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Kyero

"My purpose in life is my own to find. Nobody will tell me where I belong or what I can become!"

0 · 700 views · located in Cre' Est

a character in “Assassin's Pledge: Awakening”, as played by KumoriRyuu

Description

Image





Name: Kyero
Age: 22
Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 210 lbs
Voice Example: 0:38

Basic Personality: Kyero is a very disoriented and easily agitated person. Because of his upbringing, being essentially brainwashed and tortured into the perfect assassin, he knows very little to nothing of normal life and struggles to maintain a semblance of normalcy as he tries to find a purpose in this world. He is, despite his lack of "normal" education, very smart and highly perceptive as well as a human lie-detector. He does not forgive and forget, nor does he negotiate. He's a steadfast and powerfully determined person who will stop at nothing to achieve his goals. He is also, despite his still learning why, fiercely loyal to those who accompany him and will fight to the death to protect them as his only human connections in this world.

Basic Background: Kyero was born to a mother who was part of a cult worshipping the Lord of the Nether Realm. A Demonic spirit was summoned via a ritual and occupied his body despite the ritual being interrupted towards the end. The Demon was unable to fully manifest, but its power remains in the form of a pair of glowing red eyes, enhanced senses, reflexes, and the ability to sense the living energy of others within a ten meter radius. Kyero was tortured into the perfect killer, and brainwashed into thinking that all there was in life were his orders to kill whoever the Grandmaster pointed him to. He was a living weapon, to put it simply. But after discovering freedom of thought, Kyero rebelled against Te'i Sai and killed the Grandmaster and those who sought to fulfill the Grandmaster's designs for the continent of Cre' Est. Today, Kyero wanders the land hoping to find a new purpose in life.

So begins...

Kyero's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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As the days passed by slowly, Aetrius only drew more anxious as time went on. Would she really be finding Kieran after all this time? If they did, what state would she be in? Would she still be the same person Aetrius used to know and love dearly? Yes, they were sisters and they were incredibly close, but would that bond hold true now after three years of thinking she was dead? She didn't know, but she was so close to finding out. And she had to, no matter the cost of finding the truth. She was determined to find Kieran and bring her back with them, to be able to sit and talk with her and just go back to being like things used to be, even though she doubted it. With what they've gone through, on both side of the coin, they'd be different, but different how would be left up to when they found her.

When the morning came, Aetrius was the first to awaken, before the others were even stirring she was wide awake and packing her things. She dressed in her new outfit that she had bought while at Atlum and covered it with her black cloak. When the others had woken up, they all ate and prepared for the long trip ahead of them. Aetrius took the lead of the caravan, Bree leading them to Veilbrand. The ride was almost silent for the most part until Linde spoke up and asked if anyone had a story to tell. She pondered, she had many, many stories to tell. But most were uh....Not for this occasion, one could say? She was going to speak, but Lolan started to spin a tale of his, and she remained silent paying attention to his story of his first adventure with his grandfather. She and the others chuckled, the others did out of fondness and amusement, she chuckled due to her darker sense of humor. Decapitation? she thought, I would have impaled him on a pike and left him to dry in the sun...But that's just me. she mused at her sick twisted idea. The group remained silent after the others commented on his tale. She pondered again if she should tell one of her own, should she? If so, what one? She had many...

She looked up at the sky, lost in thought. Then came back down when she had an amusing story to tell. "Did I ever tell you one of my adventures?" she mused, looking back at the others she gave a shy grin and light chuckle, then turned back around looking at the road ahead of them. "It's uh....One not exactly for the faint of heart, or one who have disproving mindsets. As, yes this story isn't very....uh...how you say orthodox for this journey, but it's a story none the less." she said as she thought back to when she was sixteen and met someone who made her feel what it was like to be in love, or at least that's what she thought it was. But as her luck would have it, her relationships would never last long, nore usually passed a day or two. With what she did as a job, killing or capturing those that were of the lesser chain of humanity, to the fact that she was...well, how you say more so experienced than others? But that didn't mean she was one of those kinds of people. She still had morals and a sense of worth when it came to relationships. She always wanted more than that from a relationship, but usually the other one would just stay and leave without a second glance her way, often leaving her feeling rejected and alone. Therefore usually leaving her to stay by herself and be alone.

"I guess you could say it was a past relationship, but for me they never lasted very long...They'd get what they wanted and then would fuck off, never seeing me again...Does it bother me? Usually, but...well, let's just say I'm used of it and not really on the market at the moment...Not like anyone would really want anything to do with me anymore in that sense, if you catch my drift." she chuckled slightly, but then sighed, she wasn't proud of her reputation, but it was one she had and they were bound to eventually find out one way or another, and she'd rather it be by her than someone else.

"Let's just say, I'm not proud of the reputations I have, okay? Some are good, like me being one of the best Bounty Hunters on the market, cost cheap, get the job done, but with that it comes at a price. Meaning I have a rather big target on my back, which is why my relationships are never really that long lasting..It's not that I make a terrible partner...Just my reputation and well...what I look like doesn't help I suppose, or least it's what I've had said to me. Doesn't bother me none, but ya know..." she sighed again, but then decided to get to the actual story itself.

"It was about four years ago, I believe? The first person I ever dated, can't remember her name, but that's irrelevant. What the story does hold is that I met her by saving her ass from a group of bandits. They were...well, the lowest of the low. Murderers, rapists, dirt in one word. Well, I managed to come across them on one of my journies after a target of mine. I managed to pass them and stopped them, killed half, severely maimed the others. She was so thankful that she wouldn't stop saying thank you, and she said she owed me anything." she paused in her story, chuckled then continued with the events.

"I made a poor joke and I guess she took it seriously...Let's just say, I had ended up getting a bit more than I bargained for saving her ass." she chuckled, then realized how that would have made her look, "W-well, anyway. From that day out after I got my bounty paid for, she requested we could court if I so desired, I denied several times, but she uh...she had her perks. We lasted for a while, about six months...But after she realized how dangerous it was to be with me she left...I just woke up one day and she was gone...Sure it hurt, but...She was a fine young woman and I hope she has the best life one could have...Especially now that I'm not in it...ahem anyway, does anyone else have anything they'd share? I have other actual stories...but uh, they're more...more of sitting around a fire or a table and drinks and just waste the night away." she said with a slight smile, maybe she revealed a bit too much of her past, especially relationship wise, but oh well. She was honest and that should be the thing that mattered. All that mattered is that she wasn't the same person anymore in that regard, and maybe someone would change her for the better in that regard, but it didn't matter, not like anyone would ever be interested in her in that way anymore. As being with such a notable killer like her would put someone in danger.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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Listening to Lonan and Aetrius' stories was quite charming. Lonan's story of his first adventure with his grandfather, Aetrius her first relationship. Linde found Aetrius information before the story... Concerning, however. The idea that Aetrius did not have lasting relationships because of her job and/or her looks was greatly saddening. Linde dipped her head slightly on her horse and looked at Aetrius' back as she looked ahead and continued her tale.

When it was finished, Linde sat up straight.

"I guess it's my turn."

She cleared her throat.

"Let me spin you a yarn of a girl with a dream. A dream to save lives. A dream to protect her loved ones. And a dream to drive away the wickedness of man from her home." She began in a loud, clear, story-telling voice.

She chuckled warmly, and began her tale proper.

"Long ago, a little girl whose mother was a doctor began learning the craft of medicine. She studied hard every day, staying up late to study even more and practicing on anything she could including her stuffed animals. She was so driven to be the best doctor in the world that she sometimes didn't sleep for days at a time and would eventually crash and burn and sleep for an entire day or more. Sometimes she would stay up so long or go without proper food and drink that she would get sick, forcing her mother to care for her. And how this worried her mother so..."

She took a breath, giving everyone time to soak that in before continuing.

"One day, the little girl got her chance to put all she'd learned into practice. Her mother was at the clinic, her father at the library where he was the book keeper. She was alone at her house looking out the window at a passing caravan of merchants and vagabonds moving through the region. As they passed by she saw them attacked by a group of Vei Wolves, a large breed of vicious wild canines common to the Cre' Itian wilds outside the capitol who'd followed them through the main gates. The Vei Wolves assaulted the caravan, killing three horses, one cow, and twelve people."

She paused a moment, the memory flooding through her mind.

"... The girl was terrified. She wanted to save them all, but she was so afraid of the Vei Wolves she was frozen there in the window. She couldn't move a muscle."

She closed her eyes, recalling that horrible day.

"When it was over, the little girl's hands were shaking on the window sill. She finally worked up her courage and went outside, rushing to the first person she could find who needed medical help. She analyzed his wounds and discovered that she knew how to save him. But she didn't have the supplies. She quickly cried for a doctor, but no doctor came. She didn't have what she needed in the house. Her mother had everything in the clinic where she worked which was on the far end of town. She quickly called for the attention of those leading the caravan and directed them to her mother's clinic for treatment and help. The convoy quickly moved out, but on the way there they lost four more lives out of nine who were in jeopardy. Once in her mother's care, the other five managed to survive the first night, but come the following morning two more had passed."

Slowly she opened her eyes.

"... The convoy blamed her mother for failing to save their friends, calling her a "weak" doctor. The words exchanged her far from pleasant. Words a child should never hear were thrown back and forth. And the little girl was quickly ushered into the back room by her mother where she was told to forget what she saw and focus on the good that came from this. Three lives saved. That's what mattered."

She took a breath.

"But the girl could never forget. Her sense of helplessness. The fear. The hopelessness upon seeing all of that death unfold before her. The inability to help despite knowing what needed to be done... To this day she believes that if she only had what she needed, despite her age, she could have saved those two lives which were lost during the night by giving them care sooner rather than later."

She quickly adopted a new smile and spoke cheerfully.

"That little girl grew up to become a doctor herself, and despite several horrible experiences where lives could not be saved despite knowing what to do and how to do it, she never gave up hope that one day, when she found her way to the arms of the Gods, they would welcome her as one who gave her all for the sake of others... The end."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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Aetrius was leading the way, she held her head strong with renewed spirits knowing, that in two weeks time she would be arriving in Veilbrand to find Kieran. Yes, Veilbrand was a two weeks worth of time on horseback and sadly that was the fastest form of travel. Especially since Veilbrand is a very mountainous region. The mountains run far and wide along the eastern half of the north border, and wrap all the way around the east side down to the coastline. The rest of the nation is rolling hills with few to no forests and very open grassland type places. The capital city, Valoc is in the northern sector of the east mountains along the border with a giant wall around the front to guard from invasions. A fortress city, if you will for the lack of a better word. And that was their newest destination, in two weeks. They spent the rest of the day chatting, sharing tales of past memories and experiences, more so than the others did. They arrived at a small town, if you could call it that. It was mainly used by travelers from far away places to find respite and food, containing a small place for lodging, food, and stables for their animals.

After being their for the night they headed out the next day after a good meal and prepping their steeds of course. They spent the next week traveling from small outpost to small outpost, to small town to small town. Meeting new people and having some rather good bonding moments. From small talk in the local taverns, to staying up late in their rooms sharing stories and telling jokes. To making their way under the hot sun, to under the open and star filled night skies. Few and far between did they run into trouble, and they settled things with negotiations, not violence. They helped small groups with their broken convoys, or help from raiders and bandits. They were an interesting bunch to come across for sure, a shrine maiden who rarely talked, a tall man in a hood, a red headed male who more often than not would get into fights with his horse, the nurse of the group who was always helping with wounds like the one Lolan got from handling a heated up plate, and then Aetrius, the one who used to be feared and held a large bounty on her head and never talked to anyone, was now slowly begining to open up and slowly grow close to the others, which was odd for her. She hadn't had decent human contact with anyone in years, nor did she think she'd ever be in a group, but here she was in a group of the most unlikey of people....and...it felt right? Not being under constant surveillance or suspicion? It felt good, she was just worried it would eventually all fall apart when she found Kieran, if she did.

Now, it was the eight day when they saw another small village, one much like Atlum in the distance. It was late in the evening, and the sun began to go down. She knew the group was tired and would need to stop for the night soon, as much as she would like to keep going, she couldn't do that to them. "Alright, we'll stay here for the night. We'll leave in the afternoon, okay? Giving us some more time to relax and catch our breath. You've all earned it by now, eh?" she gave a small chuckle and smile to the others. As they grew closer to the enterance of the town, people greeted them with smiles and greetings as they slowly strode in on their horses. "We seek shelter, do you still have some room for a group our size?" she asked the man, who looked up at her with a kind face and smiled as he spoke, "We here at Ukron welcome everyone. We have space for you and your beasts. We'll take them to the stables on the east side of town, where you'll be staying is in the north side, just straight up this here path and you'll find the Gray Fox Inn. If there's anything else that you need, you mustn't be afraid to ask." he said kindly. Aetrius gave a nod, "Thank you, good sir. I see that a festival of some sort must be going on?" she inquired, as there was music coming from inside the inn and people were everyone smiling and drinking. "Ah yes. Here we celebrate the Winter Festival every year. It's a tradition we always have, and held close. Everyone who comes here is free to celebrate with us. So, do enjoy it, or just do as you please." Aetrius and the group smiled and thanked the couple kindly as they dismounted, grabbing their gear and saying goodnight to their horses for the night as they were taken to the stables.

Aetrius turned to her now friends and spoke, "If you all wish to celebrate, feel free to. I'll be having some food and probably will retreat to my room. I uh, don't really do the whole festival thing...At least not recently." she said with a small chuckle and looked down. As the last time she ever took part in a celebration was with Kieran five years ago. She turned heel and walked to the inn, she paid for the rooms and put her stuff away, and eventually returned after seeing the others had done the same. The inn was a humble place, as well as the rooms. Plenty big enough for two people to share a room easily, and so they did. Linde and Okumi were put into a room together and so was Kyero and Lolan, Aetrius decided to go for a single room, although it was still big enough for more than one individual. As the others took part in the Winter Festival, she had excused herself outside, and looked at the night sky, it was indeed the begining of winter as it wasn't completely freezing, but on nights like this one could see their breath, they'd need warmer clothing, that was for certain. The stars were out as well as a full moon, the animals were making noises in the distance, and Aetrius sat upon the wall overlooking the lake that was beside the inn. She sighed, it would be another week until they arrived at Veilbrand. She looked back at the inn, seeing everyone enjoying themselves, dancing, singing, and having a genuinely good time. She wanted to join, as she loved to dance, but she wasn't very confident in joining the others, she'd need encouragement from someone, if they'd bother trying to bring her out of her shell of being a wallflower, who currently watched from the sidelines.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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The next eight days passed by very quickly. It was a fairly uneventful trip, though whenever they stopped at a town or village to rest there was something to be said and done. They did some shopping. They intermingled with one another. And they went out to take care of private business of their own. When they intermingled, it was rather casual which was nice. After such a brutal introduction to one another with the bandits, it was nice for them to just relax and chat as regular people instead of warriors or "protectors."

Thankfully they didn't need to protect anyone during their trip, though Linde's work as a doctor who couldn't (or, rather, wouldn't) say "no" to a potential patient in need was never done. Every so often she'd tend to someone who tripped and hurt their leg in the streets, accidentally cut themselves slicing fruit at a fruit stall, etc.

Linde's interactions with everyone were fairly modest for the most part. With Lonan she usually asked about his choice of weaponry and combat style. Despite being a doctor, she was an avid practitioner of martial arts and could often be found training by herself whenever she ventured away from the group. She was interested in learning about other people's combat training to further advance her own knowledge and repertoire of techniques and strategies in combat.

With Okumi, it was slow going. But it was very sweet and always heartfelt. Okumi was still very reluctant to speak of or reveal too much about herself or her condition. But Linde had been piecing together the history of her family's tragedy. She didn't pry into Okumi's past, though. She kept her observations to herself. Instead she focused on happier things with Okumi. Asking her to discuss, as best they could, their favorite fashion choices for dress when note wearing something more appropriate for what they did such as her shrine maiden outfit or Linde's doctor's jacket. She spoke to her about hobbies and what some of her favorite things were. Linde, for instance, revealed that she loved children and flowers. So revealing little things about each other like that to help one another bond slow and steady seemed the best way to go.

And then there was Aetrius... Linde couldn't deny a certain charm to the woman as the days passed by. Her stoicism. Her reluctance to reveal the past or delve too deeply into it. But at the same time the trust Aetrius placed in her to show her the wounds she'd received, especially those on her hands from chains. Those were incredibly humiliating wounds to receive, as were the whip marks. They were, most commonly, wounds of helplessness and imprisonment. And Linde had treated many of them before and heard horror stories from past patients about such wounds and the circumstances that came with them.

Linde had made it a personal goal to help Aetrius become comfortable with her body and accept her past for what it was without letting it affect who she had since become. But she needed to take it slow. And the more she thought about the "how," the more she started thinking as well about the "why." Why would she help Aetrius with this? Certainly it wasn't just because she was a doctor and wanted her patients to feel better in whatever way she could, right? But no matter how hard she thought about it, there was no rational solution which came to mind as to why she'd go out of her way for Aetrius like this. But for now, it wasn't that important. What was important was actually doing something about it.

And, whether it was intentional or not was anyone's guess, but there was a specific interaction between them which took place just yesterday while Aetrius was washing her face at a stream near their camp out in the wilds...

Linde approached her, asking about her injuries and how they were healing. She had Aetrius show her the wound, which she inspected calmly. Aetrius didn't seem too resistant to show her. She seemed to have gotten used to Linde checking her which was nice.

But as she checked the wound... Linde couldn't help but let her fingertips trace the lines of some of her older scars. And when she touched one in particular, the long one she'd been shown before in Atlum before their departure, Aetrius flinched away.

Linde was taken aback, and froze with her hands held a few inches away from Aetrius' skin.

"Aetrius... Do these wounds still bring you pain?"

Aetrius slowly nodded.

"Is it the memories? The recalling of what it felt like when the wound first took place?"

Aetrius started nodding, but then shook her head, saying she didn't know why some of them hurt. For some it was like that, yes. Recalling what it felt like when the wound was received. But for others the pain just never faded. Like her body never healed. And it just wouldn't leave her alone.

...

Linde's hands slowly reached forward and flattened out against Aetrius' flesh. Her touch was so gentle one could almost presume she wasn't touching Aetrius at all. But she was. A touch so tender and cautious it would feel to Aetrius almost like she was being touched by a cloud. But what happened next was no cloud. Linde had been sitting on her knees, and leaned down all the way so her chest brushed the ground. Her forehead was gently pressed to Aetrius' back, just beside, but not touching, the long wound she'd been shown from the barbed wiring.

"... Sometimes, I find myself wishing I was a Goddess. One who could simply erase the pain, physical or otherwise, with not but a touch..." She whispered.

Her breath both tickled and warmed Aetrius' back due to how close Linde's mouth was to her flesh, causing her to blush madly and stiffen like a board. Linde's hands remained flat against her skin on either side of her waist, and her forehead was pressed to her bare back beside her old barbed wire wound. And she was whispering against her body. Her breath... It was warm. Her touch... So soft... !!!!

No, no, no, no, no!! Aetrius could not let herself be seen this way! She had to be strong! This pain was not Linde's, and she wouldn't let it become so!

She straightened her back slightly, took a deep breath, and told Linde it was all right. That even if she wasn't a Goddess who could erase pain, she did help manage it. And that was something Aetrius hadn't been able to say about these wounds in a long time.

Linde smiled, sitting up and re-wrapping the bandaging around her body before standing and departing to continue her daily activities.

Something about that exchange felt... Nice.

That's all Linde could really label it as. Nice. It wasn't overly dramatic. It wasn't too forward, she didn't think. It was nice. A moment of sharing between them which made her heart flutter slightly and a gentle pink blush fill her cheeks as she walked back to camp. Later that evening when she looked at Aetrius, her heart skipped a beat as she recalled that moment of touching her forehead to her back, and she felt her cheeks flush again. Thankfully it was by firelight, so her was well hidden from the others as they ate their meal around the fire together.

Now in the village of Ukron, and in the middle of a Winter Festival, Linde made sure to enjoy herself to the fullest. She abandoned her usual garb and doctor's jacket, donning a white and pink kimono with adorable wooden sandals with a heel strap. She intended to dance the night away, and she didn't need them flying off her feet. At first she joined in the mass of people who were all dancing together around a massive bonfire. But slowly, as the partners began whittling down and the focus was on fewer and fewer people, Linde began to draw a crowd.

Her beauty this night was even greater than usual. Her long hair had been done up in a bun, and left to fall from said bun into a ponytail which fell to her knees behind her. The bangs on the sides of her face were slightly thinner, falling around either side of her temples in front of her ears to frame her face. She wore a pinch of makeup. Just a little bit of powder and lipstick. She didn't need it anywhere else. But that tiny addition of make up helped truly bring her from "Angel" to "Goddess" this night in terms of her physical beauty.

The crowd which followed her through the night as she passed from partner to partner around the bonfire grew with each passing minute until eventually it seemed that Linde had the entire populace in attendance focused on her. She eventually came down to only one dance partner, and as the partner finished and left the area to rest, she was the only one left around the fire. Everyone was cheering and hooting and hollering for her. She was cat-called, whistled at, and told how beautiful she was by men and women alike all through the crowd. And chants for her to dance solo and to turn up the heat a little began echoing throughout the crowd.

Enjoying herself immensely, and caught in the moment, Linde turned to the musicians and clapped a tempo. They all nodded to the beat of her hands, until they all found their rhythm and fell in sync with one another in a traditional piece of flute, drums, koto, and more.

Linde began to Dance like there was no tomorrow. While it wasn't the most intense dance she'd ever performed, it was intense enough to get more clapping, hoots, and hollers from the crowd as she performed for them with all of the passion, vigor, and enthusiasm she could muster.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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The night seemed to pass in a blink. The next morning, when they all woke up, Linde and Okumi were the only ones with clear heads. Both Aetri and Lonan were nursing light hangovers, which made Linde chuckle. Since they were both used to drink, they weren't too bad off. Just a headache and a bit of mild irritability. Nothing they hadn't seen already.

Later, after having fed themselves once again, they left and continued towards their destination of Valoc. Along the way they happened to pass one of the few forested regions the nation had to offer. And it was beautiful. Massive trees almost one hundred and fifty feet tall, some rare ones being even taller, all with bright crimson leaves which withstood the harshness of winter, surrounded them. Linde had never felt so small in the face of such massive organisms. These trees must have been thousands of years old. The trunks on some of them were at least twenty feet in diameter, some even thicker. And the coloration above them with the sun rays peeking through, coupled with the beautiful scent of the wood and moisture that was trapped beneath the canopy, all made this a rather heavenly journey.

The group pitched camp that evening in the forest, and in the day that followed as well. It was one of few forests, but it was a large one. During that second night, Lonan decided to go hunting to feed the rest of the group. Kyero was nowhere to be found, having seemingly disappeared for the time being. But Linde assured everyone he would be back. Chances were high he was scouting ahead of them and making sure their path was clear and that he could maintain a perimeter around the camp to help keep them safe.

As Lonan returned with game, skinned and prepared for eating, they sat around the fire roasting the deer meat he found and prepared once again for a night of pleasantries.

"Would anyone like to hear a funny story?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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Aetrius was one of the last ones awake the next morning, it having gone by way too quickly. She desired sleep, but after being awoken by both Lolan and Linde knocking on her door, she eventually joined them downstairs in the diner part of the inn. After they all ate and exchanged small talk, well the others did, as both Aetrius and Lolan were suffering with headaches from the drink challenge the night prior.

Before they left, Aetrius went to one of the stores and got supplies, warmer clothing and tents, food, and she managed to find a new mask that could be used for Veilbrand, as she knew she would need to hide her face their. Some of the others asked why, and remained to keep the reasoning to herself, as it was also due to her not feeling completely confident with herself.

But later that day they came to a remote clearing along the way to Valoc in a large forest. They pitched their new tents and supplies, making camp rather easily. It would be cold, as winter was coming to this area of Cre' Est and they'd need a fire to burn all night, not just for warmth but also to ward off the wild life as this place was known for wild wolves, bears, and other deadly creatures at night. Aetrius built a large barn fire and torches all along the camp, keeping enough light for protection and warmth for them all. As the days passed, it was the second day of them staying in the camp, they were sitting at the fire preparing to eat, when Aetrius noticed Linde seemed to be rather cold, she knew Linde didn't have alot of warm clothes, as she guessed she lived in a warmer place than Veilbrand. Aetrius walked past where Linde was sitting, she removed her cloak and gently wrapped it around Linde's shoulders, "You'll need it more than I do, so...keep it. I'll be fine, I'm used to colder weather." she said with a kind smile, and sat across the fire from where Linde was, and began to eat the dinner that Lolan had prepared for them all.

"Sure, always welcome an interesting story." Aetrius said with a small smile as she casually answered Linde's question if anyone wanted to hear a story.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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Hangovers were the bane of Lonán’s usual days. Of course when drinking Icefire Brew, it was worth it to savor the honey flavored drink. Breakfast was bought and eaten in silence, with Lonán not cracking jokes or telling any stories as the dull headache drummed against his head.

When Aetrius finished her shopping run of warmer clothing and tents and other useful supplies for traveling to their next stop on the way towards Veilbrand, Lonán made sure he had enough feed to keep Hawk satisfied throughout the trip. They passed through a forest on their journey towards a place called Valoc, and made camp there for the night and the next day.

On the second day, Lonán decided to go hunting for game to boost their food supplies for the next few days, and armed himself with a skinning knife, and his Crossbow, leaving his sword in its sheathe near His Tent, he trudged off to find deer. It took him several hours in the day to find it, but he killed a fine looking stag he almost felt ashamed to kill. Of course, he apologized to it and thanked Heresta for the kill as he set it on Hawk to carry back to camp.

Upon returning Lonán carefully skinned and prepared the meat almost as if he was painting a picture. In truth he knew a few skinning tricks he picked up from watching the two most influential women in his childhood skin rabbits and antelope. ”If only Mother and Granny Sigrun could see me work so they can nag how I’m not doing this right.” He thought fondly with a chuckle, curing the pelt as he watched dinner cook. He thought if he haggled the hide in Valoc, then he would certainly gain at least 60 silver at best.

He watched Aetrius give her cloak to Linde and smiled softly as he signaled the food was done cooking, and helped himself to a plate as he got comfortable to listen to Linde’s hopefully entertaining story.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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As Linde inquired about a funny story, Aetrius walked over and placed her cloak over Linde's shoulders asking her to keep it and saying she was used to the cold. Linde smiled warmly, and felt the fabric in her hands as she drew it around herself with a soft blush in her cheeks. It was nice and warm, having just come from Aetrius' body. In other words, she was now indirectly sharing her body heat. Linde drew it tight around her shoulders and sighed softly.

As they confirmed they'd like to hear a story, Linde cleared her throat.

But before she could start, Kyero arrived from out of the darkness. It was almost as if he just materialized from it. No footstep sounds. No silhouette. Nothing. Just... Poof. He was there.

He sat down across from Lonan, not far from Okumi, and looked at Linde calmly waiting for her story to begin.

Linde chuckled.

"Well, since we're all here now... I'll begin."

She cleared her throat once more.

"It was a long time ago, in a land far, far away." She said in her 'story teller' voice, which was slightly deeper and had the faintest hint of a raspiness to it.

"A little girl of twelve began dance lessons in her hometown, the Capital City of Cre' Est. There, she met many other young girls just like her who also wished to learn the art of dance. For some it was a passion. For others a hobby. For other still it was just to pass time because they had nothing else to do."

She stood up, still clutching Aetrius' cloak to her shoulders with one hand and using her other for dramatic emphasis.

"For our heroine, it was a hobby. And nothing more. Her passion was medicine, but she had nothing left to learn from her mother by this time as her mother was now across the continent in Gweynura for business, and would be gone for nearly a year. Our heroine took up the art of dance to fill the void, continuing her medical studies as best she could in the meantime at home."

She began to walk in circles around the camp fire, using dance-like steps in a 1-2-3 1-2-3 waltz rhythm.

"It came to pass that one day our heroine encountered another girl a few years her senior who was a complete snob. A wretch of a girl with a tree for a nose and her head up her ass!" She said loudly and dramatically, cocking her hip to one side and tapping her rear end a few times to emphasize the point.

"These girls became fierce rivals. Forever competing. Forever fighting. Neither content to let the other outshine them. But the one thing our heroine had over her evil counterpart..."

Linde paused, conveniently in front of Aetrius, and gave the bounty hunter an evil smile. With the fire light shining from beneath her face, her smile looked all the more sinister.

"What our heroine had over her counterpart..." She repeated in lower voice.

Suddenly Linde cupped her forearms beneath her breasts, pushing them upward as she turned and placed them right in front of Aetrius' face. Aetrius' entire field of vision now consisted of Linde's cleavage, including the slightly frilled lace around the edge of her bra beneath the shirt she was wearing.

"... Was a large heart" She said loudly.

She backed away from Aetrius, her smile now sweet and innocent.

"Her wicked counterpart didn't have a good heart, you see. It was icy and small. She cared for nobody. But she got what was coming to her when one day, during a performance, she found in the changing room her regular bra was replaced by one slightly more than twice her size... And conveniently, it was the same size as our heroine's bust."

Linde cupped her breasts in her hands and bounced them twice, smiling and raising her eyebrows each time as she looked Aetrius in the eyes. She then let her breasts go, and they dropped to normal with a slight bounce as she turned with a seductive arch in her hip and back as she walked slowly around the fire once again.

"The spoiled brat refused to come out of the changing room, forcing her stand in to take over her role for the remainder of the performance. After it was over, our heroine revealed that she hadn't placed the bra there despite being accused of such... It came to be revealed later, outside the changing room, that the bra had belonged to the none other than the girl's own mother who placed her own bra there as a lesson in humility. The girl was nowhere near her mother's size, and likely never would be. But our heroine was already just about there... Which is why she hated our heroine in the first place and was so cold to her."

Linde faced the group and did a little shimmy which shook her breasts back and forth with a little bounce on either side.

"And so our heroine abandoned the hatred of a spoiled brat with breast envy, and has lived a happy and fulfilled live ever since."

She took a bow, again showing her cleavage thanks to her shirt. When she was done, she came back up quickly so her breasts bounced a little once again.

"Thank you for listening, and may this serve as a lesson to all men and women alike... Never live with breast envy, because in the end your jealousy will always bring you embarrassment!"

She looked directly at Lonan, giving him a wink and a shake of her finger.

"You too, Lonan. Don't envy your incomparable bust to mine. Otherwise, I shall be forced to make you wear my bra in public as a lesson in humility!"

She gave a little curtsy and sat back down, chuckling to herself all the while for her overly dramatic and comical performance.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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Lonán was slightly entranced as Linde began her tale, always loving to get lost in the story. He slowly began to laugh as the comedy began to hit, ridiculous and inappropriate as it was. It was indeed a very interesting lesson in humility, especially amongst women who would suffer such envy.

He downed some water from his waterskin when all of a sudden, Linde turned to him and winked by saying he shouldn’t envy either or else face a horrible prank, causing him to cough and spit out some of his water in both laughter and shock as his face slowly began to turn to the exact same shade of red as his hair was, eyes wide like plates as he looked down trying hard not to think about Linde’s bust or even about how she used it to tease Aetrius.

Indeed, all he could think of at this point, all the while blushing and trying hard to not fall victim to his local doctor’s antics; ”I need to get a girl to court... and Fast. Otherwise this woman’s wiles will be the death of me. Maybe I’ll end up doing what the Old Wolf did and stumble upon a group of Female warriors or something. Wait a minute Lonán! Do not be envious of his ‘exploits’. He was probably bullshitting that first encounter with Grandmother Anyway.”

So he simply just stared at the fire, blushing face and all, trying to focus on something other then Linde’s threats or women.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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Aetrius was happily enjoying the story thus far and was eating the dinner that was made for them, looking down at the ground as she was rather insecure when it came to eating. When she did look up however, she wasn't expecting to see what was currently in front of her, all she saw was clothing and a the general shape of something that was all too familiar to her. It was Linde's ahem chest, right infront of her face, her left hand was holding the plate and her right was holding her fork, but when she saw what had been going on, the fork fell from her hand onto the plate as her face turned several shades of red. Aetrius remained still and in shock as she just sat there with that view, until Linde smirked at her and walked off, continuing her tale. Aetrius couldn't speak or even more, she was frozen in place, hand appearing as if it was holding an invisible fork and eyes wide as tea saucer plates.

Eventually when Linde was done spinning her tale of all things, it had to be that, she finally slowly looked up. Thankfully with no female breasts in her sights, her blush slowly starting to go away. She needed to calm and cool down, she carefully placed the plate on the log she was sitting on and stood up, face still a bright red but was thankfully covered by the fire's glow. "I-I uh....Uhm....I-I'm gonna go on a walk....I-if anyone needs me, I-I'll be over...." she looked around as she needed to think of something, noticing a path that was well treaded upon, "There, I'll be there if you need me for anything." she stuttered and awkwardly stumbled away from the fire, and dipped out of there. She needed to clear her head and not have that image ingraved into her mind, sadly it was too late for her.

"That woman is going to be the death of me I swear...." she muttered to herself as she started her walk to nowhere in particular. Thankfully the moon was out and shone its light, making walking easy, but still dangerous without fire light.


The next day they woke up early and took down the tents, ate food, prepared for the long trip ahead of them to Valoc. Things were a bit awkward between Linde and Aetrius, as the events that took place the previous night still left Aetrius rather flustered and every time she looked at Linde a blush were spread across her face. But as the days passed by the group only grew closer to even becoming better and closer friends, some more than others. They passed by towns, villages, outposts and all the like. Meeting new people, encountering ruffians here and there, dispelling trouble every way they went. Eventually they made it to the capital of Veilbrand, Valoc. The was seemed to endlessly surround the city, one may say it did. As all you could see was large and thick walls guarding the great city from invasion and the like. Once they passed through security checks, they were allowed into Valoc.

Aetrius warned them of the dangers that would lie in Veilbrand, it was not only walled off from invaders, but to also keep people from leaving. The only people allowed weapons were military or security personnel or people among those ranks. As well as passerby's and travelers, but were kept under tight surveillance. Once they made it into the middle sector of the city, they stopped in the middle of a marketplace and store center. People were everywhere, of all kinds. Shop keepers, buyers, travelers, townspeople, young and old. The group stayed together, as Aetrius warned them, "The people here are dangerous and should not be underestimated, even some children...The people here are some of the wort kind. If you must go somewhere, stay in a group, never go anywhere alone. Trust no one." she said under the new mask she had bought, also dressed in one of her new outfits with her hood up, and mask covering her face. She knew she would need to keep her face covered, as unbeknownst to her friends, she frequented Veilbrand in the past for....business purposes. She was going to talk to the group more as to devise their plans of what to do to start searching for Kieran, she knew where it was and how to get there, but their course of action would be of most importance.

"What did I tell you, you little bitch? Don't try running away from me, you hear?!" a deep voice sounded out from the crowd, garnering Aetrius' attention, as well as the group. It was a rather large man yelling at a small child that couldn't have been any older than twelve, if even ten years old. She was small, light brown hair, dark grey eyes, innocent looking, and rather roughed up looking. It didn't take her a second thought to understand what was going on. Slave traders... she thought to herself. If there was anything that she hated more, it was slave traders. The lowest of the low, next to murderers and rapists in her opinion. She swiftly dismounted Bree and strode over to the man and child. She forcefully pushed him aside, causing him to reel back and yell, "Watch where you're going, slut! This is none of your business. Just walk away and you won't get hurt. Much." he said with a sneer as he held a cat and nine tails in his hand, a painful and grotesque whip Aetrius was all but too familiar with. She growled at the man, and seized him by the throat, smashing him into the wall, "I will gut you like a fish where you stand, you piece of shit. Do you hear me?!" she yelled, slamming him against the wall again, and punched him square in the jaw. The man reeled back and spit on the ground. "I told you to stay out of this, bitch!" he exclaimed, going for a punch.

Aetrius dodged with ease, not even coming close to her. She grabbed him by the arm, and slammed her arm down heavily in the joint between his arm and elbow, dislocating it in one swift motion. Causing the man to yell out in agony and fall to the ground. "Get up, you uselss, good for nothing, bastard!" she punched him again and then again, until she slammed her leg into his jaw, letting him fall to the ground. She panted, breathing heavily as she looked at the beaten man. Her attention was fully on him as she was in a pure and blinded rage. She never once took her eyes off the man from behind her mask, it was only taken away when she saw movement from the corner of her eye. She saw the child pick up the whip that her slave master had dropped. Aetrius immediately snapped out of it once she saw the look on the girl's face, she was horrified of Aetrius, and trembling before the compared to her giant. Aetrius slowly turned to the child, and slowly knelt down infront of her, removing her hood and mask, revealing to the child that she was actually a woman, a scarred up but none the less rather good looking female. To the child's relief her savior was a female, which caused her to relax somewhat. She looked at the child and spoke to her in a calm and soft voice, looking her directing in the eyes, "That man, your....your master, he's hurt you, hasn't he?" she asked with a tone of sadness in her voice, the girl shook her head. Aetrius sighed, "It's okay, sweetheart...You're safe, okay? I...I was once like you...A slave..." her voice fell flat, and she looked down. She never spoke of her past, especially the fact she was once a slave, but this time she had to. The girl looked at Aetrius with innocent and scared eyes.

"You want proof...?" she asked, the girl slowly and nervously nodded. Aetrius nodded at the girl, and slowly stood up. She took a deep breath, and removed her belt and over shirt, having her chest binder be the only thing that was covering her chest. Normally she wouldn't do something like this in public or at all, but this was the only exception. She turned so the young girl could see her scars, littering her whole back, she then put her clothing back on and looked at the child as she crouched back down. "I have the same scars...same story...I know what he did, and he can do it no longer to you, okay? If he or anyone ever tries to harm you again, I will personally deal with them." she said with a slight chuckle. She then became solemn and serious. She slowly unwrapped the wrapping around her hands, covering the scars on her palms and forarms, she spoke to the child yet again, "These...These were made by my master...When I was your age, one day I did something he didn't like, and as usual he would punish me, and hurt me...Much like your master would do to you...As punishment that day he made me carry heavy load of supplies through the shop, with recently forged chains...These are what is left..." she looked back up at the girl, who's eyes were filled with tears and sadness, but nevertheless she continued her speech, not caring who heard her pour out her life story to a child. "But, a few weeks before he did that...He gave me this scar, as well as the ones on my back." she said as she pointed to the scar on her face. The young girl looked at her scar, never once looking away. She reached up and gently traced the scar on her face, it caused Aetrius pain, but she bore a strong face for the child. Aetrius looked back at the child, "What? What is it, young one..?" Aetrius asked, the girl looked at her and spoke for the first time, "Why...Why do you wear a mask, lady..." she asked innocently. Aetrius was taken aback. No one ever asked her why, she thought for a moment and sighed. "Because...These scars...They made me ashamed...and I felt like I wasn't worthy to look at, all scarred up...I felt ugly, ashamed of these markings that were not my own...But...Overtime...and thanks to a good friend, I...I'm not so ashamed..." she answered honestly.

"Then why do you still wear one..?" the young girl asked Aetrius. She was stunned, she didn't really know. "I wear this mask...So people forget I exist...To...To be something I'm not, I suppose..." the young girl shook her head at Aetrius, "Well, I think you shouldn't....I think you look better without the mask...It...It covers your face...Too pretty to cover up with something so ugly..." Aetrius chuckled at her words, but was nonetheless dumbfounded. She had a point, even though she didn't want to get outsmarted by a mere child. She sighed and looked at the child once more, "But promise me one thing, dear one. Do not let this man win. Do not let him make you become something you fear..Don't let him make you become a monster, something you never wanted to become...Don't...Don't become like me....Live a life you deserve to live. Grow up, become a wife, live a happy and well deserved life. Don't let him make you into what my master made me..." Aetrius said as her tears filled with tears. The girl slowly drew close to Aetrius, and gently wiped her tears away, "What...What did he make you become...?" she asked. Aetrius looked at the child, "What I feared most...A heartless, ugly monster..." she looked down at the ground.

The girl giggled and gently lifted up Aetrius' head, "I don't think you're a monster...nor ugly..Neither do I think your pretty friend does...If anything I think she disagrees." she chuckled. Aetrius looked up at the girl with confusion, "M-my friend? You mean, Linde?" she questioned. The girl nodded and giggled, Aetrius chuckled along with her, "Is that so?" the two chuckled for a moment, but soon became serious again. Aetrius slowly stood up and straightened her height, towering over the young girl, and began to walk away. "H-hey, wait....M-miss?" the girl called. Aetrius stopped and looked back, "Yes, dear one?" she asked. The girl looked at her and spoke for the last time, "What...What's your name? So that I can remember the person who saved me..." she said shyly. Aetrius thought for a moment, should she? She remained silent, then finally spoke up and uttered something she hadn't said in years, "K....Korriban....Korriban Borral..." she said, gave the girl a small smile and turned back to her friends, leaving her mask and wrappings on the ground behind her. But before she left the man, she looked at him and spoke, "If you ever touch her or someone else, ever again. And if you harm anyone else, ever again. I will personally come back here just for you, and deal with you, personally. Don't make me make your life a living hell, because I swear to Heresta, I will." she growled, and turned away from them, letting the guards deal with the mess. She learned a lesson, from none other than a child. She wouldn't need to hide behind a mask no longer nor would she need to hide who she was, and Aetrius sighed, a small smile on her face as she walked back to the group, with renewed energy she anticipated her mission for Kieran.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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As they entered the city and went about their business, Linde watched the scene unfold between the girl, her 'master,' and Aetrius.

As she watched, her eyes betrayed absolutely zero emotions. The glint of light had even vanished from them, making them look devoid of any and all signs of life. Her face was completely relaxed, and there was no hint of sympathy or empathy to be seen. Normally the opposite was true, even for people who deserved a beat down. She would heal them after... But not today.

As Aetrius came back to the group, Linde acknowledged her with a nod of her head, but then slid her gaze to the man on the ground as he was starting to get up.

Slowly she approached the man as he reached his hands and knees. He wept his mouth off and looked up at Linde, whose dead eyes sucked all of the bravado he may have had left right out of him.

She knelt down and put a finger under his chin forcing him to look directly at her.

"... A child..." She said, her voice lower, slightly raspy, and cold as ice.

Her fingernail began to slowly dig into his chin.

"I am a doctor. I am sworn to save lives. But you..."

Her fingernail dug in more causing him to flinch away. When he did, blood was trickling from his chin where her finger was, and from her fingernail.

"Even with my belief in the Goddess of Mercy, and my pride as a doctor... People like you, who pray on children and commit such heinous and unforgivable acts against women of any age... You disgust me." She said.

Her tone of voice was even more chilling than before, and all the man could do was look into her eyes as they narrowed.

"Have you ever truly felt fear?"

She stood up and walked up beside him, putting a single finger against his neck just above the shoulders.

"... As a doctor, I am familiar with the body in ways you can't even imagine. Even having never met, I am more familiar with your body than you are. For instance... Did you know..."

Her finger began to push down into his neck, and a few of the muscles in his shoulders and upper arms began to twitch.

"The spine is the path to the body from the brain. If I apply pressure to just one spot..."

She pressed harder, and both his arms went completely limp causing him to fall forward and onto his face. He turned his face to the side, and Linde knelt down next to him, putting her finger in another spot about 6 inches lower.

"If I apply pressure to the right spot..."

She pressed down, and his legs went limp and slid out straight from under him.

"... I can shut down literally any part of your body I want."

She stood up, walked around the front, and knelt down to look him in the eyes. And because his limbs were numb, he couldn't move away or escape. He was trapped, and entirely at her mercy.

"Some people say doctors are the true saviors of human kind... But that's not entirely true. What we are..."

Linde leaned down, getting up close with the man and glaring into his eyes with that stone-cold stare.

"... We are the most efficient killing machines in the world. We simply choose to use what we know to heal rather than hurt... Except in special occasions such as this one."

Linde leaned back, sitting up straight, still giving him that icy glare.

"For what you have done to this child, and undoubtedly other young children over the years... I will make this permanent."

Linde moved to the side and slammed three of her fingers into the middle of his back, causing his entire body to spasm and go limp. After a few moments, he blinked and realized he could still control his head, but that feeling... A searing pain. Numbness. Followed by the relief of the feeling returning in his core and head and neck... But not his exterior limbs. He had no feeling in his arms or legs at all. None.

"For what you have done you will live the rest of your life unable to walk or use your hands ever again. It's better than you deserve, but I refuse to stoop to your level by taking your life. Though, if I wanted to..."

She scooted around to lean in even closer to his face.

"I absolutely could!" She hissed.

With that, she stood up and turned from him, walking back to the others as she took in a deep breath and let it out on a sigh. And after a moment, her normal smile returned as she looked somewhat apologetically to everyone.

"I'm sorry for that display, but... People like him, if you can call them that, disgust me more than any others."

She looked slightly to the side with a saddened expression, worried that she may have just turned them all against her. Even with Aetrius fighting him, at least she didn't try to tear the man's soul out by robbing him of 90% of his mobility and turning him, essentially, into a vegetable.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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Aetrius watched as after she walked back to the group, Linde nodded and walked right passed her, and to the man she had been previously speaking to. She watched from the sidelines as yet again, Linde went psycho on someone's ass after she dealt with them from the start. Every time it happened, it always left Aetrius in awe and fear, but mainly awe. But this time, something...clicked in Aetrius. She watched, mouth ajar and eyes wide as Linde did what she did best, kicking ass in the most fearsome and unexpected ways. Why, why did Aetrius feel this way, was...was she actually....in love with Linde? She thought to herself in her dumbed and zoned out phase, if she was this was the first time she ever felt that way. But she pushed it back into her mind again, away from her train of thought. She was where Kieran was, and she was going to finally see her and take her away from Veilbrand forever. No matter what it would cost her this time.

This time she had a team, a group. A reliable one at that, and they were here to get their mission of saving Kieran finished once and for all. If Kieran truly was here, she was about to find out, and she didn't care what she had to do to get to her. If she needed to go guns and swords ablazing, she would. If it could be peaceful, she would. She was just deadset on it, and she was going to make sure everyone knew that. She looked back at the group as Linde walked back over, "I was going to break his hands and body if he tried it again. But...But that was...That was better than what I had planned. Well done, Linde. Well done indeed. Now, whar are our course of action?" she asked as she looked to Linde and the others for plans.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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Lonán, for most of the time was quiet as the group made their way into Valoc. Witnessing the various activities reminded him just why he felt this land was a danger to itself at times. However, when he witnessed the slaver with the young girl his blood boiled, inching closer to his sword when Aetrius beat the slaver and comforted the young girl, allowing the more honorable side of him to relent in attacking a downed man. If he got back up to try anything he was thus ready.

However, Linde, gentle Linde once again reminded The group that whilst she was a healer, she sometimes used her knowledge to turn her enemies bodies against them. However, her fierceness caused him to pale a bit more then his skin tone, followed by a massive blush. Whilst he knew Aetrius seemed to have some crush on her, Lonán couldn’t help but see why she was attracted to her. She was beautiful, and could hold her own. He struggled with the sudden urges of Saharan Customs.

”By the gods, I need to get a drink before I think about trying to steal her from Aetrius, or whatever she calls herself. Otherwise I just go search for a house of lady favors or go flirt with Local tough women (if any)!” He thought, before hearing Aetrius applaud Linde’s punishment as he agreed with her with a nod, still slightly pink.

At the asking of any plans Lonán simply said, ”We find a place to stay first off, then ask around for the establishment of Lady Favors your friend supposedly is in then go from there.” he suggested, uncertain whether or not it was the most thought out plan. Mostly because his feathers, in a word, was ruffled.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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{OOC: Kumo gave me the go to post a second post to move things along in the Saving Kieran Arc, of this RP. So, according to him we're not anywhere close to ending this, not even close to being half way. So, more to go. OOC Wolf out!}


After devising plans of what to do next, the group agreed of searching for a camp of operations first. Preferably an inn, but even in a city like this, inns here would be far different than what the group was used to by this time. They kept to themselves and stayed out of causing further scenes, blending in with the locals and fellow travelers easily. They looked around for places, abandoned/empty buildings, some came up but they were in the lower, poorer sectors of the city and wouldn't even consider staying in a place like that. So, search of finding an inn was voted upon, from much disagreement from Kyero, but majority ruled, and they ruled for an inn. After a few hours of searching and trying to bargain for reasonable prices, and after being chased out of a few by angry inkeepers, they came to their last chance. A good sized, two story inn in the above poverty level of the sector. Aetrius told Kyero and Lolan to stay with the horses and Okumi, as leaving her alone in a city like this was as good as selling her outright to sex traffickers. Which, they'd never consider, obviously.

So that left Aetrius and Linde, they entered the inn, keeping their eyes open for any sign of danger as well as knowledge they could use, but without seeming suspicious. Aetrius walked to the front desk that was in the corner, an old and grayed man sat on a stool behind the desk, obvious a drunk as well as a creep. Aetrius cleared her throat and looked him in the eye, "How many rooms do you have left?" she asked.

The old man looked up at her with a scowl, as if he didn't even want to deal with someone, he groaned, "How many you asking for?"

Aetrius thought for a moment and then spoke up, "Three. Doesn't matter the size. Just need three rooms. The rest of our group is outside. Five of us in total. " she chose to be honest and not seem to be worthy of any trouble to him the best she could.

"Three rooms, eh? For how long?" he croaked out, his breath smelling of old ale and decaying teeth.

Aetrius did her best not to gag on the noxious smell that assaulted her nose, feeling sorry for Linde if she dared to even inhale. "About a week or so. Maybe two at most." she said as she adjusted her position and stood up straight, never looking away from the man, no matter how ugly and unkempt he may have been.

"Three rooms, for two weeks at max...Five people...." he yawned and scratched his ever balding head. "Shit ain't cheap, doubt you'd have the money. Each person costs 1 Silver ($25), and you have five people ($125/night), and are here for two weeks (14 days), then your total comes to about 1,750 or 70 Silver." he said as he coughed and hacked up some phlem at the end. Causing Aetrius as well as Linde to reel back a bit in disgust.

"Seventy silver??" Aetrius exclaimed in shock and revulsion, as that would be over whelming and drain them dry of all their money.

"Told you it's not cheap here. You pay for what you get. Your rooms are nothing special, but they work and that's all that matters. Now, fork over the fuckin' money if you want to stay and leave me be. Or you can go fuck off and find some place else, ya bitch. Yer choice." he said as he spat on the floor after he was done talking.

Aetrius' fists tightened as he spoke to them, such disrespect out of nowhere and no for shitty rooms at an overwhelming price? She was tempted to deck his ass right then and there, but they needed a place to stay. And this was their last chance of getting any place for their time here. Aetrius sighed, looked at Linde and silently shrugged. She had just enough money to make it for their time there, as well as help from the others. She knew she'd need to do some dirty work to make money for them to be able to survive, nevermind live comfortably. As well as find and get information to find Kieran. She sighed and tossed her money as well as what they could pitch in on the desk, accepted their keys and went back outside. The way to get up to their rooms was by a walkway in the back. The Prancing Pony as it was called was known to be rather dangerous and constantly filled with drunks, murderers, and rapists. But they needed a place to stay, and this was the best they could muster up.

"We'll work out something...If I need to do work to make money, so be it. I'll do it. Just for now we lay low and get intel, work our way up to finding her. We can speak more inside. The stables are in the back as well. Much as I don't like it here, it's what we got. Three rooms, for two weeks....Choose who you want to bunk with and we'll move on from there." she said as she crossed her arms and let the others understand what the plan was, and let them discuss who they'd be staying with while they're there in Valoc.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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Linde was grateful that nobody seemed to dwell on how she treated that man. He was a piece of refuse, after all. He deserved much worse than what she gave him. But still, part of her heart ached due to her behavior... She was a doctor. She should be better than this.

They moved on from there not long after, and it came to pass that she and Aetrius went to numerous inns trying to secure rooms. Finally, they ended up at the Prancing Pony and the innkeep was incredibly rude. Linde had considered using her feminine charm, but Aetrius managed to secure their rooms. However, it drained the last of their funds. Aetrius' silver plus Linde's and the last remnants of the other's finances which were donated to the cause just in case.

So now the group was literally broke and without a single copper to its name.

But they had a place to stay for two weeks, and that was something. In this place, that was more than they could otherwise ask for if they lived here.

As Aetrius spoke about their conditions, Linde spoke first.

"This might sound odd, but I have a suggestion to make about our room arrangements."

She made sure everyone was listening before speaking again.

"I suggest we move beds around a little. Kyero in the room on one end. Lonan on the other. All three of us in the middle. In a city like this, full of corruption and unscrupulous characters seeking to do harm to women, it would be prudent for all three of us to be in one room with the men on either side. That way they can both react in their own time instead of fighting to get out the door first to reach us and potentially needing to run down the hall to do so... And if need be, Kyero can use his orichalcum daggers to carve a makeshift door between his room and ours for easy access, using the cutout as a "door" so we are not without privacy. With the way the inn keep treated us, he can consider this an investment into the safety of his guests." She said with a hint of pride.

She looked up to the others.

"Does anyone have objections?" She asked.

Kyero shook his head.

"I feel it sound. What do you all think?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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Aetrius looked at Linde as she spoke, and thought over the plans for the rooms. In a place like this, Aetrius would be easily awoken to almost any noise as is, as she's trained herself to wake up at any sound when she knows she can't fully trust it. That, and she'd keep watch for most of the time, not being one that needs much sleep anyway. She nodded at the suggestion in agreement with Kyero. "It is a safer option, as well as an easy way to move around the place without causing attention to be brought to us while we're here. The plan is sound. As well as me staying up to keep watch, and only sleeping when I need to, works for me. I'll be alert at all times to keep you safe, you all safe." she said that, first she looked at Linde with a quick glance, then to the others to pass off what she said as if she meant the group itself. She cleared her throat and nodded, going over to Bree and taking off her supplies, as they couldn't trust any of their things outdoors.

"Sorry, girl. But you'll be an outside horse for a while." she gave Bree a gentle pet and kiss on the forehead, which garnered a whinny and a huff from the horse. "I'll have none of that attitude with you, missy." she chuckled and picked up the rather large amount of supplies she had on Bree, and began carrying them up the stairs to their room. "We can discuss things better as we settle in. Plan things further without getting anymore attention than we've already gotten. I say we find a place for future food and supplies after settling, then retire back here and plan things out. What says you all?" she gave a rather small and genuine smile to the others, then resumed to go to the rooms that were mentioned.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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Lonán, stroking Hawk’s snout as he listened to The discussion of their current place to rest their head a few days, and the arrangements thereof only nodded. To say he was a bit sour about using up his entire purse was an understatement, and the fact he was getting hungry didn’t help lessen that mood. At least he’d have a room to meditate in, and perhaps clean and maintain his weaponry in too.

At the mention of Kyero’s Dagger, or at least the metal thereof, made him fill with a small hint of regret for his grandfather, who had heard of such metals but could only dream of creating something of it. His ‘Magnum Opus’ as it were. But dreams, the Old Wolf claimed were for those who didn’t work hard to perfect their skills. Lonán Mentally shook the memory from his head, as he unburdened hawk of his things and hugged him. ”Be good my friend, keep Bree from trouble. If anyone tries anything kick them or run.” He said quietly to him. The horse chuffed and shook his head to get him off. ”If it weren’t for me calming your attitude you’d be at Uncle’s Knackery. Ass.” He joked as he walked to the inn.

”And Yes, I agree we need to fill our bellies first and formost. Find someplace decent to eat and all that.” He commented, as his stomach began to growl like an angry tiger at the thought of it. He entered his room and began to set the things he carried down. He then set up anything unimportant for an alarm for intruders. He nodded to himself in satisfaction and looked about his clothing for something decent, preparing for the rest of the day ahead, with questions to possibly ask to Planning for the weeks ahead.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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Linde nodded as the proposal was accepted.

"All right then. The girls and I will room together in the center room. You boys can take one room on either side."

Kyero nodded, pulling his hood down a little farther and entering the inn to quickly make his way to his room and shut himself in.

When Kyero was inside and tucked away, Linde helped move Aetrius and Okumi into the central room with her. They had Kyero's assistance in moving one of the beds over to accommodate three of them in one room. Once that was done, Kyero returned to his room to await the call to the meeting.

Linde and Aetrius had a conversation, with Okumi chiming in a tiny bit as well, about how to proceed. And the general consensus was that they couldn't do much of anything with all of their money spent on these rooms. Aetrius would have to take a bounty or two to find some cash while the others did what they could around this area to find anything they could about Kieran's whereabouts.

Aetrius described her for them so they'd know what to ask after, and then left them to find a bounty. Kyero as well decided to assist, but chose to go for more high profile targets. Given that he was the Red-Eyed Demon, it was what he lived for, essentially. Linde wasn't too happy about him killing anyone, but a bounty was a bounty. And it was fair work.

Kyero departed with Aetrius, heading for the nearest bounty hunter establishment to find the best work they could to help sustain their efforts here.

Meanwhile, Linde kept Okumi company. She helped her pick out another outfit for this trip, one a little more robust than the cute dress she'd gotten before. She wanted her to preserve her shrine maiden outfit as much as possible. So she got Okumi a simple kimono-like robe with a tiny bit of leather armor covering the breast/heart area. She wanted her to stay as safe as possible without attempting to look imposing or like a warrior. No need to draw unwanted attention to her. Not in this city.

When that was over, they both got together with Lonan to discuss what to do.

"While Kyero and Aetrius collect bounties, I think it would be prudent for us to get familiar with the layout of the city. I'll take Okumi with me to map out the area for us so we can plan emergency escape routes back to the inn, and so we get the gist of what's around us. Lonan, I want you to take Aetrius' description and inquire around the city as casually as possible. Try not to ask directly about her. Just drop hints in conversation about a woman of her description and see who bites. If you think you find someone who knows something, take a mental note of them and we'll send Kyero to investigate further when he comes back. Does that make sense?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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After they settled into the rooms, they discussed further plans. She knew they'd need money, and they'd need it fast. After Aetrius talked with the others, they agreed that Aetrius and Kyero taking bounties was the best option, next to selling things of value. Which would be more of a last result. Aetrius was asked to give a general description of what Kieran looked like, "She's older than me, but not as tall, slightly shorter. Same color hair, but longer....Linde's length. She has more....how do you say, a more feminine build than mine, and has green eyes. Best way to describe her without going into bigger details, which would come across as suspicious. For now, you have that to go by. Best of luck you three." soon after she and Kyero left to go to the local Bounty Hunter Collection, seeking work.

Aetrius dressed in an outfit she hadn't worn in a while. Usually whenever she'd go bounty hunting is when she would wear it, special assignments usually. She took her bow and quiver with her bolts, as well as a dagger and one of her swords, leaving the other with Linde if she needed it for safety reasons, or a last resort. Once she and Kyero arrived at the place they searched for, she talked with him in private first to make sure her plans would be cooperative with his. "What's our go to plan, here? Said you'd go after the higher profiler kills, meanwhile I'll go for the....lower likes. Work my way up as we get situated with the town. When we're done, we'll come back here and go back to the inn. Sound good, Kyero?" she asked the hooded figure that stood casually across from her.

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Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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Kyero followed Aetrius through the city, his cloak flowing behind him and his hood drawn tightly around the collar to keep it in place so it didn't fly off in small bursts of wind. The city was mildly windy today, so there was the danger of someone seeing his eyes if he wasn't careful.

When they arrived at their destination, the Hunter's Cabin, Aetrius paused to ask after their plans in finer detail

"You are correct. I will pursue the highest value target on the board. Even in a town as corrupt as this, there are bound to be at least one or two high value targets worth a couple gold each. If I can get even one of them, we will have enough for at least one of our two weeks."

Aetrius nodded silently, they'd need bigger kills and entrusting them for now with him would be better than her. While yes she was a fine hunter and one of the best on the market, she was known to be rather....brutal in her kills, if they were to kill the target. Specifically if requested she'd break their more important bones to bring them in, if they can't move they're easier to bring in. She'd go for lower ranked criminals first, then make her way up.

"Sounds like a plan, mate. I'll get my bounties for the day in and go on from there. Should be a walk in the park." She said all too cooly, and walked to the counter and looked at the bounties that were up.

The usual could be seen, low ranked criminals from petty thieves to high ranked ones such as rapists, murderers, and gang members of high fame. She went for three bounties, two low ranked murderers, and one high ranked gang leader. If need be she could take the whole group out, preferably that is what she wanted. She looked at Kyero and nodded.

Kyero nodded in response and looked at the board.

The usual bounties were placed in the middle, while the higher end bounties were usually kept hidden and only for those who asked. He approached the desk and flagged down the bar keep.

"What's your highest bounty?" Kyero asked.

"Ri' now it be dis un." Said the bar keep, grabbing a sheet of parchment from beneath the counter and sliding it across the table to Kyero.

Kyero took the parchment and looked at it, and found it was a bounty for the head, literally, of a noble from Gweynura who swindled the Advisor to Egruus himself. The pay was 8 Gold, or any disbursement of that amount one desired.

"Any leads?" Kyero asked.

"He's supposnly 'oled up in de North secter o' town. Hidin' in duh slums ta keep outta sight."

"I'll take it."

"Good luck dere."

Kyero folded the parchment after memorizing his target's portrait.

"I'll head north and get this done as fast as I can and meet you all back at the inn."

He held out a fist.

"Safe hunting." He said, a small smirk visible beneath his hood even if his eyes could not be seen.

As Kyero was busily inquiring of his bounty, Aetrius looked at the ones she acquired.

Shatal Loa, known gang leader in the west side of the city. Killed twenty guards while in the city in the past month. Offer was 20 silver, or whatever else the Hunter wanted if they killed some of his men as well, and to bring back a momento to prove his death. Wanted dead. Aetrius decided to go for this first, was higher than the other two. By the time she was done reading her's, Kyero had returned and spoke with her.

"Alright. I'll meet you back at the inn when I have this asshole dead, and possibly a few of his men. I'll be in the West side of the city. Good luck, Kye." she gave him a grin as well and a nod, and left the Hunter's Cabin.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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#, as written by Tanman
Okumi Chrysanth
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~♬White Palace♬~



From the day Okumi had met Linde, Kyero, Aetrius and Lonán, the days had moved by so quickly, it was all a bit of a blur. Perhaps she was having so much fun, time was going by faster? Or perhaps, it was something else entirely? Sitting in the Inn, alone for the moment as Linde had stepped out while everyone else had headed to work, Okumi thought back over the past few days travelling, recalling how she got herself into all this mess, and why she was considering such a risky plan. The first couple of days with everyone had been pleasant enough, Okumi hadn’t noticed it at that point. Maybe she was blinded by the novelty of being amongst so much company for a change? Clad in the white dress Linde bought her, Okumi partook in sitting and listening with the others, allowing time for her wounds to heal under Linde’s care. Now aware of Okumi’s condition, Linde was more than accommodating to the strange habits of the strange shrine maiden, and whether out of politeness or disinterest, the remainder of the group didn’t question her silence or the mask that she wore.

When the group finally hit the road to leave Atlum and head for Veilbrand, Okumi thought that it would be the end of such pleasant exchanges. After all, she was a shrine maiden, and though she appreciated the offer to head to Veilbrand, her home was here in the mountains. She’d already been away for two nights, so the chickens were probably restless. Still, it would be worth it – She’d been rewarded with a horse for her good deeds, and even though that wasn’t the most useful in her position as a shrine maiden, it would be another companion to amuse herself with once back at the temple. She’d have to think of a name for the fellow. Alas… That wasn’t to be. The sight that greeted Okumi and the group was not one of a simple and well-kept shrine, and as the group watched Okumi rush around exploring the debris and wreckage, it became pretty clear what had happened in her absence. The entire site had been razed, her shack burned to the ground; the small, stone structure for tributes and prayer snapped in two; but worst of all, the fields she’d cultivated and the chicken coop had been utterly destroyed. Nothing of hers remained. It was all gone. She’d lost her home once more.

Whether it had been the bandits from Atlum or another party, Okumi couldn’t be certain. Still, it left her heart heavy, and so it was with a solemn expression and the faintest of tears in her eyes, the shrine maiden accompanied the group to Veilbrand. Pity. She hated being pitied, but it seemed that was all she was good for. That and following death wherever it went. Okumi was an optimist, someone who always tried to see the positive in things, and this was no exception. Perhaps it was a sign to remain with her new companions, to explore further in the world? And yet… Something in the back of her mind nagged at her. Ever since that day, it seemed nothing but ruin followed her. She’d always thought that the plant she’d plucked had been cursed. Now, she wondered if perhaps it was her that was a blight on the world around her…



Travelling with the group, Okumi couldn’t help but marvel at how amazing they all were. All so strong in their own way. On one particularly notable day, she got to hear firsthand the hardships and strengths of the people she now called friends. Or at least… The ones that called her friend. Okumi appreciated their company dearly but… She wasn’t sure if they even liked her. Slowly, her insecurities continued to eat at her. She was something pitiable. Disgraceful. Perhaps they only kept her company because they felt sorry for her? These people… They were warriors. Fighters. Assassins. People that fought against such hardship and strived to make something of themselves. Even now, as they travelled, they had goals and aspirations not just for themselves, but for the world or their legacy. Lonán sought to bring acclaim and recognition of his family name, to become a warrior legend and perhaps something of a hero. Aetrius, for all her gruffness, showed a softer side; and hinted that perhaps she wanted to do more than just fight for a living, if her tale was anything to go by. Not to mention that they were already on a quest to save her sister. Linde too, wanted to help others. To be there for anyone in need, and had already proved that she was living by those ideals. Even Kyero, who didn’t share his story, was trying to be something more than a death-bringer, if Linde’s earlier conversation was anything to go by. Then there was Okumi… When it came time for her to tell a story, she looked downcast. Soon enough, everyone realized that she couldn’t really give much of anything, especially while riding. Linde played it off with an apology and a joke but…

It hurt. To have friends this close, sharing things so dear to them and yet… Why couldn’t she speak? It wasn’t that she didn’t have a voice, and it wouldn’t cause her that much discomfort to tell a story with her mask on, so why…? Why couldn’t she..? Why…? Squeezing the reigns of the horse tighter, Okumi clenched her eyes shut. She could have told them of her past. Gotten that off her chest, become closer to them. That would have been fair. So why hadn’t she? And why was she even asking herself questions she knew the answer to? She was unlike Lonán, Aetrius, Linde, and even Kyero. They all had something she lacked. They all endured hardships, but now? Now, they were living for something more than just themselves. Okumi couldn’t say that about herself. She wasn’t fighting to live. She was living to die. Justify it all she wanted, but knowing what she carried. The danger she posed to everyone around her, the safest thing she could do for everyone… Was die. But she hadn’t. She’d buried that deep down inside of her, played it off like she was living on for her family to try and continue their legacy, but really, she didn’t care about that. She never really had. The truth was that she was afraid. Scared to die, and scared of what death might bring. Guilt and fear was the only thing keeping her alive. That’s why… That’s why…



Ukron brought with it festivities and more sorrow. The cold weather was beautiful, but also bitter. Falling snow was such an ephemeral thing. Sitting by herself on a bench, Okumi watched people enjoy the songs and dance, smiling in vicarious appreciation as Linde and Aetrius shared a moment together. It was tender, sweet and warm, even in the chilly night. Okumi was happy for them. In fact, the spirited music even began to coax the reserved shrine maiden to act. She always did enjoy dancing and fun, that was the one part of being a shrine maiden that she’d truly loved. The traditional dances were a challenge, and something special to break up the typical routine. Perhaps, she could let herself go for a change, dance for a bit…? Sitting up, Okumi began to take a step to join them, before suddenly, she couldn’t help but start coughing. Turning away, she wondered if it was the cold getting to her. It wouldn’t do her well to get sicker than she already was. Still, she could feel something on the inside of her mask, so she’d need to clean it or swap to one of her fresh ones.

Deciding to do so before dancing, especially since she’d likely work up a sweat if she really got into it, Okumi moved out of sight to trade out the mask. What she saw froze her stiff, the girl stealing a glance to either side of her, but the laughter from the center of the town confirmed that everyone was distracted with their own activities. Trembling slightly, Okumi quickly changed out her mask, taking a moment to move over to one of the torches that lined the houses for the night’s festivities. Holding her old mask over the flame, Okumi let it burn to ash and vanish amongst the snow. There was no trace of what had been there, but that didn’t change what she saw.

That was the first night Okumi noticed blood in her mask.



Continuing to Veilbrand, Okumi continued to think to herself about a great deal of things. More than the people she was travelling with, what was it she wanted? She did want to help Aetrius find Kieran, that was true but… What then? What was her purpose in this world? Did she even really belong with the group? They could all fight so well and contribute so much, but Okumi… Didn’t. She felt like a bystander, simply there, existing rather than actually doing anything to help. Was this… Should she be using her time like this..? Okumi hadn’t mentioned that night in Ukron to Linde. That woman would simply pity and worry for Okumi more if that was the case. Not to mention… Glancing over to Aetrius as Linde told her ‘story’, the shrine maiden smiled. Those two seemed to be hitting it off well, flirting every now and then. To bring up her own issues would be inappropriate. She wanted them to enjoy their time together; not guilt those around her into spending more time with her. Besides, there wasn’t much that could be done. No, she’d rather her companions be happy, showing them the same courtesy they showed her. And beyond that, Kieran was the priority. Besides, it could have been a one off.

As Lonán laughed and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves from Linde’s antics, Okumi played the part and smiled as well. Yes, this was the right choice. Just like she’d decided back then. This was her burden to bare.



Watching Aetrius save the girl from the slaver was admirable. Once again, Okumi was reminded on how much of a different level Korriban was compared to her. The strength and speed of a true warrior was something not to be underestimated. When Linde decided to follow up however, Okumi watched in stunned silence. True, she agreed that there was nothing more despicable than… that. But… Even so… She could never bring herself to do something like what Linde did. Crippling that man… It was far crueler than death. In fact, in this sort of world, Okumi knew it was basically a death sentence. Not being able to defend or provide for oneself, especially a man of his nature… No one would care for him. Maybe he’d starve, or someone would end his life in a mercy killing but… The fear of death… Okumi knew it well. She didn’t wish pain or suffering on anyone. Perhaps that was her weakness but… She couldn’t stomach it at all. Okumi didn’t agree with slaughtering those bandits back in Atlum, and for similar reasons, she couldn’t condone what happened to the man in front of her. Low as he was. Glancing amongst Linde and everyone else, she saw their expressions. They were… Happy about it. Well, happy may not have been the right word, but they certainly didn’t have the twisted feeling in their stomach like Okumi did. Pretending to be amused with the scenery, Okumi was glad her mask hid her expression for the most part. It was becoming clearer to her how much of an outcast she really was. Her values were different, and she wasn’t as capable as the others. All she would do is hold them back. She… Didn’t belong.

In a daze as she thought through everything, Okumi remained silent as usual while she waited for Aetrius and Linde to go about their work, gently stroking her horse’s mane as she waited. It provided some comfort for the turmoil in her heart and mind. When they finally got to the inn, they all discussed the plan for finding Kieran and procuring funds, Okumi half-heartedly chipping in to the process. She’d been nothing but another mouth to feed. A sink of money and time. Not only that, but she wasn’t much use in work. She wasn’t strong, and not being able to communicate meant that there wasn’t much of anything she could do to bring income to the group. Despite her best efforts to refuse, Linde insisted on buying Okumi another outfit to suit the weather. Perhaps subconsciously, she’d noticed the cues in Okumi’s behavior caused by the dissonance in her mind? Regardless, Okumi felt even worse. Here they were needing to save money, and yet, Linde was still looking out for her. Okumi’s hand trembled. She felt useless. She hated that feeling. It reminded her of back then.

Later, Okumi and Linde headed out to map the town for escape routes to the Inn. Okumi was in charge of the drawing, which was easy enough. Linde easily could have done the task on her own, so this was clearly just a way of keeping Okumi out of danger and making her feel useful. She appreciated the effort but… Again, it didn’t sit right with her. Pity… Being useless… Okumi was sick of it. She was going to have to do something.

Waiting until nightfall was easy enough. After they were done with their tasks, Linde and Okumi went back to the Inn to wait for Aetrius’ return. Even though it was quite late, Linde was restless waiting for Korriban, possibly out of worry, but the two had clearly grown closer of the weeks travelling. In fact, Okumi was counting on that fact to get her opportunity. When Aetrius returned, performing the signature knock, Okumi let Linde answer the door. Seeing them make chatter, the Shrine Maiden moved up. After a series of gestures, starting first with taking hold of Aetrius’ and Linde’s hand to bring them together; then pointing in turn to Okumi herself, a spot just outside the door, and then the clock on the wall, making a ‘10’ sign with her hands, the Shrine Maiden intended to give the two some alone time in the room to catch up. She had no doubt they’d accept, even if they didn’t do much with it. Besides, both would know it was common for Okumi to take moments alone, given her condition. What they didn’t know, was that Okumi had no intention of just waiting there.

Heading out into the night alone would be foolish. A lone woman would likely be the target of unscrupulous people and at risk of so much. But that was what Okumi was counting on. It was impulsive, but she’d come up with a plan to help locate Kieran. What better place to do so then from the inside? After all, she’d worked out where the… ‘Seedier’ district was when she’d gone mapping with Linde. If she wandered around there, someone would try to lure her in, maybe kidnap her; and from there, it would be relatively easy to ask around the other slaves to find Kieran. As long as she made some sort of obvious mark or signal that the others could find; they’d be able to close in and rescue them, and best of all, all the money they’d earned wouldn’t have to go to the inn since she’d have saved them so much time. It was a flawless plan! And incredibly naïve. Oblivious to the dangers of such a town and the things people could do, Okumi had no idea what she was getting herself into. She didn’t even notice the men around her before a bag was over her head, and the world faded to darkness…

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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It was time to work.

As soon as he said farewell to Aetrius, he departed the Hunter's Cabin and slipped into the shadows of the city.

The sun was setting, and as the twilight engulfed Valoc Kyero reappeared from the darkness of the city's shadowy landscape near the edge of a building overlooking the slums. It was almost a literal divide between the two. On Kyero's side, the Noble sector. In front of and below him, the slums where the sector's refuse gathered to eek out a less-than meager existence.

Kyero's eyes glowed softly beneath his hood, scanning the world below for any sign of his quarry.

Slowly, as the sun descended further and the shadows overtook his position, his eyes flashed brightly and he disappeared into the darkness once again.

Abandoning his brown cloak in favor of his all-black outfit beneath, he moved through the shadows as if one of their own. There was no sound to his steps despite his weight and equipment. Several throwing daggers kept tight to his frame via leather sheaths and cloth underside to prevent creaking and groaning as it flexed and bent. His smoke bomb pouch, which he'd since filled with two extra, giving him three in total. Luckily they were small and made of a softer outer material so they didn't create much noise in the first place. He had a wrist band of poison darts around his right wrist, a series of star shurikens around a strap across his chest and back, and his Twin Daggers, made of orichalcum.

Despite its nigh indestructibility, the material itself was remarkably light weight. Each blade, 14" long from butt of the handle to tip of the blade, barely weighed more than two pounds in total.

Moving quietly through the darkness, he slowed his breathing and the light in his eyes faded, helping further cloak him in the void.

Slinking through the night, he observed the refuse of the slums. Their conversations. Their movement patterns and mannerisms. Their posture. Their skin tone. Their quality of their voices. Their physical ticks and quirks. And he began to see a pattern.

As he continued to sneak through the darkness, he happened across a group of men who didn't fit the pattern. Their clothing was not as ragged. Their voices clear and seemingly well taken care of. Their posture was taller and straighter. Their movements more coordinated and refined... These men weren't refuse.

Kyero sat quietly in the shadows, listening to their conversation.

"We have to do something."

"Yes. But what, exactly?"

"I don't know!"

"You never know."

"Mind your tongue!"

"It is but the truth. You are always the first to say we need a plan, but always one of the last to actually make one."

"I swear if you were not a business colleague-"

"You'd what, exactly?"

"..."

"I didn't think so."

"Gentlemen, please. We must focus on what's at hand."

This group was of noble status... That was certain with the way they were speaking with one another.

"The issue here is that there is a bounty on our associate's head. We need to find a way to get rid of it. If his business suffers because of this charade, ours will as well."

"Mm."

"Agreed... So what do we do?"

"We must find a way to remove the bounty. Perhaps killing the ones posting them?"

"That would draw attention to the bounty boards and we don't need that. Especially if we are unable to ensure all of the copies of the bounty are destroyed."

"Yes. A better plan would be to simply pay off the bounty hunter proprietors. Keep that bounty from appearing on the walls."

"But who knows how much that could cost! We should-"

Blah, blah, blah. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Kyero was growing bored. This was one of the few things he actually despised about his work as an assassin... The listening to people like this go on about what they perceived to be "problems." Let one of them try actually living as a member of the city's refuse for a few weeks and see how they cope. But no. He needed to keep focused.

Their conversation eventually led them to the conclusion that they needed to meet with him. His name, evidently, was 'Kiltrap,' a rather interesting choice for a moniker. Kyero followed them to a residence further up the slums to the Northwest, near the very edge of the city and the walls. As they entered the residence, Kyero's eyes began glowing with a darker shade of red as he slowly disappeared, red glow and all, into the darkness of the night.

Inside the residence, the men from earlier walked up a rickety flight of stairs to the second floor where they entered a back room after a few rhythmic knocks. A pass code, no doubt. And as they all entered the room there was a soft whiff of air that went past them. They turned around, but there was nothing there. Just the empty hallway and the stairs. All the windows were closed.

"... Peculiar."

"Let's go."

They closed the door and moved to the back of the room, and there they beheld Kiltrap, as he was calling himself, sitting in a chair, wearing a cloak, and reading a book.

"Gentlemen... What can I do for you?"

His voice was deeper and more ominous than they'd previously dared to hope. He was their business associate, but they'd never met him in person before. He was also larger and more intimidating than they'd thought, easily being a man of 6' 7" in height and weighing likely 240+ pounds of muscle. A large and very imposing man.

"Kiltrap, I presume?"

"Yes... What do you want?

"We are some of your business associates. Perhaps you've heard of me?"

"What is your name?"

"Herald Gould. I run a-"

"A fence chain for thieves to sell their goods cleanly and without a paper trail, disguised as a local jewelry store in the Western district."

"Ah, so you do know of me?"

"Hmph. I know of your business. I was planning to take it over by the end of this year. But current circumstances have delayed those plans."

"Y-y-you were... What?"

"You heard me. Your business has potential, but you're not using it properly. It will become more profitable under MY control." He said, flipping a page in his book.

"Y-you... You slimey-"

"Mind yourself." He said, his stone cold ice-blue eyes appearing from beneath his hood.

"Even at this distance I could kill you in less than a second... Do not cross me."

The man shut his mouth, but tried to remain stoic and look unimpressed and unafraid.

............. This man... Kiltrap... Was he?

Kiltrap closed his book and stood to his full height, his head just inches from the ceiling.

"Do not waste my time, gentlemen. Though I choose to go into hiding for my own safety, my businesses are safe and secure despite this bounty. Even IF it were possible for someone to find and take my head, my businesses are set up to continue functioning without me."

... He has to be.

Kyero didn't know everyone in the organization, but there was a certain layer of confidence they all seemed to share. And this man had it in spades.

Now, see here! Your businesses, no matter your belief in their security, have come under fire. If the fall, so do ours."

"Because yours are poorly put together with nary a foundational platform to stand on. Mine shall endure regardless of what happens to me or what the opposition tries to do. Now, if you've nothing left to show me... Stop wasting my time."

"Nobody speaks to me like that and gets away with it."

The man pulled out a hidden flintlock pistol, cocked, the hammer, and took aim at Kiltrap's head.

"Either retract your crude statements, or prepare to die."

Kiltrap only smiled, and walked over to the wall on their left where he tapped his finger against the top of a bookshelf. He looked at the men with those icy-blue eyes, and his smile faded. His fingers curled around the bookshelf top, and he pulled back on it a little. A "click" was heard, and a moment later a smoke bomb, the same Kyero had used in the village to defend against the bandits, dropped from the ceiling to the men's feet where it went off and shrouded the room in darkness.

Kyero's vision went to absolute zero, but he still heard what followed. Kiltrap had moved in, killing the three men under cover of the smoke. Their screams were all cut short and silenced, and as the smoke cleared a massive pool of blood had filled the room near the entrance. The three men were laying there, all with their throats slashed open. With their carotid arteries and jugulars opened up, and their hearts pumping rapidly from fear and panic, they lost all the blood in their bodies in a matter of about a minute or less.

Kiltrap cleaned his blade casually on his pants, and sheathed it as he went to sit down and continue reading his book.

Kyero observed the man quietly from his corner, breathing quietly and slowly to reduce the glow in his eyes to nothing. He had to remain concealed. If Kiltrap rose and came for him, the battle would get very ugly, very quickly.

Kyero was around 6' 2" in height, but this man still towered over him at around 6' 7" with at least 40 pounds of muscle on him, if not more. He was fast, too. Kyero heard the sounds of the struggle and heard exactly three slices, all within about two seconds of one another. The fact that it was all from under the cover of smoke and from a distance of about fifteen feet from Kiltrap to their position...

There left no question.

Kiltrap was once a member of Te'i Sai, likely banished for malevolent practice or breaking one of Te'i Sai's tenets. As for his rank, there was little question of that either. Kiltrap had been a Master Assassin. His speed, calmness under pressure, and his efficiency all spoke to that.

Kyero, as the Red-Eyed Demon and having been trained by the Grandmaster himself, was the equivalent of a Master Assassin in terms of rank. But in terms of sheer strength and experience, Kiltrap had the edge. He was at least in his early 40's, and had a lifetime's worth of experience. Anyone could see that. Kyero was not going to be able to sneak up on this man so easily. And with as alert as he was, he was not tired or going to sleep anytime soon.

Kyero needed a new plan. He knew where to find him. Now he needed a better method of approach and execution... He'd need the other's help for this.

At first opportunity, Kyero left the building as Kiltrap moved to another room, and headed back to the inn to reconvene with the others...

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


Meanwhile, back at the inn, Aetrius arrived and was allowed in by Linde after the knock code they established. When she entered, Linde saw right away that she was covered in blood, small cuts, and bruises. Okumi indicated she was leaving for a bit, but would be back. Linde nodded to her, and ushered Aetrius into the room.

"Please remove that bloodied clothing. I need to grab a few things." She said insistently.

Linde hurried to the corner where she left her tools and started rummaging around in her bag. She placed a few bottles next to her on the shelf, and then a vial of liquid. She grabbed her bandages, and a few pads for dabbing disinfectant, and then went back to Aetrius' side to set all her items on a stool as she sat down next to the bounty hunter.

"Just what did you get yourself into out there?" She asked, more rhetorically than anything else.

Because her wounds were slight, but numerous, Linde sat very close to Aetrius and pulled the stool into her arm's reach. Their hips were touching, but Linde didn't notice. She only paid attention to the fact that she needed to deal with these numerous small wounds. She brought out one bottle, popped the top, and dabbed a bit of the salve onto one of her pads and stared dabbing it on Aetrius' small cuts. They stung a little, but they also cooled the wounds immediately afterwards.

"So many marks... Do you do this to yourself on purpose?" Linde asked playfully with a soft chuckle.

She had turned towards Aetrius to continue her work, pushing the full flat of her leg against Aetrius' leg from hip to knee. She was so close now. Their faces were only around 1 foot apart as Linde examined all of the bruising and sighed.

"You really need to start picking fights you can win without taking so many hits." She chided.

Linde popped another bottle top, and brushed her fingers through it. She brought the salve up to the bruises and, very, very gently, rubbed it into Aetrius' skin. The effect would not take place for several minutes, but Linde assured her that it would help relive the swelling and help prevent it from aching the way most bruises did when you woke up the next day. She continued this for all the bruises she could see until only one remained... The bruise around her throat.

"Oh, Aetrius... What did they do to you?" She said softly to herself.

Linde had just enough of the salve left to finish this, but it was a bit slower than the others because of how large the bruise was and how much of her throat it covered. Linde started on the side closest to her, gently rubbing the salve into Aetrius' flesh with her index and middle fingers. The contact was so tender it was like being massaged by water. Linde slowly worked around to the front of the throat, leaning in a little in front of Aetrius so she could see, putting their faces about 6 inches apart. She then leaned forward, so she could see around to the other side of her neck which brought them within about 3 inches of each other. In fact, despite being completely unaware of it, she was now leaning far enough forward that her left breast was pushing against Aetrius' arm.

Linde's cheek was so close to Aetrius' face that she could feel her breath against her cheek. But she was so focused on her work that she didn't notice...

Finally, Linde completed massaging the salve into Aetrius' neck and leaned back to let out a soft sigh of relief.

"That should do, I think. But please, promise me you'll be more careful. As Kyero says: 'No matter how strong or skilled you might be, to approach without caution is to court death'." She said.

She walked over to the sink and began to wash the salve off her hands, looking at Aetrius over her shoulder.

"You're strong Aetrius. But I think you've become a little too confident in yourself for your own good, based on what I've seen so far. You should exercise more caution in the future. Otherwise these little cuts and bruises are going to turn into something much worse. And I don't know if I'll always be able to fix them for you."

When she was done washing and drying her hands, she walked back over to Aetrius and sat down next to her with a soft and gentle smile.

"Promise?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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Linde smiled for Aetrius as she very sweetly offered her a piece of dinner, but before Linde could respond a knock came at the door. Linde wiped her tears and approached, asking after who was there. And through the door came Kyero's very distinct voice asking Linde to open it. She did so, and Kyero entered the room and removed his cloak.

He sat down on the floor, cross legged, and folded his arms as Linde sat nearby, watching him. Aetrius knocked on Lonan's wall, and Lonan made his way over. Once everyone was present, save Okumi... Kyero informed them of what he had found out.

"My target was located, but there is a complication... He was once part of Te'i Sai."

Linde gasped, covering her mouth.

"Given his bearing, speed, and efficiency in dispatching those who came to confront him about business, I can only conclude he was once a Master Assassin among Te'i Sai's ranks. He even used the same kind of smoke bombs I use. But the thing is... Only I have ever made this particular kind of bomb. For him to have duplicated it, he must have received the same training I did."

He looked to the others, around the circle.

"His bounty is eight gold, which would last us for a good long time. But if I am to kill him and fulfill the bounty, I'll need help. He's at least six feet, eight inches in height and has almost forty pounds of muscle on me. As skilled as I am, his age and experience will prove a challenge even for me. I learned the hard way years ago not to underestimate anyone, for any reason. And I know that I'll need all of you to help me bring him down."

He blinked, and looked around the group.

"Where is the shrine maiden?"

"Oh... She was with me earlier. But when Aetrius came home she left to give us time to talk. But... I haven't seen her since."

She turned to Lonan.

"Did you see her on the way in?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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Lonán was interrupted of his meditation, and so when he arrived at the meeting, he was well indeed without his shirt as he sat down and listened to Kyero’s hunt. Nodding every now and again. At the thought of eight gold definitely put the thought in his head that it might help him sift more information at the Gambling den. He nodded once more to affirm he’d help Kyero.

”Might have to squeeze in time between asking around but a share of that gold will go a long way.” He thought to himself. His thoughts were interrupted when Kyero asked a potential new worry. Their silent Shrine Maiden was noticeably missing. His eyes briefly widened at the thought of her absence. As Linde explained the last time she had seen Okumi Lonán wondered what she asked.

He tried to think of the right words to say, as his worry began to slightly bubble over, he found himself stammering. ”N-No, I don’t think so, I didn’t see her outside the Inn or anywhere on my route back here from finding promising gossip places... fuck This is not good.” whilst he may be jumping to conclusions, he however jumped to them out of concern and if his fears, that currently now pushed his encounter with Rose aside, were realized, they needed to find and rescue two people now.

Heresta’s Teeth. This became a whole new level of chaos.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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Before Linde heard the knock, Aetrius' attuned ears could hear his foot steps before Linde did. She knew who it was and relaxed upon hearing the knock. She stood up as he entered and knocked on the wall, signaling Lolan to join them. Once they were all together, aside from Okumi she sat back down on the stool. She crossed her arms and thought as Kyero mentioned Okumi not being with them, or even back yet.

"Fuck....Stupid kid..." she softly muttered under her breath as she looked around, shaking her head. Aetrius looked at the others and sighed, she stood up and spoke, "My best guess at this point? She probably did something stupid and now I have to go look for her..." she sighed and picked up the blood covered cloak and put it back on, putting her belt on that had her swords attached. She looked at the others and sighed, "I'll go and try looking, if I can't find her....I'll be back in an hour...Anyone want to come with?" she asked. Aetrius knew that probably none of them would want to join her, as they were probably tired and would need sleep. She looked at Linde and tried to give her a small smile, but it was so ever faint. She knew she'd have to do something Linde wouldn't like, and would accept the punishment for it later.

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