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Assassin's Pledge: Awakening

Cre' Est

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a part of Assassin's Pledge: Awakening, by KumoriRyuu.

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KumoriRyuu holds sovereignty over Cre' Est, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

1,917 readers have been here.

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Cre' Est

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Cre' Est is a part of Assassin's Pledge: Awakening.

7 Characters Here

Korriban "Aetrius" Borral [480] "They took everything that I had, and I will have my revenge."
Linde Xe' Almna [452] "Kyero is the Red-Eyed Demon, but he's also a human being."
Lonán Arzura [430] “By this sword I live, by this sword I will restore my family name.”
Kyero [239] "My purpose in life is my own to find. Nobody will tell me where I belong or what I can become!"
Josephine Dezantro [127] "I pray there is a purpose for me in this world."
Kieran Borral [103] "She's done everything she could to get me back, and I will make sure all of their efforts weren't for nothing."
Okumi Chrysanth [91] "... ...! ..."

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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Lonán chuckles as he sips into his brew as he heard Aetrius come up to him and ask how his night was. ”If I got lucky with a Barmaid, you’d probably see Kyero kicked out of the room and me not sitting in this chair.” He replied, ”I just found my favorite Booze. I enjoy the little things whenever they come but this is a blessing in disguise... Hic!”

Lonán knew he had to talk to Aetrius about what he thinks he knows about her. But for now, why not have a little fun and poking at her. ”So how was your dance with the Doctor? I’m sure you and Linde had a smashing good time.“ He teases with a knowing grin and bouncing his eyebrows. ”I wish I had a decent friendship... or at least the closeness you have currently. All I got is Hawk and All he’s good for is Nagging.”

He chuckled at his pun and had another swig. ”I’ve been hoping to talk to you for awhile. We swapped stories, told jokes, but never talked about Where we came from, what family life was like... the works. Hic!” He slurred out.

”Hey, wanna have a drinking contest? Loser talks about their life before meeting each other? He offered, hoping that this will break the ice and set this friendship on the right course.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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She felt her face go white as Lolan poked fun at her and Linde dancing, making a snide comment about them. "I-I'll have you know that we're just friends and that is was nothing more than a simple dance." she countered rather sharply. She knew that wasn't the truth, at all. But hoped he would believe her lie. "Besides, you were the one who cheered us on to dance, need I remind you, Lolan Arzura of Saharan." she said with a sly grin and a sharp glare.

She took a few more sips of her drink, but almost choked at the mention of her past and where she was from, and the bet he was willing to gamble. She wasn't about to just spill her guts about her past to him over some damned drinks, and even more she wasn't about to be out drank by some red haired fool from Saharan. She growled and smirked as she held her cup to her lips, "Alright, pony tail. You're on. First one to either pass out, throw up, or tap out loses and has to spill their guts, not literally of course. But I must warn you, I'm known to be a champion at these sorts of things." she said with a grin. And with that she ordered fifteen rounds of her drinks, and fifteen of Lolan's.

"Whenever you're ready, pony boy."

Lonán nodded and took the first Tankard. ”May the best liver win!” He shouted as he took a long drink.

Aetrius grinned at his acceptance, and quickly drank her first, then second tankard of BloodCrest Rum. She had forgotten that she hadn't eaten much that day at all, and with the amount of alcohol she was taking in in so little time was starting to make her feel nauseous, but she put on a brave face and continued drinking. She was not about to be outdone by Lolan, not now and not this quickly.

onán kept it going, and downed his fifth one. ”Ha! You’re looking a little green.... is the little lost...Hic... Saharan scared? Hic!”

Her eyes widened at his comment, both as he called her scared and taunting her for being nauseous, as well as calling out her Saharan heritage. She eyed him angrily and growled, "Saharan? I think you must be mistaken, Lolan Arzura. I'm not from Saharan." she snapped back and downed her first three, then drank another five. Slowly feeling the alcohol hit her. But continued drinking none the less. She was a stubborn mule and if this didn't prove it, nothing would.

Lonán smirked and prepared to grab his sixth Tankard, hoping she’d keep up the battle. This battle of gaining her friendship, and downed it, then kept at it, ”Then why do you have a Saharan Merchant House Mark On yer shoulder?” He asked flatly. ”Cause such patterns aren’t...common outside of that house.”

She finished downing her sixth one when she gagged at the comment of her tattoo. How did he know she had tattoos, nevermind where it was? Did Linde tell him? She doubted it, Linde promised she wouldn't tell anyone what was said between them that day she revealed her scars to her. She looked back at him across the table, "Tattoo? I don't...." she sighed and crossed her arms, she was tired of putting up a front, but the fact he knew or had an idea of who she was upset her. "So....You know, huh? How'd you figure it out then, Arzura?"

Lonán set down his drink. ”The time after the bandits, when they were fixing you up they removed your shirt at the clinic... I saw it then. I didn’t want to bother you about it then. But I felt sooner or later I had to to confirm if I was right, and this friend of yours is also Saharan, I presume." He looked at her seriously. "Because if so, this doubles my promise that I will help you get her back."


Aertrius sighed and nodded, reluctantly she gave up on the challenge and looked Lolan in the eyes. "Fine. You are correct. I am from Saharan, as you expected, as is Kieran. But how she is close to me shall remain my concern only. But the fact that you know now worries me and helps me know I am in good company. The others mustn't know, Lolan. There is a reason I haven't said anything about me and where I'm from." she crossed her arms and reclined in her seat further, never breaking her gaze from Lolan.

Lonán listened to her explanation never once batting an eye. What pain could she be hiding, and why be ashamed of being a child of the land of their Birth? ”Alright.. I will not press you. ‘What happens in the Carnival of Shifting Sands stays in the Carnival of Shifting Sands’ My first Boss said.” He said as he smiled,”When you are ready to talk about it to me or the others, I will be waiting and even support you. Hell I’ll even teach you how to meditate and calm your mind, and we can talk about our childhoods even. Hell ya can give me advice on girls even though I’ve had my share of romances. I want us to be Friends Aetrius, I hope my knowledge of our common home isn’t damaging to the Progress of our friendship.”

He went quiet after that, and silently downed his eighth Icefire, and began to feel its effects.


She looked at him and remained silent until after he was speaking, she had her manners and knew when to remain silent until the one talking had finished. She pondered for a moment, was he telling the truth? He seemed sincere and honest, and genuinely wanting to help her find Kieran. She would keep her eye on him from now on, now that he knew. But it was good to know there was a fellow Saharan that understood her, and wouldn't pry where he wasn't meant to know.

"Thank you, Lolan Arzura. I....I haven't talked about my home in...years, it's difficult to talk about, ya know? But thank you...After we find Kieran, I will be able to explain more about myself and her...Just, not now. First we need to find her. That is our common goal, I suppose." she gave a slight smile, and pushed her drink aside, accepting her defeat in a drinking contest. She looked back at him and chuckled at his comment on helping him with women. "I'm not exactly the one to look at for help with relationships, but...Thank you. I will uh, take advising you in that area into consideration. And, while it is an annoyance and a hindrance knowing you know what house I am from, it only means we have common ground as well as values...Maybe...maybe we could become friends, but that might be something to never happen. Not saying we can't be acquaintances, just not exactly friends....now anyway." she stretched and stood up, wobbling in the spot she was in, too many booze in so little time, "A-anything else you wish to know?" she asked rather begrudgingly.

Lonán shook his head ”No. I’m getting drunker then a mule, so That’s enough questions for now. You’d best rest off the drinks you had, I’ll order us a nice big breakfast tomorrow morning.”

She gave him a rather kind smile and nod, giving him a small bow, "Alright, Lolan. You have a good night, I'll be going to sleep now, it is rather late and sleep calls to me...And yeah, I suppose sleep for tomorrow isn't too much of a bad thing, I'd advise you sleep soon as well. Goodnight, Sir Lolan of Saharan." she said, turned her heel, waved him off and headed out of the tavern, and back into the inn. She shuffled her way back to the inn in her slightly drunk manner, walking through the door, and up the stairs where there room was. While drunk she was no lady, rather loud and careless, her foot steps echoed throughout the halls as she walked to her room. She attempted to unlock the door, but found it to be locked. She placed her head against the door drunkenly, and shuffled in her cloak for her room key while mumbling rather loudly, after eventually finding it she unlocked the door and stepped inside, without any bed preparation she fell onto the bed, and easily fell asleep, getting lost in a drunken filled state of sleep.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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Setting

Characters Present

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

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

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

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

"Would anyone like to hear a funny story?"

Setting

Characters Present

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

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

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

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

Linde chuckled.

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

She cleared her throat once more.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

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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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As they entered the city and went about their business, Linde watched the scene unfold between the girl, her 'master,' and Aetrius.

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

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

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

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

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

Her fingernail began to slowly dig into his chin.

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

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

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

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

"Have you ever truly felt fear?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I absolutely could!" She hissed.

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

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

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

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

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

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Characters Present

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

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

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

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

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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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{OOC: Kumo gave me the go to post a second post to move things along in the Saving Kieran Arc, of this RP. So, according to him we're not anywhere close to ending this, not even close to being half way. So, more to go. OOC Wolf out!}


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

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

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

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

As Aetrius spoke about their conditions, Linde spoke first.

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

She made sure everyone was listening before speaking again.

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

She looked up to the others.

"Does anyone have objections?" She asked.

Kyero shook his head.

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

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Characters Present

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

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

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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, 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.

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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 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?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kyero nodded in response and looked at the board.

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

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

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

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

"Any leads?" Kyero asked.

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

"I'll take it."

"Good luck dere."

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

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

He held out a fist.

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

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

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

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

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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....

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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…

Setting

Characters Present

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"We have to do something."

"Yes. But what, exactly?"

"I don't know!"

"You never know."

"Mind your tongue!"

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

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

"You'd what, exactly?"

"..."

"I didn't think so."

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

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

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

"Mm."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"... Peculiar."

"Let's go."

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

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

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

"Kiltrap, I presume?"

"Yes... What do you want?

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

"What is your name?"

"Herald Gould. I run a-"

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

"Ah, so you do know of me?"

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

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

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

"Y-you... You slimey-"

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

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

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

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

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

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

... He has to be.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There left no question.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Promise?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: 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: Lonán Arzura
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The gambling den proved a promising place to reel in info about the person he had to find. So therefore, he did decide that the next night, if there wasn’t anything else going on, he’d trade in his pelt to get some money, and begin to ask around in this place. However, one of the barmaids, who looked a bit more beautiful then he’d wish for a slight flirtation session, looked towards him.

“Interest you in anything love? We got whiskey, beer, ale, mead. Or do you lack money and want some other form of...payment?” She said, helping herself to the seat next to him.

”Uhhh-Ahem!-No, I just was observing how freely the rumor chain flows through here. I just want to hear about certain things. A colleague was wanting to check around for someone if I ever blew into town.” Lonán replied, a slight pink dusting on his cheeks appearing.

“Information is it? Oh, all people love to gossip and all sorts of things. Only question is, can you pay for it?” The Barmaid asks, gazing at his eyes, making the young warrior slightly uncomfortable. “So, depending on who or what manner you’d be asking about, would cost a certain amount of silver or anything you feel is... adequate, I’m open to suggestions.~ Oh, and before you ask, call me Rose.~” as she said this Lonán realized she was closer then he thought, and brushed a finger along his jawline, making him turn as red as his hair, causing Rose to giggle, or was it a dark flirtatious filled chuckle? Lonán couldn’t tell.

”T-Tell ye What. I’ve got a Deer Pelt that I have got to sell. Whatever Silver that gets me will go to you. I’ll be in town awhile so how does that sound?” he asks adjusting the collar of his tunic a bit.

“Just business and no pleasure? You are a slight let down,” Rose sighed slightly disappointed. “But you’re handsome so it’s a deal. I look forward to help you out when you come around.” She says her last sentence with a Smile, causing Lonán to nod as he got up and walked out of the den.

Walking back towards the Prancing Pony he took huge gulps of air. ”Heresta’s War Stallions! That was not what I intended and Linde is Probably going to kill me if I told her I may be working on a lead that looked almost as pretty as her. But, I need to sell that pelt anyway, to recuperate my funds so therefore might as well do it for something productive!” He thought, trying to put rationality into his currently frantically chaotic, slightly ruffled feathered mind.

If needed, he’d update Linde and Kyero in the morning or whenever they asked. For now, he was going to meditate and put his mind back into sorts, thoughts of the flirtatious bar maid nagging the ends of his mind as he returned.