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Archer Trapp

"I don't see the deal with travelling alone. There's no need to go off writing a ballad about it!"

0 · 489 views · located in Cre' Est

a character in “Assassin's Pledge: Demon's Conquest”, as played by CabbageAngel

Description

Name: Archer Trapp
Picture: Image
FC: Gawain from Princess Arthur


Description: Archie has unruly red hair that sticks up and he tries to slick back. He has dangerous looking amber eyes that can't seem to stay focused on anything. His face is round and youthful looking, like a young boy's. He always has a smug looking smile stretched over his face and he probably is going to get frown and smile wrinkles by the time he's 30. He has a prominent jawline despite his full cheeks.
He is muscular and lean, with heavily defined muscles which he has no problem about showing off. Like most muscle-heads, he focuses on pumping up his pecks instead of his leg muscles, resulting in a more muscular torso. He gets his clothes custom made and even draws out the exact outfit he wants for the tailor. However, the tailor always makes alterations to the designs because of their elaborate ridiculousness. Archer would most likely prefer to wear no clothes at all, and heavily rejects the idea of putting on a real shirt. His body is covered with many brutal scars that he likes to show to the ladies, though one woman in Veilbrand retorted "Come back from a battle without a scratch, then I'll be impressed." While he doesn't know what happened to her after she was dragged away, he'll most likely marry that woman if he ever meets her again. He probably won't.

* Alias: Archie (nickname), Barbarian (insult), The Red Wanderer (commonly known title)

Age: 22
Sex: Male
Birth Date: 18 August, 552
Birth Place: Deshedros, Shaharan
Current Location/Residence: At the edge of a mountain range on the boarder of Veilbrand and Cre' Est. He travels around.
Height: 6'1''
Weight: 171 lbs
Hair Color: Red
Eye Color: Amber
Complexion: Very light olive
Body Type: Ectomorph
Voice Type: Baritone (Voice = Aaron Dismuke, voice of You Takami in Deadman Wonderland)
Blood Type: B+

Political Views: No political affiliation
Religious Views: He says it's Atheocrata, but he just can't make up his mind on what he wants to believe in!
Astral Sign: Callhutha

* Combat Style: Hard
* Adaptability Ratio: 5 (he's impulsive but not quick thinking)

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Personality: So, Archer is what you might call an "adventurer without a cause". He travels across the 5 nations with no personal vendettas or true quests, though he does take an interest in the Crimson Twins. He's interested in them, but he doesn't think that he'll ever find them, despite his optimistic outlook on other things. Archer looks cocky and confident but if you ever got to know him well enough you'd find that he's very sensitive and his confidence lies within his determination to make it through the day alive. Unfortunately, you probably won't get to know him well enough, because he'll ditch you as soon as you exchange names. He does things independently and is disloyal towards other people. He knows he'll end up betraying others because of his selfishness and he isn't ashamed of that side of himself. He's happy with himself and just avoids making promises to other people so he won't break them when he leaves. If he's loyal to anything, that would be his axe, Brenda. He's convinced that Brenda is the perfect woman and won't do anything that will upset "her". He talks to it though it never talks back and anyone in their right minds would think he's in love with it or something. (...He is...) The reason that he's independent has something to do with his mother.
He's boundlessly optimistic no matter what situation he finds himself in, whether he's starving, trapped down a well or locked in a cell. He also has no problem with death and blood because of all the death and blood he saw while growing up, but does have a problem with spilling the blood of little fluffy animals, believing all animals to be inherently good. (even if there is a bear trying to maul him he has trouble getting himself to axe it) He also dislikes innocents getting hurt but sees no problem in killing soldiers. ("Well, they knew what they were getting themselves into.")
He also appears tactless. Though his on-display abs turn the heads of many women he tends to turn them off by his comments. He's just is too honest for his own good and doesn't seem to have a brain to mouth filter. But as a general rule, despite his out of place comments he comes off as easy-going, friendly and approachable. Though he does have little outbursts and temper tantrums about strange and unnecessary things, his talents and optimism would make him a nice ally. Now if only we could think of a way to make him stay put and not jump ship when he feels like it.

Strengths: Determined, optimistic, independent.
Weaknesses:: Tactless, indecisive, disloyal, temper.

Quirks: Sucks at games of chance. Seriously, if there's a fight with a die involved, he will loose. Also, he is a very picky eater so even if he is in the woods and starving he's not going to try eating anything that looks funny or gross, like bats or insects. He wouldn't be able to bring himself to kill a rabbit either. He also gets blade envy, as in "Hmmm... that guy sure has a large axe... it's so shiny. How much time does he spend polishing that thing? Oh, and it has a mace attached to the end too? Come on, that has to be inconvenient! I bet I could use an axe and mace at the same time in different hands, that's impressive... since when did they start having crossbows attached?!" So... it's like caravan envy. But with weapons.

Likes: Stuffing his face (he doesn't like much food, so when he finds food he likes...), getting his abs checked out, cute things whether they be girls or animals, seafood, Brenda, wandering around aimlessly, adventure.
Dislikes: Cold weather (he was raised in a desert nation + won't put on freaking clothes!), lots of layers of clothing, being asked to make a decision, being protected, eggplant, pumpkin, tomatoes, brown rice, brown bread, zucchini, eggs that aren't sunny side up or boiled, chicken breast but not the rest of the chicken, some types of fish, pickles, rhubarb, mashed potato, etc etc etc etc.

* Special Talents/Traits: Good coordination aka he can dance. But don't tell anyone, it embarrasses him. Also, he's good with kids (but not at picking up ladies)

Equipment: Brenda, which he chains to himself so he will never drop it. This only becomes a problem when somebody tells him to "Put down your weapons!" because he literally can't. He has the key though, of course.

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* Training History: Because Archer lived in Shaharan, his father was always hassling him to join the military. Eventually he did, because he fell in love with the axe a high ranking official was carrying. He wanted one exactly like it, so he joined the army so that he would learn how to wield one. At first, everyone laughed at the scrawny, short 12 year old boy who ran up on enlistment day and pointed to the biggest weapon there was saying, "I want this one!" The army shut up after the kid picked up the weapon with ease and trotted off stage.

Unfortunately the axe was taken off him and he was handed a sword instead, because the axe had merely been for show. Being the war-tuned nation Shaharan is, Archie's instructor, a woman by the name of Freya Cress, didn't mess around with wooden blades. Archie dealt surprisingly well with whatever was thrown at him, and Freya took an instant liking to him. She asked him if he'd like to learn how to use that axe now. Because Archie had already become attached to his sword (he'd been using it for the past 3 years) they had it melted down and turned into his axe, Brenda. He caught on quickly but discovered how hard it was to be agile while holding such a large weapon. Not to mention he was also in his awkward teenage years. He came up with the idea of chaining the axe to himself by impulse after accidentally dropping Brenda into the town square during a "friendly" rooftop battle with his brothers.

Archer decided that he enjoyed fighting. He got into many fights with his fellow soldiers-in-training. When Alana, Freya's daughter, told him jealously that he was a candidate for the King's special guard, he became indecisive about what he wanted to do after he graduated as a soldier. In the end, he decided that he wanted to go his own way after his schooling in war and combat was done. Freya was slightly disappointed when she discovered that he had other independent goals that he wanted to accomplish (one such goal being to find the Crimson Twins) but let him go. She told him that he was too young at heart and needed to grow up on his own. Yes, he knew how to fight, but that doesn't mean he's mature enough to know how to win. Alana and Freya are both very worried because of his indecisive and disloyal nature, and wonder if he'll come back home if the royal family asks him to.

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Archer Trapp & Alana Cress

Biography: OK so time to blurt out everything! Archie was born in Shaharan, in the capital city. He is classified as Irlean but he has a bit of Zenthro in him as well, from his mother's side. His father was in the army and split with his mother when he was seven and he had two older brothers, Gavin and Bradley. They were both in the army with Archie's father and the only times they ever dropped by they just bullied Archie and tried to convince him to enlist. His mother didn't want him enlisting like his father and her two other sons because she was convinced that violence and war is what made her husband drift away from her, because she was a pacifist unlike the rest of the women in the country. (She had originally been brought up with the easy-going lifestyle of the women in Triveila before her to-be-husband swept her away) Despite not wanting Archer to leave her, she recognized the potential in the boy and tried to keep it a secret from him. Archie's indecisiveness comes from always having to choose between his mother and father, because both of them were never considerate about what he felt about being made to choose.

Of course, eventually Archie's yearn for adventure and violence (he took after his father) strayed him away from his mother when he spotted a blood stained axe. Something sparked inside of his head and he ran away to join the army! (At this point in time, the kid was in it just for the shiny axe.) He was put in a group of other kids wishing to enlist and was to be instructed by Freya Cress. Many kids complained that they had a woman instead of a man as their instructor, but Freya proved herself to be more terrifying than any big, muscly man could ever be. Her daughter Alana Cress was also in the group, and she quickly befriended Archie. Freya also took a liking to the boy because of his determination and endurance to pain, as well as his relationship with her daughter, and started to push him harder than anyone else in her "class".

When Freya melted down Archie's sword to turn it into an axe, she was his most favorite person ever. She was like that cool, Shaharan mother he never had - unlike his true mother who never answered his questions about the world in fear he might leave Shaharan to experience the outside world for himself, Freya answered every question and told him the stories of the world. His favorite story was the mystery behind the Crimson Twins, because the ending had not yet been played out. If he could come into contact with the twins somehow, he could be in the story too. All the other stories Freya told him had already ended, and the people in them were long gone. Archie and Alana held a "proper" ceremony for the naming of his axe with a bucket of water, flower petals and a ceremonial feast. There was going to be a ceremonial sacrifice but Archie couldn't bring himself to kill the baby fox with Brenda and instead cut down a sacrificial shrub. It was around this time that Archie was told by Gavin that their father had died in battle, but Archie took the news surprisingly well. His mother however did not take this so well and fell ill due to stress related reasons.

Archie's mother's sickness became worse as the years progressed. She wouldn't take any medicine or let people heal her. Archie found him and Alana staying by her side everyday, though Freya tried to literally drag them away because of the impact this was making on their training. Finally, the day had come. As Archie's mother lay on her deathbed, she shared a secret with him. She could have been cured, but didn't want to be. Why? Because if she was cured and all was well, Archie would leave her again and she would be alone. So, she rejected the medicine for as long as she could but when the fever got worse and she decided to let Archie go, it was too late. Archie became furious at her for being her inconsiderate self, and told her, "You're just like Dad." Did she even realize the emotional torment she was putting her son through just because of her selfish neediness? He still stayed alongside her as she died, which made her happy so at least she died smiling. When Archie stepped back out of that house, he swore that he wouldn't need people like his mother did. He thought that relationships made people irrational and dulled their judgement. Because of this new found independence, he started distancing himself from Alana. Alana, feeling upset and rejected, found comfort in the arms of Archie's brother, Bradley.

6 years after his training had started, Archie was told that the King had picked him to become a part of his special guard. This meant that he had to stay alongside the king and serve him, accompany him and his family everywhere and most likely never get to do half the stuff he wanted to. Archie was absolutely horrified by this and told Freya that he wanted to leave Shaharan, and find his own adventure with the skills he had gained. Freya let him go, understanding that his wanderlust was her fault anyway because of all of the stories she used to tell him. Alana was a bit more reluctant to see him go, but she now had a boyfriend so she thought she should not cling to Archie or problems might arise. So Archie left and has been wandering around for the past 4 years in hope of some sort of adventure. The offer to become one of the King's guard is still on, but he hasn't felt like going home just yet. He's been in various battles but no real wars yet. He's basically a freeloading bounty hunter that goes around helping people out if they give him something in return that'll help keep him alive on his travels. He never becomes attached to anyone he comes across, and even now is picking up clues and information on where the Crimson Twins could be. He is commonly known as the Red Wanderer, that crazy guy that wanderers around the place by himself.

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See you in the RP ~!

So begins...

Archer Trapp's Story

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In the dark, Archer Trapp stared at the map sprawled over his lap. His vision was blurry and his mind felt numb as he tried to make out the small details on the parchment, little notes scribbled down by him from his other travels. He squinted at the writing, bringing his candle as close to the map as he dared. The first rays of daylight were starting to filter through the grey clouds, but there was still not enough light to read. Archie brought the candle closer yet again to the paper, and immediately regretted doing so. The corner of the map started to smoke and Archie blew out the candle in alarm and waved the smoke away hurriedly. He tossed the smoking candlestick to the side and huffed, leaning back onto his hands to stare up at the lush foliage that surrounded him. Through the leaves he could make out a lone raven flying south.
"They make it seem so much more simple on the map," he moaned and flopped back onto his bed of fallen leaves. They crunched underneath him and Archie turned his head to the beautifully crafted axe that lay beside him. He smiled at its dulled blade fondly and cooed, "Good morning beautiful. Did I wake you?"

The axe, being an axe, did not answer and instead glinted as a sunbeam made its way through the canopy to greet it. Archie chuckled and reached his hand over to stroke its edge with his finger. "Looks as though you're due for a sharpening - ow!" Archie flinched and brought his hand back to observe his index finger. Blood had started to well from its tip and he stuck the finger in his mouth, giggling in a giddy, boyish fashion. "Or maybe not. But you definitely need a bath. In fact, the same goes for the both of us." Archie was referring to the dark, dried blood that coated the axe's blade. He himself had dried blood flecked over his body, and there was not a stream or spring in sight to scrub it off in. Archie scratched some dried blood from his shoulder indifferently and rolled over into a prayer stretch, reaching out for the abandoned candlestick. He stood up shakily and shook the leaves from his red hair.

"So, where do you want to go?" Archie asked the axe, like it had an opinion. He bent down and picked up the map, spreading it out directly in the sunlight. "I was thinking Triveila, I'm craving prawns right now. But, by the time it takes to get there I probably won't be feeling like them anymore. It would take us at least a month by foot and cart-jumping until we reach the coast. But then I thought, I really want to check up on the Crimson Twin legend in Cre' Est and see if there's anything new, and we're right outside of the boarder..." Archie broke off and looked at the axe like he was asking for approval, "So I'm compromising. We go the long way around, cut through Cre' Est, do some sight seeing, and then turn back around east to make our way into Triveila. If we feel like it, we'll visit Lake Bo, so our bath is taken care of. I get my prawns and my kicks, and we get the chance to spend this thing!" Archie tossed his knapsack up from the ground and rummaged around inside, before trading the candle and map for a blue topaz half the size of his fist. He held it up with triumph and the leaves rustled in the wind, like an applause.

"Remember back in Veilbrand when I caught that master jewel thief?" Archie asked smugly, then shook his head like it was a stupid question. "Of course you do - you cut his hamstring. But anyway, they gave me this thing as a reward. I don't know how much it's worth, but it better be a lot, because it's a pain to carry around. I'm looking at... a seafood banquet, a nice tavern with a double bed and a view and a full bottle of red wine! Maybe even a night out at a play, or some new clothes. I better get sketching, right?" Archie tucked the precious stone away into his bag and slung it over his shoulder. He looked at the axe that was still stubbornly lying on the ground and tutted. "Get up, sleepyhead." He flicked his wrist and grabbed the chain that connected him to his weapon with both hands. He pulled the axe towards him and hoisted it up, then held it close to him and rubbed his cheek against the flat of the blade.
"Oh Brenda, you're the only one for me." He sighed and cradled it in two arms. The sun had finally won the battle against the grey clouds in the sky and they were in fast retreat. Archie closed his eyes and smirked as the breeze caressed his face, then swung Brenda over his other shoulder.

Archie started to walk in a northeast direction, towards Cre' Est, then stopped suddenly as a foreboding feeling tugged at his mind. But instead of letting it nag him or trying to push it away, he accepted the feeling with eager and open arms. "It feels like something's bound to happen," he murmured to himself, "Something bad..." Archie grinned confidently and looked up to the sky.

"Perfect."

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"So, you're the infamous Red Wanderer people talk about, huh? You don't look like much. Heck, you're just a kid."

"Infamous? I know I'm popular over east, but here?" Archie questioned, strain in his voice. He wasn't looking too good, with his pained expression and his huddled body posture, and his hands clutching at his stomach. The rickety cart was swaying back and forth alarmingly, but Archie never had to deal with motion sickness before. So, he knew it had to be the other thing.

"Excuse my choice in words, but it's the best way to put it." Archie's temporary chauffeur replied. He was an older, buff looking man with a tangled beard that covered his features. The only face Archie could see of his reminded him of wrinkled leather, and it took all of his self-restraint to stop himself from making a comment.
"You're more of a ghost story than a legend around these parts," the man chuckled. Archie laughed briefly and gave the man a sly grin.

"Why...?"

"You call yourself a bounty hunter, yes? Well, considering the times we live in, almost everyone has something to hide here. Somethings they don't want someone like you t' find out."

"Well, business has been booming lately." Archie said, an amused smile playing on his lips. He lent over the side of the cart, letting his arms dangle over. "And I prefer to think of myself as a wanderluster first, bounty hunter second!" He shot back, then whined and doubled over. The older man raised an eyebrow questionably.

"Motion sickness is an odd trait for a cart-jumper."

"I'm not motion sick," Archie objected, "You know that feeling when you're so hungry, you don't feel hungry anymore? You just feel really, incredibly sick?"

"Don't think I've ever bin' stupid enough to get to that point." The man glanced over his shoulder and frowned as he watched Archie roll around, hands on his stomach. "I told you that you could help yourself to the food back there."

"But it's rye bread! All you have is rye bread!" Archie complained, "I'd rather go through this agony than cram that stuff down my throat!" The man sighed, agitated, while keeping his eyes on the track.

"You're just like a little kid. How do you manage to stay alive out there?"

"I usually mooch off old folks like you."

"Well, this old folk is going to be pulling over soon."

"That's fine, I've spent too much time talking to you."

"Is that a problem?"

"Could become one."

The man rolled his eyes, then laughed softly under his breath.

"I cannot believe my nephew admires you so much..." he said, running one hand through his beard. Archie's ears perked up and he straightened suddenly, like a dog that just heard its name.

"I have admirers?"

"You passed through his town a while back. He told me you let him sit on your lap as you told 'im stories." The man glanced back at Archie, who was looking at him as though this were the first time he'd heard this story.
"His name is Donnel. You remember him?" Archie shook his head.

"No, I never ask their names."

"I didn't think you would. But he sure does look up to you. Even wants to travel with you on your adventures."

"Of course he does." Archie stated, staring off into the landscape.

The man frowned at this comment and scratched at his scalp, furrowing his eyebrows further.
"Why do you travel alone, anyhow? Wouldn't it be easier to depend on someone you trust, instead of just using strangers you come across?"

"I'm never travelling alone," Archie said. He gazed at Brenda, who lay on the opposite side of the cart, with dreamy eyes. "And as for my methods, they haven't failed me yet." Archie's stomach growled and he looked seriously at the man.
"That was, until today. I'm afraid I'll now starve to death because you can't be trusted to carry edibles."

"Just go catch a rabbit with that axe of yours."

"I wouldn't dare it."

"Get off my cart."

"Thank the gods." Archie moaned, relieved.

The horse slowed down to a walk and halted, hammering the dirt with its hoof. The meat on the animal made Archie's mouth water, but one look into its wide eyes immediately made Archie feel guilty. He gently picked up Brenda and hopped off the cart, patting the animal on its rump.

"Goodbye, sweetie. Thanks for putting up with me."

"Where are you going?" Archie turned to the man speaking and shrugged.

"Up, down, all around. Any place I should go in particular?"

"Valkyom." The man replied then hurriedly added on, "Don't go there. Avoid it if you can."

"I wasn't planning on going," Archie said slowly, "But would you mind telling me why?"

"I was sent a raven from a friend, a guard for the Chancellor." The man explained, "There was an assassination." Archie's eyes narrowed and his heart thumped in his chest with unrest. He let his mind settle before asking his question.

"How were they killed?"

"I think you already know."

Archie's skin crawled and the hairs on the back of his neck raised. He pushed down the spine-tingling sensation and wiped the smile from his face, keeping it as straight as he could.

"Thank you for that information. How long should it take to get to Valkyom from here?"

"A couple of days or longer by cart-jumping." The man answered and smiled, "Knew you'd take the bait."

"You are an awful person for sending me to my death."

"Just stay away from my nephew."

"I try to not run into the same people twice anyway, but sure!"

Archie walked away from the cart, his head in the clouds and his heart pounding louder with every step he took. He felt like skipping, but he would wait until the man was out of sight.

"Hey!" The man called out after him, "Do you want t' know my name?"

Archie grinned wider as he shouted back his answer:

"Not in a million years!"

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Character Portrait: Archer Trapp

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Archie emerged from the spring, flicking his head back with a suprisingly artistic flair. He gasped for air as he wiped the water from his eyes, then cupped his hands and poured water over his face with his mouth open. After he gulped down the liquid greedily, he waded over to where his belongings were dumped and crawled onto the dirt. He lay down on his back and ran his pruney fingers through his hair, then turned to Brenda which was momentarily detached from him.

"Your turn," he smiled at it as he dipped it into the water and started to scrub with a scrap of cloth. An almost tranquility took over the little pool, nothing to be heard but the rustle of leaves or the call of an owl. The moon danced over the water at the slightest disturbance to its surface, gleaming and giving the scene a dreamy appearance. Then there was Archie, whose naked body was illuminated by the moonlight, and Brenda, which dirtied the water from the blood washing off its blade.

Archie had done it again. Instead of sticking to the path like he always told himself he would do, he strayed off it. All it took was the faintest scent of water and he took a detour. It wasn't like Archie really minded, though. Detours always resulted in his most enjoyable adventures. Such as that time he was kidnapped by pirates, or stumbled into a bandit hideout, or even when he caught the runaway stallion. But, detours always distracted him from his most passionate goal: The Crimson Twins.

He never expected to meet them, let alone exchange words, but having something to focus on made his life seem less... aimless, he supposed. Yet, he always felt disappointed when his leads led to nowhere. He wasn't entirely sure as to why he was even trying to keep up with them. After stalking them consistently for four years, he knew them well enough to know what to expect when he arrived at his destination, detour or none. That they most probably, definitely, will already be -

"They've already left, haven't they?" Archie wondered as he pulled a shiny Brenda from the water. "No, they have definitely already left." His hand clenched into a fist as he hit his reflection.
"Dammit!"

Archie looked taken aback at his own sudden outburst and leaned back on his hands, taking a deep breath in and out. In and out. In and out.

"Okay, better now," he said and smiled, "Not like I wasn't expecting it to happen."

Archie had always been one step behind the twins. Whatever leads he caught on to, they would always be gone by the time he arrived. Nobody ever saw them leave, so he had no general direction to walk towards, and they never left clues for who they'll strike next. Archie understood that well enough. Clues were taunts. They were left by serial killers, hobby-killers, people who did it for the thrill. Assassins were fast, ruthless, and got the job done as quick as possible. Whether they took pleasure in the bloodbath, Archie had no idea. His insight ended there. Born with the blood of a killer, Archie had a little knowledge on such things. Things like killing methods and what sort of killer is capable of them.

So unfortunately Archie was yet again left behind by the twins, he was sure of it. He figured that he would have to do the thing he usually did:

Go to the scene of the crime, and leave behind a small portion of his blood.

Stupid and dreadfully morbid as it sounds, there was a reasoning behind this. Archie wanted to leave behind a clue for the twins, and the twins only. Something that only they would be able to pick up on. If he left something visual, like initials or a feather, somebody else would be able to piece together that he'd been following them. Maybe even Ms. Cress, and that would be a nightmare. So, he left behind something that only the twins could distinguish. If the Crimson Twins were truly the demons that everyone claimed them to be, they should smell it. They should know it was him. If they can't, then that's one rumor blown out of the water.

"Shouldn't blood be enough...?" Archie murmered, laying on the ground and tugging at his hair. Blood portrayed his loyaty to following them. He wasn't sure what he wanted to do with them. Did he want to join them, be the one to bring them in, or simply brawl it out with them? He knew he wanted something to do with them, he felt like he had to. Archie brushed such thoughts from his head and picked up a wild strawberry he had harvested earlier, almost eating it before he stopped himself.

"Close one!" He forced a little laugh and began picking off the seeds of the strawberry. Once the strawberry was de-seeded, he popped it into his mouth and chewed. He couldn't stand how the seeds got stuck in his teeth. He started de-seeding the rest of the strawberries, yawning and nearly asleep. After finishing his meagre meal he lay back on the ground - stark naked - and closed his eyes.

"I'll just do what I'll always do," he whispered to himself, "There's nothing wrong with that, right? I mean, things always work out in the end. And it's not like I really need anyone to depend on, I get on alright." True or not, there was no way he'd ever admit he depended on someone anyway, even if he did. In the next few days he would arrive in Valkyom, leave his blood sacrifice, and wander off in a random direction with fingers crossed that the twins would find it. Then, they would hit again in another city and he would follow. Alone.

Of course, this entire idea revolved around the fact that the Crimson Twins revisited the scene of the crime. But they are killers, yes? Surely they must, the way all killers are supposed to. Please, let at least one be aware of his existance.

This thought was the last thought that settled in Archie's mind before sleep shut it down.

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Archie tugged on his chain nervously, and breathed with relief to find it still attached. Just the other night he had fallen asleep with Brenda not chained to him and he had been having miniature heart attacks ever since, checking on Brenda again and again just to make sure it was still there. The town he was sitting in was bustling and loud, and almost everyone that passed him by couldn't help but sneak a glance at the half-naked man with the giant axe, sitting impatiently on top of a barrel. Archie ignored their stares and just swung his feet forward and back. He was almost at Valkyom, but didn't want to walk the last hundred or less miles. So, he was sitting around waiting for a cart to take him. Archie rolled his eyes, bored out his mind. All he had done for the past few days was walk and sit around, and he was itching to do something different. He eyed the pottery stall on the other side of the street, imagining how fun it would be to smash the pots, using Brenda as his bat. His eyes glazed over as he thought about all of the things that could possibly go wrong around him right now. That guy over there looked a little shady, maybe soldiers would come in demanding that he had to be given up to authorities. But then, maybe the man was a hero to the townsfolk? Would the people run to his defence and throw groceries and shoes at the soldiers? The man also wore a cloak that concealed his face - to hide an identity? Could he be... the Red-Eyed Demon? The Red-Eyed Demon acting as a saviour to the people of this little town? Could it be that this was his birthplace he had sworn to protect, or was there a secret hidden underneath the town's cobbled roads... like, the treasure of a far-off nation... proof that the Red-Eyed Demon was indeed a prince that had inherited a distant kingdom! And his subjects were in hiding all over Cre' Est, underneath towns and in the woods, waiting for the chance to strike, to expand their homeland and - wait, that doesn't even work. What are you even thinking, Archie? Archie shook himself out of it, and got off his barrel to walk over to the shady looking man.

"S'cuse me," Archie apologised as he lifted up the man's hood, then pulled it back down. Blue eyes. Suddenly, Archie heard hooves trotting and wheels turning behind him. He turned around excitedly to see a coach, much fancier than the usual horse and cart that he was used to. That didn't stop him from running out in front of it and waving his arms around excitedly. One of the horse whinnied and stood up on its hind legs, trying to ward off the man in its way.

"Woah, hold up there girl - er, boy!" Archie held out his hand for the horse to nuzzle, "Not gonna hurt you, see?" The horse leaned his head down and sniffed Archie's hand, then bit it lightly and looked away, huffing, like he was saying, "Fine, I'm letting you off this time."

"What are you doing, boy?" The chauffeur growled at him, but Archie put his hand out and waved him off, then walked to the side of the carriage and knocked twice. The reply was the door swinging open aggressively, almost smacking him across the face. A cold pair of green eyes glared at him from inside the carriage.

"What." The owner of the eyes had her hair bunched up in honey-blonde ringlets on either side of her face, and her face was covered in some sort of powder that made her skin look like porcelain. The look on her face was one of annoyance, and her make-up could not cover up the red beneath her eyes. She was a rather intimidating figure, and Archie could almost feel the hostility radiating from her. His brain started ticking as he tried to go through his options. Well, she was female for starters, so that meant that he had to shut his mouth and let his body do the talking. But, with Archie being Archie, that wasn't going to happen.

"Hey lady!" Archie grinned at her with his usual cocky attitude, "You mind if I hitch a ride with you? It's been a day since I've ridden with anyone, and boy my feet are tired!" The young woman looked him up and down judgmentally. Her eyes lingered on his naked torso for a second too long, and she quickly diverted her attention to the weapon he held.

"If you're planning on carrying that on as your excess luggage, no. No, that is not happening." She looked over him again and bit her lip ever so slightly, then shook her head. "Uncle told me not to pick up your types. Victor, keep going. Ignore the barbarian that's running alongside us."

"Hey! Hey, hold up!" Archie protested as the carriage started to move and the woman went to shut the door on him. "I said wait!" Archie swung Brenda and lodged her in the door, preventing the woman from shutting it any further. The lady squealed and shuffled away from him.

"Mistress Ottavia! What's going on back there?" The chauffeur called back, but didn't look around to see.

"I - I'm quite alright, Victor!" She called back and hissed at Archie, "What do you think you're doing, barbarian?"

"I'm asking for a ride, Archie replied, "Hey, Vic! Stop the cart!"

"What? No, this isn't- agh! Victor, Victor dear! In the name of the Goddesses, please stop this carriage!" The carriage halted and Archie pulled Brenda from the door, huffing. He smirked at the woman - Ottavia - and swung Brenda back over his shoulder.

"Usually people are ecstatic to have me tag along, or at least ignore me when I hitch onto the back. Do you have any idea who I am?"

"No, no I have no idea." Ottavia huffed and glared at him. "This carriage can't go that fast without coping serious damage, so..."

"Is this your way of saying you're letting me tag along?" Archie inquired, leaning in.

"No, that is my way of telling you to stop chasing after us or I'll scream for help!"

"I don't think that'll work."

"And why not?"

"Like I said, you don't know who I am."

"What are you-?"

"It's him! It's him! It really is him! See Dad? I told you so!"

"Sis! Sis, no pushing!"

Suddenly, Archie was flanked by two small children tugging on his arms. The scene between Archie and Ottavia had had already caused a curious crowd to circle around them, and Ottavia was absolutely delighted to see that the crowd had gathered across the road that was her only escape from the madman. Archie laughed and put his hands up like he was surrendering. The children that were holding onto his arms were lifted up with ease, giggling in delight.

"Oh no! However did you guess it was me?" He cried out in mock anguish and put the kids down, ruffling their hair. "And here I thought I was laying low! Guess you guys are just too good for me..."

"Yeah, right." Ottavia spat, slightly confused at what was going on.

"You're the Red Wanderer, right? I could tell!" The little girl chirped, trying to jump up and tug at Archie's hair. "You're red! And you look like a hero from the stories, so you're him, right?"

"You also have the awesome axe!" The boy reached up for the axe, and Archie put it down low for him to admire, "Belinda! It's Belinda!"

"Brenda," Archie corrected, trying to cover up the underlying harsh tone. Ottavia watched Archie and folded her arms, trying to remember where she heard that title. The Red Wanderer... a year or so ago, her friend had told her a story about that guy, asking her to put it down in book form. Something about pirates and a stowaway with a twist.

"I'm so dreadfully sorry, sir, I don't know what my kids were thinking. They are simply blinded by the stories they hear and-" The kids' father came over and started to talk to Archie, but Archie cut him off.

"Actually, some of those stories are true. Namely, me. I really am the Red Wanderer." Archie explained and grinned, "And I have the stories to prove it!" The man's face lit up and he called back to his wife. Sure enough, seconds later Archie was swarmed by people. Ottavia glared at Archie through the crowd, and he waved at her cheerfully. Even Victor had left his post and was apologising to Archie for not recognising him. Oh, come on! Ottavia thought, He's not that big of a deal. Half of the people are there just because they think he's famous! Which, in a way makes him famous...

"I know what! Come join me and my mates for a drink! You can hang out with the kids and even bring your lady-friend!" One of the men piped up, and the crowd cheered.

"Actually, I need to be somewhere... you know what? Forget about it. Sure!" Archie laughed and made his way back to the carriage, holding out his hand for Ottavia to take. Ottavia looked at the hand, then up at the tavern she assumed was where the crowd was headed. She raised an eyebrow at Archie and he shrugged at her. "You don't have to come if you don't want to, but I have the feeling you've been stuck in this little capsule for far too long. You wanna get out and have some fun?" Ottavia eternally groaned. Fun. Yes, she definitely needed that. But not fun with this brute. She took one last lingering look at the tavern, and thought about what her friends back home would say if they found her in a place like that. She sighed and stepped outside, ignoring Archie's hand and putting up her parasol. She looked very out of place among the crowd of commoners.

"Fine. I'm coming in for a drink or two, but only because I really need it. After that, we are leaving."

"We?" Archie asked mischieviously. Ottavia slapped him lightly across the face and and shook the same hand, like shaking the germs away.

"Where are you headed to anyway, Red Wanderer?" She asked, walking towards the tavern.

"Valkyom. Heard a rumour there that I wanted to sniff out - a story, just like me!" Archie smiled genuinely at her, "And you?"

"Funny that," Ottavia replied, "That's just where I was headed as well." She stopped in front of the tavern and looked up at it, loosing herself for a moment. Archie swore he could hear the grief in her voice in what she said next. "A couple of nights back, my uncle was slaughtered in his sleep."

Ottavia Virmonte and the Red Wanderer entered the tavern in silence.

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"You're drunk," Ottavia stated, looking at Archie in disgust. Archie stifled a burp and shoved a bear mug towards her, the liquid sloshing over the edge and running down to his arm. His cheeks were bright pink and his eyes were half-closed, squinting at Ottavia sleepily.

"Drunk? Nah, I'm just enjoying myself." He purred and tried to reach out and stroke her hair. Ottavia bat his hand away and yanked at his hair. Archie yelped in pain but didn't do anything to stop her as she tore out a few strands.

"Enjoying yourself? You're enjoying yourself? I'm supposed to be the one enjoying themselves, brute!" She growled at him, then regained her posture and picked up the mug. She brought it up to her lips and tipped her head back. Archie watched in amazement as she sculled down the entire thing and slammed the mug back down, wiping her mouth and shooting her hand up. "Another five pints for me and the barbarian over here!" She eyed Archie and muttered, "With any luck, I can outlast him and he'll pass out."

"I heard that." Archie frowned a little and waved his arms around lazily as he slurred, "You totally cannot outlast me..."

"I know you heard, and I'm glad that you did." Ottavia snapped at him. Archie smiled a little at the pink creeping up on her cheeks. Outlast him? Ha. Let her try. She hadn't seem him drunk yet. "You're paying, yes?" She asked, snatching up the new mug put down in front of her greedily.

"Actually, I think they are..." Archie replied, pointing to the partying crowd behind them. Ottavia sniffed indigently and turned away from Archie, busying herself with her drink. As soon as her back was turned, Archie winked at the bartender lady serving his food. She blushed and giggled, moving to the other tables but still sneaking shy glances back at him from across the room. Archie gave himself a mental pat on the back.

"Commoners really are something, aren't they?" Ottavia muttered to herself, looking into her drink.

"What do you mean by that?" Archie asked, then took a swig of his beer. As he pulled away, the world spun a little. Maybe he wouldn't last as long as he said he would.

"You know, all of this." Ottavia gestured around the room. "You always have something to laugh or celebrate about, even if it's for the most stupid and insignificant of things. For example, a false celebrity."

"You noble-types aren't much better," Archie said, sitting up straight on his stool, "You know, you always complain about the little things. You always find something to cry about, even if it doesn't matter. I bet that you're like that too. They all are."

"My uncle died!" Ottavia argued, hurt, but was interrupted by Archie who was staring at his steak with a horrified expression.

"This steak is freaking weird! One half is cooked to death, and the other half is so rare it could crawl off my plate! How did that even happen? Look at this!" Archie looked up at Ottavia, who glared down at him. She brought her mug up to her lips and snorted into her beer. "Was that a laugh...?" Archie asked cautiously.

"Hypocrite." Ottavia remarked, smirking at him. Archie huffed and folded his arms.

"Unlike others, I actually care about what I use to fuel my body with. It's nothing to laugh about! Your body is your temple, after all!" He defended himself, pushing his plate away from him.

"I know, I know, it's just... wait, no, actually. You're being ridiculous." Ottavia stood up and snatched up Archie's cutlery, cutting off a bite-sized piece from the steak. "You are eating your food, young man!"

"What are you doing? Are you drunk?!" Archie panicked as Ottavia grabbed his face in one hand and held up the knife with the steak pierced through it, bringing it closer to his face. Actually, Ottavia was looking a little out of it... "No! No, don't! Lady, stop!" Archie cried out. The party-goers looked on the scene in amusement, laughing.

"Just one widdle bite..." Ottavia drawled, pressing the meat against his mouth.

"No!" Archie made one last protest as the mouthful found its way into its target. Ottavia held him down until he chewed and swallowed.

"See, that wasn't that bad, was it?" Ottavia grinned at him and stood up on the table, putting both hands over her head. "Another beer for the big kid over here!" She squealed joyfully, "I think he needs something to wash that down with!" Archie glowered at her from below.

"You're so drunk..." Archie growled, "What if I told you I could see your undergarments from this angle?" Ottavia hopped down from the table and picked up her parasol, smacking Archie over the head.

"I'm not drunk, barbarian. I'm enjoying myself, like you were. But now you're not, and I am." She smirked and sat back down, pinching a beer from the tray coming towards them, the beer she had ordered for Archie. Archie hit his head against the table.

"This is why I like Brenda more than real women," he moaned, then stole a beer off the next tray coming through. They sat in silence for a little, then Archie came up with a conversation starter. "Want to see my precious jewels?" Ottavia choked on her drink.

"Are... Are you hitting on me?" She asked, laughing out of disbelief.

"No! I thought rich girls liked that sort of thing..." Archie explained hastily, then decided to try his luck, "...If I was, is it working?" Ottavia tilted her chin up and sneered at him.

"No. No, it most definitely is not." She replied, then stood up hurriedly. She stumbled and Archie stood up too to try and catch her. They both fell over and Brenda followed suit, clattering on the floor beside them. "I'm... going to fetch Victor... and that thing attached to you? That is very, incredibly dangerous." Ottavia stuttered, and brushed herself off.

"Hey, Ottavia!" Archie called out to her as he watched her go, "Are you happy?" Ottavia looked back at him, taken by surprise from the question. She thought about her reply for a second and smiled a little.

"Momentarily, yes. Thank you for asking." She turned and squeezed in between the crowd, calling Victor's name. Archie grimaced as he watched her go. Behind him, the steak shifted on its plate.

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"Are you sure it was the best idea to let Victor steer the carriage? I think he had the most fun out of all of us. Surely there is a law about this somewhere?" Ottavia asked nervously, swaying back and forth as the carriage lurched. Archie peered over at her, a confident smirk playing on his lips.

"Oh, please... he'll be fine..." Archie giggled as the coach bumped up and down over something large and Ottavia squeaked. "...I'm gonna have such a bad hangover tomorrow..." Archie grinned and Ottavia hit him.

"Get your act together! We were only in there a few hours, so how did you manage to get so drunk?" She scolded him and suddenly went quiet, pressing her back against the wall and pointing. "Your axe... Brenda. Brenda is slipping again." Archie pushed the imposing thing back up to lean up against the seats. The coach was cramped and uncomfortable, even without the prospect of a giant blade falling upon your neck.

"Oh. Sorry 'bout that. Just can't sit still, can't she?"Ottavia ignored his comment and scrunched up her face, poking Archie in the chest.

"Don't tell me you can't handle your own," she jeered, taking on where she left off.

"So what if I can't?" Archie retorted sleepily, "The point is that I had fun... unlike a certain somebody I know who faked their fun." Ottavia looked offended and bared her teeth at him.

"I may have faked my fun, but I wasn't lying when I said I was happy." She said, then shook it off. "Anyway, I learned an awful lot about you in there. I didn't know the Red Wanderer was married!"

"Neither did I," Archie chuckled, "Until the morning after. Those were a weird couple of days... wait, what else did I say?"

"Like I said, an awful lot." Ottavia smirked, knowing she had the upper hand here. "Which of the bases have you made with Brenda again?"

"That was a joke," Archie blurted, alarmed. "That must have been a joke. I didn't go into details, did I? Please tell me the kids weren't around at that point!"

"I'm joking," Ottavia said and Archie sunk into his seat in relief. "But there was that one story about when you stowed away on a pirate ship to rescue a wannabe pirate kid that had stowed away himself..."

"I don't remember telling that one," Archie said, cocking his head, "I told my newest one about the jewel thief in Veilbrand, but that one... oh, wow. That one is old. I think that was one of my first adventures."

"It's the one that I heard a while back," Ottavia told him. She was deliberately trying not to make eye contact with the boy. "Didn't the captains of the ship turn out to be his parents?"

"Yeah... yeah, they did." Archie smiled, reminiscing. "The kid had been adopted into some rich family, because he was practically a prodigy. The parents wanted their kid to lead a better life and not one of crime, so they abandoned him there. Then years later, his parents were back in town and he saw his chance and seized it. That's where I come in!"

"The maids were terrified after finding the child gone, as their master and the boy's adopted father was a terrible, cruel and corrupt man, who would punish the maids and especially the boy." Ottavia took over the story and Archie closed his eyes to listen. Because Archie didn't stop her, she continued on and tried to not let the excitement in her voice show. "They asked for you to go after the boy and promised you their salary and even their bodies if you could retrieve him, but you declined and went after the boy without the promise of a reward."

"In it for the kicks, not the chicks." Archie cut in and winked. Ottavia rolled her eyes. "So I stowed away and found the boy that was also in hiding. He kept going on about how they were going to kill him, and I mean, yeah damn right they would have. But, he didn't mean it in that context. He ran out suddenly and I thought he was going to blow my cover when he hugged the pirate captain and cried, 'Mummy!' There was a family reunion which was sweet and all but I needed to take the boy back. And of course..."

"They made you walk the plank!" Ottavia burst out, unable to contain it. Archie laughed and shook his head.

"So that's where the story got warped," he sighed, "No, no, no. You're wrong there. All the cool pirates shoot their prisoners out of canons."

"Of course," Ottavia covered up, "Everyone knows that. So the pirates... they tried to-"

"How wrong did they get this?!" Archie shouted, smacking his palm against his forehead, "It wasn't the pirates! It was the kid!"

"Stop yelling!" Ottavia yelled, "So the kid tried to stuff you into a canon. Was it because he didn't want you to take him back?"

"Pretty much. The parents stopped him though and sent us back on a rowboat."

"You handed him over to the maids, and made the boy a promise..." Ottavia continued, "That when you'd become a pirate, you would come back and find him, take him away from his life and go on as many adventures as you'd like together."

"The Red Buccaneer," Archie mused, "I like it. Kind of catchy. And it's rather refreshing to hear somebody other than me telling these stories."

"So are you going to keep the promise?" Ottavia asked innocently, "As in, the story doesn't feel complete. It needs a proper ending. Do you keep the promise or not?" Archie froze and he looked away for a little bit, lost in thought. Ottavia saw his jaw clench and thought to herself about how bad he was at covering up what he was thinking. Eventually, Archie spoke.

"I don't know yet," he said slowly and added on hurriedly, "To be continued?" Ottavia didn't laugh and looked at him unimpressed.

"So, that's how it's going to be?" She snapped at him, "Guess you aren't as heroic as you make yourself out to be." Archie shrugged and turned back to her.

"I just go where the danger goes. Or, more like the danger goes where I am." Archie smiled a little, "Sometimes people interpret my actions as heroic, and I'm not going to stop them. I'll do what I do, and people can interpret what I do however they like."

"You go where the danger goes, huh." Ottavia narrowed her eyes at him coldly, "That's why you're going to Valkyom, isn't it? To check out the ones responsible for the assassination, the Crimson Twins."

"You know them? Aren't they great?" Archie enthused with a young-boyish quality.

"Wanderer."

"The one mystery in history that has yet to be solved! I've actually been following them around for a very long time now. They're rumoured to be demons!"

"Wanderer!"

"I'm pretty worried that they're not going to be there - no, actually, they're definitely not going to be there, that's why I've been taking so slow. Prolonging the inevitable, I guess. Have you heard if they've been striking anywhere else lately? Because-"

"HEY, BRUTE!" Ottavia shouted and grabbed him by the strips of fabric he called a shirt, pulling him close to her. "Of course I know them! They. Killed. My. Uncle." Archie looked back at her blankly, then put two and two together.

"They... oh. Ohhhhh. Ohhhhhhh." He bowed his head in shame and Ottavia tossed him aside. "Sorry?" Ottavia looked furious.

"Now if you're going to praise my Uncle's killers one more time, I swear to the Goddess that I will kick you off this - ek!" The carriage stopped suddenly and Ottavia slipped and fell on top of Archie. She looked up and gasped, "Brenda!" Archie held out his hand and caught Brenda before it met with Ottavia's throat. They both sat there panting until Ottavia called out to Victor. "Victor? Is everything alright?" They both heard a retching noise and a splash and exchanged glances. Eww.

"I'm coming out!" Archie said and opened the door, carefully carrying Brenda outside. He looked at the road ahead. "The good news is, we're outside of Valkyom." Archie told Ottavia as she stepped outside and put up her parasol.

"Bad news?"

"Right, the bad news is that there seems to be a fruit stand in the way."

"A fruit stand?" Ottavia repeated, raising one eyebrow. They both stood there together as one of the fruit stand attendees walked towards them with a basket of apples.

"Would you like to buy some fruit?" He asked, shoving the basket in their faces. Ottavia looked down at the man distastefully and pushed the basket away.

"No, but we'd like to get into Valkyom, and we can't do that when you're in the middle of the road." She spat harshly, and Archie tugged on her arm.

"Hey, lady. It's okay, I'm sure we can spend some change for fruit," he said, turning to the man who was sweating profusely, "Look at him, he's malnourished. You'd think he's a slave or something!" The man laughed nervously and looked at Ottavia hopefully.

"So you'll buy some fruit?"

"Both of my parents were poisoned. Thank you for the offer, but no." Ottavia turned her head and raised her nose, "I'm dreadfully sorry for this, but we have a drunk chauffeur. We cannot be blamed if we accidentally run over your stand - which, is in the middle of the road, but you already know that, yes?"

"Lady!" Archie exclaimed, and turned to the man. He rummaged around in his knapsack and pulled out a gold coin. "I think this is overkill, but here. I'll have an apple." The man took the coin happily and handed over an apple, but Archie became distracted by what was going on behind them. "You are aware that your mates back there are disassembling your stand and setting it alight, right?"

"Cooking the fruit," the man said before he could stop himself, "Sorry - I mean, we're closing up for good. Bad business." Archie looked at him, perplexed, and shrugged.

"I don't think that's what you do, but whatever works with you." Ottavia walked up beside Archie and tapped him lightly on the shoulder.

"Victor is too out of it. We'll leave the coach behind and walk, so let us get moving." When they made some distance between them and the fruit stand, Ottavia hissed, "Don't you think that this is terribly suspicious looking?" Archie laughed at her and tossed up his apple.

"Girl, strange things like this happen to me all the time! Don't think too much of it." He took a bite and Ottavia shook her head and sighed.

"Perhaps this is why danger always finds you..."

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Character Portrait: Archer Trapp

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Archie gazed up at the enormous mansion, mouth gaping open. He looked back at Ottavia, bewildered, and pointed.

"So is this your place, then?"

"It will be," Ottavia answered and stepped forward, looking up at the building. She peered out from underneath her parasol and took in the familiar sight. When she was younger, she had sworn that her uncle lived in a castle. As she got older, the mansion shrunk - but that didn't mean the place was any less impressive. It was strange, thinking that this small castle would now be hers. She gestured to a coach that was stationed in front of the mansion. "That was carrying my luggage. You don't have to stick around any longer, unless you want to help unpack."

"Huh? Oh, yeah. I'll leave now." Archie waved and started to walk down the street, leaving Ottavia staring at him go in disappointment.

"What - that's it?" She called after him, "After all that time you're going to walk away, just like that? I don't even know your name!"

"Do you want to?" Archie asked, looking over his shoulder. Ottavia flustered and stormed towards the carriage.

"If you don't want to tell me that's fine by me," She fumed, "But I just think - agh! I don't even care anymore!" She stopped suddenly in front of the carriage. "Why are my things not already inside?" Meanwhile, Archie was a preoccupied by something else suspicious.

He was being watched. That same tingling feeling that he felt as he entered Cre' Est was the same as he was feeling right now, except this time it felt stronger. No, he wasn't just being watched, it felt like... like he was being evaluated. Something along those lines. However that mysterious figure in the dark was looking at him, it made Archie squirm a little. One part of him told him that he wanted to get inside as soon as he possibly could, but the more dominant side of Archie told him to scale the building and try and chase down whatever was sitting on top judging him. As though sensing this, the chill left him and he was left wondering if it had just been his imagination. It's nothing, Archie's common sense tried to tell him... but he couldn't shake the addictive feeling of something foreboding coming on.

"Where are they?" Ottavia disrupted Archie's moment with her cry.

"What?" Archie stuttered as Ottavia moved away from the carriage and walked over to the front door. She jiggled the door handle and cried out of frustration.

"I gave them the key! Why in Cre' Est is the door not unlocked?!" She stamped her foot in frustration and Archie walked over cautiously.

"Don't hit me, but... you alright there?"

"No! No I am not alright!" Ottavia retorted, "The people in charge of my luggage are nowhere to be seen and apparently they ran away as soon as they got here, because the freaking door isn't opened! Why must servants be so... stupid?!" She slammed her fist into the door and stood there, chest heaving. "You supposed to be going. Just here to gloat, are you?"

"No," Archie replied, "But, you want to get inside, yes?"

"If you are going to break down the door, please do. Just avoid as much damage as you can possibly can-"

Archie swung Brenda at the door handle. It came clean off and he kicked the door lightly. It creaked open gingerly, letting out a long, high-pitched squeak. Ottavia stared at him in stunned silence.

"You..." she started, her voice trembling, "Do you even listen to anything I say, barbarian?!" She yanked on his ear and Archie shook her off.

"Door's open. Ta-da!" He said exasperatedly and ducked inside to avoid the parasol. Ottavia growled and stomped indoors, the door clicking shut ominously behind her.

"If you break anything, I will throw Brenda into the furnace." She muttered, hanging her parasol up on a clothing hook and looking around at the familiar entrance hall with a heavy heart.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Scarlet Remiella Character Portrait: Archer Trapp

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#, as written by Rarikou
There comes a hustle from outside as the man declared to be the willkeeper walks in with a group of people. “What on earth is going on? Lady Octavia, you do realize that the meeting was supposed to be held in my offices and not here, yes?”

“Oh was it?” She said. “I just wanted to view the place before I arrived… sentimentality , I suppose.”

“No, It’s quite alright.” The keeper said. “I have to go fetch the will from the safe, so we’ll just preform the reading, here, shall we? Just one moment.” He said, going into an office room, to where the safe was, and he used three different keys to unlock it, pulling out the will and papers. “”I’m sure you get the house, but I do have to officially read the will, so let’s just wait a moment.” He says, rolling up the will. ‘I, Csargal Virmonte, in readiness and understanding I will one day depart, doth leave my will and testament to be carried out accordinhly….”:

There’s a bunch of sentimental stuff about how he loves his family and his niece, and how much he thought of them greatly, the usual thing. After about twenty minutes. “And now, as IO’m sure everypne wants to get to, the division of my estate.”

There was silence in the room as the Willkeeper coughed, then continued to read aloud. “It has been overtwenty five years since I gained enough money to purchase this estate and live a grand life as Chancellor, however, I did this with help, and it is time I repaid this debt. In order to gain the funds needed, I took out a loan from one Jeremiah Remiella of the Triveilan Epmire Company some years back, he gave me more than enough money to do everything I had eve r wanted, and more besides. Sadly, I was never able to pay off this debt. Thus, as the terms of our contract stated, I award Jeremiah Remiella, or if he has passed his legal heir, full control of my estate and assets. Please give the Remiella family my heartfelt thanks.”

There was a stunned shock on Ottavia’s lips. “No…no way. That’s IMPOSSIBLE! NO!” She shouted. “No way! That has to be a lie! It’s a false will!”

The willkeeper looked just as flabbergasted. “That’s impossible! He handed this to me himself, and it can only be opened by three different keys, which until today were with some high ranking people! There’s no way this could be a fake.”
Octaavia’s disbelieving shouts continued to grow as she continued to make every false claim in the book. “Look, if this Jeremiah did a loan for the late Chancellor, the bank would have the contact, as would the heir, yes? Even you know that the bank s as a fortress, right? If they have the contract and the money matches what’s in these papers, I’m afraid you don’t have a case.”

He gets slapped, and one of the guards speaks up. “Um, Sir? There’s been speak that the Remiella’s Daughter is in town working on a branch… I can go fetch her, if you like?”

“Good, go.” The willkeeper said, sill rubbing his sore cheels.
---
There was silence as Scarlet continued staring up in the sky, talking with herself. A lot of thoughts and feeling continued to wash over her… her recent experiences with the Crimson Twin, her budding relationship with Linde… they seemed to be so different, so far apart with how she usually acted. It was like someone made a copy of her that dealt with each thing differently, but they all shared her mind. IT was a troubling thought, and even more trouble experiencing it first-hand. How was she supposed to deal with all of these building lies?

Finally, she asked herself something she had never really bothered to her, as it never seemed in sight. [i[“So…what exactly am I going to do after I take over Triveila?[/i]’ It had always seemed like a distant, impossible goal to her, and she was certain she would go into an early grave carrying out her families’ wishes…. There had never been any time to dream about what could be. But, now that the time was approaching…she couldn’t help but wonder. ‘I don’t really know… maybe I’d take up a hobby or something to do… I deserve time to myself, after all.

’Don’t be an idiot. You’re obviously going to cement your position with whatever methods you need to. Triveila needs a fierce ruler to protect them, and the company we’ve gathered will strike fear into the hearts of our enemies… who wants the largest corporation in existence, with branches in every nation, as their enemy?’ Her logical, evil side thought back to her in a sharp, forceful manner that usually cut her off. ’You’ve never lived for yourself, why should you do that now?

’But… I’m tired. The more emotional side of her argued. ’I’ve felt…happier than I ever have lately. In two short days, I’ve felt this incredibly new emotion… a warmth. It’s making me realized just how I’ve grown up- I don’t think I’ll have my drive to do this forever… is resting on my laurels so bad?

‘You felt a twinge of warmth and you want to rest? That’s what I call pathetic. Linde made you happy once and you’re like a lost puppy wanting food. Are you sure you’re me? While we're on that subjec,t you've been too attached to her! Her colder side bit back Just shut up until you can think straight. We can never get warm and fuzzy with someone. Our job is to do what our family has done long before us- Grow stronger. Death to our enemies, money in our pockets, just like Father taught us.

’Is it that wrong to desire an end, to desire that I can finally rest? Was the final words her emotional side said before getting kicked out by her other self. She sighed, ordering another bottle of wine. It quickly came, and she had another gulp of the stuff, staring at her cup as she swished the liquid around it. There was a moment of silence, and Scarlet sighed again. “Tastes like crap’

A sound of footsteps approached her, belonging to a peon. “Ma’am, It’s time.”

“Right.” Scarlet said, standing up and paying her tab. “I assume everything’s gone smoothly?”

“Yes, Ma’am, without a hitch. The niece is…pissed off, shouting at the universe, but it’s going well.”

“Good. Get back to the estate and tell them I’m gathering the needed things, and will be on my way.” She said. The peon nodded, and ran off.

The things Scarlet needed were already on her bed, right where she had put them. She took it, making sure all the papers were in it. Satisfied, she placed them in a briefcase, and began the walk to the manor.

Along the way, she feels a bump and a slice, followed by a child running past. Scarlet, knowing exactly what that meant began chasing after the kid. Thankfully, she was the faster of the two, so the chase only went as far as a few streets, driving him into a dead end alleyway. She pulled out her flintlock, aiming right at the kid. “Bad move, kid.”

Her arm twitched, and it was as if the other Scarlet was wrestling for control for the arm. ‘Ruthless murder? Is that what you believe to be the right thing to deal with this? [/] Her other sided argued, angry. [i]’He got the bait wallet, not our real one! Are you gong to kill a kid over a few silver pieces?! Look at him, He’s malnourished! He hasn’t eaten in a few days, at least!
You ignorant woman! She yelled at herself. If we let this brat go, he’ll tell his buddies to where to get free money, and we’ll hack pickpockets onus everyday!

There comes a struggle and the gun fires, thought emotional Scarlet had won out, the bullet hitting the wall very close to the boys head. Scarlet sighed, walking up to the boy, leaning in. “Look, kid. When you try to steal someone’s pouch, try and make it as fluid as possible.” She said. “Always go into a person’s blind spot when escaping- if you run in front of them, they may get the suspicion to check for their purse, and call the guard after you. Also, when dealing with people like me who obviously have money, consider the possibility of traps. How much money was in that pouch, a few copper?”

The boy nodded. Scarlet opened the op button of her shirt, pulling out a pouch, and pulling a few platinum from her hands. ‘Professionals keep the money where it’s impossible for thieves to get.” She said. She said. She took a breath, as if still arguing withherself, and tossed the platinum his way. “Consider that a loan .If you want to make it up to me, come work for me… assuming you’re willing to go through hell.” She said, turns, and walks away

’If he doesn’t show, I’m going to be so mad at you. She tells herself, pissed off. ‘Plus, you made me waste a shot.

’He’ll show…I don’t know when, but he’ll defiantly show. You may make the plans, but it’s me who understands emotions.

You had better be right… that child seemed lifeless to me.

Really? That’s how it looked to you? To me, that boy’s eyes were burning with the desire to live’

Finally, she reaches the Virmonte manor, and was ushered in. She took a moment to gaze at everybody. The girl who was obvious the niece looked red from shouting to much, the red head by her didn’t look like he’d be much of an issue…indeed, he looked like an idiot. Her guards were positioned all throughout the manor, ready to rain down hell should the worse come to pass.

“You are the head of the Triveilan Empire Company, I assume?” The keeper of the will asked.

“That I am. I am Scarlet Remiella, 7th head of the Remiella family. I’ve brought the materials need to confirm our loan with te late count… it took me a little while to find it, it was pretty buried.” She said, pulling out the papers and showing it to him. “You’ll find the loan agreement, the bank statement declaring the official transfer of money, as well as everything my father had agreed to with the late count.

The willkeeper and a few lawmen looked over it, then nodded. “They match our own records. Very well, by law and contractual will, we award the entire Virmonte estate to you Mis- Lady Remiella.” The willkeeper said. “The estate is yours to do with it as you will.”

“My thanks to you.” Scarlet said, giving a bow.

The niece, however, wasn’t very happy. “Uncle never mentioned any of this! This must all be some sort of mistake!”
Scarlet blinked. “What, you think I prepared all of this overnight, changed the bank statements, forged an entire will, replaced it, and came here just to expect a payout? The Triveilan Empire Company is a reputable company, Miss.” ‘It’s always funny when saying exactly what you did and using it as a lie

The woman cursed. “I can’t believe it… I won’t! Uncle said he’d give me everything! The money I spent to get here.. that was everything I had!”

“With all due respect, it’s your fault for risking everything. This has no fault in me.” She said. She turned and began walking
away. “I will send someone to discuss the staff and other things within the hour, as I DO have a lot of work to be doing.”:

“That is acceptable.” The willkeeper said.

“She’s treating uncles estate like it’s worthless.” The niece said, and it was clear she was losing her cool. “Give it back! Give my Uncles things back!” She said, and rushed at Scarlet. It was clear she had at least the basic amount of training, as she pulled a small knife from somewhere.

Scarlet jumped back, reaching for her gun before stopping and cursing Damn! I haven’t reloaded from earlier… I have no time to get the other one! She said. As the girl brought down the knife, /Scarlet took the blade and redirected it, making it stab her on the other side rather than the intended target- her heart.

The guards spurred into action, subduing her. “You are hereby under arrest for the attempted murder of a Noblewoman.” They said, and began dragging her away, while some of the guards surrounded her. “You’re losing blood fast, Lady… at this rate, you’ll pass out from blood loss.”

“…Damn it.” Scarlet said, cursing. “Linde… get me to ….” She said, and passes out cold.
The willkeeper looks incredibly shocked. “Never in a thousand years did I think she could do something like that… do you know what the Lady Meant by ‘Linde?’”

One of the guards, a peon nods. “That’s the name of a skilled doctor her in Valykom. I’ll see it it she gets there immediately. They said, and begin to haul Scarlet off to the good doctor.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Scarlet Remiella Character Portrait: Archer Trapp

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Archie looked at the woman, Scarlet Remiella, who was sprawled over the ground. He had zoned out for most of the will reading, wondering why in the world he hadn't ditched the girl yet. Things got more interesting when the will took an unexpected twist. He had attempted to calm Ottavia down, but she had shunned him - and now, there was a half dead girl on the ground.

Archie felt surprised at the lack of remorse he felt at the sight of the girl, and even more surprised at how Ottavia had reacted like that. Then again, Ottavia had proved herself to be a passionate and violent girl, but he never expected her to do something like this. This was something he would have done. If somebody ever walked into his life and stole everything away from him because a name on a piece of paper said so, Brenda would have lopped the person's head clean off before the person even realised. He stood in the corner and watched the people pick up the girl and carry her out of the room. There was blood pooled onto the floor from where the girl had fallen. He stared at it and waited for the sympathy towards the poor girl to kick in. No, still not coming. Maybe it was because he related to what Ottavia had done or how he felt more sympathetic to Ottavia, who had lost everything. But no, mostly it was because of the way that woman looked at Ottavia when she came in and took away everything.

“What, you think I prepared all of this overnight, changed the bank statements, forged an entire will, replaced it, and came here just to expect a payout? The Triveilan Empire Company is a reputable company, Miss.”

Her tone was formal, but there was no sympathy in her voice. How could somebody do something like that and then not even give a simple apology? Archie felt the anger towards the girl build up inside him and he tried to push it down. He could hear Ottavia screaming in rage from down the hall as she was dragged out of the mansion. Apparently, everyone had forgotten about him. He swung Brenda over his shoulder.

"We're in over our heads this time, Brenda." He said as he run through the door after Ottavia.

"No! No, you don't understand!" Ottavia cried as she was dragged along by the guards, "I'm not the one you should be arresting! It's her! Remiella, arrest Remiella!"

"Contain yourself Miss Ottavia, or we will put up arms against you." A guard replied as Ottavia desperately tried to bat him off of her.

"Wanderer!!" She screamed, getting more frantic as they shoved her through the broken front door, "Wanderer!" Archie ran up and out the door behind her.

"Ottavia!" He exclaimed as he slowed down to a jog beside them, "You had a knife this entire time? Why in the world did you not use that on me during the trip?"

"Be serious," she pleaded. Her eyes were wet from the tears forming. "Wanderer, I just tried to kill somebody."

"It was your first time, I take it?" Archie asked. The guards looked at him disapprovingly.

"Are you going to leave the criminal be, or do we have to forcibly remove you from the property?" One asked him.

"You wouldn't stand a chance," Archie said, raising his eyebrows. Ottavia sobbed a little and tried to regain her usual authority.

"What he means is that he'd like a few words with your prisoner before we depart," she explained, lifting her chin slightly. The guards both stopped dragging Ottavia and stood still.

"Granted." Ottavia turned to Archie and looked at him helplessly.

"I'm so confused!" She burst out, letting the tears run down her face freely. She looked pathetic, and her make-up was running. "This is so unlike him! He was always so independent! He never depended on anything, anyone! Especially when it came to his finances!" Archie didn't say anything. He let her keep going without interruptions. "I tried to kill that girl, wanderer! What if she dies? I'll have nothing but the blood left on my hands! And the will..." Ottavia's bottom lip trembled, words became barely audible as she gushed out everything she had to say. "The will! The will didn't mention me at all! We were all that we had, after my parents were killed! Did he really not think that much of me? Because that's what nobles do, right? To show our love, we give. He didn't give me anything! How could I know that he ever loved me, really, if he didn't- if he didn't-" she stuttered and fell silent, silent tears dripping off her chin. Archie took a step closer to her and pulled her head up by her hair to look at him.

"Are you done yet?" He asked her. His tone was soft, not demanding or confronting. Ottavia wiped the tears from her eyes and nodded slightly. He frowned and let go of her hair. "You knew your uncle better than anybody, but sometimes that isn't enough to predict their actions." Archie stepped away from her and ran a hand through his hair, avoiding eye contact. "Just think about what sort of man he was in life. How he acted towards you. Surely he must have told you he loved you at least once. You see, if your uncle loved you in his life, he will love you forever in the afterlife I'm sure. A slip of paper doesn't need to prove that to you." He flushed at the stuff coming out of his mouth and coughed obnoxiously. "But you do have to admit that giving you stuff all and handing over everything to that *cough*bitch*cough* was a bit of an asshole move."

"Exactly." Ottavia nodded her head determinedly. "Uncle was a good man and he did love me as the only family he had left. So, he could never have done this. I think the will is fake and I think this also has something to do with that fruit stand."

"Why the fruit stand?" Archie scoffed, "It was a stand with fruit. Nothing unusual, there are heaps of stands selling fruit scattered around the place. And the stand attendee was obviously living it rough, you can tell by how he was... oh." Archie scratched his head, something dawning on him. "If the attendee was malnourished, why didn't he just eat his own fruit?"

"That... wasn't what I was getting at, but nice. How very perceptive of you." Ottavia praised Archie momentarily then continued on, "I'm more concerned about how it was obviously placed in the middle of the street. Also, how they set it alight afterwards looked suspiciously like a signal."

"Right. That too."

"So I'm going to need you to do a favour for me," Ottavia said, "I need you to stalk Lady Remiella for me, if the bitch doesn't die." Archie was surprised by the dark tone and scary look on Ottavia's face as she said that last phrase. She had seemed to recover from her break down too quickly and Archie had second thoughts about whose side he had decided to take in the ordeal.

"What?"

"I want you to prove that I am not guilty!" Ottavia spat, fury in her voice. "Follow her! Befriend her! Seduce her! I don't know, whatever it takes!"

"And why should I have to do that?" Archie asked, backing away from her. "As far as I'm concerned, I don't owe you anything. I could walk out on you right now and not have a guilty conscious."

"Because..." Ottavia grinned darkly and chuckled, "I ended up being the one paying for your tab at the tavern, remember....?" Archie gulped. Great, now he did owe her something.

"But spying isn't very hero-like," he protested, "It isn't my way of doing things at all. I'm the Red Wanderer, remember? I jump in with Brenda, shout: 'HA-HA!' and swing her around. They write ballads about it, seriously."

"Spying isn't hero-like," Ottavia admitted, "But helping out a damsel in distress is." She gave him one more pleading look. "Help me, Wanderer." Archie looked at her blankly and considered his options. Walk away and feel like an arse, or take up the challenge and go on another adventure in the name of the damsel. The latter won out.

"Who could say no to that face?" Archie laughed light-heartedly and pinched her cheek. "You do know that even if the girl is faking a will, you are still convicted for attempted murder, yes?"

"Funnily enough, people take cutting up criminals as a lesser offence if not an offence at all," Ottavia replied, "In fact, it's supposed to be a heroic action. They write ballads about it, seriously." Archie laughed again and grinned at her.

"Good, you're still in there. I thought you had lost your mind."

"That's the one thing that woman will never take from me," Ottavia smiled a little, "And good, you're smiling inappropriately. I thought that you had become normal all of a sudden, barbarian." Suddenly a guard cleared his throat.

"Are you done with the plotting?" He asked and Ottavia and Archie nodded. "Well, good. Right this way, Miss Ottavia." Ottavia was once again dragged, heading towards a coach. Archie grinned and waved her goodbye.

"I hear prison food sucks!" He called out to her.

"At least I can stomach it unlike somebody I-" Ottavia was cut off by the carriage door slamming shut. Archie was left alone with Brenda again.

"Women and their mood swings," he muttered and started walking in a random direction, "Now where am I going..."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: The Crimson Twins Character Portrait: Linde Almna Character Portrait: Scarlet Remiella Character Portrait: Archer Trapp

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Image

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Watching from above, he observed the events unfolding below with great interest and pride. The fact that he had nothing to do with such a successful manipulation of events was intriguing, but there was one detail he could not overlook and that was what happened towards the end. Scarlet was stabbed, and was losing blood fast. Linde's Apothecary was on the other side of the city, and there was no way her little "peons" as she called them would get her there in time.

To save his new asset, he had to act against his better judgment.

He stood up on the edge of the roof and bent his knees. He jumped fifteen feet off the rooftop, which was already forty feet off the ground for a jumping height of fifty five feet. He dove head first and flipped at the last second, landing in front of Scarlet's peon a he tried to carry her away from the scene. His landing, due to his heavy equipment and such, created a small crater in the cobblestone streets and several dozen cracks in it as well as kicking up a dust cloud around him. He stood up slowly, his full figure rising like that of the Demon of legends would expect to. Slowly, deliberately, without any sense of harm or difficulty despite the feat he just pulled.

He walked towards the peon carrying Scarlet and glared him down. The peon was so startled that he couldn't move or speak, though one peon to his side tried to jump in between them to protect his unconscious leader.

With a single backhand strike to the man's chest, the peon went flying over twenty fee through the air before sliding along the ground and smashing into a few wooden crates nearby. He was unconscious, but remarkably not dead despite the force used against him. The peon carrying Scarlet looked over to his now fallen comrade, and then back to the Demon before him as his glowing red eyes grew brighter.

"Hand her over, and I will ensure her safe return."

The peon was speechless, but the Demon's glare was not to be ignored for it carried a serious and very obvious warning that if he was ignored the peon would die. To preserve his life, as well as that of his leader, he handed Scarlet to the Demon. The moment she was secured in his arms, the Demon spun on his heel and took off at a sprint. In an instant he was halfway across the clearing in the street before he leaped thirty feet up to the side of a building where he landed feet first, bending his knees and jumping to another building nearby, again landing feet first on the side, and then leaping onto the rooftop of the next and disappearing, leaving the peon standing there fearing for his life when Scarlet found out that the Demon had to intervene in order for her to be safely delivered to Linde.

About one and a half minutes later, the door to Linde's Apothecary was opened and the Demon walked in carrying Scarlet, blood still dripping from her side. Linde threw her book across the room as she ran forward to help, and she got to work immediately while the Demon closed the door and flipped the sign to "Closed." He watched Linde's work, as he wanted to confirm his assessment of her medical skills. She worked quickly and flawlessly under pressure even though the patient was someone she cared for. The procedure took longer than expected, as the blade nicked Scarlet's intestines but Linde was able to contain and prevent further tearing of the tissue by applying a specially blended and biologically friendly adhesive.

She closed the wound and wrapped Scarlet's body carefully, and once she was finished she let out a sigh of relief that Scarlet was steady and sleeping soundly. The Demon had applied a salve of his own on the wound before stitching it closed, one similar to that he used on Scarlet's hand before to numb it to pain though this was a stronger dose. When finished, the two of them sat across from one another in the lobby. Linde stared at the Demon, silently taking in his features and trying to gauge what he was thinking. However, it was impossible. Scarlet had a better ability to read people than she did, but she could read the medical signs like no other. There was clearly nothing medically wrong with the Demon as he sat there staring back at her.

"I should thank you for bringing her here," she said.

He shook his head.

"I am protecting an asset, nothing more. There is no reason to thank me for that. If Scarlet dies, her organization dies with her and I cannot allow that... Not yet," he said coldly.

Her eyebrows went up in surprise.

"Wait, what? You mean that you eventually plan to kill her?"

He shrugged.

"For now that is my issue to worry about, not yours. Just enjoy your relationship with her and prepare for when I need you. That time is coming soon, in ten days."

With that he stood up and started to walk towards the door.

"Wait... what do you mean it's your issue and not mine?"

He turned on her, startling her.

"Do not make me repeat myself miss Almna. Prepare yourself for in ten days I will be in need of your services and I expect you to honor our agreement. If you do not, my sister will not hesitate to end your life, Scarlet's, and those of everyone else involved in our affairs. It will be quite the blood bath for the continent of Cre' Est. Now, if you will kindly get back to the person who needs your attention the most, I have business to attend to. When Scarlet wakes, tell her I'm on my way to Triveila to take care of a mutual agreement and that she too can expect my return in ten days."

Linde was almost speechless, but she dared not argue further. She was pressing her luck as it was. But this was new. Either the Demon slipped in telling her that Scarlet's organization could potentially become a threat in his eyes, or he meant to say it to shake her up. Either way, she knew that Scarlet was more than she claimed. Her organization wasn't just what she said it was previously, that much was clear. If the Demon was concerned about it, there was much more that she had yet to learn about her new companion... But for now, that could wait.

She sat by Scarlet's side with a hand on the woman's forehead, gently using her thumb to stroke her brow while waiting for her to wake.

Meanwhile, back on the other side of town, the Demon had once again taken to the rooftops to observe something new taking place.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: The Crimson Twins Character Portrait: Linde Almna Character Portrait: Scarlet Remiella Character Portrait: Archer Trapp

0.00 INK


Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: The Crimson Twins Character Portrait: Scarlet Remiella Character Portrait: Archer Trapp

0.00 INK

The Red-Eyed Demon came from the sky. Literally, he just dropped. Nobody should have been able to land on their feet from that high up and still have both legs intact, but he had. After he tossed that peon away like it was nothing, Archie was sure of one thing: The man standing before him was undeniably one of the Crimson Twins.

He had only made eye-contact with him for less than a split second. Just one glance at his glowing ruby-red eyes gave Archie all the adrenaline that he needed. As soon as Scarlet was passed over into the man's arms, Archie bolted. The demon took off in a sprint as well, and Archie pushed himself further to catch up to him, now just running at an axe swinging distance to him. But instead of attacking him with Brenda, he reached out his hand to try and grab him.

"Hey-!" Archie shouted, "Hey, wait!" Archie jumped, but instead of tumbling over the demon he smacked into the ground. Wincing, he looked up to watch a dark figure leap from building to building. Archie could have sworn the figure glanced over his shoulder and shot him a look that said, Really, man?, but that was most likely Archie's imagination. Archie stared at the demon in awe and whispered, "And there he goes..." He slammed his fist down on the ground furiously. "God-freaking-dammit!!"

Archie continued to pound the ground in frustration as the other people on scene watched on, some curious and some backing away.

"So close! I was so freaking close!" He roared and eyed a stack of crates beside him. He swung Brenda out and flipped the top crate up into the air, then cut it down in a strong, downward swing. He continued to toss up the crates and cut them up in increasingly elaborate ways, until he was left seething on the ground surrounded by splinters and shards of wood. He took in a deep breath and smiled a little at Brenda. "Thanks girl. You have no idea how much I needed that." He stood up shakily and sighed, ruffling his hair to make the splinters fall out. Then, he turned to the peons who were carrying the woman Scarlet and stormed up towards them.

"Excuse me, sir..." one of the peons said, taking a step beck from him and glancing up nervously, "We promise that we have no affiliation with the-" The peon shut up when Archie's axe was at his neck. If it were to budge another inch, it would be buried in his flesh. Archie glared down at him with unforgiving eyes and the peons scattered, one putting a hand under his shirt to fetch a small knife. Pathetic.

"I want to know where the man carrying your boss is heading," Archie snarled, "There was a woman - Lindsay? Where is this Lindsay?"

"Linde," the peon replied softly, "The..." All of the other peons looked at him urgently like they were telling him to shut up, which Archie noticed.

"If he doesn't answer, he gets it. Then, I'll move onto asking each of you in turn. If any of you run, I will chase and hunt you down. Your boss isn't around to protect you now, you see." The peons gulped and one nudged the man with Brenda threatening his neck.

"If she asks, you followed the Red-Eyed Demon, yes?"

"Yeah, right. Like she'll believe that." Archie chucked and grinned, "Nah, I'll just tell her how it was. If she's worth following, she'll forgive you. So, where are they going?"

"The Almna Apothecary," one of the peons replied. He had a bandage around his side and he winced as he stepped forward. Archie smiled at him and removed Brenda from the man he was threatening. The man breathed and rejoined the others.

"Great. Think that you can take me? I'm new in town," Archie said pleasantly and rested Brenda over his shoulder. The bandaged guy nodded.

"Yes, I can. I was there only recently."

"That's good. Remember, I'm only there to talk to your boss. I wouldn't attack her in her sleep, that's no fun." Archie laughed again and the bandaged man didn't look relieved or disappointed.

"Okay..." he said, then started walking up ahead down an alleyway, "It's this way."

"Yeah, I'm coming!" Archie called after him, but before he followed after him he turned to the other peons and looked at them sympathetically, "Oh, you guys. You're all so afraid of her. Why are you so loyal to her anyway? Don't tell me that you depend on her," Archie's eyes narrowed as the peons nervously chatted amongst themselves. They obviously depended on her. "Whatever then. Oh, and fruit stand guy! Have you ever actually considered running a fruit stand as a living? Your fake one had me convinced, and I'm sure that there are other hungry and ridiculously generous guys like me out there in the world." As Archie walked after the man with the bandages, he waved with his back towards them, "Being your own boss can be scary and tough, but considering how well you guys are off now, it might be an option!"

After a while of walking behind the bandaged man, Archie was bored.

"When are we going to be there?" He whined, twisting Brenda around in his hand in an attempt to amuse himself. The bandaged guy - Colin, was his name - shot him a dirty look then cried out of pain from twisting."Looks painful," Archie commented, "How'd you get that?"

"It's not as it was before. Miss Linde was a great help," Colin replied holding his side, "And who gave it to me..." he caught himself and stopped talking. Archie didn't need to know that, but that was exactly the conclusion that Archie jumped to. He shook his head and sighed exasperatedly.

"I don't know how you guys can put up with that," he said earnestly, "I could never live with somebody controlling my life like that - especially if I needed that person." Archie stopped in front of another alley. He sniffed the air. "Smells like something is decaying," he stated, then pointed down the alleyway. "Did anything happen down there recently?" Colin's face turned white as he looked in the direction that Archie was pointing at.

"Yes, mister. Just the other day, the Crimson Twins struck again in the area." Archie nodded, smiling.

"Mm-hmm. So how could you tell it was them?"

"It was either them or a bear, and a bear is ridiculous." Colin said, moving over to stand next to Archie. "They were mauled beyond belief."

"Awesome," Archie breathed, "Not the mauling, that's terrible, but... can I just go do something here for a second?"

"Don't ask me for permission," Colin said awkwardly, "I'm not used to that."

"Of course you aren't." Archie ran down down the alleyway and yelled back to Colin gleefully, "Of course it smells off, there's bucket loads of blood down here! Seems like they haven't gotten the chance to clean this place yet!"

"You do not need to exaggerate, mister... oh." Colin had followed Archie down the alleyway, and was looking around the scene of the crime to discover that Archie hadn't exaggerated at all. "This is disgusting."

"If blood makes you queasy, don't look now!" Archie warned Colin as he positioned Brenda over his left palm. Colin looked at Archie alarmed and backed away.

"What do you think you're doing, sir?" He stuttered, eyes widening.

"What I always do," Archie replied grinning, "Something probably completely pointless, but something that also makes me feel like I do have a purpose after all." Brenda's blade dug into Archie's palm and he flinched a little as the first droplet of blood appeared but then numbed the pain from his mind. He grinned a little and removed Brenda, then lifted his bleeding hand out and clenched it into a fist, squeezing. His blood flowed, rich and thick, splattering on the ground. He waited and Colin watched him, confusion on his face. Eventually Archie wiped the blood on his arm and turned back to face Colin. "Okay, all done now."

"Are you going to do something about that?" Colin questioned, gesturing to Archie's bleeding hand. Archie shrugged and laughed.

"We're heading to an Apothecary, right? I think I'll manage."

"That's on the other side of town, but."

"I said I'll manage."

"Whatever you say, mister." Colin sighed, "We better get going, if you don't want to bleed out like Lady Remiella."

"Yeah, just hang on a sec." Archie tilted his head and listened to the dark, "You feel it too, right?"

"Feel what?" Archie looked up at the building that enclosed the area he was standing in. He looked at the peon, who looked back at him perplexed. Colin couldn't feel it, but there was no denying it. The adrenaline bomb ticking in Archie's brain was all that he needed to reach the conclusion that for this entire time, they were being watched. Three guesses who? Archie grinned as he waved Colin away.

"You go on," Archie said, the excited tone in his voice showing, "And remember that if you run I remember how you look, and that I will kill you!" Colin nodded and walked out the alley way, away from the crazy man with the axe. Archie hummed to himself as he sat down on the ground, looking around with with a bright expression on his face. "So are you going to show yourself, or am I going to be sitting here all night?"

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Character Portrait: The Crimson Twins Character Portrait: Archer Trapp

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He watched with interest, following the one with the axe until he and one of Scarlet's "peons" made it to the alleyway where he had slaughtered that group of bar patrons a day or two past. The one with the axe cut his own hand, which was intriguing in a way all its own. But when he told the peon to leave and called out to an invisible person, he couldn't help but smirk.

So he can sense when he's being watched eh? He thought to himself.

He waited a few moments, to see if the axe swinger would give up and leave but he did not. He continued to look left and right, never really bothering to look up. Whether that was because he sensed the presence from above or just didn't think to look up was unclear, but what was clear was that this one had an untapped gift which could easily be exploited later.

With that, he let himself drop off the rooftop, landing squarely on his feet with a slight bend in his knees. The effect was similar to that which he had performed when taking Scarlet away, but did not produce the crater or the dust cloud. Instead, he landed and cracked the cobblestone as before due to the immense weight of his Orichalcum armor. But otherwise, he was unharmed.

He stood up slowly, tall and proud with his eyes gleaming and shining upon this most intriguing man. They were only around one inch apart in height, with the Demon being ever so slightly taller, but the difference between their musculature and potential was quite clear to any discerning eye, not that it mattered much here. This one knew exactly who he was looking at, that much was evident.

But what else did he know, or rather... What did he want? He had tried to talk to him before, after all, when he was taking Scarlet away. So why seek out the Red-Eyed Demon when all others fled?

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Character Portrait: The Crimson Twins Character Portrait: Archer Trapp

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Archie stared at the man in front of him. It really was him. That dark hair, that unreadable expression, those unnaturally red eyes that belonged to a killer, even down to the way he held himself... he was really there. It was actually him. And this time, Archie wasn't just imagining it.

"Huh." Archie's eyes widened and his heart beat faster. When he tried to speak, he squeaked. He cleared his throat and tried again. "You're... you're really him, aren't you?" He asked, and started shifting from foot to foot. "The Red-Eyed Demon?" There was no point in the man even answering, it was so obviously true. Archie smiled, grinning contagiously. "I did it!" He turned his back on the demon for a split second and fist-pumped out of view, then turned back around and started pacing excitedly.

"You're one of the Crimson Twins! You have no idea how long I've been following you! I've heard all the stories and rumours about you and-" Archie covered his mouth when he realised he was babbling. He reached out to touch the man but then drew his hand back in uncertainty, and continued pacing. "I've been wanting to meet you for so long now... I think I was thirteen when I first heard the stories - they're all true, right? Hey, where's your sister? Is she in town too? And... wait, why are you even here?" Archie became guarded, backing away from the deadly figure, "I didn't realise that the Red-Eyed Demon showed his face to strangers, unless they were his prey."

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Character Portrait: The Crimson Twins Character Portrait: Archer Trapp

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Archie choked on his on saliva and looked at the man incredulously.

"I'm sorry, but... did you just call Brenda an oversized hatchet?" He raised an eyebrow at him and brandished Brenda, looking at it fondly. He could not believe that he was talking to the demon himself so casually, when all he wanted to do was tackle him down to the ground and tell him his life story. If it were anyone else, impulse would have taken over by now and he'd have already done it, but the atmosphere around this man was telling Archie, Try it, and you're dead. So Archie contained himself, though for some reason having the Red-Eyed Demon insult Brenda was a bit more offsetting than it usually was.

"Brenda was designed by the finest blacksmith that I know," he started, "She's forged from steel with the slightest touch of tungsten that was added to her later in production, which I had to track down myself. The tungsten is crafted into the tip of her blade. This style of axe was inspired by the axes used by Shaharan army generals to lead the military into war but there were some adjustments to the style to make way for other combat options. As you can see, the bottom of Brenda forms a lance. The length of Brenda and the spear-tip end makes it easier to pole vault over obstacles whenever need be. I also know how to wield her, which comes in handy. So yes," Archie continued on getting more into his rant at every word, "Yes, she does come in use. In fact, if I wasn't carrying her around everywhere I would be dead by now. Does that answer your question, demon?" He finished with a huff and stared straight into the man's glowing eyes. Why aren't I afraid of him...? Archie had to ask himself that question as the man stared back. His heart was thumping so painfully loud he thought that the demon might hear it, and it had forced it's way up his throat. No, he was wrong about not being afraid. He was terrified and he knew it, but the feeling of fear was just too addictive and he couldn't back down now.

"So you said something about me being useful?" He asked, voice crackling. He stood his ground as he waited for the demon to speak again.

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Character Portrait: The Crimson Twins Character Portrait: Archer Trapp

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The Demon listened to the tone of his voice as he told of his axe. The different changes in dynamic within his voice and the changes in the pitch and rhythm of his words told the Demon he was telling the truth about that axe, but clearly he overestimated the value of the weapon. He didn't think it would help, but he decided to demonstrate something to him to try and see if he'd catch the message or just see the Demon "showing off."

"Allow me to demonstrate something to you," he said, pulling out one of the Twin daggers from behind his back. Under the light of his red eyes, the green translucent metal with the black core shimmered and shifted in color and outward demeanor as he brought it up horizontal to the ground for Archie to see.

"Observe what happens to this dagger, which weighs over seventy five pounds and is made of the legendary metal Orichalcum," he said.

He dropped the weapon.

The blade fell down to the ground, the blade turning towards the ground and embedding itself in it at a nearly forty-five degree angle in between the two men.

"Did you observe what that blade did when I released it?" He asked.

It was something of a trick question, but it had a relatively simple answer. The blade fell. Plain and simple. But would Archie see it that way? His attachment to his weapon told the Demon that this man viewed almost everything as a living thing in some fashion, and his dropping of the blade may very well spark something of a view of disrespect towards something that demands it otherwise in Archie's eyes.

Basically, the Demon was trying to tell him that his fondness for his blade, while admirable in one respect, was unwarranted and over-exaggerated. A weapon was a weapon, but the weapon's material and craftsmanship wasn't what made it useful nor the feats it accomplished in the hand of the wielder.

But would this young man understand that? Something told the Demon he did not yet understand, but with time he might just come to. Even if he did not understand yet, his usefulness would not falter or diminish in any way. He had more to say to this man, and he had every intention of telling him just how useful he was when the time was right.

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Character Portrait: The Crimson Twins Character Portrait: Archer Trapp

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"It fell," Archie replied slowly. He had the urge to lift up Brenda and show how she was chained to himself saying, "I used to have that problem too until I attached her to me - I don't drop her ever anymore!" but he sensed that this wasn't what the demon was getting at. "It fell, just like everything does when you drop it."

He still felt like he had a point to prove. Brenda wasn't just a weapon, she was a companion. The steel she was forged from was the steel he had trained and fought with since he was twelve. They had practically grown up together, so was his connection with her really something to question?

"Humans are stupid that way," Archie finally spoke, "Finding comfort and companionship in inanimate objects. If a girl loved her toy the way I loved my axe, you wouldn't take the toy off her and drop it just to prove, 'Oh hey, it falls. It's just every other toy, so stop loving it so much', would you? Men love their work tools and weapons, women love their pieces of cloth and that necklace given to them by their grandmothers. I wouldn't tell them that it's just a gun or that it's just a piece of jewellery, because it's not. It's their gun, and their piece of jewellery. It isn't about what the object is, it's about time spent with it... no, it's about what you've been through with it. That's where the attachment comes from."

Archie didn't yell, he didn't raise his voice even a little bit. He just talked. Plain and honest, like always.

"That's what I believe in. You don't have to agree with me, but you don't have to try to change my opinions either." Archie lent down and picked up the dagger on the floor. He grunted and struggled slightly to hold it in the one hand, holding it out to the demon. "Take it off me. Seriously, take it off me right now or else I'm going to drop it again!"

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Character Portrait: The Crimson Twins Character Portrait: Archer Trapp

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The Demon listened to his response and was slightly disappointed that Archie was so close yet still so far from what he was trying to tell him. He reached out and took the dagger, sheathing it behind his back as he gave Archie an unreadable glare.

"Sadly, you failed that little test. However, you're still useful to me in the abstract. If you have been trailing me for as long as you seem to claim, given the look in your eye, then you'll have no objections to my leaving right now without answering further questions. Just know that when I return to Cre' Est, I will have use of you and your skills."

He turned around and walked out to towards the opening in the alley, preparing to take to the rooftops again before casting a final glance to Archie.

"Do me a favor and try to stay alive until I get back. You and that axe of yours are going to be a prime target for a new enemy the likes of which you've never faced before in your life nor will ever face again. So don't die, and I'll answer whatever questions you have upon my return. Until then, farewell," he said.

He walked around the corner of the building and was gone just like that, leaving Archie alone in the alley to contemplate his warning.

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Character Portrait: Linde Almna Character Portrait: Archer Trapp

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Archie looked ahead of him blankly, then fell to his knees. Just being around the demon wore him out.

"But you didn't even tell me..." he started, then trailed off until his speech turned to inaudible mumbling. His head felt light like it was going to float away, yet his body felt as heavy as that dagger he passed to the Red-Eyed Demon. The Red-Eyed Demon. He had just picked up the Red-Eyed Demon's dagger and handed it to him. He had picked up... and his face had been inches... and he said he needed him for...

"I found him!" Archie's eyes widened and a smile tugged at his lips. Before he knew it, he was grinning. Really, truly grinning. He looked at his hands and realised that he had held the dagger with his bloody left one. Maybe some of his blood would be left on the hilt? Sure, the blood was clotted by now, but still... "I really actually found him!"

Archie's heart started beating rapidly against his chest and he laughed. He looked up at the sky and held up both arms, thanking the world for this "blessing" bestowed upon him.

"THANK YOU CRE' EST!" He shouted out at the top of his lungs, then stood up and ran out of the alleyway to where Colin was waiting. "Oh, hey! Colin! You'll never guess what just happened, man! Oh..." Archie turned his head from left to right. Apparently, he took too long and Colin had ran, fearing for his life. "Oh, right. Of course. That's a normal thing to do." Archie did a quick 360 of his surroundings and smiled. "A-ha!"

He ran across the road and knelt down to observe a small blood splatter against a wall, about hip height. It was relatively fresh. He shook his head and sighed, still unable to stop the contagious grin on his face.

"What do you do when you've recently had your side blown to bits?" Archie mused to himself and stood up, "Well, you definitely do not run as fast as you can and bump around into things in the dark at high speed... because you'll undo your stitches, silly." Archie started walking down the street. This time, because he was sure nobody was watching him or was just filled with too much excitement to care, he broke into a skip. I need bandages anyway, so a trip to the Apothecary isn't a complete waste of time. He thought to himself happily, Besides, I need to help out Ottavia. So... yeah.

Another pressing matter found it's way into his head. I wonder if the Red-Eyed Demon has a name? He stopped skipping and started jogging. Of course he does, all of us with titles do. Archie started running a little harder as he confirmed he was on the right track, due to a blood smear against a fallen barrel. I wonder when was the last time I told somebody my name...?

...

Archie looked up at the sign. This was the place? He hoped so, because he spent all of last night looking for it. A couple of blood smears here and there can't get you far, especially when they might not even belong to the one you're looking for. He looked through the window. There was a lady reading behind the counter. Archie did his best not to keep staring. He had to go in and talk to... that? His heart skipped a beat as he put his hand on the door handle. Please don't be stupid. Archie's conscious whispered to him. He dismissed his conscious and forced himself to grin.

"If that were ever to happen, I wouldn't be being me." He told himself and opened the door, "And we both know that would suck, wouldn't it, Brenda?" The store's bell chimed as Archie stepped inside and bounded over to the front desk. "Hey! Linde, right? So I have this cut and I'm guessing that dealing with that sort of thing is what you do here. Oh yeah," Archie crossed his arms and leaned over the counter, whispering not-so-discretely, "You're also harboring a criminal - Scarlet Remiella. I'd like to talk to her about something if you'd let me."

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Archie was lying down on the late Chancellor's bed when an explosion went off outside of his window.

He shouldn't have been there and he knew that, but there were so many rooms in the mansion nobody had even realised that he was crashing there yet. The big idea was that a) he needed a place to stay, b) he should be able to find Lady Remiella by, you know, hanging around on her property, c) Linde was fed up of him stalking the Apothecary and threatened to get the authority on his case and at last, d) if you ever got the chance to lay on this bed, you wouldn't want to get up either.

Four days ago, Ottavia Virmonte died a slow, agonising death in her cell... she was poisoned. Assassinated, the same way every other potential heir and carrier of the Virmonte family name had been. Well, almost every potential heir, except for the potentially fake one. Isn't it funny the way these things turn out? When Archie first heard of the death and method of assassination he would have laughed under any normal circumstances. She had made such a fuss about the way he ate. Maybe she was the one who should have watched out, not to mention that the steak she force-fed him didn't settle down well after all. But no, he had known her. For only a short time, yes, but he had known her. Because of this, the news came as less of a joke and more of a knee to the ribs, a knife in the chest and drop-kick to the temple. It was brutal, sharp and left him winded.

"And that is why you never make promises, Archie." Archie said, sitting up on the bed and crossing his legs, "Because even if you try your best to keep them, the person is gonna die anyway. It's what happens wherever you go, after all! Yeah, it's better not to make promises. Not unless you want to be tied down by something for the rest of your life." He scratched the back of his head and looked around the room. If he wasn't tied down by what he owed to the girl anymore, why was he still hanging around? He'd be miles gone by now, except there was something making him stay. That's right, because of the Crimson Twins. The demon was going to come back and he needed Archie here for something... big? Whatever that "something big" was.

"Something big..." Archie sighed and rolled over, hugging a pillow to his chest, "He needs me to stay alive, because he's going to need me for... something big? What would a figure so powerful and feared all across Cre' Est want me for?" He pointed at Brenda accusingly, who was detached from him and leaning against the closest. "Well?" When Brenda didn't reply, Archie squeezed his pillow and mumbled, "Well, Alana was always the smarter one out of you..." He stared out of the window, lost in thought. "Something big like...?"

That's when the explosion happened. It hit the roof of the building alongside Archie in a ball of fire, chunks of the roof shooting up and assaulting the mansion. A tile smashed through Archie's window and the glass shattered into shards, spraying the room. Archie put his hands up to cover his face and felt a smaller shard pierce his palm. It was not large enough to do any major damage, but hurt none the less. He picked the shard out and walked over to the window to take a look at the fire that had started. The roof of the building was half gone, and flames danced gleefully over the destruction.

"Something big like that!" Archie exclaimed and ran across to flip his bag over his shoulder and pick up Brenda, "C'mon c'mon time to go time to go time to go-" He ran out of the room and into the hallway, accidentally ramming into one of Scarlet's peons.

"Hey!" The man shouted, taking out his gun, "What the heck are you doing in here?!"

"What are you still doing in here?" Archie called back over his shoulder as he ran down the hall, "You should get out before-" That was when the Chancellor's room went up in flame. The force of the explosion blew apart the wall and Archie turned his head away as he heard the unmistakable 'crunch' of a man's skull. He glanced down the stairs to see the peons running around and panicking, crowding the exits. Ah, screw it all. Archie hopped over the rubble and around the fire and looked down into the hole that used to be a bedroom. There was a building not that far off. Maybe he could jump? It was a long way down...

"Well, I've never done this before, but it isn't too late to try. Right? He backed into the wall as far as he could go, then sprinted towards the edge. Before he jumped, he stuck Brenda's sharpened spear end into the ground and used it to pole vault himself up, giving him more air. While he was in the air for that split second, he turned his head to see Valkyom in chaos. Fires, explosions, screaming and people running around like ants... Archie's heart raced. This had to be the worst and most exciting thing that had ever happened around him. When his attention focused back to the matter at hand, he found himself smacking into a wall with nothing to grab onto.

"No no no no no NO!!" He tried to grab at the cracks in the stone as he fell down, but that only succeeded in making his fingers red and grazed. "No, dammit!" He swung Brenda up at the building and halted to a stop. He felt his back crack and his shoulder pop, and he tightened his abdominals to hoist himself up with a grunt. Brenda's blade had caught onto a window ledge. Glancing down the way others tell you not to, Archie saw his feet dangling from about two stories high. He could make that, right? Maybe risk spraining an ankle or breaking something small, but nothing too major.

"Do me a favour and try to stay alive until I get back."

The demon's cool and stoic voice replayed in Archie's head. He looked up at what he was dangling from, down at what he was about to fall onto, and left and right for anything to get himself out of this position. He sighed.

"I'm so stupid..." Yeah, you are. "Shut up." He turned his head to a drainage pipe beside him. If he took the risk of jumping over to it he could probably just climb down. Archie dislodged Brenda and pushed himself off with his feet, holding his arm out to reach to the pipe. He made it, and clung to the thing like his life depended on it. There was no way he could get hurt now that his idol depended on him for something. "Sometimes I wish that you were compatible with these things," he complained to Brenda as he made his way down, clumsily and awkwardly.

When his feet finally touched the ground, he started to run. The further he ran, the more destruction he saw. He opted to stay out of small alleyways, to avoid getting crushed by falling rubble. The safest place now would be the town square. Sticking to main roads, he sprinted towards the square where the people were gathering. He wasn't sure what his aim was. Keep himself alive? He shook his head as he approached a younger boy whose leg was crushed underneath a wooden pillar. No, keeping himself alive came second, always.

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Character Portrait: The Crimson Twins Character Portrait: Linde Almna Character Portrait: Scarlet Remiella Character Portrait: Archer Trapp Character Portrait: Grey Stone Character Portrait: Z'taro Ignantem

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The night is overcome by a sense of overwhelming dread, and I dare not remain out beyond a certain hour. My father says that even in his prime he would not risk the wrath of what lies in the shadows of our world today. I can only pray that the Gods bring a swift end to this nightmare.





The nightmare got worse as Linde began to grow faint from the inhalation of the smoke and ash. All around her the city was nothing but burned or decimated landscape, with hundreds of people fleeing and screaming for their lives trying to come to some kind of sense of order amidst the chaos. A few brave souls tried to rally everyone together to fight the fires and rescue those trapped or secure the bodies of the dead, but it was no use. There was simply too much going on for any kind of organization to be found.

On the rooftop nearby, the Ruby-Eyed Witch continued her observation of Linde in the streets below as well as taking notice of the other potentials her brother had marked as they arrived on the scene including someone that was now in a runaway carriage. As it entered the square, however, the horses broke free and left the contents and the people behind to their fate.

From behind her, one of the men in gray tried to rush her with a sword, only for her to turn her body sideways and use her elbow to trap the flat of the blade against her side. He tried to strong arm her, but she stood firm against him and didn't budge a single centimeter as he flailed and struggled to free his blade from her grip. She lifted up her left leg and then put it down, and the man slowly slumped to the ground with his hands unconsciously finding their way to his groin as he slowly passed out from shock. Another tried to kill her with a throwing dagger, but she tilted her head to the side and let it sail passed her and down into the streets below. He rushed her as well with two daggers drawn, but again she merely lifted her left leg and set it down as he suddenly passed out on his feet and stumbled forward, unconscious before he hit the ground beside her. She used her foot to shove him over the edge, his neck and back breaking on contact with the ground below.

All the while, she had kept her eyes on Linde... Her brother had not been wrong after all.

Linde was rushing about the flaming streets doing her best to save the people with the most grievous injuries. She didn't wince from the sight of their mangled bodies, she had a steady hand, and all of this with a large piece of shrapnel in her lower back. She had to hand it to Linde, she was much tougher than she looked.

But now there was a larger issue at hand. She looked over her shoulder and saw a small army of the hooded gray robed figures encircling her. It would nothing but an annoyance for her to deal with them, but out of the corner of her eye she saw another small army of them encircling Linde's position on the ground. The other potentials were caught in the crossfire as well, and before she could react to move to their side the men around her all began rushing at once.

She drew her Twin blades, perfect siblings to her brother's own weapons, and let the massacre begin.

Meanwhile, on the ground below, Linde struggled to prevent one of her newest patients from losing the rest of his precious life's blood. He had torn open his radial artery on his underarm, and she had wrapped it tightly to stop the bleeding but there was still a lot coming through. It must have been a clean slice, otherwise the artery would have collapsed on itself a long time ago. Before she could finish, however, a hand was placed on her shoulder. As she looked over at the figure, the last thing she saw was a fist heading directly for her. Without any time to react, Linde was knocked off her feet and to the ground on her side. The blow was powerful, more so than any she'd felt before. Normally when someone punched her she could shake it off quite quickly, but this... This was different. It felt like she'd just been struck with a support beam from a building.

Linde looked up and saw that more of them had descended upon the scene and were setting their sights on Scarlet, whom she only just now realized had arrived, and others too. But why? If this one could punch that hard then clearly these people weren't a threat to them. What in the world was going on?

She didn't have any time to react before she felt the shrapnel ripped from her back, causing her to shriek in agony as she bent backwards in an involuntary muscular spasm response to the sudden departure of the large wooden deathtrap. She felt herself lifted off the ground, and thrown back down on her side once more. The wind was knocked from her lungs, blood seeped from her now open wound, and she was beginning to feel pain like she had not felt in a very, very long time. Not since the earliest days of her training with her father had she felt pain such as this. Two attacks... That's all it was. Two attacks and she was now in intense agony. She couldn't even cry out, but something flashed across her vision before she blacked out and that was the sight of blood pouring off one of the buildings nearby like a crimson waterfall.

All around her, Scarlet and the others who had been visited by the Demon were being attacked. Scarlet herself was thrown through a market stand and kicked in the stomach lifting her up off the ground and through the air for several feet. Her weapons had been taken and tossed to the side leaving her without any way to defend herself as they continued to bat her around like a rag doll. Archie, the one with a Crimson Twin fetish, had similarly been separated from his weapon and was being punched and kicked between three of them like a ball in a children's game of "don't let it touch the ground." The others too received similar beatings, being thrown into walls and other objects in the area, kicked while they were down, and overall manhandled as never before in their lives.

Once the beatings were over, they were all dragged to the center of the charred city square and laid out on the ground before one who obviously held some sort of influential position amongst these mysterious figures.

"Well, this is a fine surprise. Companions of the Red-Eyed Demon. Indeed, this is a most pleasant surprise," he said ominously

He walked over to Linde, who was the only one unconscious and picked her up by her leg, dragging her across the ground back to his original position as he lifted her up with one hand. He was monstrous in size, standing over seven feet in height with a massive musculature. Despite his size he was unbelievably fast, and had done most of the damage to Linde without her ability to combat him.

He lifted her up high enough for her arms to dangle without touching the ground as blood dripped from her back and the corners of her mouth. Her hair fell to the ground as well, gathering beneath her like brown yarn from a knitted blanket being unraveled.

The man took out a dagger from behind his back, lifting her up slightly higher.

"Now then, as a message to the Red-Eyed Demon and his troublesome sister the Ruby-Eyed Witch, all of you are going to die. It will be slow, and painful, save for this one of course as the poor thing passed out before the fun could truly begin. But I digress," he said, looking at Linde as he slowly brought his dagger over.

He began pressing it into her stomach, slowly slicing through her clothing before blood began to gather around the tip of the blade. He pressed a bit harder, the blade disappearing millimeter by millimeter into her body until it had penetrated around an inch. At this moment, the large man holding her received a nasty surprise. A single flash of light sheared across the shoulder of the arm holding Linde aloft, and as he looked to his arm it slowly slid down before falling away from his body entirely. Linde was caught by the Ruby-Eyed Witch as she fell, setting her down gently before slashing across the man's legs and taking everything from below the kneecap off as his body fell backwards. Blood sprayed like fountains from his arms and legs, the clean cuts not allowing the arteries to close off as his heart began pumping blood faster and harder with the adrenaline that now coursed through his veins.

The Ruby-Eyed Witch began tearing through the others as they descended upon her, finishing them off in style as she sheared most of their heads clean off at the shoulder courtesy of her Orichalcum Twin daggers.

She stood there, soaked in blood as she looked to the beaten and battered potentials her brother had chosen for their mission.

"We have almost no time, so get to your feet and follow me. No, you do not have a choice in the matter. You will follow me, or I will kill you. Do not waste my time and do not make me repeat myself." She ordered forcefully.

With that, she picked up Linde's unconscious body and began walking away towards the city's South Gate. Upon arrival, there was a large pair of horse drawn wagons waiting for them. She looked over her shoulder towards the others.

"Linde will board this wagon with me and Scarlet. The rest of you get in the other wagon. The drivers know where to go, so get in and keep quiet until I stop the wagons and tell you that it's safe to speak again."

She climbed into the wagon, carrying Linde over her shoulder and waited for Scarlet and the others to board before giving the signal to the drivers. She set Linde down once the drivers got moving and pressed a few nerve endings in her neck to force her to wake up. Linde gasped, sitting up rapidly only to fall back from being so light headed. The Ruby-Eyed Witch restrained her and informed her of the situation. Linde calmed down almost immediately, especially once she saw that Scarlet was beside her. She offered the redhead a small smile, but something amazing was brought to their attention.

"Linde, I need your medical services. This is why my brother asked you to come here." She said. lifting a blanket revealing the Red-Eyed Demon.

He was in horrible shape. His skin was burned and he had several gashes and stab wounds all across his upper body including one or two on his thighs. He was unconscious, and the Ruby-Eyed Witch explained that he had attacked the mountain headquarters of Te'i Sai. Before he could escape, several explosives around the exit were set off upon his passing, and despite his best efforts he was successfully brought down before she arrived to save him. She managed to get him this far, but she herself only knew how to do so much for him. She treated the pain and disinfected the wounds, but that was it. She had run out of supplies to finish the job, and had managed to procure many of Linde's Apothecary supplies earlier in the day without her knowledge.

With her supplies in hand, Linde got to work leaving everyone to wonder what was going to happen to them in the other wagon.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Archer Trapp Character Portrait: Grey Stone Character Portrait: Z'taro Ignantem

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Archie blinked and looked around the carriage at the people who were seated near him. He couldn't open one eye or feel half of his face, it hurt to breathe and he could feel a rib pressing against his lung. Any sudden movements and he might puncture it. He tapped his finger against Brenda's blade. Thank the goddesses that it was still with him, one of the bastards had snapped the chain... with his bare hands. Just thinking back to that made Archie shudder. Who were those guys? And that girl... she was the Ruby-Eyed Witch, yes? Couldn't she just have taken them out sooner? It felt like she was just watching them get the crap beaten out of them for ages, but perhaps it just feels like that when you are the one being beaten. Also, Scarlet Remiella had also been visited by the demon. This didn't surprise Archie, after watching her get carried away in his arms at their first meeting, but Linde too? Maybe if he had just told her that he had been visited by the demon as well, she might have considered letting him speak to Scarlet instead of driving him off the property.

"I haven't received a beating like that since..." Archie strained himself, thinking back to his days of training in the military. "Never. Yup, this is all new to me."

Archie's vision settled down on the girl in front of him. Her blonde hair was a tangled mess and matted with blood from a gash in her forehead. She looked about as much as a wreck as he did. But underneath the dirt, blood and bruises that covered her face, there was something familiar about her. Something about her turquoise eyes that looked very, very similar to somebody's he knew...

"Stoney?" Archie croaked, trying but failing to sit up a little straighter, "Stoney? Hey, it is you. Fancy meeting you here." He chuckled softly and let his head lean against the carriage door. "I never took you for the kind to hunt after demons, 'cause of how you were so sceptical about them every time I brought them up. How is the BBB doing, by the way? I haven't dropped in for a while."

He shifted his gaze over to the tall and intimidating man sitting uncomfortably close to him. Nervously, he turned to Grey and spoke in a hushed whisper.

"Is your travelling companion unconscious, or is he always this silent and gloomy?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Archer Trapp Character Portrait: Grey Stone Character Portrait: Z'taro Ignantem

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#, as written by Beeps
Grey was shaking; her whole body a violent tremble she had zero control over. Silently and unloving she sat huddled in the wagon not sure how she got there. She had managed to bring her knees to her chest in a sitting fetal position as broken shard of memories slashed across her foggy thoughts. Straining her brain, she to remember the sequence of events that had happened so quickly.

They, her and Z'taro, had been in the carriage. It was speeding under the city's walls. The driver was dead. Z'taro was shouting. There was fire everywhere. Smoke and flames and shouting. Then a hand was on her, dragging her from the carriage. Z'taro was gone then. She barely remembered seeing him as a large man slashed at his torso. An image she caught as she was being slammed face first into the cobblestone. She remembers a frantic, scared woman crying and begging for the men to stop and pleading to know why they were doing this. As she recalled the voice now, she realized it had been her own.

Another shiver iced down her aching spine at the memory before she began wheezing and coughing, her face buried in her knees. The metallic taste of blood and bile littered her mouth, causing her stomach to wrench. Everything throbbed and hurt from her lungs to her ankle to ears and near everything in between. Grey had never ever knew this kind of pain and abuse before and was fairly sure it would haunt her the rest of her days; both the scars and the memories... If she lived that is.

Even though every blink brought on a wince, every breath a torturous task, there was also a numbness about her. As if her bewildered mind had sent her body into shock in attempts to see her through this mess that she couldn't comprehend. Her mind did not even want to touch on the other questions prickling at the back of her thoughts. The ones that confused and bewildered her the most.

The eyes that were shining red. The blades that seemed to flash as quick and as deadly beautiful as lightening strikes. The girl. The red eyed demon girl. Was she real? Did she really save her? Save them, as there were others around her. Grey couldn't remember the spoken words of the girl, just that she obeyed and somehow, someway, ended up in the back of this wagon heading to Gods only knew where and Gods only knew why...

The sound of her name wriggled slowly through her thoughts as if being called from far away across some foggy bay. Was it possible this was all a dream? Some horrible, mind fucking nightmare induced by a sadistic combination of lack of sleep, the ridiculous accusations of Mai and the creepiness of her traveling companion... It was possible, she supposed and then she hoped.

Slowly she lifted her head from her knees and squinted through the dry blood that caked her lashes. It took a moment for her dizzy vision to clear and focus on the figure across from her. Grey had known someone had been there, but she hadn't given much thought as to who was there. Like lazy puzzle pieces, her mind worked to make the connection.

"R-red...?", was all that she could choke out as she finally recognized the Red Wanderer. She hadn't seen him in over a year, maybe longer but the specifics of those meetings were too slow at revealing themselves at the moment. Even if the memories wouldn't surface, one thing this meant was that this, this whole gruesome horrific ordeal, was a real nightmare. A sob caught in her throat as she stiffly turned her neck to view the wagon in from of their own. The demon girl was in that one.

Grey looked nervously back at the Red Wanderer, her eyes full of wary emotion as a trickle of memory found it's way through the fog. The girl had said not to speak. To wait till the wagon stopped. Till it was safe... Safe? Grey doubted she would ever feel safe again in her life. However short it might have just grown.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Archer Trapp Character Portrait: Grey Stone Character Portrait: Z'taro Ignantem

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Archie went to speak again to Grey when the scary man nudged him. He glanced back at him, and the man lifted a finger to his lips. He opened his mouth again but the man just elbowed him, painfully this time. Archie felt it come into contact with his rib and he coughed, the taste of blood in his mouth resurfacing. He shifted uncomfortably under the man's gaze. What was with this guy? He winced and nodded, looking back out at the window. No talking. Right, got it. It was painful to anyway.

Looking out of the window, he let what just happened settle down in his brain. What was he doing? He was helping a man when some guy grabbed him and... threw him? That was impossible. People can't just throw people like him. None of what happened should have been possible, but that should make it exciting. So why was he not excited this time?

Because you were almost executed, dumbass. That moment when your vision is red, your body can't move and your life starts flashing about in your head? That means you're about to die. That couldn't be possible. You should believe it. It's about time you start to comprehend the true meaning of danger. Stop faking it, be a man and be rational about it. Archie glared down at Brenda. Sometimes, his conscious started to suspiciously sound like her.

He was lucky that the witch stepped in when she did. A memory flickered in Archie's mind, a memory of the Ruby-Eyed Witch, drenched in the blood of her defeated enemies and standing tall and victorious above their beaten bodies. That's right, they were saved. They were protected. Archie's fists clenched and he grit his teeth, keeping the fire bottled up inside of him. There was nothing he could do about that, no point in throwing a hissy fit right here and there. Maybe later.

Is that pride I see? You should feel grateful that somebody like her decided to spare somebody like you, not angry that you couldn't handle it yourself. It won't happen again. Will it? I won't let it. Next time will be better. Sure it will, if you happen to gain superhuman strength within the next week. Brenda, shut up already.

Archie dismissed his conscious/Brenda and sighed. He shouldn't be angry that a Crimson Twin saved his life. He should be angry that because of a Crimson Twin, his life was threatened in the first place, but he couldn't feel angry about that. A part of him felt totally fine with going through that torture for the Crimson Twins, and the other part of him felt disgusted. Disgusted at himself, because of how after this ordeal, he felt something that wasn't just agony. He felt something that he had rejected for a very long time now, that this was how it felt to be loyal to somebody. He felt loyalty, and so far, he wasn't liking it.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: The Crimson Twins Character Portrait: Linde Almna Character Portrait: Scarlet Remiella Character Portrait: Archer Trapp Character Portrait: Grey Stone Character Portrait: Z'taro Ignantem

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The night is overcome by a sense of overwhelming dread, and I dare not remain out beyond a certain hour. My father says that even in his prime he would not risk the wrath of what lies in the shadows of our world today. I can only pray that the Gods bring a swift end to this nightmare.





Linde completed her work on the Red-Eyed Demon. Using all of her knowledge and skill to tend his burns and stitch his gashes. As she was doing this, the Ruby-Eyed Witch helped to stitch the wound on her back under her instruction. The Witch finished before she did, obviously, as she spent over two hours working on the Demon while Scarlet rested nearby. When she finally finished, he looked better. She had cleaned him off and the only thing that was really noticeable now were the burns on his chest. One across his left pectoral muscle just below his collar bone and one across the left side of his abdomen.

Linde sat back, wincing a bit at the pain as she leaned against the side of the wagon to rest her eyes. Her body hurt all over, and her back burned where the stitches had been placed. But she knew that she'd be all right. The Ruby-Eyed Witch had done a good job on her back, she could feel it, but it didn't make it any easier to subdue the pain. She tried to block it out, but there was always a good amount of it left over regardless of her best efforts.

The Ruby-Eyed Witch waited for over four more hours before she seemed to hear something that was a trigger, and ordered the driver to stop.

She looked to both Linde and Scarlet.

"Not a word of his condition to anyone," she warned, her eyes flashing red just as her brother's had before when he approached the two women.

Both wagons came to a halt, and the inhabitants were allowed to walk outside and stretch their legs. Water was provided, along with some general pain killer medicine distributed and applied to all to help manage their beaten and battered bodies. The Ruby-Eyed Witch walked out, leaving her brother sleeping soundly inside the wagon and closed it give him some privacy to sleep while she addressed the others who were gathered "by request" from the drivers.

She walked to the center of their little circle, and took a breath.

"So, I'm sure you are all aware that the men in gray robes who attacked you are no ordinary men. They are members of an Assassin organization from across the ocean from our sister continent of Mar' Valoa. They are called "Roda Ah K'mht," translated in our ancient Assassin language as "River of Blood." They are powerful and ruthless, and they have openly declared war on the continent of Cre' Est itself. Our organization, Te'i Sai, is organizing against them. However, when I say "our" organization, I mean our previous organization. My brother, the Red-Eyed Demon, attacked their mountain headquarters and assassinated the Grand Master and as such Te'i Sai is in shambles as they race to find a new Grandmaster and reorganize their ranks to fight back."

She looked around, making sure everyone was still awake to listen to her.

"Now, many of you were visited by my brother if not all of you, correct? Then you are aware that he had a purpose in mind for you during this time now that his mission is complete. The death of the Grandmaster was part of our plan to liberate this continent from the tyrannical grip of Te'i Sai, as it has corrupted the purpose for which it was founded thousands of years ago and it must be brought to an end. You all have a particular skill that will assist in that effort, and it is for those skills that my brother chose you to accompany us here," she said, gesturing behind her.

There was a forest directly behind her and just beyond the treeline was the faint outline of what appeared to be a cabin.

"That structure is the top floor of what is basically an underground fortress, one which my brother had made as a safe house by the only members of Te'i Sai whom we trust. They are standing behind you," she said, gesturing to the drivers who stood there silently with their hands behind their backs like soldiers.

"Those two built this structure without Te'i Sai's knowledge, and this is the only place where we can go that is anywhere near safe. To anyone else, it's just a cabin on the edge of the woods. But to us, it's a gathering and planning location."

She looked around, checking to make sure they were all on board.

"Any questions so far?" She asked.