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Assassin's Pledge: War of Attrition

Assassin's Pledge: War of Attrition

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The Assassins of Te'i Sai have begun to move, and the land is drenched in blood. Do you have what it takes to survive this epic battle of stealth, power and deceit?

7,468 readers have visited Assassin's Pledge: War of Attrition since KumoriRyuu created it.

Heads Up: Completed Storyline!

This universe is marked as COMPLETED, indicating that no further changes will be accepted.

Introduction

Assassin's Pledge


To all interested RPers, please contact me before you randomly submit a character profile. I hate it when people suddenly throw a profile at me without letting me know they were interested before hand. And also, follow the instructions listed for character profile submission. If I see a profile appear without it having been approved of in the OOC thread "Character Profiles", it will be rejected on the spot regardless of how well it was put together.


The Setting


The year is 600, and the "Bloody New Year" has forever marred the coming of the New Year in the minds of so many across the continent of Cre' Est. The power that one tragedy has over the hearts of man is an incredible thing, and that single night in which a few dozen Assassins and civilians were murdered will forever burn as one of the greatest tragedies of the age. Now, the night which so many used to look forward to has been stained by the blood of the innocent, and turned into a night of mourning despite the glad tidings a New Year is supposed to bring.

The Red-Eyed Demon is the most feared Assassin in the world, and all throughout the continent, save for a handful, tremble at the mere thought of his name or deeds. Over the past two decades, countless thousands have met their end to the Demon's blades as he walks a path of death and destruction. However, the truth behind his existence has been shrouded in mystery, and it is that mystery which so many find terrifying. To those who get to know him, he is a born leader and a fearless combatant who will fight for what he believes is right no matter the cost to his own life or safety. To those who don't know him, he's a heartless killer who could only accomplish one good deed in his life: to die.

Recently, the Assassins of Roda Ah K'mht have migrated from a neighboring continent to take the place of Te'i Sai, the most powerful Assassin Organization on the planet. Thanks to the Demon's rebellion, known only to the world of Assassins, Te'i Sai has been weakened considerably over the last few years. Roda Ah K'mht has made it a point to become the new Te'i Sai, and establish a new order on the continent of Cre' Est. They will stoop to any lengths they must, and abide by no moral code or ethical guidelines. They are ruthless, powerful, and deadly in every way. Though their members are not quite as powerful as those of Te'i Sai, pound for pound, they have numbers on their side which is how they have overrun several key cities throughout the continent and have already established themselves as a force to be reckoned with beyond the scope of imagining by anyone without sufficient power or skill needed to stand up to them.

It has been over seven months since the event known as "Bloody New Year", and news of the Demon's recent death has become widespread. The day has officially been marked as an international holiday known as the "Demon's Demise." However, the disappearance of the Demon's body has many on edge, wondering if he will make a return to continue his vicious killing spree. Since his death, crime has been on the rise, and some of the nations have already fallen into complete chaos as they move ahead into a future where the only thing they have to look forward to is the sunrise of a new day, and be thankful they're still alive. Today, the war between Te'i Sai and Roda Ah K'mht, amid the chaos of rising anarchy within the worlds of thieves, mercenaries and bounty hunters has everyone living in constant fear of death and/or losing everything else they have in life.

Today, hope is a thing of the past.

The Plot


All characters involved will be spending at least two years of their lives involved in the conflicts that have arisen thanks to Te'i Sai's actions over the recent years.

The plot centers on the war between Te'i Sai and Roda Ah K'mht who now battle for supremacy in the wake of the rebellion of the Red-Eyed Demon. Since he has destroyed two of the five main branches of Te'i Sai, Roda Ah K'mht has grown bolder in their efforts to destroy it, and in order to protect itself, Te'i Sai must too become more aggressive. This war is silent, and most citizens don't even know that it's going on unless they bear witness to an open conflict. Those that do, however, live in constant fear and could only wish they had eyes in the back of their heads to protect them against the demons that dwell in the shadows.

Gods and Demons are but myths in this RP, but there are creatures of the night who are as Demons to the people of this world and are strong enough to do the name justice. Your main enemy in this RP, however, is time. How long will it take for the Red-Eyed Demon to accomplish his goals? How long will it take for Te'i Sai to beat back all onslaughts and reestablish its dominance over the other Assassin organizations? How long will it take before Te'i Sai falls and the world for the people of Cre' Est changes forever? What will become of your character once one of these questions are answered?

Only time will tell...

The World You Live In


The continent of Cre' Est is home to five nations, each with its own unique set of customs, culture, and ruling style.

Cre' Est - Named after the continent it was founded upon, the nation of Cre' Est is considered by many (though not all) to be the capitol nation. The first to be founded and settled, it lies in the center of the continent and the people within it's borders hold great pride for their home nation and will defend it, violently if necessary, at any cost. The culture of this nation is rich and diverse, though there is a common thread that ties its people together.

The Goddess Raggella, Goddess of nature, is the central figure to whom the people of Cre' Est look to for guidance and sanctity. Being a nation surrounded by dense forests and vast open plains, nature is abundant in some of the most beautiful and diverse species anywhere on the continent. All people within this nation hold deep ties to nature and their Goddess, and are immeasurably proud to live in such a beautiful setting and consider themselves blessed to have been born there.

The Royal Family of Cre' Est rules its people with a kind and just Monarchy, with the Empress holding all political power. Though she takes her advice from her democratically elected officials, all final decisions are hers to make. Her husband, though important, is not a figure of power when compared to his wife. Never the less, the Empress of Cre' Est is a strong and genuine young woman with an unshakable will and a great respect in her heart for her people and those of her fellow nations.

Shaharan - Shaharan is a nation that lies to the northeast of Cre' Est and is home to the largest and most unexplored desert on the continent. This desert is over seven hundred miles from end to end, and although it is of a moderate size compared to deserts from other continents, it is unfathomably dangerous and unpredictable. The weather is harsh and unyielding and the wildlife is just as dangerous. Shaharan's people are tough and able, making a life for themselves on what is considered by many to be the harshest of environments. Despite bordering the Ocean, this nation makes most of its living off of the metalwork it generates from the mountains on its westernmost border.

The God of Fire, Giragh, is the primary source of worship in Shaharan. He is strong, proud, and defiant much like the people who believe in him. His mythology is one of endurance and hard work, which is why so many people within Shaharan believe in such black and white ideals. Either you work hard or you don't.

The Royal Family of Shaharan rules its people fairly, but never the less with an iron fist. When the laws are broken, there is one of two punishments waiting depending on the individual and the intent of said individual: Prison or death. The people of Shaharan are primarily a people of black and white ideals. Either you're a good person or you aren't. You're a hard worker, or you're lazy. These beliefs make them somewhat hard to deal with, but they are mostly kind people at heart... If rather blunt.

Triveila - This nation lies to the northwest of Cre' Est and is quite famous for its aquatic lifestyle. With the most rivers and channels among the nations, it makes a handsome living off of the sea. Fishing in Triveila is considered the national sport and is something that almost all of its citizens excel at. The people of Triveila are relatively weak compared to those of Shaharan in terms of brute strength, but they more than make up for it with their ability to adapt to a constantly changing environment. This nation has an unpredictable shift in seasons, and will go from dry to wet in the blink of an eye.

The primary Goddess of worship within Triveila is Auxureilla, Goddess of the Sea. Her benevolent nature and serene image inspire many within the nation to lead comfortable, graceful lives with the water they are so famous for. Though they constantly do battle with the sea and the elements, they know better than to try and tame the might and majesty that their Goddess boasts, and so live side by side with it through thick and thin. The people of Triveila are very balanced in both mind and body, and they hold some of the most stable and diplomatic mindsets on the continent. There is almost no conflict they cannot resolve through words.

The Royal Family of Triveila is one of democracy, and all of its leaders were elected by the people. No laws are passed without the consent of the people, and similarly, all forms of punishment of crime are also decided upon by vote. Many people from neighboring nations see this as a weakness, but the people of Triveila are proud of their right to hold such power despite the fact that all final decisions are left up to the Royal Family.

Gweynura - This nation is to the south west of Cre' Est and is almost split directly into two halves thanks to an extension in the Central Mountain Range that splits the continent down the middle. There are small gaps every couple hundred miles, and one large one the lies conveniently in the center of this nation. The mountainous nation of Gweynura makes quite the living off of its masonry, but cannot boast the same metalworking claims as Shaharan. For whatever reason, this section of the mountains is not very rich with metals and so they rely more on the stone they can harvest for their living.

The Goddess Laian, Goddess of the Arts, is the primary figure of influence for these people. A nation of scholars and artists, Gweynura is a capitol of culture and boasts some of the brightest minds on the entire continent.

This nation is ruled by a benign dictatorship. The central figure of power, the current Emperor Csargil, rules his people with an even hand. However, just like the Royal Family of Shaharan, he is very strict when it comes to crime and punishment. Often times even the simplest of crimes is dealt with rather harshly, and being a nation of naturally bright minds the people do not often find themselves on the wrong end of the guards lances.

Veilbrand - This nation lies to the southeast of Cre' Est and is the smallest of the five nations. Despite its diminutive size in relation to its neighbors, the warriors of this nation are at the top of the food chain. Trained from an early age, the military of Veilbrand is second to none in terms of tactics and power. Cre' Est's military could give them a run for their money, but without overwhelming numbers they would surely be defeated in the long run.

Veilbrand's primary figure of influence is Uirlin, God of War. The mythology states that he is head strong, tactile, and a superior force both on and off the battle field. The people, however, do not reflect this. The citizens of Veilbrand are incredibly peaceful. It is the soldiers who are strong, aggressive, and somewhat rude to a fault.

Veilbrand is ruled by a traditional Monarch system, with the reigning King and Queen holding all the real political power for their nation. Through diplomacy and constant trade, Veilbrand has remained a peaceful and private nation, but at a second's notice they will deploy military forces against any and all aggressors.

Characters


You will read the text below, or you will miss important details about character submission that you cannot afford to.


Your character in this fantasy RP is human, plain and simple. There are no special races, such as Elves, and no mythical creatures like Dragons. The laws of physics are a constant, and there is no magic whatsoever. Any abnormal or supernatural happenings can transpire, but only with my consent as Game Master. If you throw in something that is out of the ordinary or somehow supernatural without first clearing it with me, you will receive a warning.

The characters in this RP can fall into a multitude of categories, but the following are the most common, as well as the most likely to be accepted. Do not feel limited by this list. If you have an idea for another kind of character, use it, but clear it with me first please.

Mercenary (Alias Capable) - Strong and capable warriors who have taken to a single weapon style and who will fight for the highest bidder.
Bounty Hunter (Alias Capable) - Able bodied warriors who can specialize in any number of weapons or fighting styles from individual to individual, and who actively seek out persons of interest who bring in the highest amount of money, dead or alive. They are typically very large men who seek to gain money by use of their raw power, but there are a few who are women and who use mainly skill and their femininity to gain an upper hand on their larger counter parts.
Cleric - One of healing who either works at, or has worked at, a clinic as a doctor or nurse. Skilled in herbology and anatomy, they act as doctors for whomever they travel with.
Swordsman/woman (Alias Capable) - Usually a lone wolf character, the swordsmen will carry a single blade which they see as an extension of their body. They wield it with devastating force and skill, and can typically hold off an entire band of bandits by themselves when they have trained hard enough.
Thief (Alias Capable) - Experts in the art of pick pocketing, misdirection, and teamwork, thieves make a handsome living off of the rich and wealthy from near and far. Typically they work in teams, but it is not uncommon for a thief to go solo in order to make an extra personal profit. Thieves can sometimes be cocky about their skills, which, if they go after the wrong target, can get them killed.
*Assassin (Alias Capable) - Assassins are relentless killers for hire and are more commonly found in the employ of wealthy families. Assassins are fast, agile, and precise killers who use stealth and careful planning to eliminate their prey.
Monk - Monks are peaceful individuals who grow up in one of two lifestyles: Warrior or Traveler. The Warrior Monks are capable fighters, but if given the choice, will always choose the peaceable route. The Traveler Monks on the other hand have no fighting skills whatsoever, and are purely devoted to peace via conversation.
Artist - Obviously talented with the arts, the would much rather practice their profession in peace rather than be sucked into a fight. Most artists know basic self defense, as theft is a common threat, but seldom are they warriors of any merit.

* Players in this RP cannot have a history within Te'i Sai under any circumstances. Shadow, as the primary character and being a part of it by design, is the only one allowed to have a history within the organization. You may, however, have had contact with Te'i Sai Assassins in the past and had to fight for your life against them, or flee to protect yourself, as most would not be able to fight evenly with one, let alone a team, of Te'i Sai Assassins.

Another thing is that, while it may be tempting to create a powerful character, try to avoid making it seem too powerful. If there are too many powerhouses it makes for an almost unstoppable group and that cannot be the case in this RP as it requires characters without combat skills just as much as it does characters with combat skills. Also, as it is hard to hold real world experience and knowledge of combat, anatomy, physiology and such, so try to avoid doing over the top damage to enemies you encounter in the RP because you might do something that is physically impossible without knowing it, in which case you'll be hearing from me. So be careful.

Character Skeleton


All character profiles must be posted in the OOC thread "Character Profiles" before they are submitted for approval within the RP. This ensures that not only can I see what you're doing ahead of time so I know who I'm dealing with, but it helps everyone else get a better idea of who they will be working with much earlier as well which can be helpful to interaction both OOC and IC.

The character skeleton provided below must be filled out in full. If I receive a profile that does not contain all of the items that I have provided, it will not be approved unless the sender goes back to include what was missing before.

A minimum length of one paragraph (seven to ten sentences) is required for each field labeled with an exclamation point, and those marked with two exclamation points require a minimum of three to five paragraphs (each with five to eight sentences minimum). The biography is the sole exception to this rule. The Biography section should be no less than five paragraphs, each with at least five to seven sentences. It shouldn't be a problem for experienced players or writers. If you are new to Role Playing and are having trouble filling in that much information, feel free to contact me and we will be able to work out enough details that will help you create a thorough and complete profile.

For the love of all things that keep me sane in this world, NO TEENAGERS!!


Thank you!

Birth Name:
Character Alias (If applicable):

Appearance: (This should be an anime style picture that closely resembles the character that you are describing below in the "written appearance" section. Do not create an exact duplicate of this photo, but make sure that it's as close to the written appearance as possible)

! Written appearance: (The actual appearance of your character should not be exactly the same as the photo unless it is in fact a perfect match. The likelihood of this is slim to none, and so make sure that in this section you describe exactly how your character differs from the picture you have provided. Any and all details should be included, no matter how small they are)
Sex:
Home Nation:
Current Location/Residence:
Age:
Height:
Weight:
Hair Color:
Eye Color:
Complexion:
! Body Type:
Blood Type:
! Fighting Style (*Hard or Soft?):
Adaptability Ratio**:
!! Personality:
! Quirks: (Anything that distinguishes your character as unique such as tattoos, piercings, birth marks, scars, etc)
! Likes:
! Dislikes:
!! Special Talents/Skills:
Weapon/s of Choice:
Weapon/s of Last Resort:
! Weapons you avoid:
!! Weapon/Training History (If applicable): Details in this section are meant to describe exactly what kind of training your character went through to become who they are by this time in the RP. Assassins for example will have dedicated much of their time to weapons training, physical body training, tactics and stealth whereas Mercenaries and Bounty Hunters will likely have done mostly body training and weapons training without much emphasis on stealth or tactics depending on how they operate as hired killers. Do what you can to make this a minimum of three to five paragraphs.
Biography: This is your character's history section where you will describe, in no less than five paragraphs, what your character's life has been like up until this point. This history can go back to birth, or back to when a critical decision was made to become who they are today. However long you make it, there must be at least five paragraphs. If you cannot reach this minimum limit, then your character is not very well thought out and you should rethink it.

* Hard styles are aggressive styles that focus on attacking while Soft styles are defensive in nature and usually involve a much heavier emphasis on evasion and redirection rather than blocking and countering. Warrior Monks are most commonly using soft styles while Mercenaries will use Hard styles.
** This ratio is a measure of your characters ability to adapt to changing situations. Assassins, Bounty Hunters and Thieves will have a naturally higher ratio than Clerics or Monks. The ratio is going to be somewhere in between 1-10 and 10-10, 1 being lowest and 10 being highest. Also, this should be realistic. Someone, such as an Archer, will not have a 10 in adaptability since they specialize in long range combat and should sudden change occur, such as being rushed from behind by the enemy, they're screwed.

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The Story

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Character Portrait: Shadow

Earnings

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The City of Xi' Mael


The night was cold, and the scent of blood filled the air.

Silence enveloped the city as the moon crept out from behind the clouds to light the rooftops where he now stood. At his feet was the body of his latest victim, a lesser known bounty hunter who had made the mistake of coming after him alone. His chest was open from the groin to the throat, his ribcage split perfectly down the middle exposing his lungs and stomach from under the torn muscles of his upper torso. Blood trickled out of both the gaping wound and the mouth of the poor soul as he looked up at his killer with lifeless, grey eyes.

Suddenly, there was a cracking sound behind him. He whirled around to face what was coming, but it was nothing but a cat which had found its way to the rooftop with him. He sighed and placed his daggers away in their sheaths tucked behind his lower back, hidden behind his lumbar region and fitting to his form so as not to stick out or reveal their presence.

He looked out across the landscape ahead of him, rivulets of light shining on the shingles of the buildings ahead gave it a very ocean like appearance. It was quite beautiful. If he wasn't so busy tonight, he would have stayed to admire the view a while longer, but tonight he had no such time. He was waiting for something important.

Before long, what he was waiting for came to pass as a huge explosion rang out in the distance towards the edge of the city. The shock waves were strong enough to force him to tense to avoid being blasted off the roof he was on, as even the lifeless body at his feet slid forward against his legs. The initial shock wave subsided, but the rumble beneath his feet had only just begun. The building beneath him shook violently as he gritted his teeth and turned his head away against the wind and dust that followed it.

The rush of dust and wind around him was quite the rush, but there was no time to acclimate to the adrenaline that began to flow through his body. He had known this explosion was coming, but there was nothing that he could have done about it. He was unable to find any reliable source that could lead him to the explosive's exact position, and so he had taken up a safe distance from the general vicinity where he knew it would be coming from to wait for it.

Now that the explosion had gone off, he was on the hunt for the one who he knew was responsible for it. There was a madman loose in the city who claimed that he was the Red-Eyed Demon, and that he was going to level the whole city before he was done with his rampage. He advertised this by writing the messages in blood on city walls, and he promised that the killing would only get worse after the individual explosions were over.

He ran across the rooftops to get a better view and finally found what he was looking for. Below him in the streets was a man slinking through the shadows of the alleyways while other people fled for their lives through the streets. He approached the edge of the alley as the crowds of fleeing people increased in density and grabbed a helpless woman from among the league of fleeing insects scurrying through the streets and pulled her deeper into the darkness. He watched for a few moments as he threatened her life if she didn't do as he told her, and in her desperation to protect herself she tried to punch him to get away, but her brave hearted attempt backfired quite spectacularly.

The woman's captor blocked her punch and delivered one of his own directly to her nose, breaking it on contact and sending a stream of blood down her face and shirt as he threw her into the wall. She bounced off the stone structure next to her and collapsed in a heap to the ground. Rising slowly, she tried to get to her feet and run, but her aggressor tripped her before she could get her footing. She fell to the ground again and before she could rise the attacking man pulled her by her hair into a standing position and began to punch her in the lower back. Every blow landed deadly accuracy, and as he looked on he began to piece together what the deranged man was doing.

Little by little the man continued to beat the poor woman into the ground, striking first to her back, then her stomach, then her face before finally picking her up off the ground and throwing her into the wall again. The woman's blood began to slowly pool around her as she twitched on the ground in pain and agony. Her captor had clearly had enough of his game as he finally reached for his weapon, a gruesome sword at his hip. He kicked her onto her back and lifted her up and laid her down on her back on a small bench nearby. She was too weak to fight and too weak to call out for help as the man brought his sword and drove it down through her chest, the blade piercing flesh, muscle and bone before reappearing beneath the bench.

The woman's eyes went grey and blank as her body went limp on the blade. Blood began to soak the front of her shirt and ooze down the blade that now pinned her lifeless body to the bench. The man slowly drew his weapon from her body and watched with glee as she slid off the blood soaked wood to the floor of the alley. He brought up his blade and licked the blood from it as he placed it back in its sheath and laughed to himself out loud. He complimented himself before strolling away towards the back end of the alley where he could find another victim from the still fleeing crowd around him.

The young man wasted no time as he slowly redrew his daggers and walked forward to the absolute edge of the roof. The moon behind him shone his silhouette into the alley walls below, catching the attention of the deranged maniac below him.

"Who's there?!" He shouted angrily.

The young man didn't answer him, only stood there and watched as the killer in the street below him walked through the alleyway to get a better view in the light of the moon. As the young man's face came into view the killer stopped dead in his tracks as he looked up into a pair of blood red eyes which glared down at him. His own red eyes were in fact fake, as he was using special eye drops to temporarily 'stain' his eyes a reddish coloration. He instinctively drew his sword and turned to flee the scene as the young man rolled his eyes and jumped to the next rooftop.

The chase continued for several minutes before the killer finally stopped in a more open street where he had about eight feet on either side of him where he had room to see and room to maneuver should his enemy appear for a direct confrontation. He turned around in the street as a couple more people ran by him to get away from the explosion which had occurred a few minutes ago. The fires were still raging in the near distance, the light of the fires glowing weakly on his blade as he continued to analyze his surroundings. There were a few whispers echoing through the streets, but he figured it was just the wind around him before he finally heard a solid and defined "thud" behind him.

He turned around but was met by a rush of air as the young man's arm swept passed his face. He staggered back a couple of steps and felt his throat with his left hand. He held his hand up and saw blood cascading down his pale white flesh. He looked up and smiled at the youth before him, and without any further words or sounds fell onto his back and dropped his weapon into the street. His eyes slowly lost their light and the youth stood above his lifeless body and smirked before turning and walking away.

Once he was back on the rooftops, he ran towards the explosion to see what the extent of the damage was. When he arrived, it wasn't what he expected from someone who had managed to elude him for over two months. The building that actually housed the explosive was decimated, but the surrounding area was relatively unharmed. The people fighting the fire with buckets of water and blankets to try and kill the flames. As he stood there, a shout echoed forth from one of the shadows nearby. He looked down and saw a small gathering of people pointing up at him shouting "It's the Red-Eyed Demon!!".

The sudden announcement forced him to turn around and run from what would have become an angry mob as he had no way to prove his innocence in all the chaos. Despite having the body of the killer, the red coloration that he had created for himself had faded away. To other people, it was just another dark spot on his reputation and another body for his personal count. He finally found a nice quiet spot at the top of a nearby church where he was able to sit down and take a breather as he looked up at the night sky once again.

"... Another imposter dealt with, and another city whom I cannot save." He said quietly to himself.

He had come to this particular city to eliminate a set of puppets that Takai, the former Grandmaster of Te'i Sai before his death, had placed into power to control this section of the kingdom near the border of Cre' Est and Shaharan. Before he had the chance to do so, however, they had caught wind of his intentions thanks to a small group of renegade bounty hunters whom he had hired to find his targets. They ended up betraying him for more coin than he had originally offered, which he couldn't blame them for, but never the less he hunted them down for betraying him and slaughtered them in their own hideaway.

While his efforts in this city had been wasted on a bad decision, he had learned something important through the experience and now had an even more interesting hunt to look forward to.

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"--You dir'y wench! I'll gut ya, I sw'ar it!"

The intoxicated man advanced on Aerith slowly, flames in his eyes and a half pint of ale on his shirt. She gave him a dirty look and then yawned, stretching her arms  above her head.

"T'was a disgrace, really." She looked at him disdainfully, almost as if he were a small child who had broken his mothers favorite vase, trying to hide it but subsequently getting caught...not that she really knew much about a mother's scorn...or vases for that matter. She gandered down at his stained shirt and then back up at his blotchy face, her disdain quickly morphing into what could be seen as a look of sad regret. "That was a right poor waste of ale. Shouldn't go spilling it, you know?" She sighed as she brought her hands up to her hair, fixing her ponytail absentmindedly. She winked at him. "But it's okay, I forgive you lad."

The fuse ignited and the drunk bellowed, grasping his bottle in his pudgy hands and raising it in the air, only to bring it down in a messy arc, smashing it onto the counter and splattering the wall and the nearby patrons with alcohol. He scowled wickedly. "Yo'r gunna meet yo'r mak'r wench, any last words?" 

She frowned. "Yeah, you really shouldn't waste booze like that, it's an awful mistak--" The heavy swing collided with her chair as Aerith jumped back quickly, the wood splintering from the impact. He was a rather large man, assumedly mostly fat, but he apparently had a bit of muscle as well. Just her luck. 

"Surely you want to work this out, right?" She teased him, easily dodging his messy attacks.

"I'LL KILL YOU!!!"

She pranced around playfully as he swung again fiercely, the broken bottle spittling ale at her. She licked the projectile booze off her cheek and then glared, an angry look flooding her feminine features. It was suddenly quiet.

"I told you--" She grasped the hilt of her blade and started to pull it out slowly"--stop wasting the ale...or you may end up with a few less fingers." Her blade was now out fully, cold and beautiful in the tavern light. "We wouldn't want that now, would we?" 

The man hesitated for a moment, his rage stifled, but then smiled and let out an obnoxious laugh, tears forming little streams on his cheek. He then picked up a nearby mug and, still laughing, flung it's contents at her, drenching her in alcohol.

"Dir'y wench! Ya like booze so much then you can hav' it! You can have all the booze you-- The man stopped talking as he watched the fingers on his left hand seperate and then slowly fling across the room, his index finger traveling a notable distance.

The barmaid let out a scream and ran, the other patrons remaining dead silent.  He stared down at the disfigured appendage curiously, not fully comprehending the situation. Aerith gazed across the room at the rogue index finger, her hand held to her head as if she was trying to look at something from a great distance.

"Wow, that one went far."

The man followed the path of her sight and then seeing it, a sudden look of realization swept across his blood splattered face. He screamed. Falling to the floor, he clutched his hand, sobbing. Aerith smiled. 

"I think it may be lonely over there, perhaps I should give it some company?"

Fear tore across his face and he staggered to his feet, stagger-running towards the tavern door. He found her there first. 

"Hold up there sir, you haven't paid for the damages."

She drew her blade across the man's throat, the thin cut releasing a torrent of blood, of which she covered with a rag to shield herself. He fell to the ground, grasping at his throat as he began to puke up booze and bile as she stepped away, a smile etched across his killer's face. 

"Ruben Wilshire, under the accordance of Article blah blah blah, I take your life in payment for your crimes." She let out a deep yawn, the man twitching at her feet. "...May you find peace and the Queen's blessings in death ever-lasting." 

The twitches stopped as she gave him a last glance and then wandered to the counter and plopped down on the bar stool, looking bummed.

"Man, I'm not even drunk yet." 

Without a word, the bartender grabbed ale and poured her a mug. She smiled grimly as she looked over her shoulder to find everyone gone, having escaped out the back door. Turning back, she grabbed and brought the mug to her lips, taking only a small sip. She was silent for a moment, but then looked up at the shaken man. 

"Slow night, it seems." She took another sip, this time smiling afterwards. A smile that would haunt the man for years to come.

"You...wouldn't happen to know anything about a man named 'Shadow' would you?"

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A dog howled in the distance as Shadow sat on the edge of the roof of the church. He watched the skies above as the smoke from the fires still blotted out a hefty section of it towards the edge of the city where the explosive had gone off about ten minutes ago.

He was unsure of what his next move should be, but he had the whole night ahead of him to figure it out. For the time being he began weighing his options. First thing on his list of things to do was to find out where the men he initially came to kill had run off to. It wouldn't be easy, but with his informants in the surrounding countryside on the prowl it wouldn't be impossible.

At the moment, however, he was unsure of whom he could trust. This was the third time in four months that his "contacts" had failed him and or betrayed him. Being of a very vengeful nature, none of them had lived very long to do so to him again. He replaced them almost as soon as he eliminated them and although he still wondered if many of his contacts could be trusted, he knew for certain that there was one in particular that he would not have to worry about. He counted on her for most of his intel, and she had yet to let him down.

Eventually he came to the conclusion that the first thing he needed to do was unwind. Hunting down imposters to his name in this city had grown tiresome and he needed something to calm his frustrated mind. The first thing that occurred to him was to go on a casual hunt for average city scum and eliminate them. While normally it would have been easy to do so, this city had grown incredibly paranoid about him and his movements thanks to all the imposters it had recently been exposed to. Mobs gathered to hunt him down by morning and late afternoon respectively in this city, and he was lucky they didn't have the sense to take to the rooftops. If they had, he'd have been found out a long time ago.

He settled on the idea of simply taking a walk along the rooftops. While it wasn't quite the stress reliever he was used to, it was the most peaceful and calming way to go about easing the strain on his mind and body after four months of unreliable intelligence and hunting down of imposters to the right and left. He stood up on the edge of the roof and brushed himself off, looking down at the priest as he exited the church after praying for the safety of his fellow man in the vicinity of the explosion.

Shadow turned and walked away, hopping silently from rooftop to rooftop in an effort to allow himself a calm and peaceful stroll through the moonlight. This side of the city, though it was the middle of the night, was up in arms against him for what had transpired with the explosion and the deranged psychopath who had been killing innocent victims in his name. Hopefully, by tomorrow he would be out of this city and on his way to visit his most reliable contact to figure out where his next best destination would be.

For the time being, however, he continued to walk along the rooftops as he scanned the streets for anything out of place. Here and there were a few signs of street fights between lowlifes and citizens, as well as a few broken food stalls where other conflicts had arisen from fiery tempers and loose fists. The night was otherwise very quiet, but he had to be careful none the less as his primary alias had somehow been leaked to the public.

"Shadow" was the name his comrades in the world of Assassins knew him by, and so too did his friends who aided him in taking down the first branch of Te'i Sai two years ago. He didn't know who it was who leaked that alias to the public, but he wasn't happy about it. His real name he had managed to keep hidden from the world, and currently there were only two people alive today who knew his real name. There had been a third at one point, but he had hunted down and killed her shortly after his conquest of the mountain fortress of Te'i Sai in the Great Mountain Range that split the continent into two halves.

He listened intently for anything that could lead him into a hunt. Any sounds of violence, fear or unusual activity typically meant that he would have the chance to engage in a hunt that could last anywhere from ten minutes to several months depending on how well connected and dangerous his prey turned out to be. He had only been on one hunt that lasted more than two months before, but that was in pursuit of a highly organized and well protected underground crime lord. What he lacked in combat prowess, he made up for with security and a well developed team of partners who stalled Shadow for two and a half months before he finally caught up to his quarry.

Tonight, however, there had yet to be any such activity. He stopped walking after a time and sat down on a third story balcony rail to admire the beauty of the countryside just outside the city gates to the east. He was much closer to the edge of the city than he originally thought, but it didn't bother him very much. Soon enough he would find his targets and eliminate them, and Cre' Est would be slightly safer for it.

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Aerith walked slowly down the stone hallway, the assualt to her senses watering her eyes, tears forming against her will and then cascading down her face like tiny waterfalls. She hated morgues, not because of the bodies or the cold, but rather the smell and the taste of the putrid air that besieged her lips and nose like an invading army. She held her hand to her face as she followed the large mortician to where the bodies were actually kept, the smell growing worse with every passing step. The man peeked over his shoulder, chucking as he saw her strained expression. 

"Don't ya worry love, you get used to it pretty right quick down here. It'll pass, you'll see."

She frowned. She doubted that she'd get used to it so easily, especially with a nose as sensitive as hers. 

"You'd think that after putting so many people down here, you'd be used to the smell of a dead body or two." 

"Yeah, wel--" She gagged. Death flooded her mouth, nearly choking her as she she began to spit profusely, trying to get the stain of the wretched taste out of her mouth. The mortician continued to chuckle. 

"Yep, you'll get used to it."

They arrived at a heavy looking door, blood stains soaked into the ancient wood like wine on a blouse. If she didn't know better, she might've been a little wary, if not totally frightened. Grinning,  he pushed the door open and her eyes met a macabre sight. The smell worsened.

They passed slowly by the row of bodies, all lined up on stone tablets, the stench of death stronger than ever. Some she knew, fellow hunters or targets, and some were strangers. They arrived at the end where a select few corpses had been seperated from the rest. They seemed unalike in all ways, barring being dead. The mortician smiled at her darkly, and as if he were reading her mind, he spoke up. 

"They all lo'k a bit different, no?" 

He kneeled next to the body of what looked to be an average man, if not a bit well-toned.  Carefully, he opened the dead man's eyelids, revealing oddly colored red eyes. 

"It's dye, a blood extract I think." The mortician said, scratching his head in a puzzled manner. "But that's not the odd thing." He went to the next body, a slightly younger looking man, and then did the same to him. Red, in a similar fashion. 

"All of 'em have it. Some sorta weird fad, you think? Raggella's blessin's, what good would red eyes do a bunch o' people 'bout to be offed?"

She knew, but not why. The rumors of the 'Red-Eyed Demon' may not of reached the mortician, but they were abuzz above ground in the more socially inclined world. As were his look-alikes. Figuring that it was best to let him remain in the dark, she feighned ignorance. 

"Yeah, it's odd all right. Especially if it ends up getting you killed." She paused for a second, looking deep in thought. "You think it's a cult or something?" She asked, feeding him her potrayed ambiguity on the matter.

"Can't be sure myself." The man stroked his chin in mimicry of what looked to be some detective character. She stifled a giggle, but only because she wanted to breathe in as little of the rancid air as possible. A decidingly good idea, so it seemed. She wondered how anyone could survive in such an environment...not that many people were.

A few minutes of silence and choked laughter passed until, finally, the man came to a conclusion. 

"Must be some sort of mimic murder." He said, lowering his hand to the nearest corpse and turning it over, the cold body making a sickening crunch as the spine smashed against the stone. "Check this out." He was pointing to a wound, professionally drawn across the throat of a man. He had a wide grin on his face, as if he had seen a favorite minstrel or bard. The man looked at Aerith, smiling ashamedly. "It felt guilty to undo such a smile. Happy bloke, ain't 'e?" 

"Looks like it." She looked back at the wound, the cold, clean cut. It was more disturbing than the deathly smile. She felt it with her finger, observing the sheer cleanliness of the wound. Maybe if she really tried, she could cut someone like this, but not so casually. Her eyes averted to his fingernails which had what looked to be skin and blood caked into the recesses under the nail. 

"What is this?" She asked, holding up the cold hand to show the mortician. "Look's like skin." He leaned in and grasped the hand, his eyes becoming bright. "He's a killer, actually." 

"A killer?" She asked quizzically, looking closer at his nails. 

"Right, a killer." He scratched his head absentmindedly before sidenoting. "They all are." 

She looked at the other corpses. All had similar abberations: A splotch of blood where it shouldn't be, bloody nails, bloody teeth. They also had similar, clean wounds, albeit in different places. 
It was impressive, but knowing who did it made her think that it couldn't be all that surprising. He was that good, or so she heard. 

Wanting a closer look, she turned towards the mortician. 

"Could you light a lantern?"

He obliged, kneeling over and grabbing one nearby. Lighting it, he brought it past his face slowly. She paused for a moment, but then receiving the light, she turned back towards the body. The cut's were all so clean, it was amazing and disturbing all at once. It drew her in, like an artist admiring anothers work. 

"Pretty, ain't they?" The voice of the mortician said hauntily behind her. She couldn't help but agree. it was pretty, gruesome, but beautiful. She heard a chuckle. "I've been practicing, but I ain't managed to get it THAT good yet."

Realization dawned on her as she dodged too late. The embalming tool shreded at the side of her leather cuirass, tearing through and at her skin like a blade. She let out a shriek and then grabbed the lantern, swiveling and smashing it over his head violently, his grip on the tool loosening as his head caught aflame. She kicked him away, drawing her sword without hesitation. 

"Another pretender, eh." She slashed at his foot as he jerked on the ground, his red dyed eyes burning and popping from the heat. "Should of stabbed my neck." 

He screamed in agony, as the flame spread across his body, engulfing him in a hellish inferno. She watched him, writhing in his agony, until she realized that she should treat her wound, lest it be diseased. She turned on her right foot as the mans screams died in his charred throat, and walked back down the cold hall with a hand on her wound and another covering her nose. She only hoped more information wouldn't stink so badly of treachery. 

Setting

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Aerith

Earnings

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Streets of Xi' Mael

Hours had passed and Shadow was now on foot in the empty streets in the wee hours of the morning when the sun had yet to peek over the horizon. The buildings were passing by more quickly than he expected, and he realized that he had in fact been daydreaming for most of the last hour. He looked around and got his bearings, recognizing a specific building he had mentally marked earlier in the week which told him he was near the far eastern edge of the city.

He saw a bar that was still open with a few people in it a short distance away and decided to walk inside for a drink of water.

Boldar's Bar

As he entered the room he donned a crude hood he'd fashioned for his jacket which had previously been tucked under the collar to hide his eyes from the candle light so he didn't scare anyone. As the door creaked open several heads shifted in his direction, each one with either a scowl or a stupid grin adorning their features. He walked straight to the first empty table he saw to his right near the door and a window and sat down.

An attractive young waitress approached him slowly, apprehension swallowing her otherwise beautiful features as she obviously was not comfortable with so many strange and drunk men in the bar at this time of early morning.

"May I help you?" She asked quietly in a sweet and high pitched voice.

Shadow looked up at her from under the hood, his eyes still hidden from view and spoke in a soft, low voice.

"Water."

She nodded to him and walked to the barkeeper, telling him what Shadow had asked for. There were a few laughs from around the bar when the word "water" reached their ears. While the barkeeper never the less complied with the request, a couple of the other men in the bar stood up and walked over to him. The one on the far left was drunk off his ass and no real threat in his condition. The one in the middle was quite clear headed and obviously a well trained fighter given his build and his muscle tone. The third one on the right was almost drunk, but had enough of a clear mind to understand that his friends wanted to pick on someone.

"Well, wot 'ave we here lads?" The man in the center asked.

"I'm figurin we got us a newbie there boss!" The drunk on the left replied.

"So what should we do with 'em boss?" The one on the right asked.

"Well there mate! Wot say you? Wanna 'ave a real drink wiv us?" He asked while he leaned in to within a few inches of Shadow's face.

Shadow himself listened to the irritating questions and glared at the leader from under his hood. He knew that it would be a bad idea to do such a thing, but he decided to do it anyway. He lifted his hood back about two inches, though he kept it on, and allowed the candle light to shine on his eyes as the men all leaned in. The two who were drunk backed away immediately, but the leader simply laughed at him and knocked the hood completely back off his head.

"C'mon! Ya gotta do better 'n that!" He laughed.

"Looks like we got ourselves another "Red-Eyed Demon" 'ere fellas! C'mon! Let's rough him up and show 'im wot 'appened ta the last "Demon" wot came 'round these parts!"

The other men gathered confidence at his words and moved in, ready to fight. The barkeeper and his waitress both stepped away to the corner of the room as Shadow prepared himself for something rather unpleasant. The leader came in first, swinging a wild punch with his right hand at Shadow's head. Shadow simply turned in his chair so that his body was at a forty five degree angle away from his attackers and brought his open hand up and caught the punch. Despite the fact that he was sitting in a chair, both his feet were on the ground and his shoulders and hips were aligned with his hand for maximum absorption of the blow.

The punch stopped cold a few inches away from Shadow's head, catching the attacker off guard. Shadow took the opportunity to quickly backhand the man in the Philtrum just under the nose. The blow was fast and hard, and the shock to his brain caused him to lose consciousness almost immediately. He dropped to the ground and his friends, who had yet to sober up, still came at him on both sides. Shadow stayed in his chair and leaned back on the hind legs, allowing the two men to fall forward without a target for their fists to land on. He reached out and punched both men in the bottom corner of their jaws, snapping the thin bones along the side and dislocating both on contact. Had they too not lost consciousness as quickly as they did, they would have been writhing on the floor in agony as the wound was so close to the brain.

He reached up and caught them in his arms as they started to fall and set them down gently on the floor at his feet on top of their "boss". He put his hood back on his head and looked to the waitress who was holding his water. She immediately knew what he wanted and she trotted over to give him his drink. He took the water from her and drank it in a few big gulps. After handing it back to her he stood up and dragged the three unconscious men into an empty booth on the other side of the room, all propped up in seated positions as they slept off their drinks. Shadow turned back to the woman for a moment and stared at her, watching as she stared back with fearful eyes.

"If anyone asks, these men got too drunk and passed out. Do you understand?" He asked in a low voice.

She blinked for a moment and nodded to him.

"O-of course." She said hesitantly.

Shadow nodded back to her and scanned the room for a moment, the other men avoiding his gaze while the barkeeper looked at him somewhat suspiciously. He knew it wouldn't do to stay any longer than this so he took his leave and walked outside.

Streets of Xi' Mael

As he stepped outside he looked down into an alleyway just a short distance away and decided to check inside it. When he walked up to the entrance, his eyes drew him to a little girl hiding in a large cardboard box who trembled with uncontrollable fear. He was not much for helping people, as he didn't know what they'd need to feel better, but something told him to help this child.

He walked forward and knelt down in front of the box as the girl looked up at him and turned away out of fear. He placed his hand on the young girl's back, receiving a whimper of fright in response. He rubbed her back for a moment and she turned her head to look at him again. He did his best to smile for her, as he knew she could see his red eyes from under the hood. Neither knew quite what to do at that point, so Shadow took the first step.

"Are you here alone or do you have a family to go home to?" He asked quietly.

She looked innocently up at him and turned to face him while sitting down cross legged. She didn't say anything for a moment, but then she finally spoke up.

"My mommy and me got separated when we ran from the big boom earlier. I don't know where mommy is, but I want my mommy!" She said.

Shadow sighed, more to himself than to her, and stood up. He held her hand and made her stand up with him as he walked her down the street to the first clinic he saw. There were no churches in the immediate area, nor were there any inns or taverns he'd care to place her in so the clinic had to do.

Unnamed Clinic

Once inside he looked over at the first nurse who walked out of the back room to greet them and waved her down.

"This child has been separated from her mother. Could you look after her?" He asked.

The nurse smiled at him and nodded.

"Of course we can. Come here sweet heart." She said sweetly to the girl who came forward and took her hand.

"Thank you for bringing her here. We'll put the word out first thing in the morning when the doctor comes in at sunup. She'll be back with her mother soon." She said cheerfully.

Shadow bowed to her and walked outside.

Streets of Xi' Mael

Helping children was not a common thing for him, but it felt good to know that the girl still had her mother to go home to. Shadow had no such luxuries in life, and so when he had the chance to help people evade the pain he felt every day he took it. He didn't know what else he could do at the moment, as he was growing rather weary. He decided that the best thing to do would be to find a place to rest for the night until the sun came up in the next few hours. The rest wouldn't be as long as he'd like, but it would be welcome none the less.

He scaled the nearest building and found a nice spot tucked out of sight of anyone below and sat down and fell asleep. The sun would wake him once it hit his face, and when that happened he would be able to continue the hunt once his body had some time to rest.

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The early morning streets were a pretty sight and Aerith, smelling of smoke and burnt flesh, hated them more than ever. No one was awake at this hour, and so no one sold booze. No one sold booze, and so Aerith was sober.  

...and this didn't really sit well. 

She touched her side to find that she was in pain. Remembering her wound, remembering the night.

She would give it two weeks before someone found the body. It didn't really matter, it was late and she was hooded when she entered the morgue, but she figured that she should probably go under her alias for awhile, just to be safe. Slipping into a deserted alley, she slowly took off her cuirass and then checked her wound.  It was red, obviously infected, but it didn't seem necrotic, which was good. Opening her bag, she pulled out a few herbs and then popped them into her mouth. Chewing them quickly as to avoid the gross taste, she spit out the wad of plant and then inserted it into the wound. It stung for a moment, but at least she could trust that she'd be safe from disease. 

She then pulled out wrappings, concealing the side wound to the best of her abilities, winding the cloth around her waste until she was sure it was tight enough. Pinning it, she was fairly sure it would hold and then breathed a sigh of relief. 

"That should work."

She slumped against the wall and fell into a sitting position, running her hands through her smokey hair. Remembering her alias, she used the cloth again to bind her breasts lightly, then putting her cuirass back on and tying her hair into something shorter. She pulled her hood over her face and hobbled out of the alley, the pain of the wound still noticeable, only less severe. She still wanted a drink, but figured that sleep would be nice as well. 

The sun was a little higher now and people began to enter the streets, shaking off sleep and opening their shops. She figured that the nearest inn would be an ideal place to crash, regardless of the quality. Her body ached, the bones clashing together like rusted sparring swords. Trudging on, she saw the recent ruins of several buildings, destroyed by some sort of explosive. Walking closer, she saw the embers of a recent fire, festering in the house like flies in a buggy swamp. 

"Awful shame, isn't it"

A nobleman on a horse peered down at her, his smug eyes burning through to her anger, igniting her hatred. He was young, perhaps only the son of some aristocrat, but held an air of someone who believed themselves to be thoroughly more inportant that all others. "I guess it's a waste though." He said, plopping off his horse and walking towards the shell of the house. "I can't take from those who have nothing, not even there lives."

Aerith gripped her blade as his escort pulled out their own. The noble gave her a look of surprise, and then laughed. Her side now burned with pain, and her tired body told her that this was a fight that she should avoid, but she held her ground nonetheless, infuriated by the young nobles tauntings. 

"Filth like you is the reason why these streets are so polluted."

The laugh morphed viciously into a scowl, his sword unsheathed and held towards her head in a rather dramatic fashion. It was clumsy and weak, meaning that he was no swordsman. He continued to scowl. "Do you wish to die, churl?"

Aerith pulled out her blade and in a brilliant fashion, disarmed the man subsequently, his fine sword flying into the ruins, lost in the rubble. He stumbled backwards, obviously surprised at the skill of the masked stranger. The guards took a halting step forward, their hands slightly shaking at the thought of battle. They all seemed young as well, most likely in their teens, and had obviously never been in a real fight. It would of almost been comical, had she not been in so much pain.

"H-how dare you!" The noble stammered, his face becoming progressively redder. "I'm nobility! How dare you disarm m--" Aerith cut his belt cleanly, his pants falling to the ground, revealing a very unpretty sight. He screamed as the guards charged, their advance sloppy and disorganized. One by one, she disarmed them, expertly taking care not to do any real damage. In what seemed like a mere moment, they were all standing there weaponless, their faces with an etched look of bewilderment. 

The noble stumbled as he pulled his pants up, trying to climb onto his horse. Managing to get on, he glared at Aerith with a burning intensity. She giggled.

"I swear!" He said, his clouded with tears of rage. "I swear I'll pay you back for this!" He gave one last gallant looking wave towards his guards as he rode off, his escort trudging on behind him. 

A crowd had gathered to commend her, to congratulate her in her defiance of the brat noble, but she slipped away with the stealth of a cat, absorbed into the shadows of another nearby alley. She sat down as the people drifted away, her body begging her for sleep and food. The former sounded more imperative, and so, without taking off her armor, she creeped even farther into the shadows, sleep taking her nearly instantly, the day fading away with her sight. 

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Aerith

Earnings

0.00 INK

Light crept over the edges of the buildings and shone into the corner of his eyes from underneath his hood, alerting him to the fact that day had finally broken. When he opened his eyes, he guessed that it had been about four hours since he had fallen asleep earlier. He stretched his arms above his head and rotated his head in a circle, cracking his neck as he did so. To further awaken himself he used both hands to slap the sides of his face. The shock was more than enough, and before he knew it he was bright eyed and fully alert to the world around him.

He stood up and walked around on the rooftops for a few minutes and found himself wandering unconsciously back towards the area where the explosion had taken place. It was odd for him to return to such a place, but in the end it would be entertaining to see how everyone would react to him with his hood up.

The Assassins of Te'i Sai were known for their dark grey robes with the symbol of the ancient Assassins engraved on the center of their chest and the center of their back in a dark red coloration. Also, the belt buckle they adorned had the same symbol, also in a dark red coloration. Their boots were typically black, as were the pants they wore under the robe. They covered their faces with cotton black masks. The cut for the eyes made them appear rather sinister and aggressive, which suited their new lifestyle in their efforts to put an end to Shadow's activities.

Shadow was wearing no such outfit. His black jacket flowed down to about his knees in length and waved out behind him like a flag. His black pants and boots both were somewhat faded from having had them for so long, and his shirt was also a black faded black coloration that matched the rest of his attire. His jacket had a hood attached just behind his neck that was not really a part of the original design. When the murders and framing started, he figured it wouldn't be a bad idea to bring a hood into the picture. The problem was that it closely resembled the hoods of Te'i Sai. Had their hoods been black as well one could easily suspect him of being a member of Te'i Sai right away.

He approached the area of interest and found himself staring down in the same spot he had been during the previous night when someone shouted that the Red-Eyed Demon was standing on the roof. He hopped down in one of the alleyways and approached the rubble of the now smoldering ashes of the building and found weapons scattered across the ground. One of them was in the rubble itself, and he guessed that there had been some kind of scuffle. The weapons weren't that great of quality, but they looked nice.

He stepped into the empty shell of a building and picked up what looked to be the most expensive of the blades. It was unbalanced and very flashy, no doubt a decoration for a noble. Nobody with a head for combat would ever carry such a blade and expect to actually fight with it. Using it for ceremonies where they were purely for display, yes. Combat, no. He tuned the blade sideways in front of him and let the weight of the weapon bear down on his left index finger. He dragged the blade across from end to end and pulled it away when he was done.

"... No cut." He said as he checked his finger.

He examined the edge of the blade again and found that, although it was indeed sharpened, it was not professionally done. This blade would only cut when used with excessive force, rather than the weight of the weapon being enough to break skin. He found himself to be glaring at the blade in disgust as he grabbed the end of the blade with his left hand and bent the sword until it snapped somewhere in the middle into two pieces. He tossed one piece to each side of him as he exited the rubble and gathered the other weapons to examine them. When he was finished, he laid them down in a circle around the now broken sword. This display was an ancient symbol of blatant disrespect to whomever the weapons initially belonged to and was something only other Assassins or well educated bounty hunters and mercenaries would know about.

He smiled at the thought and walked over to a bench near the side of one of the buildings to watch the crowd as the people went about their daily lives. It was only about eight to nine hours after an explosion and already they were back to normal as if it had never occurred. He had to admire the people's resolve to continue with their activities, what with all the chaos of the world around them. But then again, the fact that the Assassins were all at war with each other over territory and influence made it easy for the people to deal with such events as they were almost weekly occurrences over the last year.

I almost feel sorry for them He thought to himself as he closed his eyes and crossed his arms in front of his chest.

He could hear everything around him very clearly despite the conversations of other people and the gentle sound of the wind blowing past the buildings. It was a peaceful morning despite what had happened, and it was the perfect environment for Shadow to enjoy a little more time of relaxation before continuing on with his journey.

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Aerith awoke to the light of early afternoon, the sun washing into the alley like the tide on a lonely beach. It was loud, the clambering of the people clearly audible from the streets surrounding her, and she felt the welcome familiarity of home within it. The symphony was accompanied by the grumbling of her stomach, and she realized that she was hungry, and reasonably so. Reaching into her bag, she pulled out a dried piece of meat, tearing at it with her teeth like a wolf, ravenously consuming the salty flesh. It felt good to eat something, or rather, have the time to sit and eat something. She felt like the last few days had been an amalgam of bad experiences, like the fates were conspiring against her, derailing  any attempt to professionally track her target. She drew her hand through her hair as she stood up, rubbing her eyes, wiping the sun out. She wandered into the street, still sore, but feeling much better, having found her physical respite in her nap. 

She trotted down the busy street, bumping and passing people as she kept her ears open to the sounds of passerby. Often, the best information came from the mouth of the horse, and Aerith was in the stables. She began to slow down as she passed a large crowd, her ears taking in the sounds like an orphanage of notes, the cries echoing in her ear. Meaningless words would flow through her ear like a cave and exit the opposite side unhindered, a constant river of nothing. But some words she latched onto mentally, pursuing the conversation they were derived from, often to find them attached to something unrelated.

"--shadow of the church."

"--red-eyed bugger was drunk as a--"

"--hear about the demon?"

That was it. She traced the sound to a woman, jabbering on to a merchant at a nearby stall. They stood there, whispering loudly for effect, much to Aerith's favor.

"--say he was seen by them ruined houses."

"That's what those bangs were?"

"Didn't ya hear? They say he breathed fire on 'em." 

"The Red-eyed demon?!?"

"Yeah! Left some sort of weird pattern afterwords. Down the way there."

She had heard enough. Pushing her way through the crowd, she soon found herself where she had fought the fool nobles, fondness for the moment overtaking her. She snapped out of her happy stupor when she looked at the ground, a laugh spurting out instantly. She knew what the pattern meant; she had learned it from a hunter she had periodically worked with in the past, and it was incredibly appropiate, hillarious even. 

But was it? She realized that whoever made it would have to have an insider view on the world of hunters and killers, and only a handful of people in this city would fit the bill. She put her hand on the hilt of her dagger, suddenly feeling apprehensive. Backing away from the symbol, she slipped into an alley, pulling her hood down over her face. She leaned against the wall, on edge, her heart palpatating loudly. It was undoubtedly him, but the real question was why and how long ago. She glanced up at the roof, and then behind her. 

Though she was hunting him, she understood the danger of battling him on his terms, and so if anything, she wanted to lure him into a situation more favorable for her. She couldn't trust her disguise; he was notorious for his skill in discerning such things, or so she had heard. 

She exited the alley on the opposite side, pushing through the mass of people, observing any abnomalities in the crowd. It was unnerving, knowing that her target  might of possibly made her the same, the tables turned on her, a corpse in the very morgue she just visited.

 She didn't want that to happen. 

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As day faded to afternoon and the bright orange and yellow light of the sun began to stain the skies above, Shadow opened his eyes after hours of resting them at the sound of a pure and light hearted laugh over by the blades he had placed on the ground by the ruined house. There was a... woman? Yes, it was definitely a woman. She was athletic and, had he not experienced her style of dress before, would easily be mistaken for a young man with her frame. Undoubtedly she was keeping her chest pressed firm to mimic a man's to avoid unwanted attention.

She suddenly had a bit of a change of heart as she backed away right passed Shadow on his bench and into the alley just ten feet away from him. Whomever this woman was, she knew what that symbol meant which told him one thing: She knew how to kill.

Regardless of whether she was a mercenary or a bounty hunter, the end result was the same. If she followed the rumors here then she was definitely hunting him. He smiled at the thought. A hunt was just what he needed to take the edge off of his frustrations, so he rose slowly from his bench walked casually off towards the side of the building opposite the alley she went into. When he saw the coast was clear, he quickly ascended to the roof to get a better view. He stayed low to the roof top to keep his silhouette to a minimum as he searched for her.

It took him a bit longer than expected, but he finally spied her previous garb in the crowd. She had adorned a hood since she went into the alley which hid her face and hair from his sight. She was skilled at losing people, that was certain. How skilled was she? Who was she? Was she hunting him for sport or money? What was she now trying to do? These questions and more raced through Shadow's mind as she continued to follow the young hunter from the rooftop as she slipped into and out of crowded areas in the streets below.

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She took a chance.

She couldn't tell if she was being followed, but right now it was clear that if she was, it would be child's play for any well trained killer to stab her and slip away into the crowd without notice, a shadow in the mass of people in the streets. She needed chaos, and quickly. 

She pulled out her blade and held it above her head, a wild, crazed look burning dramatically in her eyes. She knew the fear a name could inspire, and so she needed only to speak a select few words.

"It's the Red-eyed demon!" 

She pointed at no one in particular, but the first scream was the catalyst for a thousand more. The people began to move frantically, knocking into each other, howling madly in their desperate fear. She sheathed her sword as she ran with the retreating mass, the crowd enveloping her like quicksand. Like dominos, the word of the demon's "appearance" spread as quickly as the fear she had perpetuated, the group growing noticeably larger with each passing block. Finally, spotting a desolate looking warehouse, she broke free from the frantic crowd and busted through the worn door, the panic of the outside gradually getting quieter as she crashed to the ground, reasonably winded. If nothing, than at least she got in some good, healthy running, if not her life itself. 

She realized that she felt oddly cold and damp, as if she had been swimming with her clothes on. Feeling her side, she realized that it was wet, sticky blood dripping off the leather cuirass. The wound reopened and flowed freely through the wrappings, her eyes blurry and other senses deprived, threatening to impeach her consciousness. She knew she couldn't pass out now, not when she was still possibly in danger, but she couldn't control the feeling overcoming her, a heavy weight crushing her. Pushing herself wobbly to her feet, she brought her hand lightly to her head, now throbbing, threatening to explode.

She cradled it like a child as she slipped back to the ground, her view like a long, drawn out tunnel, but with no light at the end. 

"D-damn it." 

She hated adrenaline sometimes. Sure, it carried her through a lot of dangerous stuff, but being wounded afterwords, she never was prepared to deal with the situations she got into after the buzz wore off. She realized that she couldn't see as her head hid the hard ground, dust kicked up by the impact. She knew, rather stupidly, that she had waved goodbye to a potential death, only to greet a sure one, but it didn't really matter at that point.

 She pulled herself blindly towards the ever-faint sounds of the street, her blood trailing behind her. Letting out a faint cry, she cursed herself for her stupidity, having screwed herself over more gravely than she would've wagered on. 

"H-help..."

Her voice trailed off as sleep again took her, the weight of the light being too much to bear. She could only wish at this point, but wishing, after all, hadn't gotten her all that far in the past. 

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Her pace was quick, and her steps and pathway mapped out quite respectively. She was a professional for sure, but just how much of this was actually professionalism and how much was fear? It was obvious to Shadow by her pace and her eagerness to get away from the scene with the blades that she was afraid of him. Hunter or no, fear was inevitable when hunting important and dangerous prey.

Suddenly, as if from nowhere, the girl drew her weapon and pointed it wildly and shouted "It's the Red-Eyed Demon!"

The crowd around her panicked, and Shadow's smile widened.

Very clever... He thought as she disappeared into the now almost viscous crowd.

They were almost like ants swarming over a victim. He lost sight of her almost immediately as the crowd began to thicken. He had nothing to go on in terms of guessing where she would try and move since he didn't know who she was or how well trained she was, but he guessed that she would take off to find a place to hide and rethink her strategy on the hunt. He began to climb to higher elevations to get the best vantage point possible, and eventually settled himself on a fourth story rooftop overlooking the central street that ran through the entire city.

As he continued to scan the streets below him for his new prey he began to get the feeling that there was a new matter which needed his attention. Sure enough, in the streets below him, there was a gang of thieves with a rather large man as their leader walking in the center. They were unfazed by the crowds around them and were heading off towards a warehouse just a short distance away. It was definitely abandoned which meant it would be the perfect place for men like them to make a hideout out of it. Shadow began to follow them and eventually spied something which bode ill for all parties concerned.

As he raced ahead of them to get a better view of the warehouse he spied the girl from before lying unconscious near the doorway. Her side was dark and blood surrounded her on the ground beneath her. Shadow tried judging the wound from a distance, but it was no good. He couldn't see anything definitive beyond the fact that it was a potentially fatal injury if left alone. Shadow then had a dilemma as the thieves began to close in...

Do I save her without engaging them, or do I engage them so that I have an excuse to talk rather than fight when she wakes up?

Shadow chose the latter, as it would give him a good reason to be able to talk to her about what she was doing and why rather than have to defend himself against a wounded killer who would feel backed into a corner upon awakening. When the thieves showed up there was little doubt about what ran through their minds as they instantly drew their weapons and charged at Shadow. He recognized the leader from a wanted poster in one of the bars he had visited a few days ago. They were all wanted dead or alive for a rather nice sum of money. This was a piece of good news as it meant that Shadow could turn them over to her as a peace offering.

Shadow drew one of his daggers and prepared himself for a fight as the thieves drew in closer, charging blindly ahead like moths to a flame. The leader was the first to reach him, and Shadow had but to slide step out of his way and bring his dagger up to cut his throat neatly along from ear to ear and he fell passed him. It was only a surface wound, nothing that would kill him as Shadow didn't apply any pressure to it, though it gave him a nice red line across this throat. The others were dead upon contact as Shadow passed the first ones attack into his comrade's stomach and spliced his groin open before jumping away from them to watch them fall.

The leader came back again, and this time Shadow decided to knock him out as he was worth twice as much alive as opposed to dead. With a quick parry of his initial attack Shadow used the butt end of the handle to knock the man in the jaw, knocking him out immediately. The two remaining men began to flee and Shadow gave no chase as they were quite obviously new members who weren't worth much to anyone since they fled in the face of danger.

With that wrapped up Shadow found an old chain and tied it around the leader's hands and ankles so that he wouldn't be going anywhere for a while and then turned his attention to his former would-be stalker. He checked her side and found that the wound was worse than it initially appeared. What seemed a simple cut to the side was a deep gash that had most likely nicked one of the smaller branches of her abdominal aorta. While not immediately fatal it was not something to be ignored if she was to survive it.

"Sorry about this, but there's no way to do this properly while you're wearing something like this." He said quietly.

Shadow removed her cuirass and the shirt beneath it so that he could see her wound up close. Since Shadow had operated on countless people in the past modesty was not an issue for him, though she would probably feel differently upon awakening despite the fact that her chest was wrapped with cloth. The gash was ugly and slightly discolored, a sign that it had been left alone without professional treatment for too long already. Shadow reached into the pouch at his waist just below his daggers and brought out a rather potent combination of herbs from Roda Valley which would both disinfect and cauterize the wound. She would not be happy when she woke up, as this was going to sting for several hours after application thanks to the cauterization process, but it would be worth it for her in the end since it would guarantee the wound was no longer a threat while it continued to heal.

Shadow removed what remnants of herbs had been there before, which looked to be a simple disinfectant mixed with a slight pain killer. He took his emergency water supply, which he had not used since acquiring it, and washed the wound before replacing the previous herbs with his own. He then brought out a fresh needle and string and began to sew her wound shut, doubling back twice over his first path to further enhance the strength of the stitching so she wouldn't be able to tear it again. When he had finished he hung her shirt and cuirass over a thick chain which was most likely once was to be used for demolition though it never actually managed to finish its work. He found a blanket nearby and covered her with it, hoping it would be enough to keep her calm when she woke up since all that covered her chest was a thin wrapping of cloth.

While it was generally against his principles to help people like this, especially when they were hunting him, he couldn't in his right mind just leave her there to die. After all, she was previously hunting him which took a lot of heart and determination. Typically the only ones who hunted him were other well trained Assassins, so a lone bounty hunter or mercenary was a big deal worthy of praise and respect. Shadow took up a seat a short distance away on an old broken down ventilation box to wait for his would be hunter to wake up.

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Aerith never really remembered her dreams, or at least not in full. It had always troubled her greatly; the ephemeral tales that wove in and out of her thoughts, never leaving anything more than a vague memory or a bad, ominous feeling. She had at one point accepted it, realizing that some things were simply not meant to be for some people, but now that she was actually having one, clear and coherent, she was wishing that she could return to the ambiguity of nothingness.

It was dark, an overbearing sense of fear overtaking her like a large wave on a forgotten shore. She could hardly see, but her other senses were frighteningly acute, picking up all the little sounds, the little noises forming around her like an orchestra. She tried to push herself up, but the cold pavement latched onto her chest like talons, tearing at her very flesh itself as the clinking of chains sounded distantly, like those found in some sort of prison, but without the screams of inmates to accompany it.

She had known fear, but not by this name, and not by this face.

Laughter began to echo off the walls as she fumbled blindly for a way out, or at least some source of light. It was maniacal sounding, like that of a man whose mind was only a distant memory, lost to the ebb and flow of time eternal. It would stop, only for a moment, and then resume with equal fervor, as if taunting her hopes, drawing them and hunting like some sick killer in search of another victim.

She would know, she had done the same.

She could still remember the first man she killed. His bloodshot eyes; yellow, rotted teeth; a pot belly with nothing in it. She wasn't even a hunter yet, though it didn't really matter either way. He was a criminal, a killer of children, and her first pursuer. She was young, 4-5 perhaps, when she saw him smash the hammer through the young girl's skull at the empty harbor, blood splattering the walls like paint. He basked in it, the blood and guts and gore, writhing in ecstasy as he admired his work. She remembered screaming, running in the opposite direction as quickly as her little legs could muster, but to no avail. He was on her in moments, a hand on his hammer and another on her throat. He leaned in, pressing his dirty face against hers as she sobbed loudly, praying to whatever and whoever to save her from the demonic man, sneering down at her with eyes of fire. She knew no one was coming, that no one would help, that she would die like the little girl she knew so well...but she couldn't accept it. Gathering all of her strength, she landed a fierce kick into his crotch as he dropped her, falling to the ground as he cradled his wounded manhood. In her fury, her self preservation instinct, she picked up the hammer and brought it down in an inhuman, adrenaline fueled arc, smashing through the top part of his head and straight into her ankle. He let out a grunt as he drooped and then crashed into the ground, his heavy body at her tiny feet.

The rest of that night was hazy, just as it was here and now in the dark room. She remembered that she fled in pain, that she cried, and that it was the night that she stopped remembering her dreams.

Likely for the better, she thought as she awoke to the smell of herbs.

Aerith shook her head as she opened her eyes, the warehouse coming into sight, her side stinging like it was in flames. She wasn't dead, that was for sure, but she certainly wasn't in the greatest of shape either. What troubled her more was how; she had been injured and alone, but was now covered in a blanket, feeling a little sick, but treated and in much better shape. It was dark now, the sun having retreated into the hills. It was dark, but she could well enough see.

Two red eyes watching her from the shadows.

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Time ticked by slowly and the day began to fade yet further into the darkness as Shadow kept watch over the would-be Assassin killer that slept not more than fifteen feet away from him. She was actually quite pretty to look at when you went passed the mask to see her face, and she was in fantastic shape physically which Shadow guessed was the reason why she was tough enough to survive this long. Her injuries would take at least a week to heal with the herbs he had given her, and hopefully within that time he'd convince her not to try and remove his head from his shoulders.

Shadow sat back and laid down on top of the vent box and stared at the sky as the first stars began to shine in the dimming light. One thing had led to another quite rapidly over this last month and he was mentally exhausted from what had transpired. In the last month he'd taken down four corrupted senators who were puppets of Te'i Sai, rid himself of countless aggressors in the form of bandits, thieves and other Assassins, and managed to somehow take down eight imposters to his name and reputation. None of this had been easy, and though he had made it through miraculously without a scratch he had a feeling his luck wouldn't hold up. As good as he was, he was still only human, no matter how much he wished otherwise.

Sometimes it feels like you're invincible, and then life takes an unexpected turn and your mortality is forced on you with the greatest of prejudice. Shadow knew the feeling well as he slowly slipped into his memories of that day.

It was three years ago almost to the day when Shadow engaged in a face to face battle with former Grandmaster Takai of Te'i Sai in Roda Valley. The mountain fortress built into the side of the majestic peak of Mt. Heresta at the center of the Continent was where he grew up and where almost all of his training had taken place. The one thing that mountain was never considered to be in Shadow's mind, however, was home. He was told that home is where you "hang your hat", though he never really considered anywhere he went to be home.

That day, however, was one to remember forever. Shadow had infiltrated Te'i Sai with the help of a very special friend named Taira who was one of his first real apprentices as an Assassin. Thanks to her he had managed to reach Takai's offices without detection and fought with both him and Korvaiis, the man who was then second in command of Te'i Sai. The fight was a losing one and Shadow was stabbed in the leg, run through the chest and broke his left leg after fleeing from the confrontation. He had, however, managed to kill Takai during the conflict before escaping. Takai had grown too confident during the encounter when Shadow gutted him during a rushed attack, spilling his intestines and lower stomach onto the floor of his office before jumping out the three story window into the Grand Training Hall below.

Shadow would have been finished if his knowledge of anatomy wasn't where it was at that time. He knew he wouldn't avoid the blade that pierced his chest, so he guided it through his body while taking great care in the moments that he had to avoid his lungs, stomach, liver and his abdominal aorta in his back. The blade went clean through to the other side and by some divine miracle it missed everything important, leaving Shadow wounded, but no worse for wear than when he had been stabbed in the leg. Shadow barely escaped the Assassins who came after him before collapsing in Raggella Forest outside the fortress in the Valley. It was there that he met someone very special to him, though he had lost contact with her two years ago.

Shadow decided it was best not to dwell on the past for too long and so he forced himself to open his eyes. When he did, he found he had daydreamed for almost an hour, and the sky was now fully taken over by the night. Brilliant purple and blue colors weaved and flowed through the air as the stars glittered in the heavens. He had always loved watching them, but with a potential threat sitting fifteen feet away he dared not admire them without checking her every now and then. No sooner had that thought crossed his mind when the young woman began to wake up, checking herself in her slight delirium as she awoke before making eye contact for the first time.

"How are you feeling?" He asked calmly, trying not to sound threatening.

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She knew she was alive; no corpse had luck like hers.

She could've likened it to a fire; sometimes it burned brightly and kept her warm, and others it barely flickered, leaving her in the desolate cold. She didn't know why she was still alive, but the fact that she had survived her wound only to find herself in the jaws of the beast himself made her chuckle. It was irony at its finest, but she didn't know if the man looking down at her would share her sentiments. He was relatively tall looking, well sculpted, and not nearly as evil looking as she had thought the famed assassin would be.

"How are you feeling."

He spoke deliberately, as if he was trying to keep her calm. He needn't of worried though as, for whatever illogical reason, she felt completely relaxed. Maybe it was because she knew that, being alive, he probably had a reason for allowing her to live; or maybe it was that it seemed that he had saved her life, which she had no pressing complaints about. She was also happy that her risks weren't completely unneeded, as she was willing to guess that he had indeed been following her when she had caused the commotion. It all worked out great.

...except the fact that she was mere feet from the deadliest man in Cre' Est.

She couldn't feel her sword, which meant that he had probably stripped it when he was treating her wound. She caressed it a little, the gash stinging harshly at the touch of her finger tips, but also in relief. He had treated it well, expertly really. Lucky for her, she got the medically inclined, not-so-sociopathic captor. She giggled.

"Absolutely lovely. You got any ale?"

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Shadow smirked at the comment, but offered nothing in return as he looked away from her towards the ground.

"I am afraid that I don't drink, so in short the answer is 'no'".

He leaned back and laid down on the top of the vent again, satisfied that she was not going to attack him and finally getting some peace of mind about the fact that she was calm and in a cheerful mood despite everything that had happened to her. It was then that a thought occurred to him, one that likely held a simple answer but his mind ached to ask anyway.

"Forgive me for prying, but I must ask you something: Are you a mercenary or a bounty hunter?" He asked with a hint of enjoyment at the question.

"Judging by your choice of weaponry, clothing, and your mannerisms I'm inclined to guess that you are a bounty hunter."

He looked sideways at her without moving his body, his red eyes glowing in the darkness thanks to their bio-luminescence. The story of Shadow's eyes was a strange one indeed, and no one but Shadow knew the truth behind them.

When Shadow was born his eyes were already damaged due to a defect during development in the womb. Because of the damage, the doctors in Te'i Sai were constantly trying to save his sight, lest he become blind and have to be thrown to the wolves in Roda Valley as a useless infant. An assistant to the head doctor accidentally provided the doctor working on Shadow's eyes a chemical compound that was comprised of the naturally occurring chemicals within the bodies of fireflies that gave them their luminescent glow. The other combination was that of dark red chemical designed to mimic the appearance of blood.

This chemical combination was in the testing phase since Te'i Sai's favored way of invoking fear in others was to leave a trail of blood in their wake, and blood is hard to see at night. So through constant and feverish testing they found a way to combine the blood red chemical with the chemicals in the bodies of fireflies to give it a luminescent quality. This compound was to be used as "eye drops" for Shadow when the nozzle broke and spilled the chemical across his face and into his eyes. In their frantic and panicked state, the doctors accidentally knocked another liquid into Shadow's eyes. This time, however, it was a real eye drop liquid which helped to sooth the pain the infant was in. When he next opened his eyes two days later, they were blood red and glowed in dim light.

Thus the Red-Eyed Demon was officially born, and Takai had great plans for the boy from that day on. Had this mishap not occurred, Shadow would have been just another Assassin, nothing special and no serious reputation. Looking back he almost wished that he had been a normal Assassin. Life certainly would have been easier then. Either way, Shadow was who he was and he looked the way he looked thanks to that accident.

Shadow continued to watch her as she prepared to answer him.

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Sitting up, she pushed herself to the wall where she rested her head on an old empty crate. 

"Forgive me for prying, but I must ask you something: Are you a mercenary or a bounty hunter? Judging by your choice of weaponry, clothing, and your mannerisms I'm inclined to guess that you are a bounty hunter."

His observation was astute, peering through her shallow facade like a window. She brought her hand to her head and brought it through her hair, trying to comb out the myriad knots that had formed in the last few days. It was a shame, really; she had such nice hair, free flowing and soft, silky and clean. She might have to cut it. 

She realized that she hadn't answered his question. It was a seemingly odd one, but perhaps he was trying to a general idea on her background or as to who she was. Deciding that the truth was better, or safer, she answered honestly. 

"A hunter."

She pondered for a moment, trying to think of a question to ask him, perhaps pertaining to her...well...survival. She wasn't unhappy to be alive, but she was now more curious as to what he could want, keeping her well. She decided to probe a little, for the sake of at least learning a little bit about the man she had been hunting from the "Shadow" himself. 

"Why am I still alive?" 

She figured that she could of thought of something better to ask, but she also thought that it was best to move onto the buisness of life and death first. She was a bounty hunter after all.

"I mean--" She attempted to clarify, trying not to give him any ideas. It was curious though, how unviolent he seemed at the moment. She thought him to be a cold blooded killer without the capacity for civilities, not a quiet gentleman with a penchant for saving wounded women. 

"--err...I mean, is there something that you need from me?"

That sounded better. He was partially melded into the darkness, but he didn't seem like he was about to strike. Not that he'd need to try very hard; she highly doubted that she had the ability to fight at the moment, let alone battle a famed assassin. Not that it would've been the first time that she had fought an assassin, she just doubted that her luck would hold up.

It was a few years ago during the high times of her career, filled with  booze, song, and hunts. She was in some nameless, faceless inn at the edge of nowhere, sitting at the bar, thinking about nothing when she noticed the sound of merry drunken song, frantic dance, and womens sheer cries of delight, piercing the air like a bird's call. She had been pursuing a contract, but had very little luck in it, losing him at every turn, much like her pursuit of "Shadow". Having mostly given up, she was in a state of melancholy, hardly interested in the festivities.

"May I sit here?"

A cheery face stared down at her, his bright eyes illiminated in the darkness. He was tall, well-toned, and had short hair, dark and beautiful in the tavern light. She murmured an affirmative as he lowered himself into the chair and she brought her mug up to her face. He looked familiar, but she couldn't quite place it. 

"Lovely night, no?"

He was friendly, she'd give him that, but she wasn't quite in the mood for a friend.

"I suppose." She replied stoically, never averting her eyes from the cup. He continued to smile at her cheerfully, never wavering or halting.

"What's the matter? You look down."

Concern was nice, but she'd rather have her target. She glance over at him, taking in his familiar features, but no bells ringing. She would be gracious, it was part of her job, but nothing more.

"My prey escaped, and now I have nothing to hunt."

Maybe not courteous, but fear often worked just as well, but the man sat there, still smiling widly like an idiot. 

"Do you want to talk about it?"

"No."

She was fed up. She didn't feel like talking, and the man, finally, seemed to realize it. Giving her a little nod, he left cash on the bar and waved goodbye. She sat there stilly as guilt started to wash over her. Perhaps she should've been nicer, even of she didn't want to be. She visualized his features as she sat, the images flowing through her head. His nose, eyes, hair, lips--

The light turned on as her eyes widened and she unsheathed her anxious, hungry blade. She ran out of the bar without paying her tab, looking frantically for the rogue assassin. She spotted him quickly, walking down the lonesome street, as she began to charge, her form sloppy in her excitement. As she neared him, he spun on the spot and disarmed her flawlessly, bringing his fist down on the back of her head. She fell to the ground, scooping up dirt and flinging it at his face in a heartbeat, using the distraction to grab the blade sticking conspicuously out of his boot. She was too late though, as he kneed her in the face and sent her flying back to the ground. He looked down at her, still smiling, as her brought the flat part of his blade on the back of her head, knocking her out. 

When she woke up, he was gone and she was in bed. They said that the man had brought her in, and to a bed, retreating into the night without ever giving his name. Her search ended there, as days later the contract was retracted, his face fading from her memories and from the fliers. 

Were all assassins like that? Kind but stern, smiling but killers? Looking up at her captor in the pale light of the warehouse, she didn't think she wanted a real answer. 

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"Why am I still alive? I mean--err...I mean, is there something that you need from me?" She asked.

Shadow could understand her apprehension, as it was not every day that bounty hunters were face to face with someone like him. For the most part they stuck to their contracts and lived life day to day without doing too much thinking about things that did not immediately concern them. Choosing such a life was easy, but sticking to it was hard. The first life is always the hardest to bear, no matter your chosen profession so long as it involves the possibility of taking life.

Shadow looked over at her again and hopped off the vent, walking towards her slowly with his hands hanging loosely at his sides. She was currently unarmed but he would not drop his guard around anyone who had the capability to lose him in a crowd, something he was trained to see through and counter.

"I find you interesting." He said rather flatly at first, but as he continued his tone lightened a bit.

"You walked right by me when you came to investigate the ruins of the building a few hours ago. When you laughed at the pattern I left with the weapons on the ground I was sitting on a bench not more than ten feet behind you. I saw your reaction when you realized what it meant, and I can guess you believed that I was hunting you which was in fact not the case. I didn't know you existed until that moment, but your reaction sparked a desire for a closer look so I followed you for a while. When you provoked that crowd, you managed to evade my detection further which is something only two people have done in the past, both of whom were Assassins."

He took a moment to walk next to her and took a seat cross legged about four feet to her right side with his hands resting on his knees, elbows tucked at his sides forming an 'L' with his arms. This position, while not immediately apparent, was very defensive. Shadow's hands were in a position to move at a moment's notice should things go wrong.

"About your question as to why you're alive: I may be an Assassin but I'm hardly the cold blooded killer my reputation makes me out to be. I might not go out of my way to save the lives of most people, but in your case I was compelled to make an exception."

He leaned forward a bit, taking in all of her features and committing them to memory in case he had to remember them for any reason at all later on.

"I must confess that while most of my reputation is based on truth, it is highly exaggerated. In fact, the reputation of most Assassins are exaggerated as a means to invoke fear and make it that much easier for them to gain a psychological edge over anyone who takes a stance against them. We may be highly trained killers, but we're all still human. It's a standard tactic of those who dwell in and stalk from the darkness to use both it and the primal fear of the unknown as their primary weapon. When people don't know what you can really do, that's when you're at your most dangerous."

He took a moment to relax himself, feeling no further need to be so defensive.

"Hopefully that has helped you relax a little bit. Assassins are really nothing to fear when you are in the right frame of mind. Though we know more ways to kill than most, we're still human beings in the end and we bleed just the same as everyone else does. I'll show you."

With that he removed one of his daggers from behind his back and set his left index finger out as if to point at her with his palm facing up. He let the dagger sit gently on his finger, and using nothing but the blade's own weight, he dragged it across his finger for about an inch before taking it away and revealing a very clean cut with a small amount of blood oozing from the wound. He replaced the blade back in its sheath behind his jacket on his lower back and licked the wound before looking back to her.

"See? I may be the Red-Eyed Demon, but I'm still human." He said, rather cheerfully.

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She watched quietly as he brought the blade across his index finger, a thin red streak left in the blade's wake. It flowed slowly and surely, the blood reflecting off her eyes like a hunter's moon suspended above a dark lake; stretching into the depths, an exposed vein winding deep into the body. Blood fascinated her, drawing her in like a bug to light. She didn't understand it; the viscous liquid that was needed so much but left to flow so freely, a river of wealth squandered in the sands of war, but she did appreciate it. How could something so valuable be spilled so easily?

"See? I may be the Red-Eyed Demon, but I'm still human."

Human? It seemed an odd concept in hindsight; one that many experienced but little understood, like breathing...or death. She understood that he was human, but realizing it was a very different experience, one that left her lost in her thoughts. What makes a human? It was odd. Never had she considered herself much of a thinker or a sage, but now she found herself questioning the basis of self-identification freely, as if it were a simple math problem...though she wasn't great at those. She stared up at him once more, her eyes attempting to break into his thoughts like a clever thief at work, but to no avail. He looked fairly relaxed at this point, which made enough sense, given the circumstances. She was an injured, unarmed hunter with a debt towards the target who saved her. Could she hunt him? Knowing her face, would it now be impossible? His bounty was high, yes, but the excitement was her real goal, as foolish as it was. She blushed.

"I suppose I should thank you." She started, feeling awfully awkward with such words. She wasn't good at receiving things, especially her life itself. "I owe you something that--" She stifled a laugh. She sounded ridiculous, like some awestruck maiden saved by the prince, carried away to a kingdom on some far away plain. In reality, she was a wounded orphan sitting with a notorious killer in a derelict warehouse; the antithesis of storybook tales and a sad truth. She smiled to herself halfheartedly. "Thanks."

Aerith leaned back against the crates again, staring up at the dark ceiling. "You're the villain of the era, you know?" She half-joked. "What do you do when the whole world wants you to kill you, or kill for you?"

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Shadow couldn't help but chuckle when she said "Thanks" after, what was for her, a somewhat awkward moment. Her blush did not go unnoticed either, and Shadow smiled genuinely in return to her words.

"You're the villain of the era, you know?" She half-joked. "What do you do when the whole world wants you to kill you, or kill for you?"

Shadow couldn't help but laugh when he heard the phrase "villain of the era". The thought was both entertaining and insulting, but never the less he couldn't help himself. As for the rest of her question, Shadow stopped laughing and had to think. He had never really thought about what he did or why when most of the world was out to get him, so it took him a moment to come up with a real and honest answer.

"Well..." He started, but stopped for a brief moment.

Looking back, Shadow had been living his whole life in the knowledge that the rest of the world wanted him dead. His identity as the Red-Eyed Demon began when he was but eight years old when he embarked on his first real Assassination mission. He was successful and was never seen, but left messages written in the blood of his victims stating that the Red-Eyed Demon was responsible for the death of the individual in question. Over the years he had become a legend in his own right, and was now a permanent part of the history and culture of Cre' Est.

When he really thought about it, he was not happy with the way things were. All he wanted was to live a normal life, but that was impossible so long as Te'i Sai existed. Until it was destroyed, he would never be free.

"I've lived most of my life in the darkness and have been loathe to tread in the light of day because of what I was turned into. People like me don't just come into existence, we are born and shapes as tools and works of art, though most would not consider what I have become to be art."

He took a moment to scoot away from her a bit and leaned back against the wall. Staring blankly into space ahead of him, he continued to recall what life had been like as a child.

"Even Demons have a story of beginnings... Growing up as a child I was already used to the idea of people wanting me dead, so I never worried about it and grew up with an immunity to those kinds of thoughts. Now that I've been asked about it, there really is nothing that I can do about the way the world views me except to use it to my advantage. Fear is a powerful weapon when used correctly, but the line between use and abuse is so thin that I have to constantly keep myself in check. If I use it too strongly I can entice riots and man hunts which help other Assassins zero in on my location and it can make life very difficult."

He stopped staring into space and looked back over at her again, a calm and even smile spread gently across his lips.

"I guess, if there is a proper answer to what I do when the world wants me dead it is simply this: Nothing." He said.

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Nothing? It made sense, but all the while it seemed strange and foreign to her, a woman who craved excitement like water in Shaharan. Nothing? Was survival worth nothing? She scratched her head in slight befuzzlement, watching him lean silently, seemingly in a world of his own. The more she thought about it, the less it made sense, the tendrils of understanding losing grasp and then whisked away into the expanse of her mind. She supposed that what she couldn't now comprehend, she'd have to learn.

"Well--"She figured that she was making a mistake, that she was throwing away the "day-to-day" that she relished. But potentially sacrificing stability for excitement only seemed right. She wasn't, after all, the most grounded of individuals. Maybe the nothing of an assassin was different.

 "--it sounds cheesy, but I'm curious as to what the "nothing" of an assassin is."

 She paused for a moment, taking in what she was saying even as she said it. 

"Do you need help?"

A man trained in solitude fought better alone, that was for sure, but she didn't plan on hindering him. He was a pillar, the potential for adventure surrounding him like the very air itself, and she couldn't let such a valuable oppurtunity pass. She pursued no contract placed upon him; not for wealth, but excitement did she try to hunt him. She looked down at her wound and then pushed herself up to a weak standing position. She lumbered slowly over to him, her eyes peering straight ahead, and then without a word, outstretched her hand to shake. It looked joking, almost flippant, but she kept it oustretched, her other hand held tightly to her weak side.  

She thought back to her childhood, the friendly gesture reminding her of a younger, more--well-- "innocent" self.  She must've been 6 or so, a vibrant child scraping to get by, in the wicked Cre' est streets, when she first met nobility. She had heard of them, of course; few hadn't, but  they were a reserved bunch, hiding in their manor districts, the concerns of the poor far from their pampered minds. But on that day, begging at the harbor, her small worn hands outstretched towards the passerby, seeking the gold that she needed so desperately, she got her first taste of the world she would never know. He was her age, a bright faced child flanked by two armored men, himself dressed in finery, the silk gleaming in the mid-morning light. She hadn't seen such fabric,  it's majesty stunning her, burning through her eyes and into her mind like a brand on a horse. He walked up to her and, much to the guard's distaste, handed her a few gold coins, his hand held open after she had grabbed the charity, as if she was supposed to take it and run with him. He frowned sadly when she continued to sit there quieyly, and then withdrew his small hand, quickly smiling to cover up his disappointment.

"Buy something to eat, my lady." 

He bowed, and without another word, tromped off again, his guards once more surrounding him in the crowded streets, cape flapping in the harbor wind.

It was an odd memory for such a moment, but a pleasant one. With her hand still held out, she wondered if he'd take it, or if she'd end up wandering off like the boy at the market; but a memory in the dust of time. 

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"Well--it sounds cheesy, but I'm curious as to what the 'nothing' of an assassin is." She said to him.

Shadow couldn't help but smile, but never the less he thought of a way to answer her as she approached him and extended a hand to shake. Her other hand covered her wounded side, and Shadow could see plain as day the pain it brought her to stand up. The effort she had to exert to stay upright was quite intense. It was amazing that such a small wound could be so grievous and so powerful over the body. But then again, Shadow had seen and endured much worse than the poor girl in front of him.

"Do you need help?" He heard her ask.

He slowly stood up to match her and faced her with a smile as he extended his arm. Taking her hand gently in his, he gave her a welcoming handshake. He was certain she was strong enough to take a full handshake, but for the moment he didn't want to put any undue stress on her musculature system. Though the wound was not on the arm, the muscle contraction of a full handshake would be enough to exaggerate the wound and cause more pain than necessary.

"Perhaps I do, but I'm not completely convinced that I need help just yet." He said, a hint of pride filling his voice as he let go of her hand.

"Thus far I haven't needed help to avoid the change of pace in my life. Te'i Sai's tactics may be growing bolder, but that's only what is beheld on the surface. In reality they are growing desperate, and that gives me the advantage that I need right now. Though day to day life has grown more difficult over the last several months, it has none the less grown more exciting and challenging which is something I relish."

He took a moment to look up at the sky above their heads, stars filling it like an ocean of light before looking back to her.

"If you would, please call me Shadow. It's not my name but it is a moniker I have grown to love and respond to over the years. May I ask your name in return miss?" He asked politely with a slight tilt of his head to the right side.

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It would seem odd to those who grew up with any privilege, but names were a valuable commodity for those children whom stalked the busy Cre' Est streets, searching for coins; known as nothing more than "Kid" or "Bugger" to any and almost all. Most of these children, especially those abandoned early, found a welcome sanctuary in a name, affirming their status as human beings; not just vermin. Aerith, who didn't have a parent-gifted name until she started hunting criminals and had, subsequently, adopted one for herself, found that it was also something that she needed to cherish and protect...very well.

 It was a precious thing, but also very dangerous. She had been hated on the basis of a name. She had been attacked; she had been pursued. No adult granted her a name, not her mother or father, and so she was never known by such. Not until she backed herself with a repetoire of skill and talent did she have a name, even if she had been calling herself something her whole life.

It was conflicting, being her own persona. It was also heavy, the weight of what she had earned holding her back, denying a normal life...or whatever she could manage. She didn't know if she could carry it any farther; her name crushing her, squashing what she truly was. It killed her every bit, but it was a death from third person. 

"My name?"

She considered it deliberately, as if she was an amnesiac trying to pull her memories from the mind's abyss. She knew what she was called, but not which was hers. Kid, Aerith, Jacques--

She stopped. Could she claim it any longer? What she had known herself as for years...what her sister had known her by before that night. 

But she had no sister, not anymore.

She was a murderer, after all. 

She killed for money; those who violated the laws, forsakers of the glorious institution, met their deaths at her bare hands. She killed for fun as well, the souls of her prey losing the refuge of their castles of flesh.

 They made her a monster and they made her a dog, and neither monsters nor dogs deserved pretty names.

"My name is..."

What would she tell him? A lie? The truth? She wasn't sure that she knew the truth anymore. 

Maybe there wasn't one to begin with, like a name.

"...Aerith"

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Shadow was somewhat disturbed by the hesitation in the girl's voice to provide him with a name or moniker. Though she did in the end provide him one, the thought that it had taken so long for her to do so was troubling. He knew right away that she had a past that was not to be spoken of lightly, let alone to someone like him. His own past was brutal and gruesome to a degree most others could not imagine, though he had a feeling she would not be surprised by any of the details within it.

"Aerith." He said quietly.

"It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance." He said with a small bow.

He stood up and a sudden memory flashed through his mind. Just as it was starting to become this night, that night eight years ago was cold and clear. It was not a happy time, but as with most other nights in Shadow's memory they weren't often worthy of any sort of positive recollection.

Shadow had chased a target for ten weeks, taking other targets along the way and changing focus numerous times before finally catching his target. Though the target was a worthy adversary, Shadow had little difficulty in finally catching and restraining him to be brought back to Te'i Sai for questioning. Why it was this memory that had suddenly flashed through his mind was no mystery to Shadow, but what was a mystery is why it was the only other time in his life Shadow had used the phrase "it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance".

Shadow's typical greeting was a simple nod of his head without words, but on that night when he finally came face to face with his target he had used that particular greeting. Whether it was out of respect or spite for having given him such a long and tiresome chase, Shadow did not know. One thing was certain though, and that was that this woman, had she been fresh and his target, could easily do the same if not worse. Shadow surmised that it was most likely a subconscious recognition of her skills demonstrated earlier that caused Shadow to use the same phrase given to the target which gave him his longest and most tiresome mission to date.

If given the chance, Aerith could pose a serious threat to him. At the moment, however, she was no threat and didn't seem to be keen on the idea of actually hunting him and collecting the bounty on his head.

"If I may ask, Aerith, what is the bounty on my head? I have seen no posters in the guilds lately about me, so I'm curious as to where you got the information about any sort of reward for my death or capture. Did it come from word of mouth leaked by a noble through the other bounty hunters in the area, or was it perhaps another underground anonymous provider?" He asked, a hint of irritation and suppressed anger welling in his voice.

Shadow, by his very nature, hated bounty hunters.

The fact that Aerith didn't spark that hatred and immediate distaste and distrust was unusual to him though, he had to admit, it was a welcome change. Assassins and bounty hunters typically didn't mix well since Assassins who were not tied to an organization like Te'i Sai were basically bounty hunters themselves. Unlike their public counterparts, Assassins typically would find a bounty picture and take it without ever asking for a reward or prize upon success whereas bounty hunters made a living off of it. When Assassins stole their rewards and took away the highest paying prizes, bounty hunters tended to become violent and desperate.

As such, Shadow had always hated bounty hunters ever since he was a child. When he took down the first branch of Te'i Sai almost three years ago, he had done so with the aid of several people who became his closest friends. One of those people lost a loved one to a bounty hunter who was taking his anger and frustrations out on innocent people. Shadow had taken the lives of all the highest paying bounties at that time during his quest to eliminate Te'i Sai and that meant that he was indirectly responsible for the suffering his friend had gone through.

Shadow had yet to forgive himself for what had happened that day.

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"It's funny that you should ask."

Aerith took in a slow breath, her chest pushing outwards as the air filled her lungs. She'd need it; it would be a long explanation.

"I...haven't the slightest idea." She waited for a second, searching for the words to clarify. "It's what's known as a "Joint Contract"

She organized the thoughts in her head. She didn't want to give him misinformation, especially that which pertained to his life itself. It was difficult; her mind was jumbled and confused, the recent events dripping into her conscience like a leaky gutter. 

"A "Joint Contract", if you didn't already know, is a mark set by multiple sponsors. The basis is that you pitch in money, 10,000 pieces or so, and once the target is dead they convene and survey the corpse, taking a momento afterwords."

She wore a grisly expression. It was a long, macabre process that spurred her disgust and the sponsors childish delight. She had brought in the target once before, much to her eternal regret. Shuddering, she continued, trying to wipe the look off her face. 

"The real game begins when everyone has a momento and they begin to auction away the pieces. At the end of the auction, you may turn in those pieces for a variety of prizes."

She lowered herself to the floor and then, taking care of her wound, began to stretch in a fashion similar to a cat. She hated  stories like that; it unearthed memories that she had long since buried. Stretching, however, quelled the perturbed thoughts, putting them back in their graves like unsettled corpses. It was a calm act, much unlike her usual hectic hunts and bar brawls, and much needed. The pressures of the trade could be crippling; crushing her body and mind simultaneously. 

"I would avoid "nothing" though." She continued, her back arched, stretching out her bones as they cracked and settled. "Nothing" is a dangerous gift to give to any hunter, especially a good one."

And it was true. She knew the capabilities of a hunter in the pursuit of wealth and blood. Shadow was an extremely talented assassin, yes, but he was only human. 

Only human?

It still seemed odd to her still. It could of been the blind cast by the blood she had shed, but she didn't know if she could still consider herself human. Humans ate, they laughed, played, worked, argued, slept, loved--

But what was a shell? She had a humans eyes; their hands; their lips; but was that what made her her? No. She lacked the final piece now, washed away in some gutter in a city without a name. Was she a human? No. Something more? Something less? 

Less, definitely.

But she was dawdling, much to her hypocrisy. She looked back at Shadow with a tired gaze, her lips moving, but with no words emitted. The floor was bare and cold; the ceiling distant and dark, and she was tired. 

"But you probably have a plan." She finally said, quietly and almost to herself. She knew now that it wasn't a fairytale, and that hunts weren't leisure. Maybe it was the blood that she saw in his eyes...the blood that she knew so well. The blood she bathed in, wallowed in, dreamed in...

Maybe it was the blood that awakened her; blood that she could no longer discern from her own. She continued to stare at him, her soul crying as the shine slept in her eyes, a flickering flame extinguished. She stopped stretching, her body still on the cold ground, a sad smile engraved on her smooth face.

"And if you don't, you'll need one."

Stretching couldn't solve everything, after all.

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Shadow listened to her story, the irritation and anger vanishing from his heart as she spoke. It was almost unreal to hear about the joint contract from the mouth of a young woman like her.

"Joint Contract..." He said quietly to himself as she finished relaying the story about it.

Such a contract was inhumane, even by Assassin standards. Shadow himself had done terrible things before in his life, but he never mangled or chopped up a corpse to auction off the pieces and give away prizes for said pieces. That was just wrong.

"But you probably have a plan." She said quietly.

Shadow snapped back into reality when her words hit home, although he did crack a smile.

"Yes, I have a plan, but it's not going to be easy and it's not going to be fun. In order for me to deal with what's been going on I have to aim for the source. Te'i Sai are the ones who have been murdering people in broad daylight to turn the world against me. Eventually the people will forget about these things and move on with their lives, but not if they are regular occurrences. So, Te'i Sai is my target."

The smile widened on his face a little bit as continued speaking. Shadow himself was unconscious of the smile and of the fact that he was deriving so much pleasure from the thrill of the fight and the hunt that lie ahead. Te'i Sai was the ultimate challenge, not to mention the fact that the Wraiths had formed their own organization and were also worthy of such excitement.

In fact, now that he really thought about it, the Wraiths were an even greater challenge than the Assassins of Te'i Sai since they had the same training he did.

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Aerith rolled over onto her belly as she watched the man smile, the smirk stretching across his face like an invading army; slightly unnerving her as she stared up at him with eyes reflecting familiarity, knowing exactly how the lone assassin was feeling. Hunting, for any killer at least, provided the defining moments for those who partook in it. Chasing a clever target, the pitter patter of fleeing feet, the soft stab into the target's belly; all of these things provided her, and many other hunters, with an inhuman sense of sheer delight. She knew it was wrong, yes, but she couldn't help but enjoy her practice and all of it's trappings. It scared her a bit as well though, the depravity that she now knew like a sibling. Maybe she was never meant to be a normal girl, but it bothered her still, winding down into the shattered remnants of her soul, tearing at them like a beast and it's wounded prey.

"--Te'i Sai is my target."

She could've expected as much; it was only logical to hunt his hunters, ignoring the incomparable danger that it presented. They were a league of killers with too much authority, trained from infancy to slaughter indiscriminately; their hands soaked in blood at ages that she inspired her sub-conscience to delve into memory banks best left untouched. Killing off the Te'i Sai also presented a political angle as well, depriving the greedy aristocrats of their favored "guardian angels".

"And what will you do after that?"

It almost felt inappropriate to ask, but she was too tired to care. She looked down at the ground again as she attempted to conjure up something more relevant, with very little coming to mind.

"Or, I guess--"

She paused briefly, as she often did, before continuing, raising her eyes back up to look at him as she resumed her questioning.

"--i guess I mean: Will you give up on being an assassin, give up on your life? Or will you find some other cause to devote yourself to? I'm sure that you have many enemies, and so will you hunt them as well?"

That sounded right, but only just so. Why was it so hard to ask him questions? Was it his reputation? His crimson eyes? His smile--Her thoughts dispersed as she looked up through a dirty window facing the night sky, the moon shining through; her face the canvas for the heavens. It was a captivating beauty, one that was irreplaceable and unique. It always amazed her, nature's majesty, it's pure, near-unadulterated existence tarnished only by humanities attempt to mimic it. She spoke aloud as she stared, almost completely losing her train of thought.

"I've never seen anything that amazes me more than that." She said, pointing up through the frame and at the stars. "To think that such a thing exists--"

She snapped her mind back into attention. Maybe it was that she was injured, but she felt extremely exposed at that moment; staring into the endless expanse of the sky. It was pointless to recognize beauty, a shallow thing that could only bring harm. Beauty could maim, shatter, destroy, deprive, kill... She knew that, but still...it drew her in like a moth to a fire.

"I wish that...I wish that--"

But she couldn't finish. Knowing herself, she'd never be able to finish that sentence, not in a million years. She had no right to wish, not now...

...and not then either.

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"And what will you do after that?" She asked.

The words hit Shadow like a ton of bricks on his head and his smile withered. In truth he hadn't thought about what he'd do afterwards so he was temporarily too stunned to answer.

He thought to himself for a moment.

... What would I do afterwards?...

"Or, I guess--i guess I mean: Will you give up on being an assassin, give up on your life? Or will you find some other cause to devote yourself to? I'm sure that you have many enemies, and so will you hunt them as well?"

The questions calmed his mind a little and he thought about them each in turn.

"... I'm not sure. To be honest I cannot say I thought that far ahead. Being an Assassin, or rather, being a killer is all I know. I even killed the first woman I fell in love with..."

At that moment he felt he had said far too much. His words trailed off for a moment as his mind rushed to change the topic and answer her next question.

"There are no causes I feel need my devotion. Once Te'i Sai falls, any other enemies I have will either be too afraid to continue the chase and stop pursuing me or will simply disregard me as a target."

That made more sense to him and he felt his mind beginning to relax a bit more. Talking about his past and future always seemed very surreal, as if they had happened to a completely different person. His past memories almost didn't seem like memories at all, but rather seemed to be recorded events in the life of someone he knew very well but at the same time didn't know at all. Did he really know who he was? He could only wonder as he tried to look inside himself to answer that question.

"I've never seen anything that amazes me more than that." She said, pointing up through the frame and at the stars. "To think that such a thing exists. I wish that... I wish that--"

Her words cut off and Shadow looked over at her. The feeling was mutual, as Shadow looked towards the window frame she pointed at and gazed at the stars. He had to admit that he too had found himself staring into the vastness of the heavens many a time and had a wonderful and calming feeling wash over him as if to purify his corrupted and vile soul. It was a beautiful feeling to accompany a beautiful sight such as the majestic sky above.

"The heavens are indeed a beautiful enigma, to be sure." He said softly.

"I often find myself asking question after question as I try to make sense of what the stars truly are and why they are there. The skies above hold some of the greatest mysteries left to solve for us, and yet we will never find the answers we seek..."

Shadow took a moment to sit back down and continued to look out at the stars.

"I wish that I had a second chance to start over... My life has not been a life at all, but a prison for the trapped soul that resides within this body which has been cursed to forever gaze out of the eyes of a Demon at the world around it as it tries to make sense of the world through my actions and thoughts. Sometimes I wonder how it is that I still have a soul to call my own, no matter how poisoned and corrupted it may be..." He said rather gently.

"Sometimes... I just wish that I could say I was sorry, and the world would say 'It's alright Shadow, I forgive you'."

As the last words fell from his lips, small rivulets of tears began to leak from the corners of his eyes as the memories haunting his mind came crashing down on him. He could hardly contain the sudden tsunami of horrid and painful memories, and old wounds which had healed in years past once again began to ache and burn. His instinctively placed his right hand across his throat as the memory of that day began to haunt him once again.

The eyes of a child had seen and tasted the blood of his mother as her throat opened wide to the world, and when the Demon finally rose in defiance, the old wound was reopened and the blood once again began to seep forth and stain the ground with its crimson hue.

The setting changes from Cre' Est to Triveila

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In a forest, outside Triveila


It was midnight when rain poured down heavily from the heavens upon the earth. The full moon peeped out from behind dark clouds trying with all it’s might to shine through the dark obstacles.

Outside the nation of water and within the forest of never ending trees, the silhouette of a cloaked figure could be seen standing in the center of a large forest clearing under the dim light of the moon. Long silver hair was soaked to the roots while the drenched dark cloak stuck to the figure’s body like a tight fitting piece of garment under the heavy rain that poured down mercilessly, but the figure didn’t seem to mind the cold liquid.

Eyes were closed as the owner of them kept focused on the surroundings despite the heavy rain. The faint sound of metal soaring through the air caught the figure’s attention, instantly noting that they were coming from every direction and near the same velocity, the figure crouched the moment they were to reach. Needles reflected off each other and fell to the ground uselessly. They were followed by continuous barrages of needles. The figure dodged and reflected a few before blurring across the clearing and into the forest of trees avoiding the others.

Eyes narrowed as the owner of the needles scanned the clearing for the cloaked figure. Soon, arrows were fired at rapid speeds across the clearing, each arrow coming from a different place making it difficult to pin point the culprit’s location. Sounds of bodies falling to the ground were heard seconds later. Spotting a slight movement in the bushes, the man made his way towards it cautiously. Spotting the cloaked figure among the bushes, he sneaked up from behind and placed the cold blade of his knife against the person’s pale skinned neck. The cloaked person showed no indications of surprise, making the man narrow his eyes in frustration having expected some form of shock from the figure.

“Who are you!?” the man questioned with fury in his tone.

His comrades that had been with him for years were gone within a single moment, all murdered by this single person. Silence was his answer as the slight shift in wind behind them went unnoticed by him, and a few seconds later, like his comrades the man fell to the ground, dead. His eyes were wide open in shock with his own weapon sticking out of the pressure point at his nape.

Emotionless black tinted red orbs stared at the dead man out of the corner of their eyes. Lifting a forearm, dark metal talons soon sported them as a golden eagle landed swiftly. Its black hooked beak held 10 metal arrows, not a single one without red liquid coating the tips. A gloved hand retrieves the arrows from the eagle, letting the rain run down the tips washing away the remaining traces of red liquid before placing them in a black leather quiver.

With that done, the golden eagle took off into the dark skies, its sharp dark eyes on the constant lookout for any signs that would indicate danger nearby. Pulling the cloak’s hood overhead, the figure left the clearing going further into the forest. Any tracks left behind soon faded with the never ending buckets of rain destroying any prove of the person’s existence, the only prove being the corpses that littered the forest grounds right around the large clearing with holes straight through their hearts or heads explaining their immediate deaths.

An hour after the killing was made, soundless footsteps made their way towards the forest clearing. Black robes flowing behind them as the wind blew against them, if one would look closer they would see a red symbol engraved in the center of the robe. Finding corpses, they were identified as the group of rogues that had been stealing and killing the villagers in Triveila for many years with no one to defeat them, until today.

‘Night Angel’

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

Entering Triveila


Dawn was just ahead when Mayumi entered the Nation of Water dripping wet. The streets were alit with solid black lamp posts on either side of the sandy road. They were empty at the present with the exception of a drunkard passed out in a shadowed corner. Little shops that were closed at the moment, lined the streets with a single bar at the end of the long stretch of shops.

Walking pass the streets and into what seem to be the center of a small village, Mayumi found a few inns. The first inn looked shabby with holes covering its cheap wooden door, cracks in the windows and spider webs in the corners, while the second one looked plain with a simple wooden door and window frames. The last inn seemed to be in a world of its own, decorated with flowers all over the place and a welcome mat on the front porch.

Mayumi quickly headed into the simple looking inn before her most disliked time of day could come to greet her. Upon entering the place, she was met by concrete walls and ceiling, all ending at wooden floor boards. A single potted plant stood in the corner near the entrance of the inn and a few wood painted framed pictures decorated the concrete walls. Taking a closer look at the pictures, the pale skinned girl could only stare as she viewed weird people in them. Their mouths spread wide open with their teeth showing and the corners of their mouth lifted to extremes.

No longer interested in the weird pictures, Mayumi went up to the simple wooden counter located at the back of the entrance room where she found a middle aged man sleeping soundly. His mouth was wide open showing a set of light yellow teeth as the room filled with his loud snoring. Mayumi knocked the counter in an attempt to wake the man. After a while of knocking, she decided that the method was not working and proceeded to use another method. Kicking the counter with a little strength, the man promptly jumped off his seat from behind the counter and frantically looked around the room for the cause of his awakening. Spotting the drenched girl dripping puddles, his expression changed to that of concern.

“Oh my, why are you wet girl? Would you like a room?” He asked with concern displayed in his tone.

“Rain. A room for a day.” The teenage girl answered monotonously.

Paying the required amount of money, she received a bronze key with the number 10 written on it’s head. Climbing her way up wooden stairs to the second floor as directed, Mayumi found her room at the end of narrow hallways. The room was simple like the entrance room with a white bed against the back wall of the room, a small bedside table, and a bathroom. The only thing that lit the room being a small rectangular shaped lamp that stood on the bedside table.

Locking the door behind her, Mayumi went straight into the bathroom not wanting to wet the floor any further than she already had. Coming out shortly after, she was dressed in a dry set of her usual black clothes, her cloak and the rest of the things that were wet left in the bathroom to dry off. Leaving her room with a dry towel in hand, she headed back to the entrance room. Few minutes later, Mayumi returned to the room with a soaked towel.

Back at the entrance room, the middle aged man had just returned with a mop when he noticed the previously wet floor boards were now dry. Scratching his head the man just shrugged it off, leaving the mop against the wall and went back to sleep, resting his head on the counter.

Wind blew silver strands of hair as the owner of them sat on the window sill leaning her back against one side of it, her forearm outstretched to accommodate her winged pet as her other free hand stroked it’s head.

“Sora.” She called out to the golden eagle who was leaning into the warm strokes of her hand.

Hearing its name, dark eyes looked up at its master, awaiting instructions.

“Keep watch as I rest till late afternoon.” She instructs.

The eagle flew off from her forearm and landed on a tree branch that was heavily shaded by leafs just outside her room’s window, showing it’s understanding of her instructions.

Mayumi nodded her approval before leaping off the window sill and heading for bed.

‘Master I’ll avenge you.’ With that thought in mind, pale lids closed over black-red orbs as sleep came over the girl.

The setting changes from Triveila to Cre' Est

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Aerith

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow was called out of his thoughts by the sudden flash of steel flying in front of his face as a small knife was embedded in the stone ground beneath him. His eyes followed it to its landing place and saw a letter in the blade. He looked quickly towards where the knife had come from, but whomever had thrown it was already gone. He picked up the knife and examined it, smiling to himself when he recognized the specific craftsmanship of the blade near the hilt. Removing the note, he held it up to a small bit of light behind him and read it silently to himself.

"Our enemies are on the move and are closing in on your location here in the city. Remaining would be a fool's errand Shadow, so I highly suggest you gather your belongings and get out while you can. If you follow the path north from the city's eastern gate towards the mountains you will come to a small cottage where a reliable informant will be waiting for you. From there you will have to deduce where to go on your own.

Stay safe Shadow,

Taira"


Shadow put the note away in his jacket and stood up, wiping the tears from his eyes with his jacket sleeve and drawing in the powerful resolve he usually held.

"I'm sorry Aerith, but I have to go now. Keep steady for the next few days, clean the wound every morning and afternoon and replace the herbs with the contents of this pouch." He pulled a small pouch from his waist and tossed it beside her right leg.

"It's the same special blend of herbs that I used on your wounds when you slept earlier, so you'll have to brace yourself for a pretty bad stinging sensation each time but it will only last for about thirty seconds before it becomes more of a soreness than a sting. Stay safe and out of sight of men like these and you should be fine. If you wish to follow me and continue our conversation, come find me in the city of Mei' Xion on Cre' Est's western border. Use your skills to track down a trader named Zennou and he will point you in the direction of my hideout in the city."

He gave Aerith a light bow before turning away from her.

"I look forward to our next meeting Aerith. Farewell."

With that, Shadow took a few rapid steps forward and disappeared into the darkness. He stepped lightly and quickly through the cobblestone streets and found his way to the rooftops once more where he quickly managed to locate the eastern exit from the city and promptly took to the ground once again as he knocked out the guard and ran to the dirt road leading north towards the forest at the base of the mountain pass about twenty miles ahead. The cottage Taira mentioned in the note was well known to him, as was the informant who lived there, and he almost had to smile at the thought of seeing him again.

Shadow continued through the night and into the next morning at a steady jog before he came to his destination about six hours later when the sun began to rise above the mountains.

Setting

Characters Present

No characters tagged in this post!

Earnings

0.00 INK

It was colder and darker now with the other warm, living body absent; the darkness settling in and consuming the light as the nearby lantern flickered and waned. She knew that she was a liability, a weak and wounded girl without any expretise, dwelling in her naiviety, but it didn't help quell her rebellious thoughts of worthlessness being alone. There was no certainly no assurance in inability, less so in assured inability. She would've preferred to fight, for excitement and what-not, but moreso, she didn't want to be alone anymore.

She hobbled to her feet weakly, her weak knees caving inwards as she brought her small hand to her head, carressing it softly as the pain was soothed, the rhythmic strokes taming the rampant beast. She realized how tired she truly was, despite all of her talk, and so she slinked back to the floor, unable to keep herself up. Sleep was breaking it's way through and so without much thought she let it take her, exiting reality for the solace of potential nothingness. She could only hope that "nothing" was what would greet her.

She awoke hazily to a stream of light piercing through her eyelids, concentrated by the windows and blaring in her eyes. Where was she? She tried to reiterate the events of the last few days in her head: the morgue, the sigil, the man--She glanced around the room quickly, her gaze a selective searchlight as she shielded her view from the morning sun. She quickly reached the conclusion that he wasn't there, but where exactly had he gone? She mulled over it in her head and reached the somber conclusion that she had happened upon the previous night: It didn't matter. He was gone and she was out of a contract, albeit a grisly one. She knew, somewhere in her heart that she knew that she wasn't good enough to hunt him. While a professional, yes, she wasn't trained in the conventionally unconventional arts of assassination, and so she had no real hope of obtaining any sembelance of an "upper hand". 

"But that didn't matter either." She said to herself quietly, a forlorn expression in residence upon her face. She knew that besides the lack of murderous capability, she also empathized with him, which was a deadly mistake for any killer. She also confided in him which, while mostly unheard of, was assuredly just as bad. If anyone knew about this, she'd for sure be a hunter pariah: no bounties, no clients. 

In a similar fashion to the previous night, she once again pushed herself to her feet, a familiar pain shooting through her side. She brought her hand to her side and touched the bandaged wound, gently petting it to see if clothing might inspire further pain. Deeming it acceptable, she carefully grabbed her cuirass and pulled it over her thin torso, the leather hugging her form tightly as to ensure the fit. She then picked up her sheathe and blade, a smile encroaching upon her face as she attaches it to her belt. If anything could be as loyal as a favored blade, she didn't think she'd have a right to own it. 

After a few more moments of easing on her equipment, she began to walk slowly around the empty room, ignoring the slight sting and passing it off as nothing more than a scratch. She was a firm believer in mind over matter, though those who knew her would probably scoff at the very idea. She did tend to complain, after all. If they could see her now... Finally, pushing the thoughts out of her mind, she decided that she she could manage and so with that and a bit of determination, she opened the door to the busy city streets, ready to search for a new, more comfortable place to lay low.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow took the time to discuss with his contact the details of what was to come. His prey had been on the move for some time now, and now was about to cross the border to Triveila. Apparently the young King and Queen of Triveila were surrounded by greedy and arrogant "supporters" who were meant to help guide and protect them, but who were instead seizing power piece by piece under everyone's noses and making it look legal. Through manipulation of the process of power, they had all but turned the King and Queen into nothing but figure heads.

"Seems I have new targets on top of my old ones..." Shadow said to himself as he exited the cottage.

His contact was an old friend who was once one of the Assassins of Te'i Sai back when Shadow was still a teenager but who had deserted them when he saw a brutal murder within the ranks that was never reported or investigated. How could he support an organization that didn't care about lost members? Shadow never really cared much either way, but he could understand the frustration of not having support when it was otherwise promised.

Shadow tucked a few documents he'd taken from his contact away in a small clip behind his back and began the trek towards the border. It would be nightfall again soon, spending all day discussing strategy and tactics with his contact had eaten most of this day and he had some ground to make up.

Along the way he took the time to practice his knife throwing on every target that made itself available. Falling leaves, dead branches, stones that were in close proximity to one another where the blade could squeeze through, flowers on bushes, and even specific blades of grass whenever they were taller than those around them. His accuracy was as strong as ever, but he still felt the need to practice every day so as not to lose his sense for it. There was a delicate art to throwing the daggers he'd designed, and though he had long since mastered it he was of the opinion that you could never truly master a weapon, only guide it as its humble servant towards it target.

As night descended upon him Shadow stopped his advance. Soon the creatures of the night would stir, and he didn't care to be caught in the middle of a Devil Wolf hunting party. The beasts, while formidable even one on one, presented a challenge that not even Shadow cared to face if he could avoid it. The creatures looked and sounded like wolves, but they were well over nine feet long and weighed an average of seven hundred pounds. Anyone foolish enough to fight a group of them was on a suicide mission and Shadow had no intent of falling victim to such a dangerous enemy.

Luckily for Shadow the Devil Wolves were particular to a specific section of Triveila's forested region in the southwest near the border between Gweynura and Triveila. The Devil Wolves almost never journeyed outside their main territorial region in the forests and they avoided the open plains like the plague since they were too large to sneak up on anything in such open terrain. Shadow found a secluded spot about ten miles away from what looked like a small village that was obviously within Triveila's border judging by the spacing of the lights in the windows. He took what he had and set up a small camp for himself.

Once a fire was made he took out the documents from before and began to scan them again to check and double check their contents. The first was a list of names and descriptions of his new targets. The second was likely locations of his targets as well as other areas of interest for him to look into suspicious activity or possible new weapons and clothing to disguise himself. The third was another list, but this time written in the ancient language of the Assassins, and one which described to him a secret location beneath the Capitol City that was supposedly a maze within a maze. At the center was supposed to be something spectacular, but Shadow wasn't one for treasure hunting.

He decided it was best if nobody knew about this supposed treasure and so he tossed the parchment into the fire and watched as it slowly burned away. If he found the time to return and look into it, he would, but for now he needed to keep attention away from the Capitol City so that he had an easier time finding and eliminating his targets.

After a couple hours Shadow began to grow restless, and so he stood up and walked away from the fire. He drew his daggers and began to practice a form he'd made which featured smooth and graceful movements designed to slip in and out of enemy defenses. Though it was simple in theory, during combat when enemies were flailing to and fro it was much harder than it initially seemed. Most who practiced some form of combat training but never put it into practice believed that reflexes and intuition take over and that you'll be alright if you trust your training. The sad fact is that was wishful thinking, and no matter how well practiced your moves were, if you didn't actually put them to practical use against a living thing, they were useless to you. Shadow had found this out the hard way when he was thirteen.

Throughout the night he continued to practice different routines ranging from forms, meditation and listening, to more aggressive and violent routines such as using his weaponry against the surrounding environment to hone both his strength and his endurance. Striking at fallen logs was particularly useful as they were stationary and gave a perfect gauge of just how well trained you truly were if you struck them with a weapon. If you felt even the slightest backlash from your attack, you were pushing too hard and forcing the attack which would inevitably come back to haunt you when the battle was over.

As the minutes ticked by, Shadow began to feel more and more that something was amiss. The air began to grow quieter, the animals more still, and even the wind began to fade.

"... Looks like I have company..." He said quietly to himself as his attention turned back to his campfire.

The setting changes from Cre' Est to Triveila

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

Small Village, Triveila


The light outside was fading, indicating that night was about to fall. The pale girl awoke from her light slumber upon feeling the shift in temperature from warm spring to the chilly breeze of the night.

Getting up, the silver haired girl headed towards the little bathroom to get ready for the night she lived in. Dressed and equipped in her black gears, she left the room as it was when she had entered but with an extra bronze key on the white bed, before exiting through the window.

Forest outside Triveila


Mayumi headed east from Triveila, entering the darkening forest she never failed to travel in once again. The map of the nations was imprinted into her mind having travelled through them for countless times since she was young. It was strange that no one knew she existed, besides the images of her they had created for themselves, naming them Night Angel and Black guardian.

‘Weird’ she had thought when she found out about the images people had created of her, not understanding why people did such things.

‘It won’t be raining today.’ Mayumi observed the skies silently.

Soaring through the skies above her was Sora, never once letting it’s guard down. Sora made twists and turns in different patterns as they journeyed on, the twist and turns being signals that only it’s master would understand, warning her of the dangers ahead.

As the two continued on, piles of ashes were left behind, but not for long as the wind was not one to stay still, decorating the forest grounds with countless black dots and the faint smell of burnt flesh that was quickly fading with the wind.

Somewhere between Triveila and Cre’Est


It was not long till night fell, there was a full moon that day and Mayumi’s daily night hunt began. Sitting herself on a high tree branch, she closed her eyes and concentrated on her surroundings using her senses, sounds of the wind rustling leafs, bats flapping wildly, crickets singing, frogs croaking, a stream somewhere further down from where she was and then, the sound of metal slicing through the wind caught her attention.

‘There.’ Mayumi calmly noted the direction of the incoming weapon.

She leaped to the branch opposite from hers few seconds before a throwing knife embedded itself into the spot where she had sat. Sensing someone sneak up on her, within a splitting second she whipped around, her bow in hand with an arrow loaded.

Upon turning, she was met with empty forest trees with the wild wind rustling through them and her silver locks. Walking forward cautiously, she heard the sound of metal slicing through wind once more, but this time instead of avoiding it, she brought up her arm using her armguard to reflect the weapon causing it to bounce off and fall to the ground uselessly. Without any delay, she aimed her choice of weapon in the direction which her opponent’s weapon had come from and shot using instinctive aiming into the tree that was 10 rows down from her.

The sound of a choked gasp followed by a soft thud onto the forest grounds was enough proof that she had gotten her target, but being the type to never trust anything without seeing it with her own eyes, she walked towards her dead opponent, her senses checking for signs of danger and even the slightest change in the atmosphere around her. Reaching her destination, she found the culprit of the throwing knives lying in pool of his own blood, her dark colored arrow sticking out of the place where his young heart was.

‘Should I burn the whole area?’ black-red orbs showed no pity, only the empty void within.

A slight breeze was felt on her back and a new weight descended onto her left clothed shoulder. Looking at the golden eagle, she noticed that it’s head was turned, dark eyes staring intently in that single direction.

‘Danger’ Mayumi looked towards the same direction Sora was looking in.

The two quickly left curious about the danger ahead, a pile of ashes replacing the corpse, the smell of grass, blood and burnt flesh lingering in the air around it.

The setting changes from Triveila to Cre' Est

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Serei "Sev" Vaelt

Earnings

0.00 INK

-Titerus Mountains, Shaharan-

The pass was frigid; the cold air and flakes hugging her warm, bundled figure, vainly attempting to steal her carefully preserved heat.

...not that the icy siege was particularily strange or even unwelcome, especially at this time of year; the dead of winter, temporal mecca for snow and rain. She enjoyed the cold, moreso than the heat at least, as it was all she had really knew, and one of very few things she enjoyed. It was truly for the sake of timeliness that she wore her furs rather than travel in her normal attire, as "lewd" as it apparently was...whatever that meant.  She preferred what was comfortable and flexible, leaving aesthetics to the "discerning" eyes of others. She supposed that those who didn't know her might call her an exhibionist, but she couldn't help it.

She was blind, after all. 

But being blind didn't mean that she was blind to everyday fact. A cold body moves slower, that much was evident, and so with slight regret she forcibly trudged onwards, the furs protecting her frame from the elements that gnawed at her flesh. 

"You alright back there?"

The familiar voice was also warm, though she had to admit that her contempt was much more selective. Many of her coherts operated alone when they could, social inepitudes as common as murder among killers, but Tighe was an anomaly of sorts. Casting aside the archetypical "lone wolf" personality, Eight or "Tighe", as he pestered, worked with her on nearly every assignment, serving as her guide throughout her missions, many of the nuances of travel being impossible for those who didn't possess sight.  He was her keeper, in an odd sort of way, and she could only be grateful for it.

"I'm fine."

She wasn't much for words, at least not in the typical, verbal sense. Having not been big on books for obvious reasons, she didn't often exercise her eloquence, preferring to let actions speak for her. Tighe, though was a much different story; a gentlemen of perfected grace, able to navigate through the maze of the social trivialities in a fashion similar to his captaining of the mountain pass they were currently trudging through. 

"Well, that's lovely to hear!" he joked, his voice echoing slightly "I would've thought you were dead, how quiet you were."

"No such luck."

She joked a little with him, knowing that he must be bored out of his mind. It was a long trek after all, and though they were nearing the end, they still had to traverse the last, dangerous portion of the mountain before they arrived in the village where her target was. It was a long shelf of the bitter-cold mountain, and the bane of many who were unprepared. In fact, few actually went this way, more likely to sacrifice time in order to take the safer, roundabout route, unwilling to risk their lives for the sake of punctuality. 

But assassins lacked such leisure.

The path became narrower as the village below came into sight...or so said Tighe. She could only trust him with such information; she had no other choice. She believed him, sure, but only in the way that an assassin could. Good speakers made for good liars, though she doubted that he'd lie about something so simplistic as that. 

"Want to hear a story?" He asked, his bright voice piercing the air around her like a bird's cry atop it's perch. 

"Not really."

He let out a laugh and then gripped her hand "Careful there, it's narrow." 

"I'll be fine. I can sense where the ledge is."

"I don't doubt it, but nonetheless..." his voice trailed off as he laughed again, his hot hand gripping a little tighter. "Are you sure though?"

"About the story? Yes."

"Let me just tell it to you, if only for my sake, ok?" 

She knew that he wouldn't let up, and so she didn't reply, waiting for him to start. And surely enough...

"Back awhile ago, there was a a bunch of baby birdies, hawks to be exact, that lived in their nest with their mother." He paused for a second, as if to let it sink in, and then continued. "They were all very healthy birds, happy and ready to fly...all except for one."

The wind picked up as he pulled her to him quickly, seemingly protecting her, though she didn't need it. 

"I'm fine, let go."

She tried to push away but he was steadfast. He continued, despite he efforts to push him away. "That little birdy couldn't fly, and quickly became trouble for all the rest. She got more food because she couldn't feed herself, and made her siblings look after her." 

She tried to push away again, her blood flowing quickly as worrt coursed through her veins. Despite being strong, he was stronger, and intention began to seep in through her pores, carried through the stories miasma. 

"..and so one day..." he began cheerfully "...they all decided something." She reached for her blade, the worry, like a venom, reaching her heart. 

But it was too late. 

"They decided that it would be easier if she was gone."

She felt him release her as she fell backwards, no ground behind her to land on.

"...and so she fell from
the nest."

She grasped wildly at where she thought the edge was, but the ice proved it's treachery, and why no one took this pass. She could only hear his voice, over everything else.

"...and they all lived happily."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow walked towards his fire and tossed a single rock into the center of the flames.

As he watched the rock shift colors in the flames, the slight rustling of leaves in the trees and the faint aroma of metal not his own began to coat the moisture of the night air around him. The scent of looming battle was exciting, as he did not often find strong opponents to give him the taste of battle his soul cried out for. While he didn't like to admit it, Shadow lived for conflict and death and relished in the thrill and the rush that they brought to him.

He looked up and forward, leaning his head back as he arched his neck and cracked it to one side. He straightened his neck and looked ahead, watching the embers of the flames rise and disappear into the air in front of him as he heard the faint sound of footsteps gathering in a circle around him. His mouth widened slightly into a smirk as he turned on his heel to face the new circle of guests.

Dark grey robes with the red insignia of the Assassins adorning their chests stood before him as he continued to smile at the one in command. It was a man he knew well from his past, one who had a hand in his training when he was younger. He was in his mid thirties and was no pushover despite his lack of time outside the fortress where he was first stationed before Shadow's rebellion. After Shadow's escape from the mountain fortress in Roda Valley, he was moved to Triveila's Hidden Temple deep in the mountainous forests where he became a more active participant in the hunt for Shadow's head.

"It's been a while, Ven." Shadow said in a low and raspy voice.

The man's hood came up and was laid to rest behind his head as he looked at Shadow with murderous intent.

"I'd hoped never to have to face you myself Shadow. I was sure that you would have been killed long ago due to your arrogance in your own skills and your ignorance of the world around you. How is it you've survived?" He hissed.

Shadow's smile widened as he turned his head to scan the circle of Assassins around him. His eyes were straight, like that of a Raptor scanning the horizon for prey. A few of the hoods went down ever so slightly as he looked in their direction, and Shadow knew from that single gesture that they were afraid of him. His eyes scanned each man in turn before his eyes landed on Ven once more, the smile still on his face.

"I have survived because I have changed. Perhaps once I was arrogant to my skills, but when I killed our Grandmaster I saw how little my skills were worth in the face of a true adversary. Once, I though of only myself and would do anything to have my way."

Shadow took a moment to wipe the smile from his face before he drew his Twin Daggers and set them against his forearms.

"Today Ven... I fight not for myself. I fight for that which I believe in. I don't think you've seen the damage that Te'i Sai has caused to the people of this continent. They can no longer put their faith in their Kings and Queens. They can no longer let their children play in the streets without supervision. They can no longer believe in a future where they can live and die in peace without the constant threat of finding themselves under Te'i Sai's thumb. Today, the people of this continent live in fear thanks to what we've done, what we've been doing for hundreds of years."

Shadow's grip on his daggers tightened as his stance dropped a few inches lower.

Ven shook his head and scoffed for a moment as he drew his sword and pointed it in between Shadow's eyes.

"You're such a naive fool Shadow. Sheep need a strong shepherd to guide them towards the future where the wolves don't prowl. The people you speak of dream of peace, but what does that mean? No Shadow, these people don't need your version of peace, they need guidance. They cannot live in this world without proper guidance, and that is what we've given them. That's what we created you for after all!" He said with force as he took a step forward.

Shadow took a step forward as well, accepting the private challenge to battle.

"Am I so naive Ven? Am I so ignorant of the world around me? You, who haven't walked the streets where the people tread dare to lecture me of what they need? You haven't seen what they have, what they lack, and what they need. Takai created me as an instrument of fear and death, not a means to guide people. Killing helpless men, women, elderly, and even children. Children, Ven. I have mercilessly killed innocent children for no reason because Takai said that I should not hold life in high regard and that nobody is truly innocent and immune from death."

His daggers flashed in front of him, catching the light of the fire behind him for a moment as if he had harnessed it on the blades and used it to heat the air around him as the shimmer of the fire surrounded his silhouette.

"You have been blinded Ven, and you will either open your eyes or you will die... I will know your answer by the time this battle is over." He said, again in a low voice.

Ven's anger began to build as he slid another step forward. He knew this would be a short battle, but one in which only one of the two combatants would walk away from. The other Assassins had at first been brought as backup in case Ven failed, but the moment he stepped forward to challenge Shadow one on one they became not but observers to a fight between masters.

Shadow's next step forward started the battle, and two blades clashed in the firelight. Shadow stepped right as Ven stepped left, cutting off his first advance. Shadow's smirk returned as his right foot came forward and swept Ven's leg out from underneath him. He recognized the attack too late to dodge it or life his leg out of the way, but he was able to force his sword into the ground momentarily to balance himself and pushed back with his back leg to regain his balance. He pulled his sword free of Shadow's trap and renewed his attack with a stabbing attack towards Shadow's chest. This movement was a serious mistake and Ven knew it the moment he made it.

Shadow's reflexes had always been the sharpest Ven had ever seen, and today they were beyond what even he remembered from Shadow's past training. Shadow's torso rotated ninety degrees and his sword slipped by harmlessly as the blade in Shadow's left hand slid up and protected his body from any possible changes in direction while the dagger in his right hand came up and forward. The tip of the blade stopped but a mere fraction of an inch away from Ven's throat, and he had to hold back a gulp to avoid making contact with the razor edges of Shadow's weapons. Shadow himself had created those blades and they were crafted from an ancient and exceedingly rare metal called Orichalcum. The metal was strong enough to completely annihilate other metallic objects, and with how Shadow folded and refolded them during the forging process, they were sharp enough to slice through almost all other metal weapons.

Shadow demonstrated this unique ability by turning the dagger in his left hand towards Ven's sword and driving it forward and into the ground. His dagger began cutting through Ven's sword when the tip of the long weapon hit the ground, and before long the blade snapped in two. Ven stepped back and looked at his weapon, a sword his father had given him when he joined Te'i Sai's Assassin ranks when he was fifteen. Had he not been so focused on Shadow he would certainly have shed a tear. For now, he could only stare at his weapon in shock as Shadow threw a kick into his upper chest and sent him flying off his feet.

Ven stood up a few moments later after shaking off the shock of the impact. He tossed the remains of his weapon aside and stepped back, Shadow's silhouette still outlined for him by the fire behind him.

"So you have destroyed my weapon, what does that prove?" Ven asked in a cold and unemotional voice.

Shadow stood up straight and looked Ven dead in his eyes. The sight of Shadow's darkened silhouette and glowing red eyes were enough to shake even Ven's confidence as he stared into the depths of Shadow's darkened soul for the first time in years. The glowing and churning coloration of his red eyes caused a chill to run down Ven's spine as he awaited an answer to his question.

"... I have done the same to you as Te'i Sai has done to others. As a warrior your weapon is your soul, your connection to this world. Your weapon is a reflection of you, and it is a symbol of your pride and contains your hope for a future in which you and your weapon continue to prove your worth. Now take this empty and naked feeling within your heart and amplify it Ven. That is how the people of Cre' Est feel so long as Te'i Sai is in control of their lives. It is for that reason that I fight Ven, and it is for that reason that you cannot win. You have no hope left."

Shadow placed his daggers away and turned his back to Ven, a gesture in which Assassins signified that they had completely destroyed their opponent, whether they lived or not. Ven didn't take kindly to the gesture of course, and in his rage he made a foolish mistake. He rushed Shadow for all his worth, to which Shadow simply side stepped and grabbed his lower jaw in his left hand as he tripped forward.

Shadow kicked a smaller branch in the fire which launched the rock he had placed in the flames into the air. He grabbed it in his right hand, his gloves shielding his flesh from direct contact, and shoved the burning rock into Ven's mouth and slammed his right hand down on top of his head. The impact forced his jaws to close on the solid object in his mouth, and shattered a few of his teeth against the burning piece of Earth. His screams were muffled from the obstruction as he fought with all his might to free himself. Shadow held fast, and before long Ven fainted from the pain of his broken teeth and the searing flesh inside his mouth due to the heat of the rock. As he collapsed, Shadow released the pressure which allowed the rock to finally fall free to the ground as he slowly set Ven down on the ground. Blood trickled from his mouth as Shadow took a step away from him.

The other Assassins came forward and took Ven's unconscious body away before they disappeared into the night. Shadow looked at the blood on the ground and let out a sigh. It brought him no joy, despite the smile he had carried in battle, to do such a thing to Ven and simply let the others take him away. Shadow's heart ached, but not for Ven. His heart ached that he found he was still capable of such acts of violence. Simply beating Ven had been enough for him, but when attacked again he resorted to something that he knew would bring unbearable pain and agony to Ven and the others.

He sat down on a log by his fire and sheathed his daggers as he sighed once more.

"... One day, I'll learn to control it." He said quietly to himself.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Serei "Sev" Vaelt

Earnings

0.00 INK

-10 Days Earlier-

"--his head on a platter! The damned miser!"

The room grew quieter as Two's voice descended into a whisper, his menacing tone hanging in the air like smog. She couldn't see him, but she could smell him; sweat oozing from his pores like vinegar from a broken barrel. It wasn't pleasant, especially for someone with senses like hers.

"I don't care--" He began, his voice trembling "--what it takes! Find the bastard and KILL HIM!"

Who "He" was, she didn't know, despite being as stricken as the other members convened in the small room. He had the presence of a psychopath, though that fact hardly surprised her; He was one. "Wrench his guts out and strangle him with 'em!" His words were hardly coherent anymore, devolving into a slur of mumblings and threats. "Kill...Damn...gonna get it...for sure..." His eyes were wild and burning. How he managed to kill anyone without getting arrested for misconduct along the way was beyond her.

"HE'S DEAD!--" He yelled, interrupting her thoughts "--GOT IT!?" He shot an angry obscenity at no-one in particular and then left, his heavy cloak trailing in his wake. "--DAMNED BASTARD!" His scream spawned from the hall, leaving the assassins remaining in an awkward, restless silence.

The next few moments were hesitant ones, no one daring to leave, few tempting to breathe. He was a peculiar man to be around, and even more so when he was angry, much to the other killers chagrin. Finally, after a minute or so of the torpor, Three stood and left slowly, with the rest following in halted succession. Quickly it became her turn, and so she followed the quiet steps Six out the door, only to have a hand lightly grasp her shoulder. His voice was melodic, sing songish, and social.

"Are you alright?" Tighe asked calmly, giving a slight squeeze of comfort. She didn't feel particularly perturbed by the rantings, but she was glad that anyone was willing to acknowledge his craziness, if even indirectly. It was taboo to speak ill of those within the 3, especially when concerning a potential assignment. A pride thing, she supposed. "I'm fine." She replied quietly, her voice but a whisper.

"Are you sure? Things can get a bit...heated sometimes, you know? I can understand why it might be difficult." He paused momentarily, and then continued. "Well, you should be fine." He said happily, reassurances flowing. "You have enough natural talent, you're sure to move past such things eventually You‘re a Prime after all. "

She gave him a slight tilt of her head and then left, her silent stride carrying her far away from the small room. She was indeed an elite among elites, if only for her uncanny, nigh-unparalleled precognition; an apparently rare trait for the visually impaired, but she didn’t feel so special. The sounds and smells of the world revealed much more than she supposed eyes could ever manage. It wasn’t that strange, was it?

Was she that strange?

-4 Days Earlier-

The room went quiet as Four entered the room…not that it was especially loud in the first place. Ignoring Tighe’s constant banter with anyone who would respond (Like many did), few of the assassins preferred social trivialities; it wasn’t in their nature. Taking advantage of the usual silence, he cleared his throat and leaned against the wall with a slight thud.

“Our next target is a special one. Personal, I might say.”

His voice was calm, as normal, but slightly off. It almost sounded…angry?

"His name is Evan Raske, though most of us know him better as "Seven""

She was quiet as she listened to Four's casual debriefing, his low voice carrying words of relative surprise. She had never brought up the previous member that had filled her spot. Considering the dark, murderous mumbles that echoed through the room, she was glad that she hadn't inquired.

“He is a stain: a bad memory and one we must erase.”

His voice shifted, the tempered fury morphing into something new and passionate.

"--and we can think of no-one better to “erase” Seven than--" She knew what he'd say next, if only for the fact that she knew the workings of a killers mind intimately. "--Seven."

How oddly fitting and pleasurably ironic.

"An assassin who erases the vestiges of failure and shame, yet personally dawns an era of success and terror. I can only wait for your return with pleasure, Prime.

She gave a slight affirmative and stood up, her sightless eyes focused forward, looking towards the future. She supposed that Eigh-Tighe was coming as well.

“I’ll meet you outside; we leave tonight.”

He let out a slight chuckle, concealing something else. Was it her imagination, or did it sound different from his usual, amiable laugh.

“’Course Sev.”

-Present Day-

If this was death, than she was probably in Hell.

She had known pain all too well throughout her life, emotional and physical, but it couldn’t even hope to measure up to the agony she was in now. Her head throbbed and her eyes burned; her muscles ached and her insides felt torn. She was an absolute physical wreck, but none of this quite bothered; it was something else.

It was unbelievably hot.

She rolled over carefully, fighting through the pain in her body, pushing off the mountain of blankets that engulfed her. With much misery, she let them slide to the floor slowly, her lungs weakly gasping for breath, praying for respite. Every breath she took was warm and disgusting, inspiring more worry than her body’s weakened state. She could of thrown up, but she felt that she didn’t have much to expel.

“I see you’re awake.”

In an instant she was on her feet, her body faced defensively towards the direction of the voice. Was she stupid? She was in an unfamiliar environment with no memory as to how she got there and no weapon to fill in for the lack of awareness. The voice sounded male, though she couldn’t place it. How did he get in without making noise? Or rather, how did he remain in the room long enough without making a peep?

“…you seem to be OK.” He said warily, though he didn’t sound worried. “What’s your name?”

Anger coursed through her, possessing her senses.

“Me? Who the hell are you?!? Where the hell am I?! What the hell happened?!?”
His reply was calm. Calmer than it should have been. “Well…” He started slowly, as if he were composing his thoughts. “You fell from the cliff, I’ll start with that.” He guffawed, obviously amused. “Tough girl, you are.”

Her patience was wearing thin, which he promptly noticed.

“Easy now…you’re in Rockwood, a small town up north…And my name?”

Her eyes widened as the utterance left his lips.

“--It’s Evan, Evan Raske.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shako Khan

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by elloit
Asking for a meeting with the Arch Deacon had not been easy. Shako had never asked for such a thing before in his life, and certainly not with such a high ranking member of the temple. It wasn’t that he was intimidated, it was that he was about to lay his personal integrity on the line. He had to be sure that the allegations he was about to present were true, that the list he had compiled contained the right people. If the Arch Deacon didn’t believe him then he would face punishment, yes, but also ridicule for the rest of his days.

With a sigh of resignation he opened his eyes, looking around his spartanly furnished quarters. There was a bed in one corner, a bookcase opposite with a wardrobe next to it and a small window set in the adjacent wall with a basin beneath it. Other than that the 9’ x 8’ room was just floor space, which Shako was occupying whilst he attempted to meditate. With such turbulent thoughts swirling around in his head and refusing to be quelled, however, it was proving impossible. After closing his eyes again for a few more minutes in another vain attempt he stood up and crossed over to the bookcase. If he couldn’t find inner peace alone then the author of - his hand hovered over the shelves before pulling out a thick tome – ‘The Bard of Andara’ was going to have to help him.

After half an hour of reading the book, which told the story of how a bard became trapped in a mountain full of fantastical creatures and eventually tricked a dragon in order to escape, he replaced it back on the shelf and took up a stack of parchment from the top of the wardrobe where he had hidden it. He wasn’t sure what impulse had made him hide it in the first place since it was just a list of names and the proof against them, and nobody ever entered his room, but he had obeyed it nevertheless. His training had taught him that you should trust your instincts in times of uncertainty, and these were most definitely uncertain times. He glanced out of the window at the sundial in the courtyard and decided to leave a little early, if only so that he could take his time walking through the grounds.

Twenty minutes later, and after a wonderful stroll despite the overcast skies threatening rain, Shako stepped into the audience hall. It was a vast room, with columns lining the perimeter to hold the roof up carved into the shapes of previous Arch Deacons of particular note. As they had prevented the temple’s metaphorical collapse in life, so they prevented the literal collapse in death. The room was longer rather than wider, and had to be lit with braziers at several intervals. Shako’s footsteps made soft echoes on the marble floor which quickly faded away as he approached the Arch Deacon. The Deacon was a small, wiry man of what Shako guessed must be at least 55 winters. His face always reminded Shako of an illustration of a goblin he had once seen, with tiny eyes and a large crooked nose. Currently he was reclining on what was best described as a throne, though it was more like an armchair on a raised dais. Surrounding this were two stands of seating, usually with the odd member of the temple who had some interest in proceedings strewn here and there.

“Step forward, Shako.” The Arch Deacon droned in his thin, reedy voice as soon as he saw him. He didn’t even attempt to hide his boredom at having to handle these day to day affairs. Shako could understand that – most of the time he was just resolving petty squabbles – but he still got the sense that the Arch Deacon was a lazy man. He stepped forward as he was told, stopping just short of the dais. “What do you want?” The Deacon asked, as though he were accusing Shako of something.
“With all due respect, I asked to speak with you in private.”
“Do you see anyone here?” the Deacon asked, smirking as he swept his hand around the stands of seating. A quick look confirmed that they were indeed empty.
“I would still prefer it if we could go somewhere private-“
“There is no need. Say what you want to say or get out.” The Deacon snapped, cutting him short.

Reluctantly, Shako obliged and began his tale. The Arch Deacon listened as he presented his findings, his horror at having discovered that some members of the temple were worshipping Te’i Sai instead of Uirlin directly. He showed him the sketches of the idols he had seen them using and described the rites they had performed. Throughout all of this he began to become inwardly exasperated. The Deacon seemed to be displaying little more than mild surprise rather than the shock and disgust Shako felt over it. It seemed his fears of not being taken seriously were coming true. It seemed he had little choice but to play his ace.
“I also have a list of names of several members of the temple. Bertrand Leduc is one of them.”
The Deacon’s eyes shot wide open at the mention of the list, and he stood up. Bertrand was one of the mentors, as well as a tutor for the older initiates. Shako was concerned that he may be somehow corrupting the next generation of monks, and it looked like the Deacon shared his fears.
“Do you have this list with you?” the Deacon asked, his tone suddenly grave.
“Yes.”
“May I see it?”
“Of course.” Shako answered, handing it over.
The Deacon read through the list as though searching for something, before asking “Do you think this is all of them?”
“I fear there are more.”
“I see. Tell me, do you know the exact reason for their worship?”
“They think Te’i Sai is Uirlin’s instrument upon the Earth, and that he is shaping it with them. For whatever reason these misguided individuals have come to the conclusion that Te’i Sai are akin to divine beings.”
“You do not share their convictions?” The Deacon probed, walking a slow circle around Shako as though sizing him up.
“No.”, Shako snapped, “The teachings of Uirlin clearly state that murder and killing are not the answer. Whilst the fight is glorious, the aftermath is terrible and always lamented.”

From behind him came the sudden sound of tearing parchment, and Shako whirled around to find tattered pieces of his list falling to the floor. “What have you done?” he yelled, as the results of his two years of investigation were destroyed in a matter of seconds.
The Arch Deacon’s hands shot out, gripping twin pressure points in his shoulders like iron claws. Shako cried out in pain and fell to his knees, unprepared for the sudden assault, and the Deacon maintained his grasp.
“Listen here you maggot!” he snarled, leaning in close, “I have worked for too long and too hard for you to come in here and wreck everything for me! Te’i Sai are Uirlin’s angels in this realm. You haven’t seen the filth and the greed and the dirt that they are washing away out in the streets! Only a fool could deny that they act with divine authority! So you are going to drop this investigation and forget any of this ever happened. I am perfectly content to leave you to wallow in your own antiquated world views for now, but when I am High Priest – which will probably be quite soon now – I am going to have you excommunicated along with all the other fools. If you want my advice you should leave under your own free will while you still can.”

Shako stood, furious, as the Deacon shoved him away. For a moment the idea that the Deacon was responsible for the High Priest's fever swept through his mind, but he didn’t believe that this worm had it in him to take any direct action.
“Tell anyone and it’s my word against yours, and we both know how that will work out.” The Deacon growled as he strolled from the room like nothing had happened.
For a few seconds afterwards Shako considered running after him and beating him unconscious but managed to control himself. That was the most crushing part about this turn of events – the Deacon was right, there was nothing he could say or do against him. He gathered up the scraps of his list and placed them in the nearest brazier, they were no good to him now. Shaken and confused by this turn of events, and horrified by the scale of the cult, he returned quickly to his room in order to brood and plan out his next steps. He already had an idea as to what he was going to do…

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

In a forested area on the border between Triveila and Cre' Est


As Mayumi travelled through the forest while Sora soared through the darkening skies, she heard faint footsteps that wouldn’t be heard by the untrained ears, and swiftly swung herself upwards into a nearby tree to hide her presence, Sora following suit hiding itself above the clouds. Mayumi scanned the area and sure enough, what seemed to be a group of people in robes were coming her way at high speeds. She couldn’t really see who they were for it was dark, but she could make out the figure of a limp person being carried over a shoulder.

‘A fight?’

A few minutes passed before the group rushed by, a red symbol on their chest catching the observant girl’s attention. Studying the symbol for the brief second she was able to view it, Mayumi recognized it as the same one on her master’s robe. He had seemed toknot want her to see it but she had caught a glimpse of the symbol before he threw the article of clothing into the fire.

She pondered on the thought to follow the group but instead made a decision to head in the direction they had just come from, thinking she may be able to get some clues there. Making sure the group had gone a good distance from her, she came out of the tree she was in and landed in a crouch on the forest pathway.

After a few kilometers of travelling, midnight arrived and the full moon was glowing at it’s best above the forest.

Within a small clearing of a forested area, flickering shadows of dancing flames were evidence of a camp. A man sat by the fire seemingly unaware of his surroundings, but Mayumi knew better than to assume things.

"Patience is a virtue. Watch, study, observe. Never Assume and Always Be Prepared."
The words of her master echoed in the back of her mind.

She stealthily made her way towards the small clearing through the shadows of the trees, keeping a safe distance between the man and herself, not wanting to fight him. She was close enough to see his features, her guard not faltering for a second. Observing the man’s features, she realized he had a fair tone with crimson eyes and spiky ebony hair.

“Fair skin, black hair and distinguishable blood red eyes.” Recollections of the old blacksmith’s rough description of the man she was finding surfaced from the recesses of her mind.

‘Shadow.’

The old man had told her rumours of Shadow leaving an assassin organization called Te’i Sai and how they were after him for his betrayal. That was where her suspicions of Te’i Sai being the one responsible for her master’s death began to grow. Killing her master was no easy task, that much she knew, so if Te’i Sai were really the ones that killed him, vengeance would be no easy task either. Not that she had expected it to be easy either, but vengeance for her master would indefinitely be completed no matter what. That, was her goal.

Taking out the letter from her pocket, she studied the two single words on it ‘Kill Shadow’ until her eyes landed on the dark red symbol in the corner.

‘The same symbol as the robes…’ Red- black orbs flashed dangerously.

Setting

Characters Present

No characters tagged in this post!

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow felt a change in the wind, the breeze flowing at him from the west.

Beneath the moon but above the clouds he could feel eyes watching him from afar. He knew the feeling well, as he'd worked with both Hawks and the Falcon courier services before, but this was no mere Hawk or Falcon. This was something more, but he knew there was a presence beyond his field of view.

Something of this nature would normally be left alone, but he knew better this time. With the change in the wind came a new scent in the air, the scent of clothing not his own. The robes of Te'i Sai had long since vanished from within his line of smell, but this new clothing had drawn itself close enough that he could still make it out. Whoever they were, they were very good. He didn't know they were coming until the wind changed directions, tipping him off.

He didn't move from his seat by the fire, but his eyes slowly slid towards where the scent was coming from. His red eyes scanned the treeline, but he saw nothing. It didn't help that the firelight was also hindering his vision given his proximity to it, but he could still tell that someone was indeed there. What was their intent? Who were they? What did they want with him? He had already determined that they were either here for his life, or they had happened across him and were just coming in for a closer look.

Either way, he wanted to know more.

"If you're done playing the role of the cat, the mouse says that you can come out and play now." He said, sliding his right dagger halfway out of its sheath at his back just in case and keeping his hand touching the tip of the handle.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Serei "Sev" Vaelt

Earnings

0.00 INK

Ironically, irony couldn't begin to describe the situation she was now in.

"--Evan Raske."

They say that it's harder to surprise the blind, and often they wouldn't be wrong. When you can't see what's ahead physically, the world becomes clearer mentally. Sev couldn't count the number of times she had been truly surprised on one hand, (though granted, she couldn't SEE her hands) but she was certainly surprised now, for whatever that was worth.

"You..." He started, the soft sound of steps following his voice as he approached her "...look like you've seen a ghost."

The next few seconds were some of the longest in her life. Tracing his voice to a position roughly three feet away, she swung a high kick towards what would be his face, the reach being approximately just enough to make contact with his temple. Surely enough, her kick landed hard as her foot made contact with soft flesh.

Soft?

In the next instant she felt what she thought was the persons head grasp her foot and twist, sending her straight to the ground. Retaliating instantly, she let herself fall, hitting the floor with her hand and using it as a balance, sending off another powerful kick, this time aimed at his legs. Hitting the bone hard, she swept him, his grip loosening as she pushed herself away with her hands, quickly regaining her posture. Was this all?

But she noticed something peculiar; the room was completely silent. Could he be knocked out? From a leg shot? As she pondered, her train of thought was interrupted, the smashing pain of a strike to her kidney phasing them out. She let out a cry.

"What the hell--" Before she could finish her sentence, she was alerted to the swish of a kick similar to her first. Ducking awkwardly, she let out another cry as the pain in her side increased tenfold and she fell back, grasping the edge of the bed to prevent her fall. She heard a slight chuckle.

"Hardly the worst I've seen, considering my skill and your...disability." he let out a hearty laugh and then continued casually " I really must ask before I kill you, but who are you?" confidence echoed in his voice, despite the unknown. He was an assassin for sure, only assassins could be so confident in their abilities. "Did they send you?" He asked with assurance. "Took them long enough; I've been ruffling their feathers for years." He took a slight step forward, an inquisitive tone overcoming the calm of earlier. "But I guess it doesn't matter too much. I should be happy right? I can be happy now, right?" The intuitiveness was stained with a hint of madness, not so uncommon for those of her trade. HE laughed again, this time a wicked undertone hanging afterwords. " So how 'bout it girl? What's your name?"

She didn't answer, but whispered quietly to herself, her eyes fixated on the floor, glaring at nothing.

"What was that?" He asked, taking a step closer, his eyes widening.

"Yo-" She coughed "--umm"

"What?" He repeated, drawing his face in close.

She smiled slyly. "You're--" The smile widened, her lips forming the words with slight exaggeration "--assuming." Supposed amusement assuredly morphed into horror as she drove her knee into the mans bony face, grabbing his neck with her hand and squeezing in a fluid, simultaneous movement. The image of his eyes bulging popped into her head as she drove her fist into his nose, a sprinkle of blood glazing her cheek and glancing her lip. She licked it.

"You're assuming." She drove her fist into his face yet again, a squishy plop sounded as her knuckle made contact with his eye socket. "You're assuming--" Another hard punch, the contact vibrating "--You're cocky--" She brought her fist down on top of his head, the crackling of her hand audible as the bones jolted. "--You're arrogant and conceited and contemptuous!" She let him fall back, the man weakly letting out a grunt as he made contact with the floor, the smell of blood now a torrent to her senses. It was gross, really. "But that's not all, don't ya know?" She pushed herself to her feet, driving her foot into the mans abdomen as he groaned. "Do you really? Do you really want to know?" The smile shifted, a look of disgust taking it's place.

"You're..."

Her voice fell to a whisper.

"...Dead."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

Mayumi realized a second too late when the wind started blowing in her direction, too absorbed in her thoughts.

"If you're done playing the role of the cat, the mouse says that you can come out and play now." Came the voice of the man whom she knew as Shadow.

‘Sharp sense of smell.’ She observed as he had only acknowledged her presence when the wind changed its direction.

‘Or maybe he already knew I was here but was waiting for me to get closer?’

Sharp eyes caught the very slight shift in his muscles, indicating that he was doing something with his hand. Not wanting to cause any troubling matter to occur, Mayumi stepped out from the shadows of the tree so that the man may see her and view her as less of a threat but still stayed at a safe distance from him just in case he decided to attack.

“I’m not here to fight.” She stated, the hood of her cloak shadowing her face the only thing revealed being her mouth.

Her mind was still revolving around her new discovery about the symbol and if it connected to Te’i Sai, briefly wondering if Shadow had answers to them.

‘If he doesn’t I’ll be back to square one.’ she noted.

An almost unnoticeable breeze on her back told her that Sora had landed somewhere further off in the trees behind her, waiting on her for any instructions that might be given and looking out for potential danger at the same time.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow listened intently as he waited for his guest to show themselves, and he didn't have to wait long. Though they wore a cloak and hood, it was obvious that a woman now stood before him. When she spoke, she conveyed what he almost felt was a sense of familiarity. He wasn't sure who she was, but he heard no hint of fear in her voice when words began to come forth.

“I’m not here to fight.” She said calmly.

Shadow examined her tone of voice, body posture, and breathing for a brief moment before sliding his dagger back into its sheath.

Though he didn't know who she was, it was clear that she meant no real harm though he was sure she could give as good as she got judging by her bearing and lack of fear in his presence. His red eyes usually was enough to make those who saw him quake in fear at his reputation and the legend that was growing around him through the years.

"So, do you and your bird plan to remain at a distance or will you join me by the fire?" He asked evenly.

He had seen the bird flying against the skies towards the treeline though he still couldn't make out exactly what kind of bird it was. The shadow of the raptor in flight was barely visible in the dim lighting as the moon began to set behind the clouds, but never the less Shadow's keen eyes managed to spot it as it disappeared into the greenery of the trees.

"I have no intention of fighting with you either, as I've already had my fill as you can probably tell by the large pool of blood simmering ten feet in front of you."

He brought his hands forward and interlocked his fingers together as he brought his hands up in front of his face and leaned forward slightly. His position would make it nearly impossible to launch any kind of meaningful attack, though if he was attacked at the correct angle he could still do some decent damage. Otherwise, it was a very open and unguarded posture for him to be sitting in given the present company he now kept.

He figured she was in a listening mood, but he couldn't be sure so he kept his eyes on her though his posture said he was off guard and not a threat.

The setting changes from Cre' Est to Gweynura

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ren Gekki

Earnings

0.00 INK

A Mountainous Forest outside Gweynura

There were many large, lush trees just outside of Gweynura with leaves falling softly on the ground. Every once in a while, there would be twig snapping in two to break the silence off in the distance. Few rocks rolled down the mountainous slope. It was quite a beautiful, sunny evening as Aries laid on the branch of a large tree resting until a small bandit clan, who was successful in raiding a large shipment of beer from Gweynura to Triveilla, came across the same path Aries was resting on. They woke up the entire mountainside, shouting and singing and celebrating while getting inebriated from the copious amount of beer. Aries opened his eyes and smirked quietly, "Heh, looks like I've hit the jackpot..."

Aries knew the bandits were headed to Gweynura to “celebrate” their latest heist. He jumped from tree to tree with ease until he was a few miles from Gweynura. He planted a dummy and put a smoke bomb inside the dummy. He then clothed the dummy using the clothes he “found” lying around the city. Aries smirked, “People that are sober wouldn’t really fall for something this stupid, but these guys ain’t sober, aren’t they?”

“Now let’s just sit back, and watch the fireworks,” he says as he climbs into a neighboring tree.

The Bandit Clan drunkedly came up the mountain, still singing drunken hymns, still being annoyingly idiotic. As they finally came up the mountain, they saw the dummy but they thought it was a beautiful young lady. They walked up to the dummy, attempting to seduce the dummy. In the blink of an eye, the dummy exploded in a grey haze of smoke! The bandits then readied their swords as they were being ambushed. Aries then leaped out of the tree into the smoke. The grey haze was very thick, so you couldn’t see anything but hear quite an amount of screaming. When the smoke cleared, everyone ended up on the ground unconscious. Aries grabbed all of their money and coins and climbed back into the trees.

The setting changes from Gweynura to Cre' Est

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

Mayumi could tell that he was observing her and by the way his red orbs shifted slightly upwards she assumed he had spotted Sora too and then he spoke again.

“So, do you and your bird plan to remain at a distance or will you join me by the fire?"

"I have no intention of fighting with you either, as I've already had my fill as you can probably tell by the large pool of blood simmering ten feet in front of you." He informed her.

‘He has keen eyes.’ She took note.

Mayumi cautiously made her way over, seeing as the young man had shifted his position into an unguarded one but never the less still took no chances with letting her guard down.

She could feel his eyes on her as she crossed the distance between them and sat on a fallen log by the fire opposite him.

“You are Shadow. Correct?” she asked him monotonously and waited for his confirmation.

Her eyes scanned the area every once in a while out of habbit, Sora covering the area behind her. The wind was starting to grow chilly like she was used to, and knowing that it was her favorite time of day, it comforted her a little. Mayumi allowed her tense body to relax a little, but not to the extent that she was off-guard.

All of a sudden, the world spun around her and she nearly fell off the log she sat on, but fortunately her quick reflexes helped her get her footing in place again before she had the chance to fall.

‘What was that?’ she questioned herself and wondered if she was hallucinating.

She reasoned that it must be lack of rest for the past few days added with non-stop travelling. Recently, she had also been having the feeling that she was being followed.

‘Was that hallucinating too?’

After a while of thoughts on her little problem, she decided to ignore it and quickly finish her business here so that she could move on. She never liked staying in once place for longer than necessary. It just spelled trouble to her.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

Her approach was calculated and careful and there was a special grace about how she moved that reminded him of someone from his past. It was almost comforting, had it not been for the fact that it was coming from someone he didn't know or trust.

Still, she was an interesting one.

Shadow seemed to have a knack for meeting interesting and dangerous people, which was further confirmed when she next spoke.

“You are Shadow. Correct?” She asked.

Shadow's red eyes locked onto her eyes and the red coloration began to swirl and darken in the firelight. While it was usually rage which triggered this reaction, this time it was shock more than anything else. He unconsciously let his right hand slip back to the handle of his dagger, but caught himself in time to stop just before actually grasping it.

"... How do you know that name?" He asked in a lower voice than before.

"Only four people have ever known me by that name, most of whom are dead. One was the Grandmaster of Te'i Sai's mountain fortress here in Cre' Est who is the one who gave me that name, but he now lies dead and buried beneath the fortress. Two was my mother, Meya, the secret head of Te'i Sai and one of two individuals pulling the strings of the Grandmasters themselves. She too lies dead by my hand. Third was a young Assassin whom I trained and brought with me into battle against Te'i Sai, and who now lives as a shadow to mine."

He saw her falter for a moment and waited until she had regained control before speaking again. He was unsure if it was a lack of rest and mental relaxation, or something else which could prove troublesome. Either way, he continued.

"And the final person who knew that name was something of a hermit, living by himself in the wilderness. A man with no family as far as I know, and no connection to the outside world save for the skills he acquired in his life. I don't know what his name is, nor if he's still alive, but I was able to confirm that he was training someone before I lost contact with him not long ago. I know for a fact that it was Te'i Sai who killed him, and that they left a note attached to his corpse which spoke to kill me. I never saw the body or the note, but one of my scouts did and was kind enough to warn me to be on my guard."

He shifted his weight in his seat, now taking a more upright seated position. While his position was still open and relatively non threatening, it was none the less very guarded which signified that he was becoming somewhat anxious with her.

"So I'll ask you once more: How do you know that name?" His voice had returned to its normal pitch but was slightly louder in volume this time.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

"And the final person who knew that name was something of a hermit, living by himself in the wilderness. A man with no family as far as I know, and no connection to the outside world save for the skills he acquired in his life. I don't know what his name is, nor if he's still alive, but I was able to confirm that he was training someone before I lost contact with him not long ago. I know for a fact that it was Te'i Sai who killed him, and that they left a note attached to his corpse which spoke to kill me. I never saw the body or the note, but one of my scouts did and was kind enough to warn me to be on my guard." He said.

Mayumi recognized the details of the last person to be her master and now knew that Shadow knew her master.

‘It’s confirmed. Te’i Sai killed Master.’ The aura around her darkened with hatred for a split second before returning to its usual nature.

"So I'll ask you once more: How do you know that name?" He asked louder this time.

She wondered if she had made the wrong move by mentioning his name, but she had needed to confirm his identity though. His body tensing told her that he was no longer relaxed and his guard was up, showing signs of anxiety. At that moment, she knew she had to do something about it that minute or risk the chance of losing the trail she had been following for a year.

She slowly took out the letter from one of her many skirts’ pocket, the letter containing the words he had just spoken not a minute ago. Her pale gloved hand held it out to him above the fire, not minding the heat. Knowing words would not convince the man before her in his current predicament, she gave him solid evidence thinking it to be a better choice.

“From the details of the last person you have just spoken about, I am sure you are talking about my master. I refuse to do as the letter says for I know it was not my master who wrote it. I was here to find out who had killed him and wrote this letter, but it seems my questions have already been answered.” She explained in a monotone.

“I need to be sure though. Does the dark red symbol on that letter represent Te’i Sai?” she inquired.

Suddenly, the pained cry of a person was heard somewhere northwest of them.

‘Another victim.’ The girl thought, but felt the small achievement was not good enough.

She had set up traps in her blind spots earlier before entering the small forested area where they currently sat in, lowering the risk of any attacker catching her off-guard. She had been hearing faint thuds all around the area during their conversation, notifying her of the people or animals being caught in her traps. At the same time, she took it as training, improving her skills.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

“From the details of the last person you have just spoken about, I am sure you are talking about my master. I refuse to do as the letter says for I know it was not my master who wrote it. I was here to find out who had killed him and wrote this letter, but it seems my questions have already been answered.” She explained in a monotone.

“I need to be sure though. Does the dark red symbol on that letter represent Te’i Sai?” she inquired.


Shadow was skeptical, but never the less relaxed his body and stood up to take the letter from her. His six foot frame dwarfed her as she sat on the log and he reached out to accept the letter. He looked at it front and back and examined the parchment it was written on. It seemed ordinary paper, but it was actually a special skin made out of the distinctive paper like flesh of a creature known as the Acro Fi'l, a kind of wombat that lived only in the forests of Roda Valley, Te'i Sai's Cre' Itian Mountain Fortress.

Suddenly, the pained cry of a person was heard somewhere northwest of them.

Shadow's ears perked up and his eyes slid from the letter to the direction the cry came from. He didn't react to it, as it was not in his nature to go out of his way to help someone where there was no benefit save for "moral achievement". He looked back to the letter and opened it up to read it's contents.

Kill Shadow...

He recognized the handwriting immediately, and he now knew that once again, he was going to have to be on the run. The handwriting came from none other than the head of the Wraith's, Kiiro. The Wraiths were a team of what were known in the trade as Super Elites, Assassins with training and skills that far transcended those of normal Assassins and who could hold their own in combat against any opponent and against any opposing weapon. Shadow himself was one of the Super Elite, but he was not a member of the Wraiths. They were a squad put together by Te'i Sai's second in command of Roda Valley known as Korvaiis. Kiiro was his son, and was the one whom he wanted to take over Te'i Sai now that Grandmaster Takai was dead and gone.

"... So Kiiro's on my trail once again... Perfect." He said as his eyes darkened and churned once again in the moonlight.

He took the letter and tossed it into the fire, watching with some satisfaction as the red engraving erupted into flames and disappeared. He looked back at the young woman before him, but he offered no smile or hint of emotion as he spoke.

"No matter the circumstances behind how your master died, nor how you came to find me, there is really only one thing that you should be concerned with at this point young lady: Run." He said as he walked back over to sit down on his log again.

"Kiiro, leader and by far the most powerful of the Wraiths, is now hunting me once again despite his defeat the last time we met. If you stay in my presence for too long, you'll meet him for yourself and you will die, of that, I can guarantee... About your master, there is no doubt in my mind that Kiiro is the one who killed him. I regret what happened to him, as though we weren't really friends, we weren't enemies either and I had great respect for his skills and his bravery to live a life in opposition to Te'i Sai where most all others live in fear."

His eyes looked over to hers once again, and he was now completely relaxed despite what he was saying.

"Kiiro is far too powerful for you to defeat or to hunt without getting yourself killed. Should you choose to go after him, his fellow Wraiths will find and kill you before you ever get close. So if you have any thoughts of revenge in mind, abandon them right now. I knew your master well enough to understand that he was beyond thoughts of revenge and spite, and as his pupil you should be too. Instead, why don't you tell me what his final words to you were before his death. It might help me determine how best to proceed with investigating this mess and helping you find a way to put his soul to rest which is what he'd prefer as opposed to you getting yourself killed without meaning or purpose."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

She watched him as he examined the letter, his face expressing recognition when he read the letter’s contents.

"... So Kiiro's on my trail once again... Perfect." He said.

‘Kiiro?’

The letter was then tossed into the fire and she watched warily as the man watched the letter burn with what she thinks to be a satisfactory look.

"No matter the circumstances behind how your master died, nor how you came to find me, there is really only one thing that you should be concerned with at this point young lady: Run." He told her as he went back to his seat by the fire.

At the word ‘Run’ she felt something within her burn. She, a weapon, was to run from the enemies she was supposed to defeat. It sounded weird to her, but the explanation she received next made the weirdness about the situation disappear.

"Kiiro, leader and by far the most powerful of the Wraiths, is now hunting me once again despite his defeat the last time we met. If you stay in my presence for too long, you'll meet him for yourself and you will die, of that, I can guarantee... About your master, there is no doubt in my mind that Kiiro is the one who killed him. I regret what happened to him, as though we weren't really friends, we weren't enemies either and I had great respect for his skills and his bravery to live a life in opposition to Te'i Sai where most all others live in fear."

His eyes met hers through the shadow of her hood and she could feel that he was at ease despite what he was saying.

"Kiiro is far too powerful for you to defeat or to hunt without getting yourself killed. Should you choose to go after him, his fellow Wraiths will find and kill you before you ever get close. So if you have any thoughts of revenge in mind, abandon them right now. I knew your master well enough to understand that he was beyond thoughts of revenge and spite, and as his pupil you should be too. Instead, why don't you tell me what his final words to you were before his death. It might help me determine how best to proceed with investigating this mess and helping you find a way to put his soul to rest which is what he'd prefer as opposed to you getting yourself killed without meaning or purpose."

Mayumi pondered on his words. He didn’t sound like he was lying, but why would her master not want her to avenge his death? Why was he killed? Why would her master care if she was killed without meaning or purpose? Why…?

Never-ending questions with new ones adding to the pile every day, haunted her mind since the day her master was brutally killed started flowing once again. So many questions she wanted answers to but knew she had no right to question her master’s doings.

‘Run. Live in fear.’ The words he spoke that caught her attention earlier echoed in her mind.

“I will not run but observe my opponent and conquer flaws that still exist in me. Fear doesn’t exist in me, this weapon that exist only for its master with the only purpose of fulfilling its master’s wishes. If I die, I die. A weapon without its master is a meaningless useless thing. What really matters is if I have fulfilled my master’s wishes.” She spoke in a monotone, her face in its usual expressionless way.

“If what you said about my master not wanting me to avenge him is true, I’ll stop it this instant. I was on the path of revenge since he was killed a year ago but if that is not his wishes I will not pursue it any longer.” There was no hesitation in her voice as she spoke, showing her loyalty and obedience to the mysterious man who she called master.

“His last words to me before he was killed were, ‘Patience is a virtue. Watch, study, observe. Never Assume and Always Be Prepared.’” She recited it from memory as they were embedded into her mind.

There was some kind of a warm sensation that filled her every time she recited those words. It felt like her master was still alive somewhere, but when reality hit her and she realized it wasn’t true the warm sensation would vanish. She never understood what it was, brushing it off as nothing.

A sudden gust of wind blew the hood that shadowed her face off, revealing a pale face and long silver hair. Deep pools of red-black orbs stared at the man before them with not an emotion that seemed to exist within their owner.

She would have stopped the hood from falling off, but didn’t see a reason to hide her identity from him.

“But… if revenge was not what he wants me to do. Then what is? I know Master never leaves without a reason.” She was still not too sure if she could trust his words.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

Blood red eyes searched the darkened red and black pools they now stared at from across the fire, and Shadow contemplated both her words and the final words of her master. As she spoke about being a weapon, he had to wonder what was truly going on in the depths of her mind. Was she truly brainwashed to the point where she didn't believe that she was anything but a weapon? Such a mindset was not only dangerous, but tragic, and Shadow knew it all too well for he had been the exact same way at one time.

Being raised as the top Assassin of Te'i Sai, he was taught that he was the weapon and that everything else was just fodder for his wrath. Neither man, woman, nor child was safe from his blade when he set his sights on them. There had never been any emotion, sympathy or regret about what he had done until the idea that he was a weapon and a weapon only finally was extinguished from his mind.

Her master's words rang out and sparked something from his memory. The memory was repressed and difficult to access, and Shadow had a bit of a hard time deciphering it as his brows furrowed a bit while he dug through his thoughts trying to access the memory.

‘Patience is a virtue. Watch, study, observe. Never Assume and Always Be Prepared.’

No matter how hard Shadow thought, he could remember only the words, no face or environment to go with them. He remembered things about the man she spoke of, but he could not remember his face or where exactly he had lived. Those words had been spoken to him verbatim once before, but try as he might he just couldn't bring the memory to the surface. He stopped trying and allowed himself to relax as he closed his eyes and let out a sigh.

"... So you believe that you are but a weapon do you?" He asked, bringing back that topic in his mind to replace the words of her master.

"I can relate. When I was first being trained as Te'i Sai's top Assassin I too thought that I was but a weapon. However, with time, I was proven wrong. Nobody is only ever one thing in life young lady, nobody. Even your master had multiple talents and viewpoints about himself and the world around him. I doubt that he really intended for you to end up this way." He said as he looked up at her once more, taking in her features and committing them to memory.

"My guess is that sometime during training your mind began to falter, taking more abuse than it could handle from his methods of training, and so to preserve what sanity you had left he gave you a single purpose to live for that your mind could focus on. In this way, he saved your life. Also, doing so ensured that you remained under his control. Otherwise, you would have suffered the same fate that I did when I was younger." He said, somewhat sadly.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

"... So you believe that you are but a weapon do you?" He asked.

She looked at him with a neutral expression, questioning his words in her mind.

"I can relate. When I was first being trained as Te'i Sai's top Assassin I too thought that I was but a weapon. However, with time, I was proven wrong. Nobody is only ever one thing in life young lady, nobody. Even your master had multiple talents and viewpoints about himself and the world around him. I doubt that he really intended for you to end up this way."

Though her face was void of emotion, she was in fact struggling on the inside to understand his words. What he spoke of was foreign to her, it was the first time someone had spoken of this to her.

"My guess is that sometime during training your mind began to falter, taking more abuse than it could handle from his methods of training, and so to preserve what sanity you had left he gave you a single purpose to live for that your mind could focus on. In this way, he saved your life. Also, doing so ensured that you remained under his control. Otherwise, you would have suffered the same fate that I did when I was younger.” He said with an emotion she did not find a need to understand.

She felt aroused by this strange subject, something urging her to find out what it meant.

“I do not understand what you speak of -“

She was about to continue when she felt a slight shift in the surrounding aura, Sora’s sharp signal only confirming her suspicions.

‘Danger.’

The sound of metal cutting through the wind at extreme speeds came soaring towards her from behind. Spinning round just a second before the weapon reached her, she managed to direct it away from her using her armguard. Black-red orbs scanned the area in front of her, watching for any signs of movement. The forest that surrounded their small clearing going silent with the danger that lurked within them.

“Just as he said. The young girl has potential.” A deep voice spoke.

Senses spread wide, sensing even the slightest shift in the air, she stood in a position that would allow her to retaliate attacks in any angle. Her senses seemed to be ringing alarm bells in her head, warning her of the dangerous opponent she was about to face.

A man in a black outfit of light body armor stepped out of the shadows from the trees in front of her. His outfit was similar to Shadow’s, excluding the jacket Shadow wore, and carried a sword of medium length on his back Mayumi took a cautious step to the side making a little more distance between them. The man had dark brown hair with pale skin and viridian eyes. He was an averaged size man but she knew better than to judge others by their appearance.

“Unfortunately, you have failed to do as the letter said. This is quite unexpected. It seems we have underestimated your intelligence.” The man spoke with a hint of amusement.

‘Is he the one Shadow had talked about earlier?’ She wondered.

“I refuse to do anything for anyone else besides my master.” Mayumi replied calmly, her eyes never leaving the man.

She was still wary that Shadow was behind her and counted on Sora to watch her back for her, trusting no one but herself and her pet.

“Such loyalty and determination, but what use are you when your master is dead?” he questioned with mockery.

Mayumi’s eyes flashed with killing intent for a moment. The man seemed to have caught the look in her eyes at that moment and chuckled.

“Don’t worry child. Your loyalty will be of much use to Te’i Sai in future. Unfortunately, I’m not here for you today.” He told her as his dark eyes shifted to the man behind her.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow's ears snapped the instant he heard the bird in the trees giving off a non audible signal to its master and he shot to his feet at the same moment that Mayumi managed get to hers and deflect an incoming knife thrown at her from the trees. It didn't take long for the scent of leather to reach his nose, and he knew then and there what they were about to face. Sure enough, it was confirmed.

“Just as he said. The young girl has potential.” A deep voice spoke.

Shadow kept his eyes glued on the darkness of the trees as a man clad in ebon clothing and body armor walked out from the trees and locked his eyes on Mayumi.

“Unfortunately, you have failed to do as the letter said. This is quite unexpected. It seems we have underestimated your intelligence.” The man spoke with a hint of amusement.

“I refuse to do anything for anyone else besides my master.” Mayumi replied calmly.

“Such loyalty and determination, but what use are you when your master is dead?” He questioned with mockery. “Don’t worry child. Your loyalty will be of much use to Te’i Sai in future. Unfortunately, I’m not here for you today.” He told her as his dark eyes shifted to the man behind her.


Shadow came forward and, although his hand was gentle, the force of the push was not as he shoved Mayumi off to the side and stepped passed her while drawing both of his daggers shortly after. In response, the man in black armor drew his sword and took a defensive posture, pointing the tip of the blade in between Shadow's eyes as the two of them braced for what Shadow knew to be a short but very intense fight. Never before had he failed to defeat a Wraith, but each and every time they managed to push him to a specific limit that was not easy to do.

"So, Shadow..." The man said as his stance lowered a bit. "I'm surprised you didn't kill her on sight. You could have easily enough, couldn't you? Don't tell me you're getting soft?" He mocked.

Shadow didn't move, his legs rooted as if a part of the Earth beneath his feet as his right heel dug into the ground, shifting the dirt beneath it to create a support point. His mind raced as his opponent began to circle to the left, his stance wide and prepped for battle.

For what seemed an eternity, the two simply stared each other down before the first move was made. While he normally let his opponents come to him, Shadow this time instigated the attack himself. His right dagger flew forward in a stabbing motion as his left came up for a defensive posture. The wonderful thing about fighting with two blades was the they served both offense and defense simultaneously while remaining separate and variable whereas other weapons were either one or the other and had to shift with the flow of battle.

The sword came back towards his body while pointing at Shadow as he parried the stab off to the side and tried to use the parry to line up a stab of his own, Shadow's second blade coming forward and jamming the flat of his sword against the Wraith's chest as the two were suddenly face to face and within inches of each other. This sudden burst happened in less than half a second, and had Mayumi not been well trained she very well may have missed the finer details of what had just happened.

In less than half a second, Shadow had closed an eight foot gap, stabbed at his opponent and also anticipated the parry and pinned his weapon to his chest. However, his opponent too had anticipated such an ending and managed to position his feet in such a way that Shadow could not advance forward, but would instead be forced to retreat to break the coupling of their weapons and renew his assault.

"You're as fast as they say." The Wraith commented as he shoved Shadow back and disengaged for but an instant before regaining his defenses.

Shadow landed a few feet away and took a step back, readying himself as well for a renewed assault as the Wraith took the initiative this time and lunged in with a full fledged stab of his sword. Shadow parried the attack off with one blade, but his opponent had let go with his right hand at the last second and caught Shadow's hand as it instinctively came up for a slash at the forearm. Clearly, it would not be easy to gain a strong counter attack against this one. He was already proving stronger and a bit faster than other Wraith's he'd come across, which led him to believe that this one was higher in the rankings within the social order of the Wraith's hierarchy.

Shadow took the opportunity and jumped into the air, rolling on his opponent's back as his left hand was held in place. Using the hand as a pivot point, he turned in his roll and managed arch his right arm above and around his head, landing squarely behind his opponent. In this new position, Shadow's left hand had crossed his arm in front of his chest while his right hand was free and clear. Had his opponent not managed to feel him out and partially turn with him, he'd have been completely defenseless against the maneuver. The Wraith wasted no time in pulling his right leg up and in for a kick to Shadow's stomach, which managed to hit it's target.

However...

Shadow's musculature was extremely tight and unforgiving, and the Wraith, as powerful as he was, only hit and bounced away from how solid Shadow's stance was and how powerful his abdominal muscles were. Instead, the Wraith turned it to his advantage by using Shadow as a launch pad to gain distance instead of digging in for an attack.

This little dance happening in just under four seconds from when the first stab was attempted.

With distance regained and a new attack set up, the Wraith again dove inward for a stab, but this time he aimed higher towards Shadow's throat instead of his stomach.

Shadow had been trained to instinctively parry anything below his own shoulders, but anything aimed above his shoulders was fair game as far as he knew. However, Shadow had trained to block instinctively anywhere through his own private training and experience, and so the attack hit nothing but air as Shadow ducked underneath it and managed to slice part of his armor away around the lower abdomen as he swiftly and gracefully slid his stance low along the ground to allow himself freedom of movement as his opponent sailed passed him. Shadow regained his standing posture, but now held a dangerous disadvantage.

His opponent now had his back to the fire, making it slightly more difficult for Shadow to see a definitive outline not counting the fact that his opponent was already clad in ebon black armor. Clearly this was not lost on his opponent as he lowered his body against the firelight behind him to cause it to hit Shadow's eyes yet further. With his vision no longer in full use, Shadow closed his eyes and listened closely to what was in front of him. As his breathing slowed, the world around him began to slow with it. The breathing of the Wraith, Mayumi's breath a short distance away, the sound of the fire and the breeze of the wind all sharpened in his ears as his sight vanished from use.

With every breath, every shift in the Earth, Shadow saw the world around him as his opponent came in for another strike. This time it was a slash across Shadow's left shoulder aimed through towards his knee. The blow was met by the dagger in his left hand blocking it and stopping it cold despite the fact he wielded it with two hands vs Shadow wielding his dagger with one hand and Shadow's right blade came up and slashed another chunk of his armor off. As he backed away, Shadow rushed him and bashed him off his feet by digging his shoulder into the man's sternum, near knocking him into the fire itself as he walked around to his right to get the fire out of the way of his vision.

His eyes opened and the sight of his opponent with the light on the side made for a much easier position than against, and so Shadow repositioned his daggers and prepared yet again for re-engagement as his foe drew near once he was on his feet.

This time, as his opponent lunged forward Shadow had a surprise in store for him. The stab came up towards his chest once more, but Shadow's daggers went out and to the side, blades pointing inward with the tips pointed towards the ground. The two daggers came in on each other like a pair of scissors, and cleaved the approaching sword into three distinct pieces as his opponent's shock and his lapse of concentration spelled his doom after the short bout. Shadow's left blade turned flat and came up against the man's throat, a simple pulling of his arm followed and Shadow's foe dropped to the ground holding his throat and coughing horrendously.

Blood seeped from behind his hands as he tried to catch his breath, but it was no use. He was now choking on his own blood as Shadow's daggers returned home to their sheaths whilst Shadow himself turned to face his dying opponent. He grabbed him by the chin and hoisted him to his feet, the Wraith coughing blood on his way up. Shadow looked him dead in the eyes and simply glared at him until his eyes turned grey and his body went limp as he drowned in his own blood. Shadow let his body fall and kicked it away several feet with minor effort before heaving a sigh and slowly returning to his log to sit down and enjoy the warmth of the fire.

Before long, he remembered someone whom he'd since shoved to the side and looked over at her.

"... Sorry..." He said calmly as he then looked back to the fire.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

Mayumi had heard Shadow’s footsteps coming closer towards her from behind but wasn’t ready for what happened next. The moment she felt his hand on her shoulder, she tensed and didn’t had much time to realize what he was about to do. She was shoved to the side with much force that had she not fast reflexes she would have fallen clumsily to the ground. Flipping forward with the force of the shove, she landed on her hands before landing in a crouch with a cat’s grace at the side lines of the soon to be battle field.

The two men drew their weapons and took their stances. Mayumi took this opportunity to study the two men’s fighting style while still being on guard in case there were more enemies around.

"So, Shadow..." The man said as his stance lowered a bit. "I'm surprised you didn't kill her on sight. You could have easily enough, couldn't you? Don't tell me you're getting soft?" He mocked.

The man’s mockery didn’t seem to affect Shadow as he kept still, not moving from his battle stance as his opponent began to circle to the left with his stance wide and prepped for battle.

During the few minutes that the two men stared each other down, Mayumi could feel the intensity of the nearing battle building with each passing second. Then, the battle begun with Shadow’s right dagger soaring forward in a stabbing motion as his left came up as a defense.

The sword came back towards his body while pointing at Shadow as he parried the stab off to the side and tried to use the parry to line up a stab of his own, Shadow's second blade coming forward and jamming the flat of his sword against the Wraith's chest as the two were suddenly face to face and within inches of each other. Mayumi’s eyes were focused on the battle as the flurry of attacks occurred within half a second catching evens the slightest movement made.

In less than half a second, Shadow had closed an eight foot gap, stabbed at his opponent and also anticipated the parry and pinned his weapon to his chest. However, his opponent too had anticipated such an ending and managed to position his feet in such a way that Shadow could not advance forward, but would instead be forced to retreat to break the coupling of their weapons and renew his assault.

‘He’s fast.’ Just as she thought that, Shadow’s opponent spoke her thoughts.

"You're as fast as they say." The Wraith commented as he shoved Shadow back and disengaged for but an instant before regaining his defenses.

Shadow landed a few feet away and took a step back, readying himself as well for a renewed assault as the Wraith took the initiative this time and lunged in with a full fledged stab of his sword. Shadow parried the attack off with one blade, but his opponent had let go with his right hand at the last second and caught Shadow's hand as it instinctively came up for a slash at the forearm.


Mayumi observed the fight, her eyes not leaving them for even a second. The two men were almost on par with each other and Shadow seemed to be having difficulty landing a stronger counter attack against his opponent. The fight continued with Shadow quickly gaining the upper hand while Mayumi continued to watch the battle closely, not a single detail missed with her trained eyesight.

Soon, the battle neared it's end.

This time, as Shadow’s opponent lunged forward Shadow had a surprise in store for him. The stab came up towards his chest once more, but Shadow's daggers went out and to the side, blades pointing inward with the tips pointed towards the ground. The two daggers came in on each other like a pair of scissors, and cleaved the approaching sword into three distinct pieces as his opponent's shock and his lapse of concentration spelled his doom after the short bout. Shadow's left blade turned flat and came up against the man's throat, a simple pulling of his arm followed and Shadow's foe dropped to the ground holding his throat and coughing horrendously.

Blood seeped from behind his hands as he tried to catch his breath, but it was no use. He was now choking on his own blood as Shadow's daggers returned home to their sheaths whilst Shadow himself turned to face his dying opponent. He grabbed him by the chin and hoisted him to his feet, the Wraith coughing blood on his way up. Shadow looked him dead in the eyes and simply glared at him until his eyes turned grey and his body went limp as he drowned in his own blood. Shadow let his body fall and kicked it away several feet with minor effort before heaving a sigh and slowly returning to his log to sit down and enjoy the warmth of the fire.

"... Sorry..."
He said calmly after a while before turning back to the fire.

Mayumi stood and walked over to the now dead man. Bending down to feel his pulse on the neck, she assured herself that he was dead.

“Is this man one of the wraiths you spoke of?” She asked as she stood, staring at the corpse.

If that man was who she thought him to be, then she would know for sure that Shadow’s words were true and not lies to deceit her. It would indeed be difficult to defeat a man like that at her current level, not to mention, a group of them. She would have to start training rigorously if she had any intentions of killing one in future.

‘I’ll lay low and train, for now.’ Her mind spun with plans a thousand steps ahead for her future training.

She was determined to avenge her master in some way. They would pay for killing the man who gave her a reason to continue leaving. She would have probably been dead long ago had the mysterious man not found her. Then again, since that day she found him murdered, her reason for living had slowly been fading. If it weren’t for the thought of revenge, she wouldn’t be here today as well. As she had said earlier, a weapon was meaningless without its master.

‘I knew your master well enough to understand that he was beyond thoughts of revenge and spite, and as his pupil you should be too.’ Shadow’s words rang in her mind, her plans vanishing with those words.

‘What exactly does Master wants me to do then?’ She questioned her mind that had no answers.

Her goal up till now was to avenge her master, but now that she has no mission, she would no longer have a reason to live, but leaving her master unavenged... Could she do that?

“Such loyalty and determination, but what use are you when your master is dead? Don’t worry child. Your loyalty will be of much use to Te’i Sai in future.” The words of the man flashed in her mind.

“What would Te’i Sai want with me? A weapon that skills cannot compare to theirs.” She turned to face Shadow. Though her face was expressionless, her eyes showed a hint of what she felt deep within, ‘hopeless and lost’, before returning to it’s dull state within the blink of an eye. If possible, they seemed more lifeless than before.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shako Khan

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by elloit
Shako felt like a fool. It had seemed to be such a good plan at the time – go through the mountains, see the snow, and then head for Shaharan to see the desert. He had read in books about the effects of the extreme cold on travellers and thought he had understood the dangers. He had been wrong. His robes were made for the warmth of the South, and his woollen cloak was not sufficient protection and was now damp with melt water from the snow. A little cold he had learnt to live with, but he knew he was freezing. His body would not stop shaking no matter what control techniques he used, and he was starting to lose feeling in his hands and feet.

It had all seemed like such a good idea back then. Two weeks previous he had made up his mind to leave the temple. It had been an easy decision in the end. After the meeting with the traitorous Deacon he had been watched by the deluded monks wherever he went. There was no longer anyone in the temple he could trust. The plan had been forming in his mind for three days: he would seek out the one they called the ‘Red-Eyed Demon’, and implore him for help. The fact that he was going to get to experience the rest of Cre’Est, and have an adventure of his own like in the stories, was just an added bonus.

The monks of Uirlin, as hidden away from the world as they were, had still heard the rippling waves of gossip about this ‘Red-Eyed Demon’ that had swept their way across the majority of Cre’Est. Everybody had different ideas and opinions about it, and most discounted them as wishful thinking on the part of the peasants whom Te’i Sai oppressed. But the rumours had not dimmed over the months since they had started, and that had settled the idea in Shako’s mind that they were not simply fabrications and fantasy – there really was someone out there killing off Te’i Sai, even if they weren’t a demon. If he could track this individual down, and beg for their help, then he would’ve taken the closest step he could to saving his temple. He didn’t want to think about what might happen if he couldn’t find the Demon, or if he was turned away.

Under cover of darkness he had scaled the walls and left the temple. There were no guards, for no monks ever left that were not supposed to, and no-one in Veilbrand was foolish enough to steal from monks who only had basic possessions that were either of no value or would easily be tracked down if stolen. It was then that he had seen the capital of Veilbrand in person for the first time. He looked out from the hillside the temple was situated on across the capital, and saw the sea of lights from lanterns and fires and observed the lazily rising columns of smoke from chimneys. Most people wouldn’t think anything of it, but to see it for the first time and to truly appreciate the scale of the city was awe inspiring for Shako.

That awe was smothered by a blanket of sorrow and despair when he actually travelled through the city. He had thought it would be a nice, happy place like in the books. He had thought wrong. The streets were filthy; waste of various kinds was strewn in piles everywhere. It seemed like every fourth building was a tavern, and all of them appeared to be playing host to vicious bar fights. Bodies were slumped out in the streets, some unconscious others he feared were dead or critically injured. Beggars lined the streets, and their outstretched hands were painful to have to turn away. All he had was the clothes on his back, the cloak to provide him with anonymity and a little protection from the elements, and a small bundle containing a copy of the Teachings of Uirlin and a few days’ worth of rations. He could not give them anything, though he deeply wished to, and they hurled insults at him that cut him deeply. Whores offered themselves to him and he declined them as politely as possible.

He hadn’t known that he had travelled exclusively through the poor district on his passage through the city. He didn’t know that a few streets over were the walled estates full of happy, smiling, rich families. The experience had been an eye-opener to say the least; it brought all the harsh realities of most people’s lives to him in one burst. He wept himself to sleep that night, and even then he barely slept he was so unsettled by the experience. He knew deep down that he himself couldn’t make a difference to those people, but that didn’t mean he didn’t want to help them.

After that it had become easier. He had stayed in towns only when necessary, he had done odd jobs in return for food – most of them involving heavy lifting of some description. At night he slept out in the countryside, and every morning he trained for at least an hour to keep his body in good condition. At the end of the first week the mountains had loomed on the horizon and the idea of seeing the snow had first began to creep into his head. Into the mountains he had gone, letting his curiosity lead him. At first it had seemed nice enough, with clear skies and low winds. It was of course cold, but not unbearably so. Shako had gone further into the mountains only using the stars to check his position at night, he did not actually know if he was travelling in the correct direction during the day.

Then the blizzard had come. Everything was white. Snow whipped around him, the winds threatened to yank him off his feet. He had thought it only temporary, but it had lasted for at least a day. He could not see the night sky to navigate, and could not see far enough ahead to get significant warning of any approaching danger. He had a strong feeling that he was going to die, and that he would most certainly not be saving the temple. He pressed on through snow drifts that were now beginning to reach waist height in places, forcing himself forwards in the hope of rescue. His body was acting mechanically, his mind numb and slowly receding. He felt tired, but knew from his reading that if he dared fall asleep he would not wake up.

Just as all hope seemed lost lights had appeared a short distance ahead of him. At first he thought he was hallucinating, but as he headed towards them they grew in intensity and a cabin began to coalesce out of the swirling snow. He prayed to Uirlin that he was going to be saved, summoning all of his remaining strength to push the last few metres to the door.

“Hello?” he yelled, though his voice was weak, hammering his fist on the door. “Is anybody in there?”

He kept pounding on the door, praying for salvation. The effort was beginning to make him feel dizzy. He couldn’t keep this up for much longer…

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

"Is this man one of the Wraith's you spoke of?" She asked.

Shadow's eyes glued themselves to hers, searching the depths of their black and red pools for both questions and answers of his own. As to what those questions and answers may have been, only time would tell but he could feel a few of them being brought to the surface already.

"Yes, he was a Wraith." He said quietly.

"Judging from the slight boost in speed he held over others I've fought in the past, he's not just a Wraith... Perhaps a Ceres Wraith, one of the next rungs up in the ladder in their hierarchy." He said as he reviewed the fight in his mind.

"There is a system for the Wraith's hierarchy, and Kiiro sits at the top and is a serious cut above the others. If you thought that the fight between the two of us tonight was intense," He said, gesturing with his head towards the corpse, "You don't want to see the fight between Kiiro and myself when it comes around again. The two of us are due for a serious rematch, as though I technically defeated him last time, the fight was interrupted before it could reach a true conclusion."

He shifted his weight a little, keeping his eyes on her.

“What would Te’i Sai want with me? A weapon that skills cannot compare to theirs.” She turned to face Shadow. Though her face was expressionless, her eyes showed a hint of what she felt deep within, ‘hopeless and lost’, before returning to it’s dull state within the blink of an eye.

Shadow studied her for a long moment before answering.

"You have a special gift, young lady. It's more than likely why your master rescued you in the first place and chose to train you, to try and bring that gift to the surface where it could be utilized in full. For better or worse, he's done a good job until now. In order for you to access this gift, you'll have to come to a certain realization at some point and it will be up to you to understand what that realization is. For now, concentrate on one thing: Get stronger." He said, standing up and walking towards her in a relaxed state.

"Your potential exceeds that of anyone I've ever seen at your age. If you trained seriously in the same manner I did when I was coming up the ranks, you'll be more than a match for any low end Wraith within little over one year's time. The fight we had tonight will still seem impressive, but well within your grasp by the time you're truly at your peak. So, I have a proposition for you and that is to train and travel with me." He said, stopping two paces away.

"I have met many people in my travels who have been a great help to me, all of whom carried a special gift of their own. It takes more than one person, no matter how strong or skilled they may be, to bring down a giant like Te'i Sai. I didn't destroy the first two branches on my own, I had help. Now, I am alone, and in need of aid once again. I have the third Grandmaster in my sights after two years of tracking and searching, but I have not the means to reach him alone. If you truly want to avenge your master's death, don't look to the man who killed him, look to the organization that created the man who killed him. If we bring down Te'i Sai, Kiiro and the others will not have a reason to exist, much the same way you don't believe you have a reason now. The only difference is, you do have a reason." He said.

"So, will you accept my offer?" He asked.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

"You have a special gift, young lady. It's more than likely why your master rescued you in the first place and chose to train you, to try and bring that gift to the surface where it could be utilized in full. For better or worse, he's done a good job until now. In order for you to access this gift, you'll have to come to a certain realization at some point and it will be up to you to understand what that realization is. For now, concentrate on one thing: Get stronger."

The moment he stood and started walking her direction, she grew wary of him even though she could tell he was in a relaxed state.

‘Does he mean a gift to kill?’

"Your potential exceeds that of anyone I've ever seen at your age. If you trained seriously in the same manner I did when I was coming up the ranks, you'll be more than a match for any low end Wraith within little over one year's time. The fight we had tonight will still seem impressive, but well within your grasp by the time you're truly at your peak. So, I have a proposition for you and that is to train and travel with me." He told her, stopping two paces from where she stood.

‘Train and travel with him?’ she repeated in her thoughts.

"I have met many people in my travels who have been a great help to me, all of whom carried a special gift of their own. It takes more than one person, no matter how strong or skilled they may be, to bring down a giant like Te'i Sai. I didn't destroy the first two branches on my own, I had help. Now, I am alone, and in need of aid once again. I have the third Grandmaster in my sights after two years of tracking and searching, but I have not the means to reach him alone. If you truly want to avenge your master's death, don't look to the man who killed him, look to the organization that created the man who killed him. If we bring down Te'i Sai, Kiiro and the others will not have a reason to exist, much the same way you don't believe you have a reason now. The only difference is, you do have a reason." He said.

A new chance at avenging her master’s death, a new mission. What reason did she have to refuse an offer like this? Thinking through her options carefully one last time, she made her final decision.

“If it means getting to avenge my master’s death, I accept.” She said without hesitation, looking Shadow straight in the eyes.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

“If it means getting to avenge my master’s death, I accept.”

At her words, Shadow winced inside. She was still set on the idea of avenging her master's death and so far it looked to be the only reason she had for accepting his offer. He knew that there would be little he could do to change her mind on the matter of vengeance, but at the very least he hoped to be able to prove to her that she could find new reasons for living aside from killing others who had done her harm.

"Very well then." He said calmly.

He turned his back to her and walked back to the fire and looked up towards the sky as the clouds revealed the moon's position to him. He did a quick calculation in his head and then turned his attention back to his new apprentice.

"With the failure of the team sent to kill me earlier today, Kiiro is going to be putting someone new on my tail to keep an eye on my movements before the end of this week. I'm not worried about that, but I am worried about him finding out that you are alive and training with me. That being the case, it's time for you to disappear for a while. From this point, head north into the mountains. They are entirely comprised of rock with very little soil and it will be impossible for them to track you there. From the mountains, go as far west as you can back towards Triveila and meet me in the forest outside the southern gate of a small village called Shielg. It's fairly remote and contains excellent terrain for the kind of training I need to put you through."

He took a moment to let this plan sink in, which he could see by her subtle reactions was not going to be a problem, before continuing.

"We will be training there for a period of exactly two months before we continue with our plans to attack Te'i Sai. During that time, I will be your new master. I do not go by a title when teaching others, so either respond to commands and requests with calling me by name or by saying "Yes sir"." He said sternly.

"I will give you one warning about this path you are about to take and if you cannot accept what I'm about to tell you then you have but one option, and that is to walk away. Your master may have shaped you into a weapon, but you are a weapon with a dull edge. In order to sharpen the blade of your soul properly, I'll have to completely retrain you from the bottom up. Everything you ever learned from your master will either be disposed of, or refined. I can see from your posture and the way you have handled yourself since our initial meeting that you carry little to no fear of what lies ahead, and that is one thing your master has done right.

However, do not think that this training is simply going to be difficult. At times, it is literally going to be impossible for you. Either by design or by the limitations of your body's size, structure, or physical capabilities, there are going to be times where you will not be able to perform what I demand of you. There is a method to the madness, and it will be up to you to discover what the methods are on your own. When our time of training is over, I will be testing you on the knowledge and skills you have gained when we are through... If you live through it of course."

He took a moment to look back at the fire, and then let his eyes slide over to the corners as they locked on hers once again.

"When training is done, you are going to fight for your very survival against me in a one on one confrontation. If you can stave off my attacks for a period of two minutes, you have passed my training and I will know that we are ready to proceed. If you cannot, you'll die."

He slowly turned his head, his eyes seemingly the point of rotation as opposed to his neck as he came to face her fully.

"So are you still willing to accept this path?" He asked, his eyes glued to hers.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

"So are you still willing to accept this path?" He asked, his eyes glued to hers.

Hearing the word ‘impossible’ sparked something within her, something she hadn’t felt in a while was slowly beginning to stir awake. Forgetting her master’s trainings was impossible, but thinking back since the day she was picked up by her master, she couldn’t remember a time she did something that was plainly possible. It had always been impossible or extremely impossible. Her addiction to the word ‘impossible’, was like the temptation of a tigress’s when she spots her prey and pounds on it with determination.

This training she decided, she would definitely go through it. If this was what it took to accomplish her goal of revenge, then so be it. No matter what it took of her, even if her life was lost, it didn’t matter. If she did not go through this training she would be better of killing herself rather than wandering through the Nations aimlessly.

‘Master, this will be for you.’

She turned to face her new master fully.

“Disappearing will not be an issue for me for I have lived my life in a non-existent way.” She spoke without an expression.

“As I said earlier, I will not turn my back on anything but conquer them. I will go through your training no matter how tough and come out either stronger than before or dead.” She stated her decision, determination flowing through her though her face failed to express.

“But I am confused about this man you speak of, Kiiro. What exactly does he want from me? Does he simply want to kill me? Or does he want the special gift you said I had?”

She had been trying to figure out what Kiiro wanted but still did not see what he could possibly want from her. She could only understand if he wanted to kill Shadow and her, other than that it was beyond her. Could they want her pet, Sora? She glanced at her pet well hidden in the shadows of the trees.

“Master had said that it was better to know what your enemy wanted before they strike so that you would be prepared and necessary precautions could be taken.” She explained, her sights back on Shadow.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow kept his eyes on her through her questions and then looked away towards the fire to think for a moment. He considered her confusion and then decided that it was only natural for her to be confused.

"... Kiiro most likely is interested in the gift you bear. It's a special gift that I've only seen on two other people in my life. However, I would tread cautiously with questions about this gift if I were you. If Kiiro truly sees it for what it is, then you have serious problems. If Kiiro sees it as nothing more than a means to an end, then you'll be safe from him for a time. I doubt that he recognizes it for what it truly is, but still we should be prepared for either situation."

With that, he stood up and kicked the fire, dousing it with his boots into the dirt before looking back to her. In the moonlight, he was still plainly visible despite his black outfit. Had the moon been hidden, he would have been nigh impossible to see. He looked over to Mayumi, red eyes glowing like small red jewels, casting a faint red hue into the air around them without the fire to hide it. The red spheres hovered for a moment just passed Mayumi's head, looking into the forest behind her, then found their way to her own eyes once again.

"It is time." He said quietly.

"Now, disappear into the mountains to the North and meet me at the location I gave you. I expect to see you there in no less than three days time though it is typically a five day journey with the route I described. Consider this your first leg of training, though it will be by far your easiest. No go..." He said before turning half way towards the West.

"And before I forget, keep your bird out of reach for the time being. I don't want you relying on her for directions. You'll find this place on your own in three days, or you won't find me waiting for you at all. You'll have your time to train with the bird ahead, but for now tell her to stay out of reach." He said before he turned his back completely.

"Good luck." He said before disappearing into the forest.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

She watched him disappear into the forest, in which the moment he left felt familiar metal talons descend their weight upon her right shoulder. Mayumi turned to face her accomplice, its dark keen eyes focused on hers as was hers focused on it, showing their strong bond and understanding of each other in that short moment.

“Go fill your needs and meet me in the greeneries outside the southern gate of Shieg 3 days from now.” She instructed.

With a nod of it’s head, Sora flew off into it’s freedom of 3 days. Once Sora was out of sight, Mayumi got to work, disposing off any evidence of her existence but left the corpse where it was for it wasn’t hers to deal with. All was done under a minute.

Bearing shadow’s words in mind, she lifted her cloak’s hood over her head concealing her identity and set off at medium pace into the shadows of the forest. She headed north like Shadow said and sure enough, she could see the figure heads of mountains.

‘Should be able to reach by noon.’ She estimated.

Clearing her mind of thoughts, she blended in with the atmosphere around her and continued her travel, her guard up as usual never failing to maintain, while observant eyes scanned their surroundings as they travelled deeper into the forest.

The setting changes from Cre' Est to Triveila

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow

Earnings

0.00 INK

Traveling at great speed Shadow ran over boulders, through the tress, and even swam under water on his journey to Shielg. The city was small, barely four thousand people, but none the less a haven for those who didn't want to be found. The surrounding countryside was littered with dense woodlands and jagged mountains just to the east at the edge of the Great Mountain Range which split the continent in half down the middle. Shadow found his destination within twenty hours of traveling from the moment he left the young woman behind to find it on her own using the route he gave her.

Deliberately giving her the long route enabled Shadow to find the best possible location to train her without interference from the outside world, and also gave him time to scout the area to ensure that it was safe beyond the shadow of a doubt. Though nowhere was truly 100% safe from Te'i Sai, anything was better than being out in the open.

Shadow walked the entire perimeter of the small city in less than two hours and scouted for several more as the sun began to set on the end of this day. His eyes adjusted to the lowered light levels and his vision began to increase in efficiency. Truly, it was one of the few true gifts which Te'i Sai had given him. His glowing red eyes took in ambient light on a level only accessible to cats and other nocturnal animals. While he saw perfectly during the day, his vision was even better at night.

He found the location about two miles to the southwest of the city's Southern Gate and set up a marker for himself by sticking one of his poison tip needles into the bark of a tree. From tip to tip, the needle was covered in a concentrated hemotoxin which targeted the blood of its victims and could also melt flesh if external exposure were to go untreated for more than about half an hour. Shadow's gloves defended his skin from the effects, but never the less he was already on his way to the river to wash them.

After rinsing his gloves and returning to the desired location, Shadow began to look around and saw several unique and well developed opportunities for pushing the girl to her absolute limits. The mountain trails were her morning jog, the forest her jungle gym, the rocks were weights, and the ground her bed for the next full month once she arrived. Shadow used the entirety of the night to set up specific areas for use and then sat down as the dawn approached on the final day before her expected arrival. Shadow sat down in the center of his training ground and crossed his legs as he closed his eyes and prepared to meditate. His own training would be slowed by teaching this young would-be Assassin, but never the less he would bear with it and train on his own when her time was done.

"I hope you're ready..." He said quietly before beginning his meditation.

The setting changes from Triveila to Cre' Est

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

Mountains north of the clearing


As estimated previously, she had reached the bottom of the mountains early noon. She searched for a starting point up the mountain and started her climb. As she got higher, the temperature shifted at a constant rate making it hard to adapt, but didn’t bother Mayumi. Harsh cold air kept hitting her mercilessly but to her it only felt like she was blending in with them, becoming one with the cold air. Her heart rate and fluidity of her blood flow slowed as her surroundings grew colder. She found that she could easily adapt to the temperature after a few minutes and climbed at a pace that was above average.

It was dangerous to power through the climb but at the same time, Mayumi found it to be good training. Her energy would drain faster, that she knew, and added with muscle fatigue from all the shifting terrain she would be facing sooner or later she would most definitely be facing a lot of trouble later on from muscle fatigue, but if she could not even accomplish this, her easiest mission from Shadow, she could forget about training with him. Summing it up, her vengeance for her master would not be accomplished…

‘I won’t let that happen.’ Black-red eyes narrowed in determination.

More obstacles came one after another like endless attacks, oxygen level decreasing dramatically and rapidly shifting terrain... Stopping for rest was something she knew could not afford while on these mountain.

While climbing she was careful not to step on any patches of soil, the soil could stick to her sandals leaving a trail behind and that was what she could not risk. The smell of the richness of the earth became faint as she travelled further up the mountains. Looking back, she could see the mass of lush greenery that was the forest she had been in just a while ago.

By the start of evening, she had reached the top of the mountain without taking any rest. As expected, her muscles were aching like no tomorrow and her energy was near depletion. After taking a minute to catch her breath, she made her way down the other side of the mountain with no time to waste. Taking a rope out of her cloth bag pack, she hooked it to the edge of the cliff that reached just a few feet above another cliff edge. Using the rope as support, she walked down the side of the cliff jumping off when she was near enough to the other cliff which she then unhooked the rope by pulling one end of it and letting the other go. Using this method, she continued travelling down the mountain’s edge climbing whenever necessary. She was used to using her energy till over depletion since she and her previous master was always travelling and training twenty-four hours a day with little to no rest.

It was nearing dawn when she made it down the first mountain. Looking ahead, she saw that she still had two mountains to climb. Fortunately, the next two were half the size of the first meaning that she would be able to conquer them in one day.

After resting for half an hour, she continued her journey again. Using the same methods as before, she made it through both mountains by evening of the second day with her energy level dangerously low. Mayumi decided to rest for that evening and continue her journey the next day.

‘One step closer to avenging master.’ Was the young girl’s last thought before she passed out on a steady tree branch high up among the leafy shade.

The setting changes from Cre' Est to Triveila

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow

Earnings

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Shadow's meditation took a total of three hours to complete, which was unusually short for him but there were other things on his mind that would not rest. He opened his eyes and stood up from his spot in the center of the small clearing and looked back towards the city as he decided it was time once again to check his body for any signs of deterioration. It was a constant struggle for Shadow to maintain his strength and agility when he did not have access to the facilities of an organization like Tei' Sai, but it was not impossible.

After a jog back to the village he broke into one of the first houses he found and saw a large mirror in one of the bedrooms. It would do nicely for his purposes, so he took off his shirt and jacket and his vambraces and gloves. He stood perfectly erect in front of the mirror, checking his muscle tone and size from the front, both sides, and the back. Shadow's most prominent muscle groups in his torso were his pectoral muscles, the latissimus dorsi, and abdominal muscles. The muscle groups that were slightly less prominent, but none the less noticeable, were the serratus muscles, the obliques, and the trapezius muscles.

Shadow's arms were well defined as well, with the deltoids, triceps, biceps, extensor muscles and radialis muscles all holding a relatively equal tone quality all throughout his arms. He was slightly unsatisfied with his serratus muscles and his obliques not being equal to the rest of his torso, and so he decided that it would not be a bad idea to focus on them for a while. While he always worked every muscle group in his body during training, working certain muscles more than others was common for anyone and everyone due to the difference in size of the group, functionality in their chosen field of work, and other limitations. Shadow saw no limitations and knew that if his muscles weren't all in perfect equality that he would fall out of balance and his body would reach limits sooner rather than later.

That was the main problem with most who used extreme workout routines. They all either focused too heavily on one group at a time, one group, period, tried to balance but didn't pay enough attention to how to do that, or thought they could balance everything with awkward and impractical workout routines. Almost all of these mistakes were all too common in the world today, and Shadow held an extreme distaste for those who claimed to have an "unorthodox workout regime that kept them in peak form". Unorthodox workout routines were dangerous, unstable, and not worth the trouble they caused on the body.

Shadow replaced his clothing and left the house, choosing to study his lower body muscles at a different time and place. His legs were the most powerful muscles in his body, there was no disputing that fact. Shadow could life men twice his weight from an unconscious, dead weight, position on the floor over six feet into the air by kicking them with one leg. He could stop animals in excess of three times his weight from jumping at him by using both legs as a springboard to knock them backwards. It was one of the reasons he'd survived encounters with Devil Wolves in the past. He knew that he didn't need to worry about his legs at the present time, though they would need to be checked soon in the near future.

When he returned to the training grounds he removed his jacket and shirt once again, but left his vambraces and gloves on as he looked around and saw what he was looking for. Two large but still accessible boulders to the side underneath a large tree would serve the purpose of weight training. He picked one of them up with both hands and tested its weight, guessing it was about forty to forty five pounds. The boulder was about a foot wide and eight to ten inches deep with some substantial weight to it for something that small, which led him to believe it was a leftover from one of the quarries in the mountainside that was dumped during a shipment. He took it with him to the center of the clearing and began to lift and turn with the rock in hand, focusing on movements that would target his obliques first as they were larger and easier to target than the serratus muscles. Simple overhead stretch routines served the purpose well, as the obliques moved in sequence with the upper body and could not be moved or rotated on their own.

Working like this for a period of approximately thirty minutes, Shadow was decently satisfied he'd gotten used to the weight as his obliques and even his lats were starting to burn a little bit. He put the smaller rock down and picked up the other, slightly larger rock from the tree and guessed it to be around sixty to sixty five pounds which would work well. He resumed this stretching and rotating routine for another half an hour, and when he found that it was becoming difficult to rotate at all from the strain on his muscles he was satisfied that there was no further need to do so. He put the two boulders away by the tree again and stretched out without them for ten minutes, letting his muscles relax and flex back and forth to get the blood flowing again as he started thinking about what he would do for training himself when his new protege arrived.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

Heading West from the mountains to Triveila


The next day Mayumi was up on her feet once again, travelling west from the mountains towards Triveila as Shadow instructed.

Passing by a small stream, she washed her hands. The moment cool water touched her hand, she felt something similar to sharp needles piercing her skin. Turning them over, she realized that she had received blisters from climbing the mountains earlier and hadn’t noticed it for her hands had been numb from over using her muscles. Ignoring them, she tested the water to be sure it was safe to drink and as she felt the cool water trickle down her throat and the sweet after taste of it lingering…

A warm putrid feeling rises up in in her throat and with a hacking cough she spits the water out onto the ground beside her. Since a few months back, she had noticed that whenever she tasted something sweet her body would reject it and she would feel the need to puke. She did not know the cause of it and thinking it would go away after a while she ignored it. But now it has been a few months and still it persist. In fact, it had gotten so much worse that even the slightest sweet taste of raw fish would be rejected. She was confused as to what it could be that was making her this way. Her lack of nutrition was starting to disrupt her senses, she could also tell that she had lost a lot of weight from the way her ribs were starting to show themselves through skin. Mayumi tried drinking the water again, only to end up spitting it out.

Dumping the water back into the stream, she continued travelling at high speed, her senses alert for any unusual moves around her.

‘Doesn’t matter what happens to me, as long as Master’s death is avenged.’ She told herself.

‘I just hope I’ll still be able to train.’ Silver eyebrows narrowed forming a frown.

By noon, she had gone through Triveila and was now nearing a small village called Shielg. Instead of going into the village, Mayumi travelled outside of it heading south and found the southern gates Shadow had spoken of. Sensing a strong presence within the forest, she advanced towards it knowing it would be Shadow.

She had been here a few times with her master when they were finding places to rest and had also trained a little there but never stayed for more than 5 hours. They would usually train while travelling so they would cover more ground faster, though the training always seemed to focus mainly on stamina, arm and leg muscle training, and to further improve her keen sight for her aiming skills.

Two miles to the southwest of the city's Southern Gate, lost in the lush greenery of the forest, Mayumi finally finds Shadow training himself.

“I’ve arrived… Sir.” She spoke a little unsure of how she would call him, recalling his reaction when she had first said his name.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

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Shadow's training was almost complete when Mayumi finally arrived, worn out and very much affected by the route he intended for her. But that was a good sign of things to come if she could close that distance so quickly. Her training with him would run fairly well depending on how well her body responded to it. He was going to have to try a few different methods at first to discover what type of body she possessed.

Certain people gained weight and muscle quickly, but lost it just as quickly. Others gained muscle at a slower rater and lost weight quickly, and Shadow himself was that type. Some gained muscle quickly and lost weight quickly, and others still, though much more rare would both gain and lose muscle at an equally fast or slow rate depending on their diet and training habits.

From the way she was able to carry on despite her obvious lack of body weight, Shadow was guessing she possessed the same body type as he did. She would not gain muscle very quickly, but she was quick to lose excess weight and build the strength and stamina she needed to press forward. If that was in fact the case then he would have a much easier time training her since he knew how to work with that body type.

"I'm pleased that you made it here so quickly, but I see that you've neglected your personal health a little bit. The blisters on your hands and the lack of weight to your frame despite your size are things we'll need to work around for the next month." He said, seeming somewhat indifferent to the words that were coming out of his mouth.

He stopped his training a moment later and rotated his head in a circle, cracking the vertebrae in his neck with a few small pops before he rolled his shoulders with a similar effect as his shoulders pulled back towards his spine. Most people didn't realize how easy it was for the spinal chord to go out of alignment, even for the healthiest and most well trained individuals. Shadow himself had to stretch and realign it at least three times a week given his habits and workout regimen.

This girl's training would need to be tailored very carefully. If he was going to help her gain the weight and muscle she needed, the first few days would have to be decidedly slower than he would have liked. None the less if she was going to be able to conquer what lie ahead, this was their only option.

"First thing you are going to do is this..." He said, turning towards her.

"I want you to catch a total of ten fish down by the river. Take that little basket with you and place them in there. I will have a fire going in a few minutes, hopefully by the time your return. Today we are going to relax and let your body recover properly from what it has already done and tomorrow we will begin your training in full."

He was about to turn away when he remembered something important, and turned back towards her.

"I forgot one thing... Tell me your name." He said, offering a small but never the less genuine smile.

"If I'm going to be your master I can't just call you 'pupil' or 'hey you' all the time now can I?" He asked.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

"I forgot one thing... Tell me your name." He said, offering a small but never the less genuine smile. "If I'm going to be your master I can't just call you 'pupil' or 'hey you' all the time now can I?" He asked.

Seeing Shadow’s mouth lift at the corners like what she'd seen the people in the photos at the inn had done, she wondered what it meant. Could it mean a threat?

“Mayumi.” She answered him as she pushed down her hood, revealing her identity to him once again.

Thinking she had stared enough, she turned and picked the little basket up before heading in the direction where sounds of water running were heard, aware of her surroundings at the same time.

Once she was by the river, she placed her bag under a tree and took off her black cloak revealing the black clothes she wore underneath which consisted of a light greyish green half top that exposed her ribs and same colored mini skirt with black tights underneath. She also wore a black leather glove that covers her middle three fingers on her right hand, dark grey arm guards covering both her forearms and black leather boots with dark grey metal calf guards. A black leather quiver with 15 silver carbon arrows was hooked to a belt on her skirt and a bow strapped diagonally across her top enabling quick access to her weapons the second she needed them.

Taking off her boots so she would have a better feel on the river bed, she placed them beside her bag and stood by the river. Looking down, she saw her reflection and like it had been for the past few months she had gotten even thinner without fail. Her ribs were starting to show and so were her other bones. The young girl stared with a straight face at her reflection.

‘Will I be able to hold out until my mission is complete?’ she questioned herself.

Not making any more time to stare at herself, she took an arrow from her quiver and got into the river till it reached mid thighs. She stayed still, waiting patiently for fishes to come by and sure enough a few minutes later, some passed by. With lightning fast reflexes, she used her arrow and speared three fishes with deadly aiming skills. Dumping them into the basket she had hooked to her waist with a rope, she waited again.

‘Are we going to eat this?’ she wondered, knowing she would have a problem if they were going to do so.

15 minutes later, she had caught exactly ten fishes like Shadow had requested and was now heading back to the training grounds with her cloak back on to cover her obvious flaw beneath. She couldn’t afford to waste time on her problem, she needed more time on training so that she would be able to make it through her mission.

‘I should wear a full shirt for training.’ She noted.

She placed the basket in front of Shadow and stood waiting for his next set of instructions.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

Mayumi gave her name before setting off, and Shadow committed it to memory.

When she returned with the fish, Shadow inspected them and nodded. He had started a fire while she was away and proceeded to stick the fish with branches from trees he'd snapped off and placed them around the fire to cook.

"They will be ready to eat shortly, and with any luck they won't be too bitter. Typically when cooking fish like this it leaves a bit of an aftertaste that I don't particularly like, but we can't afford to be picky about our diet while training."

He looked over at Mayumi and analyzed her frame once more, though her cloak hid a good portion of it. He was able to see that she was thin, and that would be a problem if she was to truly get the full experience out of her training and be able to put the skills she was going to use to work against Te'i Sai in the near future.

"... Call your bird. Now that the first leg of training is over you're free to call her back to your side." He said as he sat down on a fallen log near the fire.

"The life that you are about to enter is cold and cruel, and every ally you have is going to be invaluable to your survival. Your bird will serve you well in the times to come, so keep her close to you." He said as he put his hands closer to the fire to warm them.

The temperature was beginning to drop, and part of Shadow allowing her bird to come down was for the birds own safety. If the temperature fell to where he was expecting it to, the altitude the bird was likely hovering at would be dangerous for its blood pressure. He could identify with her relation to the bird, as it was really the only family that she had since her master was gone. Shadow knew that feeling all too well, and he wanted to do everything he could to help her keep her family in tact as the coming darkness approached them in their journey.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

"... Call your bird. Now that the first leg of training is over you're free to call her back to your side." He said as he sat down on a fallen log near the fire."The life that you are about to enter is cold and cruel, and every ally you have is going to be invaluable to your survival. Your bird will serve you well in the times to come, so keep her close to you." He said as he put his hands closer to the fire to warm them.

She knew that Shadow was thinking of her bird’s health and for that she was thankful. She reached her hand up towards the sky and soon, a dark golden-brown figure soared from the skies towards them, defying the winds directions and within a minute landed on her hand. Bringing her hand down, she stroked her pet’s head and swept down its coat of golden-brown feathers.

Sora’s hunting had seemed to be a success seeing as she had gotten a little bigger in size and her weight had increased a few kilos. Sora snuggled up against Mayumi, showing its affection for her and in return she pets its head. When Sora first expressed its affection, she did not know what it meant being one whom knew no emotion and till now she still doesn’t understand but would just pet Sora’s head comfortably.

Feeling Sora’s shiver, Mayumi picked up a fallen log behind her with one hand, placing it by the fire and sat down hoping it would bring Sora some warmth.

The smell of fish filled the air around the fire, but Mayumi’s stomach failed to respond to it even though she had been going on without food for a few weeks now. She used to be able to eat just about anything she found but now, everything was being rejected cause of their slight sweetness to it. Mayumi could only hope that her stomach would just accept the fish that night. She didn’t want to be seen as weak in front of Shadow.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow sat with his eyes closed in front of the fire as he waited for the right moment to pull the fish away from the flames. It wasn't going to be long now, as they had been sitting in silence for a while now. Fish was not his favorite meal, but it was better than anything else this area of the forest outside of Shielg had to offer. Another fact that he couldn't ignore was that he had approximately one to two months to prepare Mayumi for the fight ahead. Any longer than that spent in training would give his targets too much time to anticipate his arrival and put a stop to his momentum.

While he didn't want to hide that fact from Mayumi, the less she knew about his private agenda the better.

He looked over at Mayumi for a moment, and did a quick analysis of her current form. It had already been established to him, but another look at her thin frame had him worried. Two months would be very tight and quite difficult if she was not up for what he was going to put her through. Knowing her master gave him a spark of confidence that it could be done, but either way it wasn't going to be easy.

He looked away from her towards the fire and was able to smell that the fish were complete. While not very sweet or particularly delectable being prepared in this manner, they would serve the purpose of providing Mayumi's body with vital proteins and other nutrients that her body would need to build muscle and weight.

"Alright Mayumi..." He said in a calm voice.

"Take five of the fish and eat. If you don't think you can finish them, eat them anyway. You will not sleep tonight until all the flesh has been stripped of the bones, save for the head of course."

Shadow stood up and took in a deep breath through his nose and then looked over at her.

"Give the five remaining fish to your bird. She'll need to build up her strength as well, because she too is going to be in training." He said calmly, gazing over at the bird for a moment.

Once he was satisfied his message had been absorbed, Shadow stood up and began walking away into the forest but stopped himself at the treeline. He turned his head slightly back towards her and one of his red eyes found its way to the corner of an otherwise white surface to lock onto hers.

"When your meal is finished, you will go to sleep. If you can't fall asleep on your own, then hit yourself just under the nose at the infra orbital pressure point on your upper lip. Tomorrow your training begins the instant you wake up from your sleep, and so does hers." He said, pointing to the bird before turning away and disappearing into the forest.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

"When your meal is finished, you will go to sleep. If you can't fall asleep on your own, then hit yourself just under the nose at the infra orbital pressure point on your upper lip. Tomorrow your training begins the instant you wake up from your sleep, and so does hers." He said, pointing to the bird before turning away and disappearing into the forest.

Sora glared after Shadow, not liking the way he pointed at her while Mayumi stared at the fishes she caught still being cooked over the fire.

Taking 5 sticks off the fire, she gave them to Sora while she let the other five cook a little more before she would consume them. She was hoping that the fish would be bitter so that she wouldn’t have a gag reflex from any sweetness in the fish. After a few minutes, she took one of the five fishes off the fire and blew on it before biting into the soft burnt flesh.

She tasted slight bitterness in the fish and chewed a little before swallowing. She felt the strange feeling of warmness going down her throat and slowly, she wondered...

‘How long has it been since I last ate?’

After a few minutes, she was done with her meal and so was Sora. Her stomach felt weird with all the food she had just eaten but it definitely felt better than being empty.

Scanning the area for a comfortable place to sleep in, she found a sturdy looking tree and climbed up to her usual level which was quite a few feet above ground. She had always felt safer on higher grounds as she felt it was easier for her to keep watch from above than on the ground where most enemies were. With Sora by her side keeping watch, Mayumi fell asleep. The two could never trust anyone other than each other with their life even if the person claims to have no intentions to harm them.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

When morning broke, Shadow was ready and found Mayumi and Sora in one of the trees. The bird was awake, and with just a slight snapping of a twig in his hands, Mayumi awoke. It was a good sign that she could wake up at a moment's notice and at such a slight sound. Training began immediately, and it became clear that while she was indeed advanced in her techniques the lack of nutrition and vital energy her body needed was holding her back.

The first thing on day one of Mayumi's training regimen was to show Shadow what she was capable of as far as combat was concerned. Shadow attacked her at about half strength, just enough to push her and bring out her instinctual drive to protect herself. Subconsciously every human being was programmed to react to things flying at them such as fists, and Shadow used that to figure out where Mayumi was as far as strength, skill, flexibility and stamina as they sparred for about ten minutes.

When sparring was over Shadow had her stop and eat breakfast which consisted of a handful of berries and a bit of animal meat on the fire. He received a nasty surprise from her though as the berries touched her taste buds. Mayumi instantly gagged and the berries found their way to the ground. Unhappy with this, Shadow inquired as to why this occurred and received a reply that rather irritated him. Mayumi had a gag response to sweets, and so Shadow would have to make sure that her meals were either bitter or covered with ingredients that would get rid of any sweetness factor. He was not much of a cook, so that was going to be difficult for him to do. However, he was determined to make good on his promise to help her avenge her master so if it meant some trial and error to figure out what worked best then so be it.

When breakfast was over and the food given one hour to digest, during which time they both meditated, Shadow began her training anew. Mayumi was made to run a circuit designed to push her muscles to their limits by jumping, crawling and running without pause. The concept behind this was that constantly running, dropping to the ground, standing back up only to jump over and over again before going back to the ground would exhaust her muscles and help her build up strength from having to constantly lift her body weight with both her arms and legs throughout the circuit. It was a technique that worked wonders despite its simplicity, and before long Mayumi had hit her wall and could no longer continue.

When this occurred, Shadow ordered her to meditate for another hour before continuing and finishing her required amount of time on the circuit as he turned his attention to Sora. The bird was naturally gifted towards understanding what someone wanted of it, and so he started to get her used to the idea of being targeted by weapons. While the bird was large, fast and powerful, it was not designed for maneuverability which made her a target for one with either a gun or a strong bow and arrow. In order to help the bird avoid becoming a victim to such tactics, Shadow taught her to look for signs of such weaponry and tactics by forcing her to fly low to the treeline while searching for him through the leaves while he aimed a throwing dagger at her. While he decided it best not to aim directly for her just yet, he did throw the dagger several feet in front of her when she ventured too close without spotting him in time to let her know that she would have just been killed by a gun or bow and arrow. The bird obviously didn't take too kindly to this, but never the less seemed to get the idea because after a few more tries the bird ceased to fail in finding him before he could let the dagger loose.

When Mayumi's time was up, Shadow resumed watch over her as she returned to the circuit. Muscle fatigue was the greatest weakness of all those who held and active and dangerous lifestyle such as the two of them and she had to get used to being completely exhausted now before she fell victim to it later. Being as thin as she was and as malnourished as she was, it didn't take long for her to hit her wall again and cease to continue. Once again, Shadow ordered her to sit down and meditate for one hour before finishing her final few minutes on the circuit. When she was done they ate lunch, and Shadow made sure to keep everything from being too sweet. She still gagged at one or two mouthfuls of meat that weren't cooked quite enough, but she was able to put them back in front of the fire to cook more before eating them without issue.

When this was done, Shadow had Mayumi lift and toss large fallen logs which weighed in excess of one hundred and eighty pounds. This was well over the girls body weight and he noticed that it was very difficult for her in her weakened state to perform such a task. Given time it would cease to be an issue, but for now he continued to exhaust her muscles and then have her rest throughout the day with such exercises. Before long her body would become used to the routine and build up stamina and proper endurance against such workouts and that was when she'd be at her most dangerous. It was not necessarily the skills of the one involved that made the biggest difference. Sometimes it was how long and how hard they could go before exhaustion that made the difference, and Shadow had fallen victim to that in the past and nearly been killed.

He had no intention of allowing her to succumb to the same fate.

Before long the afternoon was upon them and Shadow stopped their muscle training to have them take turns washing up at the river before eating dinner and going to sleep. It was a very simple way to live, but it had the desired effect because Mayumi fell asleep almost immediately after clambering into the tree with Sora by her side. Day one was complete, and tomorrow would be a very adventure. Shadow had been an instructor to Assassins for years before rebelling against Te'i Sai, and as such he was also one of the "doctors" when things went wrong for his students. Massage and relaxation was also a part of the Assassin's lifestyle because of how stressful on the mind and body it was, and so Mayumi was about to experience that segment.

When she woke up Shadow had her warm up with stretching and a light cardio workout that still proved difficult because of how exhausted and sore her body was. When she was stretched out, Shadow began working with her on assisted stretching. Shadow began with her arms, stretching them behind her back and gently pulling almost as if to put her in an arm trap. When he reached the point where it was uncomfortable she gave the signal and he stopped and waited. When she told him the feeling disappeared he pulled her arm a little farther until it was again uncomfortable before stopping and waiting again. This was done for several hours for both arms, both legs, her back and her neck. Building up maximum flexibility was crucial for her, as she was likely to face off against other Assassins in the future who would be able to get her into such traps. If she was to escape or turn the situation to her favor, she needed to be able to move and react with their techniques which required her body to be as limber as possible.

When stretching was done Shadow informed her of the massage techniques. While not thrilled, Mayumi didn't question him and so she allowed him to massage her back, legs, arms and neck while she took care of massaging anything else that was overlooked by Shadow. While he was familiar with massaging women, having done it numerous times in Te'i Sai, Mayumi made it pretty clear she didn't want him touching her chest, butt or stomach. She was able to reach those areas on her own anyway so having her do it for herself was not unreasonable.

The entire day was about relaxation and focusing on her body's ability to relax after being under so much pressure the day before. Soon enough the days would bring combined workouts where Mayumi would both exercise and relax in the same day, but for now she could not afford such luxury.

The next day was more of what day one offered but with different methods in mind. This time it was all about attack power. Building up her raw strength by having her punch and kick the trees as hard as she could until her hands and knuckled bled and her shins and feet had bruises all over before allowing her to relax. During that time Shadow applied several salves and special herbs to her skin which would aid in protecting them against internal damage to the muscles. The skin would still be worn and bruised, but underneath it all her muscles would be fine which would also serve to build her tolerance for pain which was already quite high. He had to give her former master credit for that one, but she needed more and that was what he planned to give her.

Along with attacking was retreating, and so Shadow began to literally throw everything he had at her. She was not allowed to counter strike or make contact with his body in any way. She had to use all of her speed, agility and stamina to evade his attacks and escape to the treeline. This was easier said and done as Shadow had both longer arms and legs than she did, not to mention experience and so he managed to stop her retreat several times before she finally made good her escape. The time it took her to accomplish this task was insufficient in Shadow's eyes, and so she repeated the exercise several more times before being allowed to rest. Sora's training was slow and steady, helping the bird overcome her natural maneuverability issues and also helped her identify new ways to scan her environment while still keeping an eye ahead for danger. Both the bird and her master were naturally gifted, and he had to marvel at how well they both took to their training. Before long Sora's training would be complete, but Mayumi still had a long way to go yet.

The next day was more of what day two offered with relaxation, massage and more salves and medicines to assist her wounds. Shadow warned her that this would become regular for her but she didn't seem to mind very much. Her drive to avenge her master was strong, and it kept her going despite everything Shadow was throwing at her.

Over the next two weeks Mayumi added over ten pounds of muscle and was beginning to look much more like a real human being instead of a skeleton. She was getting stronger, faster, and already her stamina was increasing at a rapid rate. Her ability to complete the circuit for muscle exhaustion was no longer an issue for her as she was able to finish it without stopping once before moving on to flip and move the fallen trees. Shadow had recently cut down a rather large tree and used its trunk and branches as new weights for Mayumi, the trunk being almost three feet thick and full made it much heavier than the hollow fallen logs. At over two hundred and fifty pounds, they were a much greater test for Mayumi, but would have to wait just a little longer before she was ready for them.

By the end of the first month, Mayumi had made excellent progress and was able to keep up with the training enough to the point where Shadow could both train her and allow her to relax for a few hours during the course of a single day. This being the case, Shadow ramped up the difficulty of her training by several times and once again she began finding a wall to which she could not easily overcome. She had since lost almost all of her body fat content, save for her chest which was the same as when she began, and replaced it with five more pounds of pure muscle and had a more natural and full figure as opposed to being a stick with legs. Her muscle tone had improved a great deal and her eating habits had also improved. While she still gagged somewhat at sweets, Shadow was able to get her to finish a complete meal of up to five fish, two helpings of animal meat and some vegetables from the nearby town on occasion. Sora had since completed her training and was allowed to do as she pleased so long as it didn't interrupt what Mayumi was doing.

By the end of the second month, Mayumi was undeniably a different girl than she had been when Shadow took her in. While her personality had remained the same, she both looked and fought like very differently than before. She had completed her trial of surviving Shadow's attacks for two minutes at the end of her training without any issue, and now she was a true Assassin. Shadow was confident enough in her abilities to the point where if they were confronted by one or two Assassins from Te'i Sai Mayumi could handle the situation on her own. She was in terrific health and even better shape, and she was ready to avenge her master. While not ready to be the one to take on Kiiro herself, she would be able to hold her own against those who followed him. Te'i Sai was one thing, but the Wraiths were another matter entirely and Shadow was still wary of letting her fight one just yet. Her training would continue on a daily basis to keep her new found skills sharp and in peak condition, but otherwise they were ready to finally start on the path to avenging her master.

"You've done well Mayumi, and I'm proud of all you've accomplished." Shadow commented, standing by the fire as evening set in around them.

"I have something to give both you and Sora, and I know you'll both make good use of them." He said as he stood up and walked over to a tree with a small hollowed out section of the trunk.

During their training in the second month Shadow disappeared for three days while Mayumi was free to train on her own in his absence. During that time he had returned to his home and fetched special weapons which he had crafted long ago when he was still a member of Te'i Sai. A slight modification was made to one of the two gifts, specially designed for Sora, while the others were pre made for Shadow by a friend. However, he had no use for them so he had simply kept them safe until now.

From within it's dark recesses Shadow pulled out a long pouch with with something obviously metallic within its confines. A smaller pouch made its appearance as well, more than likely for Sora as Shadow handed Mayumi the longer pouch. He opened the smaller pouch and presented to Mayumi small claws of metal which could be easily attached to Sora's natural talons at any time during missions and detached just as easily via specialized clips on the back under the talon.

"These metallic talons are made from Orichalcum, a nearly indestructible metal which will make Sora a weapon unto herself should she need to make use of them. Her natural talons are a fine weapon, but these will help to protect and reinforce them whenever necessary on missions in places where stone and metal are an issue." He said as she put the Orichalcum talons back into the pouch and set them down beside Mayumi.

The setting changes from Triveila to Cre' Est

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shako Khan

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by elloit
Shako's head hurt. It felt like his skull was several sizes too small for his brain. He gritted his teeth and started piecing together what happened. It came slowly, but the memories were complete, and he still knew who he was. As far as he could discern he didn't have any brain damage. Slowly, he opened his eyes.
He was inside a log cabin. A small lantern was hung on the wall he was facing, and behind him he could hear the crackling of a fire. He was lying on a filthy straw mattress slung over a couple of wooden pallets to form a bed. It looked like it would almost have been better for his health to have slept on the floor. There were two doorways on the wall at his feet, both of them open. A quick glance upwards revealed dozens of crates filling the rest of the room. Evidently it was some kind of storage room. Slowly, carefully, he sat up. His body ached whenever he moved, and he felt stiff, but otherwise he appeared unharmed. 

No sooner had he wondered who his rescuers were than two burly men trudged into the room. As soon as they saw he was awake they started grinning. They were both big, ugly, and looked like they had taken several too many blows to the head (and face). Shako took a guess and decided they were brothers, and this was confirmed when the first one grunted "Oh look bro, our guest is awake!"
The second one swaggered closer, kneeling down beside Shako "So he is! Tell me friend, how are you feeling?"
The pair were being anything but friendly and sincere, but Shako answered the question anyway "I think I'll live."
"Well, if that's your plan," the first one said leaning in close and grabbing the front of Shako's robe "what were you doing snooping around our cabin?"
Ordinarily Shako would have broken the man's forearms - he didn't respond well to threats - but he needed some information from these people, and he didn't entirely trust his body not to betray him just yet. 
"I was lost in the blizzard and looking for help. How long was I unconscious?"
"You slept for two days." number two replied, as one released Shako, seemingly satisfied "What kind of fool are you to go into the mountains without sufficient supplies?"
"I hadn't realised just how insufficient they were at the time. I'll not be making that mistake again."
"You'll not be making any mistakes again if you aren't careful." growled number one. He appeared to be older, but less intelligent than his brother. Not to mention more aggressive. 
"All I want is to know the route back down the mountain. I will leave you in peace."
"That's as maybe, but we need to be sure that's all you were doing. Get a dose of skalm ready, Jim."

Shako's brain worked like an encyclopaedia. Skalm: an extremely powerful painkiller often used in cases of amputation, large burns or other such horrific injuries. It was a paste which gave a sensation of floating and disconnection from the body when applied to the skin, even in small quantities, for more than a minute or two. It also impaired higher brain functions somewhat, meaning it was difficult for people to lie whilst under its effects. It could be taken recreationally, though it was illegal to do so on most of the continent save for a few backwaters. Shako had never had it, and didn't intend to. If that meant he had to beat the two men whom had saved his life then so be it. Shako began to subtly tense his body, getting ready to strike. He watched the man, Jim, preparing the dose whilst feigning fear. 

Shako was just about to strike when a third figure entered from the other room. It was a woman, and she would have been pretty if not for the huge scar that ran down the left side of her face and pulled her nose and mouth out of alignment. 
"What do you two think you're doing?" she screeched, and they both flinched
"We're gonna give him some skalm to make sure he tells us the truth." Jim bumbled
"You most certainly are not!" she snapped, switching to the other brother "You do realise he's a monk, don't you?"
"I don't see how that makes a difference, Sandra." the brother replied, standing his ground. 
"It means he has no reason to lie to you, you fools! Now get out so I can have a word with him."
The two brothers left in a hurry, the second staring daggers into Sandra's back as he went. 

"I'm so sorry." Sandra began, her voice suddenly soft and sincere, the abrupt change catching Shako off guard "I hope they didn't hurt you."
"No, I'm fine. Thank you for intervening." Shako smiled politely.
"My pleasure," she continued sitting down on the bed next to Shako "they need a firm hand to keep them in line, but they mean well."
"I'm sure they do." Shako stated sarcastically, those two had anything but good intentions. 
"You do realise we can't just let you go though. You've got no money, but we need some kind of payment for saving your life. Food and firewood isn't free, and times are tough." 
Shako sat in silence for a moment, he had been expecting something like this and already formulated a plan. "How about a trade then?"
"I'm listening."
"Well, judging by how protective your friends are of this place, and how many crates full of skalm you've got, I'm going to assume that you are smugglers, correct?"
Sandra nodded cautiously. 
"My guess," Shako continued "is that you're shipping the stuff out of Shaharan and over the mountains into Cre'Est. So my offer is, that you tell me the routes down from the mountain, and in exchange I will carry three sacks of skalm to your dealer."
"How do you propose to manage that much without being searched?"
"I'm a holy man, remember? If I tell them it's for medicinal purposes, they won't question it."
Sandra was grinning "Are you sure you're a monk, you seem very willing to get your hands dirty. Plus how do we know you won't rat us out?"
"Trust me, I'm doing this to further my agenda not yours. This is just a means to an end. And I will swear an oath to you that I will not tell the guards. The monks of Uirlin are not allowed to break their oaths."
"Fine then," Sandra smiled, standing "I accept our arrangement. I'll have some provisions prepared and then guide you down the mountain myself tomorrow morning."
They shook hands, and she left to oversee her minions. Shako, meanwhile, was repeatedly telling himself he was doing the right thing. He had to leave this place as soon as possible, preferably without making enemies, and this was the best way to do it. Even if it went against his moral compass, he doubted it was the worst deed he was going to accomplish before Te'i Sai was finished. 

As planned, they departed the next morning. There were no snowstorms, and the sun was out. It was right back to the beautiful vistas Shako had first been lured in by. The trek down the mountain was treacherous, following numerous unsteady goat paths slicked with ice. Many of them overlooked sheer drops. Despite the dangers, they made it to the base of the mountain without any serious incidents. Hidden in a small wood they said their goodbyes, which were not particularly heartfelt.

"Before I go." Shako asked "What's the latest rumour on the Red Eyed Demon?"
Sandra's brow creased as she thought "Last time I was in town was a month ago, but they say he's left Cre'Est. There was talk that he'd entered Triveila but then again some say he headed into Veilbrand. Why do you want to know?"
"Oh, it's just a hobby of mine to follow the gossip about him." Shako answered, slinging the sacks over his shoulders and turning to leave. 
"Wait! One more thing!" Sandra called, her tone suddenly slightly pleading
"What is it?" Shako enquired, turning back towards her and dropping the sacks to the ground again. 
"I know I don't really deserve it but...will you bless me?"
"You do realise that the blessings of Uirlin are meant to bring luck in battle? Normally only soldiers ask for them."
"I know," Sandra replied, blushing slightly "but I feel like I could use whatever favours the Gods will give me."
"Very well then." Shako shrugged, and laid his hands upon her shoulders and closed his eyes, taking a moment to collect himself before saying "Uirlin, I implore you to look after this daughter. To watch over her, and see her carried victorious through her struggles."
He removed his hands and slung the sacks again, and this time she did not stop him, simply calling out "Thank you."
He walked on, considering the rumours she had told him. They may have been old, but Shako knew he was at least five steps behind from the beginning. What mattered was how quickly he caught up. He would head into Triveila and try his luck there once he had made the drop. He was in no hurry to go back to Veilbrand, and whilst he was eager to get back on the Demon's trail, he would keep his vows and deliver the skalm first. 

One step at a time, he told himself, one step at a time...

The setting changes from Cre' Est to Triveila

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Haku Yukimura Character Portrait: Leander Silverbroidered Character Portrait: Ren Gekki Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Kisho Hosokawa Character Portrait: Anaro "Ghost" Takashi Character Portrait: Lydia Ray Frost Character Portrait: Marthel Swiftwind Character Portrait: Mei Character Portrait: Arksas Alexander Character Portrait: Narasin "Nash" Rukota Character Portrait: Dice Leyline Character Portrait: Devin Kailsen Character Portrait: Yamikouio Greave

Earnings

0.00 INK

“You should place this salve on your ankle twice a day until the pain is resolved. Please be reminded not to put much strain on your left ankle. Working hard in the fields is commendable but do remember that your health is your wealth.”

This was spoken with gentleness and warmth and was also accompanied by a sincere smile. It was enough to make the crowd within the small clinic to blush at the sight.

“Th—Thank you very much Dr. Nora.” These were the words of the middle-aged man who was the current patient of the infamous Dr. Nora.

“You are very much welcome, Mr. Clifford.” The middle-aged man stood and shook the Doctor’s hand which he noted to be soft as if it had never been into hard labor at all before leaving.

Another patient was about to enter but a woman with short dark brown hair and brown eyes blocked the entrance with a smile. She had few wrinkles on her face to denote that she is quite age but still had a youthful gait to emphasize that she is not that old yet.

“Well, it is lunch now so come back later.” There were a few protests but they were immediately silenced with a deadly glare.

"Aunt Beatiz, there was no need to glare at them." The said woman looked at her niece and released a sigh.

"If I didn't, they would not have left you alone. For now, have some lunch Sereinia." Kind and bright deep amethyst colored eyes looked at her aunt with a small smile agreeing to the statement that was said.

It had been indeed such a long time since she has returned to Triveila. Most of her travels had made her stay longer in Veilbrand, Shaharan, and Cre’Est.

"It has been a long time since, I heard my name." After all, most people that she met just refer to her as Doctor or Dr. Nora. Beatiz looked at Sereinia and smiled gently as she laid some freshly cooked meals on the table for the two of them to eat.

"So it seems. Are you back here for good?" Sereinia sat on one of the chairs at the table.

"No, I am just passing through." This answer of hers made Beatiz released a sigh.

"So, you're still not done with this journey of yours?" Taking her seat as well, Beatiz looked at her niece.

"Not yet, Aunt. I know you are very worried about me." This had made Beatiz sigh more.

"A beautiful young lady traveling on the road alone with no knowledge of defending herself from thieves or thugs especially with the increase in crime rate today. I am more than worried, child."

These words were said with much sincere concern and at the same time a slight annoyance possibly due to Sereinia's stubbornness about this dangerous journey's of hers. Sereinia understood the concerns of her aunt. After the death of her parents, her Aunt Beatiz had become her surrogate parent. From her opinion, this small town in Triveila had become her new home. She had always hate giving her aunt many worries. However, these travels of her are something she could not stop at the moment. It had become of her way of discovering herself little by little.

“I will be fine Aunt Beatiz. I have returned here safely did I not?” She said with a smile as she took a bite of her salad. Her Aunt released another heavy sigh.

"As long as your safe and send me letters, I believe that would make my nerves at the very least calm while you are up and about." After saying this, Beatiz took a drink of orange juice while Sereinia smiled warmly.

"I will always."

After a pleasant lunch, Sereinia was once more put to work as a doctor. She began receiving patients with all manners of ailments from a simple bruise to infectious diseases. However, she was glad enough that no one needed an operation. Soon enough, she had managed to secure a brief moment of rest for herself before dinner. She had decided to visit her 'secret base' as she called it. It could be found at the outskirts of the town in a nearby forest. Before she had decided to do her travels, she had always come here for some self-reflection and at times to reminisce the days where her family was still complete. This time, she just wanted to see how it looked like now after she had been gone from it for so long. She had forgotten to tell her aunt about it before. So, no one had taken care of it while she was away.

"There you are..." Sereinia's eyes glowed with wonder and nostalgia upon seeing her 'secret base'.

It was actually a made-up tent craftily hidden beneath some rock formations underneath a large tree that had taken its rooting upon it. In her opinion, it was the perfect place as she could feel nature surround her and at the same time feel quite comfortable. She lowered herself to the ground as she has to crawl into a hole to reach inside her tent.

"Well, let see how bad is it inside." But before she could do so, she heard a few rustles from the nearby bushes. She turned around to look behind her.

"Is someone there?" She stood from her current position and looked at the source of the slight noise.

"Do you need help?" This caused her curiosity to peak a little bit as she approached the bushes but as she does, she heard a branch being broken behind her in which she instantly turned around in reflex.

Immediately, Sereinia was grabbed from behind and cloth was placed on her mouth. It prevented her to scream for help and she finally see a group of rather burly looking men that composed of 4. They must be the thieves that she had been hearing around town earlier.

"It seems we have fine catch today boys! We can have lots of fun!" The man that had grabbed her began to touch sensitive areas of her body which she could only close her eyes in shame.

"Someone... please help me..." It was the only thought that entered her mind.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

Mayumi glanced at the small pouch that was now set down beside her before proceeding to open the long pouch in her hands. She could tell they were arrows from the feel of it and upon opening, pulled out one of the many arrows. The tip of the arrow was made from Orichalcum, and if she recalled correctly they were a type of indestructible material the same material Shadow’s twin daggers were made of. Thinking about it, the combination of the bow her previous master gave her and these arrows she have received, they would make a great combination and enhance her skills greatly.

Red-black orbs looked up to crimson ones.

“What do you want from me in return for everything, Sir?” She asked him.

She never took things without payment for them and in this situation it was the same in her eyes.

Sora was perched on her shoulder, looking out for danger around them while she conversed with Shadow.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow glanced at her and was caught somewhat off guard from her question about payment. Shadow hadn't expected any from her, but he knew of a way to answer her that would satisfy them both.

"I want you to swear to me that you will do whatever you must to keep yourself alive until you can see your master's life avenged. You will never, and I mean never, go anywhere without my consent on your own. You will never try to take down a target that is out of your reach to prove yourself either to me or anyone else. And you will never go after Te'i Sai Assassins without me. The Assassins of Te'i Sai have numerous rankings and I have yet to teach you what they are. As strong as you've become over these last two months taking on a Master Assassin of any caliber or specialty, let alone a Wraith, is still out of your reach. You have more training ahead, but for the time being we will press onward. Now stand up Mayumi, and put your things away. We've a lot of ground to cover. Our current target lies in Triveila's Capital City."

Shadow himself walked over to his bag and grabbed all of his belongings, which luckily fit into a small pouch that he could sling over his shoulder and clip into position at his hip. It wasn't ideal for combat situations to have something around your neck, but if need be he could simply snap the line and let it drop to the ground. Shadow gave Mayumi a few moments to gather what belongings she had with her and take her place beside him before pressing onward. As they continued through the forest, Shadow's ears caught very faint sounds of a struggle in the distance.

Shadow raised his right hand to shoulder level with a slight curl to his fingers. This was his signal for Mayumi to stop moving and be dead silent as he continued to listen. No doubt she could hear the faint sounds as well now that they weren't walking anymore, but they were too soft to figure the exact location. He looked over to Sora, and the bird immediately leaped into the air and began to fly higher and higher until it spotted what Shadow was looking for and returned to them, facing the direction of the sounds.

"Good work Sora." He said quietly.

Shadow looked to Mayumi and slowly leaned his head towards the noise and back to neutral position, a small signal for her to follow closely and be ready.

Shadow took off for the source of the sounds of this struggle and before long when they broke a small clearing they found a scene that got Shadow's blood boiling as they halted near the treeline. A young woman was being sexually assaulted by four large men, and it brought back bad memories for Shadow. He had to get a grip on himself and stop from reaching for the Twins, as he wanted nothing more than to kill... no that wasn't the right word, he wanted to slaughter them where they stood. Someone very dear to Shadow had experienced such a thing in the past, but unlike this time Shadow was not there to help or put a stop to it. Though he didn't know this young woman, he would not let her fall victim to the same fate.

Shadow looked over at Mayumi for a brief second.

"They're mine, so the two of you stay put." He said as calmly as he could, fighting the urge to grit his teeth.

Shadow purposely found a large branch sitting on the floor of the forest and snapped it with his foot, causing all four of the men to cease their activities and look his way.

His bangs hid the full coloration of his eyes, and so they obviously didn't recognize who he was or they would never have even bothered to remain where they were.

"Well, I guess the girl has herself a would be savior boys!" One of them laughed.

The others laughed with him and three of them let go of her and began walking towards Shadow as the fourth kept the girls hands bound behind her back with one hand and covered her mouth with the other.

Shadow waited for them to gather in a semi-circle around him before moving further. As the one to his right drew in close enough, Shadow let loose with a single kick just above his groin and retracted it in less than a second. The speed of his kick hid the true power behind it from all but Mayumi, who undoubtedly knew what was about to happen to the unfortunate victim on the receiving end of the blow. The man's friends were a bit stunned at how fast the kick was, but otherwise thought nothing of it and started to laugh again.

The man paused for a moment as his body struggled to recognize what had just happened to it, but before long he was doubled over in pain and gagging as he tried to vomit but nothing came out. His friends stood there in awe as their laughter came to a halt, but their awe was then replaced by fear as their friend began to cough up blood in between his short, ragged breaths. They took a couple steps back before looking back at Shadow, who had since raised his head just enough for the moon to reflect the perfectly red coloration of his eyes.

Their faces went pale as they slowly looked to their friend, who slumped to the ground and passed out with blood trickling out of the corners of his mouth.

Shadow watched them as they looked to each other and tried to psych themselves up, thinking that if they took down Shadow here they would become heroes. The first of them lunged at Shadow, aiming a punch directly at his face. Shadow simply let the punch come, turning his head at the last moment so it landed on his cheek bone, breaking the smaller bones of the man's fingers on contact and sending a reverberating shock through the man's arm. Shadow's superior neck muscles kept his head from budging upon impact, but the man who punched him was not so lucky as he reeled back grasping his hand in pain.

Shadow walked forward a bit and struck the man with the knife edge of his hand just in between the second and third vertebrae in the man's neck. The blow separated the two vertebrae and caused him to become temporarily paralyzed as he fell to the ground in a heap. Since Shadow didn't sever any nerves the man could be allowed to walk again if surgery was used to help reposition the two bones into proper alignment, but given the severity of these times, he would never walk again. But he would live. The last man in front of him took one more look from his friends to Shadow, looking him in the eyes before running away and disappearing into the forest.

Shadow slowly turned around to face the man still holding the young woman as he glared coldly into his eyes. His unlucky opponent was too stunned to move, though he still had a death grip on the young woman he held, and so Shadow simply walked forward until he stood right in front of him and the poor girl. He reached out and placed his thumb, index and middle fingers about an inch above the man's wrist which held the cloth over the girls mouth, and as the stunned thug looked at Shadow's hand there was a sudden twitch in Shadow's arm and a loud snap echoed throughout the area.

The man screamed out in pain as the Ulna bone in his forearm was broken under Shadow's grip and he instantly let go of the girl with both hands as he reeled back in pain. Shadow took a step forward and put his hand on the girl's shoulder, and though he wasn't looking at her, he was beckoning her to move behind him as he stepped past her towards his now reeling opponent. He grabbed the man's lapel with his right hand and pulled him in close, the man's screams coming to an end when his face was but a mere inch from Shadows.

"... Leave..." Shadow said in a low and menacing voice.

As he let go the man didn't hesitate to follow the order as he ran away into the forest after his friend.

Shadow took a moment to breath and clenched his fists, still wishing he had just slaughtered them like the animals they were for what they had almost been able to do. Shadow gave a short whistle, a signal for Mayumi to take her place at his side as he turned back towards the young woman and offered a slight bow of his head.

"I apologize for what those men were able to do to you miss. I hope that you will be alright, having had to bear witness to this violence." He said gently, his tone and facial expression now completely relaxed.

He could tell by the look of her that she was not one for combat in any form, and that likely she didn't appreciate the treatment Shadow gave these men. In fact, if she was anything like the one Shadow had failed to save before, she would likely try to help the two who remained unconscious on the ground despite what they had just done. Shadow wouldn't have been surprised of she had, but either way she was safe now and that gave Shadow a bit of a boost to morale.

The bad memories had taken a small portion of his morale away and disheartened him, which was not uncommon for him. One of his few true weaknesses was his susceptibility to his own gruesome past, and every time he ended up allowing himself to think about those memories for too long he suffered from depression which would sap small portions of his strength and diminish his fighting capabilities.

The setting changes from Triveila to Cre' Est

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Helpless. It is what Sereinia was feeling at the very moment. She tried many times to have them relinquish their hold on her but to no avail. They were clearly superior to her in terms of strength. She could talk to them however, she knows when that is hopeless. All she could do was cry silently hoping that someone would come or at the very least they could make her death swift but that was not how she felt it would be. Their touches were getting vulgar by the minute and in a show of clear reluctance she bit her lower lip in shame that it bleed. The man holding her nuzzled his face on the crook of her neck and she truly felt disgusted by that action.

"You smell divine, don't you? Hmmm..." It was by that moment they all heard a branch being broken alerting them of someone else's presence.

"Well, I guess the girl has herself a would be savior boys!"

Eyes of deep amethyst looked at the unknown man that had ventured on her predicament. Sereinia had never seen anyone like him in town before so he was not probably from around here. Moreover, she felt that this man was very dangerous. Three of the men that were 'feasting' on her went to take care of the lone man. Her eyes widened in fear of what could possibly happen. She struggled from her captor to stop what was going to happen. Somehow, she has a strong feeling that those three men would be killed or injured severely given the chance. But, the hold on her only tightened as her captor looked at her arrogantly.

"Where do you think you're going? We'll take care of this whelp and then you." The man smiled at her lecherously which made her blood go cold.

Sereinia would have said something if it was not for the cloth on her mouth. But even before she could finish her thought on the matter, she heard laughter. It caught their attention however, the laughter soon ceased when the one of the men fell to the ground with blood coming out from his mouth. She had a horrified look understanding the damage that the man must have received. In summary, the man needed medical assistance. She could feel her captor slightly tensed and she completely understands. This lone man was not just anybody. Soon, the identity was revealed to them with those red eyes receiving gentle light from the moon. It was the one known as Shadow.

The two men were shaken but still believed that they have the advantage. However, Sereinia knew that they didn't. She had heard tales about the man named Shadow and in combination of what she had sensed and witnessed. These men were not in competition with him at all. The fight began but the results were soon revealed. One of the men fell to the ground after taking hit at his neck. She could see well the possible damage to the fallen man. Following that, the other men proceeded to flee deeper into the forest in fear of suffering the same fate or even worse.

The grip on her hands tightened even more considerably. Sereinia cast a glance towards her captor and could see the fear in his eyes, He was holding her as if she was his lifeline. She cast her attention in front of her and saw Shadow stopping just a few inches before them. She could tell that her captor was shaking. As for her, she should be as well sensing this eerie bloodlust. However, she was captivated by something else. It was at that moment Shadow broke the man's arm before her eyes. She was released instantly while Shadow beckoned her to get behind him as he continued forward towards her captor.

"Please, that is enough!" Sereinia spoke out-loud towards Shadow.

It is true that they intended to cause her great harm however, Sereinia did not want to see anymore violence if she could stop it. Fortunately, it would seem that Shadow had listened somehow as the man was able to run towards the same direction as his companion did earlier. At this act, she released a small sigh of relief. A whistle caught her attention and it would seem that Shadow was not alone as she originally thought. His companion was quite a sight to see. She looked at him as he approached politely bowed before her.

"I apologize for what those men were able to do to you miss. I hope that you will be alright, having had to bear witness to this violence."

It would seem that the rumors about Shadow being someone of pure evil is not true. Sereinia remained silent for a while hearing his words. She took in his appearance and in all honesty. This Shadow person seems to her as a normal person and the same could be said about his companion although, they do have this air of danger around them. Regardless, she sensed that she should not be afraid of them. She closed her eyes briefly and then opened them again accompanied by a small yet grateful smile.

"Thank you for saving me."

After saying that, Sereinia look at the two unconscious men and knew that her aunt would scold her dearly for what she was about to do. Perhaps, Shadow would also think of her as foolish but, she just had to. After all, who was in their right frame of mind to help someone who wanted to hurt them to begin with. She approached the two fallen men and knelt down to look at their current conditions.

"You have given them quite the beating. I would have to take them to the clinic to treat them."

Standing up properly, Sereinia looked at Shadow with those deep amethyst filled with gentleness and at the same time a bit of sternness. The moonlight shone upon her as if she was a creature that descended from it. Her raven black tresses that had taken the tint of purple were being blown gently by the wind and her scent that is natural of hers mixed with it.

"You wanted to kill them but did not. You are a gentle person, Mr. Shadow. I would like to have that kindness be extended for a little bit If you would not mind."

Sereinia spoke with a smile as if the attack did not happened. She would usually scold the person who harmed somebody even if it was for her sake. However, there was this lingering sadness in Shadow's demeanor. It would seem that what happened to her might trigger something within him. She did not want to further pry into scars that have yet to be healed. Furthermore, he had hold back in not killing them despite her sensing how he wanted to do so.

"Would you help me carry them to the village? I would also want to show my gratitude to you and your companion with dinner."

The setting changes from Cre' Est to Triveila

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

"You wanted to kill them but did not. You are a gentle person, Mr. Shadow. I would like to have that kindness be extended for a little bit If you would not mind."

Shadow winced at her use of the word "gentle", but none the less offered her a small smile. When she requested he help her carry them to the village and to her clinic, he thought about refusing. Knowing what he and Mayumi had to do and the time they needed to do it in, there was something in him that told him to refuse. However, her disarming charms had gotten to him, just as a certain someone else's had in the past as well and he couldn't do anything but heave a sigh and look to Mayumi.

"... Seems our plans are on hold for the moment Mayumi. I will ask that you bear with me on this, as it's not something I can just ignore. I will take care of carrying these men while you scout ahead to make sure our path to the city is clear. Get Sora into the air and let her be your eyes as always, and if anyone or anything threatens our path to this clinic, you have my permission to bring them down by whatever means necessary. With any luck, you won't need to, but in these areas during these difficult times I wouldn't be surprised if you had a run in with at least one small gang of thieves on your way. Be careful." He said in a clear but quiet voice.

With that Shadow picked up the man who's neck he had broken and the other whom he had kicked in the stomach, hauling them each over either one of his shoulders and turning back towards this new acquaintance.

"After you, miss." He said calmly, awaiting her guidance to her clinic.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Sereinia looked at Shadow and his companion as the two interacted with each other for a few moments. She wondered if she had disturbed them from their travels. If that was the case, she should apologize to them. Her thoughts of remorse were interrupted by Shadow's words.

"After you, miss."

It would seem that the discussion between the two companions were done as Shadow was now carrying the two fallen men that were hauled over his shoulders. He was quite strong in her opinion despite how he looked like. He was not the overly muscular type of man that one would usually recognized as strong. Dispelling such things in her mind now, Sereinia nodded towards Shadow's words as she pointed at the direction on her left side.

"Thank you for your consideration." Sereinia spoke sincerely as she lead the way.

The path was quite linear although the occasional overgrowing trees and bushes do block the way. Moreover, the walk was quiet for the most part. Sereinia described it as a comfortable one. It was not because she was afraid or something. Somehow, it just felt right. However, she does not know what Shadow might think. It was then at that moment she remembered something very important. She could not believe how rude she is. Instantly stopping midway, she turned around and faced Shadow with an apologetic face. It does resemble a child in a way.

"Please forgive me for my rudeness. I have yet to introduce myself. My name is Sereinia Lucis Nouralail. You may call me however you may wish. Most people do call me Dr. Nora."

After saying that, Sereinia offered a polite bow and had a small smile on her face. It was not probably the brightest idea to bring such a dangerous man to her residence or give her name to a wanted criminal. Her Aunt Beatiz would most likely scold her for this. But at this moment, Shadow was the man who saved her and that is all she needed to know. No, it was the only thing that mattered to her. She continued her walk as the opened lights of the village were soon revealed to them. It was like stars twinkling above the sky. They were almost there.

"Mr. Shadow, I apologize if I delayed you and your companion on your travels. You saved me and you even have to carry the two men whom you went out of your way to save me from. Honestly, you have no obligation to do so. I am very thankful."

Sereinia looked at him once again but this time, she had a rather big and grateful smile upon her face. If the people especially the men in the village would see her, they would have blushed furiously.

"I am in your debt. So, if you need my help... I will come to your aid."

It was spoken with truthfulness and at the same time with warmth. Afterwards, the gates to the village was before them. Sereinia led Shadow to her house where the clinic should be as well.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

She could sense the woman Shadow had saved was no harm to them but never the less was wary of her, her distrust in others too strong to be ignored. With a face devoid of warmth, she observed the woman closely. Seeing no harm she looked at Sora and nodded sending her into the skies, the bird understanding her command flapped its huge wings and soared off into the cloudy skies.

"After you, miss." She heard Shadow say to the woman evenly.

Ignoring them, Mayumi went ahead and scouted the path leading to the city with Sora, their teamwork never faltering for a second, one scanning the skies whilst the other scanned the grounds. The wind blew their direction and with Sora’s signals Mayumi affirmed obstacles ahead of them, but could sense they wouldn’t be much of a problem for her.

Once near enough to her opponents, Mayumi swung herself up into a nearby tree, her silhouette a blur as she made her way up to the tree top. Within the leafy tops of the tree, multiple arrows were shot off into the distance within seconds. No later from when they were shot, faint thuds were heard from a distance as all landed with a thud on their goal, no doubt a deadly one. Sora gave the signal that it was clear and dived down into the forest, coming back up towards her direction with the charcoal colored arrows she had shot.

During the two months that she had been training, she found interesting plants around the area and had mixed them into a type of poison that decayed skin and bones within a minute when touched, even if it was just a drop. She had even made an antidote for it in case someone accidentally touches them. The main purpose for her making this poison was so that she could coat her arrows with it and would no longer need to waste her time disposing off bodies.

Retrieving her arrows from Sora, they both head out of the forest and back on to the path, continuing the journey without any more delays, oblivious to the conversation going on behind her.

Upon reaching their destination, Mayumi stood under the shade of a tree stubbornly refusing to go anywhere nearer to the house and clinic. She did not like entering houses of people whom she did not trust and Sora seemed to agree with her.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

As they walked together Shadow couldn't help but feel a strange sense of nostalgia until his wandering thoughts were brought back to reality.

"Please forgive me for my rudeness. I have yet to introduce myself. My name is Sereinia Lucis Nouralail. You may call me however you may wish. Most people do call me Dr. Nora."

Shadow stopped mid stride and nodded to her.

"Very well then, Sereinia. I hope you'll accept my calling you by name, as I am not one to observe titles with any sort of consistency." He said, somewhat apologetically.

As they drew nearer and found their way to the edge of town where the forest began and the buildings ended, Mayumi appeared and seemed to stop as both he and Sereinia walked passed.

Normally he would order her to follow, but Mayumi had taken everything he'd thrown at her during training without complain so he could hardly force her to enter a house she was unfamiliar with. During their time together, Shadow had managed to dissect small bits of her psyche by watching her movements, body language, listening to her vocalizations when speaking and during training, and by listening very carefully to how she voiced her sentences. It was clear that Mayumi had never trusted anyone before, and in that sense she was not very different from Shadow when he was her age. In fact, she was more like him than he wanted to admit, but this was not the time to be thinking about such things.

Shadow decided it was best to press onward, but once again was faced with Sereinia's somewhat disarming voice.

"Mr. Shadow, I apologize if I delayed you and your companion on your travels. You saved me and you even have to carry the two men whom you went out of your way to save me from. Honestly, you have no obligation to do so. I am very thankful. I am in your debt. So, if you need my help... I will come to your aid."

Shadow smiled at her, the more pleasant memories of one long since passed on flooding his mind and bringing a slight ray of warmth to his heart as he sighed through his nose quietly before nodding to her once again. No words really needed to be spoken this time, as it was a simple gesture which was easily understood.

Shadow decided to take point after this and walked ahead into the town with Sereinia close behind. The clinic Sereinia spoke of was the only one available in this area, so it was not hard to spot. When Shadow reached the door he set the men down and analyzed the building before looking at his clothing. During the time he and Mayumi had spent training, he'd neglected to properly clean or maintain his jacket and shirt, and thus needed to repair them. Not only that, but Shadow had ordered Mayumi to travel light without any extra food or other supplies other than her weapons and any small items she always kept with her during traveling. Shadow was not usually so neglectful of things that he needed, but he had been so focused on training Mayumi and setting off without delay that he had forgotten to plan accordingly.

The fact that his past had been haunting him was not helping the issue either, and it was one of Shadow's greatest weaknesses.

Phantoms from the past, the voices and threats of his past victims and enemies swirled in his head, as well as the voices of allies who died in his arms were a constant threat to his sanity and focus. More than once they had gotten him into potentially fatal situations, and it was not so long ago that one such incident had taken place. Despite all of his strength and skills as the most feared Assassin in the world, Shadow was helpless against the ghosts of his past as they constantly buzzed through his mind like a swarm of bees waiting to sting him to death at any moment.

He turned to Mayumi and sighed, letting his shame be known.

"I have neglected ample supplies and blame myself for this humiliation. For tonight you will find a place to rest on the rooftops and out of sight. I will give a signal Sora is sure to pick up on tomorrow once I am ready and we will press onward in the morning. Forgive me Mayumi, but there is no avoiding this setback. I will be sure to never neglect our needs like this again."

With that he turned to Sereinia.

"I hope that I can ask for your assistance now Sereinia. I need to replace these clothes, or at least repair them. Would you happen to have anything I could use in the clinic to get the job done?" He asked quietly.

The setting changes from Triveila to Cre' Est

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Sereinia looked at the men that Shadow settled down and would seem that she would need to operate on one. Regardless, she must in order to treat that one with the broken neck. As for the other, she must properly check if there are other organs internally damaged. For now, she injected them with a medicine that would ease the damage done to their bodies earlier. It was good to know that her Aunt left for a trip after lunch that day to a nearby town to deliver some goods to a client. Her Aunt would probably return by tomorrow noon. The thought gave her relief that she would not be scolded for the night about her reckless actions that her Aunt usually describes as. After making sure the two unconscious men were comfortable, she turned her attention towards Shadow and from what she had heard from the earlier conversations, Mayumi. It seems the young girl was very wary of her and she could understand that. After all, trust is something that cannot be easily given although it is quite different in her case as she had been told many times.

Gazing at the one called Mayumi, Sereinia cannot help but be intrigued by her presence a little along with that adorable feathered creature of hers. She was beautiful in her opinion. In addition, she liked her name. It has a nice ring to it. Her curiosity was halted upon hearing Shadow's question about clothes. She looked at him and did noticed his rather quite ragged appearance. It does seem that they need to take care of themselves before they go on the road once more.

"I believe I have some clothes that could fit you. They are stored upstairs. I will get them for you and as for repairs I have some needles and threads."

Sereinia said with a cheerful smile afterwards, she went upstairs to get hold of some clothes and then a sewing box that was a gift from her Aunt. She handed it to Shadow and then looked at Mayumi with worry. Well, the young girl could be wary of her. She does not find anything wrong with that although, she is quite worried about her health.

"I have a room for where the young lady could rest. It is chilly outside and I do not want her to catch a cold. But, if she does not want to. Would she mind if I get her a blanket and some pillows and perhaps a meal as well. I do remember I said that I would thank you properly with dinner. It is the same for you."

Saying with the sincerest of intentions, Sereinia looked at Mayumi and then to Shadow with a gentle smile. Her Aunt always more than two people. She remembered that her Aunt said it was so that she would not feel so lonely. Somehow, Sereinia understand that sentiment.

"You can rest here for the night. As for supplies, I may be able to procure some for you. It is the least I could do. Oh yes, if you want you can have a bath to freshen yourselves up."

After saying that, she looked at her patients with determination to help them. It was truly awkward to see such a look especially what had happened to her earlier. These two men were after all intend to do her harm. But somehow, Sereinia had forgotten all of that without much of a hesitation.

"I would be probably up all-night. So, you could use my room to rest in as well." She said gently while looking at Shadow.

The setting changes from Cre' Est to Triveila

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

"I believe I have some clothes that could fit you. They are stored upstairs. I will get them for you and as for repairs I have some needles and threads."

Shadow nodded to Sereinia and watched as she began to get to work on the two men whom he had defeated.

"Mayumi will not require assistance. She prefers to be alone." He said with gentle finality.

Shadow looked over to Mayumi, expecting her to listen to his disguised order.

Though Shadow knew that Mayumi did indeed intend to spend the night alone and by herself with Sora, there had been instances of attacks on individuals walking alone at night throughout the town during their time training together and Shadow wanted Mayumi on patrol. What the people needed the most in these difficult times was hope, and with people such as the thieves, gangs and rogue bounty hunters and mercenaries out looking for trouble the people were afraid to hope. Though Shadow typically fought for himself, during his travels he had found a reason to look past his own goals and help those who needed help when he simply wanted revenge and to satisfy his own personal agenda.

Shadow took up Sereinia's offer to go inside, picking up the two men after her injections and carried them inside and put them on medical tables to make her work easier. As he did so he took off his jacket and, albeit with great reluctance and hesitation, his shirt.

As his shirt came off it revealed the extent of the damage his life had done to him. Scars, both new and old, covered his body from his neck all the way down to the small of his back and extending yet further, indicating that his entire body was covered in such wounds. Slash wounds from blades, two bullet wounds, several stab wounds, and signs of severe physical damage from falls and other such injuries littered his flesh and told stories unto themselves as to the extent of how dangerous his life truly was.

One in particular was across the center of his back from just under his right shoulder blade all the way to his left hip. This wound happened shortly before he met Mayumi and on occasion, despite his best efforts to tend to it, still bled and caused him great pain and irritation. He was hoping with everything he had that he'd be able to stitch his shirt and put it back on before Sereinia noticed, or else she'd insist on taking care of it after tending to the two men on her tables.

... Just like her... He thought.

He found the needles and thread in a drawer in the desk he set his clothes on. He did his best to keep his back away from Sereinia, but there was no telling whether or not she'd seen it already.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

"Mayumi will not require assistance. She prefers to be alone."

Shadow's response leaded for Sereinia to released a sigh. However, she will not push the issue any further. She knew when to stop on certain occasions. Once the men were put to the table, she nodded to Shadow in gratitude. Taking another look at the men, she found relief that their vitals remained stable. For now, she would leave Shadow and Mayumi to their own silence. But before the treatment, she would need all her medical tools prepared. She head towards a large cabinet and opened it. Inside, all of her equipments were neatly placed and arranged. She took out the necessary ones that she would need and the medicines that she would have to use for treatment and the operation. Upon finishing the preparations, she went to the kitchen and heated the meal that Aunt Beatiz had left for her. Afterwards, she placed them neatly on the tray and served it to Shadow who was now half-naked before her.

"Here have something to eat. My Aunt made some vegetable pottage, roast beef, and a slice of bread. I do not know what you like to drink but I brought you some ale."

Placing it down on the desk, Sereinia was not the kind to stare at anyone's body. However, the scars and various wounds that filled Shadow's body implied how dangerous he is and how fearful his life is as well. She could not even fathom what kind of horrors this man before her had already witnessed. Compared to her, she had yet to fully grasped the world around her or perhaps she was simply hiding behind her naivety as she had been told. Taking herself out of her own observation, she decided to return to the her two patients but not until she saw that Shadow seemed to be hiding something from her. She finally noticed a rather wound across his back. It was bleeding.

"Let me see it."

Her tone was changed into gentle sternness as if it was ordering a little boy. Sereinia looked at the wound closely and did not even allow the man to dissuade her otherwise. It had begun to fester which had impended it from healing properly. She could see that Shadow had applied first aid. But, it was not enough. She could not believe that Shadow had not seen a doctor or healer for such a thing. Opening the drawers, she took out one of her concocted drug and showed it to him.

"Drink this. It would help to prevent further infection. I am impressed you have not yet develop a fever. I would put some salve on it. This would sting but please bear with it."

Sereinia took another drug from the drawer. It was a salve of hers that she had made earlier. She glanced at Shadow momentarily and began gently applying the salve over his wound. She did swiftly and at the same gently to prevent any more pain on Shadow's part. After it was done, she looked at Shadow with concern and released a small sigh.

"What I did was just temporary. I would stitch it up after I am done with the two men. Do not tell me that you would not need assistance. You are in my clinic."

Her tone was with slight tenderness but at the same time a finality. She proceeded towards the two fallen men and tied her long hair with a ribbon so it would not interfere with her eyes and face. Afterwards, she began her treatment on the two men. It was done efficiently and without mistake as well. She certainly knew what she was doing. Her concentration was certainly something to be commended. Although, it took quite a while. She could say the two men would be recovering nicely. Taking a deep breath, she looked at Shadow with a smile.

"Now, it is your turn." Sereinia took a seat beside him and began treating his wound first by cleaning it.

"This will hurt." After doing it, she injected him with a drug that could numb the pain as she would stitch it.

"You should have allowed this to be treated earlier. It could become worse."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Even without Shadow telling her to do so, Mayumi would have gone on patrol herself. After all, it was what her previous master had trained her for and what she had been doing for her entire life. She still wasn’t used to sleeping at night and while Shadow might have thought she was asleep on some nights during the training period she wasn’t. She had learned to slow her breathing to make it feel like she was sleeping before she even got to know the name Shadow so that she could surprise any enemies that thought could sneak up on her.

Getting on to the rooftop of the house, she laid down with Sora on guard beside her as she gazed at the darkening sky above them. She briefly wondered when Shadow was going to get his wound treated. All throughout training she could tell that Shadow was uncomfortable with something and had stumbled across the answer to his discomfort one day when he had his shirt off. Since he hadn’t asked for her help, she had not done anything about it thinking that he would be fine but it has been 2 months since then and still she could see no improvement in his discomfort.

‘That woman would probably help him.’ She thought impassively.

Slowly, Mayumi fell into a light slumber, awaiting attacks of innocent ones as her deceased Master had described them.

As she slept, a person appeared in her mind with his back facing her. It was dark and hazy but upon having a closer inspection, she was undoubtedly sure that it was her deceased master whose name she still had yet to know till this day.

‘Master?’ she called out to him.

The man turned and as she had thought it was her Master, but… the expression in his eyes, was something Mayumi could not understand. Slowly, he faded off into darkness, his expression burned into the dark recesses of her mind.

Eyes snapped open to a dark twinkling sky as thousands of birds, hidden in trees, broke out in a spontaneous melody. Sitting up, she felt something wet trail down her face. Swiping it off, she looked at the wetness on her fingers and wondered where it had come from. If it had been raining, she would have awoken the moment a single drop touched her. Could it be poison then? She shook her head doubtfully. After a minute of pondering, she decided to overlook the strangeness of it. Signalling Sora to stay and watch over the village, she leaped off the roof landing with an inaudible thud on the ground beside the house and disappeared into the mass of trees behind the houses.

In a small clearing behind the houses


A little travel away from the house, Mayumi came across a small clearing. Going into the center of the clearing, she closed her eyes acknowledging the elements surrounding her and becoming one with them. Red-black eyes snapped open a few seconds later, and Mayumi began an array of fierce punches and kicks enough to knock a full grown man down. Warm puffs of breath became visible in the cold air after an hour as she planned to continue this routine for a few hours unless Sora alerted her of an attack. There was no way she was going back to sleep after that dream.

‘Master…’ His strange expression bothered her more than needed. She felt like she had seen that expression before but can't remember what it was. Just what was it?

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

As Shadow had guessed, Sereinia was not one to let something such as his most recent wound slip by her professional eye. She had ordered him to accept her medicine and treatment, but he didn't really mind. He wouldn't be able to properly treat the wound himself anyway, given its position on his back. The sting of the slave was nothing he wasn't already accustomed to, and as he had done for so many years he simply ignored it as he finished stitching his clothing.

When he was done he lifted it into the air and inspected it. The shirt was back to normal, with the signs of the repairs being prevalent only in direct light. His jacket was more or less back to normal, but would soon need to be replaced. While most Assassins chose not to travel with such clothing, Shadow rather enjoyed the freedom a simple jacket brought with it, and more than one he'd used it as a weapon in combat with others. His jacket was something of a keepsake from a friend, one who was luckily still alive, and he wanted to preserve it for as long as possible.

Shadow waited until Sereinia had finished treating his wound before turning to face her with a smile, the candle light illuminating his eyes like two rubies in the sun.

"Thank you for your help Sereinia, I appreciate the food and the assistance. It is best you remain wary when we leave though, as you will more than likely be visited by other Assassins of Te'i Sai before long. Being the only clinic in this town, your skills will not go unchecked, nor will the condition of your patients... And unfortunately I made the mistake of leaving a rather blatant mark of professionalism in that one with the broken neck, so they will likely come to question you about who did this to him."

Shadow's expression softened to one of genuine concern as he walked towards the door, putting his shirt and jacket back on as he turned around half way to look at her.

"Please be careful, and if they do question you I want you to promise that you'll cooperate with them and tell them the truth. Tell them that I am responsible for this damage and that I headed further into Triveila. If you tell them a lie and they end up on a wild goose chase they will mark you for death for having tried to hide me from them and they will begin a massive hunt to find and kill you. Your kindness should not go unrewarded, and I can only hope that this is enough of a payment for what you've done. People like you are the ones who need to live if this continent is to find peace again. But with Te'i Sai still out there and still going strong with three branches left at full power, I don't know how long the hope and courage we bring to the people with our actions will last if too many like you end up as casualties." He said softly.

He opened the door and looked outside, wondering what Mayumi had done and where she had gone. He looked up and still saw Sora flying high above the town, which was a good sign as it meant she was close by. More than likely she had either found a place to rest or a place to train, as she seemed to enjoy training as a means to pass time and continue to hone her skills. Likely driven by her desire for revenge, Shadow could only hope that eventually she would see a different reason for doing what it is she does and discover a reason to live that had nothing to do with revenge.

"Take care Sereinia... and may whatever Gods you pray to protect you when Te'i Sai arrives in this town." He said sadly as he started to walk outside.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Once Sereinia had finished the treatment of his wound, Shadow stood up and then looked at her with those ruby-colored eyes of his. There was something mystifying about them that she could not look away from him. It was like she was held captive by those eyes of his. She has yet to pinpoint what was it that captivated her. For now, she listened to his words of warning that assassins from the most feared organization known as the Te'i Sai would be coming here and asked questions about Shadow. Well, she should expect as much. He is not dangerous not only of his capabilities but also due to his life. She remained silent as Shadow walked towards the door. It would seem he would be leaving soon than she had initially thought.

Sereinia was quite sad about it however, this was something that was bound to happen. She gathered her tools that were on the desk. It was about time for her to clean up. Standing from her seat, she looked at Shadow who had his back turned to her. Somehow, she has this feeling of nostalgia. She was just not sure what it meant. So, she decided to pay it no heed. There were other things that she would need to focus herself in. There were her patients and if what Shadow said wold come to pass. It would be better if these men were out of sight. They might come to harm if these Te'i Sai people find them as they are witnesses. Her thoughts were only disturbed again by Shadow's words as she looked at him. His eyes affixed on her once more.

His words were filled with genuine concern. It brought a smile to her lips without her even thinking about it. Shadow was truly a gentle person despite him not agreeing about it. He told her that she should be honest however, it was the least of his concerns. She is after all an honest person. She would tell the truth no matter how hard it may be. It may be hypocrisy or selfishness. She just does not want to be surrounded by deceit and lies. Even if it would hurt or be painful, she is willing to endure it. The only thing that did not seat well with her was him talking that only people like her should live. What was supposed to mean?

Soon enough, Shadow ended his words with softness as he opened the door and looked around. Sereinia believed he might be looking out for his companion named Mayumi. He stood there at the doorway and told her to take care of herself. There was sadness in his tone. This much she could tell as he started to walk outside. Somehow, she could understand the nostalgia she was feeling earlier. He seems so alone when he stood before her like that. It was like he keeping all the crushing emotions inside and fighting it alone. It was then instinctively, she found herself reaching for him. Soon, she found her hand clinging tightly onto his jacket like a lifeline.

"Why do I feel you have no reason to come back alive after all of this is done? Why do I feel that you think you are alone? Please, do not burden yourself so much. If you do not want your life, give it to me. Come back to me alive."

Sereinia looked at Shadow with such desperate eyes as if she would be broken if anything were to happen to him. Her eyes of deep amethyst were getting watery. It was like a beautiful violet gem underneath a flowing clear river. After a few seconds of silence, it seemed that she had managed to sort out her feelings and quickly released Shadow's jacket as if she awoken from a trance. She blushed in embarrassment as her cheeks were now rosy pink as she quickly apologize for her behavior earlier.

"I am so sorry! I must have caused unneeded confusion. Please, do not worry. I will be fine and everyone in the village as well."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow took a single step out the door when Sereinia's hand caught his jacket, and something he wasn't expecting came forth from her lips.

"Why do I feel you have no reason to come back alive after all of this is done? Why do I feel that you think you are alone? Please, do not burden yourself so much. If you do not want your life, give it to me. Come back to me alive."

Shadow turned around to look at her and was met by a watery pool of emotion in her eyes as she suddenly seemed to realize what she had said and turned bright pink, even in the dim light of the night around them.

"I am so sorry! I must have caused unneeded confusion. Please, do not worry. I will be fine and everyone in the village as well."

Shadow chuckled lightly at her comment and turned his head away from her.

"To tell the truth Sereinia, I really don't have a reason to come back alive. Once my mission of destroying Te'i Sai is completed, I will have no further reason to exist. I was created and shaped from birth to be the perfect killer, and to this day it's the only thing I truly understand in this world. I have nothing to offer this world, and to this day I still don't understand the values of kindness, empathy, compassion and mercy. To me they have always been distractions and pointless emotions that can only cloud one's judgement and get in the way. People like me have no purpose in this world, so when my mission is complete I will simply disappear. I expect that when we are finished, if she's still alive, that Mayumi will hold a similar opinion..." He said quietly.

His voice trailed off into the night as the air around them suddenly went cold and vacant of all other sound. Shadow's head instantly snapped up and his eyes began to search for anything they could find. He instinctively backed up silently into the frame of the doorway and his whole body became tense as his eyes frantically searched for the source of this anomaly.

This silence, often experienced in heavily animal populated forest areas, was almost always followed by the arrival of a serious predator. It was as if the night around them had gone into hiding from whatever was coming for them.

Shadow continued his frantic search and scan of the area around them while moving his left hand to the hilt of one of his Twin daggers behind his jacket.

"Sereinia... find a place to hide." He said, his voice now very quiet but full of authority and commanding tonality.

If this is what I think it is, I can only hope Sora is going to avoid sending Mayumi any signals that something is wrong... He thought.

Shadow's worst fears were realized when a single figure in a pitch black cloak appeared on the rooftop across the way. Te'i Sai Assassins always wore charcoal grey robes and were easily distinguished by the red symbol of the Assassins on their chest. This cloak was pure black and resembled Shadow's outfit in many ways, save that the cloak had a hood to cover the face of the individual in question. The only thing that could make this worse was...

And there they are... Shadow thought as two more figures in black cloaks appeared beside the first.

Wraiths almost always traveled in threes, and it looked like tonight was no exception. How they found him so quickly was a mystery to him, as Shadow had an entire private network of spies and scouts all around the continent from those who had been loyal to him from his time in Te'i Sai and those who had joined his cause in recent years. However, the Wraiths had always proven to be the most resourceful and intimate of Assassins, infiltrating even the most tight night organizations nationwide to expand Te'i Sai's influence. It seemed that he had an information leak, or worse yet, a traitor in his midst.

That issue, however, would have to wait.

Shadow now had three very big problems on his hands and to make things worse, he had three bodies to defend in the inevitable confrontation that was now slowly descending from the rooftops.

... This is going to be a very, very long night... Shadow thought as the first dagger from behind his back made its appearance.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Looking at Shadow, Sereinia further blushed upon hearing his laughter. She was not sure what came over her to say such things. Somehow, she had just the need to say it. Moreover, the two of them just met a couple of hours ago. In addition, she has no right to meddle in his life or his affairs. Although, the more she thinks about it. The more she had the need to meddle on it. After Shadow's chuckle, he looked away from her.

"To tell the truth Sereinia, I really don't have a reason to come back alive. Once my mission of destroying Te'i Sai is completed, I will have no further reason to exist. I was created and shaped from birth to be the perfect killer, and to this day it's the only thing I truly understand in this world. I have nothing to offer this world, and to this day I still don't understand the values of kindness, empathy, compassion and mercy. To me they have always been distractions and pointless emotions that can only cloud one's judgement and get in the way. People like me have no purpose in this world, so when my mission is complete I will simply disappear. I expect that when we are finished, if she's still alive, that Mayumi will hold a similar opinion..."

Upon hearing that, Sereinia cannot help but be more concerned about him and his companion. No reason to exist? That is not possible at all. She tightly clenched her hands into fists and was about to retort about his words of having no use anymore to the world than to kill. However, Shadow's demeanor stopped her. There was something that worried the assassin and it was not something trivial that she was sure of.

"Is there something wrong?"

It was not answered by words but Sereinia noticed how tensed Shadow had become and at the same time, she noticed the rather eerie silence outside the clinic. It was quite unusual because not even a sound of cricket could be heard. There was just complete calm. She knew better than to think that everyone was sleeping so silently or the animals went on a holiday. There was something dangerous coming and fear was the result. She looked at Shadow with worry not because of her safety or the patient's. She was worried because she knew for a fact that he would be facing it head-on.

"Sereinia... find a place to hide."

Shadow's words were filled with seriousness and left no space for refute or argument. Sereinia's idea of danger was fully cemented when she saw him reaching for his blade. It was clear to her that there would be a fight. She had always hated violence whatever it may be. She knew that she had no right to interject and logically speaking, she knew she should follow Shadow's advice. But, she does not want to feel so helpless especially when she has not done anything at all. She held Shadow's arm and moved away from his protection. She came out of the door and finally saw the threat that Shadow had warned her about.

"I am very certain that whatever business you have with Mr. Shadow is not my concern. However, he is currently my patient. I would not have any actions that could harm him or anyone before me in any manner. I request that you leave. Visiting hours are over."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Mayumi was just about to start another set of training when she sensed an abrupt change in the atmosphere. The air stilled, the night fell silent, and there was a strong aura of killing intent that was far from normal coming from the houses.

‘This air…’ Several possibilities flashed through her mind.

A slight breeze was felt on her back followed by metal talons gripping her shoulder. Looking at Sora, everything immediately fell into place. There was only one thing that could make Sora in distress after all.

‘Wraiths.’

With blinding speed, Mayumi tore across the distance between the small clearing and the village, stopping only when she was nearing the line between the village and the forest of trees. She hid her presence carefully and crept up a tree with ghostly silence while Sora perched on a branch a few meters back from her looking out for any incoming danger from behind.

"Sereinia... find a place to hide." She heard Shadow say to the woman.

She could see their backs from where she was and noticed where Shadow had his eyes fixed on. There on the rooftop of the house opposite them, were three dark figures with pure ebony cloaks. No doubt they were wraiths.

"I am very certain that whatever business you have with Mr. Shadow is not my concern. However, he is currently patient. I would not have any actions that could harm him or anyone before me in any manner. I request that you leave. Visiting hours are over." She heard Sereinia say to them.

‘How peculiar.’ Mayumi thought, frowning slightly.

Knowing Shadow wouldn’t want her to be involved, she stayed where she was watching cautiously, at the same time ready for any incoming attacks.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

At Sereinia's words there came a laughter from the Wraith standing in the center of the group, and Shadow couldn't help but narrow his eyes in disgust at hearing that wretched sound coming from him. At the same time Shadow felt a presence approach from the back of the building, but he knew exactly who it was by the faint sound of the footsteps.

"Mayumi, it's your job to protect Sereinia from harm during this fight. I may be their target, but they have gone after innocence before and I know they'd do it again in a heartbeat."

With that Shadow stood up straight and let his body relax as he turned his back to his three new opponents and gently started pushing Sereinia back inside towards Mayumi, stopping in the center of the room.

"The two of you will stay inside. I thank you for your concern Sereinia, but you cannot bargain with or reason with these men. They answer to only one thing."

Shadow lifted his dagger in his left hand and then drew the second dagger from behind his back with his right hand. He turned his head and crossed the daggers in front of him, raking the two Orichalcum blades together creating a brief flash of light from the sparks created as he walked outside. He rolled his shoulders a little bit and rotated his neck in a single circle in either direction before stopping in the middle of the street as he looked up to face his opponents. They all leaped down from the building top and landed in a triangle around him, with one of them being the apex and positioned in between Shadow and the girls inside.

Not a good start... He thought to himself.

The Wraiths had received their training specifically designed to counter his own so that they would stand a better chance against him in combat, but what they lacked which gave Shadow the edge was that Shadow was trained by each of the five Grandmasters themselves and had over two decades worth of experience working in his favor. The Wraiths only training came from the observations of the second in command of the fortress in Roda Valley and while it was effective for being able to predict most of his normal attack routines, Shadow's experience and his further development still gave him the edge.

Shadow took up an angled stance and brought his right dagger down and held it in an Earth grip as he held his left dagger up higher in front of him in a Heaven grip. His feet were about a shoulder's width and a half in distance from each other and positioned perpendicular to his hands, giving his body a near "x" pattern if looked at directly from above. The three Wraiths closed in, walking within about two meters of Shadow's position as they readied their weapons. All three of them carried a single dagger forged in Orichalcum, the blade alone of which was fourteen inches in length. While their training to counter Shadow's own was formidable, what made them the most dangerous was their resourcefulness and teamwork. For every hour they spent training to counter Shadow's style of fighting, they trained for five hours working together as a unit.

Shadow had a long and brutal fight ahead of him, but it was nothing he had not faced before.

"Prepare yourself Red-Eyed Demon, for your reign come to an end tonight." The lead Wraith proclaimed.

Shadow rolled his eyes for the Wraiths commonly used bold yet unconvincing lines before they attacked and tonight it didn't seem they'd give him peace from that awful habit of theirs.

It didn't take more than a few more seconds for all three of them to lunge at him with blades out. Shadow had trained Mayumi well, and he could only hope that what he was about to do would assist her learning further as she watched the fight.

Shadow's body rotated slightly and he let out a single breath before his eyes opened wide, the entirety of his blood red iris's glowing in the moonlight and ominously announcing the full extent of his fury. Upon his breath being let out, the world began to slow and the movements of his opponents began to follow suit. By utilizing a special blend of both a special assortment of physical training methods combined with an unusual meditation practice, Shadow had learned to control the flow of adrenaline through his body. This ability was incredibly rare, and almost unheard of in males as it was nearly exclusive to females. One such ally of Shadow's had mastered it not long before he did, and he'd learned it from her.

Shadow flipped the dagger in his right hand sideways as he trapped the blade of his opponent behind him against his own blade and his forearm as he spun to the right, taking his opponent with him. His other blade came up and parried a thrust towards his head as his arm wrapped around that of his opponent and the three of them spun in unison as Shadow threw the opponent in his right hand into the third attacker, sending them both to the ground as he released the opponent in his left arm's grip, kicking him in the ribcage as he did so. It was a single, well timed movement and it now had all three Wraiths on the ground as Shadow immediately turned towards the lone Wraith and lunged forward, extending the dagger in his left hand towards his stomach as the blade entered for about two inches before it was stopped in its tracks and retracted by the Wraith's last second interference.

Shadow recoiled from the block and leaped away as the three Assassins composed themselves and regrouped for another attack.

This time they attacked one by one, being much more careful in their efforts as they kept their attacks short and fast, not giving Shadow any time to counter but not one attack touched him at first. Then, their attacks changed patterns and they started to alternate double teaming him and after a few failed attempts to make any headway one of them managed to grab hold of Shadow and threw him into an empty food stand, destroying it and putting Shadow under about a hundred pounds of broken wood. Not wasting any time, the lead Wraith took a lit candle from the street and a bucket of oil that was sitting near another building which was meant to simply relight the lamps and keep them burning.

He threw the oil onto Shadow and the heap of wood he was sitting under and threw the candle, lighting up both Shadow and the once proud food stand. Shadow threw the burning wood off of him in the direction of his attackers, who honestly hadn't seen that part coming and frantically dodged the attack as Shadow ran straight for them. Though his outfit was on fire, Shadow didn't really seem to care very much as he rammed head long into the lead Wraith and pinned his body to the wall of a nearby building, his shoulder extended outward into his lower abdomen where the muscles were the weakest and causing him to instantly become nauseous and fall to the ground. He began to heave but nothing came forth from his stomach as Shadow continued his attack.

As he moved, his outfit slowly started to break apart as it continued to burn though the flames were beginning to die down. It became clear though that Shadow couldn't ignore it for too much longer though as he threw off the jacket and watched it burn on the ground. It pained him to get rid of the jacket, but there was nothing that could be done about it now. Shadow's pants were in tact but badly burned to the point he'd have to completely replace them, but that too would have to wait. The other two Wraiths began to prepare another assault as well, and Shadow once again had to deal with a tag team effort as the both alternated between attacks and defenses while they continued to do what they could to wear Shadow down.

Round after round of knife thrusts, slashes, kicks, punches and grappling continued in the street, and Shadow was thrown clean through a cinder block wall that was erected to block off one of the alleys for construction purposes. The lead Wraith, during this confusion, managed to slip away into the night while Shadow was busy dealing with the other two, but before long Shadow had grown accustomed to their patterns of attack and managed to split their defenses and overtake them. Shadow ended their lives quickly, slashing the neck and severing the bones and the muscles as well as the entire nervous system connection to the lower body under the second spinal vertebrae.

When it was all over, Shadow began returning to the clinic as he tore off his now completely ruined shirt and dumped it into one of the trash baskets outside one of the other shops near the clinic on his short walk back. He stopped inside the doorway and looked back out into the streets and scanned for any signs of the last Wraith, but it was no use. He was gone, and there was absolutely no doubt in Shadow's mind that he was going to report the development to Kiiro. Shadow decided there was nothing that should be done about it as it would take them out of their way to go after him, so Shadow made a mental note to prepare for another confrontation with Kiiro.

Before turning and walking inside the clinic, Shadow did a quick check of the damage he and the Wraiths had done to the surrounding area. He lowered his eyes a bit and frowned at what had been done. Four food stalls, a cinder block wall, a bucket and two lamps, and even a bench near the end of the street.

"... Perfect..." He said sarcastically and in a lower tone of voice.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

The moment the fight started, Mayumi got onto the rooftop of the house from behind, swinging herself down into the doorway where she landed gracefully and situated herself in front of Sereinia. Even though she was still a long way from trusting her, she could at the very least tell that she was an innocent person and as her previous master had drilled into her, the innocent do not deserve to be killed.

While the fight continued, one of the wraiths seemed to have caught sight of her from the corner of his eyes. Recognition flitted across his features and slowly she notices him begin to retreat from the fight, letting the other two take over. She wondered if she should do something about him but dismissed the thought focusing all her attention on protecting Sereinia.

Using a distraction, the lead wraith disappeared into the forest while the other two wraiths distracted Shadow, though it wasn’t long till Shadow emerged as the victor.

Shadow did a quick check of the damage he and the Wraiths had done to the surrounding area. He lowered his eyes a bit and frowned at what had been done. Four food stalls, a cinder block wall, a bucket and two lamps, and even a bench near the end of the street. "... Perfect..." He said sarcastically and in a lower tone of voice.

Mayumi looked at Shadow, her eyes inquiring if he would like her to return the place to its previous state. She had been trained to do so ever since she was 8, thus there was no reason to leave things the way they were now.

Sora was back in the skies scanning the area from above with her keen vision for any other incoming danger, not taking any chances of letting her guard down even for the briefest of seconds.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

"The two of you will stay inside. I thank you for your concern Sereinia, but you cannot bargain with or reason with these men. They answer to only one thing."

Those words saddened Sereinia as she was led to the center of the room with Mayumi who would serve as her protector. She truly understands what Shadow meant but, she just really does not like someone getting hurt in anyway. It does not matter to her who they are or what their intentions are. However, her pleas were useless to ears that would not listen. At this moment, she would have preferred real deaf people. Her thoughts were slightly disturbed as Mayumi positioned herself before her. It made her wonder how such a young girl like her was put into such a life. In her opinion, Mayumi looks more fragile than her. It should be her protecting Mayumi not the other way around.

Her thoughts were distracted when Sereinia noticed that one of Shadow's enemies looked at their way. However, it was not at her but at Mayumi. She glanced at the younger girl in curiosity. It would seem she had noticed as well. The said enemy had a brief moment of recognition. Somehow, Sereinia had a bad feeling. She was not sure what it was about but, it made her really worried. It made her wonder if Mayumi would go after the one who had fled. Fortunately, the young girl stayed and she released a small sigh of relief at this. Soon enough, the fight was over.

"... Perfect..."

Sereinia took that sign to remove herself from behind Mayumi. She saw Shadow looming at the two dead bodies by her judgment as the victor. She was happy that he was safe with only a casualty of a destroyed shirt. However, the sight of the two bodies made her depressed. She slowly closed her eyes and without a warning a lone tear fell across her cheeks like a falling crystal.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow scanned the area one final time before looking to Mayumi and giving her a nod of his head. During their training Mayumi had told him what she had and had not been trained for, so he knew she was good at erasing such evidence of what had transpired. Shadow decided it would be best to dispose of the bodies rather than try to hide them somewhere, so he walked over to them and dragged them towards a storm drain in the street which led to the sewers and pulled out a vial from a small pouch at his hip.

The substance which flowed forth from the newly opened vial was a highly acidic compound enhanced and augmented by a special blend of herbs and was strong enough to literally melt the flesh, muscle and bone of anything soft that it came into contact with such as a human body. It did not work on harder substances like glass, metal or very strong wood, but for something like this it was perfect. By simply pouring a small amount onto the torso Shadow was able to have the bodies melt away and drain into the sewers within about a minute's time. Their blood and the residue left behind was easy enough to clean when he found and used a bucket of water nearby that was meant to clean the streets in front of a shop to wash everything away as Mayumi got to work on cleaning the damage of the walls and the food stalls which had been destroyed.

Shadow himself watched her for a moment and was satisfied she'd be alright getting the job done, so he walked back towards Sereinia in the clinic and saw the trail of what had been a tear under her eye. She was indeed a lot like someone very dear whom Shadow had lost, and he couldn't help but feel a familiar sensation as he slowly brought his left hand up and used his thumb to gently wipe the tear away before walking inside and to a dresser where he found a shirt that would fit him. It was a forest green coloration, but it was all he needed to use for now before he and Mayumi would be on their way the next morning.

Shadow gathered the rest of his things together and walked outside, looking for a rooftop which would suit his needs for the night as Mayumi got to finishing the task of cleaning the street. He looked back to Sereinia and offered a small, but somewhat forced smile.

"I do apologize for all you've seen her tonight... It saddens me to have to leave things like this, but we don't really have a choice in the matter. Tomorrow morning I will find what we need in the town's shopping district and we will be on our way. You'll never see us again Sereinia, and with any luck you'll never have to deal with this kind of violence in such a direct way ever again."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Upon receiving approval, Mayumi got to work immediately, moving about as silently as she could to not cause any disturbance to nearby villagers whom were most likely still asleep.

Having photographic memory, she had remembered every teeny tiny detail of the place before the fight occurred, therefore knew where to place things. Badly damaged objects were replaced by not too new ones and others that weren’t badly damaged or just couldn’t be replaced were fixed back to its previous state.

Soon enough, the place was back to its original state. Not a single thing misplaced. It was like the fight had never occurred, never existed. This showed Mayumi’s years of experience in living a non-existent life. Not even the slightest evidence of her existence was left behind. To normal people it was terrifying, but to her it was just a normal way of living.

Done with her task, she thoroughly inspected the place to make sure that nothing was missing and once she saw that her work was done, she looked to her current master whom was speaking to Sereinia. Eyes widened as they caught a glimpse of wetness being wiped away from Sereinia’s cheek. Remembering the wetness on her own cheek earlier, Mayumi looked around searching for maybe an object of some sorts spraying water, but found no such thing. Confused, she stood there staring at Sereinia thinking she might be able to find the source of the wetness is she stared long enough.

"I do apologize for all you've seen her tonight... It saddens me to have to leave things like this, but we don't really have a choice in the matter. Tomorrow morning I will find what we need in the town's shopping district and we will be on our way. You'll never see us again Sereinia, and with any luck you'll never have to deal with this kind of violence in such a direct way ever again."

Hearing Shadow’s words, Mayumi was even more puzzled. Was it not normal to see fights? She seemed to be entering a whole different world, and her instincts were telling her to retreat from it. So being one who always followed her instincts, she backed away from the two young adults and made herself comfortable in a tree quite a few meters away, evading what she had just seen. But then…

‘What is that wetness? Where did it come from?’ She couldn’t help but wonder curiously.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow dragged the lifeless bodies of the assassins to someplace to dispose of them. This is after all the logical conclusion that Sereinia could think of. She knew that it was something that he would do naturally as that is what he had been doing for all of his life as he had implied to her before. She hold no resentment on that yet, she still feels sad about what happened. Those two people who had died. They probably had someone that would cry for them. Someone that would missed them dearly. It saddens her that those people would be able to have a moment to say goodbye properly. As for Mayumi, she noticed the girl was cleaning up the area where the fight had occurred. The young girl as also fixing the damaged town properties skillfully. It was probably something that Mayumi was used in doing so. This ability must be very handy when she needs to kill someone cleanly. Evidence must not seen at all. Releasing a sigh, she looked at the windows of her neighbors. It seems that no one was awakened by the ruckus. That is good to know and cleaning up the mess would also make sure feel safe that the night passed by peacefully.

Looking at her two patients, Sereinia was grateful that they were sleeping. She would not want for them to strain themselves especially when they are just freshly treated from severe injuries. She went to check them to make sure that everything was in order. After doing so, she took a seat in one of the chair within the clinic. She looked at the window beside her with a distant gaze. It was ironic for her to see the cruelty that she was very helpless with in her own hometown. In her travels, she did encounter hardships, sadness, and even violence. However, she had always managed to do something about it. In the end, she was able to avert such things to result into something drastic. But this time, she was not able to do so. Perhaps, she was just fortunate that the people she met in her journey were someone to be reasoned with or perhaps the scars of hatred were not that deep to penetrate the heart. Closing her eyes momentarily, she felt someone brushing away the tear that she had shed earlier which she had forgotten due to her inner turmoil. Opening her eyes, purple and red met. The hand that was soothing her was also the same one that coldly killed those men. She should avoid that hand or even pushed away. It would be a normal reaction for anyone to do so after witnessing such an event. But, she did not. Truthfully, she liked how he wiped her tear away.

Despite that, Sereinia remained silent as Shadow walked passed her. He took a shirt that she had told him before he could use. As for her, she remained in her chair and looked away. She knew that she seemed so childish. But, she was confused with what to think. Her belief and reality were two things that was hard to combine at the moment. It seems she finally understand what her father had said about her. She was too naive. At the corner of her eyes, she noticed Shadow heading towards the exit of the clinic. This time she could not find the voice that wanted to stop him from leaving unlike the last time. She hated herself for that. She was like a hypocrite. No, she was a hypocrite. She slowly made a fist with her hands that were on her lap when she heard Shadow spoke.

"I do apologize for all you've seen her tonight... It saddens me to have to leave things like this, but we don't really have a choice in the matter. Tomorrow morning I will find what we need in the town's shopping district and we will be on our way. You'll never see us again Sereinia, and with any luck you'll never have to deal with this kind of violence in such a direct way ever again."

Everything he said somehow caused her to feel irritated. Sereinia does not understand why. Moreover, she hated how Shadow smiled at her. It was forceful she could tell. She does not like it one bit. Clenching her fists tightly, she looked down. Shadow's words repeated through her mind like a broken record. She wanted to understand why it irritated her so. However, it was no use as she stood from her chair immediately. She approached Shadow and held him by his collar. Her hands were shaking but it was not because of fear. She was furious. Raising her head to look at him, her hold on his collar tightened.

"I am not so fragile. I understand really why these things are happening. I also know that this what you do. This is what you are. I know that. I should hate that but, I don't. I really don't. And if it saddens you to leave things like this, then do something that would make you happy before you go then. You don't need to run away from me. Do you understand? Don't run. I don't care if people call you demon, devil, or monster. To me..."

Sereinia loosen her hold on his shirt and then slowly cupped his face. She had a gentle smile on her face. After a few moments, she pinched those cheeks and stretched as far as she could. She didn't care if it hurts Shadow. She wanted him to learn a lesson and she was teaching it strictly as she could.

"To me, you are Shadow who saved my life. You are Shadow who is my patient. You are Shadow who I am pinching his cheeks for giving such an ugly smile. So, don't smile at me when you don't want to. You can cry. You can get angry in front of me. It's fine." She released his cheeks and gave a warm and sincere smile. "I want to see you again and Mayumi."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

When Sereinia go up from the chair and walked over to him, Shadow was somewhat expecting what came next. He was not, however, expecting the "why" when she grabbed his collar, her fist shaking gently in what he expected to be fear and anger.

"I am not so fragile. I understand really why these things are happening. I also know that this what you do. This is what you are. I know that. I should hate that but, I don't. I really don't. And if it saddens you to leave things like this, then do something that would make you happy before you go then. You don't need to run away from me. Do you understand? Don't run. I don't care if people call you demon, devil, or monster. To me..."

When she loosed her grip and cupped his face in her hands, he was truly shocked and his mouth opened partway but no words or sounds came out. Suddenly, he felt his cheeks being pinched and pulled apart. He would normally have retreated from the sensation, but knowing where it was coming from eroded what sense of danger would normally have occupied his mind.

"To me, you are Shadow who saved my life. You are Shadow who is my patient. You are Shadow who I am pinching his cheeks for giving such an ugly smile. So, don't smile at me when you don't want to. You can cry. You can get angry in front of me. It's fine." She released his cheeks and gave a warm and sincere smile. "I want to see you again and Mayumi."

Shadow held still for a moment as he took in her words and processed them in his mind. It had been a few years since he had heard words this kind and honest, and it was an alien feeling, one which he did not enjoy being exposed to very often. Tonight, however, he didn't seem to mind which both interested and annoyed him. Was he going soft? Was he loosing his edge? Why did he not mind what she had said and done? It didn't take long for him to figure out the answer as his mind drifted and an image of someone very close to him appeared in his mind.

"You... are much... like her." He said under his breath as he backed away a step, seemingly in a trance as more memories began to fill his mind.

After a moment Shadow looked up, obviously no longer day dreaming about whomever it was he was thinking about.

"Very well them Sereinia, then I will do something about these feelings of sorrow. I was trying to hide it... or rather, trying to hide from it. I told you that more Assassins would come here, this being my most recent location, but I didn't tell you that either way you were now marked for death for having witnessed what happened. I tried to convince myself that they would just leave you be if you cooperated, but I was fooling myself. Sereinia, for your own safety, I want you to accompany Mayumi and me for the time being. It will not be forever, just until I can guarantee that you'll be safe from Te'i Sai's gaze. Right now you are marked for death, but I will not let that mark take hold or accomplish its purpose."

Shadow looked her dead in the eyes.

"So Sereinia, what is your answer? Will you come with us?" He asked quietly.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

"You... are much... like her."

"Her? I wonder who that person is...? Mayumi?" Sereinia blinked a couple of times upon hearing that. Her thoughts began to be filled with questions of curiosity regarding about the identity of this person that was like her. She did not notice that Shadow was also in deep thought. Finally giving up on guessing, she decided to ask the man before her about this. But before she could, he looked at her with steady eyes.

"Very well them Sereinia, then I will do something about these feelings of sorrow. I was trying to hide it... or rather, trying to hide from it. I told you that more Assassins would come here, this being my most recent location, but I didn't tell you that either way you were now marked for death for having witnessed what happened. I tried to convince myself that they would just leave you be if you cooperated, but I was fooling myself. Sereinia, for your own safety, I want you to accompany Mayumi and me for the time being. It will not be forever, just until I can guarantee that you'll be safe from Te'i Sai's gaze. Right now you are marked for death, but I will not let that mark take hold or accomplish its purpose."

Sereinia remained silent after hearing his explanation. Everything that Shadow meant made perfect sense. The Te'i Sai as she had heard in her travels were not easily appeased. They make sure there are no loose ends. Honestly, she was not that afraid facing those assassins from before. It is why she felt quite odd for not feeling so. Something must be wrong with her. The only thing that worried her most to consider leaving the town earlier than she anticipated was her Aunt Beatiz. She did not want her only living relative to be involved in this. However, superseding all of that was the idea to stay a little bit longer with this man who had beautiful ruby-colored eyes. At the moment, she was not sure what was happening to her. Looking at him as if in a trance, she was only taken out when she heard him speak again.

So Sereinia, what is your answer? Will you come with us?"

Her Aunt might have a few problems with her leaving early when she had just arrived recently. Still, Sereinia wanted to go with him and Mayumi. Something was propelling her to do so. She was certain that her life with them with be filled with danger without doubt. She will certainly things that she does not wish to. However, she could confidently say that she was fine with all of that. Closing her eyes momentarily, she had a small smile and then looked at Shadow warmly.

"It seems I would be running away with you then, Shadow."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow wanted to smile at her acceptance but he couldn't bring himself to do so without forcing it again. The circumstances behind her joining him on his travels were not ideal, and he knew he would spend much of his time watching over her and protecting her but the more he thought about it the less he minded.

"Very well then... Pack your things and get some sleep. I'll return here in the morning when I have everything we need for our journey."

With that, Shadow walked outside and did a quick once over of the surrounding area. Mayumi had really done a fantastic job with cleaning up the place, and Shadow spied an ideal place to ascend to the rooftops across the street. Two walls within six feet of one another and a slightly cracked and worn away wall on the building to the left would make ideal stepping stones on his way up. He got a running start and just before reaching them he launched himself into the air and wall jumped from one to the other and grabbed the edge with his right hand before pulling himself up and standing up straight as he closed his eyes and listened.

"... Two people sleeping on rooftops about two houses down, a burglar just made it into town where we came in with Sereinia, and from what I'm hearing there is a struggle taking place a short distance away in one of the alleys."

Shadow opened his eyes and looked around to each individual point he had identified.

"I'll have to do something about that burglar..." He said quietly.

Shadow took off towards the town's gate and managed to locate the would be thief before he could make any headway and eliminated him with a single poison dart to the neck, the tip embedded inside his carotid artery. Once that was finished he retrieved the dart and went towards the sounds of the struggle, but he was too late. A man had been mugged and stabbed to death while he was dealing with the burglar, and unfortunately he had made the wrong choice. If he had stopped this violence first he would have had plenty of time to nab the burglar during the night, but these were the kinds of choices and consequences he dealt with on a daily basis. This was his life, and these were his worries.

The setting changes from Triveila to Shaharan

Setting

Characters Present

No characters tagged in this post!

Earnings

0.00 INK

In a drinking establishment, in a small village located towards the centre of the nation of Shaharan


The hour was late but that didn't stop Kisho. Sat alone at a table with maybe a dozen empty beer glasses, as well as one glass full just past halfway. Probably closer to two thirds full, in fact. Kisho had only wandered into this place an hour ago by chance, having received a fairly large sum for taking the head of a petty thief, he had decided to find the nearest place and drink. While he still wore his darkened, heavy armour, which was battered with dents thanks to a busy period as a mercenary, his helmet was sat almost perfectly in the centre of his small, round table, his long red hair flowing freely.

The owner of this establishment was looking to close up soon, he had made enough takings for the day, he was tired, and was waiting for Kisho to finish his last drink. Whether deliberately acting with some malice, the copper-blonde haired mercenary had decided to socialise with the few other people who had stayed on this late. Sweeping his hair behind his head and tucking it behind his ears, he began talking in a loud and drunken manner to an intimidated looking young man, who the bartender could swear was too young to be drinking. Beads of sweat ran down the young man's face until Kisho finally clasped him on the back and went to finish his drink.

On the other side of the bar, sat a woman, very much concealed by her location. She wore a fine silk dress, though torn in many places, she still wore it with a manner of elegance. Her silver hair was neatly tied behind her head, her young looking face studying Kisho intently. Kisho had run out of money but was still thirsty, and had decided to gamble his sword in an arm wrestling competition with the owner of the establishment. Should he win, he would get a drink, should he lose, his weapon of choice would belong to the bartender. On one side of the bar, the bartender lay his arm. The young looking man, bald on his crown, with brown hair elsewhere, rolled the sleeve of his brown overall up as Kisho detached the arm from his plate.

Kisho had won the wrestle, and in the eyes of this lady had earned her respect as a potential suitor. The slender, silver haired temptress hung back for a moment, eyeing Kisho's tattoos. From where she was sat, they appeared to be words, however even when squinting her emerald green eyes, she was unable to make out what it said. Kisho re attached his arm piece and drank his last beer, a sparkle in his blue eyes, and a wry grin on his face. This was one of the few times Kisho actually seemed content. It didn't last, however, as the silver haired woman moved over to Kisho.

"Well hey there" the woman started. "That was quite a display you put up in that ar...." she was interrupted by Kisho.
The mercenary spat a blunt and short message "I'm afraid I've no business with your kind, wench!" before leaving hastily.

As he re fitted his full face helmet, the spines which represented teeth made him look more demon than man, and he stormed out of the building, knocking somebody over in his path. Usually, Kisho had the decency to stop and apologize for such faux pas, but this time, he was motivated by fear. He was uneasy around women as it stood, but this one had a particularly sinister look about her.

The setting changes from Shaharan to Triveila

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

"Very well then... Pack your things and get some sleep. I'll return here in the morning when I have everything we need for our journey."

Sereinia nodded as her gesture of understanding. Afterwards, Shadow left her alone. She stood there for awhile wondering what would happen now. Her Aunt would not be back until lunch. She would have wanted to say goodbye properly. For now, all she could do is to write a letter to her. She did not want her Aunt to worry so needlessly. Although, she was certain the older woman would once she hears about her niece going with a well-known symbol of evil, Shadow. Thinking about it, the rumors do tend to be untruthful. The man in question was nothing like the stories about him. Perhaps, he had reasons for doing the things he did. Taking a deep breath, she closed the doors to the clinic and locked it as she always have. Then, she looked at her two patients and had a thoughtful smile. The two men would be fine. After making sure the patients were comfortable for the rest of the night, she began to keep away her tools and such.

"This was truly an eventful day..."

Remembering the things that happened earlier, Sereinia looked at her stash of salves and medicines. She would definitely need to bring some knowing how dangerous Shadow and Mayumi's actions were. She is also worried about their health. She began preparing the things she would take with her in the journey. After a few moments, she was done and released a small yawn as she covered her mouth. It seems that feeling of exhaustion has finally caught up on her. She looked at the small bag that carried all her medical supplies and smiled proudly. She picked it up and went upstairs where her room was.

"I should clean up... My clothes are still packed, so I would not have to worry about packing."

Speaking to herself, Sereinia went to the bathroom and began cleaning herself. She took this time to relax and just let the sad events that happened today drift. When that was done, she went to her room and changed into one of her sleeping robes. But not before noticing her rose-shaped birthmark on her back, it was quite an eccentricity in her opinion. She had always wondered what it meant. Her mother said that it was the mark of her lineage. Somehow, she finds that quite funny especially remembering how her father would say it. They make like she was some kind of royalty which was impossible. After all, she was a humble daughter of a very good baker. It is the life she had known and it is the only life she wanted. Memories of the past begin to enter her mind as she quickly wore her robe and went to her bed. She did not want to think anything that would further augment her sadness. As Shadow had said, she needs to rest. Although, she is worried for him and Mayumi. She had rooms to spare for them to sleep in. There was no need for them to sleep outside on rooftops or something. However, if that is what they prefer. She would leave them be. Closing her eyes, she would be waiting until the sun rises.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

When Shadow had finished his business for the evening he found himself a suitable location on one of the rooftops near the clinic as he laid down and fell asleep. A few hours later the sun rose, but in order to get the supplies they needed, Shadow had to wait over two more hours for the market to fill and for a special individual on the east side to open for business. When the time had come, Shadow ducked into an alley from the rooftop and adjusted his posture to seem less conspicuous as he walked through the streets.

By ducking his head just so, his bangs hid his eyes from the crowd so he could move freely among them as he wandered the market. He first bought a set of large baskets for different supplies and wandered around a bit more and filled them with clothing, food, water carrying supplies and more. Once that was done, Shadow went to the east side of the town and found the man he was looking for. One of his former friends and contacts, Burtos.

Burtos ran a horse renting/buying shop on the edge of town near the gate. Shadow didn't need to say anything before Burtos had a pair of horses saddled and ready for him when he walked inside his establishment. Shadow ordered a third horse be brought around, and in no time it was done. Shadow loaded the supplies into the saddle bags and had Burtos hold them for him until he came back later.

In the meantime, Shadow went back to the clinic and knocked on the door.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Sereinia woke up early as she changed into more appropriate clothes. After doing so, she went downstairs and saw that her patients were already up and about. They were so awake that they had left the clinic on their own accord. This made the female doctor released a small sigh of disappointment. She was worried that they might infect their injuries and may handle it incorrectly. They could have waited for her to wake up and give them some pointers and medicine. She had no intention of turning them in to the authorities. If she had that intention, she would have not bothered taking care of their wounds. In any case, they were probably long gone. Looking at her medicine cabinets, it seemed the two men did not bother taking some and just focused on running away. They might still have been very fearful thinking that Shadow will come back for them.

"He is not that scary, really..." She muttered softly as she cleaned up the beds and the clinic.

When Sereinia was done, she wrote a letter for her Aunt. It made her feel guilty of leaving without saying goodbye to her Aunt in person. After all, she did just returned here the other day. Leaving the letter in the room of her Aunt, she and gathered her things and waited downstairs. She had always been told to travel lightly so, that is what she did. Bringing just a few sets of clothes, her medicine tools, and some salves and medicines she think would be necessary and hard to come by. Taking one last look at her room, she looked at her luggage thoughtfully. She decided to check her things. It would be clumsy of her to leave anything important behind. She must make sure that she has not forgotten anything. Soon enough, she heard a knock on the door. It must be Shadow. She stood and opened the door and her conclusion was right.

"Good morning, Shadow." Sereinia smiled warmly as she greeted him for the morning.

It would seem that the female doctor had no reservations about her decision coming along with Shadow and Mayumi. Sereinia had slept well last night and not even an ounce of regret filled her mind. She was certain that this was the right decision and her Aunt would understand her actions given enough time. Her only wish is that everyone will be fine once she leaves the town.

The setting changes from Triveila to Cre' Est

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

"Good morning, Shadow." Sereinia smiled warmly as she greeted him for the morning.

Shadow nodded to her and offered a small smile. It wasn't fake by any means but it was not the same kind of smile he was able to offer in the past.

"If you're ready, we'll be off. Knowing Mayumi, she's already waiting with the horses at the town's eastern gate. We've got a long road ahead of us over the next few days, so steel yourself."

Shadow turned and began to walk towards the town's east gate as he ducked his head slightly to hide his eyes from passersby. It wouldn't do to help them in any way if Shadow's eyes had been seen. While the rest of him was normal enough, those eyes of his were so famous that anyone would see them and instantly panic. If the town panicked and loosed the guards on him and Sereinia, it wouldn't be a good start to their journey.

As they began to walk through the market again, Shadow glanced occasionally over his shoulder to check and see that Sereinia was following and not getting lost in the market looking for anything. In the past he had a companion who couldn't say no to a bargain in the market place and he had to constantly stop and check for them to make sure they didn't get left behind. He wasn't too sure about Sereinia yet, but it didn't seem like she'd be one to behave like that. If in the event she did, however, he was prepared for it.

However they continued through until they found their way to Burtos and the horses where Shadow took the lead on the black stallion with a white mane. He turned the horse around and waited for Sereinia to find her horse and get ready to go.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Mayumi pondered on the dreams she had been getting for the past few nights while keeping an eye on her surroundings, her face impassive. She had already gotten atop her gray stallion and was waiting for Shadow and Sereinia under the shade of some nearby trees. She wasn’t too fond about the idea of travelling with Sereinia but didn’t feel the need to say anything about it.

She was starting to feel restless with this weird feeling she was receiving from the dreams of her master’s face and it had been getting worse each time she had it. Was she doing something wrong? And what could it possibly be? She kept asking herself those questions over and over trying to get an answer. She had never seen her master’s face that way before throughout the years he had been training her, so she had no idea what it was that he was trying to tell her.

She hears light footsteps among the noise of the market approach and looks up to see Shadow arrive taking lead of the black stallion and looking back for Sereinia. It was good that they were finally getting a move on, she was feeling rather on edge for spending more than 5 hours in one place. Though she hid it well, she was sure that shadow had noticed her edginess.

The setting changes from Cre' Est to Triveila

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

"If you're ready, we'll be off. Knowing Mayumi, she's already waiting with the horses at the town's eastern gate. We've got a long road ahead of us over the next few days, so steel yourself."

Sereinia listened to Shadow's words and a nod to show that she understands. Taking one last look at the clinic, she took a deep breath and closed it behind her as she followed the man that had promised to protect her from the Te'i Sai due to her connections with him. Carrying her luggage, she did not feel much apprehension leaving the town even if she had only been there for a short while. After all, she did tell her Aunt that she was only passing through and would leave on her travels when she sees it is time. Well, it seems that time was now. Keeping a few inches of distance from Shadow, she could feel the curious glances from the townspeople. It was probably due to the rather awkward presentation of her companion who had seemed to hide his eyes from plain sight. In her case, she does understand for it was the most defining trait that he has which is known throughout the insignia of the vile criminal named Shadow.

Soon they arrived at the marketplace where most of the vendors greeted Sereinia with a smile and warmth. As a result, she reciprocated with stopping occasionally but not too long to not lose sight of Shadow. Some asked her why she was leaving so abruptly. All she could tell them without lying was that something had happened. She cannot tell them any further than that knowing the trouble that will cause in the long run. But before she could finally leave the market, some of the kids that she had been teaching the other day approached her.

"Ms. Nora! Ms. Nora! Ms. Nora!" They called to her in which she stopped from her walking.

"Oh, what is it children?" She looked at them with subtle curiosity and a gentle smile.

The children immediately presented her with a wreath of flowers as goodbye present. Sereinia took it and had a grateful smile which even made her beauty more brilliant than usual. Some of the men that passed by had blushes on their face and women sighed with slight envy.

"Thank you very much. Please, be good while I'm gone." She spoke with much tenderness as the children agreed with much enthusiasm. "Yes, Ms. Nora!"

After that short exchange, Sereinia waved them goodbye and quickly ran after Shadow who was almost out of her line of sight. When she finally caught up with him, Mayumi was already there as she was told.

"Good Morning, Ms. Mayumi." She greeted the younger girl with polite smile.

It was then that Sereinia climbed aboard her horse which was a lovely pure white stallion. This made the young doctor fret a little about getting such a beautiful horse get dirtied which was quite an odd thought. In any case, she looked at Shadow and Mayumi with a small smile.

"Let us depart. I will be in your care now."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow nodded to Sereinia when she spoke and turned to look at Mayumi as he led his horse closer to hers so they could communicate privately for a moment.

"We'll likely come across travelers and gangs of thieves or mercenaries on our way. If that proves to be the case then I may send you on scouting missions as I did before when I led Sereinia back to this town to take out anything in our path. Be ready, for that may not be all we face along the way." He whispered quietly.

He knew Mayumi didn't fear the unknown and she wasn't afraid of simple thieves, but he was unsure if she held any fear of Wraiths just yet. He had a feeling that if she fought with one, she would learn what fear was. During training, Shadow had deliberately avoided certain behaviors and training methods which could instill fear in her heart because he wanted to see how far she could go without it. However, he would soon have to teach her what fear meant because if he didn't do so, then the lesson may come with a fatal price.

All humans had something to fear, and Shadow had a feeling he knew who Mayumi would be afraid of in time. However, now was not the time to worry about what her fears were. They had a path to travel and a few days of riding ahead of them.

"Alright, let's get moving." He said as he led his horse down the path ahead.

Four days later


Four days seemed to fly by very quickly without any serious hindrances to their advance. Shadow had to have Mayumi scout ahead several times, but each time she either dealt with the problem or was able to guide them around it. There were no attacks from Te'i Sai during their trip, which had Shadow somewhat concerned. It was a prime opportunity to catch up to and attack them since the roads were fairly straight and without obstacles such as mountains or forests.

The Capitol City Triveila came into view as they rounded a small hill and Shadow looked to the left of the grand establishment to the mountains beyond it. Ahead were several small mountain ranges with numerous canyons and it was within those canyons that the third base of Te'i Sai was located. For the time being they would stay in the city, but within the next day they would make their way, very carefully, into the canyons beyond and attack the hidden base.

It would be impossible to do much damage with such a small force, but there was only one target that was worth anything and that was the Grandmaster.

As a rule, the Grandmasters would die before leaving their respective bases which was the downfall of the first two over the last six years. By taking advantage of this fact, and infiltrating the establishment, he was able to silently eliminate the Grandmaster of the base in Shaharan, and he had unfortunately attacked the Cre' Est base head on when he was in the final stages of his initial rebellion. Now that he was older and had more experience than he wanted, he knew better than to take on a base of Te'i Sai Assassins even if he was the Red-Eyed Demon.

"... Let's make our way into town and rest for now." He said as he guided them towards the city gate.

"Sereinia, could you get us passed the guards? I'm sure that Dr. Nora escorting some of her patients to the local clinic could get us through." He said as he looked at her over his shoulder.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Before anyone of them could notice, four days had already passed by. Sereinia could say that it was quite a peaceful journey. There were no attacks on them or even the commotions with the locals. There were trouble-free and she was thankful for that. Although, she did sense that Shadow was quite troubled by this pace and atmosphere. Regardless, she did not voice out any of her questions. She did not want to bother them with her useless ramblings. After all, she came along with them so that they could protect her from the Te'i Sai assassins that might come after her. Soon enough, they could see the Capital City of Triveila. She had come many times for medical missions or just to help her Aunt with supplies and small business matters. She followed Shadow's lead when her attention was taken.

"Sereinia, could you get us passed the guards? I'm sure that Dr. Nora escorting some of her patients to the local clinic could get us through."

Well Sereinia did not mind using her influence, however, lying to anyone was never her strongest trait. Actually, she lacked in that department completely. Looking at Shadow for a brief moment, she was trying to assess how she could not lie and at the same time gain access for the three of them without trouble. Taking a deep breath, she nodded towards Shadow and rode her horse in front of him. As she approached the gates, the soldiers came into view to block their path.

"Good day, gentlemen." Sereinia greeted them with a polite smile which earned some of the men instant admiration.

"What business do you and your companions have with the Capital, Miss?" One of the soldiers asked while the other looked at Shadow and Mayumi sternly and warily.

But before Sereinia could respond to the inquiry, a familiar elderly voice called out her identity. "Dr. Nora? Is that you?"

Looking at the person approaching them, she could not help but smile brightly. "Mr. Durkin, I'm happy to see that you are now feeling well."

The soldiers instantly saluted the Durkin emphasizing that the man was of a higher rank than any of them at present. "Captain, Sir Do you know her?"

Durkin glanced at the soldier who asked and narrowed his eyes. "Of course! This is Dr. Nora one of the best doctors out their in the world! This beautiful lady saved a lot of lives after that skirmish at the far north including me!"

Sereinia had a light blush in her cheeks for such extravagant praises attached to her profession. She believed that she did not do much at all. "Mr. Durkin, I have only done my duty as a doctor."

The elderly soldier smiled at the humbleness that Sereinia presented. "You are still too kind for words, Dr. Nora. Anyway, are you here for some business?"

Sereinia reminded of her true situation nodded and looked at Shadow and Mayumi before looking back at Durkin. "Yes. I was accompanying my friends here."

Durkin looked at Shadow and Mayumi with doubtful eyes but once he looked at Sereinia all those suspicions were removed without a moment's notice. "I see! Well, let them pass! If they are Dr. Nora's friends then they are certainly good people!"

The soldiers acknowledge this as they moved away from them and allowed them entrance to the city. "Thank you very much, Mr. Durkin. I appreciate this."

Durkin gave a hearty laughter, "No need to thank me. You saved my life. I hope to see you around the city then." Sereinia nodded and gave a grateful smile. "Yes, I do hope so as well. Take care."

With that, they had gained entrance as Sereinia waved goodbye to the Durkin and the soldiers. When the three of them were out of sight, she rode beside Shadow and released a sigh. She was really worried about lying there. She truly hates that and has no skill in doing so. "I guess that went well, right?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

As they approached the gate Shadow began to feel slightly apprehensive of a possible fight given his elevation on horseback and how hard it would be to hide his eyes from the guards. It was at that moment that Sereinia began to say hello to the guards when someone else seemed to recognize her and a conversation began in which the guards opened the path for them to enter the city.

Shadow was slightly taken aback by it, but none the less grateful that they wouldn't have to kill the guards.

"I guess that went well, right?" Sereinia said after a sigh.

Shadow looked over at her, but carried no real emotion on his face.

"Yes, that did go well. I'm glad we didn't have to fight the guards, but we shouldn't get too comfortable. Now that we're here in this city, Mayumi and I have some business to attend to over the next several days."

Shadow got down off of his horse and took the packs he had put in the saddle bags out and carried them over his shoulder.

"Time to drop the horses off and find a place to stay. I suggest we stay here during our visit." He said, pointing to the Lion's Head Inn just fifty feet away.

"It's fairly large, easy to spot from a distance, and close to the entrance of town. There are other reasons I have chosen this Inn rather than searching for another one, but for now you'll just have to trust me. Anyway, Mayumi, take these horses to the stables and I'll take all of our supplies to the Inn. Meet us here when you're done and you and I will discuss our business and how to get it done."

Once finished speaking Shadow made his way to Mayumi's horse and took the extra supplies he'd placed in her horses saddle bags and hoisted them over his other shoulder. Mayumi's own belongings were few in number so he let her keep them with her while he turned around and waited for Sereinia to get off her horse and follow him into the Inn. Once inside he spoke to the young man at the counter and paid for a two week stay on the top floor of the four story Inn. Shadow liked being at higher elevations and near rooftops as it made traveling easier at night.

The room Shadow paid for was really four rooms turned into two. The walls had been removed to allow for a larger space without as much to get in the way and had been modified to have three windows instead of four as each room usually had its own window. Mayumi and Sereinia had one room with two large beds and Shadow had the other which was more of a single bed and a workspace than a real room. Once he unpacked their belongings he walked over to the window on his side and opened it, taking a seat on the edge and looking out at the city.

It was an old habit of his to memorize the terrain of the rooftops and label key landmarks in his mind. He had a photographic memory and found it very easy to mark buildings and other such important objects so that he knew his way around before he even had to really set foot in the city streets.

He waited patiently for Mayumi to return to the room, which would be a few minutes since the stables were a decent distance away near one of the other city gates. She wouldn't be long though, so Shadow simply sat and waited.

The setting changes from Triveila to Cre' Est

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK


The setting changes from Cre' Est to Triveila

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Sereinia looked at the establishment that Shadow had pointed at. She had no complaints but was quite curious of what the other reasons were for choosing to stay at the Lion's Head Inn. In any case, she did not ask any questions and simply nodded. She had decided to join Shadow and Mayumi in this journey under complete faith. It is why she would not be doubting or distrust the two of them anytime soon. Following him, their group soon arrived at the said Inn. She listened as Shadow stated what they should do at the moment. It seemed Mayumi would be delivering the horses to the Stables. She took this as the cue to get off her horse which she did. After doing so, she took her luggage and allow Mayumi do what she had been asked. She wanted to accompany the young girl since it's quite dangerous walking around on her own. Although, she knew that it sounded quite funny as Mayumi was able to protect herself unlike her. So, she satisfied herself with words.

"Please be careful, Ms. Mayumi."

After saying that, Sereinia followed Shadow inside the Inn where they paid for the rooms that the three of them would be staying in. It seemed that they would be staying for two weeks at the Capital City of Triveila. She would be a liar not to admit that she had an idea that whatever business that Shadow and Mayumi had would involve the three assassins that came at her town that fateful night. When their business was done at the reception, she followed Shadow once more to their respective rooms. It was quite spacious. She looked at the room where Mayumi and her would be sharing. There were 2 beds however, she did wonder if Mayumi would be fine sleeping with her. Based on her observation, Mayumi preferred being alone and rarely comes in contact with her. It made Sereinia wonder if Mayumi hates her.

"I wonder..." She softly whispered under her breath.

Shaking such depressing thoughts, Sereinia followed Shadow's lead and began unpacking things for convenience. It also been quite apparent to her as well that Shadow seemed to be in deep thought during their journey in here. It is why most of the times, she allowed silence reigned between the three of them. In her opinion, it was an awkward one but perhaps for Mayumi and Shadow, they were comfortable. Stopping momentarily, she wondered if her Aunt had found the letter that she had left. She was certain that her Aunt was speaking profanities and all. At the very least, she did not divulge the identity of her companions. It would be better that way since, she knew that her Aunt would probably send the Royal Guards after them thinking she was kidnapped or something which is not true at all. Releasing a sigh, she was finally done and wondered if Mayumi has come back from the stables.

"Excuse me..."

Saying with politeness as Sereinia entered the room, she found Shadow sitting on the window's ledge. She would have warned the man of its dangers however, he was not a normal man after all. He seemed to be thinking about something and partly waiting for Mayumi. He did say that the two of them had something to discuss about their business here in the city. She should probably give them some privacy. They might feel concerned to talk about their matters with her around.

"You and Mayumi will be discussing some matters right? If so, I would go out for awhile then."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow's mind was elsewhere as Sereinia spoke, but her voice soon broke into his thoughts and brought his mind back to the here and now. He looked over to her, his eyes betraying his mental exhaustion before he turned and looked back out to the city.

"... You may attend to your own devices however you wish Sereinia." He said, half distractedly.

Shadow's mind was a tornado of thought, but luckily for him his years as an Assassin had taught him how to organize his thoughts which was why he always seemed to know what was going on and was so quick to deduce problems and solutions. He was deemed a genius level Assassin by the five Grandmasters of Te'i Sai, but when it came to everyday life Shadow was a fish out of water and his analytical mind often got him into trouble. However, Shadow couldn't escape his curiosity and so seemed at times to be quite innocent and naive though only two people had seen that side of him before.

"Tell me, Sereinia." He said quietly.

"What is this... Festival of the Gods that is being spoken of by the people in the street." He asked.

The Festival of the Gods was a special once a year even that was celebrated across the continent by all five nations even during such times as these. The festival was a celebration with singing, danging, acting, food, alcohol, sports and street performances which all celebrated the creation of the world by the hands of the Gods. It was a special event which was always colorful, cheerful, and very special in the hearts and minds of the people of the continent.

However, growing up in Te'i Sai, Shadow was unaware of the festival and didn't understand why it was so special. Being brought up in a world without Gods, Shadow was always taught that faith in the Gods was a waste of time though he did believe in one particular Goddess though he'd never admit to it. He was naturally a curious person, and during the time he spent in his first few years fighting against Te'i Sai he had learned what it meant to both peak and satisfy his curiosity since he found that it was not something to be ashamed. While in Te'i Sai his curiosity was a waste of time and was frowned upon, so he ignored it.

Learning to re adapt to civilization was a difficult task for him, but he honestly was trying.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Sora perched on Mayumi’s shoulder the moment she got off her horse. She took lead of the other two horses before making her way to the stables that were quite a distance away. Her hood was up letting her blend into the shadows so as to not draw attention, and though she got a few looks from passing people no one seemed to be suspicious of her.

Once done with her task which had taken no more than 2 minutes, she walked towards the inn Shadow had told her to meet him at. While doing so, she took note of her surroundings taking every bit of detail into mind with a single look. She saw kids playing around with each other while adults watched on, the corners of their mouths lifting each time the kids did something ridiculous. Mayumi took a minute to observe what she thought was a weird scene but soon carried on with a newfound question in mind.

‘Why do kids always seem to be with adults?’

Soon, she was near the entrance of the inn but instead of going in and taking the normal way up… Mayumi looked around the area for anyone who was watching her, finding none, she went behind the inn and climbed up a tree near it while Sora flew up to the branch near the window where Shadow was. Seeing Shadow by the window, she leaped through the window quite a few feet away from the tree with a cat’s grace and landed soundlessly on the room’s ground.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

"... You may attend to your own devices however you wish Sereinia."

Sereinia remained still after hearing his response. It was not because she was surprised. There was just something odd about Shadow as of late. He seemed to be preoccupied with something. She was quite curious to find out what it could be. However, she held herself back. She did not want to appear too presumptuous. Even if the three of them would be traveling together for some time, it does not mean privacy cannot be observed among them. So, she simply said her goodbyes to him for now.

"Well, I will be going now. I will see you and Mayumi later." After saying that, Sereinia turned her back at him and proceeded to leave with her hand reaching for the doorknob.

"Tell me, Sereinia. What is this... Festival of the Gods that is being spoken of by the people in the street."

This stopped Sereinia from opening the door in front of her. She looked at Shadow over her shoulders in slight bewilderment. Well, it was quite a common knowledge as it is an international event recognized among the different nations. When she was younger, she had always looked forward to the Festival of the Gods. It was a wonderful time with her family and even more lovely when her little brother could come along. In which, it made her wonder why he does not know. In his kind of lifestyle, he would be more knowledgeable as he travels from different locations. Unless, he never saw or even experience even once.

"Have you not been in one?" Sereinia asked without any ill intent. This time she faced him once more with a curious expression.

"The Festival of the Gods is a way for us to thank and be happy about the creation of the world with the Gods' powers. After all, without the world where will we be?"

Leaning on the door behind her, Sereinia had a small smile as she remembered a fond memory. She was reliving her childhood days that were filled without much worry. She has yet to see the harsh realities of the world. At that time, she was ignorant and knew nothing about what was sadness or tragedy. She wallowed herself in a glass world that only showed her the good things. Releasing a sigh, she stopped her dreary thoughts at that and continued her explanation.

"It is celebrated by all of the nations. It is truly a festive day where everyone just have a good time and forget their troubles. There would be games, contests, dance, and just everything related to fun. Everyone comes even the Royal Family of Triveila although they would only attend for the show. It is a spectacular firework show that is coordinated with the other nations. It lights the sky with brilliant colors as a tribute to the Gods."

Standing properly, Sereinia noticed that Mayumi had finally arrived with a rather cat-like entrance. The more she gets to see the young girl's abilities. The more she feels useless in terms of physical skills. This only proves that one could never judge by age.

"Welcome back, Ms. Mayumi." Sereinia greeted with a warm smile and then looked at Shadow. It seemed they would start their discussion now. "Well, if you don't have any other questions. I will be leaving you two for awhile then."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow nodded to Sereinia as she left and looked over at Mayumi.

"Well, I suppose we should get started." He said as he hopped out of the window, glancing at her on his way.

He grabbed the edge of the window sill and hauled himself up until he managed to get a proper handling on the side of the building and scaled it to the roof in a few seconds. He got to his feet on the roof and began to run and jump from rooftop to rooftop as he sighted the building of interest where his meeting with Mayumi would take place.

The building was fairly tall compared to the others around it, standing nearly six stories and surrounded by three and four story buildings. It had an arch at its top, beneath which would be perfect for the meeting once they arrived. It took Shadow about five minutes to get to the location, with Mayumi being very close behind. He scaled the wall in about twenty seconds from the third floor rooftop across the way and made it to the sixth story roof under the archway where he found no evidence of human trespassing for a very long time. More than likely this building was either abandoned or scheduled for demolition which suited him just fine.

He waited for Mayumi to get there as well, which wasn't long, before starting.

"Alright Mayumi. We're here for a very specific set of targets. Your first target, Mayumi, is a man named Csargil, and he is a Senator here in Triveila. He received word of my presence in Cre' Est a few months ago before you and I met and has been in hiding since. I'm leaving it up to you to find and kill him, and don't bother being discrete about it. This mission is about killing him, and if it's public, all the better. However, be careful. He has dealings with Te'i Sai and will no doubt have at least a few of them with him since he's an important asset for the organization."

He handed Mayumi a small piece of paper which had a list of recent activities according to a contact of Shadow's which she could use to start her search.

"While you deal with finding and killing Csargil, I'm going to be dealing with the Assassin presence in the city. If you come across a Wraith, run. I trust you to take down an Assassin or two, but I forbid you from fighting with Wraiths at this time. Is that understood?" He asked, which was more of a demand than a question.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

"Let me see... Do I have everything I need now?"

Sereinia whispered to herself as she looked inside the paper bag that contained her earlier purchases. It had been quite a while since she had left the inn to do some errands of hers. She did not want to bother Shadow and Mayumi with their discussion. In addition, she had a feeling that the business they have would not settle well with her. Dismissing such lingering thoughts, she had a small smile on her lips upon confirming that everything that she needed was complete. Nodding to herself, she began walking along the busy streets of the Market District of the city. Well, she still have some time before she should return to the inn. So, she decided to do some shopping. Perhaps, she should buy something for her two companions. After all, there are a lot of cute products on sale. It was probably for the Festival of the Gods.

"I wonder if he would like this..."

Approaching one of the stalls, Sereinia spotted a black pouch bag with the insignia of the Primary Deity of Triveila. It was well-made and had golden linings as an accent around its opening and edges. Well, there are other pouches with the different insignias of the other Gods. However, she was not sure what kind of God did Shadow believed in or if he even believes in them. She had a feeling that Shadow was not that devout to religion. Releasing a small sigh, she continued looking for something else. Soon enough, another object caught her attention as she went towards the said stall. It was a cute stuffed toy in the images of the Gods. They were quite famous to the children as she could see a lot of them gathered and others pleading to their parents to have one. The scene made her smile warmly. Focusing her attention back to the merchandise, she wondered if Mayumi would like one.

"On the other hand, I am not sure..."

Looking at one of the stuff toys, Sereinia remembered how Mayumi is in their brief moments she had experienced the young girl's company. Frankly speaking, she has no idea what Mayumi would like or if the young girl even desires such toys. She did not want to offend Mayumi considering how strained their relationship is. Deciding it would be better to look for another gift, she left the stall and continued looking around for something suitable. After a few minutes walking around, her face lit up with a smile. It seemed she had found the perfect gift for both Shadow and Mayumi. She quickly approached the stall and pointed to the vendor the two objects that she wanted to buy. Without a delay, she soon held the gifts she had bought for her two companions.

"I hope they would like this... I wonder what they would say about it though..."

Sereinia muttered to herself as she walked along the streets. She had decided to return to the inn as it was already far into the night. She had too much fun shopping. Remembering something, she should invite Shadow and Mayumi to the firework show. After all, Shadow had yet to experience the Festival and she had a feeling that Mayumi is the same as him. Hopefully, the two would have some time despite the business they should be taking care of.

"Well, I should just ask them. It would be no use pondering about it."

After saying that, Sereinia stopped walking as someone was blocking her path. That someone was wearing a hooded cloak. So, it was hard for her to identify whether it was a man or woman. It also added to her confusion as the person was not moving or even speaking. This made her worry and concerned as well. Thus, she approached the individual with sincere concern.

"Excuse me, are you feeling well? I am a doctor. So..."

But before Sereinia could finish her words, the hooded figure grabbed her arms and placed a white cloth over her face. Her eyes widened in shock and realization as she could slowly feel her losing grip to consciousness. The bags that she carried were dropped to the ground. She wanted to fight but it was futile. Her strength was being sapped from her probably due to the drug attached to the cloth. The scent was an effective anesthetic. She knew for she uses it for surgical operations.

"If you are going to blame anyone... Blame your companions..."

Those were the last words that Sereinia heard as she completely fell unconscious and went limp in the hands of the hooded individual who carried her and disappeared into the crowd of people without much effort.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Mayumi didn't like the sound of running away from a fight but agreed to it none the less with a small nod. She knew Shadow had a reason for his every action, and since he was once a part of Te'i Sai he should know how they work better than anyone.

Mayumi scanned the small piece of paper in hand which consisted of the man named Csargil's recent activities. From the list she noted that he wouldn't stay outside for more than the necessary time needed to complete his task. It was rather clear that he was on the look out for Shadow and since he was an important asset to Te'i Sai he would most likely have guards by his side and assassins watching from higher grounds. She was almost sure that there would be at least one or two wraiths in disguise watching his back as well. Seems like she would have to be extra careful for the missions ahead.

Suddenly, Mayumi felt an odd unnoticeable shift in the atmosphere. Something had happened to someone, but since Shadow was here with her the other person could only be...

Mayumi's head snapped up to the skies, looking around she spots Sora flying in circles at a particular spot about 160 meters from where she and Shadow was. Seeing that Mayumi had noticed her, Sora soared in a direction where she supposed Sereinia was being taken to. She had sent Sora to watch over Sereinia before Shadow and her took off. At the look of the situation it was a good thing she did.

"Sereinia's in trouble. Whoever took her is going in the northwest direction and will be heading into the woods soon." Mayumi calculated.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow looked at Sora in the skies, just barely able to see her in the darkness surrounding them circling high above the city. Shadow guessed it was a short distance away from the inn, likely near the market where she was probably buying gifts or supplies. It was a concern to be sure since Assassins weren't the only threats in this city or the nation itself to people like Shadow. Assassins fetched a high bounty for mercenaries and bounty hunters who were looking to make a name for themselves.

"Split up, Mayumi. You get to the North Gate as fast as you can and I'll go check Sora's current location. If I don't find whomever did this I'll send her back to you so she can scout ahead of you and let you know what's happening. Now go!" He ordered.

Shadow immediately ran to the edge and jumped off the six story building, flipping in midair and landing on the balls of his feet on a third story building rooftop just across the street with a loud crash which splintered the wooden rooftop under his boots. Luckily for Shadow, the roof was secured and reinforced so he didn't go crashing right through it. If he had, he had a backup plan but was counting on such architecture to keep him on the roof instead of going through it. He stood up and sprinted across the rooftops towards where Sora was circling and leaped down into an alleyway and used the two walls of the buildings to slowly slide down to street level.

Once in the street he checked Sora's flight path once more and ran towards her, checking every face he passed along the way and every outfit that went by. He didn't know what to look for right now, as anyone could have done this in a city of this size, so he kept an eye out for anything that could be suspicious.

Finally, he found the bags that Sereinia had been carrying. The contents hadn't spilled out, so Shadow picked them up and looked around very, very carefully. Shadow's keen eyes analyzed every detail of his surroundings, looking for anything that could be used to track whoever did this. The problem was that anyone who had seen it happen had likely moved on already, and they were walking on cobblestone streets which didn't leave tracks or footprints since they were regularly washed and cleaned. Shadow's teeth clenched behind tight lips as he continued scanning the area for a moment longer before he could not afford to do so any longer.

He walked up to the nearest person he saw, hiding his eyes as best he could.

"Excuse me, did you see where the girl carrying these bags went?" He asked.

He received a 'no' in response, so he went to the next one. His fears had been realized, as he asked everyone who passed through what had happened but received the same answer all around.

However... He suddenly realized something.

Everyone who was here wasn't leaving. They were going from one spot to another in circles, breaking the pattern every so often but were obviously untrained. Shadow's eyes narrowed and his jaw flexed as he gritted his now open and bared teeth and grabbed the first man who came near to him.

"Where is she?!" He yelled as he lifted his head, revealing the full extent of his glowing red eyes to everyone within sight.

There was a gasp from the crowd and the man under his grip lost all color in his face upon the meeting of their eyes and he started to shake.

"P-pl... Please... Don't hurt me. I am a man with a family." He pleaded.

Shadow gave him a hard jerk and shoved him up against the nearest wall he could see, lifting him with one hand a foot into the air as he pressed his fist against the man's throat.

"I'll ask once more... Where is she?!" He demanded.

The man started choking under his grip and pointed Northwest, but Shadow had to release him as there was more to say.

"*Cough*... *cough*... He paid us all to keep quiet when you got here and said that we'd die if we gave you any aid. He didn't say where he was going, but there was another one like him who I overheard speaking before he disappeared with the girl you're looking for. They said that the diversion worked and that you'd surely be coming to help your new friend. They also said something about someone named... Kairo? Kyero? Something like that... That's all I know, I swear."

Shadow's eyes widened as a look of horror crossed his face before being wiped away and replaced by pure rage as he suddenly realized what had happened. He looked up to Sora and immediately gave her the signal to rush to Mayumi's side now that he no longer needed her eyes. She was now his only chance to save them as he had been completely pulled in. The only explanation was that one of Shadow's contacts had either been captured and interrogated, or they had betrayed him. Only a handful of people knew where he was going and what he was doing, and too many of them were people he trusted completely. There were two, however, whom he had always been leery of and he had a strong feeling he'd be seeing one or both of them very soon.

Shadow raced to the inn and dropped off Sereinia's bags with the woman at the desk, asking her to hold them until they returned as he sprinted outside again and towards the North Gate as fast as his legs could carry him.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

"You know that someday... We have to tell her the truth."

The voice was distantly familiar. There was a certain soothing essence to it that no one can replace. It is the feeling that Sereinia was having. Somehow, this voice was something that she should never forget. Still, the identity of the voice eluded her like a plague. She tried hard to recognize it and yet all she could pull from the deepest recesses of her mind was nothing.

"I love you... Someday, we will meet again, my daughter."

"Mother!" Sereinia unknowingly shouted as her eyes opened with desperation flashing across them without warning. Her breathing was shallow and fast. It was like she had been running away or after something even may be someone.

After a few moments, Sereinia was able to remove herself from the trance. She had deemed it as a dream in which she had no more recollections of what it was in the first place. Feeling a bit dizzy, she opted an instinctual action to hold her head with a hand. She had deduced it was probably from suddenly sitting upright. The blood must have rushed to her head. However, she could not do that simple gesture. It is because her hands were securely bounded behind her. This was then she had come to full realization what had truly happened to her. The events earlier played into her mind like a silent film.

"That man took me..."

Muttering to herself, Sereinia remembered the hooded man who put her to sleep without effort. She looked around her and could see that she was left in a room. It resembles a storeroom in her opinion. Beside her were barrels, boxes, and bags. Taking another note, it was not only her hands that were bound but also her feet. She could not move on her own without difficulty. Although, she did find it quite odd for her mouth to be not covered or even her eyes. This would only mean that her captors did not mind her shouting or seeing them. It also means that she was in a place that no one could help her.

"He must be after Shadow and Mayumi..." Sereinia remembered the man's last words before she fainted. "I can't be burden to them. I have to do something."

Resolution filled her deep amethyst eyes as Sereinia began squirming through her ropes. They were securely tied. Taking another option, she looked around for something that could be used to cut her binds. If this was a storeroom, there should be something useful of that sorts. Seeing something glinting beside the piles of wooden boxes, she made an expression of relief. There was loose nail peeking from wall. It was not that remarkable. But, she can't be picky about it. Making an effort to crawl over there without making much noises was harder than she had thought. Nevertheless, she reached her destination and began to rub her binds against the nail's sharp edge.

"Please work..."

Sereinia was not sure how much time passed but her limbs were getting numb. Yet, she could not feel that her rope was being loosened at all. It was about time she should give hope, but then she heard her ropes slowly being cut. Her eyes widen in hope and happiness. She might be able to free herself after all. However, it was short-lived as the door to the room she was confined open. Horror flashed across her face as the man wearing a hooded cloak understood her intentions. It was not that difficult for her captor to cross the room without delay.

"Here I thought you would be the typical damsel in distress."

The man's words were coated with interest and malice. Sereinia could hear it which made her slightly tremble as she looked away. He noticed this as he instantly grabbed her chin tightly and then forced her to look at him. At first, she could not see the face due to her hood. But soon, she could see his eyes staring down at her with danger and a blood lust.

"Your eyes... It's like..." This comment from Sereinia was enough to make the man smirk. "Like him?"

After saying that, he grabbed her roughly by the shoulder. She expected to have a dislocation but it did not happen. The next she knew the man was carrying her over his shoulder like a sack of rice.

"Let me go! Release me at once!" Sereinia shouted at her captor and began struggling from him. However, it was useless. The man was far stronger than ever she could be.

"Don't worry. You won't die yet. I want to see how Shadow feels seeing you die just like her."

This statement made Sereinia stop as she digested the man's words. What did he meant by her? She did remember hearing Shadow commenting that she was like someone. Although, she did not pry into it.

"I won't let you harm Shadow or Mayumi." Determination sparking in her eyes and voice. Sereinia used all her strength to bite at the man's shoulder. This was enough for him to wince and loosened his hold on her. "You wench!"

Seeing the opportunity, Sereinia used the momentum to deliver a kick to his stomach. But before it could connect, the man grabbed her by the hair and slammed her to the wall with great force. She knew that some of her bones were cracked as she cough some amount of blood.

"You are feisty. I'll give you credit for that. But, I wonder what they will do especially him if I break you apart now in the most scandalous way."

After saying that, Sereinia was grabbed once more but this time she was pinned to the floor. The meaning of his words finally dawned on her as she squirmed underneath him. She even shouted until she could feel that her vocal chords were giving out on her. She continued to fight but she could feel her strength leaving her and the man was still strong and resolute on what he was about to do to her.

"Help me... Shadow..."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow continued to sprint through the streets, but he knew that he was running hopelessly towards a goal that would not come. He finally stopped at he came to within a few hundred yards of the North Gate without ever once spotting either Mayumi or Sereinia. He had started to lose hope when the words of someone very dear to him echoed in his mind like the voice of an angel.

"Close your eyes, Shadow. Look inside yourself, and all will be revealed..."

The voice came softly to his inner ear as he smiled slightly while he took deep and steady breaths. Recalling the locations of Te'i Sai's operations buildings within this city was a challenge since it had been a few years since he was here, but never the less his long term photographic memory marked them all out on the map in his head. He opened his eyes slowly and looked around from left to right, scanning the surrounding buildings.

"Now... Which ones would be used to house a hostage?" He asked himself quietly.

A few people walking through the streets took interest in his activities, but when they saw his eyes they gasped and turned away. Some of them ran, but most took comfort in the fact that he was not moving and so simply walked away.

There were three buildings in the immediate area which Te'i Sai had used in the past, and Shadow was guessing they were relying on his memory having faded since the last time he was here. However, that not being the case, Shadow turned around and started to walk slowly back towards where he had come. Sora had lost the man who took Sereinia in the crowds, but Shadow had a good idea where to find him. From the point where he grabbed her, there was only one location which would suit his needs for housing a hostage. It was a long shot, given how much time had gone by and how much had changed in five years, but it was all he had.

Shadow walked up to the door of the unassuming building in question which was actually disguised on the outside as a private club for scholars. Inside, however, were three layers of dungeons hidden beneath the surface of the city. Sereinia must have been here, because no other building in the city had such a place to store both people and supplies. Shadow didn't like the idea of leaving Mayumi alone in this city when the name Kiiro had crossed the mouths of common citizens, of all people, but he had no choice. If she encountered a Wraith, or worse yet, Kiiro himself, Mayumi knew his orders to run. However, with Kiiro being the man who murdered her master, Shadow was uncertain how long Mayumi would be able to resist the urge to chase him.

That aside, Shadow reached out to open the door when he caught sight of a slight glint. The door was rigged, and he followed the faint line of wire to its source which was a single rifle cleverly hidden behind a sign aimed right at his head level.

"... So they knew to calibrate it for my specific height eh?" He asked himself with a smile.

He took a moment and simply drew one of his daggers. With a single swift motion, the wire fell limp and the gun was now all but useless as Shadow opened the door and walked inside. When he did so, he was greeted by a single figure in a black cloak and a red Te'i Sai logo on the chest. This was another Wraith, and judging by the face, the same one which had eluded him back in the previous encounter.

"So you've found this place after all, eh Shadow?" He asked with a grin.

Shadow didn't bother answering him, and instead turned around and walked outside as he closed the door behind him. This reaction stunned the Wraith, and he inched towards the door to listen.

Shadow had never, never, in his entire life backed away from any challenge before. Why start now?

Then, it became all too clear when a tiny click resonated through the door, and then a single bullet ripped through the man's head as Shadow opened the door again and dropped the rifle. The bullet entry wound was clean and went straight through, killing him before he hit the ground or even heard the sound of the gun being fired. With that nuisance out of the way, Shadow ran forward and broke down the door which led below to the dungeons. Not wanting to waste further time, he made his way straight to the bottom floor. Keeping Sereinia there would ensure that he had to cut himself off from retreat afterwards, but he had no choice in the matter anymore.

Finally he reached the bottom floor but it was empty, just like the rest. He couldn't figure out for the life of him what they were doing. They had nobody guarding Sereinia save for a single member likely watching over her in her chambers. Only one Wraith guarding the door.

"Just what are you after, Kiiro?" Shadow asked himself quietly.

There was a thought which struck him at that moment...

"... Mayumi..." He said softly.

His thoughts were interrupted, however, when the sounds of a struggle came from behind one of the doors in the back of the chamber.

Shadow bolted for it and gave it a single ram with his shoulder, but it was reinforced and Shadow instead ended up reeling back grabbing his shoulder in pain. He took another look at the door and discovered that it was made of a strange metal he'd never seen before. Whatever it was, however, it was no match for his daggers.

He swiftly brought them both out and slashed at the door, shredding it into several pieces as he kicked them in and finally broke the door down. Sereinia was on the ground with the Assassin now standing over her and who charged Shadow the instant he was through the door. Shadow tried to react but since he was holding both his daggers he couldn't grab the man or stop him from slamming him back into the wall behind them outside of Sereinia's chamber. Shadow let out a grunt of pain as a large fist made it's way into his jaw on the right side, sending him reeling several feet.

He quickly composed himself and analyzed his opponent. This one was a hand to hand specialist, and so Shadow obliged his passion by sheathing his daggers and cracking his neck. He shook off the shock of the first few attacks and the two began to fight. One punch, two, a kick, a locking hold. Move after move was traded for several seconds before Shadow's superior speed finally caught up with his opponent and he managed to snap the man's neck with the edge of his elbow, rupturing the arterial wall of his Carotid Artery and also clamping down momentarily on the jugular.

His opponent began to choke and went to his knees, but Shadow was in no such merciful mood and grabbed him by the hair and began to slowly twist his head around in a circle until he felt and heard a loud *SNAP* and the man's body fell limp in his hands. Shadow dropped the corpse and threw his body into a pile of crates just for good measure before letting out a deep breath and walking back to Sereinia's room.

"... Well done Kiiro..." He said quietly on his return trip.

Kiiro had played this out perfectly. By luring Shadow into a false sense of security and letting him have his meeting with Mayumi, he had created an opening to steal Sereinia away and give Shadow a choice: come after the helpless one, or protect his protege. Shadow had made his choice, knowing Mayumi's skills, but if Kiiro himself was there then there would be nothing he could do to protect Mayumi now. Kiiro knew full well the choice Shadow would make, and was likely on his way to find Mayumi if he hadn't already done so. It was for this reason that there was a begrudging respect between the two despite the seething hatred they shared for one another.

Give Shadow and Kiiro one full second to stare at each other from a distance of twenty feet and they'd be closing the gap and fighting by the very next second.

Once he walked inside, he approached her and gently reached around her body to snap the ropes which bound her. First her hands, then her legs, and then he simply stood up in front of her with a sorrowful expression on his face.

"... I'm so sorry Sereinia... This should never have happened. I was so focused on our task elsewhere that I neglected your safety in a city where Assassin presence and intelligence is quite strong. I never should have left you alone..." He said as he looked into her eyes.

"Please, forgive me." He pleaded.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

‘Shadow should have gotten Sereinia by now.’ Mayumi decided seeing as he hadn’t sent Sora to her.

She had sitted herself on a high tree branch situated near the North gate. For some reason, ever since she they got near the village she had been getting the feeling that someone was watching them, or maybe her alone. She wasn’t clear, but she knew that someone was definitely watching them.

‘Even now. Who is it?’ Mayumi felt strange. This foreign feeling she was getting. It didn’t seem right.

Moving stealthily, careful not to move any leafs or twigs on her way, she reached the highest branch of the tree that was still within coverage of the leafs. High places had always seemed to make her feel safer, but this time round, it didn’t seem to be working.

The once light atmosphere of nature was turning dark, the air around her was starting to feel suffocating, and the place around her had gone eerily quiet. Why hadn’t she noticed it before? She was on guard all along, wasn’t she?

She scanned the area for signs of recent activity or movement, and for a split second she was sure she saw a figure move from shadow to shadow. Bow and arrow in hand, she stayed alert as she got ready for a battle she knew would take place in the nearing future. A battle where victory was further off from her reach than she would like, but no matter, will do whatever it takes of her to try and accomplish her goal.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

There was a darkness moving in the wind which nobody could explain. Even the air within the city suddenly went cold and clouds began to move in overhead in the sky obscuring the moon's light and clouding the land in a veil of shadows. A lone figure now walked through the streets, standing tall and proud with a small armament of weaponry on his person. Two large daggers at his back, a single straight edge in his right boot, a small assortment of throwing daggers across his hips and chest, hidden darts disguised as a bracelet on his left wrist, and a belt of utilities with numerous small pockets for carrying Gods only know what.

His stride was slow and even, no fear of anything in his steps. His dark brown hair waved gently in the wind as it slowly blew through the streets around him. He wore a simple black tunic with a thin black shirt beneath it, black pants and black boots, and a black bandanna around his forehead to keep his hair out of his eyes. His boots were reinforced at the soul and in the toes, perfect for combat, while his pants and tunic were comprised of a very flexible and sturdy fabric that could withstand much abuse before tearing. In essence, he was armed similarly to Shadow.

As he walked the streets, some people who were still out and about this night mistook him for the Red-Eyed Demon from his manner of dress and posture. Even their faces looked similar, with the only major differences being the coloration of the eyes and Shadow's slightly darker skin tone. Other than that their jawline, lips, nose, and even their hair and eyebrows looked almost exactly the same. Had nobody known better, they could easily mistake them for twins.

He approached the city Gate and stood in the entrance, looking around to the surrounding trees and scanning for a certain someone's presence. One of his informants appeared beside from out of the darkness and stood next to him.

"Sir, we have found her. We await your command." He said quietly in a whisper.

The figure nodded to him and looked ahead once more. His informant disappeared while others began to move silently through the night. Slowly and steadily, they moved from shadow to shadow as they tracked her position and her point of focus. Those within line of sight didn't move while those out of her sight slowly crept forward foot by foot. It took approximately ten minutes, with the lone figure never moving from the opening from the Gate, before one of them finally made it up to her location.

Silently, he found his way to her and knocked her at the base of the neck to stun her momentarily. While she was stunned he grabbed her bow and arrows and leaped down out of the tree and walked quietly over to his master standing at the city gate a short distance away. The figure examined the bow and the arrows, determining that the arrows had come from Shadow since their tips were made of Orichalcum, before giving them back to his subordinate and looking up to where Mayumi had been with a small smile on his face.

"Come, young ward of the Red-Eyed Demon!" He called up to her.

"I think I have someone you would wish to see again." He said as he gestured to his side.

Another of his subordinates appeared from out of the gloom with Sora in his arms. The bird had a protective muzzle of sorts over its beak and its talons tied and padded so she couldn't do any damage. She appeared to be in a daze, and had in fact been shot with a drugged dart to put her under so she couldn't help Mayumi see these men or warn her of the impending danger.

He gave a flick of his wrist and the bird and the man holding her disappeared into the darkness once more as the figure turned away from her and ran back into the city streets. His steps were smooth and soft, almost like he was trying to walk on water. His movements were almost serpentine in nature given their fluidity and length, and it didn't take him very long at all to reach his chosen location where he would face the young ward of the Red-Eyed Demon. No people around, no light of the moon, no bird. Just the two of them, just the way he wanted it.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Scared. Confused. Relief. These were the feelings that Sereinia had in just a matter of minutes. When the man on top of her was removed. She immediately backed up in the corner by instinct and began to witness a brawl happening in front of her. She was not really sure what was going on as her mind was in a haze that she could not understand. Closing her eyes tightly, she could hear the noises of the fight. But soon enough, it was quiet and still. This would only mean that the fight was over. She was not sure who won and for a brief moment, she was not sure she wanted to know. For it only meant that someone was dead. But in her heart, she did not want it to be anyone she knew especially Shadow.

Feeling a presence near her, Sereinia felt the ropes around her wrists and legs were removed. Opting to open her eyes, she saw the familiar ruby red eyes that she had seemed to be caught in and the face that instantly removed all the negative emotions she was having. It was Shadow. He came for her. She was not sure but she could feel tears streaming down her face without her trying anything to stop it. His words to her were like a blur. She knew that he was apologizing and it was also clear in his face. But, she just couldn't grasp his exact words. The next thing she did was to suddenly embrace him. Her fears were flowing with her tears while her body trembled. She was a total wreck. It was obvious but, she could not help it but be relieved that Shadow was here. She also felt slightly embarrassed but she was just glad he came here and the strong act she had put up just crumbled.

"I was so scared... So scared..." Her hold on him tightened as Sereinia buried her face on his chest. "I tried to escape... I didn't want to be a burden... I'm sorry..."

Sereinia continued to cry for a few moments as she repeated her apology over and over again. But soon, silence reigned between them. It would seemed that she was able to finally calm down herself. Slowly removing her face from Shadow's chest, she gazed at him with those deep amethyst eyes. She also gently removed her arms around him and made a reasonable distance between them.

"Thank you..."

Averting her eyes from Shadow, Sereinia wiped the tears away and tried to ease her mind. She was out of danger and she should stop acting like fearful child. It was then she suddenly remembered something important. Shadow was here but where was Mayumi.

"Where is Mayumi?"

Asking the question with concern, Sereinia felt a dread entering her body. She was not sure what its cause. However, she has a good reason to believe it was an omen of something terrible to happen. She began standing as they should leave this place but it was then another feeling ran across her body. But this time, it was the sensation of pain. She remembered that her captor had beaten her against a wall earlier. Her body was not that sturdy to begin with. She immediately fell to her knees.

"I'm sorry... I think I took in much beating than I realized..."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow was taken aback by Sereinia suddenly clasping onto his chest and crying, but it was nothing he hadn't experienced before. One individual from his past had been quite an emotional person and had done this numerous times. Shadow felt a bit nostalgic as he gently wrapped his arms around her while she cried, not saying anything further until she had calmed down and backed away.

"Where is Mayumi?" She asked.

Shadow was about to answer, but stopped before any words came forth.

Before he could think of anything further to say Sereinia collapsed to her knees and Shadow almost instinctively came forward to catch her on her way down. He took her shoulders in his hands and leaned in close, examining her from head to toe, checking her for bruises, cuts and any other signs of outer injury that he could see. There wasn't much, though she would be getting a decent bruise on her back soon enough. That much was obvious by the way her body moved in reaction to whatever had happened before his arrival.

He didn't know what else to do, so he helped her to her feet and supported her with one arm around her waist as he walked her out of the room and into the hall. The damage the hallways had taken from the fight were still fresh, as was the body in the now broken crates on the side, but Shadow paid them no mind as he walked Sereinia up three flights of stairs to ground level and into the true building atop them. He stopped for a moment and examined Sereinia one last time before cautiously letting go of her. In truth he was a bit reluctant to since he wasn't sure if he should leave her alone again so soon, but the threat facing Mayumi was not one he could ignore.

"Sereinia..." He began softly.

Suddenly, Shadow realized something.

Kiiro had planned all of this out perfectly thus far, and there was no reason to think he hadn't planned on Shadow leaving Sereinia somewhere "safe" to find Mayumi. That being the case, there was no guarantee Kiiro didn't want Shadow to stay with Sereinia and find Mayumi anyway. With all of the possibilities it was hard to know what Kiiro was planning and even harder still to come up with a solution that wouldn't get someone killed. Shadow's mind raced with thought until he found a solution he was positive Kiiro wouldn't be ready for because it was something he'd never known Shadow to do.

"Sereinia, I need you to go to the North Gate and check on Mayumi. If you find her with anyone, do absolutely nothing. Just wait. There's something I need to do." He said as he opened the door.

He waited for a moment outside to see what Sereinia would do before darting to the southwest. He had a plan in place now, and it would be sure to put a damper on Kiiro's plans. Shadow had to wonder why he hadn't thought of it before and why it was that he was so off lately from his usual self.

Was it Sereinia?

No, surely not. Shadow had dealt with a woman like her before in his company so there was no reason to think that it was her.

Was it Mayumi?

No, that couldn't be it either. Shadow had taught many others in the past in Te'i Sai and one other Assassin privately before her who turned into his most trusted ally during recent years. It was no hardship to him to have a fellow Assassin, even if she was so young.

So then what was it? Shadow was the Red-Eyed Demon. He was known for being calculating and calm, so why had he been so flustered and easily fooled lately? The answers to those and many other questions temporarily eluded him, but he had a feeling if he kept his cool and stopped worrying that the answers would come to him soon enough.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

Her eyes widened as she found her bow and arrows being ripped away from her hands. How were they able to creep up on her without her noticing? Had she let her guard down?

She was torn between going after the man who had Sora and sprinting to find Shadow, but now that she looked around it didn’t seem like either option was available to her. Her only options were to move forward and face the man who has called upon her or face the wraiths that had surrounded the area around her. Either way, it seemed like a dead end to her.

Mayumi leaped from the tree, flipping in the air once before landing in a crouch on the ground. Having not much of a choice, she walked cautiously towards the man who now stood in the middle of the city streets intersection. She was feeling rather on edge after having been crept up on from behind. Her instincts were screaming at her to stay away from the man who now stood a few feet in front of her, but even if she wanted to now, she couldn’t. Mayumi decided that she disliked how she felt at that instant.

He noticed her discomfort around him and a smirk found its way onto his mouth.

“Who are you, what do you want?” she asked flatly to the man whom had features alike to Shadow’s.

A deep chuckle rumbled from the man. “Has the Red-eyed Demon failed to mention me?” He asked with mock hurt.

Mayumi thought back to the time when Shadow had warned her of a certain man.

‘No… Could it be?’

“Kiiro.” Black tinted red eyes narrowed as the identity of the man was confirmed with his acknowledgement.

“Ah, so he has mentioned me, but now.” His tone went cold and the distance between them was closed under a second.

“Let’s begin.” Dark orbs filled with blood lust connected with mesmerizing ones for a second before a sudden punch to her guts was thrown.

The vicious blow sent her reeling across the streets, but within seconds Mayumi stopped herself from going any further using her arms as friction against the pebble stone grounds scrapping her skin along the way and jumped back up on her feet ready for his next attack.

Kiiro began an array of attacks on the teen, his every movement fluid. He could see that she was faster to react than the assassins in Te’i Sai as she dodged some of his attacks but still wasn’t fast enough to dodge his quicker ones.

“Is dodging all you’ve been taught?” He taunted.

Mayumi ignored his taunt, bruises starting to form on her body. Her observation of him told her that he was not using his full potential. She guessed his tactic was to wear her down and if this were to continue it was most definitely going to work. The battle was most likely not going to end in her favor, but that didn’t mean that she was going to just sit there and be his punching bag. After all, her master had been killed by this guy and she had yet to fulfill her mission of revenge.

Observing his pattern of attacks closely, she found a split second opening for an attack. With a slight jerk of her arm, long needles that were cleverly hidden in her arm guards dropped into her hands. Locking her sight on Kiiro, she charged at him dodging most of his attacks but still getting hit a number of times. She managed to recover quickly and when the split second opening came she feigned a punch to the left and the moment he dodged it she threw a needle in the direction he dodged and threw the rest of the needles half a second after the first with the distance of his quick dodges she had estimated spaced between each of the needles to lessen his chance of dodging them. She then continued her attack with a combo of punches and kicks, her movements smooth like a dance she had memorized and long mastered.

Kiiro still managed to dodge all of the needles save for one that grazed his arm slightly. It was hard not to be impressed by Shadow’s little protégé. At such a young age, one wouldn’t be able to even dodge one of his attacks, but since she had been trained under Shadow and a former high ranking member of Te’i Sai, he had expected that. On the other hand, grazing him and drawing even the slightest amount of blood was a completely different story.

‘Impressive.’ He thought in amusement as he dodged her punches and kicks.

“Is that all?” Kiiro mocked her.

Mayumi jumped back a few feet to put some distance between them.

“The needles are laced with a poison that will slow down your movements even if it’s just a small graze.” Mayumi informed him monotonously.

Kiiro’s eyes widened for a second as he felt his muscles tighten. A smirk broke out on his face “Do you think that will really work on me?” his voice oozed with pride.

Mayumi threw her cloak to the side, finding it a hindrance to her quick movements.

Kiiro noticed a long scar going diagonally across her torso, the work of someone whom he had killed quite a while ago.

“Shall I help you remove that?” He asked her with malicious intent clear in his voice.

Mayumi followed his line of vision and upon realizing what he meant immediately glared at him as if daring him to do so.

“Isn’t it painful to be reminded of him?” He smirked as he said contemptuously.

“Painful? It wouldn’t have turned out this way if you hadn’t killed him!” Mayumi’s voice rose in anger.

She charged at Kiiro, her hatred for him growing and blinding her insight. She did a combo of kicks and punches in an attempt to land an attack on him. She then flipped backwards landing on a wall and retrieving a dagger in her boots at the same time before she jumped at him, aiming a slash at his face.

Kiiro easily evaded her attacks smoothly but wasn’t ready for the slash to his face thus was half a second late in dodging, added with the fact that his movements had slowed because of the poison that had entered him. Being substantially larger, he overpowered the teen effortlessly and pinned her against the wall with both wrist above her head with just one hand.

“Do you really think you can land an attack on me with such pitiful attempts?” he asked with an air of arrogance about him.

He took the dagger from her hands and slowly brought it down to her torso tracing the scar with it lightly in a teasing manner. The girl struggled to free herself from his grasp, attempting a kick at his crotch but failed miserably as Kiiro pinned her legs down with his own.

“Such a beautiful scar. But… I think I can do better.” Within the next second, Mayumi felt a searing pain across her torso.

Letting her go, she fell to the ground clutching her torso as blood poured out of her new wound. The wound went across her first scar and was no doubt going to leave another scar on her torso. Mayumi ignored the pain and got into a half-crouch ready to attack again, her eyes showing determination.

Mayumi threw a punch at Kiiro, he blocked it and held her arm going underneath it and getting behind her. He twisted her arm behind her and stepped on her lower back, pushing her down to her knees.

"You fought just like your deceased master did... Slow and weak, no substance at all." He told her as he stepped on her ankle putting more and more pressure on it until he felt the bones give way and crack beneath his sole. Letting go of her arm, he kicked her side with full force sending her skiing across the ground.

At that moment, Mayumi was sure that she heard her ribs cracking from the impact of the kick, her light weight causing her to slide all the way until she reached a wall where her back slammed hard against which left her lying limply there, unmoving.

Footsteps were heard coming towards her, but Mayumi couldn’t find the strength to get up.

Kiiro crouched beside her, reaching out a hand to lift her head to face him.

“You should have just done as the letter had said. Look what you made me do.” Kiiro said in mock sympathy.

Just then an informant of his appeared beside him from the shadows of the alley way.

“Sir, it seems that the other two will be heading this way soon.” He informed.

Kiiro nodded and the informant disappeared into the shadows once again.

“Looks like we’ll have to part here for now, but before that…” Kiiro took out a carving knife and Mayumi could only watch on.

A while later, Kiiro stood back and admired his art. Satisfied, he threw her cloak together with her bow and arrows onto the ground beside her.

“Well then, we’ll meet again soon enough young ward of the Red-Eyed Demon.” With those words, he disappeared into the Shadows with ghostly silence.

Soon enough after his leave, the scream of an upset golden eagle filled the skies, seeing its fallen mistress unmoving on the ground. Sora circled the location Mayumi laid knowing Shadow would see her, at the same time watching out for anyone except Shadow who dared to come near her mistress and attacking them. For now, everyone was an enemy in her keen sight.

After a while, Mayumi finally got enough strength to push herself up to lean back against the wall. She reached for her cloak and covered herself with it, trying to hide the shame of her defeat. For the first time in her 14 years of life she was feeling vulnerable.

Her ankle was going numb and every breath she took sent a jolt of pain throughout her whole being. Blood had formed a puddle beneath her but she failed to notice this as her mind started fogging up, her senses dulling with every passing second and her skin paling due to the massive amount of blood she was losing. She briefly wondered if she was going to make it…

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow managed to get his desired work done which was to contact a friend of his in the city and put everyone on their 'team' into the streets and the shadows looking for signs of trouble and reporting them back. Shadow had a small network of spies and informants and he should have tapped into them the moment he set foot in the city. He knew that much, but for whatever reason his mind had been clouded recently and he didn't like it.

As he was on his way back to the Gate he heard Sora scream out into the night. As he drew yet closer he saw her making circles in the sky, making sudden though infrequent dives towards the ground before ascending back into the skies above. He couldn't understand exactly what she was doing. Was Mayumi fighting right now? Was Sora trying to fight along side her? What was going on?

More and more he started to worry about what Sora's now violent intentions were until he finally came into sight of Mayumi as he skidded to a halt in the open street. His mouth dropped as he saw her laying there in a pool of her own blood and his fists clenched so tightly that his nails, small as they were, cut into his skin and tiny drops of blood now fell from his fists to the ground. He approached Mayumi very slowly, knowing exactly who she had come into contact with and from what he was seeing, the extent of the damage was severe.

He knelt down in front of her and placed his right index finger against her throat beneath her jaw, checking her pulse. It was steady, but weak, and he knew he didn't have much time. He instantly scooped her up in his arms and kicked her bow and arrows into the air, catching them as they came down on his left arm before shifting his weight and walking quickly away. Sora was above, flying and guiding overhead as he walked back through the streets. Sereinia had made it there first and done as Shadow asked by standing there silently, but she didn't look to be doing too well upon seeing Mayumi in Shadow's arms like that.

Shadow led them both back to a safe house, if it could be called that now, and walked inside. He set Mayumi down on a table and opened the window for Sora to fly in at her leisure. He removed her cloak and all of her clothing save for her undergarments and took a good long look at the new wounds she carried. Not only did Kiiro claw another wound across her chest, starting under her collar bone and ending just above the bone in her hip to make an "X" with her old scar, but he also carved his name in small letters on her other hip. It almost looked like a tattoo were it not for the blood oozing from it.

He heaved a sigh.

Shadow knew that this was Sereinia's forte, but this was a matter for him and his protege to settle so he turned his head and looked at her, his eyes glassy and empty of emotion.

"Sereinia, I know that you would like to help, but this is my job now. I will tend to my protege. I want you to attend to yourself. Go take care of whatever wounds you carry and get some rest. I will be standing guard here all night so you needn't worry about any further trouble."

With that, Shadow got to work.

The first thing he did was check Mayumi's vitals from her pulse once more for good measure to her breathing and skin tone. He knew that Kiiro had done a number on her, but she was tough enough to live through it without much difficulty though she would be out of action for several days, if not a few weeks.

Shadow quickly began mixing a special blend of herbs from his personal stash from the pouches on his belt. After about two minutes the concoction was ready and he began to apply it to the large gash on her chest and Kiiro's name on her hip. The blood flow stopped almost as soon as the pasty concoction was applied and he was then able to clean and disinfect the wound with several other herbs from his pouches. He'd have to resupply soon, but that was not an issue.

The new and gaping wound on her chest started at just below her collar bone and went all the way down to just above her hip, making an "X" with her old scar. No doubt Kiiro's way of giving himself a target when they next met.

One Shadow finished applying his herbs and cleaning the wounds he sewed them up, starting with the larger of the two. Kiiro's name was small, and sewing it proved to be a bit of a challenge but Shadow managed to sew each tiny letter shut. In the back of his mind for every stitch he applied he counted a number and promised himself that he'd inflict that many non life threatening wounds to Kiiro when they next came into contact with one another so he'd know how it felt. When that was done, Shadow took a step back and examined her once more with his eyes only.

He stepped forward again and felt her bones starting at her neck and skull before moving down to her shoulders and arms. When he got to her wrists, he noticed that one of them was both dislocated and broken just at the base of the Ulna near her wrist. The break was benign and not out of place and it would heal on its own given time, but the dislocation had to be fixed. Luckily Mayumi was out cold, so Shadow simply applied pressure and a small pop echoed through the silent room. Shadow moved on, checking her breast bone on her chest beneath the bloody wounds, her ribs, and her hips and legs. He didn't feel anything wrong with much else, though a few ribs were definitely cracked but not completely broken.

Once he was finished with Mayumi Shadow removed his shirt and tossed it on a nearby char as he picked Mayumi up and set her gently down on the couch. He stepped back and sat down in the chair where his shirt was and leaned his head back as he took in a deep breath and exhaled on a sigh. So much had happened and so much had gone so very wrong in so little time. Was Kiiro really just that far ahead? Did he know what was going on? He had to, and Shadow's fears were confirmed when one of his informants approached the door and let Shadow know that a few of his past "comrades" had now partnered with the Wraiths and leaked what information they had about his plans to Kiiro.

"... Perfect." Shadow said quietly as his informant closed the door and left.

Shadow was exhausted both physically and mentally though he knew he couldn't rest just yet. There was still danger about and if he fell asleep now the girls would be at the mercy of whoever showed up. For their sake, he would stay awake all night long.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

The world started spinning around her and just as she saw a figure sprinting towards her, she fell into a dark abyss with no signs of return…

Three days later…


Pale eyelids slowly opened to reveal unfocused black-red orbs. Sight adjusting they found themselves staring at a ceiling of what they weren’t clear of.

Out of the corner of her eyes, Mayumi caught sight of familiar brownish golden feathers. Slowly turning her head to the side, she found herself staring at Sora who was perched beside her. She reached out a hand to touch her loyal pet and found that her muscles were a little stiff.

Sora understood what its mistress wanted and bent its head toward her hand, snuggling against it. The golden eagle had stood by Mayumi’s side throughout the three days that she was unconscious for fear that someone may attack her again.

Mayumi sat up but immediately regretted the action as pain shot down her front. Recalling the previous events that occurred before she blacked out, fists clenched till knuckles turned white.

‘He will pay for this.’ She wasn’t about to relent. Especially not to someone who killed her master.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow stayed awake through the night for three straight days and rested his eyes during the day. All in all it had been four days since he had gotten any real sleep whatsoever and it was beginning to take its toll on him. His complexion was beginning to pale, his eyes were getting to be slightly bloodshot and he had less energy every day. For Shadow, it was an unusual time with unfavorable circumstances.

One of the traitors in Shadow's mini organization had tipped his targets off about his presence and they had retreated from the city before they could be hunted down. Shadow's top Assassin in this little organization was on their trail and he was confident they'd have taken care of business before the end of the month, but it was no guarantee.

Shadow was now at his wits end with everything playing out against him.

Shadow himself wasn't sure how much longer he could sustain this kind of existence and he was beginning to have second thoughts about his recent course of action. Kiiro had managed to completely bait and trap him the night Mayumi was injured, and that was unacceptable. Kiiro, while very intelligent and capable, had never bested Shadow in such a way before and Shadow was having a hard time dealing with it. Whether it was his pride or if it was just the frustration of having been handed a defeat, he wasn't sure anymore.

Eventually, Mayumi started to awaken and tried to sit up with unfavorable results. During the three days she had been moved from the table to a proper bed and was in the main room of the building they were staying in. It was an abandoned house which Shadow's comrades were keeping off the market, and it provided an excellent shelter since they were also keeping prying eyes away from it. Mayumi laid back down with Sora by her side and Shadow had a feeling he knew what was on her mind. Shadow didn't bother moving from his position at the far end of the room, but never the less decided to speak to his protege.

"So Mayumi... how did it feel to fight with the man who murdered your master?" He asked.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Lacrimosa dies illa
Qua resurget ex favilla
Judicandus homo reus.
Huic ergo parce, Deus,
Pie Jesu Domine...


It was so familiar and so sad however, it was lulling Sereinia to a deep slumber. She found comfort to the rather distant voice that sang the melody. There was this lingering feeling that she had heard this song in a past that should not be forgotten. The only problem there was no concrete memory within her mind that could solidify the existence of the one singing. Her mother and aunt had never sang her such a lullaby. In her earliest recollections, she had never encountered this song even in passing murmurs from other people. If that is so, why is that she was certain that she knew this lullaby and even more so the one singing it. Why does it feel that her heart feels a slight ache? It was like a void that cannot be filled. Questions flooded her and the sense of peace that she had felt dispersed without much effort. She wanted to know the answers. It was so tiring to be left out in the dark. She had it being ignorant especially matters concerning herself.

"Live..."

A hand was gently placed upon Sereinia's forehead. She did not avoid it or even felt anything negative about it. Actually, she had this vague feeling that this hand was from someone very important to her. The touch was like a feather and it emitted a certain degree of warmth and comfort that chased her troubles away. It was like magic that could only exist in fairy tales. However, she cannot deny the fact that she find solace with the hand on her forehead. She only wished that she would come to know who was the owner of that hand. Slowly, she willed her eyes to open and when she did all she could see was the familiar ceiling of a shelter that she had been staying in for the past 3 days. Yet again, the identity of person in her dreams still eluded her. Covering her face with her right arm, she released a rather heavy sigh.

"After all these years, I had that dream again... "

Taking a deep breath, Sereinia decided to discard thoughts about her dream for now. She had other important matters to attend to then to contemplate on such a hazy memory. Removing the arm from her face, she slowly proceeded to a sitting position. The injuries she had sustained such as the cuts and bruises were almost healed. As for the bones that suffered mild fractures, she had managed to put a cast and drink one of her medicine that could induced faster bone regeneration. She was fortunate that her ribs did not splint to puncture any internal organs. It would have been a very difficult situation especially when she remembered how Shadow and her found Mayumi that fateful night. There was no need for anyone to tell her. She was used as a distraction. It was something she was sure of. If she was not here, this could have never happened. Shadow could have been there for Mayumi. Moreover, she was useless. She was not able to help them at all.

"It would be best if I leave... I will be just a burden if this continues on..." Sereinia inwardly thought as her expression revealed definitive resignation.

The setting changes from Triveila to Cre' Est

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius

Earnings

0.00 INK

A forest outside of Cre' Est

It was warm. Almost too warm for Keito's own liking, but the slight breeze that brushed its was through the landscape every now and then kept it somewhat cool. It was peaceful, with the quiet buzzing of insects and the chirping of many birds, but nothing too loud to turn into a nuisance. His eyes opened slowly at first, squinting at the evening sun which beams streamed through the leafs of the large tree that Keito had been sleeping under. He sat up in the grass and rubbed his eyes for a moment as he tried to push his drowsiness away. Another breeze swept its way through the trees and he let out a yawn, his eyes still slightly narrowed as they adjusted to the sunlight. He stood up and spent a few minutes brushing the leafs off his clothes and picking strands of grass out of his hair, along with occasionally wiping the sweat from under his bangs. It probably wouldn't be as warm if he took his coat off and removed his gloves, but the only time he'd ever do that was if he was walking through the desserts of Shaharan.

He'd fallen asleep on his back under and immensely large oak tree, the branches sprawled out high above him with a rather thick trunk. In front of him was a small, grassy clearing with trees surrounding him as far as the eyes could see along with plenty of undergrowth and brush. He leaned down and picked up the small black bag that had been sitting next to him while he was sleeping and threw the strap over his shoulder. He'd gone and slept through another day, something he usually did since he never had anything better to do other than sleep. He let out a sigh and started making his way towards Gweynura. He still had a long ways to go and wasn't taking any of the usual travel routes, but walking never bothered him and finding his way around some rivers or ravines never caused him any problems before, aside from lengthening the amount of time it took him to get places.

He'd only been in Cre' Est for a few days to pack up on food and trade in a few squirrels he'd barely managed to hunt down for some money. Once again, he was moving around with no real reason to do so. It wouldn't be so hard for him to settle down again and make a home for himself in another country, perhaps Gweynura. He was heading in that direction anyways and it was a peaceful enough place with many sights to see, but staying in one place never seemed to satisfy Keito. He'd tried it a couple of times already, but always found himself moving again whether he had a reason to or not. With the current amount of money he had now, there was no way he'd be capable of renting a room for himself for even one night, let alone a lifetime. In four or five hours the sun would already be going down and he'd have to stop again for the night, even though he'd just end up staring at the night sky for hours on end until finally falling asleep an hour or two before sunrise. With all of the naps he's been taking, his sleeping schedule has gotten so off course that day time felt more like night time to him.

And another day wasted on doing absolutely nothing...

The setting changes from Cre' Est to Triveila

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

Mayumi turned to look at Shadow. She could see that he had not been resting for quite a period of time and knew it was most probably because of her vulnerable state.

After accessing the situation she turned back to stare blankly at the ceiling above her.

"It was interesting, though I failed miserably. For that, I apologize if it has done harm to your reputation, but I will be sure to defeat him one day, even if I have to go to the deepest depths of hell to do so." she spoke in a tone that could lower temperatures to the degree that icicles formed.

'The marks on the ground left over from the battle I had with Kiiro was the same as the ones I found master in. Though Kiiro's fighting style is similar to that of Shadow's there is a slight difference between them.' Mayumi observed from her last glimpse of the battle field before she had blacked out.

She had few doubts about Shadow’s words of her master being killed by Kiiro before, but now she knew it was definitely true. Shadow had just gained a little more of her trust in him. She had never trusted anyone except her previous master so this was particularly new to her and a first time for her.

“Sir, I have a feeling that Sereinia will be doing something unnecessary.” She deadpanned.

Mayumi knew no emotions but her sixth sense was rather strong and would tell her what was right and wrong. Somehow she could gain information just by staring at a person and at times she would even have bits of flashes appear in her mind while she slept and a few days later the bits of flashes would happen. She didn’t know what it was but found it rather useful anyway.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow listened quietly to Mayumi's words and truly closed his eyes for the first time in over three days.

"Mayumi, your name and mine are not affiliated with one another. The people of this continent know me as the Red-Eyed Demon, and only the underground and the world of Assassins knows me by the name of Shadow. You have nothing to fear for my 'reputation', as I don't care about it one way or the other in the end."

He looked over to her for moment, taking in the last part of what she said and then realizing that Mayumi was probably right. If Sereinia was truly as much like the one from Shadow's past, she would definitely think she was a burden by now if she hadn't thought it before and try to leave. The problem was that it was still too dangerous for them to be apart. A fact that was clearly demonstrated during their recent encounter with Kiiro.

Shadow stood up and placed a hand on Mayumi's shoulder, gently feeling the muscles of her neck and shoulder for a moment before turning away to find Sereinia. When he did, she didn't look very good. She was still in pain, and she had that look of defeat on her face. Shadow himself had experienced this frustrating feeling many times before, so he knew what she was going through.

"Sereinia..." He said quietly as he approached and sat down beside her.

"How are you?" He asked gently.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Sereinia was so focused on her inner thoughts that she did not even noticed Shadow entering her room or even sensed him approaching her bed. If she did, there was a possibility for her to have removed the rather defeated expression on her face. Honestly, she did not want anyone to see her in such a state anymore. It would only add to her feeling of being utterly pathetic. However, she was too late. The sad daze that blanketed her eyes and dulled her senses were awakened by the gentle inquiry of Shadow. It was enough for her to slowly turn her head and face him. There was just brief flash of surprise on her face but it was quickly replaced with obvious concern. In which, the question was ignored as she posed her own.

"How are you keeping up, Shadow?" She asked almost to a whisper with her eyes expressing guilt and worry.

Slowly, Sereinia touched Shadow's face gently as if it was so fragile. The action was slightly painful as her ribs were still not fully recovered. However, it was not comparable to the emotional distress she was feeling from everything that had happened. Seeing his condition now, she could not help think that he was pushing himself to safeguard her and Mayumi. His work would be much easier if he only one to worry. In addition, Mayumi was someone that could protect herself at the very least. Unlike her, she was pushed to a corner and all she could do was cry for a name... His name... She was really pathetic. At that thought, she took back her hand and looked away from him.

"I am truly sorry... Because of me Mayumi got hurt and you are having a hard time as well." Making a fist with her hands, she continued on. "You should leave here without me. I am not that far from my town anyway. This place is familiar to me, so you would not need to worry about me getting lost. I do travel here often."

There was no way telling that the people that are after Shadow and Mayumi would not come after her. But, Sereinia would rather take that chance far away from them. At the very least, they could not be burdened by her shortcomings. They would not have to watch over her constantly and if they do come, she'll just take her life instantly. In that way, no one would be bothered. Shadow and Mayumi would not feel any sort of responsibility or guilt over her safety. After all, it is a decision she had chosen. This was the best solution she could think of at the current circumstances. Closing her eyes, she spoke again.

"I believe I will be fine on my own now. In terms of my condition, I will live." Opening her eyes, Sereinia looked at Shadow with a rather sad yet concerned smile. "More importantly, you should be more concerned about yourself. I told you. You should be a little more selfish when it comes to yourself."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow sat quietly through all of Sereinia's words and didn't move a muscle when she reached out to touch his face. Her hand was small, delicate, and warm. She truly was just like a very special someone from his past and he couldn't help but smile when she slowly removed her hand and looked away from him. The memories were fond ones, and Shadow enjoyed remembering them which was something he realized he should be thanking her for.

He closed his eyes and leaned forward, putting his chin in both hands as he thought about what to say while she continued to speak and try to convince him that her presence was not necessary. Eventually though, he found his opening to speak once again.

"... There is an old saying among us Assassins, Sereinia... One only defeats oneself when despair becomes your only ally."

He was silent for but a moment, giving her a chance to take the words in.

"Right now your mind is clouded by despair, and the only one who sees you leaving as a good idea is you. Mayumi and I have need of your talents, and you still have to show me this Festival of the Gods that is coming up as I am very curious and eager to see it. Going to see it with you would make it a truly enjoyable experience, I'm sure." He said, his smile warm and genuine.

"Sereinia, if you left do you really think you could take yourself off of my conscience? If anything I'd be more worried about you because you'd be far away and neither Mayumi nor myself would be in a position to aid you. As I said when we first met the world would suffer if it lost you, not just Mayumi and I. No, right now the safest place for you to be is here with the two of us. So it shall be unless you think you can defeat me, Sereinia." He nearly chuckled to himself at the last remark, but never the less his smile was still warm and genuine.

"My spies have told me that this city has been cleared of our enemies for the time being, so we are all safe right now while we recover. And please Sereinia, do not think of yourself as a burden. My little sister, Era, thought herself a burden for a long time after we were reunited. Yet despite this it was she who was able to convince me that no matter who or what I became, there were people in this world who would care for me and that is something that has kept me going for many years now. Because of my sister, who had no combat skills whatsoever, I learned to care about others and see their safety as something that is important and worth protecting."

Shadow turned to Sereinia and cupped her cheek gently in his hand.

"So stay with us Sereinia. We need you." He said quietly.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow's gentle gesture surprised Sereinia but after a few moments, she relaxed to his touch. His words gave her a sense of bewilderment and at the same time comfort. Closing her eyes, she leaned to his touch unconsciously. He wished for her to stay with them despite all the trouble she had caused them. His smile was warm and real unlike the others that she had the chance to see. For the first time, she felt contented. She was not sure why but it gave her a sense of fulfillment. He gave her purpose by wanting to see the Festival of the Gods and even comparing her to his sister named Era. This was the first time she had heard of him having a sibling. However, it was not unexpected. After all, he was a mysterious man but still a man. He has familial connections just like everyone else although underneath different circumstances than most. Although, she could not help but feel a bit of pang in her heart. She wondered why she had that feeling.

Slowly, Sereinia touched the hand that Shadow had placed on her cheek. Her eyes of deep amethyst were opened once more as she gazed at him with such melancholy joy. Everything that he had said especially about her mindset and current situation was true. She could not refuse the fact in those words. It would be foolish not to acknowledge it. However, the events of that evening haunted her and always fill her with guilt and regret.

"I... I... I am useless... I will only bring more trouble to you and Mayumi. I am certain of that."

Sereinia spoke with a trembling voice. Her eyes were slowly glistening indicating that her tears were about to fall. Her touch became a death grip on Shadow's hand as if it was a lifeline. She looked so broken and very fragile. It would be inconsiderate and somewhat out of place to say, however, she looked quite enticing and beautiful. Her raven black hair seemed to have caught some light as it reflected a purple hue while it fell around her like a silk blanket.

"Those people would surely come and attack again. Perhaps not right now. Still, it is a fact they would target your weakness. If I am still with you, I will be that person. I will be a burden."

Removing Shadow's hand from her cheek, Sereinia's tears finally fell from her eyes. Her hand remained holding his hand. It would seem that her hold tightened even more as her body seemed to tremble. Her emotions were building up inside like a powder keg waiting to explode at the opportune moment.

"I know this. It is why you should leave me alone. You do not need me even Mayumi. But..."

There was silence between them as Sereinia left her words hanging. She averted her eyes from Shadow and looked down. At the same time, she had released his hand from her grasp. She bit her lower lip in hesitation and with realization that contradicted all of her logical thinking before Shadow had come to talk to her. It is why she did not noticed that due to her own tension that she had pierced the flesh on her lips as a trickle of blood fell.

"I... I want to stay with you and Mayumi... I need you two more than I thought..." Raising her head to look at him, Sereinia appeared like a child. "Can I really stay with you?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow felt a certain level of guilt as he watched her tears flow. He was able to keep the smile on his face, but it very slowly became less genuine as she looked away and started cry. Shadow took looked away from her and slowly his smile disappeared. He wanted to say more, but he wasn't the one who always knew what to say. That title belonged to someone dear to him who was not here and who he likely would not see for some time to come.

"I... I want to stay with you and Mayumi... I need you two more than I thought..." Raising her head to look at him, Sereinia appeared like a child. "Can I really stay with you?"

Shadow closed his eyes and smiled, the smile being genuine once again as her desire to stay made him happy.

He looked up at her and nodded his head.

"We wouldn't have it any other way." He said quietly.

With that, Shadow stood up and extended his hand to her.

"We should check on Mayumi now. I haven't changed her wound dressings this morning and I was planning on letting you do that if you don't mind."

Shadow wanted Sereinia to become more involved in their lives so that could stop feeling like a burden. If she had a job to do, even a small one, thoughts like those would stay far from her mind. He wanted her to stop feeling useless, so he decided to be honest with her about himself for a moment.

"I am a halfway decent healer, given that I had to dress my own wounds for so many years. But as you well know I'm better at inflicting wounds than healing them. I am not a professional, and Mayumi's wounds need to be tended to by someone who really knows what they're doing. So will you take care of her for me?" He asked quietly.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Sereinia smiled warmly as Shadow affirmed the desire for her to stay. She was very glad to hear that. Her guilt and regret were slowly dissipating within her. It would be safe to assume that her worries and fears were being buried away for now. Wiping her tears away, she saw him stood up and gave his hand for her to hold. She looked at his hand as if it was a foreign object that has never been encountered before. However, it was only for a brief moment as she took a deep breath and held it. She used it as a support for her to stand up as well. There was slight jolt of pain from the sudden movement but it was not that major like the last 3 days. It was more tolerable to say the very least and would not impede her to do light physical work if needed.

After standing up, Sereinia listened to Shadow's suggestion and she agreed completely. She was also very concerned about how Mayumi's condition was now. Although, she did hear that the young girl was still part of the living which was a very good news. Now, all that she was worried about was how Mayumi was faring with her injuries. Hearing the latter part of Shadow's statement, it effectively perked up Sereinia's sense of duty.

"I do not mind at all... I will be happy to do so."

Saying with a very sincere and gentle tone, Sereinia looked at Shadow with her deep amethyst eyes now cleared from her earlier depression. Regardless, there was still something sad about her eyes and she had failed to notice that. Standing beside him, she continued listening to his words about being a halfway decent healer. He had become akin to dressing his wounds as it was a necessity for his lifestyle. She understands this as certain situations would not have him go to a cleric or doctor despite how grave his wounds may be. It was then he asked her to take care of Mayumi.

"Of course. I will do my best to treat her and to make sure she will be fine."

Remembering Shadow's words on that fateful night where he had told Sereinia that it was between him and Mayumi, she chose not to say anything noticing the seriousness and the air that he would not have any argument about the subject. Despite that, she did feel that she was pretty much useless. But as of now, she was concluding that he must be doing this for her sake. For her not to feel insignificant, she could not help but release a small yet fleeting smile on her face. It appeared that he understand her more than she had estimated. Perhaps, it was because of her similarities with his little sister, Era.

"I will take care of Mayumi. It is why you should take this opportunity to rest."

Looking at Shadow, Sereinia's eyes were filled with concern as she had noticed how he seemed to push himself harder than before. With her free hand, she placed it on his forehead to check his temperature. If this continues on, she would not be surprised if he gets a cold or a fever. He did say that they were safe now within the city since those after them had already left. So, he should rest.

"I would want to have you and Mayumi be in good condition for the Festival."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

When Shadow placed a hand on her shoulder earlier, Mayumi found herself flinching from his touch but had quickly caught herself the second she did and managed to stay still. If it weren’t for her stiff muscles, she was almost sure that she would be half way across the room by then. She shrugged off the weird shivers she was getting, reasoning with herself that it was due to the pain she was feeling at that moment.

Looking around the room, she noticed that it was starting to spin around her and her head was beginning to throb painfully. Her body grew weak forcing her to lie back down and beads of sweat begin to form on her forehead.

'What's going on?'

Eye lids grew heavier by the second, and soon they closed as the small teen passed out.

As time went by, the young girl’s condition grew worse as her body began to tremble and her skin paled.

Sora noticed its mistress’s weird behavior and swiftly flew outside to where Shadow and Sereinia was, pulling on Shadow’s sleeve with its bill while flapping golden-brown wings wildly.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow was about to speak again when Sora found him an started tugging on his shirt to have him go inside. Shadow knew without ever having to be informed that this was not a good sign. Shadow looked Sereinia, the usual determined and serious expression back on his face as he ran towards the door and walked inside. He went to Mayumi's bedside and felt her forehead, checked her pulse, and lifted her arm to see if she had any control over it when he let it fall to the bed once again.

She did not seem to have any control.

Shadow looked back over his shoulder to Sereinia.

"Give me one second to knock her out and she's all yours." He said calmly, but still with a hint of authority.

Shadow placed his right thumb on Mayumi's forehead just at the peak of her crown where her hair line was and his left index finger behind her at the base of her skull. He pressed firmly but gently enough to do no damage as he applied pressure to small meridian lines which allowed the brain to receive signals back from the body which effectively was like putting it in a choke hold. After but a few seconds Mayumi was out cold, and Shadow felt her pulse and vitals and she was still strong enough for Sereinia to do her job.

Shadow looked at Sora.

"Behave yourself Sora. Sereinia is going to take care of Mayumi now and that is not a request." He said in a calm but still authoritative tone as he had before.

He looked over his shoulder to Sereinia and took a step to the side to give her full access to Mayumi as she lie unconscious on the bed.

"Now it's up to you. That long cut on her chest should probably be dealt with first given its size and condition. I've kept it from getting infected but it's not healing as well as I'd hoped and her temperature is rising. Use anything and everything you need. If you need my assistance at any time I will be in the next room resting my eyes, but I will not hesitate to aid you if you call."

With that Shadow left the room and sat down in a chair to close his eyes. He needed rest if he was to be of any true use to Sereinia. He had gotten used to powering through hazy and dreary mental conditions, but it could only work for so long before the brain shut down from lack of rest and recuperation. Shadow was, right now, in no danger of that happening but he was in danger of collapsing from a lack of sleep. He closed his eyes and let his mind clear, already feeling a slight ease wash over him.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Noticing the avian companion of Mayumi, Sereinia could not help but feel the quickening beat of her heart due to concern. Without further ado, Shadow entered where the young girl was in as she followed closely behind him. He checked her vitals which seemed to be stable at the moment but her response was not on par. From her current position, Sereinia could already assessed what Mayumi's condition is at the moment. The girl had undoubtedly received first aid but not the proper treatment. Her eyes narrowed as she hoped that her suspicions were incorrect. She would need a closer inspection to make certain of the girl's health.

Disrupting Sereinia's thoughts, Shadow had looked at her and inform her that he would be knocking out Mayumi. She wanted to object as it seems that the young girl was already passed out. In addition, she could just concoct a sleeping drug and an anesthesia if needed. In that way, she could assessed how much time she needed to fully treat all wounds that Mayumi suffered. But Shadow's tone prevented Sereinia from saying any further as she watched him do his deed.

After doing so, Shadow asked Sora to behave knowing the avian's protectiveness to his mistress. Then, he moved to the side to allow Sereinia access to Mayumi. She nodded and immediately went to Mayumi's bedside. She quickly placed her hand on the young girl's forehead and confirmed what Shadow was saying about her temperature. Not looking at Shadow, she listened to his observations in the background as she checked the scar that was stitched by Shadow and the other wound that seemed to be a carved name. It had sealed but it was not completely free from infection as a result the girl has a fever and judging by Mayumi's skin tone. The child was suffering from blood loss and malnutrition. She did hear that Mayumi had slept 3 days straight and without proper nourishment and replenishment of blood will be very slow to accommodate the loss of blood.

"It will be fine Shadow. Go ahead and rest." Sereinia managed to say as she looked over her shoulder and gave a sincere smile.

Afterwards, Sereinia focused her attention to Mayumi but not before looking at Sora. "I promise. I will help Mayumi with everything I can."

Giving her words of promise to Sora, Sereinia started to take out one of her anesthesia concoction from her medicinal bag. She had took it with her before leaving her room. She used a sterilized syringe and injected on a vein in Mayumi's arm. Passing out was not equivalent for not feeling pain, this would numb Mayumi's sensation. It seemed that she would have to remove the stitches that Shadow had done and re-do it to fully see where the infection was. Thus, there was no need to say how painful that could be. Taking out her surgical equipments, she made sure to sterilized them with the proper methods and even tied her hair and wore gloves.

"Hang on, Mayumi."

With that said, Sereinia began removing the stitches on her large scar first. Soon, it was reopened and at that moment pus spilled out from it. It must have been infected from the tools used or Shadow must have not thoroughly cleaned it before sealing it. She immediately removed it and thoroughly cleaned it with antiseptic that if without anesthesia and being knocked out, Mayumi would feel a painful sting. When that was all done, she took out a special thread of hers. There was no need to remove it once the skin had made a connection as it dissolves without harm to the body. But before that, she applied one of her salves that would aid in regeneration and protect it from infection. After doing so, she closed the large scar that overlapped an old one.

When that was done, Sereinia placed her attention to the carved name. She did the same but this one has more pus than the large one. The weapon that made this must have caused it. Cleansing it, she did the same procedure. Afterwards, she looked at handiwork and one could see the even and seamless stitches. With proper application of her salve, there should be no scar or if there is, it would only be a faint line that would be almost invisible to the eyes. She did checked other parts of her body and noticed bruises that seemed to be healing slowly. It was probably because she lacked the blood that helps in the clotting process. Thus, she applied a salve to prevent from infection for now.

Next, Sereinia checked any broken bones and noticed a previously dislocated wrist. Shadow seemed to have put it back in and released a sigh at that knowledge. She also noticed a few cracked ribs but it should be fine once she asked Mayumi to drink the drug that would in bone regeneration. But as she looked further down, she noticed that Mayumi's ankle seemed to be swelling. This must be the other source of Mayumi's fever. She felt the lump and could see a deformity forming around it.

"This is bad..."

Sereinia could theorized that it could just need realignment but if comes to worst, she would need to do a surgery to connect the bones. For now, all she could do was to ease the pressure by creating a small cut. After a while, the swelling has decreased and she could now properly feel that the bone was dislocated rather than being broken. All she had to do was to realigned it. Injecting a small portion of the anesthesia around the area, she then quickly realigned it without much trouble. It seemed that she had more strength than she is credited for. After doing so, she placed a cooling salve around it and then placed a splint around it which would aid in its recovery.

"This should be fine for now..."

Speaking under her breath, Sereinia checked once more Mayumi's body for any other injuries that she might have overlooked. There was none as she was now worried about how to ensure that Mayumi regain some of the blood she lost and proper nourishment. At the same time, she would need for the young girl to take some medicine to combat further infection, medicine for fever, aid in bone regeneration, and iron supplements. Well, all she could do for now is to inject in directly to the blood stream. The bone regeneration medicine was already in liquid form but the other three medicines were in capsules.

"I would have to dissolve this."

Thus, Sereinia began to make her preparations that took quite some time. She would occasionally feel slight jolt of pain from her cracked ribs but they were bearable. After all, she is much more concerned about Mayumi knowing the young girl's condition is much worse than hers. After turning all the medicine into liquid forms, she injected it with orderly and with specific interval of time and certain dosages. When it was all done, she released a sigh of relief. This should make Mayumi feel a bit better as she wiped some of the sweat that Mayumi had around her face. Then, she looked at Sora with a gentle smile.

"She should be fine now."

After doing that, Sereinia noticed that much time had already passed along with the growling of her stomach. It seemed that her concentration had made her ignore the hunger she was having.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow allowed himself to drift off into a light sleep, one that would easily have been broken by something as slight as the sound of a small object hitting the floor, but sleep none the less. His consciousness drifted and his body relaxed in the chair as he slowly began to succumb to the power of unconsciousness and began to dream.

He was outdoors somewhere, but it was familiar. Like a memory. He looked around and saw that the sky overhead was partially cloudy, and that the skyline around him was marked by buildings which stood several stories in height. He walked the streets, recognizing it as the "Central Path" of the Capitol City of Cre' Est where he had eliminated so many targets in the past. Slowly he walked the street, looking left and right as the people around him took a single look and fled indoors. It was not unusual, but it still left a pang of guilt and pain within his heart as he continued to walk.

Eventually, as he continued to walk down the central path, he started seeing faces of those familiar to him. Immediately to his left as he continued on his way passed the blacksmith was a face he knew well. A man slightly older and larger than he, but still with an impressive muscular build and a large two handed sword at his back which he could wield with one hand. He smiled at his friend, but received only a cold glare in return. He remained silent and looked away as he continued down the street.

Another face he recognized as his sister, Era. She too, was looking at him with cold eyes and was held in a stand offish body posture as he passed her, almost as if she was