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Linde Xe' Almna

"Kyero is the Red-Eyed Demon, but he's also a human being."

0 · 890 views · located in Cre' Est

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

Description

Linde Xe' Almna

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Age: 21
Height: 5' 9"
Weight: 135 lbs
Voice Example: Linde

Basic Personality: Linde is a very kind and compassionate woman who, as a doctor, seeks only to heal and do right by others. Her love of life drives her every decision, and she would sooner cut both her hands off than allow them to be used for killing someone else. However, she does have an edge to her. As the daughter of a Cre' Itian general, she has been taught confidence, self discipline and self respect, and the mindset of a proud warrior. She will kick your ass, and tend to your wounds directly after no matter the circumstances. To date, Linde has only let one person die in her care... And it is a death that haunts her every day.

Basic Background: Linde was born as the daughter of a Cre' Itian general who taught her a warrior's discipline and pride, and a mother who was a doctor and taught her nurturing and kindness. Blending the best of both worlds, Linde became a doctor herself and a self-appointed protector of her community in the capitol city of Cre' Est. She earned the nickname the "Angelic Knight of Cre' Est" for her kindness and tenacity in combat whenever her community was threatened by bandits, rogues, thieves, or whoever. Linde's most famous feat was defeating a mercenary named Carnal, and after soundly defeating him took him to her clinic to tend to his wounds before sending him on his way. However, Linde has one bit of baggage hanging onto her... Which you'll learn about in the RP.

So begins...

Linde Xe' Almna'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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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.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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Lonán listened to Linde’s instructions implicitly and nodded. ”Ask around, inform Kyero of the ones who know something, do it discreetly. Understood.” He said, at the same time absorbing the description of Aetrius’ friend In the back of his mind. He nodded to himself and waited for another minute before he went out into the city with a “wish me luck” stated to the remaining people at the Prancing Pony.

Now if he wanted to find info and gossip while he was still fresh, he knew of only one place to wander to. In every city, be it capital or not, there would always be the gambling house. Gambling. He hated it but he also enjoyed the concept of it. A battle of luck, wits, and games. One would either know how to win and quit when you had soundly proven yourself good or you’re not so good and owe thirty thousand in debts, dishonoring yourself and your family’s honor, and screwing up your child’s chances of going to the military to attain greater honor.

Lonán was soundly familiar with the latter, and vowed to be a master of the former. Of course, whenever he decided to write to home, he only addressed his mother or The Old Wolf. He wasn’t on speaking terms with him anymore. The mere thought of him made him angry, his right hand quivering to draw out his sword in public and rant and rave-

”Stop. Take a breath. No need to get worked up or severely stressed.” He thought, putting common sense and the appointed task at hand. This woman named Kieran. It was then his eyes finally settled on the destination he wanted to see. A medium sized tavern known to also be a gambling den. Perfect place to start sifting for information on who they were looking for! Nodding to himself in affirmation to what he intended to do, the Saharan Warrior ventured towards it, where he could begin his intel gathering by first familiarizing the waters of the potential Gossip Trade....

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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As Aetrius left the Hunter's cabin she pondered on what to do. She would need to find Shatal and his merry gang of scum, and she'd need to find them as soon as possible. With the sun beginning to set at this point, it would make her hunt easier to proceed with stealth instead of caution like she normally would. She walked down the streets until she made it to the West side of Valoc, which took about an hour to do so. She was now in the slums of the city, specifically, Aetrius was in the worst part of the West sector and would need to watch her back at all times and keep her eyes and ears open for anything and everything. She had studied the bounty paper she had received, said their headquarter's was a large, foreboding building in a tucked away corner of the West district.

By this time she had scaled up the side of a building with simple ease, thanks to her years of being in the circus, she had become very flexible and could climb almost any sort of structure. She jumped over ally way gaps as she progressed to her desired and hopeful destination. She was nothing more than a shadow in the night, and could only be seen if looked for. Her foot steps were as equally light as a feather and her speed was impeccable. As she neared their hideout, she slowed her speed and came to a brisk paced run, eventually slowly to a mild jog, to an eventual slow walk, and then eventually a complete stop as she came to the edge of the building's roof she had been on. She looked over the side, dimly lit ally ways were below, she had a full aerial view of Valoc, and she was rather pleased with the sights. As terrible as this city was, she had to admit with the lights and flames dotting the city, it wasn't a bad view. She crouched down as she examined her domain, resting her finger tips just barely over the stone and wooden roof. If I was scum of the earth, where would I be... she mused in her head, her eyes taking in every little detail. As she looked she softly yawned, she hated the waiting game and waited she did, reluctantly. At this point I could have found her already... she thought with a huff and slight growl. Suddenly something caught her eye, a rather large, cloak covered figure loomed in the darkness, slowly edging their way along in the city streets, then eventually the ally way. She followed from above silently as she kept the figure in her sights, the poor fool none the wiser as they were being followed. Eventually they came to a stop as the figure walked into an old, raggid looking building. Found ya... she thought.

She rose to her full height and leapt off the side of the building, and tumbled gracefully and eventually landing on the ground with equal grace. She had sadly managed to land right behind one of the town's guards, minor problem but nothing she couldn't take care of. Before he managed to turn around, she grabbed him from behind, wrapped her right arm around his neck and slowly added more and more pressure until he slowly went unconscious, she laid his sleeping form on the ground and progressed after the thug. She easily slipped into their building, and at a distance slowly followed the man. Down and down, and down they went, until they arrived in a massive, stone brick room with corridors and doors to other rooms leading off from the main room. She kept to the shadows, and stayed up in the rafters, keeping her distance as she watched. There was a man sitting on a rather large chair in the center of the room, Must be Shatal....Just as ugly as I thought he'd be, she subconsciously chuckled at her attempt at a joke. Aetrius remained up in the wooden rafters as four men entered the room and walked up to who she assumed was Shatal. She couldn't make out exactly what they were discussing, but that isn't why she was there. She was there to end the life of their leader, and it is what she was going to do. She noted that the four men were strong, tall, large frames, and well equipped with various weapons.

She patiently waited as time went on, it was dragging out faster than she would have liked. Aetrius had been surveying the room, there was a large and heavy looking chandler hanging above from where the men were grouped together, could be a good way of disrupting their party. As she eventually had enough waiting, she took out her dagger and precisely threw it at the rope that held the light fixture. It fell and crashed below, thankfully it managed to hit one of the men, killing him instantly. Perfect, they were distracted and then was her time to strike, she jumped down from the rafters, her cloak fluttered behind her as she made a thud as she landed, the men looking up and behind them as they were finally alerted of her presence.

"Who in the fucking hell are you?" the man in the seat asked.

"No, no. You first. Shatal, I presume, correct?" she flaunted as she rose to her full height and pointed her sword out as she made eye contact with Shatal. She grinned at the men as they looked at her in shock as they were taken aback by the sudden attack, but they grinned when they discovered their attacker was female.

"Depends, who's asking?" Shatal sneered as he remained seated.

"Who I am is none of your business. But what is your business is that your time has come to an end, Shatal." she grinned.

"You don't scare me, bitch. But if you insist. Lucian, finish her off, please. Her head will make a lovely decoration on the wall." he grinned.

A tall, large built man stepped forwards from the shadows, one she could only presume was the one that was called Lucian. He grinned at her as he walked towards her, "It will indeed be a shame to see such a pretty lady like yourself end up as nothing more than a puddle of blood. But alas, here we are." he grinned, unsheathed his dual swords, he got into an offensive stand, which resulted Aetrius to get into a defensive stance. Never once did she take her eyes off him as they engaged in combat. His moves were quick, swift, and heavy. He was a naturally good swordsman, she gave him that, but she was only better. After a minute or two, he went for a down swing, as she went from a side step into a jab.

"Blegh..." he coughed, blood splattering on the floor as he coughed. Aetrius smiled, "What, cat got your tongue?" she grinned. Lucian coughed once more as blood spilled from his lips as Aetrius retrieved her sword from his stomach, his body crumpling to the floor as she wiped her blade clean from his blood.

"Anyone else? That's worth my time that is?" a sadistic chuckle emitted from her mouth.

Shatal growled as Lucian fell to the floor, his right hand forming a fist. "Gah, Markus, you're up next! Kill the bitch!" he barked.

Out stepped a younger looking man, who went by the name of Markus apparently. She had to admit, he was a good looking guy, just not of any interest to her. "It's truly a shame, pretty lady. But now...Now that you killed my brother I have no choice but to kill you!" he barked and charged at Aetrius at full force, swinging his sword.

Aetrius grinned, that's exactly what she wanted. To make someone go into a blind fury that they forget how to fight properly. She side stepped his initial attack, and kicked him in the back as she pivoted. He grunted and turned around, "That's it, you bitch!" he growled and charged again, Aetrius grinned and got into a defensive stance, they engaged in a sword lock, causing her to grin as she pressed her blade closer to him. "Gotta admit, you're about as cute as you are good as a swordsman." the comment caused Markus to grin, "Oh yeah? That so?" he beamed, seemingly having to loosen his sword lock with her's.

"Yeah, too bad you're not very good." she chuckled and forcefully pushing him back, causing him to reel back. Markus grunted and engaged yet again in a swordlock. Which is what her intent was, she swept her foot under his and tripped him, causing him to awkwardly land on his ass.

"Y-you're such a bitch!" he snapped and hopped to his feet, she smiled and parried his attacks with ease. Side step, side step, block, repeat. She was waiting for him to wear himself out, which eventually he did. He huffed as he looked at her with hate filled eyes, "You...You killed Lucian...Why? He did nothing to you!" he yelled and went for a tackle, Aetrius grinned and let him tackle her. He pinned her down and barked, "He was a good man!" he yelled with tears in his eyes.

"A good man that would kill someone with no remorse? Yes, I did kill him. Now step aside and let me kill Shatal and I can be on my merry way. No reason to get in my way, kid." she said as she kicked him in the groin, Markus groaning as he fell off.

"What are you? Eighteen? Ninteen at most?" she looked down at him. Markus coughed and looked up at her as he tried to stand, "Six....Sixteen...I'm sixteen..." he panted, tears in his eyes. Aetrius sighed and shook her head. "You're just a kid...Go home. Or I will kill you as well." she said as her grip on her weapon tightened. Markus looked up at her and spat at her, "Go to hell!" he growled.

Aetrius sighed and looked down at him, with one swift motion she slammed her foot into his face, a nice crunch sounded as her boot made contact with his face. Nose was broken for sure, but nothing else. She turned back to Shatal. "A mere child, really? Thought you'd be better than this, Shatal." she goated.

The man finally stood to his feet, showing his immense size, even with Aetrius being the height she was. He slowly strode over to her and seized her by the throat, "You come here, kill one of my best men, and dare threaten to kill another? You are no assassin. You're simply a child. Must I snap your neck just to make you shut up?" he growled as he tossed her to the side, Aetrius landed on the ground with a thud as her sword was thrown from her grasp, landing on the other side of the room. She gasped as the air was sucked from her lungs, slowly getting to her feet. She felt a hard pressure on her back and was picked up with immense ease.

"I will kill you, bitch! Do you hear me??" he growled, his hot breath brushing against her face. She gagged and looked him in the eyes as she was slowly being choked. "Y-you really ought to brush your teeth." she coughed, and with one swift motion, blood spurted through the air. A knife fell and clattered to the floor as Aetrius was dropped to the ground. She was unmoving. Then a gasp erupted from her lips as she scrambled to her feet, gasping for air. She looked down at the ground, at Shatal's slowly growing cold body. His throat slit from ear to ear. She grinned, panting heavily. She looked up and to her surprise none of the other men were in sight. In the ensuing fight, the others had escaped. She chuckled, voice raspy as her vocals cords were currently raw and sore from being choked. She picked up her sword, and sheathed it. She walked over to his body and pushed his corpse over, she looked him over and took his rings, necklace, money pouch and whatever else she could loot from the poor bastard.

She would need something as proof of his death, as she looked him over she noticed he had rather particular tattoos on his hands. That was one of the details on his bounty. She grinned and grabbed her knife and got to work.

As time passed, she made it back to the Hunter's Club, and walked up to the counter. The man behind it looked at her, and was a bit taken aback when he saw her covered in blood, it splattered on her face, hands, and neck, as well as a few scrapes and cuts on her hands and face, as well as a dark coloring on her neck.

"Did you get the job done-" he was cut off as a rather strange shape was dropped on the desk. The sound it made was fleshy and meaty. As he looked at it, he realized it was a hand, or what was left of it, as it was only the middle finger and tendons, marked with his tattoos. The man chuckled and handed over the money that was due. "I like yer sass, mate. Come by anytime. We're always open." he said with a chuckle.

Aetrius grinned and grabbed the sack of money and walked out of the building. She slowly made her way back to the Prancing Pony, where they were staying and trudged to the back where the entry way was to the rooms. She knew it was late and doubted they were still awake, but she wasn't going to stay out all night. She walked up to the door that hopefully was guarding her from the others, and knocked three times in a pattern only they would have known, and waited. Hoping either Okumi or Linde would open it sooner rather than later, as it was late, and it was only getting colder as time passed. In all, her first bounty in Veilbrand went by without a hitch, and she grinned as she was looking forward to the next hunts.

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…

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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?"

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Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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Aetrius waited until she was let in and smiled as she saw that Okumi and Linde were alright still. That was one less concern. She watched as Okumi signed to them, and easily understood that she was asking for some time to herself. She nodded and let her be. When she was ordered by Linde to take off her currently dry blood covered clothes, she nodded silently. Her throat had been aching and sore since she was choked, and wasn't able to speak right away. She tossed the clothing in the corner, leaving her dressed in the remainder of her clothing, and removed the hand wrappings, as she wore wrappings while in combat to cushion her hands from more damage. She sat down as she was ordered to, and let Linde get to healing the cuts, but only after she tried to tell Linde that they were mild cuts and scrapes and that she was fine. But Linde had insisted and she just sat there and let her get it over with.

As Aetrius sat there, she had temporarily zoned out as Linde began her work, but was brought back to reality as slight stings began to littler her face and arms as Linde began using her disinfectants. A small burn, but she easily adjusted to the small amounts of pain and zoned back out again. Her mind was too busy trying to think of her next plans, until she felt something press against her arm.

...

Her eyes widened as she realized what it was. It was...Linde's ahem chest, brushing against her arm as Linde closed in on Aetrius as she worked on the bruise along her neck. She didn't know what to say or do, she just sat there as her face lit up like a christmas tree, unable to answer any of Linde's questions of comments on her currently beaten up state. Until Linde finally got overly close to Aetrius, being mere inches from her face. I-i-is sh-she t-trying to kill me? If she is, she's doing a damned good job at it. If she keeps it up I'm going to die right here, right now she thought as her face remained a dark shade of pink as she couldn't contain her blush. Aetrius finally understood and accepted her feelings. She knew she liked Linde, like...really liked her. But she refused to say or do anything about it. She knew Linde was a tease, and nothing more to her and she didn't want to cause awkwardness between the two if she were to confess how she felt, and only get rejection like she always had in the past.

Her attention was finally snapped back when Linde spoke up again when she was finally done with her wounds and bruises. "Promise?" she heard Linde say as she looked back up at her.

Aetrius remained silent as she tried to remember what Linde was talking about, something about not getting into so much trouble and knowing how to pick her fights properly. Aetrius nodded and slowly stood up, looking at Linde as she spoke with a very raspy voice as her vocals were still bruised and sore, "O-okay, Linde...But if it means money for you all, I'll do what I have to...I don't care if I keep getting hurt. It's what I do, and if it means keeping you safe..." she coughed a bit, and paused, but realized she needed to say something else so Linde didn't get any ideas or wrong messages, "And everyone else, I'll keep doing this. It's what I've done in the past....I'm used to this shit. I'll be fine, okay? You don't need to worry about me. If I can take to a crossbow bolt to the side and live...I'll manage. Besides, I've had a worse injury than what I've told you..." she said with a cough at the end as her vocals hurt more the longer she spoke. She sat back down and looked back up at Linde in silence. What about this girl made her so infatuated with her? It wasn't just her appearance. While yes Aetrius did admire her looks, she liked Linde for more than just that. The way she endlessly treated her with kindness and what Aetrius assumed was sometimes flirtation, Aetrius couldn't help but feel something for Linde. Whenever she looked at Linde, her heart would race faster and her face would turn a bright pink, causing her to look away at even the thought of it.

"S-sorry, Linde..." she said rather softly, looking down as she spoke softly, voice still raspy and coarse.

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Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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Linde observed Aetrius in silence as she gave her response to her promise. She smiled when Aetrius said "Okay," but as soon as she started going into everything else Linde's heart sank. She wasn't sure if Aetrius understood the quote Linde gave her, and worse, it seemed she had found a way to justify and welcome these injuries. And that made Linde very, very sad.

Her face had sunk along with her heart, but when Aetrius apologized at the end a small smile crept onto her lips.

Linde remained perfectly still for a long time, just looking at her friend...

"Aetrius... I am not sure you understood what I was asking you earlier." She whispered.

She calmly walked forward towards Aetrius, and then sat down on her knees in front of her. She reached out and took Aetrius' hands in her own, setting them on Aetrius' lap. However, despite the gentleness of her gesture, her eyes became a bit more stern.

"I don't care about money. I don't care about whether or not you've done this before. And I don't care if you've taken crossbow bolts and lived."

Her hands squeezed Aetrius' hands a little bit tighter.

"What I do care about, Aetrius, is your well being. You're a warrior. Anyone can see that. You've lived through countless battles. You've received innumerable injuries. And you've overcome challenges I've yet to see or comprehend. But still... You are only human."

She gently lifted Aetrius' hands and turned them so they were palms to the ceiling, and set them on Aetrius' lap. She then placed her hands in Aetrius', palms down so her fingers were resting on Aetrius' wrists.

"All of what you have accomplished is wonderful, but at the same time they are part of your past. Part of what made you who you are up until this moment."

She slid her hands up, slowly and tenderly wrapping her fingers around Aetrius' wrists.

"Aetrius, you have become very dear to me in these last couple weeks. Even small wounds like these," she said while gently caressing Aetrius' arms and tracing the cuts and bruises with her fingertips, "can add up over time and cause irreparable damage to your body. All of these scars tell of your exploits, but they are also a build up of damaged muscles and flesh. The more scars you receive, the more easily you will be injured in the future because your skin and muscles can't cope with the continued degradation."

She stood up and leaned forward, bringing her hands up to rest on both of Aetrius' cheeks.

"As your doctor, and as your friend, please promise me you'll take better care of yourself and exercise more caution. Even the best doctors in the world can't fix an excess build up of scar tissue. If you keep disregarding your safety like this... One day you'll receive a wound I cannot mend... And if that day comes..."

Linde started tearing up, the first of several falling down her cheeks as her lower lip trembled and she lurched forward to embrace Aetrius. And in doing so, she smashed her chest into Aetrius', squishing her D Cup breasts against the poor bounty hunter's torso.

"I don't even want to think of the possibility of that day coming! I don't ever want to live to see the day you receive an injury I can't help you heal from! You or anyone else!" She cried, sobbing against Aetrius.

Linde became incoherent. She cried and gripped onto Aetrius for dear life. She sobbed and gasped for breath, trying desperately to speak through it. But it came out as a garbled mess of slurred words and sobs.

Finally, after a few minutes, Linde managed to calm herself down and her sobs turned into soft gasps for breath with a few sniffles mixed in. However, her hold on Aetrius did not waver. She subtly nudged her head towards Aetrius, her ear brushing Aetrius' neck.

"That day... Is my ultimate nightmare." She whispered.

A minute later Linde finally let go of Aetrius and stood up straight. She took in a few deep breaths, sniffling the last one and wiping her eyes. And... Smiled.

"Forgive me... I don't mean to get so emotional about this. But it..." Her lip trembled once again, but she fought it back and prevented more tears... But just barely.

"It really is my worst nightmare to see someone I know and care about in a state from which I can't help them heal. The more you let these small injuries build up, to say nothing of the larger ones..."

Linde took a single step back, her face slipping back into one of helpless fear of the hypothetical situation playing in her head.

"... The more likely my nightmare is to come to life." She said quietly.

Slowly, she covered her mouth with one hand and sobbed once more, fighting back more tears.

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Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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Aetrius silently sat there as Linde began to speak, and couldn't help when a small blush overtook her face when Linde placed her hand in her's. It was a subtle gesture, and a tender moment she was bound to always keep in her mind. She remained silent as Linde spoke, taking in all she said. And when Linde began to tear up, her heart hurt. Not just metaphorically, but it literally made her heart hurt to see Linde cry, and because of her. She caused Linde to not only tear up, but to literally tackle Aetrius in a fervent hug. Her face turned a bright pink as she felt Linde practically sit on her lap and hold Aetrius close, their bodies touching far too much, causing her face to turn a shade of maroon. But this wasn't the time for her to become a flustered mess. No, Linde needed someone to comfort her, as Linde in a way confessed how she felt. But only as a dear friend, and Aetrius needed to be to fill that role for her in that moment.

Aetrius slowly rose to her feet as Linde began to cry again, sobbing and apologizing for being so sentimental, and openly showed she cared whether Aetrius would die or not. If things came to that. Aetrius sighed, and outstretched her hand, gently grasping Linde's forearm, and gently pulled her back into a hug, holding her head close to her chest as she held Linde close to her. Her heart was beating heavily, not from making such close contact with Linde, but because she felt terrible for causing Linde to break down into a fit of sadness and endless sobbing. Her grasp around Linde only tightened more as she thought of several occasions as to where things could go wrong, either her or someone else getting hurt, as well as Linde herself. And that is what did it.

The thought of losing Linde. She had already lost Kieran, in a sense. Believing her to be dead for three years, and it terrified her to think she'd never see her again. But here she was in Veilbrand, and she was going to be able to see her again. But she was not going to let the same thing happen to Linde. Not ever, if she could stop it. Even if it meant her dying to protect her now friends, but she kept that thought to herself, Linde was already too overwhelmed, and she didn't need that added to it.

She looked down as she was holding Linde. She found herself gently placing a kiss on the top of Linde's head and pausing. Her heart beating faster as she did so. She cared too much for Linde, and whether or not that could be her downfall, she didn't care. If she was going to turn Linde away by how protective she would be from here on out, so be it. But she was not going to let her own nightmare become a living one. She had already lost enough, and she was done losing. She looked down at Linde who she was holding closely and spoke in a soft and caring tone, with a small tint of a loving tone, the latter being a rare thing from Aetrius.

"Linde...I promise..." she started saying, gently caressing the other woman's head as she spoke, "I'll be more careful...Just know I'll do what I have to keep you safe...I won't have what happened to Kieran happen to you...Not going to let someone else I love be taken from me again..."

She put an emphasis on 'you', and didn't care if Linde was picking up on the hints she just gave, or whether she meant what she had just said, she wasn't exactly sure. But she was intent on keeping her word. No matter the cause, she'd keep Linde and the others safe.

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Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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Linde wasn't expecting Aetrius to hug her back, let alone so tenderly. It warmed her skin and her heart, and she melted into the hug resting her head against Aetrius' shoulder. And then, Aetrius kissed her head. She felt her face flush, and Aetrius spoke so softly. Like a whisper.

Linde couldn't help but smile.

When she said she wasn't going to let someone else she loved be taken, Linde did not need a translator to understand what Aetrius just said.

Linde's hands, resting on Aetrius' lower back, gently moved in a small circle as her head came back and she looked Aetrius in the eyes.

She still had tear stains on her cheeks, but that smile she gave Aetrius... That calm, endearing smile...

"Thank you, Aetrius." She whispered.

Linde leaned forward, and planted a light kiss on Aetirus' cheek, and moved forward back into a hug. She didn't want to leave Aetrius' protective arms just yet.

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Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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Aetrius couldn't help but blush slightly as Linde looked back up at her and smiled at Aetrius. Something even about her smile made Aetrius....happy? Whatever it was, it had an affect on her and she didn't mind it. She just continued to hold Linde closely, and smiled again when Linde thanked her, and her face turned a light pink when Linde kissed her cheek.

"O-of course, Linde...I may be a Bounty Hunter and an ass..But...surprising as it may be, I can and do care for people...Just hard at showing it..." he tone was rather a serious one, and held a bit of kindness and naivety in it. She hugged Linde once more tightly, and then eventually let her arms come undone from around Linde, eventually falling down by her sides. She sighed and awkwardly rubbed the back of her neck.

"W-well, it's late...and you'll need sleep, it can be another late morning...we'll be here a while. I'll let you get to sleep. I'll keep watch tonight, and keep an ear out for when Okumi returns." she gave a nod, and picked up one of her swords and flintlocks, as well as the stool and placed it in the back corner of the room and sat down, taking her post as guard for the night. She put one leg over the other and placed the sword over her leg as she kept a straightened position. But as she sat there, there was a slight audible rumble in her stomach. It had been a while since she last ate, she thought.

She reluctantly stood back up and walked over to her supplies that were near the center wall of the room, and crouched as she shifted through one of her supply bags. It had two canteens of water, some bread, and dried meat. More than enough for one person. Aetrius looked up at Linde, "Wouldn't doubt if you're hungry, but....There's more than enough here for two people...If you don't want to partake in what would be considered a Bounty Hunter's dinner, I would understand." she said with a slight chuckle as she looked at the small set of food that was before her.

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Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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Lonán walked through the streets and found himself back at the Prancing Pony. Before he did anything else, he went to the stables to check on Hawk and vent some of the slight frustration at being flirted at by a beautiful barmaid. Hawk took most of it, then blew a huff. Chuckling to himself he quietly made his way into the Inn and off to his room as quiet as he can. He thought he heard Aetrius speaking to Linde, but he decided not to invade on their conversation and do what he intended to do.

Meditate and let the rest of the frustration of being flirted by a stranger out of his system. He closed his room door when he entered and took off his shirt and reached into a pack as ater stoking his fireplace. He’d have some dried meat for his dinner after meditation. Pulling out two sticks of a distinct smell, almost a flowery honeyed scent, he lit the ends of them and set them on a small tray. He then stood up straight and stretched his arms upwards together then pulled them apart, then slowly took a cross legged sitting position, his right hand curling into a fist whilst his left peacefully rested on the closed hand.

”Heresta, In this battle to attain calmness, aid me.” He thought, as he began to breathe the scent deeply in, and slowly exhale. This meditation was made to last for another hour. When it was done, his plan consisted of eating his dinner, then resting his head and wait for the next day, assuming nothing came to interrupt him.

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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?"

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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.

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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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Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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As Aetrius announced her intention to leave and began to don her gear, Linde was on her feet almost immediately.

"No, Aetrius. This isn't the time for rash decisions."

Kyero rose to his feet as well.

"I agree." He said as he moved to the door.

"Leave finding Okumi to me."

"No. I will go look for her."

"Aetrius, please. The Demon inside Kyero's body protects him from mental fatigue which means he doesn't need sleep like we do. As well his basic senses are enhanced in darkness whereas yours are hampered. As well as you move in the shadows and as soft as your footsteps are, Kyero has literally been trained for this since infancy. There isn't a person alive who can find someone faster or move more stealthily through the shadows of our world than Kyero... Not even you."

Linde walked over and gently took her hand, hoping she'd see reason and let Kyero do what he literally was born to do.

"Please, Aetrius. Stay with me. With us. Stay and rest. We need you at your best to look for Kieran tomorrow. Kyero will find Okumi and bring her back to us before long. I promise."

She glanced towards the door.

"... Did you even notice his departure?"

If Aetrius looked towards the door, Kyero would be long gone. The door was creaky, the hinges not having been oiled in some time. It creaked every time it opened... Except when Kyero left moments ago. The door was wide open, and there hadn't been a single sound indicating his departure. No footsteps, no creaking door, no floorboards creaking under his weight... Nothing. He was just gone. And all of Aetrius' senses had missed it.

Linde slowly brought Aetrius' hand up and kissed it.

"Please trust in Kyero to find Okumi, Aetrius. You are not here alone, and you don't have to do everything yourself. We are all here to help you find Kieran. And we all have things we can do to accomplish our collected goals... Stay."

Linde's grip on Aetrius' hand tightened slightly once again, and she brought it up to rub it against her cheek with a slight blush in her cheeks.

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Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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Aetrius' eyes narrowed at the comments that were exchanged about her being less stealthy and skilled than Kyero. In all honestly it did piss her off a bit, even though she knew they were right. She was in no shape to go search for someone, nevermind a small shrine maiden at such a late hour. She sighed and reluctantly stayed, looking back as Linde gently grabbed her hand and kissed it causing a small blush to spread across her face.

Aetrius sighed and nodded, "Fine...I'll stay, Linde..." she said softly as Linde brushed her own cheek with Aetrius' hand. A small smile creapt across her face. She then remembered Lolan was in the room and cleared her throat, "I-I think it's best if I took a quick bath and then headed to bed....It is late after all...and, frankly...I stink." she said with a slight and awkward chuckle, as indeed it was true, she did smell as she still had some blood on her, as well as it would be a good way for her to calm down as well as basic human hygiene. She excused herself, gathered some clean clothes and left for the bathhouse that was conjoined with the inn.

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Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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Lonán was all for trying to go out and find Okumi, But the night was coming on and even though his meditation was still interrupted, he was going to eat his jerky and calling out and going to bed and he was about to voice that while Kyero voiced his going alone and Linde pointing out reasons why it was best. Lonan’s eyes widened when he looked at the door, his eyes widened at the fact that yes, the door did not even announce Kyero’s reason.

”By Heresta...” He murmured out before shaking his head. He watched as Linde kissed Aetrius’ hands and the latter finally relenting to stay, nodding to himself as he went back to his room, thoughts once more on that Barmaid that for the moment captivated him, he’ll most likely be more prepared for her charm the next day. He opened the door, and indeed, it creaked announcing his departure. This made the young Saharan chuckle as he left for his room.

The young man walked into his room, and ate his jerky, and lied down his head and waited for sleep to take him, the smell of incense relaxing him regardless of not meditating. He had a lot of things to do tomorrow. It was going to be a long two weeks for him that was for certain. ”Here’s hoping it doesn’t affect my sanity.” He thought as he closed his eyes and finally slept.

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Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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Kyero stole through the night, moving in the shadows as if part of their world. Not a sound was heard. No footsteps. No equipment jostling. Nothing. Just a dark mass moving through the night.

Kyero perched atop the inn, glancing down into the street for even the faintest sign of Okumi's passing. And his sharp eyes spied the faint glint of a lock of silver/white hair in the cobblestone streets illuminated by the moon. In a matter of seconds Kyero was on the ground and picked it up. He glanced at the inn, and then to this spot.

She came this way. But for what reason?

He looked down the street ahead, scanning the buildings and signs to see if anything would have caught the shrine maiden's interest, but he couldn't see anything.

She wouldn't have come here for shopping or food. She must have had another motive for leaving the safety of the inn. But what?

Kyero returned to the rooftops and continued to check the streets, finding another strand of her hair about a block and a half down. But this time, it was not the only thing he found. There were a few small bits of fabric too. Worn out fabric, but when Kyero smelled the fabric he took in a familiar scent and had to clear his nose. He felt the tiniest bit light-headed when he took in that scent. And he knew exactly what it meant.

Khilthruum Powder. A potent powdered sedative. Must have been inside the bag the fabric came from. So she was knocked out here... Where did they take her? He thought.

Kyero looked up towards the street and examined the ground very, very carefully. He knelt down in a near full squat, slowly inching along taking in every individual bit of cobblestone checking for any signs of a struggle or of dragging a victim, etc. But for the moment, he couldn't find anything. But there was one small clue as to the direction the men who took her had gone... A matching boot print from the dirt near where Okumi was taken leading into the shadier part of town.

Kyero's eyes flashed, and he followed the bootprint's direction into the darkness.

The hunt was on... And before long he would find his prey.

-- Meanwhile --

Back at the inn, Linde nodded as Lonan left. Once he was out the door, she jogged over to Aetrius and clasped her hand before she could make it to the bath room. She lifted it to her mouth to kiss it once more, blushing and smiling all the while.

"I didn't smell anything when you held me earlier, just so you know. And I'm glad you're going to stay and rest. Thank you."

She leaned up and kissed Aetrius' cheek before backing away bashfully and going to the kitchen area to wash her hands and start cleaning dishes from their meal.

-- Back in the City --

... Time ticked by, and Kyero stalked through the city like a ghost in the night.

Finally, after following several clues and hints as to where they might have gone, the trail went cold. Kyero looked around and saw what part of town he was in, and he knew there were more than enough people here who would have seen something. He just needed to find the right people to talk to.

He descended to the streets, and began to slink through the shadows until he found several people gathered around a crude fire pit beneath a bridge which crossed over the canal. They were talking about slaves. Where to buy them. Who the best traders were to buy them from. What to look for in the best slaves. And how to spot the most experienced slaves for their pleasure.

Jackpot.

Kyero snuck in close and waited for just the right moment... Three of them turned their heads one way, leaving the fourth vulnerable. Kyero grabbed his shirt, covered his mouth, and pulled him into the shadows before the others returned their gaze. Kyero dragged him quickly and quietly deeper and deeper into the darkness of the alleyways nearby before throwing him against the wall and squatting down over him letting the light in his eyes flash and churn right in front of the man. His voice was caught in his throat, and he couldn't scream for help. All he could do was stare.

In a lower, more ominous voice than usual...

"You speak of slaves. Tell me what you've seen today."

"I-I-I don't know wh-what you're t-t-talking about!"

Kyero's dagger flew through the air and slammed into the wall next to his head.

"... What have you seen today?"

The man stammered a few more times, and Kyero had had enough. He removed the dagger from the wall and slammed it through the meat of the man's thigh. Due to the blade's length, it cut straight through from one side to the other and into the cobblestone ground beneath them. The man screamed in agony, his cries echoing through the alleyways. But there would be no way to pinpoint or find him now.

"Last chance."

Kyero twisted the dagger a little, and the man finally seemed to find his voice.

"O-okay! We saw... GAAGH!!!... We saw several slaves today. Fine ones at that! Th-... They were... Being transported via horse carriage to a local Trademaster."

"Tell me what you saw of them."

"They were fine. Fine! Some of the most beautiful I've seen! Fresh. Unsoiled, even!"

"I am losing my patience..."

The dagger was twisted once again.

"Th-there- AAGHH!!!... There was a local girl. A commoner! Probably taken just today! Older and hand-me-down clothing! But beautiful in the face and body. Another was a noblewoman. Not from here. Taken from somewhere else! Maybe Triveila or something like that!"

"What else?"

"S-some kind of exotic beauty. Not from here. She had short white hair and had been wearing some kind of face mask. Another girl was the daughter of a Tailor who works here in the city. I know the man as a business associate. And then there was-"

Kyero's dagger was pulled free of his leg, but his hand shot out and choked the man to cut him off mid-sentence.

"Where is this Trademaster?"

He loosened his grip just enough for the man to speak.

"H-he's just... Ack... He's... A little ways North of here. Further into the city. Red roof. Gray sign that says 'Passion's Paradise.' Can't miss it."

"If you're lying to me..."

Kyero's dagger came up to the man's throat, slicing through a single layer of skin.

"I will end your miserable life faster than your mind can even recognize your body has died... Am I clear?"

The man nodded furiously, and Kyero let him go and was gone.

Now hot on Okumi's trail, and headed for this Trademaster, Kyero would soon have her back!

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Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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Before Aetrius had left the room for the bathhouse, she was stopped by Linde who yet again grabbed her hand and kissed the top of it. Explaining that Aetrius didn't smell all that badly, and thanked her for not leaving like she could have. Before she could even say anything Linde had gently kissed her cheek and backed away and left for the kitchen. Which left Aetrius dumb founded, her mouth slightly ajar and a light blush across her face. Aetrius shook her head and blinked, bringing herself out of her stuper. She grabbed her things again and left for about an hour.

She arrived at the inn's bath house. It was rather small, decent, humble and surprisingly clean and up kept compared to the rest of the inn. She was the only one if the room and she was thankful for that, she even locked the door behind her. She stoked the fire next to the medium sized bath that was cut in the stone floor and waited for the room to warm up, when it eventually got warm enough she disrobed and got into the pool. She stretched and took a deep breath as she relaxed in the room temperature water. What exactly was she getting herself into? First she saved the village of Atlum against her better judgement, and got injured in the process, and then went on a rescue mission for her sister who she had believed was dead for the past three years. But now, now she was here in Valoc, Veilbrand and was well on her way of finding Kieran. With small hiccups along the way, like Okumi more than likely getting kidnapped like she assumed. She sighed and looked around the room as she thought on the events that had taken place within the last few weeks.

How did her life go from being a Bounty Hunter with a very notable profile with a rather large bounty on her head with no one to call a friend, to now being in Veilbrand looking for her sister with a group of new found friends and now possibly something more than just a friend. Was that what was going on? Or was Linde just flirting with her even more now that Aetrius had basically told her how she felt about Linde. Maybe Linde was just that way and would only ever be a flirt with her, but had a genuinely caring side. Who knows, maybe Linde was actually being more than just a flirt with her this time around. She sighed and eventually got out of the bath after she head cleaned herself off from the past few days, as well as her last Bounty she had taken in. She had gotten dressed and made her way back to the room. Gently knocking on it in the same way as before, the three knocks in a one two three pattern, and then a pause to repeat it two more times.

Once she was let in, she entered the room and tossed her things back into the corner. She was tired and in need of rest, she then looked back up to remember what they did with the room earlier and gulped. "Uhm...I-I'll sleep on the floor. I'll get some rest then take up guard post for the rest of the night." she said and sat down on the floor, her back against the edge of the bed looking at the door, her sword next to her. She then looked back up to where Linde was and tossed a bag to her, "It isn't much, but it's what I got for my night's work, it isn't much, but it's a start... I'll get more done tomorrow night. First we rest then get to work looking for more information that can be helpful to us. Does that sound good to you?" she asked rather innocently.

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Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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As Aetrius came back from her bath and put her things away, she spoke of sleeping on the floor which, for Linde, of course, was not acceptable. But where...

Linde's face flushed completely pink, but as she stole a glance at Aetrius who was sitting on the floor and getting ready for bed, she couldn't help but smile slightly.

She walked over to Aetrius after she asked about getting rest and taking watch, and Linde took her hands and helped her stand back up. Still blushing, and looking even more bashful than she did before, Linde chuckled softly.

"I think that's a good idea, but you know... We're both girls, after all... I don't mind if you... Share my bed with me." She said softly.

She looked back up at Aetrius.

"After today's events I think... I could use the comfort of someone I trust sleeping close to me. B-but if that's too embarrassing for you then... I suppose I'll find you an extra blanket and pillow. I'm sure the inn keep has one of each around somewhere." She said with a slight stammer.

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Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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Aetrius looked up when Linde had walked over to her, to only have her hands gently grabbed, to which she understood and stood up slowly. Her face slightly flushed when Linde had suggested staying in the same bed with her, in wasn't exactly aweful for her, but Aetrius did feel a bit uncomfortable with the idea. Surprisingly enough she did have limits and somewhat of morality, allbeit it was rather grayed compared to what others may have thought for her to have. She thought for a moment, but when Linde spoke up again about feeling better to have someone she trusts stay close to her. The thought made her chuckle a little bit, the same person who could take down someone with barely even a flinch felt the need to have Aetrius be close to her? That was a first for her, but she also felt a little....relieved that Linde trusted Aetrius enough to keep her safe.

Aetrius nodded shyly and looked down, trying to snap out of the fact that her face had turned a light shade of pink. She cleared her throat and looked back up at Linde, "O-okay. If that's what makes you more comfortable, I guess I can manage that." she said with a light chuckle, and a small smile creased her lips. It was genuine and innocent, no malevolent nature behind it. It was just that she hadn't had anyone that trusted her that much in a long time, and it made her feel confident enough that someone could rely on her for feeling safe, as surprising as it may have been for her.

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Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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Lonán slept through the night, and as the new day began to come around, he squinted and shivered as his waking nightmare began in earnest.

——

A younger Lonán was playing in the desert dunes of Saharan near his home. He smiled a big smile as he drew in the sand. He saw the desert sand begin to kick up and ruin his small artwork as he turned. What seemed to be a sandstorm quickly revealed it to be a snake, glaring down at him. It then grinned and gave a wicked chuckle.

“Little Lonán, Little Bird, Little hatchling. All alone... ready for the feast.” It hissed as it reared up to strike, even as Lonán ran, evolving into his older, disciplined warrior self as he went. Images of his failings, his friendships lost, his father’s dishonor ruining his chances of being in the Military whirled by, serving as stalling the warrior as the sand gripped at him.

”No! No!” he shouted as he then looked up to see a woman, looking down at him.

“This is why I rejected you as a suitor, my ‘friend’. No matter what happens, there’d Always be something in the way. Rot in hell Lonán Arzura.” The woman said as she turned and walked silently away, disappearing in the sands.

”Wait! Wait! Come back!” He pleaded and turned to see the Serpent striking at him.


——

”Beatrix!” Lonán shouted as he rolled across the floor, hitting his head against the wall. Which in turn caused his sword, sheathed, to fall and hit his head. Lonán gripped his head with a groan, wanting nothing more to do with the morning as he looked to the deer pelt.

”Right... the pelt selling to get the money to start my info searching.” He said to himself as he got up with a groan, nursing his head with a rub. Better not tell Linde about the head bonks. Though he was sure she heard the first Bonk. He hoped Kyero had a better time looking about town last night.

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Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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-- Night One --

A red roof, and a gray sign which read 'Passion's Paradise'. This was it. The location of the Trade Master who sold the women they abducted on the streets as sex slaves to any willing and able to pay. He glared at the sign with a hard scowl, his nose scrunching in a snarl as he thought about the very notion.

Backing away a few steps, he disappeared into the night.

-- Inside Passion's Paradise --

The Trade Master sat in his chambers with two of his own personal sex slaves. Gorgeous women from Gweynura. One with long blonde hair, the other with short black hair. They were stark naked, and being made to perform lewd acts with one another for his viewing pleasure as he sipped at a glass of wine. He observed their blushing faces and sweat covered bodies with glee before standing up from his chair.

"Time for some fun, ladies."

The girls looked at him with suppressed disgust, trying to feign enjoyment and lust for his presence and participation. If they behaved and acted like they wanted him, they would not get hurt... Usually.

But suddenly, the man was yanked backwards by a hand over his mouth, and a dagger shot through his chest spurting blood out in front of the girls on the carpet floor. They screamed in horror as they beheld only Kyero's glowing red eyes hidden behind the man's shoulder with his bangs hiding the rest of his face. The women fled the room. And once they were gone, Kyero leaned forward, whispering into his ear.

"Your men acquired a girl with silvery white hair today and a face mask... Where is she?"

As Kyero spoke, his voice came with a dual-voice effect. His normal voice, and a lower, darker, demonic voice. His eyes were shining brightly such that the man didn't need to see him to see the red reflecting off his clothes and the wall in front of him. The blade through his chest had narrowly missed all vital organs and arteries, caving its way through a chest cavity to cause intense pain and discomfort, but not death. Not unless Kyero did something more. But that was not his goal... Not yet.

"I d-don't know... What you're talking about."

Kyero's grip on his shoulder tightened, and the blade twisted slightly in his chest.

"I will not ask a second time... Where is the girl?"

"Rrgh... Go fuck yourself, Demon."

Kyero closed his eyes, and twisted the blade once more before pulling it free. He then slammed it down through the man's hand, splitting it between the middle and ring fingers halfway through the palm. Once again, he narrowly missed the radial artery, but the pain caused by the wound was excruciating.

"That was your final warning. If you try my patience again..." He put the tip of his dagger to the man's groin.

"I'm going to castrate you."

The man was in agony, but remarkably tough. He did not fold.

"Fuck you... Demon."

Kyero closed his eyes, and turned his head to see someone watching through the doorway. Based on what Kyero could gather, it was the man's wife. Despite having sex slaves, he was a married man with children... How much did he care about them?

Kyero let the man go and bolted to the woman, yanking her into the room and putting the dagger to her back.

"You don't care for damage to your body, but how about someone else's?" He asked.

The woman froze, and the Trade Master looked on with what was obviously both horror and surprise.

"What are you going to do?"

Kyero scowled.

"That depends on you."

He began pressing his blade forward into her body, and she shrieked in agony as it was pushed deeper and deeper into her flesh.

"Another inch and I'm spilling her stomach... Where is the girl?"

"... You're bluffing!"

Kyero pressed the blade further, stopping just before he reached her stomach wall.

"A millimeter to go."

The man was sweating.

"Y-you're bluffing! You may be the Red-Eyed Demon, but you wouldn't kill an innocent woman!"

"Oh?"

Kyero's blade was pushed in further, breaking the wall of her stomach and spilling her stomach acid and contents inside her body. She shrieked even louder in horrific pain as Kyero slowly twisted the blade in her back.

"She can still be saved, Trade Master. But I am running out of patience. Tell me now where that girl is or I'm going to cut her in half!"

"Okay! OKAY! OKAY!! Just get that dagger out of her back!! PLEASE!!"

Kyero pulled the dagger free, pushing the woman into his arms as he laid her on her stomach and applied pressure to the wound.

"Now tell me... The girl."

"She was taken to the Devil's Dealership in the underground portion of the city! It's to the North! The entrance is beneath the North Barracks where Egruus stations his men during war time! It's empty right now! Now call a doctor!"

Kyero glared at the man coldly.

"... Your wife's condition is not my problem. If you want a doctor, find someone else to help her."

"YOU CAN'T LEAVE HER LIKE THIS!!"

Too late... Kyero was gone.

-- Day Two --

The next morning, as the sun was just barely rising, Kyero beheld the barracks spoken of by the Trade Master.

If Okumi was here, he would find her.