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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.

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Default Location for Assassin's Pledge: Awakening
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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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To say that the situation went from seemingly bad was to seemingly insane, was a grossly miscalculated and sheer understatement. Linde’s gentle actions followed by the swift punishment of the man to extract the information made Lonán look upon her as her title truly implied. An Angelic Knight, and this angel was on the avenging path to this one.

”Holy Heresta in a handbasket.” He breathed out as the information was finally dealt out like a straight flush. He pulled his hand away from the coinpurse, more time for gambling with it later. The situation now was to head back to the inn and help his friend back.

Yes, he was certain of it. Aetrius would be someone he would gladly call a friend. For Not only can Lonán respect her fierceness, but her stamina for withstanding pain. Pulling out one more silver, Lonán tossed it to the bartender. ”Your tip for the wonderful meal. Sorry about the mess.” He rationalized with a small grin as he grabbed the final roll he had not yet consumed, as he decided to gift it to their absentee friend Okumi and prepared to head back to the Inn with Linde and Aetrius.

”Yes, better you get treated, again, as well as deal with our current problems before planning a huge trip like that indeed.” He remarked. Whatever the incident was about he didn’t care, but the circumstances of it mattered to Aetrius, and therefore his honor (as well as the laws of his homeland) dictated to side with her for that debacle. He was glad the fiend was dead, to not harm anyone else ever again.

”Let us return to the Inn.”

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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That evening, Linde returned with Aetrius and Lonan to the inn to rest. Okumi returned there as well on her own time later in the evening. While there, Linde tended to Aetrius' reopened wound. She cleaned it, pulled the old stitches, applied new stitching, and made sure to give her a double stitch treatment given how she seemed inclined to go through more violent motions that might tear a single strand again if given the chance.

That night they all didn't sleep very well. The threat of the bandits, the mystery of Kyero's presence, the number of dead civilians and the state of the village...

Next morning, they went downstairs and quietly ate breakfast together at Linde's request. They didn't talk much, but they enjoyed a nice meal to start their morning and the down time and peace was very much needed for their weary minds. And as they exited the inn, Kyero had returned just as Linde said he would.

He stood in the middle of the street, brown cloak covering his face and eyes once again as he was out in the open.

"Kyero?" Linde asked with a yawn.

"I followed the bandits yesterday to a cave system outside of town near the forest just Southwest of here. I wasn't able to get very far inside, but from what I could see they are well defended within its walls."

"I see. That proximity also explains why they were able to attack again so soon."

He nodded.

"That's right."

"So what should we do about them? I mean, I'd rather not kill them all if we don't have to. Thinning their numbers should suffice. But, knowing you..."

"You probably won't like my suggestion."

"... What is it?"

"Sekhai Smoke."

"You're right, I don't like that suggestion."

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 came and went and Lonán slept fitfully for a time. His dreams were of the bandits, and the overwhelming odds against beating them. He had to remain steadfast however, for the Mother of Battle does not acknowledge cowardice. No exceptions, not even to a warrior of his Clan.

The morning came, and stretching his limbs he got up from his bed and spent the first few minutes staring in the mirror. Silently calling upon a prayer to his goddess for strength to see another day, he then got properly dressed, in is clothing first and then his armor that he has used for several years. It was all routine. He then met and enjoyed breakfast with the group, feeling a bit more at ease and even felt tempted to crack a joke.

As he walked out into the morning sun, and squinted a bit as his eyes readjusted. Linde’s friend Kyero had returned with news of the bandits and a possible idea. He watched the two discuss it for a time before he gave a small whistle to signal he was coming into the conversation.

”Southwest you said? The proximity does indeed make Atlum unsafe for the townsfolk, so we need any ideas possible.” he stated before popping his neck, before hearing Linde’s worry about the suggestion. ”What about the smoke makes you not like the idea? Surely smoking them out is a good way to take them out one by one? Unless that’s not what this smoke does?” He ended his line of questioning by asking the obvious, mentally slapping himself for sounding like a dunce in front of everybody.

”By Heresta’s gaze I’m not on top of my game today. Well as the Old Wolf says, ‘Ye ask a stupid question laddie, you get a stupid answer! Like how cheese is made!’” He thought.

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's eyes trailed to Lonan, her eyes slightly wider than normal.

"Sekhai smoke is a paralyzing gas created by Te'i Sai. It paralyzes the lungs to cause death by suffocation, and is meant almost specifically for situations like this. But the problem I have with it is that it's too easily carried by the wind. If Kyero uses it inside the caves and it leaks outside, it could spread to any other number of villages and settlements for miles around and turn them into ghost towns."

Linde looked back to Kyero.

Kyero. I'm sorry. But I can't let you do it. You must know of another way to deal with them."

Kyero shook his head.

"I'm afraid I have no other suggestions, Linde. The likelihood of it spreading to nearby settlements is low, and I found it worth the risk."

"It's not worth the risk! Not even close! We're not using it!" She barked.

Kyero sighed, seeming to relent to her declaration.

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 groaned and winced as Linde tended to her wound yet again, baring it the best she could without the use of a numbing agent or alcohol. She sat there as still as she could until Linde had finished, this time doing double stitches instead of one row. She sighed when she finished and put back her clothing, keeping as much of her body covered as she could. She wasn't a prude, but she was self conscious of what had happened over the years. When she was done she climbed into her single bed and laid there on her back, looking at the ceiling, and that is how she remained all night. She couldn't think of anything but her sister and how to get to her. She knew she had to get there, and get there as soon as she could, but like Linde said, she wasn't in any shape to go on a long journey, nevermind even fight.

She went with the others to eat in the morning, allbeit she didn't eat much, if anything. Her mind was too busy trying to think of her plans. To leave the others and go on by herself and possibly end up getting herself killed, or wait until she could heal enough for her to get Kieran like the others suggested. All she knew is that when she could, she would be leaving for her sister. No second thoughts. When they all left the tavern, and found Kyero, she went to be by herself for a while. She went to the stables where her horse was put and sat down on a barrel next to Bree. She placed her head against the horse' head and sighed, "I don't know what to do, Bree...I finally know where she is...but...what now?" she said to no one but herself in all reality. She needed new armor as well, as the bolt itself caused damage to the suit as well as when Linde had cut into it the first time to help with the wound. But for now she was dressed in her secondary set of armor that she had brought with her. She sat there for a few minutes, just thinking whether to leave or not, she needed help and sadly Bree was of no use to her.

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’s eyes briefly widened at Linde’s explanation of what sekhai smoke was, and the potential outcome it would have with it. He was about to ask if there was a better way to execute the idea when the two of them argued like a married couple, with the resulting suggestion vetoing. ”Well, good to know who is the more cautious thinker out of the duo.” He remarks. ”But still, Now we know where they are and how close they are. If poisoning or smoking them out won’t work, then why not trap them in the caves? Bury them alive and let them think twice about harming innocents.”

He thought it was a good plan, but the problem was if the caves had two or more entrances/exits. The problem was also that they were well defended down here, which might make it impossible.”Its either that or another alternative, even evacuation of the remaining population. I’m willing to help figure something out if need be. Unless of course, there’s another little present to give the Bandits to make them feel sorry that is.”

At this point however, he was hoping Heresta would bless them with a strategy that’d benefit everyone. He then looked around and half wondered where Aetrius walked off to. ”Probably tending to her horse. I should check on Hawk when I get the chance. He’s probably gonna scold me for wasting silver and not getting anything to recompense for it. On the other hand, who died and made a horse Financial advisor?”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura
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Linde huffed.

"You raise good points, Lonán. If it has more than one exit burying them is a waste of resources and time."

She glanced to Kyero.

"Any ideas?"

Kyero was thinking, index finger and thumb resting under his chin.

"Give me a moment..."

Linde sighed.

"I have one idea we can try, but it will be time consuming and require a good deal of coordination and cooperation."

"... And?"

"We need to thin the herd to send the greatest message. Those with numbers fall not to shows of force, but superior intellect and tactics. The best way to do that with our numbers and resources is to set traps at staggered intervals around the cave entrance to slow them down or kill them as they leave and spread out. Dead falls, hanging nooses on a trigger, small poison gas bags hidden in leaf piles, and more. Like I said, it will be time consuming and require coordination and cooperation. But if we can set these traps without getting caught or allowing any of them to escape the area, we can thin the herd and destroy their morale. They'll be an easy clean up afterwards."

"But our physical conditions..."

"Will not be an issue. If this works, I can take care of the stragglers on my own without risking further injury to you all. But I could use your help setting it all up."

Linde wasn't crazy about leaving it to him to clean up the stragglers, but their bodies were still too raw from what had happened to risk a fight. They would have to trust Kyero to do his part when the traps did theirs... If they did theirs.

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
Image



The night was peaceful. With people retiring to home to rest and eat, Okumi set about her work lit only by the moonlight and the faint orange glow of the nearby lanterns. Some would have found it eerie or disconcerting, but to her, she felt an odd obligation as she moved about her work. With her injury to her shoulder it wasn’t particularly fast or efficient, but she hadn’t grown up as the kind of person to complain about that. The trundle of the wheelbarrow wheel squeaked as it moved, along with the soft sound of dirt being parted faintly filled the air. The maiden continued making the trip back and forth from the streets to the graveyard, depositing the bodies, digging graves and getting each into their own separate tomb for rest as she buried them. Not just the villagers. Even the bandits that she and the others had slain. While sounds of bar brawls and raucous laughter came from the inn and taverns, Okumi separated and isolated herself, but continued to do the work that needed to be done.

It was the early hours of the morning by the time she finished, and already, her body was protesting the strain. She was fit, but doing such work while injured wasn’t necessarily the smartest idea. Still, every single one was buried, their graves marked by twigs and a small note. She probably could have left at that point, having already done more than could be expected of her, but even if her traditions and beliefs were thought to be foolish, she’d continue to carry them out. She’d continue the legacy. Standing in prayer, she gave her respects to those parted. Even if some of them had been reprehensible in life, in death, they would have the opportunity to be cleansed of their sins. One day, everyone would find peace if that is what they sought. All things deserved a respectful burial, and the opportunity to return once more to the Earth.

Taking a brief look around her for any bystanders, Okumi saw none. Pulling down her mask, she took a deep breath of the night air. It was only at times like this, when her job was done, and everyone was safe and at rest, did she feel like her burdens were lightened. Staring over the mass of graves she had made, Okumi felt a mixture of melancholy and pride in her work. “May your body find rest, and your soul seek peace.” Okumi spoke, barely more than a whisper, before pulling her mask back up to her face. She’d planned on staying at the Inn, even before Linde’s offer. Though she was still cautious about having her injuries inspected, she was satisfied that sharing the same parchment she’d given to the doctor about her disease would be sufficient for Linde to take proper hygiene and medical care. Turning to head back to the inn, Okumi expected she wouldn’t get that much more sleep, but she was somewhat used to that with her lifestyle. Her body could rest when she was dead.



Morning couldn't come soon enough. She wasn’t sure why, but she’d had a restless night. That wasn’t to say the bed was uncomfortable - It was better than the bedroll and items she’d prepared at home, but there was something nagging in the back of Okumi’s mind. Maybe being in an unfamiliar place or amongst so many people left her body on edge? Regardless, she was tired given her time last night, and the poor rest wasn’t helping that. But it was a new day. Work didn’t wait for the weary. Having woken earlier than the rest intentionally, Okumi ate and drank in privacy, before the later meet up for dining in the commons room. There, she sat and watched them recharge and eat, politely denying inquiries into her own eating habits. Afterwards, the group made their way outside to meet with Kyero, returned from his scouting mission.

Listening to the discussion and plans for eliminating the bandit group, Okumi looked away, paying attention, but not enjoying the subject of discussion. She understood the intention of the group, and protecting the people and town of Atlum was a noble thing indeed. However, no matter how misguided her thoughts may have been, she found it senseless to go openly seeking to kill so many men. Was pre-emptive violence really the only answer? And when would it stop? Should everyone adopt that attitude, would war never end? Would people ever grow to trust their neighbours? Okumi found herself restless thinking of such topics. If she were to defend this town, was this how she wanted to do it?

For a moment, there was silence as it seemed the plan of attack was settled on. Taking a step forward, Okumi realised this was her chance to speak. Or rather, to display her opinion. Well… To do so would take time and a lot of work. Writing on such a complex thing wasn’t going to be easy, so she’d need to be brief and get the main point across. Pointing to herself, Okumi shook her head, then made a simple motion of her thumb to her neck, wrenching it across. She then gave a short bow with her hands together, a clear apology. Gesturing to herself again, she pointed up the mountains, ‘walking’ a pair of fingers on the palm of her hand, before tracing out a box with a triangle on top of it in midair in front of her. Taking a few more steps in that direction, she turned to face the others before waving, intending on making her leave. She had to return to her home. This wasn’t the kind of life for her. Killing, even to protect others, she didn’t have the stomach for it. She was a shrine maiden. And as a shrine maiden, her job was to honour the dead, not bring about more. Returning to her temple, she’d return to her simple, peaceful life.

At least… That’s what she thought at the time.

How wrong she could be.

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 shook her head.

"No, we have to find another way Kyero. Even with traps and your skills, there will still be too many of them."

"Do you have a better suggestion?"

"I... I don't know."

Kyero sighed softly.

Linde, meanwhile, noticed Okumi as she began to make her way to what Linde could only presume was her home. The box with a triangle on top was a universal sign for 'Home,' and Linde jogged over to Okumi and gently gripped the fabric of her outfit at the elbow.

"Miss Okumi. I-... I'm sorry."

She gave Okumi a small bow.

"I almost forgot you're a shrine maiden. The thought of killing people must be horrifying for you. I'm so sorry."

Linde offered Okumi a smile.

"We will find another way. I am not fond of the idea of killing that many myself, no matter what they did to this village. There must be another way. A better way. Wouldn't you agree?"

She kept a grip on the fabric of Okumi's outfit, gently gripping between her thumb and index finger, and turned to look at Kyero.

"Please." She whispered.

Kyero took in a deep breath, looking down deep in thought as the subtle glow beneath his hood became a bit more visible.

"A non-violent solution." He whispered.

The glow faded, and he looked up to Linde from beneath the hood.

"... There is a way that could work, though I prefer the thought of eliminating them to this."

Linde let go of Okumi, watching Kyero intently.

"It will require some reconnaissance. I was only able to get far enough into the caves to confirm it is in fact the same group. But I don't know what they intend to do yet."

He turned to look at Lonan.

"I propose that you and the one named Aetrius come with me into the caves to uncover the intentions of these bandits. If we confirm they seek further harm or damage to Atlum, then I will require your help to employ an ancient fear tactic to frighten them away from this land forever. I will explain if this chance arises."

"And if we confirm they have the intention to disband as per your deal with their leader?"

Kyero sighed in irritation.

"Then we will leave them be."

Linde smiled and returned her gaze to Okumi with a small bow.

"Miss Okumi, while Kyero takes them to investigate the bandits, would you please stay with me a short while longer? I am curious to learn about the shrine you come from, if you are willing to share."

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 felt all the more prepared to help with the traps. But it seemed that Linde felt that there was enough lives lost in and for Atlum’s sake. When Okumi announced her preparation to head for her home, Lonán could only nod. It seemed to turn the pressure on Kyero via Linde to think of a better solution.

He watched as the supposed Red Eyed Demon ponder in thought for a minute or two and then rehearsed what seemed to be a recon mission with two outcomes. A scare tactic or leaving them be, and it consisted of just him, Kyero and Aetrius.

”Scare tactics.” he said with a small click of his tongue, feeling slightly disappointed in going the nonviolent route but understanding the rationalization of enough blood has been spilt for this village. Both by the Storm and the Bandits specifically. Besides, the Old Wolf pulled several scare tactics in his day. He even dressed up as a devil one time for the purpose of spooking his grandmother’s clan, the day they first met. The resulting beating she gave him, according to the man himself, was worth seeing her beauty go pale with fright.

Mentally shaking his head, Lonán put up a small accepting grin. ”All right, better then nothing. Lets go find Aetrius and tell her the plan then. The sooner we go, the sooner we can ensure the village’s safety.” He confirmed with a nod. He knew that he’d have to leave Hawk behind on this one. Caves are no place for a horse, even for a stallion as brave as him. But it couldn’t be helped.

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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Kyero nodded.

"Very well."

He glanced to Linde.

"I will keep them safe. You have my word."

"Mm. Please do. Because if you don't, I think you know what's waiting for you." She said with a kind smile.

Kyero smirked as he lowered his hood to hide his eyes.

"Of course."

He turned to Lonan.

"Come."

He led Lonan away as Linde remained with Okumi, turning to her with a smile and tilting her head slightly.

"I do hope you'll forgive me for prying, miss Okumi, but... You are afflicted with a grave illness, aren't you?"

Her smile shifted slightly.

"Even if I wasn't a doctor I could have put that together from your mask and your use of hand gestures to communicate. And as a doctor I can't turn away from this. Will you tell me your affliction? Maybe I can find a way to help you, or at least make your condition more tolerable?"

Meanwhile, Kyero and Lonan reached the stables where they met with Aetrius.

"We have decided to survey the caves and discern the true intentions of the bandits. If they intend to disband, we will leave them to their devices. If they intend otherwise we will frighten them out of Cre' Est forever. Will you accompany us? I could use your help."

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 lost in her thoughts, what was she supposed to do. She knew she should stay and heal, and help with the villagers of Atlum, but Kieran was still out there....In Veilbrand that is. She was pulled from her thoughts when she heard separate sets of footsteps entering the stables. Aetrius looked up and saw Kyero and Lolan. " We have decided to survey the caves and discern the true intentions of the bandits. If they intend to disband, we will leave them to their devices. If they intend otherwise we will frighten them out of Cre' Est forever. Will you accompany us? I could use your help." she heard Kyero say.

She looked up at the two and thought for a moment then spoke up, "I honestly do not see why you would want my help in this, seeing as I'm as injured as I am...But...If it's recon that you need, I can easily help with that. When it comes to stealth I may as well become one with the shadows." she said with a slight grin, she crossed her arms as she paced a bit to think further, "You said caves, correct? I remember seeing them when I arrived. Shouldn't be too hard to track those bastards down. And if they want to fight, we fight fire with fire...Calculative that is of course." a slight chuckle came from her, then she looked back at the boys, "When do we leave? I'll prepare at once."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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Kyero nodded.

"We can leave as soon as you're ready."

He glanced around and saw the people of the village wandering around, and looked back to Aetrius.

"For obvious reasons I'd prefer we left sooner than later. I can't hide my eyes forever in crowds like this."

He pulled his hood down slightly further as one man off to the side seemed to be growing a little too curious about him.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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They found Aetrius in the stables as Lonán went to say his ‘good morning’ to Hawk. The stallion nudged his owner as it received a pat on the head. He then ensured his horse ate a slice of apple for his breakfast and nodded in satisfaction. Hawk whinnied at him as if asking if they were going to leave or if there was other business.

”I got business to take care of Hawk. Be good.” He said as he pulled out several crossbow bolts and put them in a quiver on his left hip. Checking the rest of his equipment he took a moment whilst Kyero was still talking to Aetrius to utter a prayer to Heresta.

”Heresta, Mother of War, Mistress of Battle. Guide me this day to victory. Guide me to Honor for My Clan. Guide me to attain my hopes and dreams. To this I pray, Amen.”

He then turned to the other two and nodded at Kyero’s statement eyeing his actions and then the curious man. ”I agree. I am ready to go when you two are. Let's go and take care of them once and for all.” he stated, looking at the two with an eager look in his eyes along with a wolf-like grin.

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 nodded understandingly as he stated he's prefer to leave as soon as possible, for both of the reasons he stated. She went back to Bree, gently petting her, "I have some stuff I need to do, okay? You behave no, got it? Or no fresh apples later when I come back." she chuckled as she pet Bree for a moment, then grabbed her bow and quiver, equipping both to a leather strap on her back placing her cloak over the weapons to conceal them, and grabbed Bree's reins. She left the stabled with Bree in tow and walked back to where Okumi and Linde were talking currently.

Aetrius held the reins out to Linde as she spoke, "Linde, please watch over Bree while I am gone. Make sure she doesn't get into any mischief, or get lonely. She tends to do get lonely when I am gone." she chuckled, for Bree to only huff at her owner and smack her with her tail. Aetrius glared at Bree playfully, "Looks like no one will be getting dinner tonight then." she chuckled, and pat Bree once more, then turning to Kyero and Lolan, "Whenever you're ready, Kyero, we may leave." she eyed Kyero and Lolan, her and the latter were both equipped with long ranged weapons, and Aetrius had her blades with her just in case things went south. They would have what they needed, so she hoped anyway.

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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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Kyero nodded as they walked back to Linde and Okumi, where Aetrius handed Linde the reins asking her to look after Bree.

"You have my word, Aetrius. We'll keep a close eye on her and keep her company." She said with a cute little giggle as she held her hand out for Bree to sniff and nuzzle before petting her neck and nose.

As Aetrius said she was ready, Kyero nodded.

"Very well. Then let us be off."

He began to lead them towards the edge of the village. From there it would be roughly a twenty minute walk until they reached the caves.

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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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#, as written by Tanman
Okumi Chrysanth
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Okumi stopped as her sleeve was grabbed, a little startled, but not letting it show on her face as she turned back to face Linde. Watching her speak and apologise, Okumi could only faintly smile in appreciation of her concern. Shaking her head, Okumi gave the ‘Okay’ hand sign once more, indicating that Linde needn’t worry about the maiden’s feelings on the matter. They were mercenaries, warriors and assassins. The way they dealt with a situation would be fundamentally different, but she couldn’t entirely fault them for it. She just… didn’t want to be a part of that. It seemed that Linde was in agreement with Okumi on that point, which wasn’t entirely surprising given that she was a woman of medicine. Nodding at the assertion that there had to be a better way, Okumi turned in full to face back towards the group, particular Kyero as Linde’s pleas were directed his way.

The new plan was a lot more acceptable to Okumi, provided that it panned out. She liked to think they could trust the bandits to reform if they said they would, as surely strong men like that could find honest work and livings. If not, some preventative threats were far better than simply slaughtering them through what Okumi frankly thought of as gruesome means. Hopefully this could all be resolved diplomatically, in a peaceful and fair way. Nodding to herself, Okumi realised that Linde was bowing to her, turning to give her undivided attention as the woman requested her to remain, at least while Kyero and the others did their work. It seemed she wanted some company, or at the very least was curious about Okumi’s heritage. Most guests to her shrine usually had questions, so she wasn’t entirely surprised. Nodding to Linde, Okumi looked about for somewhere nearby to sit, moving over to a conveniently sized boulder to rest. Still, she wasn’t entirely sure how she was going to talk about her shrine to Linde; but at the very least she’d try.

Thinking on this as the others said their parting words and made their way for the cave, Okumi gave a small prayer and bow before waving goodbye. Waiting for Linde to come over, Okumi felt prepared enough, and so she began attempting to communicate. Hooking her hand into a ‘C’ shape, but letting her thumb hook downwards, Okumi placed her fist below it, slightly separated. The result was something akin to a question mark. Pointing then to Linde, then to herself, Okumi traced the house symbol in the air again, trying to determine what exactly Linde would like to know about her shrine. If it was simply about where it was or how she came to work there that would be simple enough, but if Linde wanted to know more about the type of worship that was going to be a little more complicated. Although she could do it, it was difficult to do a sacred dance on uneven soil, not to mention Linde might not even recognise the origin.

After waiting for Linde’s response, it seemed that the woman had something else on her mind, and perhaps tactfully, had waited for the others to leave before asking. She was direct and to the point, striking at the heart of the matter as Okumi flinched slightly at being called out. She’d managed to avoid further discussion of it with Linde at the inn since Aetrius’s wounds were far more pressing, but it seemed that Linde already had her suspicions. Looking away only for a moment, Okumi turned back towards Linde before nodding. Pulling up her bag from where she’d placed it, the shrine maiden retrieved out an old, battered looking journal. Opening it up to one of the pages marked with a tab, she then presented it to Linde to read, looking away once more to give the woman privacy to read.

The handwriting inside was neat, but different to Okumi’s. Much more tight and compact in the ligature. Of course, what Linde didn’t know was that this was her father’s journal, and contained what research he had done into their illness. The page itself covered more of Okumi’s status as a ‘carrier’ of the disease, in that she seemed immune to its negative effects, but was capable of spreading it to others. Coined in the journal as ‘The Wilt’, it seemed to spread through airborne particles from the carrier or the original source, a vibrant purple flower. Assumedly, the disease was also in the bloodstream, so it was likely that Okumi’s fluids were also capable of spreading it if ingested or let into the body through other means. Those that contracted the illness took on a variety of symptoms, including muscle fatigue and weakness, dizziness, difficulty breathing, coughing, chest pains and hallucinations. Bloodshot eyes seemed to be an early indicator that one was about to come down with the more debilitating aspects of the disease. Following these symptoms, the body would then have difficulty regulating temperature, as well as trouble maintaining fluids, leading to both dehydration and the ‘Wilting’ aspect of the illness.

No known cure was found, though as Linde flipped through the pages a little, she saw that there were newer entries added by Okumi, indicating that animals seemed unaffected and didn’t seem to be able to be carriers. Time until death seemed to vary, but the soonest that she’d witnessed someone contract and die from the illness was three days. The airborne nature of the virus seemed to have a limited lifespan, in that it didn’t linger on surfaces or in the air too long if Okumi did choose to speak or breathe in open air, however, she hadn’t done any testing regarding this. Okumi had an assumption that those the disease killed were also capable of spreading the disease in the same fashion as her, but was uncertain if once dead the bodies would present a further health risk. In the earlier pages of the book, there were more traditional, dated entries from Okumi’s father, chronicling his family coming down with the illness, and his slow descent into the symptoms before death, watching his children and his wife pass before he too, succumbed.

Sitting and waiting as Linde read, Okumi felt… Embarrassed. Ashamed. Guilty. Exposed even. All of her history was laid to bare, but what felt worst of all was that chances were, Linde would feel one thing: Pity. Okumi hated being pitied. Not only did it reinforce the helplessness of her situation, but she didn’t deserve it. Everything was her fault. She’d been the one to bring this plague on her family and her home village. While her father had worked hard even through the pain to try and find a cure, she’d just blissfully been ‘taking care of them’, despite being the cause of their ruin. It was a bitter reminder of how cruel the world could be. Still, despair didn’t help anyone. She’d have to learn from those mistakes, carry her burden and find a way to absolve herself of those sins by helping others, and continuing the teachings of her mother. She couldn’t let her family’s legacy die just like that. She’d do what she could until her last breath.

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Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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As she sat down with Okumi and asked her questions, Okumi seemed to hesitate before nodding and handing LInde a book.

Linde flipped through the pages gingerly, taking in every word possible. The neat writing made it easy, and as she read from the start to the end, Linde's face fell further and further until, at last, she closed the book and set it on her lap.

She was quiet for a long time. Her eyes were closed. Her hand rested on the book's cover. Her legs were drawn together, heels flat on the ground. Her back straight. And her face calm, despite her saddened expression.

She opened her eyes, and slowly looked at Okumi.

"Miss Okumi..." She said quietly.

She raised the book to her chest and gently hugged it, gazing into the ground with a thousand yard stare.

"Do you mind if I keep this book for a while?" She asked, almost unconsciously.

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Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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#, as written by Tanman
Okumi Chrysanth
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Having been lost in a daydream recalling happier days that she could never return to, it was Linde softly calling her name that brought Okumi back to reality. She wasn’t sure how long she’d been reliving those moments, but it must have been quite a while, and Linde seemed to have finished at least a cursory reading of her father’s journal. Meeting her gaze, Okumi could sense it in her eyes and in her posture; that awkward stiffness and sadness when someone found more than they had bargained for; that they didn’t know how to respond to what they now knew. All Okumi could see was that Linde was saddened by what she had read, and as the shrine maiden had suspected, had little more to offer than pity and sympathies. Not that she expected more than that, there wasn’t much anyone could do for her.

So when Linde asked to keep hold of the book for a time, Okumi wasn’t sure how to react. Immediately she felt defensive. After all, it was her father’s book. One of the last remnants she had to remember him by, so she was highly protective of it. Not only that, but it had a record of all the important information she had transcribed about her disease, which was crucial for both her, and anyone she felt the need to share that with.To her, it was one of the most valuable things both personally and for sentimental reasons, only equaled by that of her mother’s naginata. But… She wanted to trust Linde and others. Perhaps she just wanted to read it in more detail, or truly did think she might be able to research some sort of cure or suppressing medicine. So long as it returned to Okumi before they parted ways… That would be alright.

Nodding cautiously, the reluctance of Okumi to let Linde hold onto it was clearly visible in her hesitation as well as her eyes, but it seemed that for now, Okumi was content to share it with Linde. Pointing to the book, Okumi then held a hand over her heart, before clasping her hands together in a pleading motion. Finally, she made a cradle out of her arms, as if holding a baby and rocking it. She really wanted Linde to know how important that journal was to her, and to take care of it. She didn’t want to lose one of the last pieces of her family.

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Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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Aetrius smiled and nodded as Linde took the reins and gave a last look and turned and walked with the others. While they were now on their mission, she remained almost entirely silent. Her foot steps among the cobblestone, then dirt couldn't even be heard, she was indeed as light as a feather. Might as well have been walking on air. As they eventually would see their destination in the distance, Aetrius looked at her companions, "So, what are our plans, exactly? I know we're only going to observe, but if things go downhill? Especially down hill fast, what are our moves going to be in this game of chess?" she asked, she had placed her, hood over her head by this time, her mouth being the only real feature to be seen. She would need a new mask, at least that is what she thought she would need. She felt exposed and not well hidden without something to hide her face behind, but her old mask was now broken and useless. She sighed, and kept pressing forwards to where the bandits would be.

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 Okumi nodded and mimed the importance of the book, Linde smiled. She stood up and walked over to Okumi, taking her left hand and putting it on Okumi's shoulder very, very gently.

"I give you my word I will take good care of this book. What I want to do is study the records your father kept in more detail, as I believe there is a way to either contain or cure this disease. Everything has a weakness, after all. And I will either find this disease's weakness or at least find a way to help you contain it so that your being a carrier no longer endangers anyone else."

She let go of Okumi's shoulder and tucked the book into her pouch at her hip.

"Would you like some tea? And perhaps to go shopping for a new outfit? We can't have you wearing a bloodied and battle-worn shrine outfit like that, now can we?" She said with a giggle.

Back with Aetrius and Lonan, Kyero remained in a half-crouch as they moved closer and closer to their destination.

"If things go south, I have one smoke bomb left to cover our escape. It will last for approximately two minutes before dissipating. That should be enough time to cover ground enough to stay ahead of them."

Their goal came within view as they crossed the treeline. Kyero ducked down low behind the bushes, urging the others to do the same.

"There's the entrance... One guard, just like last night. He should be easy enough to get past. Once we're in, the cave system has support beams on the sides connected to rafters at the top. We stick to the rafters and work our way into the caves until we find either someone we can interrogate for information, or until we overhear something about what they intend to do next."

Kyero made a small bird call which got the guard's attention. As the guard stood up, he glanced to Lonan.

"Be ready to take him down once he's close enough, and don't let him sound an alarm." He whispered as the guard began approaching their location out of curiosity.

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Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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Lonán remained silent as Aetrius spoke to Kyero. He didn’t want to weigh in what would happen if things went south. Sure, he’d be ready for if it did, however he did not want to pursue that until it did. They neared the bandits’ hideaway he did as he was told and got down. Then Kyero got the guard’s attention and got the Okay to take him out as he got closer.

”One guard he says. That means I must act fast, and effectively.” He watched as the guard drew closer. 30 feet, 20 feet, 6 feet. Lonán took a breath and struck out.

Lonán’s left hand shot out from the bush grabbing the guard by the collar of his tunic and pulled him in. He punched the man in the stomach to knock the wind out of him and stop him from talking. Then The red haired Saharan punched him square in the chin. The guard’s eyes rolled into his head as they closed. Lonán lowered him to the ground and put his hand under the guard’s nostrils. Still breathing, but unconscious. He nodded his head to Kyero.

”Right everyone. Lets get going.” He whispered out as he shook his hand. He had a feeling the guard would have a very bad toothache for when he woke up. Right now, he had to follow Kyero’s lead.

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Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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Kyero smiled slightly as Lonan made quick work of the guard and set him on the ground. Kyero picked the guard up, hoisting him over his shoulder, and walked him over to a bunch of bushes about fifty feet away just to give him that much more of a task if in the event he woke up anytime soon and tried to shout a message.

Afterwards, he led Aetrius and Lonan to the entry point and peeked inside. The downward angle of the path was approximately fifteen degrees. Easy enough for them even in their conditions. Up above, the rafters were about twelve feet above the cave floor. Plenty of room to hide.

He looked to Aetrius.

"Wait here."

Kyero entered the cave and spied a crate to his right. Running to it and leaping off of it with all the grace and athleticism one would expect of the world's most deadly assassin, he caught the rafter beam and hoisted himself up with one arm perching on the balls of his feet on the sturdy wooden beam. He looked down to Aetrius and Lonan.

"One at a time. Stand on the box and I'll hoist you up." He whispered.

He held his hand down for them.

"Quickly."

Hoisting them up one after the other, taking care not to aggravate their injuries, Kyero led them along the rafters through the first several paths and turns which he remembered from the night before. Slowly they progressed beyond where he'd stopped previously, until at last the path opened to a much larger area where almost two dozen of the bandits had gathered and were talking all at once.

Kyero led them higher into the rafters of the more open cavernous space, now some twenty feet in the air. He crouched at the edge of the rafter and held onto a vertical support as he leaned over the edge to close his eyes and listen to the chatter below.

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Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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Aetrius watched as Lolan had managed to skillfully and swiftly knock the man out and Kyero drag the unconscious man into the bushes for extra measures. Silently she walked into the cave with the two men, her cloak slightly flowing in the night breeze as she sauntered in, her footsteps were of a mouse, not even an echo could be heard. She looked around as they walked, memorizing their way in and the current surroundings in case if things did go against them.

She heard Kyero whisper to them to come over and that he'd help hoist them into the rafters. She let Lolan go first after silently arguing who would go first, Lolan tried to be a gentleman, but Aetrius insisted he went first due to weight comparisons as well as efficiency, etc. She smirked when she was hoisted up and silently followed the two in the rafters, eventually hearing chatter coming from below further ahead. She moved past Lolan and got down as low as she could in the shadows, and listened to the current conversation at hand.

"The boss gave his word, that was our word as much as his." one said eagerly, "But we're a proud gang, we don't bend to other's wills." another of the group countered the first one's point rather aggressively. They were clearly at a stand still in their part, some wanting to go with the agreement, while some wanted to go back and attack Atlum, surprisingly not too shocking to Aetrius. She looked up at Kyero and Lolan, to see their shadows and motioned with her hands that she hadn't a clue on what to do, seeing as they were even confused themselves.

"We have the numbers, armor, weaponry. They don't." another one chimed in. "But they have that woman with the mask, as well as the man in the cloak, and the red haired guy. They're skilled warriors, shouldn't take them so lightly." said the man in the corner. Aetrius nodded, a small grin on her face, were they scared of the small band of stragglers? Apparently so. She listened in further to see if they could acquire anymore useful information from the bandits. "There was that rather attractive woman with them, could use her as bait seeing how fond they were of protecting her back there. the first man who had spoken up first. Linde, Aetrius thought. Were they going to be so foolish as to use her as a means to an attack? She shook her head and thought, what if they were that dumb, maybe they were, but there was no chance they were about to let Linde be used against them.

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Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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Kyero's ears and brain filtered what he was hearing below into relevant and irrelevant. Talk of anything other than attacking Atlum was marked as irrelevant, as it was non-threatening. But everything about attacking Atlum again, and everything he was hearing about using Linde as bait drew his attention.

"I say we roast that little village and take whatever survives as our pay in lieu of the boss getting sliced."

"Are you insane? He gave our word, and he always led us right. If we break his word now then we-"

"Who gives a fuck about that? He's dead! We follow our own rules now!""

If you want to violate the boss's word, you need to go through me." Said a rather burly one who swung a double-bladed axe while taking a stance.

"You wanna fight me? Fine! Let's go ya big brute!"

The one talking of burning the village swung a sword and prepared to do battle with the much larger one. They squared off and charged one another with the others around making a circle and keeping the blocked in to fight. The charge turned into a clash of blades as the weapons struck one another, and an ugly brawl broke out between them ending with the axe wielder disemboweling the sword wielder. As his insides spilled to the floor he coughed up blood and fell to the ground a minute later.

Anyone else wanna go against the boss's word?! The brute shouted.

There was a lot of murmuring, but nobody spoke up or stepped forward.

The boss gave his word that our days of raiding were over. We all knew this life wouldn't last. We stole more than enough money to all live like kings! Enough is enough! Now let's-"

A dagger was thrown through the crowd landing squarely in his jugular on the right side. He coughed and gagged and choked on his own blood before falling to the ground and going still about twenty seconds later. The one who threw it appeared from the back. A lanky fellow with a lean build and a sinister look on his face.

"All this talk of staying true to the word of a dead man grows tiresome. We didn't get into this life to be nice or stop when we thought we had "enough." We are bandits. Brigands. Thugs. Degenerates. We don't do "nice." We take what we want when we want it. And one little man with red eyes and a fancy blade isn't going to change that. Nor will his other little friends. We are still seventy strong at least. They are four or five people at most. The odds are so in our favor it may as well be a guarantee. So..." He brought out another dagger.

"Anyone else feel like being "nice" to these village idiots?"

Silence...

"I didn't think so. Get some rest and prepare "

Kyero had heard enough. He turned to Aetrius and Lonan.

"Here is what we need to do. Since that one clearly isn't afraid of me... Yet... We need to scare him to scare the rest."

Kyero looked back, and saw him sitting in what had to be the boss's chair with two large goons beside him. Obviously he had now assumed command. Kyero looked to Aetrius and Lonan.

"Aetrius. I need you to make your way to that corner," he said, pointing to the northwest corner of the room, "and be ready on my mark to destroy the chandelier hanging there over that tunnel entryway without being seen."

He looked to Lonan.

"Lonan. I need you to climb up and be ready to close the shutters of that skylight as well." He said, pointing to an open skylight at the center of the room with two hinged wooden doors.

"I need you both to be on point to my signals. It is vital that your timing is perfect and that there is as little light as possible in this room when I make my move. If he can see me, this will all be for nothing. And we will be vulnerable to a massive counter-offensive which my lone smoke bomb isn't going to save us from. Once you are in position, give me a wave. When you're both in place, I will wait for the right moment to signal you both to begin. Are you ready?"