left with. Meet at the South Gate... she was not the sort to mind traveling with company, per se, but it was more the expectation that she would do so without question, or perhaps the fact that this was at all desired. She had to admit, it was a bit odd. Would two assassins not wish to travel alone? Groups generally moved more slowly and conspicuously than individuals, and if they were on a mission...

And what was all this business about beautiful young women and authority figures? Were they not all past calling out Mark's gender publicly? Unless... no, that makes even less sense. Shaking her head to herself, Myr turned to the one remaining person in the room. "Well, Sir Mark, what say you? I certainly have no qualms acquiescing to their request, but your opinion is of at least as much merit as my own..."

Her eyes moved once more to the now-closed door, and she found herself wondering what she'd done, to end up in a situation like this one.

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Kain followed Shadow in silence for a moment before saying, "Why don't we just go kill them? If you already know where the three are, and you know their number, then they aren't very skilled, are they? End them now, and we wont have to worry." Kain thought a moment... "Or, better yet, we stage your death, and then follow them back to Teisei. With you gone, they will return to their master. Perfect chance to see what we are truly up against..." Kain contemplated this plan further, figuring exactly how to convincingly pull it off.

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Shadow thought to himself for a moment, but then continued on until they were standing just outside the entrance into the town.

"I don't think we're going to do that... yet. Capture one if he gets too close, maybe, but I see no reason to go to such lengths against Teisei yet, as they obviously haven't the forces or the training to keep up with me at this point now that their team of Wraiths has been wiped out. We need not fear them now."

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Kain frowned at Shadow's statement. "I must say I'm disappointed Shadow. The old blood lust is fading. And this would be the perfect time to strike Teisei! They are weak and vulnerable! But... You know better than I. If you wish to wait, then we shall wait. However, I caution you against waiting too long. If we give them the opportunity to train more of their elite warriors, that only complicates things for us. The enemy will not leave you alone for long." The two friends continued walking in silence for a time.

"Here we are, the South Gate. Now we have to wait for the others. I do hope they hurry, you know I was never good at waiting too long." Kain sat down by a tree, closing his eyes and entering a meditative state of extreme alertness. He would be ready for any new arrivals.

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Shadow remained silent throughout Kain's declaration, and nodded to him before he left to sit against the tree.

Indeed...

Kain was right.

If Shadow left Teisei alone for too long, they would bolster their forces and become a real threat once again. This he couldn't allow, but there were more important matters to attend to first, so Teisei would have to wait.

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Ugh. Nothing. Matt shut his book and set it down, glanceing around the scholars house. The man had been kind enough to let him see his book on herbs. But not a single herb, nor combination, had the effect he wanted. Getting rid of smell. There were many herbs that covered up one smell with another, but none were odorless... was there not enough research on the subject? Matt sighed again.
"Find what you wanted?" The man came in. Matt shook his head.
"But thanks anyway." He stood up. He pulled out a coin and held it out to the kind man. "For your trouble."
The man accepted it with a word of thanks.
"Ill see you then." Matt jumped out the window instead of taking the door. The man blinked. Had that youth just- never mind... he didnt want to know for once.
Matt was barly paying attintion while he walked down the street for once. How could he find a substance that made himself odorless? There had to be one...
Well, maybe disguising his own would work for now. It would help him test Shadows abilities. Matt looked up and found himself in the market square. Conveniant. He walked over to a stand and found what he was looking for. Oils and perfumes. He smelled each one, trying to find one that wasnt to strong.
"And whats a boy doin searching for perfumes?" The man at the counter glared at him. Matt glanced upward at him. He didn't like this man right off the bat. He could tell he was mean. Disgruntled. Matt payed no mind to the comment.
"Ill take this one." Matt set a jar down in front of him.
The man only smirked. Matts eyes widened as he was charged a whole gold coin for it.
"I have a better idea." Matt drew his dagger. "How bout I pay a reasonable price, and I dont cut your throat."
The man suddenly became a lot meeker. "Ill call the guards..."
"Wont change the fact that youre dead."
The man was silent. Matt put down a peice of silver and walked off. He hopped on a building, looking at his new perfume. Then he spotted Shadow and Kain walking towards the south gate. Matt stayed on the roof, absolutly silent. He creeped up on them slowly, trying to see what they were up to. Then a squirel ran up onto him. Matt made a small spasm, but made a rustleing noise in the process. Kain turned around lightning fast towards him, but he only saw the squirrel. Matt was gone. As they kept walking, matt stayed behind, slowly covering himself with the light perfume. Lets see what the legendary Red eyes could do. He crept along behind them, still on the roofs. They stopped right by the gate, apparently waiting for someone. Matt hid behind a chimney, only a fraction of a eye visible to them. Lets see how long it took for them to notice he was there.

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Shadow laughed quietly to himself when Kain reacted to the squirrel.

"It seems we've been followed my friend." He said casually to Kain.

Shadow turned back to face the town from just outside the gate, scanning the rooftops.

There was a new scent in the air. The scent was pleasant enough, but still, the direction of the smell came from the roof of a building nearby, and Shadow was dead certain he heard a small shuffling of feet on the roof as the squirrel departed when Kain turned to see it, but they were human feet, and there was only one other person who dared use the rooftops as a means of travel besides Kain and himself.

"You can come out now Matt. The smell of perfume was a nice touch, and it may have fooled me if there were a crowd nearby with other perfumes mixed in to mask your own, but here, near the Gate where only Kain and I stand, it is meaningless to try and hide your scent from us because the disguise itself gives you away." He said out loud.

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"Well maybe I'm comfortable up here!" Matt shouted back down to Shadow. Dang that was fast. Well, maybe not. He had stayed hidden up until the gate... or was Shadow just toying with him? Oh well. Shadow wasn't easy to fool. KAIN however... Matt smirked. He was easy to fool. Idiot didn't even see him when the squirrel made him jump. Matt was simply to fast to be seen. He sat there, enjoying his thoughts, but then snapped back into reality. Now was no time to get cocky. That's how people messed up. Namly himself.
Matt peeked over the chimney, knowing hiding was useless now. "Hello Shadow." He smiled at him. The smile turned to a grimace just as fast. "Kain." Matt simply greeted. He turned back to Shadow, his smile back. "Hey, question. Have the assassin dudes come after you guys too? Or was it just little old me they were after?"

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Shadow's smile faded.

"What color were the robes? Grey or white?" He called up.

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Matt frowned, sensing Shadow's distress. Still, he wanted something first. "Ah... my memory fails me... maybe-"
Wait a minute... Shadow might not appreciate the sarcasm. Despite wanting his pearls back, that wasn't the way to do it.
"I think..." Matt frowned, trying to play the begining of his joke off, "Dark Grey. Yep. Dark. Can I have my stuff back now?"

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Shadow's smile returned as his eyes disappeared under his bangs when he tilted his head down.

"..."

Shadow couldn't help but laugh, though he did so quietly to himself.

"I must admit to you Matt... I was setting you up with that question..."

His laughter died away, but his head stayed down.

"You think you actually killed an Assassin?" He asked quite angrily.

His eyes came back into view as he raised his head, and the look in his eyes was menacing to most, and even Kain took a step back. His voice was low, but audible as he slowly began approaching the building Matt was on.

"You killed a scout my dear thief. Assassins of Teisei don't waste their time on thieves like you, as they are too busy training or performing tasks of importance, and killing a common thief is not his on the priority list of Assassins. I should know. Do you think you honestly received the training of an Assassin while you were in Teisei? Little fool! Takai told me about you not long before I eliminated him, and I know for a fact that he trained you to do nothing more than what you do best, pick pockets. His plan for you was to use you to steal documents that I am now in possession of, but now that he's dead, you needn't worry about them unless you think you have what it takes to relieve me of them. Your training in Teisei was overseen by an average instructor who taught you the basics of our ways, but nothing that would put you on the level of an Elite."

His smile faded once more.

"You are a fool to think that an Assassin would waste his time on you boy. You're lucky that you aren't worth anything to Konjou, the man in charge of Teisei right now, otherwise, I'd have killed you already. You're what we call a fledgeling, in other words, a raw recruit. Elite Assassins, which are only called upon in cases of emergency or extreme importance, bear light grey cloaks with the Teisei insignia on both the chest and center of the back, with a visible brown belt around their waste, also bearing the mark of the Teisei Assassins. Scouts wear dark grey hooded robes, and are nothing more than fledglings looking to prove their survival skills in the field. Wraiths, all of which were killed off by Kain and myself about six months ago, wear white cloaks with no hood, as they have no need to hide their faces from view. Anyone unlucky enough to see them will be dad before they can even scream a single syllable."

Shadow smiled once again.

"It's nice of you to think so highly of yourself, as your confidence could be a boon to you in life if used properly..."

Shadow's smile turned impish.

"I noticed that you pride yourself on your speed, as you seemed quite happy about not being found out until the squirrel blew your cover on the roof back there by ducking before Kain could see you. Again, your confidence in your speed might indeed save your life someday... However... Your speed is impressive, but unremarkable."

Shadow's smile dropped into a scowl.

"Consider this a warning Matt: This belief that you are a match or a threat for a true Elite Assassin of Teisei is ridiculous and childish. Even Kain is uneasy around Elite Assassins, as one nearly took his life shortly after we first met. In fact, against a large enough group, even I would be overwhelmed by true Elites, and I have been trained all my life to be what I am today: a Master Assassin. If I had so chosen, after I killed Takai, I would now be in command of Teisei. I chose otherwise, and am now hunted as a traitor, but I must admit that I relish in the hunt. Scouts are the only ones who leave Teisei's walls unless the Master Assassin, in this case Konjou, has plans that have need for a different rank, and you, my troublesome little thief, are no cause for alarm to an Elite Assassin. So don't get any ideas that the Assassins view you as a threat by boy. That scout thought you'd be an easy kill, and it proved to be his undoing."

Shadow walked back over to where Kain stood.

"You would do well, my dear young thief, to take things like this more seriously. Looking at the world through arrogant and overconfident eyes is going to get you killed. If not by Teisei, than by someone close when you least expect it... As I had to experience the hard way. Learn from my mistakes Matt. Look at the world through calm and even eyes, not eyes that see only yourself and what you possess, as that will lead to your undoing."

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Kain roused himself from his position near a tree and said, Well, it would be very difficult indeed to bruise your already swollen ego much more than that. In fact, I don't think I can properly insult you anymore. SO, if you would like your pearls back, come get them." Kain held out the bag of pearls. "Oh, one more thing." He flicked a pearl at Matt's head. "You stole these." He threw another pearl, hard. "You let them get stained with blood." Another pearl. "Like a child, you thought the bright red pearl was very pretty, and so let the blood dry on them." Kain mixed it up this time by throwing two pearls. "Unfortunately, when blood dries, it is crusty and dark." Kain flicked a couple more pearls at the pompous fool. Kain held out the last pearl, inspecting its disgusting exterior. "If you knew the first thing about jewelry, you would know pearls are porous, and so absorb liquids to a certain extent. When they do, if the liquid is a solution, then the solute will stay in the pearl, ruining its value. Congratulations, these aren't worth the bag that held them." Kain flicked the last pearl right into Matt's eye. This elicited a wolfish grin from Kain. "That must have hurt."

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((To Dionkar and Zutechugan (all really, but you two most of all): I realize that there are certain reactions that you wish to take place due to the actions your characters take, but I will only warn you both this one time. Read the rules. No acting for someone without permission, no matter how small the action may be. Notice that I did not have Matt react in any way to Shadow's comment. That was left up for Zutechugan to do when he next posts. Please don't act for anyone further, as if I have to warn you again, it will be the last time. After that, if I see it a third time, you're out of the rp.

So for example. When you write that you threw something at each other, it is no longer up to you whether the projectile hits its target. It is up to the one it's aimed at. If you write that they just got hit, then you are essentially acting for them, and that is not allowed. Always ask if it's okay to do something like that and receive approval, or I will assume you have none and will give you a warning.

Thanks))

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"You... dare..."
Matt was silent. Did they really assume Takai... he TRAINED him...? Really? Oh... Matts mask was getting quite the workout. It took every bit of his self control not to lunge at them. Well, self control and the fact that he would be killed. Takai taught him a few things, yes... but that man knew nothing of him. The reason he took interest in him was because he once snuck in and out without once getting caught. At least while he was there. Matt knew in the back of his mind that he was no fighter. He wasnt THAT dumb to think he was that good. For gods sake he ws only nineteen! But that they would treat him with such... such ARROGENCE... it made Matt sick. Sick to his very stomach. He began to remember his time with Takai... he remembered sneaking into Tensei, takeing a paper, and getting out. No one had known he was there. Not until later, anyway. But instead of killing him when they found him, they offered him a job. Odd, Matt had thought, but he had his life. Pretty good.
But it proved to be boreing. He learned nothing good there. Granted, maybe a trick or two, but nothing great.
And these... these... Matt couldn't of a word. They thought Takai had TRAINED him!? They knew nothing... NOTHING.
Mattwas trembling now. He was very tempted to just attack out of blind rage, but that would only get him killed faster.
I shouldn't say anything... Matt ran through hundreds of times in his head. I should just leave now. Would they let me walk away? If not... Matt silently wondered what to do. Pure fury was keeping him from thinking straight. He couldn't move. It took conscious effort to breathe. What to do? What should he DO!?

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Kain's grin turned vicious. "Of course I dare! Why? Because I can get away with it with impunity. Hm..." Kain looked to Shadow. "Oh dear, the fledgling is getting rather angry." Kain raised his hands in a non-threatening gesture and said, "Look, I sense a lot of anger in you, whelp. Either that, or you are holding back a violent defecation. Your whole body is tense and trembling, your heart is racing, and the rage shows clearly in your eyes. Believe it or not, I was once like you, full of uncontrollable rage. I learned, as you should, how to control the rage. If you learn to control and focus your anger, it may one day be your greatest weapon." Kain walked slowly forward, and then paused as a thought struck him. "Say, how did you get trained by Teisei anyway? If you were recruited, then you would be a brainwashed scout or an assassin by now. Shadow, shed some light on this situation. What is this whelp's story?"



<<<<<To avoid future confusion. TEISEI, spelled T-E-I-S-E-I, is a place, the organization of assassins. Takai was their old leader before he was murdered by Shadow, who is the supreme assassin, stolen at birth and raised in Teisei to be the best. Also, Shadow clearly said that he is aware Matt was only taught by a very low ranking member of Teisei. Takai has no connection to Matt, except to use him. And, for anyone wondering why I included this note, I have permission from the gamemaster to post this note. So, no one else post chat notes like this unless you have permission first.>>>>>>>>

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Shadow smiled.

"I know that Takai saw promise in the boys skills, and was planning to force him into Teisei's ranks soon, but he died before he could finish the job. Little Matt here proved to be quite stealthy on his own by sneaking into Takai's room and stealing a document he had there, but he was inevitably caught before he could make a clean escape."

He closed his eyes and sat on the ground.

"He's lucky that Takai died when he did, otherwise, whether he wanted to or not, he would have become a member of Teisei."

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"Really? Well, congratulations boy, you aren't as pathetic as I thought you were, if Takai was in fact considering you for membership." Turning to Shadow, Kain said, in a low whisper so only Shadow could hear, "Come on Shadow, there must be more to his story. Something about him doesn't ring true. I doubt he managed to get anywhere near Teisei without them being acutely aware of his presence. So, what is the rest of the story?"

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Matts fists clenched tighter. He HAD made a clean escape... well... he had made it to the next town, at least. Still, Matt considered it a feat in itself that he had made it out of Teisei in the first place. Shadow had it a little off... but there was no point in telling him that. Matt instead just glanced around, trying to think of what to do. They thought he was weak... maybe he was, but not as weak as they said. Matt heard two workers loading barrels into a cart. He heard one of them say something about oil... Matt's gaze shifted to the sword at his hip. Slowly he drew the dagger out of the handle, examining the black blade. Hejumped down onthe ground, and took the blade, scratching it on the brick next to him. A nice spark mad Matt smirk. He could use an explosion to get away... but then he would get nothing out of this meeting.
Matt's eyes widened as he had an idea. Crazy... could get him killed... but if it didnt kill him...
Matt put the dagger back in the sword, then stared at Shadow, wondering what to say. But even if he knew what to say, he couldnt at the moment, at Kain was whispering to Shadow. Matt patintly waited till they were done.
The glint in his eyes had returned.

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Shadow opened his eyes and looked, rather indignantly, at Kain.

He brought his hand up to cover his mouth, whispering so only Kain could hear.

"Of course he didn't get in on his own. Teisei, at the time, had nearly twenty scouts throughout the forest and on the mountain side each at all times. Nobody, even me, could get in without being detected by someone. The boy was a known thief who went by the alias 'Moonlight', and Takai was interested in him and his skills. When he wandered into the forest and came across Teisei in the mountain side, he was allowed passage, and the Assassins were all commanded to disappear from the main rooms and hallways to allow him inside. The only people inside Teisei at that time were those who were training, so that it looked like something was going on. Other than that, it was only myself, tracking him and making sure he wandered in the right direction, and Takai, who was hiding in another room just a short distance away from his main office. Once Matt had the document, Takai ordered me to signal the others to block his retreat from the town nearby and make it look like an accident. Do you really think that ANYONE can approach Teisei without them knowing? Come on Kain, give us some credit. We aren't as self centered as that to not have watches making sure nobody intrudes or surprises us from out of the blue."

He brought his hand down and closed his eyes again, meditating as he awaited the others to arrive.

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Kain nodded. "I see... Unfortunately, this news is hardly helpful, as it makes my plan of raiding Teisei nigh impossible. I was optimistic that the brat managed, because if he could do it, we could..." Kain paused as Matt scraped a blade on a rock. Whispering, Kain continued, "Alright, I know you heard that. This person seems completely unbalanced. Even less trustworthy than you around too much blood. I think it would be in our best interest to kill him now..." Kain stealthily readied his pistol, but did not act. He would wait either for Shadow's orders, or for an overt act of hostility from the thief. Acting insane in itself was hardly a heinous enough crime to merit death. If it was, Kain would have been killed a hundred times over already. But the thief seemed to be going through some sort of mental breakdown, and so should be watched carefully.

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Shadow opened his eyes and looked at Matt.

He whispered to Kain, once more covering his mouth with his hand so his lips couldn't be read.

"... He's becoming a bit frantic to get away from us. That's my guess. He won't get far if he tries anything. He might be fast, but moving either through the street or on rooftops gives us more than enough time to run him down if he gives us reason to. If it comes to that, his legs are the target, understood?"

Shadow stood up slowly, keeping his eyes locked on Matt.

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Noticing the silence between the two, Matt chose now to speak. Or... he would have, had Kain not looked quite as threatening. Matt, as a sign that he was not about to attack them both, unstrapped his sword and throwing knives and layed them on the ground at his feet. "May I speak with Shadow? Alone? I dont think I can keep a civil tongue aroud Kain."
Matt jumped on the roof, leaving his weapons on the ground. "Please?" Matt added with a smile.

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Kain turned to look at Matt, giving him a look that a cat would give to a mouse it was toying with right before the kill. "I cannot speak for Shadow, but I have no objections to you too speaking privately for a moment." As Kain went to sit down, he put his hand on Shadow's shoulder, and, making sure Matt could not hear or understand at all what Kain was saying, Kain whispered, "If it comes to that, I will gladly give him three barrels in each leg." Kain then sat down by the tree, the feline grin still plastered to his face as he looked fiercely at the thief.

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Shadow walked forward, approaching the building Matt was on and leapt to the rooftop to join the young thief.

"What is it?" He asked flatly.

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Matt paused for a moment, looking Shadow up and down. He was powerfull. He could crush Matt with both hands behind his back, most likely. If he said no, this was going to be a huge let down. If he said yes, then this would prove to be difficult. Taking a deep breath, he said it as plainly as possible.
"I want you to train me. I want to be strong like you and Kain." He paused, glancing back at Kain on the ground. Any compliment to him was poison in Matt's mouth.
"Please. I want to travel with you two, I want to learn to be an assassin like you. I want to strong." Matt stepped down on one knee, bowing to the elite assassin in front of him. "Please. Take me on as your apprentice."

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Shadow was quite shocked to hear those words come from the young man's mouth.

"... I wasn't expecting that one Matt..."

He closed his eyes and thought to himself for a long time before finally opening them.

"Before I agree to this, I must ask you a very serious question." He said.

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Matt looked up at Shadow, then nodded. "Yes?" His heart was pounding in his chest.

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Shadow grabbed him by the lapel with one hand, lifting him off the ground and into the air, causing him to hover about six inches off the ground.

"Why do you want to become an Assassin? Do you understand at all the life you are asking to become a part of? If I train you to become an Assassin, I am going to tell you to kill people! Do you understand what kind of mental consequences will befall you should you prove not to be ready for that?"

Shadow looked into his eyes.

"Have you ever looked into the eyes of a man who's throat you slashed and watched the life drain from them? Have you ever listened to the sounds of blood filling their lungs as they struggle for breath after you have stabbed through their chest? And what do you plan to do with the knowledge that I have to offer? Do you intend to become an Assassin? Do you intend to use the skills I have to teach to further your career as a thief? Or will you use what I have given you to kill indiscriminately and as you so choose?"

Shadow's grip tightened and he lifted him slightly higher into the air.

"So Matt... What is your answer?" He asked in a low voice.

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Mark set the rest of the glass peices into a waiting cloth bag. The South Gate huh? He might as well go. After all, it was much better to travel in a group. But... Mark needed some time to think.

The knight turned to Myr. "Hey... I'll meet you there. I need to think about some stuff by myself. I'm still going, but I'll go alone for now. See ya in a bit!", he explained. Heading outside, Mark turned left and began walking down the streets, thought's already churning in the youth's head.

What should I do? I could lie and say I'm a boy, or admit to being a girl. But if I say i'm a boy, I'll have to lie the whole time I travel... Reaching up, Mark brushed his hand against his red/blonde bangs. Of course, my long hair would make that difficult. Should I cut it off? No... I made a promise, after all. Even if she is dead, mother never wanted me to cut it. She always wanted me to keep my hair long.

Desisions, desisions. What was a girl to do? Mark needed to make a choice. He stopped on the road, almost to the destination.

Myra. Mark told himself. These are your choices. You've never been able to have close friends because of the secret, and your fed up with it. If you want to befriend these people, let your hair down. If not, keep it up. Looking around, he sighed. Huh? Why were Shadow and Matt on the roof? Where was Kain? Oh well. He had not noticed the threating moves Shadow was doing to Matt.

Backing up a bit, Mark took a running jump and landed on the roof of the building. "Hey guys!", he said happily. The youth decided to choose later, at the right moment. Blinking a few times, Mark backed up a bit. "Shadow! What are you doing to Matt?!", he exclaimed.

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"Stay out of this Sir Mark. It does not concern you." He said harshly.

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"Of course it does! What do you want me to do, walk away? Let him go Shadow! Or at least tell me what's going on if I'm missing something here!", he retorted. "I'm probably missing something here, but it seems to me like your bullying Matt.", Mark added, equally as harsh as Shadow's last tone. The knight clenched his fists and took a stubborn stance.

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Shadow looked away from Matt and over to Sir Mark and smiled.

"As you wish."

He set Matt down slowly and gently.

"My young friend asked me to train him to become an Assassin, and I agreed on the condition that he answer my question. I was questioning his reasoning behind the request before you so rudely interrupted. I may have been a bit rough, to pick him up like that, but does he look injured to you? He looks okay to me. Now, if you don't mind, he still hasn't answered my question."

His eyes slid back to Matt, awaiting a response.

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Mark sighed in relief. "I was hoping there was a good reason. Sorry about interrupting, but you seriously need to stop being so violent." Mark looked down. So Shadow was an Assassin. So those red eyes were legitimate after all.

Mark then turned to Matt. "Good luck." Then she walked past the pair of boys and hopped off the roof. Once in the cover of a few trees, the knight sat down and leaned against them. Slowly she reached up and took off her hat. As she undid each pin her long hair slid down her neck. After sticking the pins into her backpack, Myra put the hat back on. Suprisingly, the pins had kept her hair from becoming ratty so it was still in good form.

Myra, what are you getting yourself into?

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Myr sighed as Mark left. Ah, well, everyone grew weary of her company eventually. It was not as though she was unaccustomed to traveling alone, either. Though he had indicated that the two were still to meet at the Southern gate, Myr was honestly a bit unsure now that she got to truly considering it. Worrying her lower lip with her teeth, she nearly started when the waiter from earlier came up behind her.

"Ah... Miss? Are you all right?" he asked speculatively. "That is, if you need a bit longer before you leave..." he wasn't going to say it, but she wasn't disruptive, and customers were already beginning to filter in, so he wasn't concerned about her staying.

Myr shook her head slightly as clarity returned to far-off eyes. "I shall be fine, but thank you anyway. I'll not trouble you and yours any longer." Smiling softly, the blond woman inclined her torso after the manner of bow she had been taught, and took her leave silently from the small tea shop.

The path to the gate was largely clear, though there did seem to be some residual stir from whatever had happened earlier. Myr took her time, trying to make a decision about her next course of action. Her goal, insofar as she had one at all, was and always had been to help those who required her assistance. She was frankly uncertain that following two assassins and a knight was the best way to go about doing this, but... it was not as though she had any particular direction to take or anything.

So what do you do then, Myrna? Follow those who might kill you, or continue to wander alone, as you have since you began this journey of yours? The choice was not as straightforward as it seemed; though she did occasionally get to do some good simply wandering about as she had, more often she was simply a solitary soul without an end. It had never been in her nature to enjoy purposelessness; it was one of the reasons she'd left the temple at Kur in the first place. At the very least, if she joined these folk, she was likely to learn something.

It seemed that even while her mind had been fluttering, her feet had made the decision for her, and she came to the gate with a feeling she couldn't quite place in the pit of her stomach. There was clearly some kind of confrontation happening between Shadow and Matt, or at least a very animated discussion; it appeared that the thief had not left the group for long, after all. A decidedly more feminine-looking Mark was sitting beneath a canopy of trees a short distance off, Kain also against a tree.

Since Mark had indicated a wish to be without company, she padded over to Kain. "Would it be beyond polite conduct to inquire as to exactly what is going on?" she asked, taking a seat a few feet from him.

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Shadow asked question after question. Matt scowled. Shadow was serious about this... just as serious as Matt himself was. Matt was silent for a moment. Why? Why did he want to learn from Shadow? It had just felt right... but why? Why?
Matt stared into Shadow's red eyes. Slowly Matt's eyes became glazed over, deep in thought. He saw his mom and dad, crushed under barrels. Matt watched as the light in his fathers eyes faded and was gone. He watched as his mother slowly said her last words. "I... love..." But the last word never came. Instead, she managed to tap Matt on the face, unable to speak due to her crushed chest. Matt had to look away. He could bear to see his mother die. Matt watched as the unintended killer lept away, having used the barrels to jump on the roof, escapeing. Guards ran past Matt himself on the streets, but none helped him.
It was at this point that Mark had shown up, and Shadow had set him down. But he wasn't paying attention. He was still in thought.
Matt ran. Not from Shadow, but only in his mind. Himself at age seven. He ran faster than he knew he could. Hours turned into days. Days into weeks, weeks into years. Matt was forced to steal to survive. He was an orphan. No one would take him in, either.
Matt, as he grew older, began to travel. He saw the pain in the world, but he couldn't do a thing about it. He even found kids that were like himself. Orphans with no one to care for them, no where to go. Matt did his best to help those children, but sometimes it wasn't enough. People died. And Matt saw that it was usually becuase they were taken advantage of. He watched as the powerful played with the weak, so to speak. The rich took advantage of the poor. It was horrifying. Matt took from those rich, trying to make them pay for being corrupt. But it didn't help. It only made them mad. He remembered the people in the house he had saved not two hours ago.
This was the first time Matt had actually thought of a purpose for his life. And he found an answer he was proud of. It might be a little childish, but he WAS a child still. Matt smiled softly and looked up at Shadow.
"I don't intend inthing ill with the skills you have to teach me. I want to defend those who can't defend themselves. This might sound weird comeing from a theif, but I want to do good. I've seen death. I know what it is. And I'm tired of the cause usually steming from the powerfull. In this world, the strong play with the weak as there slaves. Their playthings. I wont like that. I want to help those who need it. I know I can't fix the whole world, but I want to do what I can. I want to defend those people, but I'm powerless to do so now."
Matt wasn't going to bullshit him, though.
"Yeah, I'll probably still steal a little. I'm not perfect. It's a habit. But I dont steal from those who cant afford it. I steal from those who have too much. And I dont kill those who dont deserve it. Not that I haven't threatened people with it before, ehehe..." Matt remembered the perfume salesman.
"The scout was the closest thing to an innocent I've ever killed. If you tell me to kill an innocent... I'll do it. But not because I want to. If those are the skills I need to help those that need help, then its for the greater good."
Matt let his mask fall for a second. His eyes showed the truama and sadness within him.
"I'm tired of watching the defenseless attacked. I want to keep things fair for them. THOSE are my motives, childish as they might be."

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Shadow smiled at the young thief.

"... I see..." He said quietly.

He turned to look at Kain for a moment, who was silent, but obviously amused at what Shadow had just put the boy through.

He looked back to Matt.

"... Very well then. I shall train you, but not the way you were hoping. What you hope to accomplish in life cannot be achieved by becoming an Assassin. Instead, I will give you the tools you need to survive on a higher level, and by doing so, I will give you the strength you need to achieve your goals." He said.

"Now gather your resolve boy, and let's get off this roof already. It's not wise to remain on rooftops as there isn't as much cover as on ground."

Shadow turned and leapt off the building, landing silently on a patch of dirt. He looked back to the building and waited for the young thief to join him.

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Kain gave Myr a genuine smile and said, "Curiosity killed the cat you know... But the cat also has nine lives, so losing one in the pursuit of knowledge is hardly bothersome to the little kitty, eh? Our little thief, in his eternal arrogance and complete lack of knowledge about the world, has dared to ask Shadow to train him to be an assassin. He does not understand what he is asking of Shadow, he doesn't realize the life he is asking for." Kain lost all traces of mirth as he continued, "To kill is a horrible pain on one's soul, even for the good of others. And those who have the power are bound by responsibility to our fellow humans to use that power for the good of many. Before this, Matt could have said 'I cannot help these people, I do not have the skills.' If he is officially trained, he will have the skills, but perhaps not the wisdom to use said skills." Kain paused for a moment before saying, "Not to mention his life will forever be in danger from those who seek fame or those who think he poses a threat to their plans. The greater the power, the more your life is in peril." A grim smile came to Kain. "Fortunately for me, the whelp does not possess this understanding, and so, even if he is trained by the best, I predict a violent, short career." Kain turned fully to Myr and said, "I take it you are considering traveling with us? I hope you realize the consequences of coming with us."

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Myr shook her head good-naturedly. "Nobody ever remembers the second half of that saying. Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back." Her lips quirked into a small smile, but her expression eventually grew somber as he told the rest of the story. It was troubling to her that someone would actively seek to become an assassin. Granted, she did not think that made Matt or Shadow or Kain a bad person, but... the ability to use lethal force was the part of herself which she was most wary of, and it would be no mistake to guess that sometimes she wished she were without it.

Another part of her, though, knew full well that without the knowledge and training she possessed, she would not be half the doctor she was. To transcend violence and to treat it, you must understand it. This was the central doctrine of her people, and she truly believed it. However, it was not an error to say that most people never got to the 'transcendence' part, and stopped at being able to dispense death at will.

"I take it you are considering traveling with us? I hope you realize the consequences of coming with us." Myr considered for a moment, tilting her head to the side a bit even as she observed that Shadow and Matt must have finished the discussion that occupied them. On body language alone, she would say that the red-eyed assassin had agreed to pass on at least some measure of his knowledge. Did she fully understand the repercussions? Maybe, at least insofar as she had the requisite information.

"I understand what I have been allowed to understand," she replied neutrally. "There is much more to your story than I am aware of, certainly, but I do realize that my life is at risk as much as yours. Perhaps moreso, as I imagine that unlike the rest of you, I am easily mistaken for a soft target." The slightest hint of mirth crept into her eyes. "If you are under the same impression, I assure you I am not the sort to allow myself to become a liability." She knew that if it came to that point, she would simply remove herself from the situation. She had no desire to be an inconvenience, after all.

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Kain nodded, and said, "women could be easily as dangerous as men, so your lethality in battle is not really what concerns me. The fact is, while we are out to fix this land, there will be killing on the way. And you will have to be able to fight, or run. If Shadow is training the thief, then I could show you a thing or two, if you'd like. As a monk, you will probably be more interested in evading and fleeing the battle. Back when I was a pirate, I had to do my share of sneaking and fleeing. I can teach you some basic fighting and countering, as well as evasive actions. If you are interested. Of course, when there is a fight, you can simply hang back and tend to the wounded afterward. Much simpler option." Kain smiled and waited to see what would happen. he then realized the knight had not said anything, so he said, "Hey, Sir Mark, any comment on the situation? You in as well then?"

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Matt smiled as Shadow gave his response. This was awesome. Matt jumped off the building after Shadow and stood next to him. He glanced at Myr and he fell.
"Oh. Hello Myr." Matt bowed. "When did you get here?" Matt then noticed Mark. "Oh, and Mark is here too! Hello there."

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"Agh!" Shadow angrily exclaimed as he turned swiftly towards Matt.

"Okay, first lesson!" He said in a low but firm voice.

"Never announce your presence in the field! I don't care that you are generally familiar with these people, you never just let everyone know you're here! What if you had enemies nearby? Or worse still, what if your friends had enemies nearby? Did you ever once wonder why it is that I'm so quiet all the time? It's to protect both myself and those around me from being noticed by anyone unfriendly who might be in the area! To be strong does not always have to coincide with physicality. Brute force can only do so much. Being smart enough to silently protect those near and dear to you by guarding their anonymity from those that seek to bring them harm is a form of strength as well, and is infinitely more valuable than being able to overpower opponents in combat! If you truly do wish to be able to protect those who cannot defend themselves from harm as you told me earlier, then you would do well to learn this lesson as quickly as possible!"

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Matt nearly jumped a foot in the air when Shadow spoke. His hand instinctively reached for his sword, but only for a second. Good thing his sword was over there on the ground... if he had drawn it here, that would have been... counter productive.
Geez, bite my freaking head off why dont you... but Matt made no outward sign of anger or even annoyance. What Shadow had told him was true, but even now, in the middle of the day? At night, when you're sneaking around, he followed that then no problem. But now? Dang. Harsh... maybe this would be tougher than he thought. And he thought it would be tough in the first place! Matt slowly walked over to pickup his sword and knives. He strapped the knives to his right thiegh, and pulled out the sword, examining it. He loved his sword, so he had to make sure it was okay. Even after only four minutes of leaving it alone. He held it up in the air, and the sunlight glinted off of it brightly. Satisfied no one had messed with it, he sheathed it and put it back on his hip. He walked back over to Shadow.
"I'm sorry... I didnt know..." Matt rubbed his arm unconsiously. "I'll do better next time."

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"That was only a basic warning Matt, to make sure you think more of safety when being hunted as you are now. You might not have realized it, but the fact that the scout went after you suggests that you are now marked as a target along with me and the others. You haven't seen me angry yet, nor have you seen me give punishment to anyone, but believe me, you will in time..." He said quietly.

Shadow turned and walked over to Kain and Myr.

"I will assume that you are clued into what's going on then Myr, as you don't seem to be confused as to what's been going on in any way. With that in mind, Kain, are we good to leave? Or is Sir Mark still dozing off over there in the brush?" He asked.

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Matt only looked at Shadow as he talked to him. That... that was creepy. He certainly didnt want to get Shadow mad. Wait, had he said ready to go? Matt shifted uncomfortably. He wasn't aware they would leave a such short notice. And Mark and Myr were comeing too? When did this happen? Had he left to soon?
Matt just stood there with a blank stare, thinking.

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"I would be wiling to learn anything you are willing to teach, and I thank you for the offer," Myr replied with a dip of her head. While she was not nearly defenseless and had no plans to kill anyone, there was no inherent harm in knowledge, especially with a judicious mind behind it, and this she had learned early and well. "There may be a thing or two even one such as yourself could learn from a humble monk as well, should you wish it."

At that point, Shadow and Matt approached, though when Matt greeted her, she nodded but silently, aware of what Shadow chose to lecture him on even in that moment. Drawing attention to oneself was a risky proposition, hence her rather plain manner of dress and proclivity for silence. Still, she couldn't help but feel a bit of sympathy for the hapless thief. Myr wondered if he knew fully what he was getting into. She probably didn't, but then that little piece of information was valuable in itself and would keep her on her guard at all times if nothing else.

Shadow spoke to her, and she replied with assent. "Yes, thank you. Kain has kindly filled me in on all the necessary details, I am sure." She threw a glance over to Mark, who still had not moved to join the rest. Though... perhaps Mark was no longer the name the young knight would prefer. Myr gave a small wave, just in case their voices had not drifted quite far enough for their final companion to catch.

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Kain stood up, arching his back and twisting his neck. a series of loud pops followed this, and Kain finally answered Shadow. "Well, I think we are all set. Sir Mark seems to be in some strange fantasy land, and so I haven't the slightest idea whether he is joining us. Other than the loose end, we are good to go." Frowning toward the knight, Kain walked over, and grabbed Mark's shoulder. Shaking him slightly, Kain said, "Hey! You coming with us, or not?!"

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Mark blinked a few times when Kain shook his arm. "Ah... sorry. I must have dozed off." The knight stood up, and brushed off some of the dirt that stuck to him. "Yes, I am coming with you. But to avoid any confusion, I am a girl. Normally I would prefer to go around as a boy, however it would be difficult to maintain that disguise since it appears we will be traveling together for a while.", he clarified.

Reaching over, Mark tucked one of his red/blonde bangs behind an ear. His long hair that reached the small of his back felt considerably different when you compared it to balancing it all on his head. "I hope I won't hinder any of you. My style of fighting is a bit different from assassins, monks, and whatnot. However, I'm ready to go when you are."

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Shadow nodded his head when Mark stated that she was ready to move.

"If we're all in agreement, I'd like to get moving then. I don't know what the rest of you have in mind, but my destination is the Kingdom of Shaharan, as I have a contact there who will be able to point me in the direction of the mark that eluded me while I was busy with the pirates here. I haven't the faintest idea where that weasel wriggled off to, so I need fresh intel. If you don't desire to get tangled up in my mission, then tell me now, or else you will inevitably get dragged into the silent war that I have been involved in my whole life."

He walked over to the beginning of a dirt road that led to the southwest towards Shaharan.

"If you have no objections, kindly follow. If you do, then go wherever the wind takes you and do as you please. I won't stop you either way."

Shadow began to walk down the path, not really bothering to wait for those who would follow or not. He was intent on his mission regardless of who actually accompanied him.

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Matt snapped himself out of his thoughts and ran up to walk alongside his new teacher. He considered asking him to share a little more about his mission, but the chances of him actually saying so were slim to none. Matt chose to stay silent. He looked around at the scenery at he took a few steps out of town. It was all beautiful. He resisted the urge to start singing, as he usually did when walking from town to town, but he couldn't help but hum almost inaudibly under his breath.

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Not feeling the need to crowd the air with unnecessary words, Myr simply adjusted the quiver on her back and followed in Shadow's tread, eyes fixed on some point on the horizon. The ground beneath her feet was worn smooth by the passage of countless other souls, though she stepped carefully enough so as not to kick up any errant dust.

Internally, she was still wondering what it was that had compelled her to this particular course of action. Myr had a habit of trusting her instincts, as they had served her well (almost flawlessly, in fact) in the past. Sometimes, however, they bid her do things that her rationality could not easily explain, as now. To trail behind an assassin, walk with a pirate, a thief, and a knight close at hand, towards a goal that one could on guess at presently; this sort of thng was not like her in the slightest.

On the contrary, she kept her own company more often than not, and was content with this. So, too, had she treasured the freedom that was the ability to go as she pleased, how and when determined only by choice. Yet, all of that she had relinquished, and she knew not why. Was there something worthy in this fight that those two were staging? Perhaps; her intuition informed her that they were not without honor in some sense of the word, whatever that meant.

It was, perhaps, a matter for further observation, an opportunity to learn something interesting. Purple eyes came back into focus on the foreground, and the image of Shadow's back and the immediate road resolved in front of her. A conundrum, certainly, she mused inwardly, but not one that does not bear more thought.

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Kain was happy that they were on their way again. Shaharan... a very interesting place, if memory served. "So is this friend of yours that we are visiting anyone I know? If I remember correctly, you had quite the band of heroes with you before. Shame I didn't get to really meet them." Kain spoke of when he parted ways with Shadow before. During their old journey, Shadow talked of a group he had brought together to fight Teisei. He wondered how those people had fared all this time. "Ah, almost forgot!" Kain let out a high-pitched whistle, and a few moments later, Raven swooped down and landed on his shoulder. "Well girl, we seem to be just fine for the time being." Kain smiled at being reunited with his bird.

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Mark trotted after Shadow, happy to have a destination. When she caught up, the knight asked," Hey Kain? You said that you could teach me how to improve my disguise. How 'bout a few pointers while we walk?". Noticing the bird, Mark grinned. "She's beutiful! You two must have been through a lot together to be able to call her with a whistle. What's her name?"

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Kain gave Mark a crooked grin. "My amazing intellect and wit has allowed me to name this beauty... Raven yes, not the greatest name, but I like it, and she likes it. And for your first pointer, but some dirt on your face and under your nails to mask your scent, and to make you look like a rough young lad. Second bit of advice is wear padded clothing to make you seem more muscular than you actually are... oh, and either learn how to grow facial hair, or apply a very convincing fake. Small amount though, you don't want to look like you are wearing a fake beard. Just enough to look as though you haven't shaved in several days. There should be a mint species that grows around these parts that could help you with that. It grows little hairs that rub off easily and stick to skin. they are uncomfortable, but they will work to make you look unkempt. When we find some, we can collect a bunch for when we enter towns." Kain walked on, calmly stroking his pet.

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Shadow listened to the conversations taking place behind him and smiled when Kain mentioned his contact.

He waited until Kain had finished advising young Mark before speaking.

"Kain. The contact I am speaking of is a young woman who you actually met, but do not remember because you were unconscious through your meeting. She tended your wounds shortly after the battle with my brother Asasirihito, a woman named Taira. She has been shadowing me for a while now, keeping at a distance and traveling to my destinations a few days ahead to make plans and to provide me with intel. She will undoubtedly know which way my little worm has slithered off to, and then, once he's out of the picture, I can focus on my real work once more, as he is the last of my targets."

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Matt only listened as he walked, not feeling right to enter the conversation. He didn't have anything to say, actually. But still, the company was pretty nice... despite it being an assassin, a pirate, a monk, and a knight. Aside from the monk, no one was exactly the best company for a theif, but they would have to do. Better than being alone. Although if Matt had been alone, he would probably be a good distance away from the port town now. But on the other hand, if he was alone, he wouldn't have a destination in the first place. Whatever.
He had a question, but was silent for a moment. Should he ask? Would it be intruding? Oh well. What could go wrong? ... Matt cursed himself for possibly jinxing the very act.
"Why is he your target in the first place? May I know?" Matt asked Shadow, looking up at him.

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Shadow turned his head and looked at Matt, but his expression was blank.

"This man took it upon himself to 'rid the streets of vermin and to return profit of the venture to the common people'. The problem was that it was the common people who were the vermin, and the profit was pocketed by our little friend and used to fund a private and almost under the hat campaign to put himself in a good position to become the next ruler of Triveila, as it's status as a nation is yet to be permanently solidified being that it's only fifty years old. It doesn't matter how new a nation might be. If a man like that takes power, it can only suffer. I'm going to put a stop to it before it can come to a conclusion."

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Matt blinked several times, then turned back to the road. "Well that's not very nice of him..." He thought out loud. But Matt was thinking, his eyes going blank again. The man is greedy and had made people suffer, so he dies. Simple. THOSE were the kind of thinks Matt wanted to do. Before, Matt would only steal from this man. he might keep a little, but the most of it... what would happen to most of it? To the people, he supposed. But Shadow had worded that sentence weird... were the people the bad guys? Or did he mean the man saw the people as vermin, even though they weren't? Matt guessed the ladder. It made more sense. What would happen to the kingdom after that man was dead? Probably someone else would take charge. But whos to say that other person would be any better? How did Shadow know the alternitive? He never got a chance to try and answer his own question though, and Matt, not paying attintion to where he was going, tripped and landed face first in the dirt.

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Myr listened intently, but did not contribute to the conversation. In fact, most people would likely not have known she was paying attention at all. Not that she was trying to mask her intent, merely that, perhaps as some byproduct of her training, she was able to take in a number of sensations at once, and pay them all equal heed. This had the side-effect of making her seem a bit out-of-sorts unless she bothered to narrow her focus to one thing specifically.

In truth, though she had learned much since leaving the mountain of her birth and descending to the 'civilized' world below, politics was still something that made little sense to her. It was easy enough to live in such a way that every person simply did what was required of them; why all the need for kings or bureaucrats or aristocracy? What about blood or heritage placed one person over another? The logic was simply too foreign for her to grasp as of yet.

They were interesting, these little tidbits of stories and past events that she was hearing. Some of them seemed more important than the speakers let on, others almost reluctantly divulged. It might have been fair to dispense some facts about her own identity in return, she supposed, but there was not much quite so engaging to report, and what was more, everyone seemed satisfied with the account that she was a wandering monk with a bit of combat skill and some medicines. As long as that proved adequate, she was not going to waste time discussing herself of all possible topics.

A question entered her thoughts, and it seemed that now was as opportune a time as ever to ask it. So, abandoning the pleasant silence she'd fashioned for herself, Myr spoke up. "You said this man is the last... what exactly is it that you intend to do after he is gone?" She had heard snippets of mentions of helping the country or something to that effect, but she trusted that Shadow and Kain insofar as he was actually involved were not the sort of people to take such a half-formed notion and run with it. No, chances were that something far more concrete was afoot than this.

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Shadow looked back at Matt, who was still in the process of mentally recovering from landing in the dirt and shook his head.

What have I just gotten myself into?...

He then looked to Myr to answer her question.

"After this man dies, I intend to continue my original mission. The assassinations that I've been performing as of the last few months have been side quests, so to speak. It was during the time of Rada'l Mei, or Vengeful Purge as it's known in the modern tongue, that I chose to prioritize my targets, and the ones I've been hunting recently have been the ones I left behind from back then."

With that, he looked ahead once more, watching the path ahead as the sun began to set over the mountains in the distance to the left in his peripheral vision.

He took one last glance back at Matt, then to Myr, then to Mark, then to Kain, and then returned his gaze forward.

... This will be a long trip...

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"Ugh...." Matt pulled himself up, wipeing the dirt off of him. "Fuck." He reached into his pocket and readjusted a pencil he had in it. That thing had stabbed him when he fell. He rubbed his head as he turned back to Shadow. "Whats- ow... whats your original mission?"

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Shadow stopped dead in his tracks and looked back at Matt, the blank expression back on his face.

"... That is something you need not know at this time..." He said in a low voice.

He turned around and continued down his selected path.

(Pencils and what we call swear or cuss words didn't exist in times like this. Remember, though this is a fantasy world, it is similar to our world during the 1400's to the 1500's. Writing was done with ink and pens, and the language wasn't full of such words. So a little note to all that certain phrases such as 'bullshit' and 'god damn' don't work from here on out. Keep the language a bit more primitive in that regard please.)

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Myr flinched inwardly when Matt pressed the conversation one question further than she would have. If there was anything she had learned from her time on the continent, it was that reading people. especially the implications of the the things they said and did not say, was a crucial skill if one wished to avoid unnecessary conflict. While it wasn't quite so grave an infraction as that, she disliked the blankness on Shadow's face.

The thing was, it wasn't what she would call a tranquil sort of passivity. Something about it bespoke too many pieces of knowledge the man himself could have done without. Blond eyebrows furrowed slightly as she puzzled over the meaning of something like that. Usually, it was a look she saw in old soldiers, men and women with lifetimes of battle behind them. Not so in the young, or at least not until now. Troubling...

But she could tell her concern would be of little practical use to anyone, and so she left it unvoiced. Surely, everyone here had enough to worry about without adding her own anxieties about what might be into the mix. No, the conversation had taken a very serious direction indeed; hardly the stuff of pleasantry.

While it might be the case that some of their party would wish to travel largely in silence, she could tell that with this mix of people, such would not be the case. Perhaps, then, it would be useful to return the conversation to neutral ground of some sort. The trouble was, she disliked useless chatter also, and thus it would be necessary to find something both practical and innocuous to discuss. Sometimes, she wished she were still among her people.

"So what sort of place is this town that we travel to?" she asked aloud. That one at least, was both an innocent question (that probably anyone besides herself could answer differently) and also relevant, since it made sense to know what they were getting into.

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Shadow didn't stop his stride, but never the less looked over his shoulder at Myr.

"... The kingdom of Shaharan, the capital city itself."

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Kain was quietly thinking this whole time, listening too the others and watching their minute behaviors. The monk and the knight seemed lost in thought, and the thief... Well, Kain had to suppress a laugh when he tripped over his own feet into the dirt. And the little thing wanted to be an assassin... Shadow was really lowering his standards of admission into his little brotherhood on this one. Shadow of course was being Shadow. After Shadow made his announcement, Kain waited for a moment before asking the group, "Does this world not seem to be in a constant state of change? It never seems set in its ways. What say you all?"

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Shadow only huffed a small chuckle, but never kept walking as the sun finally descended below the mountain peaks bringing night to the world in lush blue and purple coloration in the sky and clouds as the first stars began to shine overhead.

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Myr was a bit surprised to hear that they would be visiting a settlement so large, and one she had never been to, at that. Still it was sure to be an interesting experience, given present company.

Speaking of... Kain had apparently decided to contribute a thought of his own, and Myr resisted the urge to smile. It was not as though what he said was particularly funny or trite, merely that it was probably one of the worst instances of understatement she'd ever come across. Then again, maybe that was just her childhood talking: being out in "the world," so to speak, after having grown up in a place that only ever changed slowly and minutely was to be assailed with the very fluidity of it all.

"The world never stops changing," she replied softly, then hesitated for a moment. Did that sound too much like a reprimand? She hoped not, for that was not the intent of the statement at all. "At least... that is what I have come to understand. 'Tis not a bad thing, though. Too much order, too little change... that is bound to cause stagnation, a loss of vibrancy. But then, so too does excessive chaos ruin it by ripping apart what is good and what is not without discrimination." She stopped abruptly then, and shook her head at herself. Nobody needed to hear her silly philosophical musings, never mind that this was the sort of question she asked herself all the time.

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Kain looked over to Myr with a mischievous gleam in his eyes. "Aye good madam, that is very true. But then, what structures the world? For though we may grow older, or an acorn may one day become a great oak, there is always some kind of structure to the change. In our constantly shifting world, what is the unchanging pattern that allows all things to retain a central unity?" Kain smirked, rather enjoying exploring these ideas.

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Matt blinked as he walked. Shadow didn't want to say, huh? Sure. If he didn't want to say, he could understand that. Id did little to satisfy his curiousity though... and now Myr and Kain were talking about how the world keeps changing. He could have answered the first question easily (Although with a much simpler sentence), if Myr hadn't said it first. But Matt only frowned. What in the world was she talking about?
Maybe I AM immature...
Or maybe Myr is overly mature. Or a combination of both. Yeah, that sounded right... Wait, what was Kain babbling about now? Something about a universal law that keeps things together... Matt forced himself not to start thinking about that question. If he got in too deep of thought, he would stop paying attention to the road. And he whould trip again. Matt spat a piece of dirt out of his mouth onto the ground. Don't answer the question. Dont even think about it. Let Myr answer it. Or Mark. Or Shadow, if he feels like it.
Matt just kept walking, silent.

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Shadow stopped mid-stride and froze in the center of the road, slightly widening his stance and grounding his left heel into the dirt to increase his stability.

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Matt slowed to a stop, and looked at Shadow. He considered asking if anything was wrong but the answer was a blinding yes. Was something comeing this way? Matt glanced around, but he couldn't see anything. Although Shadow could sense better than he could, so he wasn't at ease yet. So what was happening. Matts hand twitched under his cloak, toward his sword. He waited for Shadow to say something.

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"The lack of chaos is the presence of order," Myr replied automatically, surprised that Kain was even interested in furthering the conversation at all. "The world as a whole comprises the result of a struggle between that which would sustain and that which would change. Balance, or something close to it, is what we seek; when the balance is disrupted, that is when there is civil unrest or tyranny."

She paused thoughtfully. "Actually, my people think that there is an agent, a god, behind each. They say that the Goddess represents order, and the Dark God chaos. Each monk is taught to embrace both, for though they are fundamentally opposed, they are not enemies. Neither can exist without the other." She shrugged. "Whether or not this is the true way of it, I cannot say, but it makes about as much sense as anything else I have heard."

There was a disturbance in the environment around her; she could tell. Something was coming in to her range in a distorted manner. The problem with this was, of course, it was not an easy thing to identify the nature or direction of such disturbances. Normal senses were needed for that. She frowned slightly, and looked ahead. It would seem that Shadow had a more concrete grip on what was happening than she did; he'd stopped entirely, and was looking ahead.

Trusting then that this was probably the correct direction, Myr stopped as well. She took no immediate aggressive stance, but rather a relaxed one, feet shoulder-width apart, connected solidly with the earth beneath her straw sandals. Her hands did nothing in particular, dangling passively at her sides as though nothing whatsoever were amiss, but it was precisely in this that Myr's own peculiar sort of strength was to be found, if one knew how to look.

What comes? she wondered to herself.

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Mark nearly bumped into Shadow when he stopped, but avaded the outstreched foot at the last second. Then he senced something around them. Hildebrande? No responce. That meant this would be a normal sword fight. Mark straighted himself up, and rested his hand lazily on Hildebrande's hilt. Whatever was out there, he was confident they would be taken care of easily enough by his new companions ans himself.

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Shadow cocked his head slightly to the right, listening for something as he stood motionless in the middle of the path.

He turned his head and looked at Myr, beckoning with his left hand very slowly as a gesture for her to come forward as quietly as possible.

In the back of his mind, he wasn't sure how she and the others would react to such subtle gestures. Kain was the only one who he knew for certain was used to them, though he usually avoided using them in favor of artful and inventive ways to simply stoke the fire, so to speak.

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Myr caught the subtle gesture of Shadow's hand, though she wondered at why she of all people was being signaled to move forward. At least, that's what she thought he was asking her to do. Nevertheless, she was not afraid or distrustful by nature, and saw no reason not to do what she was being asked, whereas there were a large number of reasons why it made sense to obey.

Soundlessly save for the barest of whispers in her cloak, the young woman maneuvered past Mark in front of her and came to stand just behind Shadow's shoulder, not speaking, not even betraying the questions she was nearly compelled to ask in the minutiae of her facial expression. For all she knew, they were being watched; it would not do to give the impression that she was doing something out of the ordinary. At least, that was to be avoided as much as possible given the sudden stillness and silence of the group.

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Shadow waited until she came to a stop behind him and moved his jacket to the side, exposing the Twins in their sheaths behind the small of his back.

His eyes locked onto hers and he mimed the words 'Take them' without letting sound escape his lips.

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Myr didn't understand. They were quite possibly at the precipice of a conflict, and he wanted her to disarm him? She had no doubt that a person like Shadow would be formidable even without his weapons, but still...

Even so, he seemed like he knew well enough what he was doing, so she decided to comply. Staring straight ahead so as not to give herself away, she grasped the hilts of his knives with one hand, sliding them out of their sheaths and under her cloak faster than the naked eye would be able to perceive. She didn't have anywhere to hide them, save her belt, and that carried a serious risk of self-injury, so she shifted minutely so that she was grasping a knife in each hand, all without appearing to have done anything at all.

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Shadow looked at everyone else and put his hand out in a gesture to stay put.

He gave Kain a look which spawned from one of their previous battles together which told him to ready his gun and to get Raven into the air. It was one that only Kain would understand.

Shadow turned his gaze forward and began to slowly stalk ahead, one step at a time, making no sound despite the boots he wore treading across the dirt.

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Kain's brow furrowed. He was so hoping to continue a bit of intelligent conversation with the monk. Oh well, after the immediate crisis had passed. Kain Pulled out his gun and very carefully readied the hammers, making sure no noise was made. He then made a small gesture with his shoulder, indicating Raven should leave for the time being. The bird, which Kain had raised from a hatchling, was very well trained, and understood Kain's subtle commands. She departed silently, a shadow of death flying over the land. Now kain gave a savage smile, like a wolf anticipating a big meal, or a panther playing with its food before the kill. Kain silently moved towards the left of the group, so that his line of fire wouldn't be blocked by his comrades.

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As Shadow walked about twenty feet ahead of the group and stopped.

He knelt down and touched his left hand fingertips to the ground.

Every other second or so he felt a very low but powerful vibration, and he knew that they were close by if he could feel them this clearly.

He looked over his shoulder and very carefully turned his head this way and that. His eyes had a reflective quality that he guessed had something to do with their coloration, and so he used them to flash a bit of a warning back to his companions. He also used his left pointer finger to pull his mouth to the side, revealing his teeth, which was a universal sign for 'predatory beast' throughout the continent.

In this region, there was only one kind of predatory beast large enough to attack humans, but it rarely left the deep forests where humans were loath to tread. The beast was known as Ni'len Va Shadaucus, Wolf of Shadows, which stood approximately four to five feet tall and eight to ten feet long. Their coat's natural absorption of light due to the dark color and dull surface made them near invisible at night, even if the moon was out in full. They were extremely strong and agile despite their size, and were considered by many to be the kings of the forest, though it was debatable due to one other creature that lurked in the forest being just as fierce if not more so.

Shadow stood slowly, making sure to arouse no reaction from the beasts he knew were nearby, and turned towards the group.

He looked to the left of the group and held out three fingers, then to the right and held out four fingers.

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Kain's eyes widened. They were in a spot of trouble if Shadow's gestures were correct. Which they always were. Kain looked at Shadow, made the predatory beast sign, then drew his finger across his throat, and then shook his head. If possible, Kain did not want to kill these creatures. He liked animals, and it was not their fault that they were hungry. But defending the group was more important than a pack of wolves, even if they were rare and majestic beasts. Oh well. Perhaps they would simply pass them by. That was ridiculously optimistic thinking however, and Kain realized it. if it was only two people, the wolves may ignore them, as they wouldn't offer enough meat for the effort. But their group was just large enough to make the hunt worth it. Kain closed his eyes and focused on hearing. These wolves were hard to spot, and were notorious tricksters. Hearing was the best sense to detect them with. Kain heard the soft padding of their feet, the cracking of twigs and the rustling of leaves that didn't fit with the rest of the sounds of the forest. Even these noises were so soft, Kain had to strain to his fullest to hear them. Years of living in these harsh woods had crafted a perfect, silent killer, and Kain briefly wondered if Teisei hadn't modeled their organization after the wolves. Kain would have to ask Shadow in time.

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Shadow acknowledged Kain's request by opening his hands, apparently thinking of such a thing before hand by handing his weapons off to Myr.

Shadow too had no desire to kill these creatures, and so he decided to come unarmed out ahead of the group to show the Ni'len Va Shadaucus that he was the Alpha of the group and that if there was a target, it was him and not his pack, and that the leader of the Ni'len was being challenged to a private match to decide the fate of both sides. Such a primal way of thinking was not likely to be understood by most of the members of the group, as most were raised in a civilized manner away from the forest and the nature around them.

Shadow only expected Kain to be aware of such a manner of thinking.

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The knives were held loosely in Myr's hands, but not so loosely that she was liable to lose her grip on them. Predatory beasts, was it? She had not encountered such things on her way here, and thus suspected that in all likelihood they were not the sort of creatures who bothered attacking the solitary. Perhaps it was her very solitude that had brought about her safety then. A curious thing, given the popularity of that adage about safety in groups or something of the sort. Some of the idioms that the monks didn't use were still a bit lost on her.

The Karesh mountains had some fell beasts, but they did not frequently trouble the temple at Kur for whatever reason. some claimed it was divine protection, others that it would simply be an unsound strategy for the feline species that resided there to take on a battle-trained monk rather than a deer. The intelligence to consider this was never put beyond the hunting cats, and for this, they were much admired.

But Shadow was signaling that there were many creatures, not one, and thus it had to be another manner of animal entirely. If she listened, Myr could hear the huffed breathing of many bellows-like lungs, the whisper of feet on the forest floor. Four-legged, most likely, and large. Beyond that, she could not say. The red-eyes man took a few more steps forward, but Myr remained where she was even as Kain moved off to one side. She had not seen the latter's request not to kill the creatures, but she was perhaps the only one who would not need to, as her code prevented her from taking life in general, beyond what was necessary to sustain hers. Even then, plants were treated with reverence too.

She could not feign to exact knowledge of what was running through her companions' minds, but she knew enough to say that Shadow separating himself from them was creating a target of some sort, and she would not interfere if that's what he thought would work here. So Myr simply waited, patient as the river that works the rough surface of stubborn stone to an irrevocable smoothness.

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Matt blinked, then blinked again. He stood completely still as the others moved, silent. He could feel vibrations in the ground, through his shoes. If they were that large, then it had to be the wolf things... ouch. Matt had run into a few of those before. And got quite a workout running away from those huge monsters. Were... were they after them? Five people... that could attract their attention. But why had Shadow gave his weapons to Myr? It made no sense... was he trying to tell these wolves that they meant no harm? Would they respond to that? Matt silently doubted it. He had tried the same tactic before, but they had still attacked. But maybe something was different this time. Still, he could hear them. They were getting closer... and closer still. Oh... this was going to be troublesome. Matt looked ahead at Shadow, standing alone. No, there was no way they wouldn't attack. So why was Shadow separating himself? What, was he going to take them all on? That was difficult to believe. Nevertheless, he kept a finger on the hidden dagger in his sword. If something was happening, he wasn't going to die. Shadow was thinking of something, that was for sure. But still, plans didn't always work out like they're supposed to.

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Shadow twitched head to one side as six large black wolves slowly emerged from the darkness of the forest. The dirt path they walked on was about fifty feet from the tree line, but that was no great distance, as the six wolves encircled everyone slowly, taking up calculated positions around the group about fifteen feet away.

Their eyes glowed a bright yellow in the moon's light, and their breath was visible despite the moderately warm temperature of the coming night. Each one gave off a low growl as they stood silently watching the group. Their teeth were stained with the blood of a recent kill, and their fur told a similar story, being slightly matted in spots close to and around the mouth.

Then, out of the forest line, came the Alpha Shadow had been waiting for.

The monster Ni'len was obviously very old, but none the less lethal as it had been in its prime.

Standing even with Shadow at six feet tall at the top of its head and shoulders, and nearly thirteen feet long, it was the largest Ni'len Shadow had ever seen, and even Shadow's usually unbreakable confidence faltered. The Alpha's fur on his back was longer than that of his pack members' fur, standing on end making him seem even larger by another six to eight inches.

Shadow watched the mammoth beast approach, and found renewed confidence after immediately spotting certain things about the way it walked that would work to his advantage.

The Alpha walked with a very subtle limp in his left hind leg, and Shadow made a mental note of it. Another mental note was that his front right paw was recently scarred from battle, most likely with another Ni'len's jaws judging by the way the scar crossed its paw. These weaknesses were slight when compared to the large wolf that stood before him, but they were none the less important, as he now had a plan to bring it down without much of a fight... But never the less, Shadow's respect for the creature was at an all time high as its paws made light thuds against the ground now that it was no longer stealthily stalking its prey.

The Alpha circled Shadow, sizing him up, and as he circled, Shadow too rotated his body in a circle so that he was always facing the mighty Alpha Ni'len and to make sure that it was always in his line of sight.

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"Magnificent..." Kain muttered under his breath as the giant beasts continued to circle. He then thought of a very strange thing. Food. He had some on him. Unfortunately, it was meat pies from before. Kain resisted the urge to hit himself in the face with his palm. He just silently prayed that the wolves wouldn't smell the meat and go after him. Kain needed to alert the leader. As the big wolf circled past, Kain mouthed to Shadow, "I have meat in my pack." Shadow needed to know this, because the smell may cause the beasts to react. With their keen senses, there was no doubt they had smelled the food.

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Shadow caught Kain's message but shook his head.

By the body language of the wolves alone Shadow knew that they weren't here for food, they were here to protect and or gain territory, which spelled trouble for the locals.

Shadow's stance became more aggressive as he clenched his right fist and bent his knees, ready to move at a moment's notice as the Alpha's circling began to slow and come to an end as it prepared to fight.

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Mark had noted the arrival of the wolves, and understood Shadow was having an Alpha fight due to the circumstances. And the fact that he was a fairly good hunter. Mark had been warned about these beasts numerous times, and knew how dangerous they could be. Although he was worried about Shadow, Mark had enough faith in him to allow him to fight one of these monsters. Not like Mark could stop him anyways.

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Shadow watched carefully as the Alpha began to shuffle its feet as it adjusted its position.

He waited patiently, and finally, the first move was made.

Being only eight feet from Shadow when it pounced, Shadow had little time to react to the initial attack, and so when he jumped to his left to avoid the strike, the mighty beast managed to catch the right sleeve of his jacket with one of its claws and rip the entire sleeve completely off.

Luckily for Shadow, no severe damage to the skin was made, save for a light scratch which almost instantly turned red.

Shadow's favorite jacket was now missing its entire right sleeve and Shadow's arm now burned with the scratch from the beasts claws.

He clenched his fists and ran forward towards the mighty creature, sliding under its belly as it tried to lunge at him, and as he slid beneath it, he let loose with his most powerful punch directly into the soft under tissue of the beasts rear left leg, causing the beast to howl in pain as Shadow quickly rolled to avoid the frantic and scattered feet which were now stomping about around him.

As soon as he was free and back on his feet, Shadow ran forward again, jumping onto the beasts back and pulling at the Ni'len's fur right behind the base of its skull to draw its head back. As soon as the creature's head had been maneuvered into place, Shadow let go with his left hand and rammed his elbow into the beast's left eye. He jumped off immediately afterwards, and distanced himself from the now dazed creature as he watched it turn circles, rubbing its face with its paw to try and massage the now wounded eye.

Shadow knew it didn't cause any permanent damage to the eyeball, but it wouldn't be able to open the eye anytime soon. Never the less, it would not loose its vision. The poor creature had suffered enough as it was, and so Shadow stood up straight and walked forward, stopping directly in front of the proud but wounded creature.

The Ni'len Alpha ducked its head and backed away by several feet, not wanting any more conflict, and so Shadow stomped his right foot and lunged at the creature, sending it running back into the forest with its pack close behind.

Shadow stood up straight and let out a sigh of relief.

He walked back over to Myr and held out his hand, a silent request to have his weapons returned to him.

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Myr simply nodded sagely and withdrew her arms from her cloak, tossing each knife into the air and catching the blades, fingertips on the flats so as not to cut herself, and offered the hilt-first to Shadow.

"You should let me look at that," she offered, gesturing to his arm. "Even small cuts may become infected if not treated properly." She let the offer hang in the air, and would not comment further upon it. If he did not wish her assistance, she was not about to force it upon him, but it was there should he require it.

Her eyes traced the disappearance of the wolves, and she was grateful that they were not quite as tenacious as the Fal'uthan L'unor of her mountain home. The large, silver-white cats did not often confront humans, that was true, but when they did, the matches rarely ended without a death of some kind.

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Kain relaxed when the wolves left. "Good thing that bunch had already filled their giant bellies, or else they would not have stopped so easily. You know..." Kain paused thoughtfully. "Those wolves remind me of Teisei. The assassin organization's structure wouldn't happen to be based on these wolves, is it? I mean, the harsh environments, always fighting to survive, killing in the shadows despite being powerful enough to openly slaughter their prey... In any case, You should find a pup and raise it like I raised Raven. How would you like that Shadow? A nice fluffy puppy companion for you?" Kain gave Shadow a mischievous grin, showing the assassin he was only playing games again.

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Shadow returned the smile that Kain gave him and chuckled to himself, and stepped forward to accept his daggers back from Myr.

"I think I will take you up on that offer to look at my arm Myr. We won't make much headway tonight with the temperature beginning to drop as it is. I almost didn't notice the drop due to the wolves, but never the less, it is rather prevalent. Anyway, we'll get a camp set up first and then you can take a look at the scratch."

Shadow looked around for a moment, choosing the best place to begin the setup.

"I think that those trees sitting in a semi-circle will provide the best spot for us just ahead. If I may suggest that Kain and I gather fire wood while you all set up whatever shelters you would, then that will be all for the time being."

Shadow walked towards the tree line and began to inspect the trees surrounding the area where the wolves left, and started gathering the largest samples he could find.

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Kain followed behind, searching for dry pieces, rather than the largest. Large would burn longer, but if not thoroughly dry inside, the fire would not take. so a few smaller dry pieces would help keep the flame going till the larger pieces dried in the heat. As Kain was searching, he found a small group of plants. Upon closer inspection, he found them to be a rare herb. "Somnus sepulchrum.... The sleeper mint. This may come in handy." Kain quickly harvested a large amount, and then put it in a pouch for later use. After making absolutely certain there was no one within earshot, Kain said, "So, what do you think of this group? Slow us down, or can they be useful?"

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Myr nodded, glad at least that he wasn't going to refuse aid when it was offered. Some people did; it usually didn't work out too well, all things considered. For the time being, however, setting up camp did seem like a good idea.

Making her way over to the cluster of trees that Shadow had pointed out, Myr surveyed the low-hanging branches carefully. She was actually rather partial to sleeping in trees, but this was not the case for most people, so something else would have to be improvised. Luckily, she was used to this sort of thing, being a wanderer, and had long since learned how to shelter herself from all manner of phenomena by means of construction.

Satisfied with what she saw, Myr produces a length of sturdy-looking twine from one of her many belt pouches. Luckily, a few of these trees were young yet, and had the sort of flexible boughs that would allow her to bend without breaking. Picking up some dead wood, she removed the plain utility knife from its sheath and sharpened the ends of several chunks to points, fashioning makeshift stakes, which she drove into the ground with what was clearly a modified martial-arts kick, lacking a mallet or anything of the sort.

Deciding they would hold, she began to bend the saplings' branches downward, lashing them to the stakes with twine, creating what were effectively the skeletons of three smallish domed enclosures with mostly open fronts (since the trees would only bend so far before breaking or tearing from the ground). The skeletons, she covered in gathered brush, humming to herself as she worked. She had never been one to mind labor, even when it was hard, and these were not especially so.

Within half an hour, she'd secured the odd-looking domed huts in place, satisfied that they'd keep out the worst of the cold. Two of them would hold a person each, and the third had enough space for two people to comfortably fit. She had no idea how the others would choose to arrange themselves, but she had every intention of making use of one of the larger tree branches overhead, so everyone would be somewhere, at any rate.

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Shadow looked over at Kain with a vacant expression on his face.

"... They will all prove useful eventually. At the moment, without the kind of training and conditioning that the body needs to keep up with the pace that the two of us will set, they will no doubt seem a hindrance at first. You remember how hard it was to keep up with me when we first met, and you were used to long distances and fast travel. Myr is the only one I believe will hold up at a decent clip, but only for a time, as even she will find it difficult to move at the pace that I will set after a time..."

He looked back at the group and smiled as he watched them work.

"... They do grow on you though. I don't believe that I could think of the journey ahead without them as company at this point."

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Matt had said nothing for a while now. He had taken to silence after his latest question, and kept it since. He had let a sigh of relief slip after the wolves had left, but hadn't said a word. He was about to when Myr began working with the trees, but decided against it. It wasn't hard to see what she was doing after a few minutes. Matt didn't know what to do in the meantime, however. Myr seemed to have shelter under control. What was he to do? The other two were getting firewood... what else did they need? Food? Water? Did some of them already have some? Either way, it wouldn't hurt to try and find a source or water nearby. Matt, who had jumped into a branch while Myr had been working, jumped off, in search or water. He took a much faster path than most would have prefered, but Matt liked the high ground. So he jumped from branch to branch instead of walking. It wasn't like he hadn't done it before. It was usually how he traveled anyway.
After a few minutes he heard the steady pound of a waterfall. Matt smirked as he jumped off the trees and landed in front of the pool of water. The roar was loud, but not so loud as to be uncomfortable. He leaned down and cupped some water in his hands. Looked clean enough. Matt took a sip. Tasted clean enough. He guessed it was safe. He then smiled. He would come back tonight, while they were all asleep, as not to disturb them. It had been to long since he last had some quiet. Matt took note of where he was, and began to travel back to the campsite. He got there within a short enough time. But Myr had already finshed building the shelters... wait, why was there only room for four? There was no way Myr knew he usualy slept in trees, what gived?
"Uh, Myr..." He walked up to the woman. "You wouln't happen to be psychic, would you? Or do you sleep in trees too?"

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Kain smirked at Shadow's response. "Aye, you be a tough traveling companion... As far as company, the only one interesting enough for me to be excited about is the monk. The thief just seems so... Naive. Foolish, as though he lived a sheltered life. And the knight seems to be in a fantasy world half the time. Ah well, we shall see how they work in the upcoming assassination. If I am not mistaken, you will be using all of us in different ways to finish this target?" Kain checked their firewood amount and then said, "We have enough, let us return it to the campsite, and then if you wouldn't mind joining me, I need to look for some more ingredients for a particularly vicious poison I want to concoct."

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Shadow nodded with a light smile.

"You're right that you'll all have a use, but I doubt that many of them will enjoy it... especially my new apprentice."

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Myr dusted off her hands, looking up as Matt reappeared, and with a most peculiar question, no less. "I admit to being quite fond of it, yes," she replied with soft smile. Mayhap it was natural for one who valued freedom of movement as much as a thief must to do so; she had not thought of it as immediately evident, but had to admit such things were a possibility. "I was unaware that anyone shared my proclivity for the closeness of nature."

It certainly solved the sheltering problem, assuming anyone would want to use them at all. Well, she couldn't think of a reason for Shadow to ask for them to be made if he at least didn't plan on utilizing such a thing. Mark wore a bit too much armor to look like she'd be comfortable in a tree, but then people did have a tendency to surprise every once in a while.

Moving so that she was seated on the ground somewhere between the shelters and the most logical location for a fire, she removed a small, flat stone disk, no larger than her (rather small) palm, from a belt-pouch. A groove was worn into the surface, about as wide as her first two fingers, matching up quite well with the dimensions of the worked stone column of about four inches with a somewhat bulbous base that accompanied it. A few leaves of an herb that smelled lightly of something similar to cinnamon were placed into the worn indentation, and her waterskin she set to her side, within easy reach. Fitting the end of the cylinder into the groove, Myr began to grind the herb with sure, steady strokes, adding a bit of water when it had become little more than a fine powder.

After a few minutes, the substance had mixed into a greenish paste, still with the same faint odor. Dipping her little finger into the substance, Myr dabbed it on her tongue and nodded to herself, satisfied that it had the right consistency.

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Kain grinned savagely. "This should prove to be fun. I trust you aren't sticking me with anything overly foolish, yes?" Kain smiled at the rest of the group as he dropped his load of firewood. "Wonderful work on the shelters Myr, I could use one for a bit of an experiment," Kain said as he began to quickly dig a fire pit. The dirt was soft, so digging was easy. He then lined it with stones and stacked several large pieces of wood on top of smaller kindling. Kain took out his gun, pulled out some bullets, and carefully sliced the bullets open, pouring the powder in a small pile by the wood. He threw dried grasses over this small pile, and then he lit the whole thing with his gun's flint. The powder sparked and lit quickly, lighting the grasses, which in turn lit the dry wood. The fire was slowly growing, and he trusted the others to maintain it. Walking back toward the woods, Kain motioned for Shadow to follow.

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Shadow didn't really answer anything that Kain had to say, but took off his jacket and threw it into one of the shelters that Myr made, more or less marking it as his own for the time being. The jacket landed with a rather loud thud as it hit the ground, sending a small plume of dust into the air. The jacket was weighted, with very small and thin sheets of metal inside the fabric around the chest and back areas to make it heavier and more durable when in confrontation, but also for training purposes.

Being that it had been a warm day, Shadow wore no under shirt beneath the jacket and so the upper half of his torso was now bare, with a small clean scar across his left pectoral muscle and a rather long and jagged scar across his back just to the right of his spinal column from the bottom of his shoulder blade to just above his pants was now visible as well. He had long ago stopped caring whether people saw them or not, but never the less became a bit self conscious about it around these new companions.

The Twins were now on full display in their sheaths behind the small of his back, as well as the hidden sleeves around his hips which held over fifty small but weighted darts, which anyone with half an understanding of Assassins knew would be poison tipped.

Shadow stretched his arms up over his head, and his elbows made aloud crack before he let them drop to his sides. He tensed for a moment and rotated his neck in a circle.

He silently followed Kain to the tree line.

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"Good... I will be needing a few supplies. I already collected a large amount of sleeper mint, which by itself is a wonderful way to fall asleep. However, combined with a few other ingredients, it becomes a powerful poison." Kain said as Shadow met up with him. "The only ingredients I need now are oleander leaves, Nightshade blossoms, and Thanatoculis caps. They all grow in this region. Do you need help identifying these plants?" Kain continued. Already, he spotted the extremely hardy and fast growing oleander. The Nightshade would also be fairly common, but the Thanatoculis will have to be found in a cave. Kain hoped there was one nearby.

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Matt sat down and watched curiously as Myr grinded the plant into a paste. he smiled as the smell filled the air around them. That smelled nice. Certainly nicer than the perfume he had bought, which was starting to get on his nerves. It smelled nice enough but after a while, it just gave him a headache.
"And what are you doing now, may I ask?" Matt looked at the paste, he head tilted to the side slightly. Kain walked over and started the fire, but Matt payed no attention to him. "Would that be for the cut on Shadow's arm?"

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Shadow shook his head at Kain's question.

"I need no help identifying such herbs, as I carry a generous supply of all the aforementioned in my own pouch here at my waist, among other such herbs as as well."

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"Very well then." Kain and Shadow went off into the woods searching. After about an hour, Kain had all the material he needed to make several vials of one of the most potent poisons on earth. He smirked, and let out three sharp whistles, indicating Shadow should return. Back at the camp, Kain collected what Shadow brought, and eagerly went into one of the shelters. Before beginning, he said to the entire group, "Do not disturb me until I have finished my little experiment. This is a very sensitive task that requires utmost care, so do not bother me." Before retreating to the shelter, Kain grabbed a bunch of extra wood, and his gear. He then ducked into the shelter, and covered the exit with a thick blanket.

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Shadow casually walked back to the shelter where his jacket lay and sat down next to it. The fire was close enough to maintain a temperature of his liking, and so he closed his eyes and let out a sigh to relax himself.

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The monk watched Kain slice his bullets open with an undisguised curiosity. "So it works on a principle of combustion, then..." she murmured, more to herself than anything else. She had seen (and heard) the gun in use earlier, and suspected that it must be something of this sort, but seeing the combustible powder confirmed it.

As Shadow did not move into her line of vision, she did not see him before he departed again, though his passage did not go unmarked. Very little did, when it concerned her.

Myr nodded at Matt's question. "'Tis indeed. Sometimes, when the wounds are much worse, I have to use a little Thanatoculis," she explained, patting one of the other small pouches at her belt. "Herblore is quite interesting, once you know something of it. Thanatoculis, and a number of other fungi or herbs for that matter, can be used equally well in the manufacture of both poison and medicine, though I do not deal overmuch in toxins."

The fire was building merrily, and she paused a moment to toss another dried stick on it. "This particular salve is fairly simple, as I'm sure you saw, but it dulls pain and prevents infection, as well as speeding the healing process of small wounds. As Shadow did not receive anything worse than a cut, it should be more than adequate." She paused for a moment. "But I do imagine I have spoken rather too much on the subject; forgive me." She smiled again, this time a little sheepishly. It was easy to forget that not everyone found plants as interesting as she did.

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Mark, who had noticed the others didn't need his help, decided to look around for some edible plants once he was done setting up. The knight walked over to a shelter, and it had Kain's jacket inside. Shrugging, Mark walked over to a small shelter next to it and set his pack down on the dirt. He pulled off his light armor, revealing a simple tunic and breaches. Then Mark tugged a string from his pack and used it to tie his long hair into a ponytail. Mark glanced over to the group, asking," Hey guys, do we need food? If so, can I get it for us?"

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Myr looked up as Shadow and Kain reentered the camp; it appeared that whatever the two of them had done had not required too much time. As nobody else seemed inclined to answer Mark's question, she chose to. "I do not know if the others carry food; I myself do not have any presently, and would very much appreciate any edible plants you might find."

In accordance with the way of life of her people, Myr did not consume meat, though products such as milk and cheese were not out of the question, and she was quite good at making even simple fare palatable. All skills she'd thought it meet to earn before she'd have to take care of herself, and all ones she was glad of.

Deciding that the herb mixture had set adequately, she stood noiselessly and approached Shadow, sure to make a little sound in the walking just to be absolutely sure he would know she was coming. His senses were quite acute, she figured, so it was not as though she needed to snap a twig with her foot, but a little courtesy was nice.

Dropping down so that she was kneeling beside where he sat, Myr offered a smile, though his eyes were closed. "May I?" she inquired of his arm, trusting him to know what she was referring to.

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Shadow nodded his head once and extended his arm out slightly, giving her access to the full scratch. He hadn't noticed due to his attention being diverted elsewhere but he was actually bleeding, which gave a tiny and recognizable twinge when his arm extended. He knew then that the Ni'len had in fact broken the skin with its claws, though he thought it hadn't at first.

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Kain was busy preparing his ingredients. He started a small fire pit, and briefly exited his shelter to light a small stick, rather than waste precious bullets starting a new fire. Having heard Myr talking about Thanatoculis, Kain took a moment to educate the young monk. "Myr, I hope there isn't any Thanatoculis in that salve? For the medical benefits you are referring to do not exist in the Thanatoculis mushroom. You see," Kain paused to pull out one of the dangerous mushrooms, using thick gloves to handle the deadly fungus. "Thanatoculis is a name from an ancient language that literally translates to 'eye of death' for one symptom of Thanatoculis poisoning is a vivid hallucination of the God of Death, as well as an understanding of when those you see will die, and how they will die. However, this information is useless, because by that point, you only have seconds of life left yourself. You are most likely confusing Thanatoculis with its close relative, the Addonexus. Which translates to 'bringer of death' as opposed to 'eye of death.' Oh, and in case you were wondering where the name came from..." Kain tilted the mushroom, revealing its black cap. In a perfect ring, there was blood red, like the iris of a great eye. In the center, the mushroom burned a lightning blue, looking like a vicious retina. The bright mushroom would have been quite pretty, if not for the haunting effect the coloration gave it, looking truly like a blazing eye. This mushroom was so toxic, inhaling the spores could cause painful sickness, ingestion could lead to coma and paralysis. Kain continued back to the tent.

Inside his shelter, Kain started a good fire. The air temperature raised instantly. "Myr did an excellent job insulating this place..." Kain mumbled to himself as he took off his shirt and scavenged through his gear for a mortar and pestle. When he found it, he began grinding the various herbs and fungi, making sure the mortar and pestle were clean after each batch. When all his material were ground into fine powders, he measured careful amounts of each an tossed them into a small black cauldron. He ran outside and grabbed some water, which he threw into the pot after filtering it through one of his clean shirts. He allowed the mixture to sit in the fire and boil for a time. To extract the toxins, Kain would have to add some chemicals to bring out what he needed. Taking a small vial out of his pack, Kain carefully measured out some crystalline powder. This was one of many crucial steps that would need to be performed with utmost care. Kain slowly began sprinkling in the powder, stirring as he did so. He prayed no one would disturb him, as he asked.

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Shadow's left eye slid open at Kain's small lecture, but promptly closed again as he continued to relax his eyes.

Much had happened, and after Myr was finished treating his arm, he intended get a full nights sleep after what seemed like an eternity since his last.

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Myr listened intently to Kain. She had to admit, she had not known the original etymology of the name. She did, however, know that she was not referring to the cap itself, but the stalk, which when boiled down to reduce the poison in it made for a very concentrated local anesthetic. There were not many such agents available in the mountains, and it was only by a very careful process of experimentation (with no trifling amount of accidents) that this usage had been discerned. It wasn't practical, being something like trying to correctly slice those spiny, poisonous fish that the people on the sea prized so highly, but if you knew how to do it, it could be done... unless the fungi were simply named differently down here.

"Perhaps I do have them mistaken," she agreed amiably, deciding to resolve the matter later, when they were both less preoccupied. In the meantime, she had a patient to treat.

"Just relax your arm, please," she requested of Shadow, in low enough tones that she would hopefully not disturb Kain, who had disappeared into one of the shelters. Adjusting so as to be sitting cross-legged, she balanced her simple pestle and mortar on one knee and examined the wound. Not bad; no sign of infection yet, but the medicine would be absolutely certain.

Removing a clean piece of cloth and the half-spent roll of bandages from earlier in the day, Myr dabbed off the excess blood by dampening the cloth with her waterskin. "This will sting, just a little." Of the fact that he could handle it, she harbored no doubt, but more than once she had seen the hardiest of people caught off-balance by the bite of an antiseptic where the bite of a sword might be shrugged off heedlessly. The paste she applied liberally; it was not as though she had anything to store it in once she was done. Deft hands worked a layer of bandages over the injury; loose enough to allow movement, but firmly enough in place that they would not slip at an inopportune moment.

"There. Has anyone ever told you you're an excellent patient?" she quipped, a tinge of humor to her tone. Gathering her things, she stood. "I'll be back shortly." She needed to clean her equipment, and unless she was very much mistaken, there was running water nearby.

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Shadow felt the sting, but was so used to such pains that he didn't flinch. He did however remind himself that being able to feel and recognize pain again was a sign that he was alive and well, as when he was younger, he didn't even feel pain because his body was so used to being in a constant state of it.

Before Myr left, Shadow's mouth curved into a smile when she mentioned the phrase 'you're a good patient', as someone very near and dear to him in the past had said he was a terrible patient.

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"No no! Its quite alright... I've actually found herblore interesting. I was actually looking for a certain herb back in town. And while I found no such thing, what I did see was pretty cool. I wouldn't mind learning a few things, especially anything a friend has to say." Matt smiled at the girl in front of him. It was at this point that Shadow and Kain walked back into camp. Matt glanced at them, then at Myr's newly made paste. "You should go take care of Shadow." Matt said. Myr seemed to do so without a word.
Matt meanwhile looked at the fire. His hand found the pouch he still had on his hip and he pulled out a single pearl. The only one he had bothered to pick up after Kain had threw the things at him. He rubbed the surface a bit, but the brown didn't come off. Flakes of dried blood fell, but it retained the color. Oh well, at least it was smooth now. He winked his left eye. That last pearl had hurt... Kain was going to get his. He considered bothering him after he specificly told him not to, but dissmissed the idea. He could hear the grinding of stone in his hut. Plants could be dangerous... if Kain was making a poison (As there was no doubt in Matt's mind he was.), then he shouldn't disturb him. He didn't want to KILL him... much. No, he was going to humiliate him. And he already had a plan. But that plan wouldn't be put into action for a long, LONG time. But still, he needed something for his plan to work. He'd have to get it later.
For the time being, Matt simply dropped lone brown pearl into the bag again.

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After the Chemicals were added and the mixture boiled for a time, Kain set up another apparatus. He put his wet shirt over the mouth of the new container and slowly poured the contents of his small cauldron. The shirt acted as a filter, catching the now used plant parts. After the liquid was completely strained into the new apparatus, Kain added a top with a strange funnel. This would vaporize the water and concentrate the toxin. The vaporized water would travel out of the funnel, but the toxins would remain in the apparatus. This entire contraption was set on the fire, and Kain watched closely as pure water vapor exited the funnel. As the water exited the solution, the color changed to a deeper black. The solution would be perfect when the color suddenly shifted to a luminescent blue.

Several hours passed before the solution was finally done. Kain watched as the color suddenly shifted. The glowing blue color was very attractive. Kain set the solution to the side to cool. This poison was highly toxic. a single drop inhaled or dropped on the skin was more than enough to kill any human in a most painful manner. This nasty poison was considered a torture method as much as an execution tool. Applied to metal, such as weapons, the poison granted a faint glow, but when applied to cloth, lost all color and all odor, allowing for easily poisoning someone's clothes or even a blanket. Kain grinned in satisfaction. "Ignus Alma... Soul Fire. Nasty little liquid ye are." Kain Pulled out several vials and carefully poured in the destructive liquid. He took absolute caution. One drop spilled on himself would mean death. When he was finished, he capped the last bottle, and brought his shirt and all the equipment out for a thorough washing.

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Myr let her ears guide her to the bank of a river, and she smiled upon seeing it. She could almost feel the purity of the water, as certainly as she could discern the smooth stones beneath what must have been at least four feet of transparent fluid. The roar of a waterfall could be heard a ways upstream, but this far down, it was mostly the quiet trickling that reached her ears.

Kneeling upon the grassy bank, then, the monk dipped her small bits of stoneware in the flow, scrubbing with her thumb so that all trace of the salve was carried away in the current. She had no reservations about returning the stuff of the earth to its source; her medicine would no more poison the river than a leaf would. Setting these beside her to dry, she bent over the water and cupped some in her hands, sipping of it with the relish only simple things could provide. Filling her waterskin once more to the brim, she contemplated returning to the camp immediately, but discarded the thought as unnecessary. Were she truly needed, she had not gone to the trouble of making herself difficult to find.

Instead, she moved back a bit from the bank itself and crossed her legs into the lotus position. It may be beneficial to run through her sequence of slow stretches later, but for now, her mind sought the quiet of meditation. Lids fluttered closed over violet eyes, and Myr's breathing became measured and regular. So much had happened today; it seemed in retrospect like it had passed with alarming speed, but all days were the same, in the end. Perspective was what changed.

Or perhaps circumstance. She had to admit, if someone had told her yesterday that she would find herself in the company of a disguised female knight, a rather outspoken thief who would know of herbs, a most philosophical pirate and an assassin with the Dark God's own eyes, she would probably have politely suggested that perhaps it was not meet for them to imbibe quite so heavily if they wished to keep their health about them. And yet, here she was. The world could be quite the odd place sometimes.

Each thought, she allowed to slip away, instead opening herself to the pure sensory information of the world around her, the gentle music of the running water, the rustle of the leaves through trees, the fresh scents of herbs and clean water, the solidity of the ground beneath her, the steady cadence of her own heartbeat... slowly these things ceased to be individual pieces of information and became cohesive, a whole.

We are not apart from what lies around us. When you have come to understand this, you will know peace. For what could trouble the very fabric of the world itself? The individual is but subservience to a privileged set of experiences. Forgo the privilege of what you think is your own and instead embrace everything about you. Do not choose to be this or do that. Rather simply be. This was a lesson that as a child, she had struggled to grasp, as most of them did. In the end, though, it had come to make a certain kind of sense to her, and the idea was most comforting, she had found.

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Marl nodded to Myr before setting off into the woods. He figured monks were vegitarians, so he would only gather a few herbs and make a broth of sort. Luckily, the forest was rich in all sorts of herbs. Although he hated normal cooking, outdoors cooking was the best. The trick was to get the right ones... Mark knelt down next to patch of mushrooms. Plucking a bit of the largest one, the knight sniffed it. No good. This type of mushroom would provide a sour, almost unbearible taste when boiled. Mark repeated the pluck-and-sniff process quite a few times until he ended up with two handfuls of all sorts of different plants. The ending result should be a nice, light broth. If somebody had meat at hand, and if Myr didn't mind, the broth would turn to a thick, creamy meaty taste. Smiling happily, Mark trotted towards camp.

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Shadow sat watching everyone as they went about their tasks before finally leaning against a tree just outside the shelter where his ruined jacket lay and closed his eyes.

A few thoughts crossed his mind as to what should happen next, but in the end, Taira was at least two days away in Shaharan and he was in no rush to continue, exhausted as he was.

Shadow heard the feint sound of birds flapping their wings overhead, the sounds of insects in the trees, the sounds of feet shuffling and moving about as everyone went about their tasks, and he heard the hum of the wind around his ears, and slowly drifted off into sleep for the first time truly in what seemed an eternity.

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Matt stood up and stretched as Shadow fell asleep. It was late, and he wanted to get a little sleep before tomorrow morning, but first, he needed to do something. He walked off, back in the direction of the waterfall. He arrived shortly enough, and stared at the marvel in front of him. "Beautiful..." Matt walked around the pool and carefuly stepped on the rocks that were scattered in the pool. He stood right in the middle, on a rock, and crossed his legs, sitting down. He silently looked around, then down, closeing his eyes. He would stay like this for a few hours. This was a thinking time of sorts, and Matt usually had one every few nights. He would think about the past few days and after that, he either thought of nothing or just let them wander to whatever. He smiled, looking at the situation overall. This was certainly... odd. Hios thoughts drifted from person to person, but eventually they just settled around Myr. Why Myr? He didn't know, but they did. Shadow was obviously an assassin, Kain a pirate, and Mark a knight. But wasn't Myr a monk? Why then had she used a martial atrs kick to drive that stick into the ground? Monks didn't fight... right? Something about Myr interested Matt. he didn't know what, but there was something about her... hmm. Oh well. Thinking of these things would do nothing but confuse him now. He could tell. Matt instead shoce to think of nothing and just listen. He stayed like this for a while. It must have been a few hours. The sound of a fish jumping out of the water snapped him back to attention. He looked up. The moon had shifted positions. He had been here for a while. He smiled. He loved the night. The moon especially.
Matt stood up, his joints popping. After a moment of extra thought, he started to take his cloths off, down to his underwear. He set the clothes down on the rock and stepped into the water of the pool. he shivered, but smiled. It had been a while since he had a good swim.

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Kain walked down to the river. He quickly dumped the solid plant bits, and then put his shirt in the stream to clean off. He scraped all his equipment and then set that away from the water. Using a bowl, Kain scooped out some water and went to rinse his equipment off. If he washed the tools directly in the stream, the water would be poisoned for several miles, and many would die. Kain was not so heartless that he would do that. As he returned for more water, Kain heard faint noises. He followed and he saw the thief swimming in a pristine little clearing. Kain briefly considered throwing some poison n the water, but left to continue his cleaning. "Damnation and Hellfire, that would have rid me of a very annoying little tick." Now that the most volatile poisons were removed, Kain went and washed the equipment directly in the river. After everything was clean, Kain hung up his shirt to dry, and set his equipment near the fire. He then went into his shelter, cleaned out the remains of his fire, and then prepared for sleep. He brought in all his supplies, packed them, and then set up several traps in the entrance of his shelter. Kain didn't trust the thief at all. Setting his gun close by, Kain allowed himself to drift off to sleep.

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After setting his herbs down in his shelter, Mark grabbed an iron pot pot and walked towards a nearby river to collect water. After scooping up some water he noticed some splashing downstream. Mark had gone uphill, could it be possible some other people were down there? Peering behind some bushes, Mark looked down and saw Matt in his underwear, swimming.

Of course... An annoyed knight was about to turn away when he glansed at something else! It was Myr! Why would she be nearby why Matt was swimming in his underwear!? Those two didn't seem to have known each other beforehand, so romantic reasons were out of the question. Then it must be a coincidence of sorts. If that was the case, Mark would avoid the awkward situation that was sure to come any second now.

Turning around, the youth picked up his now-much-heaver pot and began luging it towards the camp. As he walked, Mark wondered if he should have told Matt about how close he was swimming to Myr. No, Mark hated getting in to awkward situations such as those. Much like indoor chores, he wouldn't touch them with a ten-foot long pole.

Arriving at the camp, Mark went to his shelter and grabbed the herbs and a wooden stirring spoon. After setting up the pot with some stirdy sticks, the knight added the plants. Of course, he made sure to prepare the herbs first. Seeing nothing better to do, Mark plopped down and lazily stirred the broth with his spoon. Nearby, the sleeping Shadow was resting against a tree.

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Myr felt Mark come and go, just as she felt Kain downstream, then leaving, and Matt apparently in the water itself upstream. It was interesting, what the right state of mind could do to your perception of the world. Breathing deeply one last time, the monk allowed her eyes to crack open slowly, the immediate world coming back into focus over what lay beyond, though to say she had lost all awareness of everything else would not be entirely correct.

Standing, she noted that the decrease in temperature with the advent of evening had caused her to stiffen a bit, so she maneuvered smoothly through several complicated stretches, a few of which she was sure made her more rubber than human, or maybe one of those twisted pastries bakers made from leftover dough. She couldn't recall what they were named presently.

Straightening at last, she padded back to camp, waving at Mark as she passed. "Smells nice," she put in softly, trying not to disturb the sleeping figure any more than was necessary. She noted also that Kain appeared to have taken up residence in one of the shelters, and was glad that at least someone was making use of them. "I'm not sure how many of us will be eating," she continued with a hint of amusement, gesturing to the two assassins. "But perhaps it would make sense to do so in the morning?"

Leaving it to Mark's discretion, then, she appraised the nearby trees, selecting a a deciduous one with broad branches. None of them were quite low enough to reach from the ground, so she selected one and jumped, catching hold of the branch in her hands and pulling herself up gracefully enough. It was a good thing she had enjoyed such activities as a child.

Settling herself against the trunk, then, Myr crossed her legs in front of her, making sure she was well-placed so as not to fall at an inopportune time. It must have been the residual memories of childhood that made this situation so comfortable; she recalled the time she'd found a nest of birds this way, and had sat stock-still for several hours at once, simply watching as the mother bird went about teaching the young to fly. At the time, she had thought it the most wonderful thing in the world.

The faintest of smiles curved her mouth as she allowed her eyes to drop until the world was seen through a half-lidded stare; falling asleep was always a gradual process for her, one that she did not try to rush, though she could be awake at the slightest provocation. With any luck, it would not be too long before she as well drifted off for the night.

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Matt walked out of the water slowly, and smiled. The water had been colder than the air after all, so it was fairly warm to him. He was glad. If it had been colder than would have certainly made him a bit cross for the rest of the night. He jumped back to the rock his cloths were on and, after a quick shake, pulled his cloths back on. He ran his fingers through his white hair a few times, getting rid of the excess water. He Looked around a few times. He had could have heard Mark nearly a mile away, her armor made noise when he - or she, Matt supposed - walked. He had sensed something in the bushes nearby, but it was well concealed. The only ones around who could do that were Shadow and Kain, so it had to be ne of them. Matt couldn't think of which, but he shivered at the thought of it being Kain. He had been defenseless while swimming, and if he wanted to do something... Ouch. but Kain wouldn't do anything to him, right? Well, maybe by himself. But Shadow was probably keeping him from it. Matt felt a wave of relief run through himself. But his true surprise was that Myr seemed to be getting up to walk back to camp. The act itself was innocent enough, but the fact that Matt hadn't sensed her in the first place... she must have been petrified to be that still. Matt hopped back to camp and looked around. After a quick 'Hi' to Mark, he looked at Kains hut. Now was the perfect time to get the- ...oh dang it. Matt could see the glint of a trap just outside his hut. Smart... The trap wasn't that complicated, so Mat guessed there were others hidden even better. And even smarter still, they were positioned just right. Matt could have slipped by easily, but they're wasn't enough room because of the hut. Matt resisted the urge to clap. that dude was smart... Oh well, he had plently of time to get it. Time for sleep... And Myr had taken one of the good branches. Dang... Matt looked around elsewhere and saw another one. Awesome. He jumped up and landed on the branch gracefully, and proceded to climb upwards. He looked down after a few seconds. Hehe... they were so tiny.
He layed back and drew his sword, taking the dagger out of it too. He stabbed the sword to the right of him, in the branch, and the dagger to his left. He did this so he wouldn't fall. The blades acting as fences, Matt rested his head on the trunk, shutting his eyes. Goodnight world, and all who inhabit it... exept for Kain. Kain didn't get a goodnight. Matt was asleep in seconds.

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Shadow's thoughts drifted too and fro as he lay asleep in the night under his tree.

Much had happened during this day.

First he lost his mark due to an anonymous tip off that he was coming.

Next the town is attacked by pirates.

He is reunited with Kain and find a few new companions along the way.

Such a strange life he led, but he didn't really mind it.


Shadow stretched out his arms over his head as the sun began to slowly creep over the horizon.

The light barely touched his eyes before they snapped open and the first few rays finally broke through, dilating his pupils as he turned his head to shield himself from the bright light shining down on their camp.

Shadow stood silently and slowly, making sure not to disturb any of his new companions, as they were all still fast asleep.

Ahead lay a new day, and one which would prove most peaceful if the bright clear sky was any indication of things to come.

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(For now we're in Shaharan, so make sure it's clear in your 'Where?' thingie at the top of the posting box)

The two and a half days of travel had taken a toll on the group as they had struggled to get used to each other. Peaceful personalities clashed with those of the more aggressive ones and created tensions and distrust between certain members, though their names remain unspoken.

Shadow had received a Falcon Letter from Xie, the beloved Falcon of his best friend Drake. Taira had commandeered Xie's services in order to send notice to Shadow that a large force of the Capital city's militia, about a hundred and fifty strong, had massed in preparation for his arrival. Shadow's mark had informed the Emperor of Shaharan of the Red-Eyed Demon's impending arrival, and warned him that Shadow was after his life.

The sneaky little weasel.

Shadow now had problems on a new scale to deal with, as there was no way to avoid a confrontation in order to gain access to his final mark and soon resume his primary mission of finding and destroying the final seeds of Teisei's grip on the continent.

As the group reached a hilltop and beheld the majesty of the mighty Castle of Shaharan's Capital city, they also beheld the militia gathered around the main perimeter of the Castle...

... At only a half mile away from their new opposition, this would be a long, and undoubtedly bloody day...

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Kain surveyed the scene before them. A rough group, but dangerous nonetheless. Kain had only grown more annoyed at the little thief in the two days they traveled together, and when the Falcon Letter came bringing unfortunate news, Kain's blood began to boil. Kain had since changed into his more rugged clothes. A tight fitting, sleeveless black shirt that showed off his large and battle scarred arms, fitted pants made of a flexible material that allowed for full movement range, armored leather boots, leather bracers that concealed a throwing knife each, as well as his ever present gun. His long hair was tied back in a ponytail so that it would not get in the way during the battle. There was dead silence as the opposing groups glared at each other. That silence was finally ended as Raven gave out a piercing cry. That sound, passed down from myth and superstition, has always been associated as the sound of death to those who hear it. Even Kain, who raised the bird, shivered slightly at the force she put into it. He let out a wolfish grin and readied his gun. "Lot of men out there Shadow... How would you like to proceed?"

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Shadow was silent for a long while before answering.

Although he would never admit to it, this kind of force appealed to his latent violent nature, and he was absolutely elated at the prospect of being throw in into a battle such as this.

He lived for it.

"... I don't want any of you getting anywhere near me in this battle..." He said, as he looked at Kain out of the corner of his eye.

Shadow and Kain both knew of a way to end the battle with no losses to their own group, but it was dangerous and extremely risky, as they were also both aware of the consequences should it fail.

"... If I can avoid using it, I wish to do so. Understand Kain?" He asked, his tone low and serious.

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((((((SHAHARAN. IGNORE THE CRE'EST))))))

Kain's grin faltered. "Shadow, men like us live for this! We are hunters! As the falcon hunts the fish and mice, and as the wolves hunt deer and livestock, so too do we hunt men. If they are protecting the weasel, then they are evil. But fine, if you wish me to have some restraint, then I shall. I suppose a warning is in order..." Raising his voice, Kain shouted, "STAND DOWN, AND WE WILL ALLOW YOU TO LIVE! WE ONLY NEED TO KILL ONE MAN THIS DAY!" A man stepped forward. Kain's powerful eyes could see the amusement on the man's face, as well as the other militia men. "Bold words for only five people! I think my men can finish this without breaking a sweat!" Kain looked to Shadow.

"Well, I tried to warn them." From this distance, no arrow nor crossbow would be able to hit them. The primitive guns they had also were not suitable for this range. Kain lifted his gun, sighted down the barrel, and pulled the trigger. a massive explosion echoed across the battlefield, and the head of the man next to the captain exploded, spraying blood, brains, and skull bits all over the other men. Kain relished the horrified looks of shock and terror that appeared. Looking through the group, Kain only saw twenty archers, and ten more who wielded crossbows. So, thirty long range weapons altogether. Not wanting to waste the initial shocking effect of his attack, Kain began running forward, hoping to kill the long distance fighters and be able to draw his weapon by the time the he reaches the close range fighters. He let out a scream of pure rage as he charged a group of skilled fighter that numbered in the hundreds.

Kain briefly realized just how completely insane he must be to have done that. No time to think now though. Time to kill.

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(Dammit! See, this is what happens when you slack off guys. Don't make my mistakes... Post in Shaharan, not Cre' Est please... *palm face*)

Shadow rolled his eyes and shook his head before taking off after Kain.

He tossed his ruined jacket off and sprinted to Kain's side, drawing the Twins from their sheaths and raising them into an X formation in front of him before swiping them sideways and out, ready for combat.

Shadow had to wonder if it would be possible to avoid it against numbers this large.

Myr was a monk and preferred not to fight if the battle didn't concern her, and Matt didn't seem the type to confront this kind of force either.

Shadow had been wrong about people before, and he hoped he was wrong now.

He glanced over his shoulder, checking the others as he continued his sprint towards a now oncoming force of soldiers.

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Mark drew Hildebrande. The sword had given off no vibe, so it would be normal for this fight. The knight currently had on light armor, with his hair tucked up under his cap. This fight would be difficult. The small group was greatly outnumbered, and even the stongest of people could be overwhelmed. Taking a few seconds to brace himself, Mark took a step foreward. Then another, and another. Stopping breifly, Mark tilted his blade in such a way against the light that the brightness hit Kain's opponents directly in the eyes. However, by then the first few soldiers had reached him and were only a few yards away. Sprinting right through them, Mark slashed one right between the ribs, and simultaniously dodged and slashed all other opponents. But this was just the begining of the fight.

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"... dang." Matt looked at the crowd in front of him. This would be... difficult, to say the least. Should he get involved? Or did they have this taken care of? So many choices, so little time. ... Well, just one choice, really. Other choices came later.
Shadow seemed to be doing well, and so was Kain. Mark was doing fine. Did they even NEED him?
His thoughts were interupted by a sword heading for his throat. Matt ducked down and then jumped, standing on the blade itself. The soldier's mouth dropped.
"Leave me alone." Matt said simply before he kicked the man in the nose and sent the bleeding man to the ground. Some other soldiers took note of this and charged at him.
"Dang it..." Matt mumbled as he drew his sword. He was in this now, wether or not he liked it.
One died with a simple sword to the gut. The next a dagger to the throat. The feet were cut off of the next one, and Matt ducked in time to dodge a sword to the head before the soldier was stabbed in the kneecap and kicked in the chest, sending him flying.
Matt stood up and dusted himself off. A glance upward showed more soldiers comeing for him.
... Matt considered saying dang again, but it wasn't worth the effort.

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Myr watched as, one by one, her allies joined the battle. Blood flew from he edges of blades, spurted from the throats, chests, arms of men, spilling out upon the open ground as if to turn the very world itself red. Her fingernails bit into the skin of her palms as she saw all of this, and the wrenching feeling in her gut informed her that she might be sick if she watched it for too much longer.

She could not blame them for defending themselves, that much was true. Nor would she want to. Yet, every man that fell to the ground was like another weight, pressed down upon her heart with such gravity that it became difficult to breathe. These men... had they known what was coming? Or had they anticipated an easy slaughter of a different kind? Did such things even matter?

To reduce suffering; this was the goal she had attached herself to not long after descending from the mountains. And a descent most of her kin would doubtless consider it. The monks knew of war and combat, of violence, but the first was little more than a subject for study, a reaffirmation that seclusion in the temple really was the best way of life. Combat and violence were known differently, perhaps more intimately than most soldiers would ever understand them, for violence was a thing to be subdued, transcended, understood. To give oneself over to the temptation to kill was considered a mortal weakness. Myr couldn't pretend to know such things one way or another, but she did know that she felt nothing more strongly than the compulsion to stop it, to cease the destruction of human life that was happening right before her.

But such a thing was an impossibility for her alone, and she knew this well enough indeed. What could she do, then, to minimize the death? The answer came subtly, and it took a moment for more comprehension to set in. When it did, she could not help but recall the words her master had spoken to her on the day she left.

If you take with you nothing else I have taught, remember this: the one truly at peace is not the one who can find i in a garden, but the one who can find it amidst the eaves of greatest conflict. It had made a certain kind of sense to her, then, but now it seemed to mean more.

Her troubled expression dropped back into serenity, and Myr moved forward. The woman was unarmed and unarmored, easily the most vulnerable-looking of the bunch, and it was not long before this fact came to the attention of several soldiers, who broke away from whatever else they were doing to come at her, perhaps eager to make the first kill.

They would not have it. The hooded figure did not flinch as they approached, and though swords and spears and axes sliced through the air countless times in what seemed an inevitable course to her demise, never once was she there to be hit. The woman wove deftly through the tangle of attackers, finding chinks in armor, weaknesses in defense that the soldiers had not anticipated. Precise strikes were delivered to vital points on their bodies: necks, shoulders, junctures of limbs; flowing smoothly from one sequence of moves through the next, Myr was as water over stone. Men collapsed in heaps on the ground, but not one of them would die by her hand.

Never once would the peacefulness leave the monk's countenance, not even after a close call dislodged her hood, nor when the subsequent jeers about girls on a battlefield reached her ears. Eyes of uncanny violet would only regard with mercy and perhaps pity when they mocked her, only to meet the earth below in the exchange that would inevitably follow.

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Kain's gun smoked as he fired off round after round. He was fairly certain all the long distance fighters were dead, but he had lost count, which was dangerous in such a battle.Holstering his preferred weapon, Kain unsheathed his great sword, feeling its coldness right down to the bone. "One day, I am going to dissect you and find out what produces this phenomenon." Kain lunged forward, cutting straight through a leather cap and splitting the skull underneath. Without missing a step, Kain brought the sword around and sliced another man in half. Turning to his right, Kain grabbed another soldier, and pulled him close as a pikeman stabbed at Kain. the pike instead killed the soldier Kain had grabbed. Kain dropped the body, stepped on the pike, and stabbed the man in the throat. Pulling the weapon out of the body, Kain turned and hurled it at yet another man. The aim was true, and another fell to Kain's savagery. Kain dashed back and forth, his sword never stopping its deadly sweep. Bodies mounted, and while Kain managed to dodge a majority of blows, he soon began accumulating cuts and scrapes. This would be a hard battle... Kain wasn't sure if survival was possible. Sheathing his large sword, Kain pulled out his knives. His arms were getting tired from swinging that beast of a weapon, and Kain needed speed. He Blocked an overhead strike from a swords man, and stabbed the man in between the joints of the armor. the force of the blow lifted the man in the air, and before he could fall, Kain stabbed downward with the second knife, severing his subclavian vein. Another man swung a spear at Kain's head. Ducking, Kain swung his knife at the man's lightly armored thigh. The gout of blood confirmed that Kain had severed the femoral artery.

Kain stood, ready to kill another man. He took two steps forward before intense pain blossomed in his right shoulder. Looking over, Kain saw a crossbow bolt sticking out of his deltoid. That would greatly reduce the right arm's effectiveness. Kain threw his left blade at the man, and smirked as it embedded itself in the man's skull. Men began surrounding Kain, noticing the injury. "Damn!" Kain shouted as he sheathed his other knife. Pulling out his gun, Kain switched it to single barrel mode, and began shooting quickly. The men collapsed, but Kain was feeling dizzy from the accumulated wounds, especially the large bolt. This could not go on for much longer...

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(Shaharan)

Shadow zigged and zagged, drawing upon every ounce of knowledge, speed, agility and skill he had acquired since birth to avoid the attacks aimed at him, but despite his best efforts, for every man that fell, two more took his place.

Shadow's first kill was a pikeman, whose weapon had been promptly disarmed and disposed of before the man himself went down via a blade through his mouth and out the back of his skull.

Shadow used the Twins with deadly precision, striking at organs and arteries. Every slash had a target, and every target was decimated.

Shadow saw the intestines, stomachs, and rivers of blood from each target around him.

Times were beginning to grow desperate however, as Shadow's stamina was quickly draining, and it would not be too much longer before his body lost its ability to keep up with his eyes.

By the time he realized that Kain was injured a short distance away, Shadow was swamped in the blood of his victims, and the scent filled his nose as he continued his onslaught.

He had to have killed at least twenty men by now, but the onrushing force was beginning to wear him down mentally as his targets were never clear until they were too close for comfort.

This was a losing battle, Shadow knew it.

Every attack that came weakened him slightly more, even with the aid of his trademark black smoke bombs, the battle was not going well, and every minute that ticked by was an eternity.

It really didn't matter what happened at this point...

... This battle wouldn't last much longer...

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Kain noticed that the tide of battle was slowly shifting. perhaps if they had a few more skilled fighters, this could have been won. But Kain didn't realize how well-trained these soldiers were, and severely underestimated their abilities. "Never underestimate your enemies... This has proved to be a humbling experience."

On top of the original amount of soldiers, it seems they kept a small number in reserve, and these fresh fighters joined the ranks. Kain didn't even bother with finesse at this point. Anyone who was within twenty feet of him was shot through the head. The soldiers surrounded Kain, but didn't close in. Instead, several threw their weapons at Kain, hoping to injure. Kain dodged these inexperienced throws, and the blades would sail past and injure one of the other soldiers. Oe time, Kain spun, grabbed the sword out of mid-air, and hurled it right back, impaling his target through the abdomen. Kain smirked as a look of fear flashed across the others' faces.

In a few moments, Kain caught up to Shadow, and kept warding off the men as he said, "Shadow... we have no choice. We were not anticipating the reserve group, or the level of skill they fight with. I believe we both also made the assumption that in the heat of battle, our little group would show its true strength... But they aren't trained for this kind of viciousness. Shadow, you have to activate Roda I'l Lousta. It is our only chance." Kain quickly shot three more enemies, waiting for Shadow's response.

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Shadow growled as he sliced another man's jugular and kicked his body back at another man, knocking him over.

"... Just be sure to keep them off of me until it has taken full effect!!" He shouted while dodging another man's thrown spear.

Shadow hated the idea, but there was no choice.

As he kicked another man into a throng of attackers, knocking them all off their feet and giving himself a few precious seconds, he wasted none of them.

Shadow promptly used the Twin in his right hand to give himself a large cut on his left forearm and brought it up to his face, inhaling the scent of his own blood as it mixed with the scent of blood from so many others around him.

The effect was almost immediate.

Shadow's vision blurred and he stumbled a step or two as he entered the Dace Va Bae'st, or Daze of Death.

Roda I'l Lousta had begun.

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Kain pulled out his own knife, and, ignoring the pain in his right arm, proceeded to slash and shoot, keeping all the enemies as far from Shadow as he could. Kain knew he only had seconds after the full effects started to escape before Shadow went into a full on warpath. No one would be safe then. A man tied to come from behind Shadow, but Kain shot him by aiming in between Shadow's shoulder and neck. Kain saw that the Blood Lust was almost complete, but he would continue fighting until Shadow gave the order.

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Drawing on what little sense he had left, Shadow shot his arm back the direction they had come to the top of the hill.

It was the last thing he could do to warn him to get the others to safety, and then...


... All went blank as his eyes widened, his pupils dilated, and a low, guttural and feral growl escaped his mouth.

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"Shit!" Kain yelled as he sprinted away from Shadow as fast as he could. He looked around for the others, and noticed Mark and Matt fighting some distance away. Kain ran up to Mark, a look of pure terror on his face, and before the knight had a chance to react, Kain grabbed her arm and continued running.

"We need to get out of the battlefield if we want to survive!" Kain shouted to the knight. Hoping she got the message, Kain let her go as he continued sprinting toward the hill. "Hey! Thief! RETREAT NOW IF YOU WANT TO LIVE! I personally wouldn't mind you staying and dying though!" Kain shouted. When he finally reached Myr, Kain lifted her up onto his shoulder, shouting, "I will explain when we are a good distance away from Shadow. Right now, we are in exceptionally great danger." Kain continued his mad dash, and when he was finally over the hill, he set Myr down and doubled over, panting heavily. He soon recovered and said, "We should wait for the others." Kain winced as he heard the screams and clashing of steel. The battle sounded like a torture chamber more than anything else, and Kain felt a crashing wave of relief flood him as he realized they managed to get to safety.

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And still they came. Myr was accumulating small cuts and bruises as she went, testament to the wear she was facing at the prospect of what seemed like ceaseless hordes of combatants, each as much bent on ending her life as the last.

That was a temptation she at least refused to give into, and despite her growing fatigue, Myr continued to fight up the harder path of finding ways to incapacitate without killing. Her stubbornness, it would seem, was more firmly ingrained than her otherwise pliant personality would lead one to believe, and she continued to meet the waves without falling.

Even as engaged as she was, certain things about the battlefield as a whole were not lost on her. She could hear the loud, percussive sounds that Kain's device made even over the sound of clashing steel. The smell of blood, so much blood, flooded her nose, and she tried to ignore it, the sensation that pointed to innumerable wounds she could not treat.

She noted a shift, too, in something closer to herself; several of the men she was engaged with parted to admit someone who was perhaps taller than she had ever seen, and carrying a double-headed axe that may well have weighed more than she did. The reverence with which the other soldiers chose to look at him was perhaps more indicative of skill than his size alone, and though she would never allow herself to feel fear, such was not to say that it was impossible to intimidate her.

The man, upon catching sight of exactly who it was that had been troubling the soldiers on this side of the field, narrowed his eyes, a smirk twisting his mouth. "Oi, men, and here I think it be some upstart whelp with a sword that got ye all riled up, but what is this? It be a woman! And barehanded, too! Shame on ye all." He turned to face Myr. "I don't know how ye got here, lass, but ya won't be livin' long to regret it."

With that, he raised he axe over his head as though it weighed nothing at all, and swung it with surprising dexterity. Myr dove to the side, landing in a roll so as to come up on her feet as quickly as possible. All the while, her mind was running as many calculations as it could. The monk never fought with adrenaline; such things would do her little good. Instead, she suppressed the natural instincts that might have made her faster or stronger, but would probably hinder her thinking as well. Her mind was clear, then, as she observed the copious amounts of thick, heavy plate armor the man was wearing, protected even at the joints.

This was going to be difficult. Dodging another slash, Myr watched the axe cleave the ground and decided that if she was dealt even a glancing blow, she probably would never wake up. Therefore, avoidance would be first priority. That did make it awfully difficult to take an offense, though, unless... yes that would have to do.

Steadying her breaths, Myr closed her eyes, allowing herself to listen for the sound of an incoming attack rather than relying upon her ability to see it. In doing so, she recalled the meditation she preformed every night, and tried to attain that same awareness again. Normally, it was easy enough, but in the heat of battle, where she was constantly forced to move, it was proving very difficult indeed. Slowly, slowly, she synthesized the sensations incoming, until once again, her world was a cohesive whole.

The external result was almost immediate: everything that happened seemed to make so much more sense, to the point where she could almost feel something coming before it did. A small, very slight variation, but one that meant she did not have to expend nearly as much effort in avoiding attacks at the last second. The ripples in the air were tangible on her skin, and she understood why the monks detested armor in all its forms. Clothes, she could feel through. Leather, not as much, and certainly plate blocked you from everything just as easily as from the bite of a sword.

Moving quickly in the space between attack and readiness for the next, Myr slid past her opponent and lashed out hard with her foot, catching him in the back of the knee, armored only lightly, causing him to stagger forward. The rest of the sequence was visible to her plain as day, and she leapt, spinning herself to place force behind the solid kick that would strike the side of his helmet, the resounding clang sounding not in the least pleasant. The man collapsed to one knee, bracing himself on his axe, and Myr took advantage, circling once more to run up the haft of the weapon pressed at an angle into the ground, coming to balance precariously on his shoulder. Praying that she was fast enough to pull this off, she hooked her fingers underneath his helmet and pulled, tossing the thing away. Her hand reached for the right vein at his neck, but by this time, the man had gotten over his disorientation well enough to stand, attempting to dislodge her. The monk was forced to latch on before she fell, and in doing so, collided painfully with the back of his armor, effectively hanging from his neck.

It became a contest of pure endurance then; Myr shifted her hold so as to slowly cut off bloodflow and eventually render him unconscious, even as he tried with all his might to dislodge her. Her grip was vise-like, though, and eventually he succumbed to sleep, and Myr was hard-pressed to get off him in enough time to avoid being fallen on.

Doubled over and panting, the monk raised her gaze to the men that still remained, who were looking at her with a strange mixture of fear, awe, and something else she could not place. She attempted to straighten, feeling something odd shift in the flow of battle at about the same time as Kain's voice yelled something to Matt. One of the soldiers, the one nearest to her, gulped, holding his sword unsteadily and advancing. At about the same time, though, Myr felt something collide heavily with her side, and soon she was quite literally thrown over Kain's shoulder as he made a mad dash for the edge of the field. Her protests were lost in the wind of their passage, and she was relieved when her feet finally met earth once more. The screams and cries of dying men rushed to fill the void of sound created by their velocity, and Myr turned to Kain.

"Please... I think we need to know what is happening here."

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Kain's face became grin as the man reached up to his shoulder and forced the bolt all the way through. Kain felt the pain, but suppressed it with sheer will. He then pulled out a small tin from his pouch, and filled the wound with a paste that would rapidly accelerate the skin and muscle regeneration. The paste was an invention of Kain's. After encountering a strange savage group of warriors from the frozen north, Kain got the idea for the paste from this strange herb and mushroom blend the warriors ate to produce a berserk state. They claimed the blend also strengthened their warriors, and Kain was inclined to believe them, as most of the tribe members were near seven feet tall. Further research showed it rapidly accelerated growth rates. Kain also threw in herbs to numb pain, and when those took effect, Kain's face visibly relaxed.

"I will have to explain myself again when the others arrive, but what is happening is Shadow is taking care of the rest of the soldiers... Unfortunately, we had to call upon the power of what he calls 'Roda I'l Lousta.' It is a vicious bloodlust where he will kill anything living around him. Including friends. So, I had to get you all out of there quickly, or he would have turned on you as well."

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Myr's eyes widened slightly at the mention of what Kain called the Roda I'l Lousta. Her eyebrows furrowed, then, and she grew contemplative and silent for a moment.

Not so much so that she did not notice Kain's self-ministrations. "Do you need a bandage?" she asked, trying to think about something else other then the battle they had just been in for a while. True, Shadow and Kain had been forthright enough in telling the rest of them that they would likely be pursued, but she had not thought it would get to quite this scale. Just who was it that they had angered enough to meet with this kind of resistance? Someone powerful indeed, it would seem.

Sighing softly through her nose, Myr took a seat upon the grass. She herself was covered in numerous cuts and a few large bruises where she'd stepped into blows to avoid worse ones, but these were largely negligible to her mind, and only a few were even bleeding that much. The fall from her last opponent's shoulders had required some rather dexterous midair adjustment, and she'd landed on an uneven patch of ground. Her right ankle was now protesting the situation quite painfully, but the sensation never made itself apparent in her face. It would be sore for a while, but it had not broken, this she knew instinctively, and that would have to be enough of a reassurance for now. Ignore pain. Either it will end... or you will. Something of a brutal adage perhaps, but then she never held anyone but herself to it, so perhaps it was not such a bad one.

She trusted that Kain would understand the most logical questions to come up in a situation like this, so she did not bother to ask them. If he wished to provide more information now, wait until the others came, or simply not elaborate at all, she would not press the point, as it was simply not a part of her nature to do so. Better to accept those things that you could not control, and expend effort only on what you could affect by doing so.

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Kain shook his head. "The paste will harden into a sterile coating soon, so a bandage will be unnecessary. The paste will also disappear as my body uses it up to heal. If you would like some, I have plenty to go around, and we really should patch you up as well. I will provide more complete information when the others arrive. If they manage to make it."

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... Restraint...

... Reason...

... Right and wrong...

... Friend and foe...

None of these things were present within Shadow's conscious mind any longer.

He knew neither danger, nor fatigue. Pain and pleasure were absent to his mind and body, and the value of life had since evaporated from his being.

Shadow flipped the Twins in his hands so the blades were no longer against his forearms... They now extended outwards.

Few people knew that Shadow fought with the blades tucked against his forearms to symbolize control and restraint, though most wouldn't recognize it as restraint due to his violent fighting style. Shadow now had a wicked grin on his face as his eyes were almost completely red with almost no black pupil to be seen in them.

There was a reason this was called 'Blood Lust'. Shadow now needed blood. To see it. To smell it. To observe it leaving the bodies of those around him. Shadow would not stop killing now until every living thing around him was dead, no matter who or what it was.

Shadow had always said that the mind controls the body, and now that Shadow's mind only understood the need for blood, his stamina was now unlimited.

The first thing that Shadow did was squat down and flare his arms out to the sides while arching his back and letting off a primal and horrendous shriek that echoed through the ears of everyone within earshot. All the soldiers upon hearing the sound of his now primal and feral voice began to shake, and they had forgotten the weapons they carried.

Shadow smiled at them and began to literally tear them apart bit by bit.

He chopped off fingers, feet, hands, and struck for the soft spot in the cartilage between the joints so that a clean and full cut was made. Men lost their arms from the elbows down and their legs from the knees down. All this was merely the beginning of a long and torturous ritual that Shadow always performed when in this horrible state, and now, the ritual period was over.

All the men around him were now paralyzed with fear and Shadow began, unopposed, to skin the victims around him who were no longer able to run away due to limb loss. Making long cuts along the spine and across the front of their bodies and tearing their skin off almost like a bed sheet while they were still alive and breathing. Muscles, veins, tendons, bones and everything in between became visible wherever the skin came off, which was never the whole body due to the clothing and whatnot. Instead, they lost the skin on sections of their upper torsos, or if they were unlucky, even farther down to the groin.

Shadow put the Twins away and began to literally rip off the limbs of the men he'd skinned, sending their cries of agony throughout the land. He ripped off legs from the knee down on the men who still had legs, and arms from the shoulder down.

What he did next broke the morale of all the troops around him, and was what now won the battle for him.

Shadow took a handful of blood from one of the men he'd skinned and held it up to his face. He sniffed the small pool and smiled at it. He dipped his tongue into the small pool and spit it out on the now still body of the man it had come from. He looked at the men ahead of him, smiled, and he let loose another primal cry to the heavens as he set his sights on another man in front of him.

All around the battlefield, there were cries that the Dark Goddess herself had possessed the Red-Eyed Demon and was here to take their souls and destroy them. The fear and confusion sent all the men, including the seasoned veterans, scrambling for the city gates, intent on getting away from the now possessed Demon before them.

One of them didn't make it very far however, as he was run down, and the ritual began all over again...

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Myr was opening her mouth to say that she wold be quite fine, and perhaps to inquire as to the ingredients in that particular salve (as she had never seen one such before) when the sound of a savage cry, more animal than human, in truth, reached her ears, and her jaw clicked shut even as the shiver tore its way down her spine.

Though she had mastered her fear long ago, that was not to suggest she would wish to confront whatever was going on now. The problem was, she knew exactly who it was, if Kain's words were anything to go by. It was not long before the cacophony of anguished cries grew nightmarishly worse. These were not the throes of men about to die, these were the sounds of people, human beings, being mercilessly tortured, slowly and with unimaginable pain. She did not need to see what was happening to understand.

Heedless of the pain in her ankle, Myr drew her knees to her chest, grasping them tightly with her arms to try and control the trembling in her limbs. So much pain, so much death... the music of violence and the smell, the metallic tang of blood, would leave neither ears nor nose. And so Myr did the only thing that made sense to her: she inhaled deeply and listened. This was no time to turn away from reality, no time to deny the brutality that was happening behind her. Were it not a risk to the lives of the others, she would have watched as well, for she needed to.

She wondered if that even made any sense. Probably not, at least not to anyone else, she reflected as she closed her eyes, but that made it no less imperative for her to do so. Even though her eyes were closed, as the screaming grew worse, trails of liquid would slip silently and without show from behind her eyelids. She would sit like this, she decided, for as long as it took for the sounds to subside, for as long as it took the assassin to return to himself.

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Kain knew enough to remain unseen while Shadow was in this state, but keeping tabs on the fully unleashed assassin was a necessity. So Kain made a barrier of brush and mud, and poke a hole through so that he could see Shadow from a distance. The sight was grisly, but Kain needed to watch Shadow at all times. If he lost sight for a second, Shadow could disappear, only to show up undetected from behind. And that would be the end of Kain. As Kain watched, he pulled out his mortar and pestle, and some more of the sleeper mint. He ground it into a very fine powder, and then added oil distilled from the flowers of the Corpse vine, a strange plant that would grow in dead bodies and use them as nutrient rich soil. The flower oils had extremely sedating properties, which when blended with sleeper mint, create a potent drug to induce deep sleep and pleasurable sensations, as well as peaceful dreams. The last ingredient, resin from the Dragon tree, would help the effects, as well as force the concoction to spread through the nervous system of any creature affected by the solution. The resin, a pleasant smelling, deep red nugget, also had the ability to drastically affect movement speed and strength, essentially rendering hostile creatures completely useless. Mashing everything together, Kain pulled a metal contraption from within his pack. The contraption was a short needle, hollowed out, and a plate to shoot whatever was in the needle out. Kain filled his device with the remedy, and lightly pressed the plate to force out any air. From past experiences, Kain had found that if air was injected into the body, that could lead to a very painful death. Kain gripped the needle tightly, preparing himself to use it, should the situation come to that outcome.

Shadow continued his unrestrained, unrepentant violence, and Kain almost felt sorry for the dying men. Almost, but not quite. After all, he had warned them.

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Shadow continued his task at hand, ripping pieces of the helpless man before him off one by one as his cries of pain echoed across the land.

Once he had his fill he skinned the man and tossed the sheet of flesh off to the side as he dug one of his hands through the muscles of the man's abdomen and slowly pulled the intestines out a few feet at a time until they were all laying out next to his body.

The poor fool had a few more seconds of life left within him before his cries finally faded, and Shadow's work was now done.

He looked around, but all the soldiers had fled the battlefield, and Shadow now stood alone among a pile of corpses.

Shadow began to scan his environment... searching for new prey.

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Kain's eyes widened. He had to make absolutely sure that he was not spotted. Myr knew enough to stay still and quiet during this whole ordeal, but where were the others? The idiot thief would get himself killed, as well as the young knight. Those poor fools. The battlefield was empty, and Shadow scanned the environment for more lives to take. Soon he would actively start hunting for them, if past experiences were anything to go by. The others better join Kain and Myr in the safety behind the hill soon, or they were dead.

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Shadow's eyes scanned left, then right.

Eventually, they found a bush, or what seemed like a bush near a hill.

He watched it for a moment, and decided for himself that it was a little odd, and began to approach it.

As he approached, he noticed what appeared to be a young woman sitting on the ground with her legs pulled in and her head tucked away. The closer he got, the more his suspicions were confirmed.

Shadow lined the young monk up in his sights and began to make a dash for her, bringing the Twins out and crossing them in front of himself before flaring them out to the sides.

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After a quick glance around, Matt could see the others were getting tired. Seriously? This fight hadn't been going on for thirty minutes, and they were tired? Matt had known he had great stamina, but seeing this... it filled him with a bit of pride. Pride that was soon extinguished as Matt ducked to avoid a sword reading for his face. Matt kicked the sword out of his hand, and followed through to try for someone’s head. The head was replaced by a sword, however, and came down for him. Matt dodged by falling to the ground and rolling in between a soldiers legs. This was how the fight was going for him. While Matt didn't have a single injury, (Well one, if you count a rip in his cloak) he wasn't doing any damage. He managed a swing of his sword here and there, but nothing was working. Still, the fact that he hadn't been injured was a feat in itself. This was a losing battle. He had to get out of here fast... he was only delaying his inevitable death by staying here.

Matt didn’t have time to jump however as the second he came up four swords came for him at all angles. Matt was forced to adopt a pose that would have made those freaks at the circus, the ones that coulh bent into any shape, jealous. He kicked to sword out of their hands and jumped up, landing on a third gracefully. He used the soldiers head to jump off into a different direction, but within moments found himself in the same situation. Matt leaned back limbo style to avoid another sword.

“Hey theif!” He could over in his ear. Matt twisted his head to look, but that was a big mistake. He heard a distinct crack and a lot of pain when he did so. The soldiers took advantage of his new injury to attack. In seconds he was pinned, twon soldiers holding his arms and another two holding his legs. One stood in front of him with a smug look on his face.

Matt spat in his direction.

The soldier only laughed. “You’re pretty good, but not good enough. You’re still just a weak kid!”

This hit Matt hard. Harder even than the punches to his face and gut that followed the statement.
“You… son of a whore…” Matt smirked up, weak, his mask still intact.

“Oh shut up.” The soldier raised his sword. Suddenly the man in front and the man holding Matt’s left arm were run over by a group of other soldiers. Matt used this opportunity to grab his sword and stab the man to his right. Those soldiers were scared of something. They had been running away.

And then he saw the eyes. The dark red eyes that held more bloodlust and rage than anything Matt had ever seen before. It was mixed with the air. It was sickening. That enough was enough to make most of the soldiers think twice about attacking Shadow, even though some rushed forward anyway, blind to the stench of fury. Matt was afraid. For once he was actually afraid. Fear was creeping through him like ants in his veins. It physically hurt. Matt bent his legs to run away, wincing in pain from his neck, which he still couldn’t move right. And then Shadow yelled. No – Howl was more like it. It was evil. Pure evil. Death and destruction on an unimaginable scale lied in wait. Matt froze in his tracks, unable to block out the yell. Matt watched as the first soldiers fell to the beast that was his teacher.

And he ran. He ran faster than he ever had before. His stomach pain was ignored, his neck a minor inconvenience. All that was going through Matt’s head was the instinct of survival. Nothing more. He could see the others far away, and that’s where he went. He stopped suddenly when he reached them, and held his injured neck. And he fell to the ground, next to the monk, who’s name he couldn’t remember… he couldn’t remember anything like that. He didn’t notice when Kain put up a wall, he didn’t notice when Myr started to cry, and he didn't notice when Shadow dashed for them. He would welcome death, if only to get away from the horrors that he was hearing. He just couldn’t find himself to let it occupy space in his mind. All he could hear was that scream, and the screams of the soldiers below. Matt closed his eyes, only barely conscious as Shadow rushed for them.

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Kain saw that Shadow had his sights on Myr. Part of him wanted to jump from cover to protect the poor girl, but he knew he didnt stand a chance against Shadow and the Roda I'l Lousta. As much as Kain detested the idea, he would have to use Myr as bait, and wait for the opportune moment to sneak attack Shadow. The only good of the Bloodlust was that Shadow was not as clever as he usually is. Kain waited, a coiled spring at maximum tension. he would have to act quickly, or Myr was dead.

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(Sigh... Shaharan...)

Shadow slowed his jog and walked calmly up to the girl balled up on the floor, and also took notice of the little thief that was huddled nearby.

He glanced back at the strange lump of fauna, but quickly lost interest in it.

He turned back to the girl on the ground and examined her, wondering why she didn't try to flee. It was more fun when they tried to run, as it was more satisfying to run down his prey.

Shadow raised his right hand and readied the Twin held in it to slice down her back...

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Kain saw his opportunity to strike. Summoning all his amazing speed and strength, Kain lunged out of his cover, hooking Shadow's arms and legs while simultaneously stabbing the needle into his neck. As soon as the needle penetrated, Kain pushed the plate, injecting the serum into the large vein in Shadow's neck. The effects would be almost instantaneous as the serum went straight to Shadow's heart. Kain jumped away, sending a kick straight to Shadow's back as he did so. One could never be too careful with a crazed assassin.

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Shadow fell to the ground, dazed.

He shook his head and felt his neck, and as he pulled his hand back he saw a tiny drop of blood in it.

Looking over his shoulder, his eyes locked onto the man responsible for what had just happened.

He tried to rise, but immediately faltered and stumbled to the ground. He looked around, trying to understand what was going on, but before he could understand anything, he lost consciousness and his head dropped to the ground.

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Myr felt it, when he came, but... she couldn't make herself move. Kain was hiding in the bushes, and if she looked to him for assistance, she might well give his position away. Matt was off somewhere in the distance, at any rate further from Shadow than her. If she fled, assuming her ankle would not fail her, she would leave one or both of them open to attack in her stead, and that was something she would not do.

So instead she went still ears attuned to the sound of his approach, the line of her back stiffening slightly. And still, even now, when she knew she was probably about to die, there was no fear. Surely, something was wrong with her. Conquering fear of the controllable was one thing, but... it seemed she had lost all instinct for self-preservation whatsoever. Did that make her strong, or weak?

The monk turned her head minutely to the side, enough to observe him coming, and the corner of her mouth twitched. It was ironic, truly. After fighting for so long to live, to do something with her life, she was going to die having accomplished nothing at all. Shame on her for dreaming too high, perhaps, for trusting in the human spirit like she had. And yet, she could not do otherwise, even now.

Shadow raised his knife, and Myr closed her eyes. She'd never much liked blood; she did not really care to see so much of her own. There was a rustling from the bushes, and Kain shot forward, some kind of needle in his hand. He made contact with Shadow, and the latter fell to the ground, apparently unconscious. Myr stood, moving over to the fallen man and checked his pulse, eyebrows furrowing.

"You knocked him out? Does that end... whatever it is that happened to him?" Her eyes flicked to Matt; he didn't look too well, either, all things considered. For the moment, Kain and Shadow would be fine, so she moved over to the thief. He appeared to be injured in several places, and would probably need at least on splint. Still, there was not quite enough to warrant this kind of dazedness. Leaning over him slightly to check his eyes for any signs that he might be experiencing any sort of concussion, she frowned.

"Matt? Can you hear me? Can you tell me what hurts worst?" It looked like she would have her work cut out for her.

One question remained: where was Mark?

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Mark whirled around, confused why Kain had suddenly grabbed a hold of him and ran. Before he could get a hold of himself, one of the soldiers had taken advantage of Mark and aimed a slash at his neck, but thankfully missed but sliced through his upper arm. It would have been worse if Mark had not dodged as well. Dang... He covered the wound as he started to run off the field. So Kain wanted him to run? Moments before Mark found a suitable place to hide in the forest, he heard the shriek. Hildebrande sent the signal which would turn the ordinary sword into blade of death, if used properly. Why would Hildebrande suddenly..

Mark got his answer. He watched in horror as the first few people were cut down mercilessly. Hildebrande must've sensed Shadow was about to go in a rampage of some kind. Wait. Why was Shadow killing people like a lunatic!? What happened to him!? The second Mark saw Shadow, he bolted through the forest towards them. Until he remembered the cut in his arm and that Shadow was currently a crazed person and might see him. Skidding to a halt, the knight slowly lifted his hand to look at the wound. Not good. Not good at all. Mark quickly replaced his bloody hand on his wounded left arm. Mark wasn't sure what to do. Should he walk towards them? Run? Stay here? Sit down? He had no idea what was best for the wound. The soldier's sword had swung down through a gap in Mark's light armor. It was the light kind, after all. Nothing like the impressive, heavy war armor back home. Why was he thinking about this?!

Acting on instinct, Mark sat down against a tree. He was terrified. Terrified of Shadow's rampage voice. Terrified of blood loss, and most of all failing to return to his father if he died. No Mark, don't go thinking those thoughts now... His skin was a tiny bit clammy and pale, and Mark knew that this was one of the first signs of blood loss. Pretty soon his pulse would increase, and his now-developing weakness and confusion would increase along with it. Mark's thought's blew everywhere, starting with his sword on the ground. Hey... I hope nobody tries to touch it, Hildebrande does some pretty bad things to people who do that. Other than me of course.

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Kain walked over to Shadow's unconscious form. "I do not know fully if he will be normal when he wakes. One could only hope that was enough to snap him back to his old self." Kain pulled out thick cords and tied Shadow's arms and legs, just in case he was still in Roda I'l Lousta when he woke up. Kain then pulled out a number of bandages and some more of his medicinal paste. to the group he said, "Take whatever supplies you need, bandage yourselves up, whatever you do, male sure you are ready to move quickly. So don't try to act tough and don't worry about supplies. I can always procure more in the future. Use what I have to heal yourselves as fully as possible." He glared at Myr, hoping she understood to take care of herself. She had an unusual habit of neglecting her own health while worrying about others too much.

"When you have finished, I will explain the phenomenon you have just witnessed, an ancient trait known as 'Roda I'l Lousta.' It is exceedingly dangerous, and you must all be made aware of Shadow's condition."

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Matt was apparently enough out of it that he couldn't hear her, for he did not respond immediately to her queries. Biting her bottom lip, Myr ventured over to Kain stack of supplies, sorting through what she needed with the aid of her sense of smell, really the most useful one in instances like these. Taking a couple containers of assorted salves for deadening pain and disinfecting, she straightened Matt's crumpled form so that she might decide if any of his limbs were broken.

It certainly appeared that someone had done a number on one of his arms, and she debated the relative merits of splints versus slings before deciding that what Kain was saying pointed to the need for mobility. A sling for now, then. Checking him over for other cuts or wounds that might be evidenced by tears in clothing, she slathered these in slaves before wrapping them with bandages. The fact that he was either not awake to help or too exhausted to made the task at times difficult, but she managed it. Using some excess bandage, she fashioned a makeshift sling to hopefully keep his arm away from further damage.

"There you go," she told him quietly, before next spotting Mark. "Ah, Mark; do you need me to look at that arm?" It was clear that the cut was fairly severe, and she knew that treating such a thing one-handed would not be easy.

Kain was tying up Shadow; she wasn't exactly certain how she felt about that. Obviously, it was a necessary precaution; it would not do to have him wake up and attempt to kill someone because whatever that Roda I'l Lousta was had not left him yet, but... he had not escaped without some injuries himself... or at least she thought he hadn't. It would be impossible to tell if any of that blood was his without looking more closely.

"So he's going to be okay, then? This... blood lust, it stops after a time?" Myr's expression was one of undisguised worry. Kain had seemed to imply that it would disappear, but she wanted to be sure. As for the implication that she needed to take care of herself, that could wait until everyone else was patched up. She knew well enough how to deal with her own injuries, and they were certainly less grave than Matt's predicament or Mark's arm. Still, she pulled an leaf from one of her pouches and chewed it, not fond of the bitter flavor, but then again painkillers rarely tasted pleasant.

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Kain threw Shadow over his uninjured shoulder, and then proceeded to march toward the city. "The Bloodlust should end soon. However, we must get going. We will enter the city from a back way, under the cover of darkness. By then, Shadow should be awake. Follow me." Kain marched off

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Myr nodded, looked down at the bandages and salve she was till carrying, tossed both to Mark in case he needed them, and went about the rather laborious business of trying to get Matt upright enough to support while walking. She was not quite of the stature for a fireman's carry, but he did not seem to have blacked out entirely, and so she thought he might be able to assist her in walking.

Slinging his good arm over her shoulder and crossing her own over his upper back (careful not to jostle his injured limb), Myr winced at the extra pressure on her ankle. Ah well, that could wait until they reached the city, if they had to move now. It made sense to do so, of course; there was no telling when the ones she'd knocked out would be up and about again, and there could be reinforcements besides. She managed to get some kind of movement going, and Kain appeared to be walking at a sedate enough pace that she'd be able to keep up.

She couldn't exactly look behind her to see if Mark was there, but assumed that the young knight, having been able to walk under his own power to the edge of the battlefield, would manage the trek all right.

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Mark staggered up, still clutching his arm. Looking at Myr with a pale face, he nodded. "If you don't mind I would like to get my arm looked at. But sense Matt's seems more grave than mine, I think you should wait until your done with him first." Swiftly as possible, he grabbed Myr's bandages and salve and applied them. Feeling a bit better, Mark walked faster, catching up to Kain.

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Matt could only blink as Myr wrapped him up. In all honesty, he wasn't in that bad of shape. The only three things that hurt were his neck, his face, and his stomach. His neck because he twisted it badly, and his face and stomach because he had been punched there. Still, he didn't have the energy to object when Myr wrapped up his arm. It wasn't like that hurt. Well, it might have been a little sore... swords were heavy after all. But if it was, he didn't notice. Unable to use his arms because of Myr holding the one not wrapped up, Matt only brushed his face against her shoulder to check the damage. It was a little puffy, but that would heal in time. It hurt to even THINK about his neck. THAT was the thing that needed a splint. His stomach hurt, but that was easily delt with.
He could walk easily enough. It just hurt like hell... but still, it was a little degrading to have to be helped. No, the only thing that kept Matt from jerking himself away was... well, he just liked the contact. Matt had lived alone for years, and the fact that this contact was caring and not weapon related comforted him.
It was nice.
"Thank... you..." Matt mumbled to Myr as they walked. Although he wasn't sure if he was thanking her for the help, or the contact. He dug his feet in, senseing her leg was limp. Her foot seemed to be injured. He pushed up and took the pressure off her leg. It was easy enough as he was just a little taller than her. "You shouldn't... have to carry me." He said, his breath short due to his stomach.

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As Matt helped her get him moving, it occurred to Myr that perhaps she had misdiagnosed him. His arm had been at such an awkward angle that she had thought it broken somehow, and she hadn't wished to prod it for fear of hurting someone who was already only half conscious. Now, it seemed that his head might be the problem.

"Matt, can you tell me what's wrong now? If you can walk unaided for a bit or perhaps leaning on Mark, I could treat you as we move." She was a bit concerned, truth be told, for there had not been time to fully check over everyone, and now he seemed to be having issues talking, or with his head and neck, maybe all three.

"And don't worry about thanking me; I promise I won't hold you to anything for it. As for walking on your own... if you think you can manage it, it might help me treat you, but otherwise you need not be concerned." Myr half-smiled in what was hopefully a reassuring manner, glad that some of the pressure on her ankle had let up. In truth, she didn't really mind; it was in her nature to do whatever was necessary to help those she could. In that sense, she was simply glad that those around her were to a degree willing to accept that assistance.

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"Somethin' with my neck..." Matt pulled away from her a little. "Pain... pain is painful..." Matt chuckled at his own joke. He tugged a little at his sling and it came off easily. He moved his wrist around, the movement helping it, even though it wasn't really hurting much anyway. He looked at Myr and smiled back. But he looked away as he felt his face heat up. Damn it. It was what he thought after all... Crap. Matt shook his head, but that only hurt. "DAMN IT ALL TO HELL!!" He yelled, holding his neck, putting pressure on it.

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Kain froze. He turned to the source of the shout and, in a cold, harsh voice said, "Idiot! Do not shout like that again, or I will remove your tongue! We are in hostile territory, and we are attempting to sneak around the back of this deplorable city so that we may assassinate someone! There are enemy archers posted at intervals along the city gates. If we were near enough, an alarm would have been raised. Do you know how you become a city archer? By having EXCELLENT sight and EXCELLENT hearing! Refrain from all further outbursts. In fact, speak only as necessary, or make sure you are whispering. We do not want to be tracked." Kain turned around, and, after looking around a moment, sprinted silently into a thicket of trees. The others should have the good sense to follow him without much lip. If they decided to question his authority, however, the reprimand would be swift.

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Myr grimaced. If it was so painful as to cause that sort of flusteredness, it must be rather awful indeed, and she silently wished they had more time to take care of themselves. As it was however, she took Kain's reprimand without complaint, followed him into the treeline.

Once under the cover provided by the small grove, she began fishing around in her various belt-pouches, trying to find something that would be strong enough in the Raw to help Matt out. They certainly didn't need him shouting and alerting someone to their presence, plus it was just a nasty thing to be both in pain and on the road. She'd wait for he and Mark to follow them into cover, and press a smallish leaf into his palm, indicating with noiseless gestures that he should chew it, but he ought to expect it to taste bad.

Her yes reverted to Kain, with Shadow still slung over his back. She was presently unsure of whether of not they were being followed, but it seemed that he knew something the rest of them did not. Was it simply because they had made too much noise, and he wanted to remain undercover until they knew for sure nobody had come after the source of the sound?

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Kain laid Shadow down and crossed his arms, glaring at the group. He let out a small sigh and relaxed his stern look. "Perhaps I overestimated your pain tolerance..." Kain spoke to the whole group. "Myr,we will rest here for now. Patch up everyone as best you can, I don't want any mistakes like before. I will be patrolling this site, making sure we are safe." Kain took off, backtracking but remaining hidden. as he expected, two men had followed them.

The two were archers, using standard re-curve bows, which suited Kain's purposes. The men started walking toward the grove, and when they were close enough, Kain simultaneously stabbed the two men in the throat with his throwing knives. Blood, and a lot of gurgling noises, but no screams. Kain took one of the bows, and took both their quivers, pouring one of the quivers into the other. He then set off to the scene of the battle.

as expected, there were men checking the battlefield. Around fifteen men were now looking at the remains of their fellows. They were starting to prepare search squads but Kain would not allow this. Kain notched an arrow, and pulled back. He grimaced with pain, but kept the arrow steady. He picked out a target, the one he thought commanded the most respect among the scattered survivors, and focused on the man's heart. Pulling back with greater force than normal men could summon, Kain released the arrow, tracking it as it cut through the air and straight through the man's chest. Kain smirked as he notched another arrow and repeated the process.

At first, the men were confused, but soon they noticed where the shots were coming from, and started sprinting toward Kain's cover. By then, only ten remained. another man dropped, an arrow protruding from his left eye socket. One man fell with an arrow lodged in his knee. Another soon followed to end the man's life. Kain moved form his cover, so by the time the men arrived, he was long gone. Sighting down another shaft, Kain hit another soldier in the gut. that would be a drawn out and painful death. As the others looked around for the source of the arrows, Kain let loose two more. Five men remained, and Kain would not run anymore.

Climbing a tree, Kain waited for the men to come searching. He had left the bow in the bushes, to cause confusion. His plan worked. One of the men said, "wait, this is one of our own bows! Whats going on here?" With a grin, Kain dropped down from the branch, stabbing the man in the trapezius and quickly spinning around, slashing another's throat. A third came running, sword raised. Kain stabbed him three times in the gut in quick succession, and then kicked the body away. the other two men were getting ready to run, but Kain lunged on the first, stabbing him in the base of his skull, severing his medulla. The last man turned to look at his fallen comrade, but before he could scream, Kain rammed his knife up through the bottom of the man's jaw. Pulling the knife out, Kain pointed the blade at the man's chest, and rammed down, severing the aorta.

When the men were dead, Kain sprinted out of his cover, making a mad dash for the body of the archer he had killed during the battle. Retrieving his thrown knife, Kain fired off his gun, making as much ruckus as he could. He heard men shouting, and archers started shooting at him. Kain sprinted off in the opposite direction of the group, hoping to lure the enemies away.

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Kain left, and the sounds of a diversion followed. "We must be quick," Myr observed. "I need you both to tell me what needs patching before you can move. There is not enough time for me to check you myself, so I'm going to trust you to tell me. Even if it hurts only the slightest bit, I need to know." She fixed the other two with a steady, level gaze.

As soon as she was informed of what was going on with each, she would treat the wounds advised, dispensing painkillers if they were suffering from general soreness, which she would not discount as a possibility given what they had just been through. Matt's neck would be an issue; splinting it would reduce his movement too much to be safe. So she settled for bandages. Though they would not be enough to hold his movement in place, sometimes it helped simply to have something there as a reminder, much as she was going to do for her own foot.

She felt a tad underestimated by Kain's comment about pain tolerance, but she knew that the one about mistakes was aimed squarely at her, and it had hit its mark. She'd never had to do field treatment quite so quickly before, and not having the time to actually fully diagnose her patients had caused her to leap to hasty conclusions. She had been taught better than that, and the sting of the mistake was sharp. If she couldn't even be proper doctor, how was she supposed to help anyone at all?

No... I must not think like that. Nobody does everything right the first time. I just have to be thankful that nobody was permanently harmed by it and move on. What was it her master had once said? 'Fail once, fight again. Fail twice, fight harder. Fail thrice, and stop fighting.' There were several meanings inherent in that statement, and it had a good few uses. For now, she would take it at face value and keep going.

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Shadow stirred in his apparently blissful sleep, and his eyes slid slowly open.

He looked around and saw that his hands and legs were tied, and he grumbled to himself.

He shook his head, shaking off the effects of the drug Kain had used on him.

Over the years, his body had grown accustomed and resistant to many types of drugs and herbs, which was both a blessing and a curse since anything that could potentially heal any wounds he acquired had to be significantly higher dosage than normal to have an effect.

Shadow took in a breath and exhaled slowly, expanding his hands and legs out as far as he could.

He took in another breath, and exhaled, this time with a growl at the end as he snapped the cords that bound him.

He took them off of his wrists and ankles and stood up slowly, trying not to topple over, as the effect of the drug was not yet completely gone.

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Matt grumbled to himself as he took the leaf Myr handed to him. Out of sheer force of habit, he only bit off a small part of it to see if it was safe.
And immediatly spit it out.
"This tastes horrible..." He mumbled. He took the leaf in his pocket for now and felt around his neck. There was a hard nub where the pain was worst. It was hard enough... could be bone. Or maybe a pulled muscle. He wasn't a doctor he didn't know. If this were any other time, at any other place, he would accept Myr's offer greatfully. But this was still a battlefield. There was no time for a proper healing. So Matt resorted to doing what he did whenever something on his body was sprained or such.
Matt drew his sword and plunged t into the ground. He then unstrapped his sheath and held it like he would a sword. With only a second of hesitation, he swung his arm around and landed a solid whack on his neck. Pain was immediate and overwhelming, but Matt shut his mouth. He had been prepared for this pain - it hadn't taken him by surprise. So he didn't yell. Matt felt on his knees, quivering, but got back up after a few seconds, moving his head in all sorts of directions to see if his neck still hurt. The sheath had hurt even worse, but it was fading fast. Matt twisted his head to the left, then the right. Back, forth, all directions. His neck still hurt, but he could deal with it.
This definatly wasn't good for his neck, Matt knew this. But it helped in times where he needed to get it over with then and there. He couldn't explain it, but it helped. He guessed that the body got used to the extra pain, so when the extra pain went away, it felt better than it did before. That sounded like a bunch of crap, but that was the way Matt explained it. Again, he wasn't a doctor.
He took out the leaf from Myr again and put it in his mouth, chewing it. Still tasted horrible, but he would manage.
Matt sat down and rubbed his supposed less hurt neck. He ran his fingers over it, massasing it. And then he smiled. That felt really good. Kain was dealing with something else obviously, so Matt was going to use this time to relax.
"Mark is suffering from blood loss, Myr." He said, still rubbing his neck, "You should get to him fast. Id just use some bandages to hold the wound closed, but you probably know better."
He hadn't noticed Shadow.

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Kain was tired. His shoulder wound should be given time to heal, not further aggravated. After he lost the group of men, he slowly made his way back to the campsite. What he saw shocked him. Shadow was up and moving about. Kain notched an arrow, and aimed right at his friend.

"You back to normal Shadow?" He asked. It seemed the others were still unaware of Shadow. Ever the assassin, even when recovering from being drugged.

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Myr glanced up from where she was bandaging her ankle tightly, to try and keep it from turning or something equally unfortunate. Shadow had stirred, and snapped his bonds, but he did not appear to be the same as he had been when he'd almost attacked her, so she left him to emerge from the drug-induced daze Kain had put him into.

Matt mentioned something about Mark and blood loss, but Myr would wait for the knight to tell her so himself before she did anything about it. She was not one to force her ministrations on anyone (unless they were unconscious, in which case she sort of had to assume by default that they wanted her help) and so if Mark thought it unnecessary, or had taken care of it with the supplies she'd given him earlier, she would not second-guess that. She'd been doing a bit too much of that lately, perhaps.

Trust had never been an easy thing for Myr. She was friendly to everyone who let her be, and politely distant to those who would not, but there was a difference between camaraderie and trust. The second was something she did not give out nearly as freely as her medicines or her conversation. Sometimes, she thought that this was a failing of hers; it was a little strange that someone so naive generally was jaded in this particular way, but it was as much a part of her as anything else, and she had accepted it for the most part.

Tying off the fresh white bindings on her foot, she slipped it back into her straw sandals and straightened, glancing over to where Shadow and Kain were. She would wait for their signal to move, given that they had a good deal more experience evading such large-scale pursuit. Myr had learned to give a few people the slip, but numbers this large were not something she was accustomed to in the slightest.

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Shadow shook his head and turned to look at Kain, and saw the arrow notched and aimed between his eyes.

"You want to put that thing away now? My eyes are strange enough without an arrow sticking through them..." He said with a bit of a groan as he straightened himself and stretched his back.

"I have been under the influence of a few strange effects before Kain, but I don't think any of them have ever knocked me off my feet quite like the one you used... What in the name of the Goddess was that?" He asked as he turned to his friend with a smile.

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Kain laughed as he lowered his weapon. Shadow was fine. Smiling at his friend, Kain said, "Remember the sleeper mint? I used that in conjunction with corpse flower and Dragon tree resin. Potent little mix. Here, take this."

Kain dug around in his herb pouch until he found a small big filled with a blue-gray powder. Kain took out a small cup, filled it with water, and mixed in the powder.

"This acts as a potent stimulant, so will remove all traces of the other drug. It may also make you hyperactive, and will increase your night vision abilities." Kain handed Shadow the cup.

"It is almost night. We can sneak into the city through a different gate. The mark will not have fled, for I patrolled around the entire city, causing all sorts of mayhem and setting plenty traps. To them, it will seem as though their entire city is surrounded by enemies. Thus, they will be keeping the mark deep in the center. What is the plan, Shadow?"

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Shadow took the cup and gulped down the contents without hesitation, and handed the cup back to Kain.

He took a few steps towards the city and peeked at the patrols he saw around the gate nearby, and thought to himself for a few minutes before turning around and examining his companions.

"... First we fix the damage that's been done. I'll help Myr take care of Mark, who seems to be in a pretty bad way right now. In the meantime, you continue to patrol the area and cause a little bit more ruckus the Eastern gate up ahead. That should draw a goodly amount of the men away from the Southern and Northern gates, allowing easier passage for us once we're done here."

Shadow walked over to Mark and looked at his arm. He walked a circle around the young knight, assessing the damage, and then dug into his pouch for a small needle with a small vile attached to the end of it.

"Take this and press the needle into the skin around the wound. Squeeze the vial for two seconds straight, and then remove the needle. This will numb your arm for a while, but give it everything it needs to begin its healing process right away."

He placed the vial with the needle at the knights feet and walked over to his young apprentice Matt.

Again, he walked a circle, assessing the damage.

He walked forward and placed his hands on the base of Matt's neck just above his shoulders and applied pressure in four specific zones around his neck. The first was at the ridge of muscle between the neck and shoulder, the second just around his spinal column behind the base of his skull. The third zone was a few inches below the second, and the fourth and right in between his shoulder blades.

To finish the task, he used both hands to grip the young thief's head and gave it a sharp turn to both the left and right, causing a crack to echo forth from each turn.

"This will cause a moment or two of discomfort, but you'll feel better by tomorrow." He said casually.

Again, he approached the tree line, checking what was there to see.

They were a short distance away from the West Gate, with the South Gate ahead and around the corner of the wall around the city. He estimated about twenty guards at each Gate, which normally wouldn't be a problem, but with the entire group suffering from injuries and Shadow himself still fighting the effects of the drug Kain used on him, it wouldn't be wise to attack head on.

Instead, Shadow found another, rather simple solution.

"Kain... your job now is to find the patrols on the South Gate just around the corner of the perimeter of the city up ahead. Cause a bit of a stir by using some of these darts to kill about two or three guards without letting them know where you are."

He held out his hand after reaching behind his back and held out six small darts, each about five inches long, but weighted and tipped in poison.

"This will cause an alarm to sound at the South Gate, and everyone will rush to give aid against an unseen enemy. Of course, you will have rejoined these three by the time they get their act together. In the meantime, I will sneak over the wall and meet up with Taira. Once I have my information, I'll send her ahead once more, and then I'll find the rest of you just inside the West Gate here."

He looked to the group.

"Did everyone catch that?" He asked.

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Myr simply nodded silently in response to Shadow's inquiry after her understanding, eyes cast generally in the direction of the forest floor. They were a little hazy, out of focus, if only because she was thinking. Even so, she remained acutely aware of the happenings going on outside herself, including the fact that everyone had by now been treated.

Help her? She had not been helped in her assistance to the others, she had been rendered entirely unnecessary, and it stabbed a bit, but she would not complain. At the very least, she was still good for that much. Silently, then, she gathered up the supplies that remained, taking even the empty vessels so that no trace of their presence would remain. The indentations their feet and bodies had left behind, she disturbed to give them the appearance of ordinary, unused pine cover once more.

Glancing upward, she used the cues in the sky to assess the time of day. It had grown later than she thought, but perhaps that was just because they been... occupied for so long. She felt as though she were losing all sense of both time and place now, not to mention a little bit of her identity with it. Steadiness... but not of stone. One must be willing to move as well.

So they were to go to the West Gate once Shadow and Kain had departed, leaving enough time for them to accomplish their tasks, of course. That, she could do. If they ran into trouble along the way, well... they weren't in the best of shape, but it would have to do. Sticking to cover would of course be best, but she did not know what the lay of the land was like around here.

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Kain took the proffered darts and said, "Not a problem. I am left handed, so this wound won't slow me down." Kain meant with his right shoulder damaged, throwing the darts would have been difficult. But Kain preferred his left hand. Soft as a whisper, Kain vanished into the night.

Arriving at the South gate only moments later, Kain mapped out the surrounding area to best create havoc. After picking several spots, Kain climbed up a tree. Taking careful aim, Kain threw the first dart. the weapon sailed through the air, embedding itself deep into the soft meat of the stomach region. Kain saw the entire dart embed itself. He smiled, as this would create the effect that a phantom was attacking. Because the other soldiers couldn't see the dart, they could not track its trajectory either. Kain jumped from the branch, grabbing a lower branch before landing softly. He readied a second dart, and threw that as well. Kain frowned as he saw this dart hit slightly off target. If the others had time to look, they would see the dart. Kain threw another dart right into the eye socket of another man. the dart fully disappeared into the man's brain. Even for Kain, that was an impressive throw. Kain dove sideways, rolling to reduce noise, and sprinted to the last vantage point. The men were catching on, and looking in the direction of the old locations. Kain threw another dart, which stuck in the kidneys of the last victim. Kain grinned at a job well done.

Kain waited just long enough to watch the remaining men bark orders, and sound an alarm. Reinforcements arrived, and the group planned to search the surrounding brush for the enemies. Kain set up several canisters of gunpowder set with wire. When the men pulled the wire, flint would strike the canisters, causing an explosion. Kain had set up several of these traps, and he was running low on gunpowder. Kain ran back to the rest of the group, hearing the first of the explosions as he ran.

"Alright, is everyone ready to head into the West Gate?"

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The group had remained largely in silence upon the disappearance of its obvious leaders. Myr for one was not in a particularly talkative mood, and certainly did not want to be the one to disturb the silence that was for her at least quite pensive. Instead she had taken to standing in a fixed position, so still that even the slight rise and fall of her breath was undetectable. It was an interesting thing, that the eye was drawn so readily to motion. Sometimes, a cessation of movement was all that she required to quite literally disappear from sight.

Not that this was necessarily her goal, of course, and she was certain both Matt and Mark knew well that she was still there, given that she had never left at all, but right now extraneous motion would be like extraneous noise: simply unwarranted.

When Kain reappeared, she nodded and trailed after him, keeping an eye behind to ensure that the others were indeed following. It would not do to lose someone now, not after all of this.

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"What are you-" Matt was cut short as Shadow cracked his neck. "Thats... ow..." Matt rubbed his neck. He sat down and listened afterwards. West gate, west gate, west gate... he ran over it a hundred times in his head. He sat in silence as Kain and Shadow darted off, and looked at the ground. Something was bugging him. And it was Myr.
Myr was mysterious. More so than Shadow, even. If she was a monk, how did she know how to fight like that? And how could she be at such peace, even in a battlefield? Something was up with that girl. That pretty, pretty girl...

Matt nearly slapped himself.

He instead looked at the ground, begining to think of the others. And Mark... he began to go through his knowledge of Mark, which wasn't much. Mark was dazing half the time. Or at least not paying attention. Mark was a firl that pretended to be a guy. Why? Wasn't like girls couldn't be knights... could they? Matt had no idea. He'd never been taught the ways of a knight.

Shadow... was scary. Matt didn't even want to think of him right now.

And Kain. Kain- Speak of the devil... Matt thought as he showed up again. Time to go. No time to think at the moment. West gate west gate west gate west gate west gate west gate west gate- Matt thought over and over as he followed Kain and Myr. But he looked back for a second before continuing on.
"Mark, dude. We're going." Matt waved at him... her... person. Matt shook his head in confusion, and turned back to follow.

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Kain hid in the bushes, looking up at the large gate. As predicted, the guard here was small, only two men patrolled on the wall. The other guards were also too spaced out to be a threat. Kain quickly though of a plan. Sizing up the two women of the group, he determined Myr to be the most physically attractive.

"Myr, I have a plan that requires your cooperation. Now, these guards won't just let us in, so I need you to put on a bit of a performance. We have to give you the look of being attacked, and I want you to run up to the gate and scream for help. Say there are madmen loose in the woods, and you barely escaped with your life. Beg them to have mercy and let you in. Do what you can to distract them while I scale the wall and take them out. If you agree, I will only knock them out, as opposed to killing them." Kain would do this to show he respected Myr's choice not to kill her enemies.

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After following Shadow's instructions, Mark looked at the others. It was his left arm that was hit, so he could still fight. The wound would be fine for now, but it would be wise to ask Myr to check it once they set up camp or something similar. Thankfully, everybody else's injuries seemed to have been treated as well. Back at home, Mark would have been treated with carefull hands then cruelly sent to clean the house. The worst punishment he had ever been given was... No Mark don't go daydreaming again! Mark, not seeming to have anything else to do, followed after Matt.

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Myr frowned as Kain suggested the idea. She wasn't much of an actress, really, but... her eyes softened when he promised to knock them out only. Nodding slowly, she tried to recall the last time she had seen someone behave as though they were helpless. It had been a while, but she supposed she could make it look realistic enough. She was no stranger to suffering as such.

"Very well," she replied softly. Grasping her hood in her hands, she pulled the thing down, extracting her long braid from underneath her cloak. She contemplated for a few seconds before pulling off the band that bound it practically at the end and shook the lot out, trying to make herself look as disheveled as possible. Rumpling her cloak would help too, and her face was likely smudged with dirt already, so that would be fine.

Taking a deep breath, she steadied herself before adopting an exaggerated version of the limp she'd been trying to minimize thus far. Clutching her right arm with her left hand as though it too were tender, she moved some distance away from where the group was actually located before uttering a sharp pained cry and dashing out of the tree cover, straight up to the guards.

Tripping herself so as to stumble, she made toward them as "fast" as her "injured" foot would carry her. "Please!" she called plaintively, "Help! madmen... bandits! They took my family and they... please, sirs, I must... they will come for me and I..." she shuddered, looking furtively backwards at the bushes as though afraid of what might come from them at any moment. "Please..." her voice reached a hoarse whisper, and the moisture gathered at the corners of her eyes. She was shaking all the way down to her toes now. If that didn't do it, well... then these guards were quite perceptive indeed, and she was in trouble.

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Kain was momentarily shocked by how well the young monk pulled that off. The guards looked down at her from the wall. They were completely distracted. Before taking off, Kain turned to Mark and Matt, and said, "Wait here for my signal." To Matt, Kain said, "Don't do anything... stupid." Kain then sprinted into the shadows, just beyond the field of vision of the guards on the wall. He quickly began scaling the wall.

About half way up, Kain heard the guards finally reach a decision. "Just a moment miss! We have to get permission from our commanding officer to open the gates for you! don't worry, until the runner returns with our orders, we will defend you!" True to their word, the guards readied their bows, focusing sharply in the area surrounding the young girl. They had arrows at the ready, but did not set them to the strings. Kain reached the top of the wall and saw the runner disappear among the buildings. He had a bit of time to incapacitate the guards. Kain took some of the drug he had given Shadow from before, and set it in a fresh needle. He would have to be quick to get both these guards. Kain almost envied the first target. a split second pinch, and then the man would be unconscious and having pleasant dreams. when the drug wore off, the man would feel happy and refreshed. The other man... Kain was planning on knocking him out with a sleeper hold. Not nearly as pleasant. Kain snuck up silently and jabbed the first guard in the neck, releasing the drug into his system. Without missing a beat, Kain disarmed the second soldier, and then wrapped his strong arms around the man's neck, applying just enough pressure to cut off the blood flow to his brain. The man struggled for a moment, but the lack of blood finally knocked him out. Kain let go, and color returned to the man's face. Kain tied up the bodies and waited for the runner.

"Alright Albrecht, the commander says go ahead!" The runner yelled as he returned. Kain shouted a simple "Aye!" disguising his voice as best he could before pulling the lever. As the gate mechanism released and the gate started to open, Kain dropped from the wall down next to the runner. Kain made a fist, and then curled his wrist so his palm was now perpendicular to his forearm. Using the fairly pointed joint at the base of his thumb, Kain punched the runner in the temple, knocking him out cold. Painful, but does not do permanent damage. The man would be fine. The gates fully opened, and Kain motioned for the group to join him.

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Myr watched as Kain took out the guards, a twinge of pity for the plight of the second two especially accompanying this, but she quickly straightened, blinking away the extra wetness in her eyes, which regained their customary steadiness without too much issue. She considered doing something about her hair (it was rather irritating to leave it unbound) but they had more than enough to deal with at present, and there would be time enough for such frivolities later. She'd just have to hope it didn't snag on something.

She joined Kain on the other side of the gate, mouthing a word of gratitude for his mercy silently, casting a glance over her shoulder in hopes that the others were not far behind. If she remembered correctly, Shadow was supposed to meet them somewhere around here, but probably a little ways further in and thus away from the rather conspicuous scene in the immediate vicinity.

She glanced back over at the guards, memorizing their faces. It would not do to be accidentally recognized by any of them, and the best way to prevent that would be to recognize them first and then find somewhere else to be.

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Kain gave Myr a warm smile. "No need to remain quiet, we are inside city limits and therefore do not arose suspicion anymore. Wonderful job acting by the way. Oh, and feel free to get comfortable, our mission now is to wait for Shadow to return. I must say, I do not enjoy being in a subordinate position, even to Shadow. Ugh, the ever-difficult life of a Noble!" Kain gave a theatrical sigh and covered his eyes with his hand, gazing skyward. He held the pose for a moment before giving a chuckle and shouting to the others, "Get a move on, I have to close the gates before we arouse suspicion!" For a thief, Matt tended to dawdle often. And for a knight, Mark tended to lose focus quickly. They should learn to break these habits, or they were very likely to get themselves killed.

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Myr returned the friendly expression, slightly sheepishly. "Of course. Sometimes, I am perhaps a bit too cautious, though perhaps it would be better than the alternative. But truly, thank you. It means much," she said, gesturing to the unconscious men behind her.

"As for the life of a Noble, if the reference is what I think it is, you should not worry, as long as you can still self-affirm, no? I do not think you yet require him for that." Her tone was light; in truth, she was quite relieved that the majority of the danger for today was over. They could all use a little time to recover, even those that were not as obviously injured. Her ankle had mercifully avoided swelling thus far, which meant the injury was relatively minor, and the medicine she'd taken was working. Come to think of it, she should probably restock on her herbs soon... there were plenty left, but she'd also used more in the course of the last three days than the three months prior to that, and the pace showed little sign of slowing.

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"Don't do anything stupid..." Matt mocked under his breath. "You're the one with a hole in your shoulder... idiot..."
Matt didn't do anything as Myr played her part (rather well) and Kain took them out. He followed behind everyone silently and stood still, his cloak covering his whole body.
"So what now? We sit?" Matt asked the group. Not waiting for an answer, he started to lean back. "I'm cool with that." Matt let himself fall backwards into a pile of hay, the pile swallowing him whole. His cloak protected him from the poking that the pile so graciously provided, so it was actually quite comfortable. He stuck a hand out of the top, waving at whoever was paying attention. "Wake me whenever." And he drew his hand back in. He wasn't actually going to sleep, but he would lay down none the less. He felt his side for the pouch and it's one brown pearl. He still needed to get that thing from Kain... he had plenty of time, but it was probably best to get it out of the way. Oh well... he couold think of that later. Now was rest time.

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Kain smiled at Myr, ignoring Matt's theatrics. "Well, I mean that I am used to being the leader. I used to be a pirate captain, after all. And during my travels with Shadow, I found out that I was originally of noble birth, but pirates raided our village, killed my family, looted my house, burned it to the ground, and then took me as their slave and cabin boy... So much for nobility eh?" Kain's smile dropped at the tide of memories. Although he was over the abuse, Kain could not suppress some anger and resentment at losing his normal life. He had gotten his revenge, but killing those who wronged him is a hollow victory.

"Very well, we are all in. Time to close the gates." Kain quickly scaled the wall, pulling the gate mechanism. The gates slowly creaked shut. Kain looked down and noticed the pile of hay the thief was lying in. Kain smirked, planning a bit of mischief, as well as a lesson for the young thief. Since Shadow had taken him under his wing, it was only fitting that Kain should contribute his knowledge. Unfortunately, Kain's knowledge was forged from years of pain and malicious treatment.

Kain jumped from the wall, aiming his body just right. He turned his body, and landed right on top of the thief. Kain heard a groan from under the hay, and a devious laugh escaped from Kain's lips. He sprung up before Matt could react, and put distance between himself and the haystack. Time to see what would happen.

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Matt barely had a moments rest before something big and heavy fell on him. Well... maybe fell wasn't the best word.Jumped was more like it. Matt couldn't help let out a small groan of pain. His neck was still a little sore. Just a little. Immediatly thoughts ran through his head. This was too heavy to be Myr, so that left Kain and Mark. Matt was sure Mark wouldn't do something so childish, so that left-

Duh. It was Kain. Of course. But what a lucky break! Now was the perfect time to get what he needed to start his plan. All these thoughts ran through his head in less than half a second. But Kain was already getting up, trying to get away. Matt's hands moved like lightning towards the pirate, and in a second, he found what he needed. Kain lept away none the wiser. Imbecile.

Matt, after a second or seven, stood up slowly to face his semi-attacker. He was just standing there, watching him. Obviously he want Matt to react somehow. To insult him, or rush him... something. But Matt wasn't going to do either. Rushing him would only get him hurt, and how would words hurt Kain?
So Matt went with his third option. A simple question.

"And why..." Matt asked slowly, slipping Kain's gun into his pocket, "Would you do that?"

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(((((((lets ignore the fact that I specifically stated "before Matt could react." Really, how would anyone react to 150-ish pounds falling on them? Also... Do you know how difficult it would be to remove a gun from its holster in a split second? It does have latches to secure the gun. Whatever, lets roll with it.)))))



Kain gave the thief a slow smile.

"First lesson in being an assassin, never let down your guard. Second lesson. Never, EVER do something as foolish as taking a man's handmade gun, especially when you have no method to escape." Kain began slowly walking toward the thief. "Especially don't take the gun if you have no knowledge of how to work the thing." Kain continued his slow walk, each step landing with all the gravity and finality of death itself.

"And really, my gun is not my only long range weapon. I have knives, and a recently acquired bow. I am proficient in the use of both. You have three options. Try to flee, and I will hit you in the back with a knife." Kain flicked out one of his blades, and readied it, focusing solely on the little thief. "Your second option is to attempt to fight me. Foolish, because even injured, I will murder you quite easily. Notice I said murder, which implies no struggle on your part. This is because your skills do not even come close to my own. And your third option, which I personally recommend, is to return the weapon you have taken." Kain's grin widened as he prowled closer.

"Child, you are a fly in my web. I am a master of deception, and I love to play games with those who are easily irked. You have fallen for one of many traps I have set up for you. You see, you are trapped into those three options. Two of them lead to your demise, one leads to you being humiliated by me. Either way, I win. I always win. Oh, and the answer to your question? Simply because I can. An ancient thinker once said that in the world there are masters, and there are slaves. Basically, slaves live in the specious present, and only do something if it can benefit them. Masters are above the petty rabble, and will fight to the death to preserve an ideal. You are a slave, I am a Master. Accept your place in the world, or you will die." Kain paused just out of reach of the thief, waiting for the vermin to react.

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Myr's eyebrows knit together, the smile falling from her face at the more literal explanation for the statement. That was something she had not quite expected...Kain just gave off the air of one of those people who'd always been strong and self-assured. They all did, to different extents. There was a subtext, there, too, something she couldn't quite put her finger on. Likely, it had been even worse than he was letting on.

At least he knows his parents, part of her reminded the rest, but it was swiftly quashed. Having one's birth relatives around was nice for some, but it was certainly not the only road to happiness, and she had not suffered at the monastery. No, she had been quite fortunate indeed, and maybe that was what made it so easy to forget that suffering was so commonplace.

He seemed all right, though, and she had no wish to discuss anything that might be unpleasant for anyone, so instead she watched with a measure of curiosity as Kain crept up on Matt's haystack. She thought of asking him what he was doing, but decided against it, choosing to simply observe instead. He jumped a moment later, and she flinched with sympathy for the soreness this was about to cause, but couldn't help the slightly-mischievous smile that she resorted to hiding behind a hand. They were kind of like brothers, actually, though she was never going to tell them that. They'd probably both hate her for saying it. It never really occurred to her that they might have genuine, deep antagonism, because she simply didn't think that way. It looked to her like two people playing a round of tricks in some kind of competition, each trying to outdo the other somehow. What the prize was or when they would stop, she couldn't guess, but wasn't it usually that way with siblings? The ones she'd known never seemed to need a reason at all.

Of course, it turned a little more serious then, and the smile vanished. It was getting harder to make the analogy work. Myr bit her lower lip. "Surely that's not necessary," she put in hesitantly. She understood that there was a process of teaching and learning going on here between the parties, but there was something there she did not quite like any longer, and she felt compelled to placate tempers where she could. "Perhaps it would be best for us all to speak of something else. Matt, if you would please return Kain's gun, I have a question for him. And since you were interested in learning a bit about herbs earlier, the answer might concern you as well."

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Kain did not look away from the thief, but said, "I will be more than happy to answer your questions, once the thief has made his decision. You see, there is more to his response than simply life or death. We must see how worthy of knowledge the bastard child is." Kain's ever-present grin only widened after insulting the whelp.

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Mark gave kain a confused look. Slaves? Masters? Surely there was some in-between. Personally, that made no sence what-so-ever to the young knight. Although many things often confused him when people talked about this sort of thing. "Hey Kain... What you say doesn't make sense. It seems to me that you are not a master, and Matt is no slave. It seems to me like it would be a sad fate to be either master or slave.", he said cautiously. Mark had a million questions and reasons for saying that. Honestly, he wondered if his own logic was correct and not some fools fantasy.

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Kain felt a small measure of pride in the knight. "Well Mark, I will answer your question as soon as this little episode is over, but I fear that Myr did request my attention first, so your questions will be answered after." Kain continued fixing the thief with a cold, heartless glare.

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Matt glanced around as Kain spoke. Indeed he was right... there wasn't anywhere to run at all. He looked back into Kains eyes. Eh, he'd seen colder, Matt was sad to say. And not just Shadow either. But he frowned at Kain's words of slaves and masters. He never really liked those 'there are two kinds of people in the world' kinds of statements. No matter how many he heard, he never seemed to like or believe any of them. Matt smiled softly as he reached into his pocket for the gun, drawing it slowly so Kain wouldn't think he was attacking.
"I guess if what you say is true, then a really am a slave. Actually, I don't recall saying I aspired to be anything more."
He handed the weapon to Kain. What now? Would he hit him or something? Sounds like somthing Kain would do. "I dont care what you say about it. I'm having fun."
He looked down at the gun in his hand. This was going to well. Still, he only need a look. And a bullet, But he hadn't gotten that. The gun had been hard enough to get.
"Here's your gun, meanie." Matt only smiled.

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Kain took the weapon, slipping it back into its holster and securing the leather buckles around it. "And that concludes the lesson. You have made the right choice, and Shadow can teach you. Knowing when not to fight is just as important as knowing when to fight. Also, in the future, try to predict your enemies movements before you act. As you saw, it was very easy for me to trap you into one option. Use what you know about your target and turn it against them. Do not simply act blindly. In the world of assassins, such actions will get you killed. In the future, plan your movements very carefully." Kain turned toward the monk and said, "So Myr, what did you want to ask me?"

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Myr let out a breath she hadn't known herself to be holding. At least that had turned out better than it might have, and her relief formed into a small smile. Then Kain reminded her of her question, and she nodded.

"Actually, yes. I was wondering what the ingredients were for that salve you had used on your shoulder earlier. I have never seen its like before, and I wish to learn of it, if you are not opposed to parting with the knowledge." Though the monks were masters of herblore, their environment was not all-producing, and there were some herbs rare enough that even literature on them was difficult to find. Though it was not one of her more readily-discernible traits, Myr was also the sort of person who enjoyed learning for its own sake, and she might have asked even if it had not had an obvious practical purpose.

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Shadow sat on a rooftop nearby with two young women standing behind his right and left shoulders respectively. The sun was behind them, casting obscure shadows of their individual frames onto the city's Outer Wall about ten feet above the heads of the others, although Shadow was not worried about the others noticing.

Shadow watched and waited, listening intently to the conversations which took place.

Kain had made a valid point to Matt about knowing when to fight and when not to fight, and so he chose not to reprimand Kain for his childlike actions of provoking the poor young thief, but neither would he receive any praise for the knowledge he imparted.

The confusion within the group was understandable.

Shadow and Kain were the oldest members of the group, and had both experienced tortured lives that the others could never in their wildest dreams begin to fathom. They were also the most tuned to battle and survival among the members of the group, and so their skill sets and instincts on the subject would no doubt be confusing to the others.

Shadow continued to listen, and the young woman behind his left shoulder approached him. She had light brown hair which fell just past her shoulders, with a youthful and athletic frame. She placed her hand on his right shoulder blade, and he simply nodded to her. She nodded in return, and then disappeared into the sunset behind him.

The young woman standing behind his right shoulder moved in close, and whispered into his ear.

She had long, dark brown hair that fell in a pony tail down to her hips, and a slightly taller, more mature and womanly frame than the other, but no less athletic and shapely than the first.

He turned his head and looked at her out of the corner of his eye, and smiled. She leaned in close and kissed his cheek, and then swept the bangs on her right side out of her face, sending a single strand of hair floating through the air and descending towards the others below.

Shadow watched the strand of hair fall, but did not expect any of the group to see it in the fading light, but never the less it would be visible to a trained eye if it fell into their field of view.

Shadow nodded her, and she too turned and disappeared into the sunset behind him.

He returned his gaze to the others, and decided it was time to tell them their next step, and so he stood, casting a slightly more clear silhouette of his frame onto the city's Outer Wall.

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Kain did not immediately answer the monk's questions. Instead, he paid attention to the cluster of unusual shadows on the city wall. People were listening in on their conversation. As the shadows shrunk, Kain realized there were originally three people. Kain turned, attempting to find the group, and noticed a thin strand of hair falling from a building. The shadow that remained got taller as its owner stood. Of course, none of the others in the group could notice such slight details. They have not been trained yet to pay attention to small inconsistencies in the environment. Kain smirked as he realized the shadow belonged to Shadow.

"Well Myr, the blend for the paste was inspired by a savage tribe I met. In the frozen wasteland they live in, there are underground caverns where a strange, carpet-like fungus grows. In their language, it is called framistyrkr. They dry this and then inhale it prior to battle to induce a state of amazing strength, courage, and rage. They also harvest it as a food. By grinding the fresh herb into paste, they mix in other herbs or meat to make food that supposedly helps people grow bigger and stronger. I experimented with the fungus and found it to have different effects depending on how it is taken into the body. To make a medicine, I grind the fresh herb into paste, and then blend it with fresh sap from the beathafeoil tree. It is particularly important to blend it in one part sap to three parts fungus, as any other ratio causes toxicity. The blend must be heated until the consistency of the paste is reached. That is a basic recipe. Before heating, add any other herbs you wish for pain relief or other effects, and they will leech into the paste. My personal blend is the basic paste, with some extract of silver willow, divine sage, petals of the Chaos rose, which I have to carefully pick myself to avoid the nasty effects that plant can have, and crystallized juice of Cyrulanus fruit. I chose these because all these plants have synergistic effects to numb and accelerate rejuvenation of damaged skin. My, that was long winded. Any other questions?" Kain paused for a moment to catch his breath, waiting to see if Myr had any more questions. Kain still had to answer Mark's questions. He looked toward the still unnoticed Shadow. Only Kain would ever be able to tell that someone was there.

"hey boss, you can come out now!" Kain purposefully did not use Shadow's name to avoid suspicion.

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Matt considered asking what in the Goddesses names those things were, but he couldn't find the words. So his eye twitched instead.
"What?" He said in responce to Kain quietly. He didn't really want him to explain everything again, but he just wanted to show his confusion. Maybe herblore was a little much for now... wait, what was that about Shadow? He looked up and saw the black figure against the sun. Oh... There he was. Why was there hair in the wind? Matt couldn't se the color, but it was a little long to be Shadow's... huh. Matt said nothing and waited patiently for him to come down.

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Myr nodded along with the explanation; it all made perfect sense to her, though she had never been to that particular region. The fungus sounded absolutely fascinating. She wondered what effect it might have if she combined it with some of the herbs grown only on Kur. When Kain mentioned his long-windedness, she shook her head emphatically. "On the contrary; I found it quite informative, certainly enough to satiate my curiosity for the time being. Thank you." She smiled and inclined her head, her own curtain of hair cutting off any view she might or might not have caught of shadows or fine strands of someone else's, and so it was not until Kain called for "boss" that she discovered that Shadow must be nearby.

She had known the group was not entirely alone, of course, her awareness was enough for that, but she had thought it simply townspeople sleeping in their homes of some such. This was likely still true, but it seemed that their leader lingered on a rooftop. She did not look up; it might seem strange to anyone who happened to be watching, after all, and she had no desire to be the reason someone decided to investigate the party a little more closely.

That probably wasn't likely, anyway. Her appearance was a bit more distinctive than some people's, perhaps, but mostly just in the incidental, 'that girl has strange eyes' kind of way, and the color certainly was not as well-known or disarming as Shadow's. The rest of her appearance tended to be hidden under a cloak, and so it was doubtful she was noticed often, or suspected of anything in particular. Something she was increasingly glad of; she'd never liked being the object of anyone's focus, but now being otherwise was in fact necessary.

Which reminded her... she presently wasn't disguised as she should be. Her hair was too troublesome to be braided right now, so she tied it at the nape of her neck instead, tucking it once more under the light gray cloak, drawing the hood up over her head. There... anonymity was much more comfortable than the alternative.

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Shadow smirked when Kain called him 'boss', and leaped to the Outer Wall, using the traction of his boots to hit the wall as he leaned against it, slowing his descent until he jumped off and landed in front of the others.

"The intel I needed has been gathered and a plan is now in place to take out my last mark. I will take care of him, and you all have something else to do for me in the meantime. But for now, we need to head to the center of town. There are a few supplies I need to get ahold of and we also need a full nights rest before we continue."

Shadow looked to Kain and nodded.

Their cues were subtle and non-interpretable by the others as they were privately constructed and understood only by them.

This particular cue, a simple nod with no other words or actions told Kain that Shadow was ready to continue, but due to their company, they'd have to postpone their plans until the morrow.

"Follow me everyone." Shadow said as he turned away from them.

"If you have questions about anything other than what it is I have planned for you to do tomorrow, then ask now. Otherwise, try not to talk, as we might draw the wrong kind of attention. At this point, the city is locked down to make sure that nobody comes or goes. We need to keep our heads down and our mouths shut until we reach the center of town where we'll be safer from suspicion or detection."

Shadow walked down the road towards the center of town, checking over his shoulder for any questions that might come his way.

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Kain's smile faded. The plans would have to be postponed... this increased the chance of the target escaping again. or at the very least, security would increase. Kain felt a twinge of anger at the incompetence of some of their new members, but it couldn't be helped.

"You are very welcome Myr. If you have any more questions about the more exotic herbs of this region, just ask." Turning to Mark, Kain said, "Now then, would you like your questions answered? if so, I will answer them as we walk. Seems less suspicious if people are speaking intellectually. We would draw less attention." Kain started walking after Shadow, and said, so only Shadow could hear, "You're new apprentice has skill, but he doesn't think things through all that well. I do not think it wise to bring him along. The type of calculative planning he needs is largely an inherent trait, and he hasn't shown much potential for thinking things through. If you disagree, I will be happy to point out numerous times which he has acted rashly."

The setting changes from Shaharan to Cre' Est

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#, as written by