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Layla "Siren" Luciel

A huntress who will stop at nothing to get what she wants.

0 · 1,458 views · located in Cre' Est

a character in “Assassin's Pledge: War of Attrition”, as played by Layla

Description

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be still | the fray || sleeping sickness | city and colour || across the universe | fiona apple




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{Full Name}
morpheus; he who forms

{Alias}
aaron resta; enlightened

{Nickname/s}
morph, phi, morphy, winged god, messenger of gods, leader of the oneiroi, the sleeping king

{Pantheon}
greek

{Role}
winged god of dreams, king of the dreaming realm

{Loyalty}
awakened







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{Divinity}
His eyes were the colour of dreams, of starlight and palest blue, water and mirage. He slept on a bed of poppies and drew with his breath the song of dreams. From his fingers reality unravelled, and nothing was impossible. Incandescent wings stretched from his spine, thinner than petals, clearer than glass. They carried the weight of the Dreaming Realm, where the Rivers of Forgetfulness and Oblivion ran parallel. Those who slept in his arms slept peacefully and saw the events of the future. He was present in every slumbering mind, though he was only ever awake in soul.

In the infinity of reverie he wandered, his spirit flitting between worlds and between mortals and gods. He was the messenger of Olympus, imparting prophecies and warnings through the dreams of kings. They worshipped him as the Sleeping King, the King of many faces. In his human form, he was a being of great beauty, his hair the shade of burnished gold, his body a montage of sinuous muscles and unbroken skin. Though a God in name, he was indeed a spirit, a daemon borne of the Underworld. He led his brothers - Phobetor the bringer of nightmares and Phantasos the weaver of illusion - as the last born but first ruler of the Oneiroi.

When the pantheons fell into slumber, Morpheus awoke. By the time he rose from his sleep, his home had fallen around him, and his love was long gone. The Dreaming Realm had drifted away, scattered pieces dissolving into nothingness. His poppies had withered and concrete grew over its place. He wandered through the mortal world - a place he had never been save in the visions of the sleeping - and it was as if his life, his identity, had all been a dream.

When he Awoke, he had only a fraction of his power. His feet traversed the realm of dreams, unveiling the minds of the slumbering. He lifted roses from the darkness, but they existed only in the smoke and shadows of unconsciousness. Still his voice could evoke languor, though only in mortals. His fingers could no longer tease the fabric of reality; he had been stripped of his wings, of his home. But what had seemed the greatest curse of all, was that he could no longer make dreams come true.







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{Quirks | Habits}
Mumbles in his sleep ✤ Somewhat vegetarian, as far as he's concerned those oddly shaped foods - ham? sausages? - are weird mortal-made vegetables ✤ Possesses an inordinate number of useless talents ✤ Would make a wonderful Geisha ✤ Unintentionally narcissistic ✤ Speaks like an old man ✤ Has a lot of really old friends ✤ Lectures at every opportunity, most beginning with "youths these days" ✤ Has ten times as many bedrooms as he has clothes ✤ Doesn't really wear clothes

{Likes}
Being fed ✤ Being bathed ✤ Being tucked into bed ✤ Having virtually everything done for him ✤ Sleeping ✤ Animals ✤ Spending time with the elderly ✤ Children - preferably 12 - and a house in the 'burbs ✤ Carpentry ✤ Splitting firewood, though he occasionally falls asleep on the chopping board ✤

{Dislikes}
Coffee ✤ Clocks ✤ Loud noises ✤ Electric lights, unless they're the ones whose brightness can be dialled ✤ The sound of metal striking or scraping against metal

{Talents | Skills}
Domestic goddess ✤ Capable in short bursts of somewhat extraordinary athletic feats ✤ Catlike stealth ✤ Able to sleep quite literally anywhere, any time and in any position ✤ Possibly an animal whisperer ✤ Can navigate any space in darkness

{Flaws | Weaknesses}
Means well, but tends to make things worse ✤ Severely allergic to coffee beans, even the smell sickens him ✤ Unobservant ✤ Prone to frequent napping ✤ Has the physique for battle and exercise, but none of the motivation ✤ Doesn't quite understand modern euphemisms ✤ Poor social etiquette ✤ Unintentionally offends ✤ No sense of personal space

{Fears}
✤ Never waking up; considering his divinity, slumbering for eternity is not quite an irrational fear. It is different from death, where sleep would be like being trapped in an unmoving corpse, a condition he is very much familiar with.
✤ Helplessness; despite how little he does - or at least actually succeed at - he has a fear of being useless.

{Secrets}
✤ Himself; he doesn't speak of his experiences very much, and especially not those relating to Arke. Everyone seems miserable enough for them all and some more. He doesn't need to add his puddle to the ocean of tears.
✤ Slumbering; Morpheus has never bothered to explain why he sleeps so much despite accusations that he's simply lazy, when in fact staying awake for too long would actually sicken and kill him.






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{Personality}
moon; he knew what it was to be human. To be cratered and flawed by imperfections. He was there in the day if only unseen, and he stood in the darkness and provided light when the Sun abandoned its place in the sky. He did not ask for devotion or even recognition. The prayers cast towards him seemed more like wishes, and he thought himself a shooting star granting solace in dreams. Yet flawed he was, and he could not keep the nightmares from slipping through his fingers. Pain was water and he paper, and his edges dissolved no matter what he did. Perhaps it was wrong anyway to provide such hope in dreams, where reality was anything but clouds and light and warmth. But he hoped that perhaps if he could teach people to be good, and show them what could be, that the world might slowly, but surely, begin to change, as if he were the moon tugging at the tides.

petals; starlight spilled from his lips and bathed the earth in its glow. His eyes saw only goodness where his footsteps parted the shadows. "The naive God," they called him. "Ignorant." Yet nothing sounded like a better compliment. He was aware of humanity's savagery and life's cruelty, for there was no colder place than sleep. In the loneliness of dreams, nightmares unspooled and pain was relived, yet in the solitude of dreams hope grew, if only as a sprout in the darkness he made it his charge to grow.

space; he knew better than most what it was to be alone. In his slumber, companionship had seemed a hypothetical thing, and touch a distant memory from when he was held in his mother's arms. If no one had seen him, touched him - him, and not the ghost that haunted their dreams - did he really exist at all? Loneliness was above and around, and Morpheus could no less escape it than he could escape the sky.







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{Asleep}
56 years

{Awake}
1 month

{History}
nyx; from the dreams of gods and man he awoke the last of the Oneiroi, and became the youngest son to Hypnos and Pasithea, the governors of sleep and hallucination in that order. The Goddess of night and darkness, and mother to Hypnos, saw in Morpheus the sparks of an inferno. Nyx saw that he possessed a power stronger than the fervent horrors his eldest brother, Phobetor, could claim, and truer than the illusions Phantasus could muster. He had an immutable belief, a faith and imagination that could not be taught or granted by prayer or magic. She brought him to her realm - where not even Zeus dared venture - and taught him to dream.

hypnos; Nyx drew her own son to cast his spell - though some say curse - of eternal slumber upon him. So long as his bed of poppies blossomed, he would never wake. Morpheus lived only in the minds of others, a spirit of no substance that could somehow create it. The first tendrils of the Dreaming Realm began from the roots of the flowers upon which he slept, their vines sinking into dirt and disappearing into a bed of clouds rising from the ground. Starlight flowed through the lands like water, gold sand spilled from crystal jugs, and the sky shimmered violet, emerald, silver. Morpheus' world was one of no limits.

oneiroi; the Dreaming Realm was between-realms, and one could not remain there for long, lest they descend into a dream from which they cannot wake. It was said mortals who wandered through its lands without Morpheus or his brothers as their guide were lost forever. It was said his brothers would intentionally lead them astray. Some were lucky, and remained in worlds from which they did not wish to wake - worlds of possibility, beauty and love - others were trapped in Phobetor's dominion, where nightmares came alive. Morpheus' spirit could not venture beyond his own realm, and it was his father, the God of Sleep, who brought the resting into his lands.

messengers; fragments of the past, present and future passed through the Dreaming Realms when they were deemed necessary for mortals. The Gods sent two messengers to Morpheus, Iris and Arke, twin sisters whose arrival came with a rainbow of purest colour that allowed them to cross into the Dreaming Realm. It was Arke whom he loved, the quiet sister who stood in the shadow of Iris' gold feathers. Her iridescent wings that others deemed mundane seemed impossibly mesmerising to him, her intelligence and keen eyes more beautiful than any dream he could create, and her heart truer than any prophecy he could relay. He loved her so dearly that when she chose the Titans over the Olympians during the Titan War, he offered his realm as refuge to her despite the risk.

arke; she was not vibrant like her sister, and was instead the faded second rainbow sometimes seen in the shadow of the first, that faint bend became the loveliest thing in his sky. When the Titans began to fall, she insisted she must leave to save them. He refused; he relented. When the last Titan collapsed, Zeus took Arke's wings in his hands, and ripped them from her spine. He threw the rest of her in Tartarus, where she would suffer in torment for eternity. Her wings were given to Peleus and Thetis - and later Achilles - as wedding gifts.

morpheus; Morpheus dreamed of waking and leaving his realm. He remembered her wings and saw them so often in his dreams that they grew on his back. All he was able to do was plague the Olympians with nightmares a fraction the agony of the nightmare he was in. But Morpheus was a thing of dreams, and nothing in dreams could hurt them.

Yet the fact of dreams is that time becomes simultaneously infinite and short. Moments passed that felt like eternity, and millenniums went like seconds. When the poppies withered and the rivers of starlight ran dry and Morpheus awoke, Tartarus was gone and Arke with it. The Olympic Gods had long become a thing of myths and bedtime stories, and only Arke's faded rainbow remained. He'd spent the last of his immortality to maintain it and then even that was gone. He stepped foot in the mortal realms for the first time and all till then became like a dream that spanned a night time, rather than lifetimes.

He found himself in America and took to painting, and the art world took to him. Some part of Morpheus knew to change his name, to move every decade so no one suspected his immortal youth, yet he himself suspected nothing. All his life he had wished to wake and now that he had, he was in a dream once more, only this time, he did not know he was sleeping.







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{Played By}
Layla

{Font Colour}
#737CA1

{Face Claim}
Andrew Stetson

So begins...

Layla "Siren" Luciel's Story

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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#, as written by Layla
A forest outside of Cre' Est

It was an ordinary day, filled with ordinary happenings.

A shirtless man fell from the freaking sky.

Siren had been taking a leisurely stroll through the forest – not really, she’d been hunting down her new and terribly unlucky victim, ah, the joys of bounty hunting – when all of a sudden a shirtless man fell from the sky. The first thought that wiggled into her head was what a waste of good stature. Honestly, it wasn’t an unwelcome sight, the man was a God. That was, until good-stature fell on heap-of-tiny.

From where she stood, she couldn’t hear what they were saying but it didn’t matter. That was her deer. Light glinted off his black hair and how it managed to stay so perfect after having a ton of man crashing into it, she didn’t know. Siren squinted and she could make out the vague crescent shaped birthmark on her boy’s neck. Jun Corny or something was his name.

It was unfortunate that good-stature had to be there, though she appreciated him slowing Corny down. The boy was quick and difficult to track for someone who wasn’t even trying to hide. She considered killing good-stature then decided that’d be too much of a waste. Besides, if his scars were any indication, he’d had his share of fights. A thief, probably. A hot one, too. Siren pulled herself swiftly up onto the branch of the nearest tree and climbed higher and higher, her soft and untarnished white sheer skirts following closely behind. Even after running and swinging through the forest for hours, Siren had managed to keep her dress clean, her skin unmarked by sweat and her long, white-blonde hair smooth.

She was just talented that way.

Leaping and swinging from tree to tree, she finally sat on a rather comfortable wedge where the trunk met the branch, overlooking the two men. Now to catch him alive...

"I guess I'm just here. I'm heading towards Gweynura..for whatever reason. I'll figure that out when I get there," said Corny.

Gweynura. The name of the familiar nation lit a scramble of emotions within her. Sadness. Yearning. Regret. Nostalgia. She decided she would capture Corny before he reached Gweynura, for when he did, she would have to face the relics of her past. Siren was not one for dwelling on such things; she looked ahead, not behind. Besides, Gweynura was too far away for the small bounty on his head.

Securing the soft white veil over the lower half of her face, Siren considered jumping on Corny - just for laughs. She smiled to herself and thought, too reckless and that's just mean. The poor guy's had enough sky divers for the day. Siren swept her iron fan open, slipping two sleeping darts from the folds of the intricate fan in one fluid motion. She would put them both to sleep.

She held the needles gently between her fingers, aligning them to the necks of her targets - and with a tiny, quick flick of her wrist, she threw the darts.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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Jude laughed at Keito's reasons for him being in this forest. He had no real reason and his destination was not definite, just like Jude they seemed to both be just wanderers. Keito's next questions also made Jude laugh, the young man seemed so adamant in learning the reason why Jude had jumped off from that cliff. Quietly Jude hummed a little tune, a common children's song sung by many Triveilan children. Rummaging through his traveling black traveling bag Jude pulled out his two pistols, placing them in his belt holsters which he had just buckled on before jumping off the cliff. Jude than began to place bullets individually on his belt, making it a makeshift bandolier which he would use to reload his pistols. While doing this he walked closer to Keito, so that he could look into his eyes as he talked to him. Despite appearances Jude could not sense any ill will from the young man, unusual since he carried a sword on his back, Jude naturally thought that Keito would have some killing intent in his eyes. His eyes however seemed innocent, but with much more experience than a man his age should have. Finally convinced that he could at least trust him with his name Jude leaned back to address Keito.

"My name is Jude Vanderwolf, but I am more commonly known by the name "Omega"." Jude than began to go through his traveling bag to find another piece of equipment which he seemed to have misplaced.

"If you don't know me from that name than I am not surprised, I am more well known in the nation of Triveila. I am a professional thief, and a damn good one at that. And the scene that you just witnessed of me jumping down the cliff was not because of some job gone wrong... It was something a lot more personal... Well intimate. I slept with a gentleman's daughter and he didn't react to well to that, if you catch my drift..." Pulling up his sleeve Jude revealed the blood soaked bandages on his right arm, showing the damage the gentleman had done.

"If you're heading towards Gweynura wouldn't it be much quicker to take the main roads than to travel via the forest? It will take a while to get there this way... Is there something that you're hiding from me?" Saying this he tried to see if he could help Keito out, he felt that he needed to help the young man despite not knowing him for a long time.

Suddenly Jude felt a prickly sensation on his neck, feeling his neck he found that a tipped dart had struck his neck. Confused Jude looked around, seeing another one heading towards Keito this time he caught the dart mid air, acting as if he was catching a fly. The darts seemed to be tipped with a sleeping inducer since it started to make Jude feel drowsy. But because of his thief training Jude had gained an immunity to most poisons, but no matter what they still seemed to affect him some way or another. Since it was a sleeping inducer, and a powerful one at that, Jude began to feel drowsy and exhausted. Jude however didn't want to alarm Keito, or the assailant who had attacked them with these darts.

"Dang... I thought I could've killed that bloody fly. It's constant buzzing was getting annoying." Jude tried to keep Keito from noticing that they had just been attacked, covering up most of what was happening. Knowing that he had to get rid of or lose whoever was following them Jude tried to think of a plan.

"We should probably head out towards Gweynura if we are to get there in a good time... Lets get going than shall we." Jude than slapped Keito's back towards the direction of Gweynura, hopping they would find someway to get rid of their assailant on the way there. Jude kept one hand on his silver pistols just in case they happened to come across their assailant, hoping that he won't have to use it.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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#, as written by Layla
He knew.

The dart had sailed sharply into the neck of Jude Vanderwolf – Omega – but he caught the second. He caught the second with his bare freaking hands. Sure, it wasn't a a bullet but her movements were precise, lightning fast. Siren couldn't help but give the man a nod of respect and a frown of disappointment.

"Dang... I thought I could've killed that bloody fly. It's constant buzzing was getting annoying." Jude was swaying ever so slightly, his words carefully controlled. Unfortunately for them, she was a trained bounty hunter and that meant she could hear even the slightest of sounds and the man was slurring. He appeared to be resistant to the darts but she wasn't sure, after all, the man was quite big. Siren counted the seconds and she wished the dart had instead hit Corny. Jude wasn't who she wanted - however handsome he was. Actually, this close, Corny wasn't too bad, either. Maybe...

"We should probably head out towards Gweynura if we are to get there in a good time... Lets get going then shell we." She grinned, an idea weaving itself in her mind. Neither of them had seen her yet - bless Auxureilla - and she was soundless and quick. She would follow them and befriend the two. Gweynura was home to the House of Sirens, of which - although she'd left - she was still entitled to be a part of. She'd simply say she belonged to the group of sisters who sold their bodies and time, that she was a mere beauty of Gweynura, having lived there for such a long time - all of which was true. It was what she would say if they asked where she was from and who she was. She did dislike lying, but word-twisting was a whole other matter. She didn't ask them to think of it that way, after all.

They moved and Siren followed, leaping and swinging from branch to branch. Her bare feet rolling soundlessly on and off the wood, the leaves treating her as if she were a leaf herself. Fluttering. Light. Jude's hand rested at his revolver as they rushed for Gweynura. Siren truly disliked firearms, believing them to be, well, cheating. But she supposed in the matter of life and death it didn't matter how you lived as long as you did. For a flicker of a thought, she considered dropping the hunt but Corny wasn't just any deer, you see. He was somewhat of a popular game amongst bounty hunters as he was one of the rare ones whom no one had yet caught. She took the challenge for the hell of it and perhaps a little for the glory. After all, she normally accepted missions in which the bounty was large. The two have now ignited Siren's curiosity, however and she'd always been perhaps a little too persistent.

She did so love a chase.

They raced through the forest and they were surprisingly quite quiet, both of them, but especially the thief. Well duh. Soon, they would reach Gweynura and when they did, she'd meet them. That was - if she didn't miss a single branch - or slip.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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Keito didn't seem to like the arrangement that Jude had suggested, most likely because Keito doesn't seem to trust him. But considering the circumstances that Keito is in he shouldn't be so distrustful, since Jude most possibly just saved his life. Jude however could not warn Keito since that would also tip off whoever was following them. Stuck between a rock and a hard place Jude decided that it would still be best if he followed Keito, he didn't want the young man's life on his conscience. Keito's latter statement made Jude grin automatically, he didn't know why the young man would still feel that Jude would steal his belongings, considering he could've done that and left him for dead earlier. But Keito didn't need to know that.

"You never said you would travel with me... You don't have to if you don't want to but I will follow you nonetheless. And please son, if I wanted to steal any of your things I would've done so already... Only thing I am really interested in is that sword of yours anyway, seems like I would get a good price for it... Not that I would ever use such a weapon though, much more effective things to kill a man with... a gun for instance." At this moment Jude began doing flare tricks with his pistols in an attempt to lighten the mood. One of his pistols though fired without warning towards a nearby tree.

"...Well... seems I might have made the hair trigger a bit too sensitive... Oh well." Holstering his pistols back into his belt Jude continued to travel towards Gweynura with Keito, hoping he will find whoever is following them as well. Jude never like the feeling of being followed, but considering the situation they were in he would have to live with it for the time being. Anyway it seemed as if that person was also laying low for now, since they haven't taken any action for a while. But Jude knew they were still being followed, and they would probably be followed until they either reached Gweynura or the hunter reveals themselves.

A forest near the borders of Cre' Est and Gweynura

Time passed as day turned to night, Jude and Keito hardly spoke during the time traveling. Keito for whatever reason and Jude because of how exhausted he was because of the dart earlier. Feeling worn out Jude decided it would be best to set up camp for the night. Setting down his black traveling bag Jude leaned on a tree next to his bag, lifting his right sleeve to check his wound. His upper right arm was covered entirely of blood, the bandages didn't seem to be dressing the wound as good as he thought it would. Taking out some bandages and some alcohol he had in his bag he cleaned and disinfected the wound, redressing it with bandages. He then started a campfire to warm them up, and to cook on if they had anything to cook.

"I think we should set up camp here, we've traveled quite a distance already today... Still it would be best to use the main roads but I guess you're the boss on that. You should probably have something to eat, I wouldn't want your growth to stop because you didn't have enough food to eat... If you need just go through my bag, I always keep some jerky in there." After addressing Keito, Jude took a swig from the bottle of alcohol, which turned out to be a lot stronger than he thought it would be. Feeling a bit mischievous and also trying to lighten up Keito, Jude dropped the bottle onto Keito's lap.

"Have a drink of that, it might turn you into a man." Laughing a little Jude walked back to his bag, digging through it til he found a small metal container. Picking it up he placed it into his back pocket, climbing up a tree where he sat on a rather large branch which he could sleep on.

"I'll keep watch for now... Go catch some beauty sleep Keito, you're going to need it for the track tomorrow morning." Jude than pulled out his pistols, taking the bullets out of the chambers. He than proceeded to dip these bullets into the metal case he had retrieved from his bag earlier. The contents of which were a liquid based hallucination inducing poison.

If our stalker shows up I will be ready for them... I will get you, whoever you are... No one drugs up Jude Vanderwolf but me. Both pistols loaded he cocked them and placed them in his holster, watching over Keito.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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#, as written by Layla
The idiot nearly killed her.

Well, not an idiot, she supposed. Since she didn't exactly have good intentions, either. Still, she wasn't trying to kill them. Jude had been messing around with his gun - she hated those stupid things - when he "accidentally" fired a shot at her tree. She would've been lying in a pond of blood and death if she hadn't thrown herself into the next tree the very second he fired the shot. She'd fumbled for a hold as her foot twisted at a terrible angle and had very nearly fallen from the sky onto Jun Corny. She didn't let a twisted ankle stop her, though. Siren continued forward with a few more scrapes and bruises than she normally achieved on a hunt.

Night

Breathing a tad heavier than normal, Siren sat on the crook of the branch and trunk, leaning her back against the tree. Her knee was bent as she examined her weak ankle, long, snowing hair trailing past her hips. She'd have to sleep on a nearby tree tonight or she'd lose them.

"I think we should set up camp here, we've traveled quite a distance already today... Still it would be best to use the main roads but I guess you're the boss on that. You should probably have something to eat, I wouldn't want your growth to stop because you didn't have enough food to eat... If you need just go through my bag, I always keep some jerky in there."

Food. Gosh, she was hungry.

"Have a drink of that, it might turn you into a man," laughed Jude. Siren closed her silver eyes.

He had a nice laugh. And she was thirsty. For a moment, Siren considered using the whip wrapped around her waist to inconspicuously pick up the small metal container. Jude seemed to know someone was there, anyway. So what did it matter. She'd wait till they were asleep - and swipe the container. She'd just take a sip and then she'd put it back.

"I'll keep watch for now... Go catch some beauty sleep Keito, you're going to need it for the track tomorrow morning."

Ohhhh no. You catch some beauty sleep. You need it, too. Sleep, godamnit. She'd been listening to Jude's voice when she noticed there was a rustling of leaves nearby. She lifted her lids and her silver eyes met those of black and gold.

Must. Mate. Immediately.

She wasn't sure if it was because of the night and a trick of light, but the eyes were unnerving and beautiful and unnerving. Jude. He wasn't even looking at her - at least, she hoped he wasn't. A scar marked the left side of his face and that made Siren angry. She didn't like seeing beautiful things tarnished. Well, no. It actually suited him quite well. She found herself wanting to ask him how he'd got it. She'd been with countless men and women throughout her life, attraction was not foreign to her but to say she was attracted would be an understatement. The man was a God - an incubus. That put her thoughts straight. She was terrified of everything supernatural - although she was a believer of science - and those eyes, that face, his body, all of it screamed super-freaking-natural. Ironic, her fear of the unknown, as she went by the name Siren - a creature of seduction and supernatural fantasy.

Jude was right in front of her.

A soft yelp escaped her rose-coloured lips and she lost her balance on the branch.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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The entire walk was silent, but if anything Keito preferred it that way. He kept a decent distance between Jude and himself, not liking the fact that the man mentioned that Keito's sword could fetch a good price. That was the last thing Keito was going to let happen. No one touched his sword except him and it wouldn't be used to cut down anyone other than his own enemies. They'd made it quite a ways when the sun finally set and the sky darkened. It was a perfectly clear night with a cool breeze and the stars bright far above the forest. There didn't seem to be a moon out tonight, but it was still peaceful all the same. When Jude stopped to lean against a nearby tree and check his wounds, Keito took a seat in the grass with his back against a tree a few feet away. He set his bag to the left of him, opposite side of where Jude was, and glanced over at the man. His wound looked pretty bad and would probably end up getting infected if something better wasn't done. He let out a sigh as Jude started up a fire and suggested that they should set up camp. That was probably the best idea. Keito had slept in pretty late, so he wasn't all that tire, but hiking through the forest was always a pain at night and tonight was particularly dark since there was no moon in the sky.

"Still it would be best to use the main roads but I guess you're the boss on that. You should probably have something to eat, I wouldn't want your growth to stop because you didn't have enough food to eat... If you need just go through my bag, I always keep some jerky in there."

Why is my growth any of your concern?

"I'm fine. I don't usually eat unless I really need it."

Only seconds after he finished his sentence a bottle dropped onto his lap and the strong smell of alcohol drifted up to his nose.

"Have a drink of that, it might turn you into a man."

He glared up at him until Jude made his way up into a tree before quickly setting the bottle aside. Alcohol was definitely his least favorite drink.

If being a man means getting drunk and passing out in some river nearby, I'll pass, he thought to himself, listening to Jude say that he'd keep watch while Keito got some 'beauty sleep'.

"I'm more capable than I look you know. I've traveled through the forest more often than you could probably count."

Though this was the case, he still felt tired. Not to mention his back was still stiff from being used as a cushion for some maniac who decided to jump off of a cliff. He let out a sigh and fell onto his side in the grass anyway, his left arm supporting his head as he stared at the fire, the gold glow reflecting off his eyes. "Whatever, just wake me up in a few hours and I'll take over." He didn't really have any time to worry about the guy taking his sword and bag and running off. His eyes slowly began to drift shut, when his drowsiness was interrupted by a small yelp and the sound of rustling branches. He sat up and looked up in the direction where Jude was positioned, trying to figure out if the noise was him.

No, that was a woman's voice. No mistaking it.

"Jude what was that?" He called up, picking himself up off the ground and, reaching up, he clutched the handle of his sword.

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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Whether it was fortune or not Jude found himself staring directly into the eyes of a goddess. Her flowing long snow-blonde hair and silver eyes made her seem even more unreal, ethereal even. The woman was quite short but had a divine figure underneath her dress. Caught up in her beauty Jude noticed that she was quite startled by him, that a soft yelp escaped her mouth. The moment was than rudely awakened by Keito down below, asking what was happening. Before Jude could reply to him the woman in front of him stumbled and lost balance, falling off of the branch. Without even thinking Jude jumped out towards her, catching her in his arms before landing on the ground. With the woman closer than she was before Jude couldn't help but notice how beautiful she was, if he didn't know better he would've called her a falling angel, quite literally.

"You know you should be glad that we were around here... a fall from that height could've hurt you. And it would be a crime against nature for something so beautiful as you to be damaged." Jude than let the girl down on the soft grass around the campfire, around where Keito was. He than walked over to his traveling bag, pulling out a blanket, wrapping it around the young lady. As he wrapped the blanket around her he noticed that she was a bit nervous, maybe it was because of the distance between them, which wasn't much. Placing on the blanket Jude stole a hug from the beauty.

"My name is Jude and the young man over there... well he can introduce himself to you." Sitting down next to her Jude stared deeply into her eyes, trying to savor every moment he was with her. Leaning against a tree Jude took out of his pants a piece of jerky wrapped with some cloth. Taking a few bites with it to settle his hunger Jude finally turned back towards the young beauty.

"So... is it an everyday occurrence that you fall out of trees because if it is it seems that we may have something in common... I jumped off a cliff earlier today and the young lad over there is my savior." As the fire burned and the wood crackled Jude looked up towards the sky. Jude didn't know why but whenever he looked up to the stars he seemed to be closer to whatever is out there. Jude wasn't a very religious person, he saw no need for deities or gods, this world is full of suffering, this land is godless. Shaking his head Jude stopped and looked at the young woman. He couldn't understand why she would be out here, especially in these parts of the forest. This part of the forest was quite dangerous in particular, as per why he was on lookout moments earlier.

"So young miss, what are you doing out here at this time of night by yourself? I mean..." Pulling out a two knives from his back pocket, he held them in front of her.

"Even with these I don't think you would be safe around these parts... Especially since you almost fell out of a tree." Curious as to why she was out here and who she was Jude had seemingly forgotten about the immediate threat of being hunted by an unknown assailant.

"And before I forget... What is your name love?"

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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#, as written by Layla
Siren was not shocked.

She was frozen. As frozen as the ice of which she now completely resembled. One moment, she'd been falling, wind sweeping her soft pale hair against her closed eyes and the next, warm, comforting arms held her close. She landed without impact or pain, just the soft thump of the man reaching the ground. She felt as if she'd been ripped from Earth, down into Heaven. She had no idea what was happening.

"You know you should be glad that we were around here... a fall from that height could've hurt you. And it would be a crime against nature for something so beautiful as you to be damaged." She stared into his black and gold eyes as he set her down.

And stared some more. 'something so beautiful as you.' Jude left for a while and when he came back, he tucked her safely in a blanket and his arms. Pressed up so close against him, she forgot who she was, what she did, who he was and why she was here. She could convince herself this was just a lover-getaway into the forest, sleeping under moon and starlight. Siren didn't move, for she wanted to stay here, needed for them to be turned into stone so he could hold her for all of eternity and she would never have to explain. Siren blinked. You're a huntress. They're the hunted. They will kill you once they realise.

"My name is Jude and the young man over there... well he can introduce himself to you."

Siren blinked, slowly, and moved her head ever so slightly to see Jun Corny, the boy with dark blue eyes, the crescent moon birthmark and the bounty on his head. She watched as Jude pulled a piece of jerky from his pants. She watched as he ate. Watched as that was all she could do. Jude Omega Vanderwolf had a very nice back.

"So... is it an everyday occurrence that you fall out of trees because if it is it seems that we may have something in common... I jumped off a cliff earlier today and the young lad over there is my savior."

And now you're mine, she thought numbly. I've forgotten how to speak.

"So young miss, what are you doing out here at this time of night by yourself? I mean..." Jude withdrew two sharpened knives from his back pocket and held it in front of her and that's what confirmed what she already knew. He doesn't know. Why else would he practically hand his destruction to his enemy? She felt relieved. Not only because her beauty and petite figure bought her some time away from possible death, but because she didn't want him to know she was his huntress. Guilt wrenched her heart from its socket and it was as if an ocean of sadness rested in her silver-grey eyes.

"And before I forget... What is your name love?"

Speak. Move. Do something or you're dead.

"Si-" she stopped herself. Siren was a name well known: a seductive, beautiful bounty hunter with a 100% success rate - so far. "Layla," she whispered meekly, her melodic voice breaking the quiet of the night.

"Layla Luciel," she said, stronger. The ice began to melt and she became a river again. "I was on my way to Gweynura. I was looking for a place to rest for the night so I climbed to the top of the tallest tree I could find to scout the area. You two looked a little dangerous will all your weapons so I'm really sorry for sneaking around," she said as sincerely as she could, an apology in her eyes. Then, a flirtatious smile played on her lips.

"Thanks for saving me, my dear, mighty prince. I am forever in your debt." She curtsied and with a wink said, "You're very beautiful yourself."

"It's nice to meet you two gentlemen," she smiled, revealing two perfect rows of pearly white teeth. "Are you headed for Gweynura, too? It's strange to be out in the woods this late."

Siren tilted her head to the side, blinking her large, innocent eyes and thick, curled lashes at them - playing the 'innocent young lady' look. She was glad she didn't bring her double swords today for it would've been too obvious. Her whip luckily matched her dress like a pretty belt. She unclenched her fists, not realising she had held on so tight, her nails had left markings on her palms. It wasn't the first time she'd been caught, but lying was never this painful.

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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Once again, Jude ended up falling from the sky, though this time with a passenger in his arms. The man landed on his back in the grass with a thud and quickly recovered. All Keito could really do was watch with a dumbfounded look on his face. He released his hand from the swords handle and dropped his arms to his sides after relaxing a little. She was just some girl, a beautiful one at that, who's been in the wrong place at the right time. What was she doing out here in the forest in the first place?

Jude ended up wrapping a blanket around her and he was acting mighty gentlemanly, not really the sort of image he could place on the guy. In fact, he was acting extremely friendly towards her and she seemed to be pretty dumbfounded herself for the most part. Still, he was suspicious. How many times could someone fall out of the sky in one day? He tensed for a moment, expecting another body to fall out of no where and land on him, but he quickly shook the thought after Jude introduced him as 'his savior'.

Not by choice..

"Si-"

The girl had started to give them her name, but cut off the word and quickly redirected herself.

"Layla, Layla Lucile."

Her dumbfounded first-appearance seemed to melt away and she looked more relaxed than before. Still, why had she cut off the first thing she was going to say?

"Thanks for saving me, my dear, mighty prince. I am forever in your debt. You're very beautiful yourself."

Well, she was definitely more comfortable than she was before, but for some reason it caused a small spark of frustration to flare up for a brief moment. As far as Keito could tell, Jude was far from being a prince, and his shaggy, unkempt appearance looked nothing like that of a beautiful person. Not to mention his personality was sarcastic and irritating.

Wait a minute? Why the heck do I care?!

"It's nice to meet you two gentlemen. What are your names, if I may ask? Are you headed for Gweynura, too?"

She had quite the pretty smile, which just added on to her nearly white hair and alluring silvery eyes.

"It's Keito, and yes that's where I'm headed", He gave a small nod towards Jude, "And Jude there is just tagging along."

Letting out a small sigh, he realized he was probably coming off a little cold or maybe rude, so he let a friendly smile play over his lips.

"It's nice to meet you, Miss. And you should be more careful. A girl like you shouldn't be climbing up so high, it's dangerous. And I assure you we're no threat to you." He paused a moment and glanced over at Jude. "Or at least I'm not threat, but you should be careful of the pick-pocket. There's a story behind why he had to leap from a cliff."

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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#, as written by Layla
Siren pretended to gasp in horror. "He's a thief?" She grinned mischeviously. "Somehow that just adds to his allure."

She strolled over to the their bags, near the fire, all confidence. Sitting down, she looked at Corn- Keito. The boy was handsome and who was she to call short and tiny, she was barely over 5 foot 3. Siren felt the sultry bounty huntress seep back into her bones, along with her love of all genders. She brushed her hair to the side, the firelight glinting off the pale shade and making strands of her hair appear kaleidoscope in colour. She gave Keito the most suggestive look she could muster after the shock of her life for he was her target and he seemed a lot more stiff compared to Jude. Also, he truly was attractive - his dark blue eyes reminded her of the seas of Triveila.

"So what do you do for a living, Keito? Saving thieves from impending doom seems quite exciting. What was he running from? The angry father of a lady he'd deflowered?" she joked. Then, growing serious, she stared intensely into Keito's eyes. "Are you running?" After a pause, she smiled.

"I have to ask. Are you from Triveila? Your eyes are such a deep shade of blue, it reminds me of the waters there. I was born there-" Realising they could make the connections with her place of birth and her full name, she hastily added. "Well, I'm not sure. I lived in an orphanage in Triveila for some time. I didn't know who I was so I just took the name of a fictional character in this story book we once read in the orphanage."

Siren shifted her body and the left sleeve of her clothing slipped off her shoulder to reveal smooth, light skin. She smiled demurely. They'd be smitten in no time. Maybe I should leave. Wait for them at Gweynura. She wiggled her injured ankle and a sharp jolt of pain made her shiver. Nope. She'd have to take the chance and stay. What were they going to do? Give her feminine iron fan a meticulous examination?

"If it's quite alright with you two, could I please sleep here for the night? I-" she let a look of fear pass over her. "heard these noises. It sounded like a large man and I was just so scared. I'm somewhat afraid of the dark, you see. And I'm a terrible fighter. I sing and dance and that's about it." She gave them an embarrassed laugh.

Siren knew they wouldn't simply turn their backs on a helpless maiden and that made her hate herself a little more. Still, she would wait for the right moment to give them both a heavier dose of sleeping needles and take Keito. She'd do it because she was Siren and not Layla. Siren the Huntress who did not give a damn.

Embers floated from the fire to land on her fair skin, spreading pinpricks of pain up her arms. The night air was chilling, the wind singing haunting tunes with its high whistling. It sounded like a warning or an angry, disappointed parent.

Even nature disliked her now.

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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Jude sat across from Keito and Layla, finding their conversation quite amusing. Keito of course was still stiff and cold as a corpse, but at least he tried to be friendly with Layla, unlike with Jude. It wasn't long before Keito decided to try and destroy his gentleman status which he had built with Layla, hinting to events earlier in the day and revealing my occupation. Little runt... Got to be more careful of what I tell him. He might start telling everyone who I am... and that's not something I am looking forward to. He thought this because if information of who he was and where he was was leaked he would find himself surrounded by bounty hunters, an experience that the thief did not want to relive. "Omega of the Wolf Pack" had killed enough already in his lifetime. If he could Jude would settle down and quit the life of a thief but he knew in his heart of hearts that it was impossible. Once you know who you are it is hard to become someone else, even if it is in your best interests.

"Well, you wouldn't be wrong with your assumption Layla... That is exactly the reason as per why I had jumped off that cliff. Don't want to have more scars from gunfire, considering I have a lot already." To support his statement Jude had lifted up his shirt, revealing a number of scars that he had received to his torso. There were many scars across his chest and torso, so numerous that it was almost impossible to pick out a distinctive one, all of them stood out. He than put his shirt back on since he didn't like the feeling of be watched, even by such a beautiful lady and Keito.

When Layla had asked if she could stay with them for the night Jude had nodded, seeing no real reason to not let her stay with them. It was actually quite uncharacteristic of himself to be this trusting of people but Jude felt there was no need to be cautious. What is a young beauty and a shrimp possibly going to do to him?

"Triveila? That is my homeland as well... I don't really miss it though. Too many bad memories... I had a lot of good memories too but I think it will be a while before I am able to travel back there. I don't think I would meet welcoming arms if I did go back anyway." When Layla had mentioned the orphanage memories of his past came flooding into Jude's mind. Such as the time he was nearly beat to death for defending another child from an abusive caregiver. Or when he had received a very large scar on his back from being attacked by another caregiver. And of the day that he had met Edgar Vanderwolf, one of Jude's most cherished memories.

Jude had noticed that the blanket and Layla's clothing had slipped a bit, revealing her soft pale skin. Trying to stay seemingly calm Jude just started to twirl his guns around his fingers, a nervous tick he had developed when he was in the Wolf Pack. You could describe the action as to twirl a pen in your hand, only a lot more dangerous to himself and those around him. Looking away for a second to regain composure Jude finally calmed down, holstering his pistols as he did.

"You said that you can sing and dance?... Would you by any chance sing for us? I mean I think that is compensation enough for letting you stay with us." Jude said this as a joke but was also serious, it had been a while since he had heard a maiden's song.

To stand guard and to get a better seat for the possible performance Jude climbed back up the tree he had previously met Layla on. Looking around the area to see if he could spot anything suspicious. He hadn't forgotten that they were being hunted but Jude felt at ease for some reason despite his better senses. He couldn't feel anyone watching them as he did before, whether their hunter had left them or not he did not know, but he did know that their presence had disappeared. Which concerned him more than when he could feel them there.

Where did that bastard disappear to? He thought as he twirled one of his pistols in his hand.

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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The girl, Layla, walked herself over to the tree where their bags were and she sat herself down after practically complimenting the fact that Jude was a thief. He had to admit, the guy was pretty talented, but to Keito being a thief wasn't exactly something to be proud of. Of course, he'd taken a few things before when he was younger, but only because no one would give him any jobs because they all required heavy lifting. Now that he was bigger, well, taller at least, he was better capable of convincing people. Even so, he wasn't very happy with himself whenever he did manage to steal something. Of course now he completely restrained himself from doing it.

"So what do you do for a living, Keito? Saving thieves from impending doom seems quite exciting. What was he running from? The angry father of a lady he'd deflowered?"

Spot on.

"Are you running?"

That question caught him off guard, especially the brief moment of seriousness coming from her as she asked. He wasn't particularly running from anything of physical form. But he was always trying to run from his past. Though, he wouldn't tell her that and he was relieved she quickly moved on to another question.

"I have to ask. Are you from Triveila? Your eyes are such a deep shade of blue, it reminds me of the waters there. I was born there- Well, I'm not sure. I lived in an orphanage in Triveila for some time. I didn't know who I was so I just took the name of a fictional character in this story book we once read in the orphanage."

He gave her a sympathetic smile.

"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that...and no in fact I've never visited the place."

Liar

"See I'm not really a big fan of fish and I heard that's pretty much all they've got in the restaurants. Well, I'm sure they have other food too but I don't even....like....the smell."

The last few word slurred a little as the blanket and Layla's sleeve slipped off her shoulder. He swallowed nervously, trying to ignore it.

"If it's quite alright with you two, could I please sleep here for the night? I heard these noises. It sounded like a large man and I was just so scared. I'm somewhat afraid of the dark, you see. And I'm a terrible fighter. I sing and dance and that's about it."

His seriousness returned and he let his eyes scanned the trees. Could someone be following them? He'd felt like it earlier, and thought that it was probably this girl. But now that she mentioned it, he still didn't feel completely safe. Almost like someone was watching him with wanting eyes.

"It's fine! You can travel with us all the way to Gweynura if you want to."

He smiled at her and knelt down in front of her to pull the blanket back up over her shoulder.

"There's a chilly breeze tonight, so you don't want to go catching yourself a cold.", he said as he pulled his bag over to him and opened it. After a little digging he found the bread wrapped up in the blue cloth and handed it to her. It wasn't much but it would help if she was hungry.

"Here. If you're hungry you can have this. Oh, and I bet if we slice it open and put some jerky in between it would make a pretty good sandwich."

He leaned back a little and looked over at Jude.

"Hey, how much of that jerky do you have anyway?"

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#, as written by Layla
"Well, you wouldn't be wrong with your assumption Layla... That is exactly the reason as per why I had jumped off that cliff. Don't want to have more scars from gunfire, considering I have a lot already." Jude lifted up his shirt and she withheld a gasp. Not from disgust but from shock and anger at whoever it was who did this to him. Then, sadly, she realised she might possibly just add another scar to his body. He was covered in them and she would be another betrayal. He's just another enemy temporarily charmed by your good looks. You're on a mission. He's just charming and good looking, that's all. They both are. You'll get over it. She inwardly brushed away her foolish thoughts and continued speaking.

"Triveila? That is my homeland as well... I don't really miss it though. Too many bad memories... I had a lot of good memories too but I think it will be a while before I am able to travel back there. I don't think I would meet welcoming arms if I did go back anyway." Jude's eyes appeared haunted. His one black iris pulled her in and she was afraid if she looked too long, she might fall into their depths from which she would never return. She focused on his gold eye instead - a mistake. She felt defenseless looking into them, like they could see into every unhealed wound she did not otherwise show on her body. Siren looked away.

She wondered why he wouldn't be welcomed and very nearly asked when she realised. He's a theif, duh.

"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that...and no in fact I've never visited the place," said Keito. She wished he wouldn't be so sympathetic. She tilted her head, sensing the lie about him having never visited Triveila. Why the lie?

They let her stay, though - as expected. Men could be so foolish. To offer their enemies shelter - hah. She took the jerky and bread they offered gratefully.

"You said that you can sing and dance?... Would you by any chance sing for us? I mean I think that is compensation enough for letting you stay with us."

Siren smiled warmly. "Of course."

Standing up, she ran her hands through her dress and her already perfect locks. She felt a tad nervous, somehow. Strange, for she'd performed for men countless of times. You just want to impress these two more than normal. Idiot.

Her voice flowed like a stream without debris, like moonlight and honey. Siren was indeed - a Siren. She sang a simple but haunting lullaby she often whispered quietly to herself when she could not sleep. The lullaby of her childhood when her father kept her locked in a closet and the lullaby she sang as Siren who was not Layla when the memories and loneliness grew to be too much to bear. Her voice was pure, like that of a muse or angel or both. It echoed in the dark forest and it was as if a stream of light spilled from her ruby lips.

Then, she danced.

Her feet glided over the damp ground and she appeared weightless. Her white dress and snowing hair twirled and twirled until she was a dizzying blaze of graceful light. The warm fire reflected off her light hair, eyes and robes, making her gleam with an eerie kaleidoscope glow.

She danced and sang and then she slept - forgetting they were her enemies. She slept peacefully, eyes gently closed and body curled into a ball.

She slept and awakened in the dark. For when neither Jude nor Keito were looking - she put poison on her lips.

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Keito listened to Layla's singing as he sat once again with his back against a tree. It was the most beautiful thing he'd ever heard, reminding him of the way his mother used to sing him to sleep when he was still just a toddler. It was peaceful, but something about the song was sad as well. It wasn't any problem with the lyrics, but the tone of her voice. It was sad in a way, but still beautiful. She danced like a perfect professional, the light of the fire gleaming off her snowy hair and clothes. He was still curious as to why a girl like her was out in the forest alone, but her voice seemed to push those thoughts aside as the sound drifted in. The suspicion of someone following them also seemed to vanish into thin air and it became the least of his worries. Right now, this moment was completely perfect. It wasn't everyday he could so easily forget everything and just let the world take him in.

They're both from Triveila, how ironic. The one place I'm never going back to.

His eyes saddened a little as he stared into the fire and listened to Layla's voice. Her song had been helping, but it didn't take long for his thoughts to come back. So then, Jude said that he wouldn't be welcomed if he went back. It was almost the same as Keito, but Keito wasn't entirely sure whether he would be welcomed or not. He never caused any trouble for the place, never broke any laws and treated everyone with respect. But Elina..he let her father down. He said he'd protect her and he broke his word. How could he ever go back to that place? It would bring back too many hurtful memories. It wasn't really a case of Keito no being welcomed, but more like he felt he had no right to go back.

So now there were two places he didn't belong; his homeland and Triveila. Recalling the bounty his father had place on him, he wondered if anyone would ever waist their time to catch him. For one, most bounty hunters preferred larger prey in which they could kill and bring back. Secondly, anyone who did try to find him would have to do quite a lot of digging. His thirteen-year-old image on the wanted paper didn't have too much of a difference, aside form his hair being a lot shorter. Then there was his birthmark that didn't even show up in the image, but anyone who did some digging or talked to his parents could easily get that information. Still, it had been nearly three years since his father paid to place that bounty, and not once had he run in to any trouble. It would be easy to assume no one ever bothered to pursue him or no one ever took the trouble to actually talk to his parents or consider what he would look like in the future.

He listened until nearly the very end. By then he found himself laying on his side his arm being used as a pillow. The warmth from the fire and Layla's voice was like the perfect lullaby and eventually Keito's eyes closed and he drifted off into sleep, Layla's voice and the quiet crackling of wood blurring into nothingness.

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#, as written by Layla
There is a heaviness, a weight, a mountain, a troll, a nation, a house, an orphanage, a corpse, a rope around my neck – and it bleeds on everything I love. It holds me down, falls on my head and grips its chains around my ankle and anchors me to the ocean – close enough to breathe but not enough to live.

"If you want to go, that's okay," they'd say. Maybe. Hopefully. One day. I wish someone would give me permission to die. Or at least forget me. I have people to live for – but I don't. The happiness doesn't outweigh the misery. It never does. And even if it did, it'd be hard to remember. To be.

We have no scars to show for happiness.


Light teased her eyelids, I don't want to wake up, she stirred. Her arm bumped against another body. Siren sat up quickly, immediately awake. Where am I? She looked around and down at the familiar body next to her - Keito. Right, she was on a hunt. Looking around, she searched for Jude, she didn't see him. A pang of worry and disappointment hit her. Don't be silly, he's your deer.

Then, she found him. His bandage had fallen from his arm and she kept a straight face but inside, she was utterly shaken. Siren was not mistaken - she could only see half of it but she knew with a certainty that it was the head of a wolf. The Wolf Pack. She raked her fingers through her waterfall hair - a nervous gesture she often could not shake despite years of lying. Surely she was overreacting. Tons of people had tattoos of wolves. Especially thieves. She chuckled nervously. How silly of her to think a wolf tattoo certainly meant he was a part of the infamous thieves guild. Then a frightened, excited and disappointed thought hit her.

Omega... Omega. Omega Vanderwolf. Wolf tattoo. Triveila. Orphanage. Omega of the Wolf Pack. Jude Vanderwolf wasn't just Omega, he was the Omega. The Omega with a very, very big bounty on his head.

The poison on her lips tingled. This is your chance, Siren. Seduce them. Kill Jude and take Keito. It's not like you haven't betrayed people before. But she didn't want to. She liked them in a way she didn't quite understand but felt nonetheless. They were not terrible men. Yeah, a killer-thief and a most likely killer. Of course they're not terrible.

Yeah, a bounty huntress who kills others and sells herself for money is soooo much better.


The poison on her lips continued to tingle. Siren clutched her iron fan and its array of needles tightly. She had to do this. It was more than money now - though that was a huge added bonus - she needed to do this because it was the way of things. She would either be the huntress or the hunted. Because who was she kidding? She couldn't hide her identity forever. Honestly, she was surprised they didn't recognise the red marks on her hands and feet. There was only one bounty hunter with those marks of peace, love and trust, of Auxureilla the Goddess of the Sea - ironic. If she let them go, she would become weak. She needed to succeed in these bounties or she would forget who she was. She would not become weak. She'd been defenseless before, naive. Siren would destroy them because she was afraid - of them, of herself.

Kill Omega, kidnap Corny. Kill Omega, kidnap Corny. Kill Omega, kidnap Corny. She repeated this to herself, hoping if she thought of them not as Jude and Keito but as mere targets, she would be able to convince herself that really was all they were. She took a deep breath that felt like her last for after she did this, she would not deserve to live. She was killing her future.

Siren's poisoned lips were soft, beautiful, deadly as she tenderly held Jude's face as if she were his lover. Her silken cascading hair fell around them like a veil. Siren leaned forward - and kissed him.

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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Jude sat above the two in a nearby tree, looking out for them. All imminent danger seemed to slip away as he listened and watched Layla dance, she had the voice of a muse, a siren. Layla was singing an old lullaby native to Triveila, a song Jude remembered all to well from his childhood. Jude was no longer in the dark of the forest of Cre' Est, no he found himself on top of the white sheets of an infirmary. Covered in bandages, his back covered in blood from the punishment he had received from a caregiver within the orphanage. The melody was being hummed by the doctor as he took care of Jude's wounds, the doctor was Dr. Edgar Vanderwolf. Jude had spent much time in that infirmary bed, countless days. Whenever he was there he remembered that song being hummed as he fell asleep and as he woke up. It was a peaceful melody but also a sad one, an incredibly sad song.

The lullaby itself tells of a story of a little girl named Alice, a beautiful girl who lived with her parents in a small cottage. Life was good, or at least content until one day her parents had been killed by a highwayman. Grief stricken and heartbroken the girl named Alice was put into the care of fellow family members. While in their care she was maltreated, and abused. One day she heard one of her family members saying how much of a burden she was to them and how they wished she would have died as well as her good for nothing parents. Lost in grief and anger the girl named Alice picked up a kitchen knife, walked up to all members of her family, killing all of them. Having no reason to live and being overcome with the loss of her parents the girl named Alice ended her life. It was then that she found herself in the afterlife, embraced by her parents. No longer again to be separated.

The story itself is fiction but the song had several meanings and lessons. The song tells that when a person is at their worst they are capable of doing anything, even the innocent Alice. The song heeds a warning that no one even the beautiful Alice shouldn't be trusted because all humans are capable of atrocities, no matter how innocent they are. It also warns people to be kind to those they meet because they never know how the person will retaliate.

Lost in his head Jude didn't notice the others fall asleep beneath him. Looking down he noticed how innocent the two were, the beautiful young woman and the young boy. They looked innocent but so did the girl named Alice, how could he trust them so readily? Jude came to realize that he didn't know them well enough to trust them, nor should he. He would've left the two of them right there but he couldn't, he couldn't leave them. Sighing he leaned back against the tree, looking up at the night sky above his head his mind wandering to thoughts of the past. You are the Omega wolf... You shouldn't be taking care of children... You are not able to take care of them. Run while you still can... leave them for your sake... RUN!

It seemed that Jude had also fallen asleep, dreaming about memories best left forgotten. His eyes becoming heavy he began to drift to sleep again. This however was interrupted by the feel of soft lips and the taste of strawberries, and also something else, something strange. Opening his black and gold eyes he found himself staring into the face of Layla. Pleasantly surprised Jude embraced her in his arms, kissing Layla back in turn. Her skin was soft and felt like silk underneath his hands. Her hair was smooth as well as he passed his right hand through it. Jude had become lost within the embrace, wanting to savor every feeling, ever taste, every sensation. Despite the pleasure he received from this he knew something was wrong, something was off, the taste in his mouth was no longer that of fruit and strawberries, that strange taste instead filled his mouth... Poison.

Breaking the embrace and pushing Layla away from him Jude took out his pistols, aiming them towards Layla. Jude the pleasure seeking thief was no longer there, Omega the Wolf the heartless killer had taken over. Staring straight into her silver eyes Omega cocked his pistols in preparation to shoot. His body began to sweat and he became numb all over.

"What did you do to me Layla?... Who are you?"

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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#, as written by Layla
The kiss was horribly beautiful.

She loved it, love him a little. For a few, wonderful seconds, she forgot who she was, who he was and what she was doing again. She held him, ran her hands down his built chest and slipped them under his shirt. She kissed him and he kissed her back, holding her tighter. Siren's lips fit with his more perfectly than any other kiss she'd ever had. Let me stay.

She hated it.

The poison poured onto his tongue, seeping into his mouth. It would destroy him as it had so many others before. He wouldn't be resistance to this, she was sure. For it wasn't any mere poison used by killers or hunters - it was the poison of Sirens, a special concoction nobody who'd tasted had lived to tell or make. It would kill him.

What have you done?

Then, he shoved her roughly away and she found herself staring up into vacant, hard eyes - black and gold without a trace of mercy. The eyes of Omega. Then, they were no longer eyes but the deadly blackness of pistols. He's going to kill me. Fear screamed for her to run, to feign oblivion.

Then, she laughed. A lilting, slightly crazed laugh, fuelled by adrenaline and hate for herself. You were very willing to kill him just a minute ago.

"What did you do to me Layla?... Who are you?"

Siren grinned and stood, slowly, in one fluid motion, brushing her skirts. She tilted her head to the side and him like prey - a serene and mad gleam in her eyes. "Oh, absolutely nothing, my love. I was curious to see if you liked poison berries and you were oh so lovely in your sleep. I myself love them so I went" she smiled wider, straight white teeth and maroon lips. "-gathering."

"As for the latter question, I am who I've always been - Layla Luciel," her quiet, feminine voice was serious now.

She pulled the whip from her hips, ducked and swung the long whip around his pistols in one elegant motion. Siren ripped the guns from his hands.

"Simple self defence for helpless maidens," she whispered, looking into Jude's eyes. She snatched one of the pistols midair and flung the other backwards in Keito's direction - she didn't know that, of course.

Pointing the gun at Jude, she started trembling ever so slightly - you wouldn't notice it if you didn't have a trained eye. Keeping the gun trained on Jude, she made a decision. Siren reached for the red and silver necklace she wore around her neck and her long sleeves fell to reveal the enchanting, intricate red marks of Cre' Est and the maidens of Auruxeilla that had been made onto her skin. She pricked her finger on a section of the pendant that somehow appeared smooth. She held the maroon liquid to the ruby necklace in the centre of the pendant.

It clicked open.

Her hands shielded the contents within but when she clicked it back shut, she had a infinitely tiny, single red sphere between her fingers. Siren held it out to Jude even though she knew he might slice off her hand or something as or more horrific.

To mend my mistakes.

Silver-grey eyes sad and apologetic - although she knew no amount of apologies could make up for her betrayal - Siren spoke quietly, as if she were trying not to wake Keito. Even her long, long hair was silent in the wind. All of her could be summed in one word - solemn. The red bead stood out against the contrast of her pale skin and delicate hands, they were the hands of the finest of princesses, of dancers - not killers. She sang when she spoke.

"The cure."

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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It was quiet, and peaceful. He was used to sleeping all the time, but somehow this time the sleep was different from any other time. He just felt more relaxed and safer than usual. It had been a while since he'd actually fallen asleep at night before the moon reached the middle of the sky. Usually he would just stay awake until sunrise and then sleep until the late afternoon. Or we would just space out naps every few hours, but that eventually started causing him too much drowsiness and fatigue to care for. Why was this sleep any different from the rest? Perhaps it was because he didn't fall asleep alone somewhere. This time he fell asleep with company, and a warm fire, and a beautiful song sung by a beautiful girl.

'Thud'

Keito's eyes cracked open, his vision blurry at first and his mind hazy as he tried to figure out where he was. The fire was starting to dim and go down, and it seemed well into the night. The sun might even rise in a few hours. His eyes opened a little more as he tried to recall why he'd woken up. There was a noise of some kind that interrupted his sleep. What was it? Maybe that thief just fell asleep and toppled out of the tree...

"The cure."

Layla?

His suddenly found himself awake as he recognized Laya's singing voice and he turned his head to look up where it came from. The sight surprised him more than it should have. She was standing in front of Jude, a gun in one hand and a vial of some kind in the other and a little smile on her lips while Jude sat there looking like he was going to vomit. Keito silently sat up, putting together the reason for this scene in his head. Of course, it made sense now. The feeling he got earlier of someone following them, it wasn't a man at all, it was Layla. But why was she doing this?

He quickly reach up to grab the handle of his sword, but then stopped himself. There was no way he could reach them form here, and he gun would travel a lot faster than his blade. He turned his head form side to side, trying to find something he could throw to distract her. That's when something silver caught his eye sitting in the grass only a foot away from where his head had been resting a minute ago. He would've preferred not to, but right now he didn't have a choice.

He reached for the gun and messed with it for a minute in an attempt to get it to be ready to shoot the bullet, whatever you called that.

Man, I really need to better knowledge myself with these things..

He then pointed it in the direction of Layla, but hesitated a moment. Could he really shoot her? Of course! He had to help Jude, but that look in Layla's eyes...

Just pull it!

Pull it he did. He was a little surprised when the gun briefly yanked itself upwards a couple of inches as it fired, but was able to recover. He picked himself up off the ground and continued pointing the gun. He was pretty sure he missed the first shot, but he was being serious now and if need be, he would kill Layla.

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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It was just as Jude had expected, Layla had poisoned him. She must have laced her lips with the poison, kissing me while I slept to end my life... And I fell right into her trap. Layla Luciel? If there was a hidden meaning behind that name Jude didn't know it. He tried to think of where he would have heard of that name before but because of the poison Jude was unable to keep his thoughts straight. Under a moment of weakness Jude found himself unarmed, without his precious pistols; Fenrir and Warg.

Jude could see Layla was speaking but nothing was registering in his mind, everything seemed to be melting away. Colors merged and sounds distorted, Jude couldn't trust his eyes anymore. Using his willpower and fighting experience alone Jude stood up to face Layla. He could see that Layla was pointing one of his pistols at him, possibly Fenrir but Jude couldn't really tell. She was playing around with something in her hands, a necklace. Layla had something in her hand, a red sphere. Her mouth was moving but Jude couldn't tell if she was saying anything or not. Losing consciousness Jude knew he had to do something fast, whether or not it would speed the effects of the poison no longer mattered. He had to do something.

Using his remaining power Jude threw three strikes, one to knock the pistol out of Layla's hand, one to grab whatever was in her other hand, and the last to throw off Layla's balance on the tree branch. The strikes were fast but because of the poison running through his veins his strength was weakened an incredible amount, he didn't know if any of those attacks had any effect. Following this he had heard gunfire but because of his current condition he was not sure if it was real or not.

Finally consumed by the poison Jude found himself no longer standing on top of the tree, but instead falling. Nothing seemed to resemble anything anymore, all it was was shadows made of colors. The item he had taken from Layla was spherical in shape, but that no longer mattered for Jude could no longer feel it within his hands.

On the verge of death itself, losing consciousness and all of his senses with the last remnants of his strength Jude placed whatever that item was into his mouth, hoping it would do him some good. Nothing mattered anymore, Jude had lost. As his eyes turned towards the back of his head Jude had finally lost consciousness.

An infirmary room inside Jude's subconscious

"Are you okay Jude? Did someone try to hurt you again" It seemed as though Jude was now on top of an infirmary bed, the bed in which he was so familiar with in his childhood. Father was in the room, he was sitting on his desk, messing around with some papers as he usually did.

"You know old man I'm no longer a child... I can take care of myself... I don't need anyone anymore." Sighing Edgar Vanderwolf walked over to Jude, placing his hand on Jude's shoulder.

"Everyone needs someone my boy. You needed me then and you most positively need me now... Despite your own beliefs." Moving away from his father Jude looked at himself in the mirror, not seeing himself as he was as a child but as he was now, scars and all. Confused Jude looked back at Edgar, trying to ask him what he already thought.

"No my son... this is not the afterlife. It is the plane of existence in between... And it is my job as a doctor and as a father to make you all better."

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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#, as written by Layla
It was an ordinary day, with ordinary happenings.

We fell from the sky.

"Jude!" she cried without planning to. Siren reached toward him midair and then she crashed into the ground. A sharp pain spiked through her head. She couldn't breathe, couldn't move and a horrible thought crossed her mind. I'm paralysed.

A shot fired.

Oh god, I shot him.

Siren managed to wiggle her hand, the gun was still clutched in it. She drew a shallow breath, then another and another. She had to check on him. She didn't give him the cure just so he could die. She didn't want him to die. Siren sat up, slowly, her ears rang from the gunshot and her head pounded with the impact of hard rock on skull. Blood trickled from the wound and a drop fell into her left eye, it stung badly.

"Jude...?" she mumbled. You idiot, why the hell would he answer the woman who just tried to kill him?

Siren stumbled over to Jude, the sky spinning in endless circles. She collapsed to her knees next to Jude. She exhaled, relieved to see Jude hadn't been shot. She rested her head gently against his chest. He was breathing, his hard was beating. She looked around and didn't spot any red pills. He must have swallowed it. He's going to be okay.

Running her hands through her hair, she leaned forward to bury her face in Jude's shirt. What the hell am I doing? Lost in her thoughts and dizzy from the fall, Siren didn't notice a gun aimed at her head until that very moment. She turned around to find herself staring into the barrel of a gun and deep, piercing blue eyes.

Keito.

Her heart wrenched itself against her rib cage, beating painfully. I'm going to die. Oh goddess, Auxureilla, I'm going to die. A hundred scenarios bounced against one another in her mind. A dagger to the throat, duck. Use Jude as a shield. Run. Siren looked around. There was nowhere she could go if Keito wanted her dead. Keito wasn't drugged, she wouldn't be able to dodge his bullet. Maybe she could leave it to chance, Keito might be a bad shot. No, she couldn't. She panicked. She'd never been this afraid since she was a defenseless child under the painful strangles of her father.

Then, an eerie calm settled over her. She wouldn't fight. She wouldn't run. She wouldn't do anything except look at Keito with her light silver eyes.

This was it.

Permission to die.

"You killed your mother," a voice growled in her head. A foot smashed into her gut. Layla fell against the corner of a wooden table. "You should never have been born." Hands pulling back hair, a forehead smacking against a wall.

Helpless.

A door slammed shut, bolts attaching. Siren's eyes turned into ice. A blizzard. Vacant. I won't be helpless anymore. She stood, ignoring the blood seeping from the cut on her head. She smiled and winked.

"You're going to shoot a beautiful lady? That's cold."

She ran forward and ripped her whip, wrapping it tightly around Keito's wrist - and pulled. Siren reached up her skirt and pulled a red dagger from her thigh. She became a different person. Her eyes were no longer warm and Layla was no longer there. The seductress with a conscience was gone. Fear became violence.

Siren aimed for Keito's neck - and threw the dagger.

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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"Jude!"

He yelled, watching the man fall from the tree after Keito had failed miserably to hit his target. But then something strange happened; Jude's attacker also fell from the tree, attempting to grab him? But why? That didn't make any sense! Layla looked utterly worried for Jude, as if she completely regretted the action she just took on him. Wasn't she trying to kill him just now? Had Keito made a mistake?

No way!

The signs were too obvious to be excused as a simple mistake of the situation. It was clear what Layla's intentions were. He just didn't understand why. Was there a chance this girl was a bounty hunter after them? It was possible that Jude also had a price on his head, since he was a thief after all. But were the two of them worth going through all this trouble?

Then their eyes met, and Keito felt a chill go up his spine. He clutched the gun tighter as he continued to point, wondering if now would be a good time to drop it and unsheathe the weapon he was more capable of wielding. No, Layla still had the other gun in her hand, and she was probably more experienced with it as well. Even if he drew his sword, she would still have the advantage in this fight. He had to find some way to better distance himself from her. Right now he only stood maybe four feet from where Jude lay, that was too close to be able to dodge if she fired her gun.

Wait a minute, what was that he was seeing in her eyes? Was she suddenly giving up? Why did she look so calm?

Don't..don't do that..I can't shoot if you do that..

He clenched his teeth and swallowed dryly. There was no way he'd be capable of killing someone who looked so ready to die. He shut his eyes for a moment. Perhaps he could do it if he didn't watch.

"You're going to shoot a beautiful lady? That's cold."

His eyes snapped open and he looked a little surprised. She'd stood up blood dripping from her head, and she now looked like a completely different person. No, she hadn't given up. She didn't plan on dieing here. His eyes narrowed as he glared at her, a calmness sweeping over him. It was about time he stopped showing such sympathy and did what he needed to do.

She suddenly charged at him, whip cracking like lightening across a stormy sky. He felt the leather wrap around his left wrist and he was yanked forward. The gun dropped form his hand and he clenched his teeth tighter, refraining himself from letting out any noises to show the pain that his hand and arm were feeling. He quickly leaned back, grabbing onto the whip with his left hand and pulling as hard as he could. His feet slipped forward in the grass a little and he ducked just in time to watch a dagger fly itself over his head, a little too close to his forehead for his own comfort. At that moment he reach up and drew his sword, bringing the black down onto the whip a couple inches from his left hand. The whip snapped and he stumbled backward, avoiding a fall after his back roughly slammed up against a tree behind him, the same tree a dagger was sticking out of a few feet above him.

He kept himself from letting out a gasp or grunt, and took a small step forward, his sword at his side and his other wrist starting to drip blood. He didn't need to speak; his glaring eyes said it all. He wasn't about to let himself get killed either. There was no way he'd been taken down here.

"Who are you?..and what's your reason for doing this?" He asked bluntly, his voice calm and cold; ompletely unnatural for him.

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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#, as written by Layla
"Who are you?..and what's your reason for doing this?"

She shook her broken whip distastefully, the spikes slapped against her leg, drawing blood. "Man, that was my favourite." Siren calmly wrapped the damaged weapon around her hips, ignoring Keito-the-man-who-wanted-to-kill-her. "You're buying me a new one," she said, a playful smile on her red lips, dipping her already deep cupid's bow.

Siren reached behind her back, grasping for her double swords, forgetting she'd left it at Cre' Est. "Aw man. That just isn't fair, Keito." She stepped forward and trailed her fingers softly over his face. She had nothing left to lose. Her hands trailed over his body until she clenched his bloodied wrist. She crushed it and bent it backward at a terrible angle. There was no Layla left to tell her not to.

"Who am I?" she asked, cold eyes looking into Keito's but seeing nothing. "Who am I?" She reached up her long white skirt to take another white dagger from her thigh sheath, almost sensually. The snow-haired beauty pressed the dagger to Keito's throat and in a single word, it was as if the very last of her sanity drained from her. She became a terrible beauty.

"Siren."

Keito was taller than her, bigger. She didn't seem to notice anything at that moment, though. She was lost. Unthinking. Siren pressed the dagger harder against his throat.

"Or maybe not. Maybe I"m a figment of your imagination." She whispered her lips over his birthmark, her hand still painfully grasping his bloodied wrist. It was a horrific mix of love and hate. "My dear Keito,

"I'm everything you want me to be."

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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She was way too close to him. Closer than he'd ever had any other girl before. He wasn't used to this. He wasn't used to this at all. Still, although he was tensed up and completely nervous, he kept his eyes calm and glaring as she moved her fingers over his cheek. He pushed himself up against the tree, growing more nervous as her hand trailed down his chest, until she grabbed his wrist. He winced in pain, clutching his teeth together harder to keep from letting out a yelp. He made an attempt to push her away, but she was just standing too close to him. It was like his body was paralyzed.

Move you idiot..what's wrong with you?

"Who am I?"

The end of a second dagger was pressed to his throat and he swallowed as she repeated his question. Who was this girl, really? He liked her before. He liked having such a friendly, sweet person around. It just brought him peace of mind. But this girl wasn't Layla. This girl was Siren, and he knew that name well. So she was a bounty hunter after all. She did a fine job at playing them, he had to give her that much. His eyes moved onto Jude for a brief moment. Had she actually killed him? He hoped he was alive. If Keito was the one this girl was after, then it would be his fault that Jude got caught up into this mess. He should've never let the guy travel with him. Whenever he made bonds, there was always something there to snap them in half. He should've known that from the start.

"Or maybe not. Maybe I"m a figment of your imagination. My dear Keito."

Another chill made his way up his spine as her lips brushed his neck. She was definitely too close. He didn't know how to react to something like this. She still had a firm grip on his wrist which was surging with pain, but he was more focused on how close she was. He was stuck between the tree and her, and there was no way to slide out.

"I'm everything you want me to be."

"So then, you really don't have any idea who you really are then..that's a little sad in a way. Don't you think?", he managed to say, his right hand clutching the handle of his sword, but he made no attempt to move it. "I don't think you said that right, Layla. I don't really want you to be anything. There is nothing that I want you to be."

He paused a moment, glancing at Jude once again, then looking down into Layla's eyes with complete calmness.

"If you're just after me, I'd like you to cure whatever you did to Jude. In return I'll go with you without any resistance", he paused for a moment, his eyes narrowing, "But if you plan on taking Jude as well, I don't think I'll be able to let you live for much longer."

All he needed was a single answer. For now he needed to push his nervousness aside and focus on what action he should take next.

Please...please don't make me kill you..

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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#, as written by Layla
"So then, you really don't have any idea who you really are then..that's a little sad in a way. Don't you think?"

She paused. Siren lifted her head from Keito's neck and looked into his eyes of deep ocean. A mistake. Her vacant silver eyes clouded over and turned greyer. She quickly looked back down, burying her smooth face in his neck and nibbling gently. "Of course I know who I am. I'm just adaptable," she mumbled. Siren wrapped her arms behind his neck, grinning.

"I don't think you said that right, Layla. I don't really want you to be anything. There is nothing that I want you to be."

She ran a nervous hand through her silky pale blonde hair. Everyone expected something. They had to. She wouldn't know what to be if there was nothing anyone wanted her to be. Keito's eyes were cold, as if a wall of ice had slammed down behind them. It hurt a little and strangely enough, it melted her own ice and resolve - a little. Layla peeped through.

"If you're just after me, I'd like you to cure whatever you did to Jude. In return I'll go with you without any resistance." Come back, Siren. She glanced at Jude, briefly, her hair swayed with her slight movement. Siren hooked her finger under Keito's collar, smirked, and pulled him in, walking backwards. Jude had already been cured but Keito didn't need to know that.

"But if you plan on taking Jude as well, I don't think I'll be able to let you live for much longer." Siren laughed her melodic chuckle.

"I don't think I'll let you kill me that easily, Keito." Siren twirled a strand of his dark hair and looked as if she were contemplating his deal. "Sure. If I let him live, you'll come with me, yes?" She waited for the nod. "You'll have to be drugged, though. I don't trust you. Don't worry, you won't be knocked out. Just... Not there."

Siren waited for Keito to promise her and slipped a needle in his skin. The drug would allow him to walk - like hell am I lugging him through the forest - but he wouldn't know friend from foe. In fact, Siren doubted he'd know who he himself was for some time. Before the drug kicked in, Siren made a show of gracefully strolling over to Jude and sticking a plain needle into his arm. He'd wake up soon when the antidote finished its work. She'd have to move quickly. Siren began contemplating killing him but she didn't have time to finish the thought before a loud voice in her head screamed No.

Slipping the spikes of her torn whip back in, Siren tied Keito's hands together and held the handle. His eyes were already becoming vacant. She tugged - and then she ran, Keito in tow.

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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It was dark, blurry, muffled. What was happening? Where was his sword? Why was it so cold?..or was it hot? Was it really that dark, or was it possibly just too light for him to see anything? It was almost like he was standing in a vast ocean of nothingness. He could feel a little something, vibrations coming from below him. Was he running from something? Why was he running, what reason did he have to be in such a hurry? There was another presence though. Someone was running in front of him, but why were they running? He could see something amongst the darkness. Snow? No, hair. Snowy white hair. There was a pressure as well, something tied around his wrists. Why couldn't he move his hands?

Keito's eyes were empty and dim, his eyelids softly narrowed and he was staring off into nothing. At first, he'd slightly winced when the needle pricked his skin, but then everything just started to become blurry. Everything just went silent, or it was all just too confusing for him to understand. He knew at that moment that she'd given him quite the strong drug, and there would be no chance of defying her now. At least he was able to see her 'give the antidote' to Jude before his consciousness faded away into a dark wonderland, dropping his sword onto the grass beside him before she bound his wrists.

What am I running from? What am I running to? Am I alone?...it's so crowded. What are all these voices? Why is it so quiet?

The dark blurriness faded into white and he found himself standing in a vast waist land of freshly fallen snow. The snow continued to fall slowly, unchanging as they rested themselves on Keito hair, the white specks sticking out like bright stars in the night. The sky was white, and the distance dissolved into nothing but complete white. Even so, he didn't feel cold at all. In fact, he couldn't really feel anything, as if he wasn't even standing there. Was he really standing there? Did he even exist anymore?

"Jun, you need to finish up everything on your plate, or you'll be small like that forever."

What was that voice? It was so familiar, and comforting.

"I'm not small! If I eat all this I'll get fat like grandma!"

The voice of a little boy. The voices vanished as quickly as they came. He raised one of his hands, a few snow flakes falling onto his palm and melting. It didn't feel wet at all, or cold, as if he wasn't even touching them.

"Ryuu, if you keep eating so much fish you're going to get fat."

Which voice was it this time? Why did it make him feel sad?

"Hey, I'd never let myself end up looking like your old man. I'm a growing man I gotta eat!"

"Maybe you could use a few inches, but eating so much is just going to make you fat and you'll have to roll around everywhere."

"Wait could that really happen!? No way!!"

The distant laughter of a young girl echoed around him. Go away...don't..leave me here..stop..., he wasn't sure what he wanted, and despite him opening his mouth to speak, no sound came out.

On the outside, Keito continued running behind Layla, a blank expression on his face. Instead he'd ended up speaking those words out loud, but only in a small whisper. His eyes were empty, staring at nothing. His lips stayed slightly parted after his whisper, but for now he couldn't figure out what was going on away from that snowy place. It was as if he'd been split in half, one side left to keep his body moving and reacting, and the other being thrown into a white abyss.

"El..." He whispered again unconsciously, the image of Layla in front of him blurring and weaving unnaturally.

"Eli.."

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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#, as written by Layla
'Go away...don't..leave me here..stop..." Siren looked back, Keito's dark blue eyes were distant and unseeing. She wasn't surprised that he'd spoken, that's what the drug normally did to you. But she was curious, What's he going on about? A soft pang tapped against her chest at his words. Gosh, he was adorable.

"I'm not leaving you, Keito. I didn't go all the way out here to let you go," she breathed, her feet falling and picking lightly on the surface as she ran. Siren turned back ahead, her long white-blonde hair and white dress a flurry behind her.

"El..." Siren slowed down a little. El?

"Eli.." She stopped abruptly, her skirts swooshing against her legs. Eli?

Elina.

No, that was too ridiculous of a coincidence. There're lots of Eli's in this world. Siren continued walking. She didn't run this time, couldn't. Her legs felt like they were going to collapse beneath her any minute now. Besides, we've been running for hours. Jude's probably really far behind. The forest was an endless sea of green with the occasional blur of wildlife. Speaking of wildlife, she was hungry and thirsty. Siren needed Keito alive - not starved and exhausted to death. Stopping, she tilted her head to search for running water. There's a stream nearby to your right. Siren went right and the sound of running water grew louder and louder until it filled her.

Siren untied Keito's wrists. Thoughts of Elina and affection for Keito and Jude made her more reckless than she'd ever been. Perhaps, Siren wanted the two to escape. It would be easier telling herself she'd been outnumbered or defeated by a skilled swordsman than "Oh yeah, I kinda liked them so I let them go." No, she wouldn't let Keito go. It would tarnish her perfect record. Everyone knew about her hunt for Jun Corn-what's-his-name but no one had to know she'd encountered Omega of the Wolf Pack.

Siren went hunting.

She skewered two rabbits with a dagger on her thigh - it required incredible skill to hide these many weapons under your skirt, she smiled to herself at the thought. God, I'm hilarious, she thought drily. Siren glanced briefly at Keito before running off to gather some firewood to roast the rabbits. When she returned, Keito was still there. Good. As the meat cooked, Siren found a large cupped leaf and dipped it into the stream. She poured it gently down Keito's throat, cooing softly. I'm acting like his mother. She shredded the meat into small pieces and tried to make Keito chew and swallow. He did - surprisingly.

Now that that was done, Siren ate and then drank from the stream. "I love water!" she cried. Her clothes came off immediately, falling pass her shoulders and down the length of her small frame to bundle at her ankles. She dipped a toe and then a foot into the freezing clear waters.

"Never test the depth of water with both feet," she mumbled to herself. Slowly, gingerly, she sunk her whole body in. Her long winter-blonde hair swirled around her like a ripple of snow. She stayed underwater for some time, her eyes shut. Triveila, she thought wistfully. Siren loved being underwater - it gave her a peace she did not find anywhere else. It was her sanctuary. When she was a little girl, she used to pretend she was a mermaid.

Minutes later, she popped up from the water with a gasp. She glanced at a nearby tree where she'd wrapped her whip on the branch to make sure she hadn't drifted downstream. Then, she floated. Most of her pale skin was emerged in water, her hair floating like a halo around her head, as she stared into the bright sky of noon. The sunlight glinted off her pale grey eyes, making them even more silver than they already were.

"Hey, Keito," she whispered - she didn't expect him to hear her, anyway. "Do you know Elina?" She paused. "Oh, right. You've never been to Triveila - or so you say - so I guess not. You should've. She was a nice girl. I lived near her when I was with my father and we used to play together. She was kind. After I left my... The house I lived in. She sneaked around her father, taking food from his restaurant to give to me. Actually, she always did that. My father wasn't very fond of feeding me, you see. In fact, he wasn't fond of me at all."

Her delicate feet bobbed in the water. Siren closed her eyes. I could sleep here and never wake up. Float and float until someone finds me or until I reach the end of the world. She felt like sobbing but Siren didn't cry. Couldn't. She stopped crying when she realised it wouldn't do her any good, she'd just get a harder beating.

"Do you know what happened to her, Keito?" she choked on tears that were not there. "I miss her."

Siren opened her eyes.

It was snowing.

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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""Hey, Keito,"

Keito...why did that name sound so familiar? Who was that supposed to be again? Wait, that was supposed to be his name. Or was it some other person's name?

"Do you know Elina?"

Was that supposed to be his name? Keito stepped forward in the snowy waist land, but his foot stepped down with no feeling. There was no weight or sound. Was he even there? The snow in the waist land continued to fall softly, the flecks starting to roll off his head as the whiteness continued to rest itself on his hair and shoulders.

"We used to play together. She was kind, taking food from his restaurant to give to me."

Whose voice was that that continued to echo around him? Why did it sound so familiar? Was it familiar or was it the first time ever hearing tat voice?

"In fact, he wasn't fond of me at all."

"Do you know what happened to her, Keito? I miss her."

Keito....why are you so sad?

__________________________________________

Keito rose from where he was sitting on the grass and walked over to stand on the river bank. He knelt down onto the river bank on his hands and knees and reached into the water, taking Layla's hand. His eyes were still empty, but there was a small, but sad little smile on his lips.

"Don't cry." He whispered, his voice cracking a little at the attempt. He was completely oblivious as to what he was doing, but something about Layla speaking about his past made a little spark of his conscious return, ready to fade as quickly as it came though.

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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#, as written by Layla
A gentle hand held Siren's. She froze. Did Keito wake up? Impossible, that was a really heavy dose. Was it Jude? No, she'd be dead or dying by now if it was him. Siren didn't dare turn to look. It must've been Keito, anyway. It felt like him. A naked lady and a drugged boy. Hah. Now we just need a pissed off thief. Why was he holding her hand, though? He must think I'm someone else.

"Don't cry."

And she wanted to even more than she did before. Siren knew it was because of the drug she'd poured into his veins that made him treat her with such kindness and that made it so much worse. She wanted it to be real.

"Don't cry, Layla," said a soft spoken voice. Elina's. "It wasn't your fault your mama passed away. She wouldn't want you to feel so bad - she would've wanted you to live. You deserve to be happy and you're going to do great things one day. You'll make your mama proud."

I'm a bounty huntress without a conscience. Are you proud, mom?

Keito's hand held her still, stopped her from floating far, far away. Made her stay when she wanted to leave. She stood, slowly, her long wet hair pulling itself out of the water, droplets dripping down her body. Siren looked at Keito. He had a sad smile on his face and it made the world feel like it was shattering.

"Where's Elina?" she asked, her eyes desperate, searching. As if Keito's blue eyes were a magical map that could point her to Elina and tell her what to do. She held Keito's hand tighter and repeated, more desperately, "Where's Elina?" Siren knew she was being unreasonable, for who was she to think Keito even knew an Elina? Eli could be Elizabeth or Eliza or Elisa or Elida or just Eli. She didn't know if he knew but he was the only one there.

"I need to find her. She'll know what to do, Keito. She'll know how to fix us." Her voice wavered but still she did not cry. Siren wanted to destroy something. Her pain and anger - for what, she did not know - was overwhelming and she needed to destroy. A familiar gaze in Keito's eyes made her think of Elina, even though Elina's eyes were never drugged and vacant but were instead compassionate and emotional. Siren couldn't hurt him.

She snatched her hand away from Keito's and dropped herself into the bottom of the stream, hooking her feet between the smoothed rocks so she wouldn't float away. Fingernails in her skin, Siren hugged herself. Submerged in water, she wept - or maybe she didn't, it was hard to tell. She choked on the water and she stayed a little longer. She'd stay there until Elina or her mother came, as she often did when Elina couldn't escape from her duties to be with her sister Layla.

Siren would hold still - and wait for tomorrow to be kinder.

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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"Where's Elina?"

Elina?

"Where's Elina?"

Why do you sound so scared?

Elina, that name sounded so familiar, but Keito just couldn't process it. He took another step forward, the snowy waist land disappearing and he was suddenly standing in the middle of an everlasting meadow with the sky painted with a flurry of pinks, oranges, and reds. In the distance two, glowing white moons floated above the horizon and a breeze ruffled the golden strands of grass, causing flecks of white to spread across the land from the dew reflecting the moons rays. Where was he now? He felt heavier this time, not as light and invisible as he did in the snowy waist land. Wait a minute, it was warm too.

He lifted his arm and stared at his palm for a moment. Was he alive this time? Is he started to exist? What was this pressure on his fingers?

"I need to find her. She'll know what to do, Keito. She'll know how to fix us."

The voice was louder this time, and he swore he'd heard it before. The pressure on his fingers slipped away and he took a step forward through the golden grass.

Eli...no..Layla.
___________________________________

The name suddenly clicked into his head and a heavy realization hit him. As if he'd woken up from a deep sleep, his eyes snapped open and he found himself sitting beside a snowy river bank, the white frost starting to rest on his head and shoulders. When had it started snowing? For a moment he thought maybe he was back in that waist land, but that image quickly started to fade to the back of his mind as if it had never existed.

Where is she..she drugged me..

Could he possibly be in Veilbrand? No, it was supposed to be the hot season there right now, so it definitely wasn't Veilbrand.

He turned his head from side to side, his vision blurring every now and then. The effect of whatever she drugged him with still hadn't warn off completely. He felt light-headed and dizzy and his legs were sore as well. Had they ran all the way to the mountains or something? He picked himself up off the ground, leaning a little but he made sure not to fall over as he rested his hand on the side of a frost-covered tree. His finger tips has started to turn a bright red color, and he was slowly starting to shiver a little. This was his most least favorite kind of whether and the worst kind to take a nap in.

Then something hanging in the tree caught his eyes. It was Layla's whip, the one he had broken with his sword. Right, his weapon was missing too, most likely dropped back where Jude was. He hoped the guy wasn't still laying on the ground, since he'd be covered in snow by now. Still, right now he wasn't concerned about that. Where was Layla?

She couldn't have..

He leaned forward a little, peering down into the waters of the river. His eyes widened for a second when he saw her, white hair, fair skin, and sitting at the bottom of the water with her eyes closed and curled in a ball. As if his body moved on his own, he jumped into the water and held his breath as he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her out of the river. He set her down on the river bank, relieved to see she wasn't unconscious. Removing his long coat and relieving his long-sleeved black shirt, he threw it over her and wrapped his arms around himself.

"Do you want to die of hypothermia! What made you think it was a good idea to jump in a river while it's sno--"

His words cut off and he stumbled backward a little, dropping down into the snow and placing his hand on the side of his head as it throbbed a couple of times. He took a couple of deep breaths, then turned around and sat on the snow with his back facing Layla.

"Could you please put your clothes on at least.." He said, his tone showing a little irritation, but it wasn't too hard to tell he was just nervous and a little concerned for her.

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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#, as written by Layla
Siren was pulled from the water. It was a shock. These past two days were a shock but this really stunned her. Siren prepared to throw the person who held her over her head until she noticed who it was.

Keito?

The young man wrapped her in his long coat and black shirt even though it was obvious that it was freezing. That stunned her even more. I just tried to kidnap you. Why are you being so nice? she wanted to ask. She sat there on the snowy banks, gawking at Keito for a little longer until he spoke.

"Do you want to die of hypothermia! What made you think it was a good idea to jump in a river while it's sno--"

Siren wanted to tell him living in Triveila made her somewhat immune to the cold. You could have 4 seasons in a day there with its fluctuating weather patterns. She didn't, because she kind of wanted to coo at what a sweet guy Keito was. She doubted Keito would appreciate being cooed at, though.

Keito pressed his hand on the side of his head and breathed slowly, turning away from her. She felt instantly bad. Poor thing. The drug's giving him a headache and it's freezing. "Triveila!" she gave a little cry of pride. Then she hastily took his clothes off her to return to him. He'd freeze long before she did.

"Could you please put your clothes on at least.." Siren laughed.

"You're the sweetest thing," she smiled, placing his long sleeved shirt on his lap. Siren made sure she brushed up against his exposed back, smirking. He's so much fun. "Saving the damsel in distress. How kind of you," she teased, though her tone was honest.

Siren took her own sweet time slipping his coat over his shoulders. "I'm sure I don't have anything you've never seen before," she whispered, very close to him. Siren paused and stood. "Actually, I probably do." She chuckled lightly.

"There's a first time for everything."

Siren twisted her endless snowy blonde hair. This snow is really good camouflage. Siren squeezed her hair so it wasn't so wet, it took quite some time because of the length of it. She threw the dress over her body, straightening it and pulling on her hair so it rested over the classily provocative clothes. Pulling up her skirts, Siren sat at the edge of the river bank. She watched her smooth legs as she kicked them in the water.

"You can go."

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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"You're the sweetest thing, saving the damsel in distress. How kind of you."

He kept his eyes locked on the snow in front of him as she leaned in and placed his shirt on his lap, tensing up quite a bit when he felt her skin on his back. If his cheeks weren't already red from the cold, it would've been quite obvious that he was blushing nervously. He slipped on his wet shirt as quickly as he could, then stuck his arms through the damp sleeves of his coat and hugged himself.

"I'm sure I don't have anything you've never seen before,"

Okay, now you could probably tell he was blushing. Good thing he was facing the opposite direction.

"Actually, I probably do. There's a first time for everything."

You're not funny and I'm not interested.

That's what he wanted to say, but for now he was too focused on forcing his eyes to stay locked on the snowy ground in front of him. How cruel, trying to disturb his pure-hearted intentions. He let her get dressed as he tried to recall how exactly he'd reached his destination. Everything was such a blur, and so faded, like the way the moon looked on the surface of a puddle after someone tossed in a rock in. Where had his mind gone after she had drugged him? It frustrated him that he couldn't remember. Though, he could recall one thing. He remembered hearing a woman's voice, Elina's voice. They were just echoes of the past though, and it just caused him to feel worse. He'd done well so far to keep those thoughts in the farthest reach of his mind, but thanks to Layla's drug, they managed to push themselves forward.

There was something else to, he could've sworn he'd heard Layla say something. It was something that sparked his up most attention, but he just couldn't remember. Even so, it felt so important, like he had to remember, no matter what.

"Lay--"

"You can go."

He looked up from the snow and over to where she sat on the river back, her legs softly kicking the water. He was quite surprised, didn't she just kidnap him?

"You mean, you're not taking me in?"

He felt suspicious, and confused as well. She'd nearly killed him earlier, and there was dreid blood crusted around his wrist from the whip earlier and it looked to be a little bruised too. It didn't look like his quick dive into the river washed it off properly. He scooted over to the edge of the back, dipping his wrist into the water and letting the blood wash off. The wound didn't look to be that bad, it was just because she'd bent it back in an unnatural angle that it was hurting the way it was.

He glanced over to her as he let the cold water numb the pain.

"Did..something happen while I was drugged..you don't exactly seem like the type of bounty hunter to just let her bag of money walk off. And if you really are the well-known Siren, then that's going to have quite the effect on your perfect record, don't you think?"

His voice shook slightly as he shivered, his breathing forming little puffs of white that vanished soon after forming, only to be followed by another one.

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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#, as written by Layla
"You mean, you're not taking me in?"

Siren didn't look at him. Didn't even answer. She just kept staring at her feet kicking in the water, splashing freezing cold droplets on her now semi-wet dress.

"Did..something happen while I was drugged..you don't exactly seem like the type of bounty hunter to just let her bag of money walk off. And if you really are the well-known Siren, then that's going to have quite the effect on your perfect record, don't you think?"

"When something good happens to you, do you always question it?" she sighed. "It doesn't matter why I did it but let's just say I owe someone something and this is my way of paying it back. Besides, the bounty on your head isn't worth it. You're just somewhat of a legend amongst us bounty hunters - the boy who was never found. As for my perfect record..." she trailed off and smiled.

"If you won't say anything, I won't, either. Your real name's Jun Cornelius, isn't it?" she surprised herself by saying. Siren didn't remember his last name until now. "No one recognises you. As far as I'm concerned, Jun Corny- Cornelius is dead.

"You're Keito"

Siren swung her legs from the water and stood. She traveled light, everything she owned was on her and not in a bag. She took a small vial from the sheath she wore around her thigh that now rested limp over the branch where her whip was and sat in front of Keito. She motioned for his hand, put a drop of the ointment on his wrist and gently rubbed it in circles. "It'll help it heal," she explained. "Sorry."

Concentrating on his wrist, Siren spoke. "So what's the bounty for, anyway? The person who placed it just said they wanted you alive." Siren heard the reply and then she decided screw it, I'll ask.

"So who's this Eli you were mumbling about?"

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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"When something good happens to you, do you always question it?"

He smiled a little at that and looked down at the water from where he was kneeling in the snow. It was kind of just a natural reaction for him really. He couldn't remember the last thing something good actually happened to him, aside from taking naps whenever he wanted or saving enough to eat a good meal or buy something sweet. He decided not to answer that and let her continue on.

Besides, the bounty on your head isn't worth it. You're just somewhat of a legend amongst us bounty hunters - the boy who was never found."

Another little smile crossed his lips and he stood up. It was true, his bounty wasn't all that high at all, maybe enough to buy yourself a pretty gold necklace or something like that. He wasn't really sure how much something like that would cost, though. It had just never been in his price range, but wasn't something that was too hard for nobles to buy.

The legend part was a little amusing. He figured the only reason no one had ever come looking for him was either because they weren't interested in his bounty price, or it was simply that his photo was too old to totally pick him from a crowd, and that he'd changed his name a couple of times of course.

Basically, she was after him because his name would look good on her record.

"If you won't say anything, I won't, either. Your real name's Jun Cornelius, isn't it?"

He looked over at her at the mention of his real name.

"No one recognises you. As far as I'm aware, you're dead. You're Keito"

Right, that was his name, not Jun. It was Keito, and he hoped he wouldn't have to change it again.

She got up from where she was on the bank as she finished her sentence and made her way over to him. He was a little cautious, but she seemed completely serious about letting him go, so he was able to relax a little bit. And after seeing her pull out a vial of some kind and gently hold up his wrist, he decided to let his guard down for the most part. The medicine that she rubbed onto the wrist already started to relieve the pain, and he was pretty grateful for it. Last time he checked he'd left his bag back in the little clearing along with his sword, so he didn't have any kind of medicine with him.

"So what's the bounty for, anyway? The person who placed it just said they wanted you alive."

He hesitated a moment, but decided that he at least owed her an answer. She was letting him go after all, and treating the wound she'd caused.

"Just a father looking for someone to keep his last name going, that's all."

He said bluntly, keeping up his little smile, though his voice grew slightly dim as he spoke. It wasn't the clearest answer he was capable of giving, but he didn't really like talking about his past.

"So who was this Eli you were mumbling about?"

His eyes widened for a second, the shock barely noticeable as he quickly shoved it away. Of course she would be the only think he'd think about when blacking out. He wouldn't have control over his memories if he wasn't able to control his actions while under the drug Layla had given him. His smile vanished and his eyes moved down to his wrist, though they seemed to loose their light for a moment.

"Elina...just someone I knew a long time ago. No one all that special.."

Just speaking her name made him want to dive into a black ocean and hide there forever. And saying out loud that she wasn't anyone special hurt even more. He softly clenched his teeth together and looked down a little more, trying to keep the unwanted emotions from bubbling up to the surface.

"Thank you for the medicine." He said, quickly wanting to change the subject. "I'll be on my way now. I left my sword back at the campsite, and should really be getting it back."

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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#, as written by Layla
"Elina...just someone I knew a long time ago. No one all that special.."

Oh. Siren was disappointed. Elina was special. What? You thought the Elina you knew was the centre of everyone's universe? She looked at Keito closer, though, and realised he didn't seem to be telling the complete truth. In fact, he looked pained and restrained.

"Thank you for the medicine. I'll be on my way now. I left my sword back at the campsite, and should really be getting it back."

"Of course," Siren said, gathering her belongings. She walked towards Keito and squeezed him in a tight hug. It'd be another eternity before she got to simply hug someone.

"Good luck on your journey, I hope you'll arrive safely in Gweynura. And if you ever happen to pass by the House of Sirens," she gave Keito a winning smile. "Make sure you say hi to them for me. From Layla and-" she paused, thinking. "Tell them I'm sorry."

Siren regretted leaving at times. She could've made a life for herself there, if she'd stayed. She didn't because she couldn't. Couldn't bring herself to grow so attached to any one place, with any one person. Besides, they were cruel women sometimes. Still, instead of hunting, she could've become an "entertainer." It was what she did, anyway. She entertained, charmed, bought love with giggles and skin and beauty - she just killed and kidnapped, too, that's all. She wondered if that was to be her whole life, then. Siren never thought about the future, in fact, she rarely though about anything at all. Occasionally she'd find herself dwelling on the past but never the future.

It's yesterday and there is no today, no tomorrow. Yesterday and yesterday is all I've ever known. Yesterday, because I can't move on when I can't hold still.

"You still owe me a new whip. I really liked that one," she sighed, exaggerating her sadness over the broken weapon. "Until next time, then. Goodbye Keito who is not Jun. Say bye to Jude for me, will you? He'll be quite peeved - but there's no harm done."

Honestly, Siren would miss Jude quite a bit. A slither of regret and sadness wiggled through her. Ah, well. Suck it up and get over it. She wanted to race back where they came and apologise to the handsome man. Beg for forgiveness and kidnap him. Keep him in her dungeon for all of eternity and for a moment, she actually considered doing it. She took the high road and decided she'd had enough adventures for now. He'd attempt to kill her, anyway. Not that he'd succeed, Siren thought triumphantly. You have cunning and speed. The first isn't going to work anymore and he has a gun. Jude has a pretty good chance. Watch your back. Siren wistfully imagined hundreds of might-have-been scenarios. If only she really were a damsel in distress with no combat skills. For now she'd have to give kidnap a break. Siren would find him again.

Curtsying with gentle fingers pinching up the sides of her skirt, Siren bowed her head, making her pale hair swing forward. Siren looked up, gave Keito one last wink - and left.

Later that night

Siren was surprisingly cold. The fire crackled - it reminded her of the night she'd found Jude sitting from the branch opposite her. The air was frozen and she'd chosen the absolute worst thing to wear. The dress provided her with no warmth whatsoever, she'd probably have been better off naked, buried in the snow. She sat as close to the fire as she could without setting her long and flammable hair on fire.

She didn't stand out in the snow. At least this was better camouflage than green trees. Siren wasn't any shade of green. The fire will give you away, she thought. You should put it out. Her lips weren't lips of blood as they normally were, in fact, they were looking quite blue. Hell no. I'd rather die from a bullet to the head than hypothermia. Damn I should've kept that gun. Siren's teeth chattered. This was the dumbest, most impulsive thing she'd ever done in her life. If you love me, Auxureilla - you'll make it Summer. Please? Pretty please? I promise not to swear for an hour. It was a stupid promise and an easy one to keep. Siren never swore. Never.

Ah, fuck.

A white drop of softness fell on the tip of Siren's nose.

It was snowing.

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf
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It had been two days since Jude had begun his search, tracking down Layla and Keito proved to be some task. It was only a few hours ago that Jude had finally caught up with them, only to have found Layla by herself. He didn't know what had happened to Keito, varying thoughts seemed to scramble his mind but one thing was for certain, whatever she did to him wasn't good. Layla, this woman had kidnapped Keito, for whatever reasons. She had left me for dead, lying on the ground... I have no sympathy for what I am about to do to her. Taking his pistols out of his holsters Jude sneaks up to Layla, blending with the shadows.

Despite Jude's unwillingness to engage in fights he wouldn't let anyone get away with such an injustice. Freedom was an ideal that Jude held close to his heart, anything that he witnesses which would impede on his or anyone's freedom enrages him to his bones. And what Layla had done to Keito, kidnapping him had lit a fire inside Jude that he hadn't felt for years. He was going to punish her for what she did, he will destroy her.

The snow was falling all around him as he approached her. The fire burning in front of her provided light but from where Jude was she wouldn't be able to see him coming. She was incredibly close to the flames, most likely because of how cold it was. The fire would prove useful to him. Sneaking as quietly as he could Jude was a few meters behind her, he then placed a black bandana across his face. Better I seem as a monster than to appear as the man she poisoned... Pulling his red hood over his head Jude prepared himself for the conflict.

Jude than lunged towards Layla, tackling her and trying to pin her to the ground. She struggled but with her size against his Jude forced her down, striking the left side of her head with the handle end of one of his pistols. He then placed the barrel end of the other pistol close to the fire, heating the silver barrel. Cocking the pistol he struck Layla with against her left ear he then placed the heated pistol above her face, with the silver barrel red from heat.

"You're going to answer a few questions for me Layla or your pretty little little face will get a little burnt..." He then signified this by motioning the heated pistol barrel closer to her face.

"Who are you really Layla and what did you do to Keito?"

Layla felt cold against Jude, her skin colder than the snow falling all around them. He would've done something about this if he wasn't so enraged with her. How could someone this delicate and beautiful be such a bad person? Jude than thought about himself, how much of a hypocrite he was for exacting his own sense of justice against someone who had done little worst than what he had done himself. If it was anyone else Jude wouldn't have cared, if she had kidnapped anyone else Jude wouldn't have had acted this way. If she had only done it to someone he didn't know he wouldn't have to do this to her.

Suddenly Edgar Vanderwolf appeared in front of Jude and Layla, looking down at them. "Son... don't be too hasty to exact judgement against this girl... She isn't what she seems to be." Jude ignored his father, it was nothing more than his imagination running wild again, trying to keep him from doing what he had to do. I will not be weak again... I will never be the runt again. He then forced the pistol against her ear harder against her, staring down at her with his black and golden eyes.

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#, as written by Layla
Siren was pressed to the ground, a large body pinning her down. She pulled at her arms, wriggling underneath the weight. She started panicking, she hated feeling small and helpless. A ringing pain smashed against the side of her head. A gun. Siren stared into fierce black and gold eyes.

They're pretty.

"You're going to answer a few questions for me Layla or your pretty little little face will get a little burnt..."

Her scared eyes betrayed her bright smile. "You wouldn't want to ruin my pretty little face, would you?" Her skull ached all over, first from falling from the tree, then from cracking it on a sharp rock, then from being tackled and finally from being hit with the gun. She probably had a concussion. Siren was scared. She didn't mind getting thrown around, having her face permanently scarred would destroy her career. Her life.

"Who are you really Layla and what did you do to Keito?"

The snow fell softly around them - caring for nothing. It fell and Siren felt like a snowflake. She'd touch the ground and melt into nothingness. She wiggled her wrists that were trapped Jude's arm. She tried to get her leg up and over Jude to swing him underneath her. Too bad she couldn't budge her legs either. Well, damn. You're a real skilled fighter, aren't you, Siren? Her light hair and skin blended with the snow and she thought if only she could melt into it. Turn into snow and flutter around forever. She'd forgotten about Jude's question until then.

"I let him go."

Siren struggled a little more. "You know, Jude. This is really uncomfortable." She felt like the small child trapped under her father. "You're not dead. He's not dead. There's no harm done and I'd very much appreciate it if I remained not dead, too. Besides, do you think you just lived when- Never mind. Now get off and be a gentleman. You're hurting me."

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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The snow continued to fall, blanketing itself over the forest. Night had come again, and Keito had had no luck finding his way back to the campsite he'd been kidnapped from. This wasn't the first time he'd come through this forest, but he'd never gone so of course before. It was not like he could trace his way back, the drug had completely blacked him out from any physical feelings or thoughts. There was no way to feel the landscape to figure out if he'd walked through and area before. The snow wasn't doing him any justice either and he'd barely gotten any sleep the past two days. He couldn't even take a simple nap because he'd stay up shivering.

Damn whether confused forest! Turn spring already!

He let out a loud sigh, plopping down and leaning his back against a tree, the snow crunching beneath him. He slightly bent his knees and rested his arms on them, staring down at the snow in front of him. He hoped Layla had better long than he did finding her way. She wasn't wearing anything heavy, and the snow had been falling for two days now. What if she'd frozen to death? He let her walk off, figuring that she'd know how to take care of herself. She probably did, but that didn't make Keito feel any better. He was worried about her, and about Jude too. He hoped the guy had woken up and continued on before the snow started falling.

Had he?

Yes, it would be best if they didn't continue traveling together anyway. Keito could keep going on his own, like he's always done. If that was the case though, why couldn't he stop worrying about them? He was a little less concerned for Jude, since he couldn't even begin to start thinking of him as some delicate, small girl shivering in the forest. Wouldn't that be an amusing sight to see, though.

Wait a minute...my sword and bag..

"Great.."

Jude had probably taken them. The man had mentioned that his sword would probably fetch a good price. That was a sharp guess too. Kuroi, which he used more often than the swords full given name, had been specially created by his eighth great grandfather on his fathers side. It been used by his seventh great grandfather for quite some time, but then become more of a family heirloom rather than a used weapon. Keito had never seen his father use it, in fact, despite how it hung up on the wall and was polished and checked every day, his father barely acknowledged the swords presence. For some reason though, Keito just felt compelled to use it, as if it was pulling him in.

Like that childish impulse matters now..

He let out another sign, pulling his legs a little closer in, though it didn't really do much for his shivering.

That thief probably ran off with it and found someone to buy it today.

The thought made him angry and frustrated. He forced himself up off the snowy ground and continued walking, not exactly positive where he was going. He was most definitely lost, but he was set on getting his sword back. No amount of snow was going to stop him.

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf
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With the snow falling all around them, Jude leaning over Layla with both his pistols drawn ready to deliver the final blow. But her answer shocked him, he couldn't believe what he was hearing. She had let him go? How could he believe that? How could he believe that this woman who had spent any amount of time trying to track down and kidnap Keito suddenly decide to let him go? Jude thought something was off by this but no matter how much he tried he didn't sense a lie in her voice. Either she is really good at deceiving or she did what she said... But how could I know which was the truth? Though conflicted Jude decided that he couldn't harm her without reasonable doubt, which he didn't have. Jude then stood up, grabbing Layla by the arm and dragging her up to stand.

Jude than took of his tattered crimson red trench coat, placing it over Layla's shoulders, just as he did with the blanket a few nights before. He then leaned in to her, looking deep into her eyes, trying to find any hint, any reason to not believe her. But there was none. Conceding Jude placed his hands on Layla's shoulders, bowing his head before her.

"I don't trust you... but I can't think of any reason to not believe you. I shall give you the benefit of the doubt but there will be a price to this trust I place on you..." Aiming one of the pistols in his hands at Layla's face. "...Once I do find reason to not trust you I shall put you down just like all those I have killed before... Understand me?"

Not waiting for an answer Jude looked towards Gweynura, the area Keito was heading to before they had met Layla. He then looked at the black sword in his possession, Keito's sword. He wouldn't want to part with this sword for too long... He must've headed back towards the campsite, hoping to find it and possibly me. The travel back to the campsite would take a few days in which time Keito could've been attacked by anyone. Jude knew that he was strong enough to handle himself but if another bounty hunter were to track him down he would need the sword. Finally decided the best course of action to do Jude looked towards Layla, hoping she would comply with his question.

"Would you travel with me Layla?"

Cre' Est

A few days have past and Jude was no closer to finding Keito. Layla and Jude had traveled back to the campsite, only to find that there was no one there, and no sign of Keito. They were going to head to Gweynura but the passage was blocked off because of the intense blizzard which had occurred, making the two have to turn back to Cre' Est, where they have been staying since they have arrived. Sitting in a local tavern Jude and Layla were sitting down at a small wooden table, with a pitcher of ale in front of them. The tavern was called "Murphy's Law", it belonged to one of Jude's "brothers", an old Wolf Pack member. The tavern itself was modest, but extremely large and was the headquarters of the Wolf Pack in Cre' Est. It was called "Murphy's Law" because of the owner's track record as a thief. If anything could go wrong with Gale... it would happen. Despite Gale's bad luck with thievery he was a good business man, who provided shelter and a cover for the other Wolf Pack brothers when they were in Cre' Est.

Drinking a swig from a mug in front of him Jude looked around the tavern, hoping to find any sign of their contact. Jude hated being in situations such as this but because he was in his home turf he hoped that he would be able to soften his nerves. He then leaned over to Layla, placing his arm over her shoulder. During their time in Cre' Est him and Layla were undercover, acting as newly weds, spending their honeymoon in Cre' Est, even Gale believes this. The cover was needed for what they were truly trying to accomplish, removing Keito's bounty and anyone who was hunting him. The current festival happening was useful to their cover as well, their timing couldn't have been better.

"You are actually really good at acting aren't you Layla?... Hope this contact of yours shows up... The sooner we do this the better." The day before Jude and Layla had contacted the person who had hired Layla to kidnap Keito, hoping to remove the bounty.

Jude didn't like this, not one bit, situations like this were things that he avoided but to save a "friend" he would go to the ends of the world. And he owed Keito at least this, if he would never see him again he will at least keep him from being hunted ever again.

"Who was the one who placed the bounty on his head anyway Layla? Who would want someone like Keito dead?"

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf
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#, as written by Layla
Murphy's Law was torture.

Siren resisted fidgeting in her seat but couldn't help but comb her fingers through her now flawless hair. She was a bounty huntress in a tavern full of members from the Wolf Pack. She might as well have had a sign above her head screaming "Kill me now!"

Jude drank from his mug of ale and Siren flinched every time he did. Not only did it remind her of her drunk father, but she didn't want Jude putting his guard down and babbling about their identities. Judging by his size and his suspected drinking tendencies, a mug of ale wouldn't affect him in the slightest. Still, she couldn't help but feel uneasy. Maybe it's because he picked the worst possible tavern. She'd been privy to parts of Jude's past, especially of his time with the Wolf Pack and now the thieves guild didn't seem so bad - he didn't seem so bad. It was hard to shake off years of bounty hunting mentality, though.

An arm came around her shoulders and she leaned into him, sighing, with a soft smile playing on her lips. She had to play it just right. Everything had to be laced with newly wed honey. Oh, Jude... she thought sarcastically.

"You are actually really good at acting aren't you Layla?... Hope this contact of yours shows up... The sooner we do this the better."

Despite Siren's seemingly irresistible urge to roll her eyes, she didn't. "If he doesn't show up, you can weep over it all by yourself," Siren said a little too cheerfully, whispering a soft kiss on Jude's cheek.

She didn't know why she was with this guy and why she was trying to clear Keito of his bounty. It was out of character and Siren didn't like thinking about it. I'm turning into a giggly idiot. It just seemed reasonable at the time in the forest, when Jude had lifted Siren from the ground and threatened to destroy her. Looking at him now in all his scarred glory, Siren had to admit she didn't actually think anything snarky when he'd had his gun to her head. Omega was more than capable of killing her - and she hated him for it.

Yet he is somehow strangely attractive.

Clearly, she wanted to die more than she'd originally believed.

"Who was the one who placed the bounty on his head anyway Layla? Who would want someone like Keito dead?"

Siren twirled a black lock of Jude's hair around her finger and kept the adoring smile firmly engraved onto her lips. "His father, I'm quite sure," she whispered. The bartender glanced over and she immediately softened her gaze. My true love, you are the prince of my bed and I am so honoured to be your wife. We must make 9 babies, at least. 9 little Jude's and Siren's running about stealing and killing. "He doesn't want Keito dead - at least, not yet. The bounty asked for him to be captured alive."

"Mrs. Leina Enzberg?"

Abruptly pulling away from Jude, Siren swivelled around to face a tall, indigo haired man. "That's me!" she smiled brightly. Her straight teeth practically sparkled in the man's face with all her enthusiasm. "You must be Gilas." He's a lot younger than I expected - tougher, too. Siren could tell he was a swordsman by the very obvious sword at his belt, the scars and the way he stood. Probably a military officer. Well, that just sucks, doesn't it, Siren? "This is my husband, Dude Enzberg."

Yeah, Dude was a bad name choice.

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli
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As Keito pressed the ceramic cup to his lips, he felt a hard object roughly bump into his back and he coughed, the cup slipping out of his hands and splashing onto the table. Luckily it didn't break, but some of the liquid that had managed to make itself into Keito's mouth was now trailing down the wrong side of his throat. He coughed a couple more times as he tried to clear the warm liquid from his pipes, then turned to face the person who had run into him

"Watch what you--!"

"I'm sorry! Excuse m--"

Keito stopped himself, his expression lightening up a bit as the young girl quickly apologized. The girl quickly noticed that she'd spilled Keito's drink all over the wooden surface in front of him as well and she pulled out a small coin pouch and stepped up a little closer. She looked pretty flustered and was acting more like she'd broke Keito's finger rather just just simply causing him to spill his tea.

"I-I'm sorry! I'm really sorry, let me buy you another one!"

"No, that's alri--"

"I'm sorry..w-what kind of tea was it that you had? Oh! Of course, I'll get you any kind you want!"

He gave her the friendliest smile he could muster, despite his somewhat depressed state at the moment, and raised his hand a little, signaling that she could put her coin purse down.

"Really, it's alright! It was just a little cup of tea, nothing too expensive so it doesn't matter. I was about to go watch the fireworks anyway."

He scooted back a little, letting the server wipe away the liquid with a white cloth and pick up the cup. Keito gave the man a small apology and an thank you before turning back to the girl.

"You must be new to city life, huh? You seem a little flustered and out of place. Where are you from? If you don't mind me asking."

Murphy's Law: Gilas


"You must be Gilas."

"I am."

Gilas had a perfectly calm, but stern composer to him. He stood tall, naturally being 6'2", but seemed taller with the proud stance of a high-ranking officer. He kept his left hand calmly at his side with the other lightly resting on the handle of his sword, kept in a plain black sheathe. He was clothes in a creamy white, V-neck shirt with a heavy, short-sleeved, long black coat pulled around him with the collar folded over. His shirt was loosely tucked into a pair of black pants with a thick black belt around his waist that held his sword. Lastly he wore a pair of black, buckle up boots with his pants tucked into the and his medium-length hair pulled back into a small, loose pony tail with his loosely combed to the sides.

This is my husband, Dude Enzberg."

Gilas slightly narrowed his eyes at the man for a brief moment before ignoring him and turning his attention back to Leina.

"I hope you have a good reason for calling me here, mrs. Leina. It's not often I take time off from my duties to deal with simple business like this."

He spoke with ease, his tone as calm and collected as ever, but there was also a hint of strictness in his voice as well. His gold eyes were a little softer, but still serious.

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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Keito's own father placed the bounty on him? Jude couldn't believe this, how could a father in his right mind place a bounty on his own son? This intrigued him even more, Jude himself didn't have any relationship with his biological family but his sense of family was stronger than most, having an incredibly large "family" with his brethren in the Wolf Pack and his caring father, Edgar Vanderwolf. He no longer cared for his biological family, to Jude Edgar was his real father not the man who left him as a newborn on the steps of the orphanage in Triveila. Jude once cared to find whoever his true family was but those ideas soon passed, he had no need for them, or so he thought.

After a prolonged moment of comfort in the embrace of Layla, Jude was rudely awakened by the man who had just entered the building, Gilas, Keito's father. The man was tall, as tall as Jude but had an aura that made him seem even larger than what he was. Not what I expected from the runt... Guess he does have good genes in him. The man was certainly a militant man, clean and proper, the type of men the Jude avoided like the plague. Men like him aren't easily intimidated, or even possible to intimidate. His body was strong, of many years of training, something which Jude could tell just from looking at him. Despite his proper appearance and disciplined actions Jude sensed that the man was a walking "Disaster Zone", just like him. Jude attempted to stand to greet him but was forced back down by Layla. Wonder why she did that? The man eventually came down to sit across the table from the two, not seemingly pleased by the visit. You and me too brother... but it is necessary.

"This is my husband, Dude Enzberg." Jude stared at Layla with his black and golden eyes. Couldn't she have thought of a better name than, "Dude". The man however seemed to not care for Jude, ignoring him when introduced.

"I hope you have a good reason for calling me here, Mrs. Leina. It's not often I take time off from my duties to deal with simple business like this." Simple business? I hardly think that a bounty contract on your son is anything but "simple business" Trying to hide his own anger Jude settled himself down, twirling one of his pistols in his hand underneath the table. I've got to have a better coping mechanism than twirling firearms with my fingers... It is seriously dangerous.

"Sorry about my wife's stutter, my name is not Dude Enzberg... It is Duke Enzberg. And we did not call you here to celebrate our marriage. No, with the information that me and my wife have I hardly think you will think of this as... simple business... "Sir"." Looking over behind their seats Jude pulled out Keito's black sword, quickly stabbing the sword into the middle of the table in front of Gilas. The sound the action made was very loud but no one in the tavern looked over towards them, Gale had told them to pay no attention to our table and so the patrons agreed.

"You have a bounty for your son correct sir? It so happens that we are in possession of said person, that sword is proof of that. Check it as you wish but know that I will need that back, I'm not contracted to you so I feel no need to give you anything at this time... Do I make myself clear... "Sir"?" Not really caring about the man's reaction or not Jude emphasized this by flipping one of his pistols in the air, catching it in his right hand. "Crystal clear... "Sir"?" Jude then gave Layla a short kiss on the lips, to keep her from talking at that moment. Almost losing himself in the sensation of her soft lips. Pulling himself away he looked at Gilas straight in the eyes. Don't hate me old man... I owe your son more than I owe you.

"Now me and my wife are going to decide whether or not we "give" you your son... You see not much information was give on that bounty of his, we just want to know who exactly we are dealing with. No, not you, I don't care for you. You're a high ranking militant man, anyone can see that. But why would such an upstanding man contract a bounty and for his own son? Something is highly suspicious about this job... And I don't know if we should work with you..." Taking another swig from the ale in front of him Jude placed it back on the table in front of Gilas, pouring a new drink for the man.

"So.. Tell us what we want to know or we can keep your son... Possibly sell him off to some slaver... He seems like he is strong enough for something such as that... Could fetch a good price to the right buyers you know... So... why the bounty?"

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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#, as written by Layla
Siren couldn't help it - she cocked an eyebrow. It's probably weird for me to be attracted to Keito's father. It wasn't just that he was oozing confidence, though, or that he had the air of someone important - it was the nonchalant way he spoke and his scrutinising gold eyes. You're married, Siren.

"I hope you have a good reason for calling me here, Mrs. Leina. It's not often I take time off from my duties to deal with simple business like this."

Flipping her long winter hair over her shoulder, Siren smirked and patted the stool next to her. "Have a seat, will you? I assure you we have good reason for contacting you. Would you like a drink, Gilas?" She rested her head on her knuckles, making her hair float across her shoulders to rest on the bar. Giving the handsome man a flirtatious smile, Siren made sure to expose her wrist and neck. Oh look, I'm a weak little girl who's hitting on an old man I've underestimated. Yay me.

"Sorry about my wife's stutter," Stutter? Siren gave Jude a small but hard kick under the bar. "My name is not Dude Enzberg... It is Duke Enzberg. And we did not call you here to celebrate our marriage. No, with the information that me and my wife have I hardly think you will think of this as... simple business... "Sir"." It was obvious Jude disliked the man. She wasn't sure if it was mostly because he was a militant man or because Jude was half in love with Keito. Still, she disapproved of his disrespect. It was sure to create greater hostility.

Jude was twirling his pistol in his fingers under the table - a habit Siren realised he did just about every day. She placed a smooth hand over his and squeezed gently. She looked dainty and fragile next to him. Siren was too young to receive a bullet through her knee cap. Jude stabbed the table between them with Keito's sword. Well, that was straightforward. Running her fingers down over his scars - her version of comfort and calm down, you reckless idiot - Siren shut her eyes. Might as well let the two men deal with it their way.

"You have a bounty for your son correct sir? It so happens that we are in possession of said person, that sword is proof of that. Check it as you wish but know that I will need that back, I'm not contracted to you so I feel no need to give you anything at this time... Do I make myself clear... "Sir"?" Siren felt Jude take his hand from hers and heard the thud of a gun being caught. Show off. "Sir"?"

Sudden lips pressed against Siren's. She knew who it was without having to open her eyes, Jude's lips had been engraved in her mind by then. Siren brushed his hair from his face and pressed up against him, tasting his lips. She seemed to have forgotten about Gilas. Jude pulled away and Siren's lower lip formed an almost-pout as she frowned. Gildas was such a nuisance.

"Now me and my wife are going to decide whether or not we "give" you your son... You see not much information was give on that bounty of his, we just want to know who exactly we are dealing with. No, not you, I don't care for you. You're a high ranking militant man, anyone can see that. But why would such an upstanding man contract a bounty and for his own son? Something is highly suspicious about this job... And I don't know if we should work with you..."

She found it quite cute, the way Jude kept calling her his wife. She'd never been called that before. Siren took a cautious sip from her mug. She never drank in public. Siren was a real light weight - 5 sips and she'd be giving everyone a lap dance. To be honest, she didn't much care about the bounty on Keito's head. The boy could take care of himself. Sure, although he was somewhat a part of every bounty hunter's initiation ceremony, no one found him and that was fine with them. Trying was what mattered. Though she supposed if she found him, others would eventually, too. Wait. Scratch that. No one's as amazing as me.

"So.. Tell us what we want to know or we can keep your son... Possibly sell him off to some slaver... He seems like he is strong enough for something such as that... Could fetch a good price to the right buyers you know... So... why the bounty?"

She wondered what Jude planned to do. Kill Gilas? Have fun with that, husband. I'm not helping. What was he going to do once he had the reason, anyway? Did he just think Gilas would drop the bounty on his son? Clearly, what they had was a very typical marriage. One sided and secretive. "Marriage is a relationship in which one is always right and the other is the husband," she whispered to Jude, nibbling on his earlobe. "Piss him off and I don't care if we're in your pack's tavern. I will cut your heart out and make a nice stew with it for my next, infinitely richer spouse."

Siren gave Jude her Wink of Doom and turned around to face Infinitely Richer military man. "By the way, Gilas," she said casually. "He's been poisoned so you better think quick." Pausing, Siren added with a playful shake of her finger. "And you wouldn't try anything funny in here if you wanted to keep that adorable neck of yours intact, pumpkin."

Setting

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli
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In truth, Keito was a little disappointed that she's stopped explaining the reason why she'd come to Cre' Est. Sure, she had added a bit more information than he'd originally asked for, but her energy was a nice change. Plus, it wasn't everyday he could talk to someone who seemed so normal. Well, normal compared to him at least.

"Eh, I'm sorry about that. Oh yeah, my name's Ritsu. It's nice to meet you."

"I'm Keito. Nice to meet you too." He replied with his friendly smile. He slid off the stool and slid it back into place up close to the tea stand, deciding that he'd been sitting there long enough. At least this girl, Ritsu, wasn't as tall as she looked when he was sitting down. Now that he was standing up he realized that he was maybe four or five inches taller than her, though that didn't do much for his seemingly incurable small body size.

great I just admitted it...

"You say you've never seen fireworks before, right? I don't really get the chance to watch the big ones all that often, but you haven't lived until you see the ones they set off for the festival. I know a pretty great place where you can get a big view. I could show you if you want?"

He needed something to pass the time anyway, and something to also get his still missing sword out of his mind. This girl showed up at nearly the right time, and fireworks were more fun to watch with a partner anyway.

Murphy's Law: Gilas


Gilas took a seat at the table, leaning back in the chair a little to show that he was perfectly relaxed and comfortable around the two of them. Of course, that wasn't really the case. In fact, he was fully prepared to draw his sword at any second if need be. The one thing the man never did, was let his guard down, even around his most trusted subordinates. He politely refused the drink offered by Leina, letting her know that he didn't drink any kind of alcohol.

The blonde woman's husband, Duke, in which he had corrected his wife, got right to the point with their meeting. Gilas didn't flinch in the slightest when a very familiar black sword was stabbed into the middle of the table in front of him. Instead he continued looking on, his emotions being completely unreadable.

"You have a bounty for your son correct sir? It so happens that we are in possession of said person, that sword is proof of that. Check it as you wish but know that I will need that back, I'm not contracted to you so I feel no need to give you anything at this time... Do I make myself clear... "Sir"? Crystal clear... "Sir"?""

Duke tossed his pistol up into the air and caught it quite gracefully in his right hand, all while emphasizing the word 'Sir'. Only seconds later the man leaned over the table to give his wife a kiss, which this time Gilas slightly narrowed his eyes to. He was barely swayed by the mans rudeness, but took note of it all the same. He came here on the woman's request, so he had no reason to show this man any kind of acknowledgement.

A few moments later Duke pulled himself back away from the blonde woman and stared straight into Gilas's eyes, in which he returned the stare with cold calmness.

"Now me and my wife are going to decide whether or not we "give" you your son... You see not much information was give on that bounty of his, we just want to know who exactly we are dealing with. No, not you, I don't care for you. You're a high ranking militant man, anyone can see that. But why would such an upstanding man contract a bounty and for his own son? Something is highly suspicious about this job... And I don't know if we should work with you...So.. Tell us what we want to know or we can keep your son... Possibly sell him off to some slaver... He seems like he is strong enough for something such as that... Could fetch a good price to the right buyers you know... So... why the bounty?"

"By the way, Gilas," The woman started to add on to the man's last threat and Gilas moved his eyes onto her for a moment to listen. [/b]"He's been poisoned so you better think quick. And you wouldn't try anything funny in here if you wanted to keep that adorable neck of yours intact, pumpkin."[/b]

A very small, barely noticeable grin pulled at the corner of Gilas's lips as the two finally finished. He moved his gold eyes back onto Duke to start his response.

"First off, I ask you to show a little more respect for that sword there." He said, glancing over at Keito's sword for a brief moment before moving his eyes back onto Duke, "It's an old family heirloom and not something you can simply come across in smith shops anymore. Secondly, you seem to care a lot for Jun, my son, which I must admit I am a little curious about, though not curious enough to want to hear the whole story. As for why I placed the bounty on him.." His eyes moved back onto Leina, his meaningless little smirk showing slightly more than before. "You two seem like a new couple, so I doubt you would have any children. I don't believe you would understand what is it is like to have your first and only son disappear on you without warning and to go missing for years."

He paused a moment to look at the sword that continued to stand in the middle of the table, then he turned to look back at Leina, continuing to show little acknowledgement of Duke's presence. "You seem to have gone through a bit of trouble for such a small bounty, that makes me a little suspicious of your threats upon my son. I'm a little insulted though that you would think I'd try to force you to reveal him to me, I have to admit."

He stood from the table, resuming his proud stance. "I guessed the price I placed on him wouldn't gain much attention. I suppose I'll just have to higher that price. Also, if you have my son like you say, I want you to let him know about the passing of his mother four months ago, and that he also now has a younger sister who turned three six days ago." He briefly waved his hand as he began to walk away. "Enjoy the festival. I think I might stay here in Cre' Est a few days too. It would be a shame to miss up on such a celebration, don't you agree?" With that he left the tavern and made his way down the crowded street.

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf
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#, as written by Layla
"Thanks for the sword!" Siren called after Gilas. After a moment of silence in which she felt multiple pairs of eyes crawling over her skin, Siren turned around to look at Jude. "What?" she arched a perfect brow. "We got to keep the sword."

Siren took a sip from her mug and uncharacteristically plonked it onto the wooden bar. In a strangely fantastic mood, she jumped off her chair and jerked Jude against her body by his shirt. "Now we're doing it my way," she grinned.

Lion's Den

"SIRRREN!!!" Voices bellowed in almost unison as a curvy silver-eyed girl stepped through the heavy doors with a stiff and muscled man in tow. She was dainty, barefooted and dressed in a rather provocative red dress that emphasised her femininity. Honestly, she thought it was rather classy. Her snowy blonde hair was pulled back into a high pony tail with two beautifully deadly shafts. The young woman might've been a huntress and she might've been an expensive escort - it was hard to tell.

The underground tavern was packed, loud and smoky. The strong "fragrance" of alcohol masked the blood of bleeding noses and broken fists and the sweat of countless men. The tavern was massive but all the heavy, ripped men made it seem much smaller than it actually was. About a dozen women roamed amongst the males - all gorgeous, all seductive and all armed. There were weapons of every kind - from gauntlets to iron fans, arrows to guns, chains to swords and daggers to bodies.

A gunshot shook the air.

"That happens a lot. Gun twirling habits," Siren looked at Jude from the corner of her eye.

"Siren's back!"
"Where've you been, princess?"
"Did you get Corny?"
"That's insulting. Of course she got Corny!"
"Man, there goes the Corny Initiation."
"Who's the guy, Siren?"
"New toy?"

"You sharing him, blondey?"

Siren shot the tall, grinning brunette who'd asked the last question a hard look. Grabbing a glass mug from the nearest person, Siren smashed it onto the floor - bounty hunter language for 'Too far, earth-vexing hag-seed. Too far. I will drink all your beer for the rest of your life and steal all your bounties if you don't back off my property.'

The crowd Oooohhhh'ed for a while, letting the two women stare each other down. Then, the two huntresses broke into toothy smiles. "It's been a while, Evi," said Siren as the brunette picked her up and slapped her butt, setting her delicate feet back on the floor. Evi had a fury of curly hair and being well over 6 feet tall, towered over most men.

Although Jude and Siren had arrived in Cre' Est some time ago, she hadn't yet visited Lion's Den because of him and his "beliefs." Jude had been trying to talk her out of bounty hunting - a futile but adorable attempt - and Lion's Den would just make him dislike her job even more. Siren wasn't giving up her life for anyone.

"A while? It's been nearly two weeks! Where've you been? You missed a really good mission I wanted to do with you. And who's the handsome man behind you?" Evi gave Jude a suggestive grin, looking him over appreciatively.

"Not yours," Siren bumped the dark skinned Evi away with her hip, holding onto Jude's arm possessively. "But if you must know - this is my husband. Dude Enzberg."

The tavern was silent - utterly unusual. It's the end of the world. Then, a low chuckle began, creeping into a manic laugh. Soon enough, the entire building was shaking with everyone's laughter.

"Funny joke, princess! You had us fooled for a moment there. Of course you got married. Congratulations! I'm surprised none of your admirers have killed themselves, yet," said a bald mountain man, wiping tears from his eyes. No one reacted to the man's name being Dude - Siren, succubus Siren, married, was much more interesting. Grabbing Jude's forearms tightly, the large man gave him a light slap on the side of his head - typical male hunter greeting. "Welcome to the Lion's Den, Dude. Mick. 14. Veilbrand." Name, number of years bounty hunting and place of birth - it was how bounty hunters introduced themselves. Everyone assumed Jude was one of them as Lion's Den was exclusively for people of such class.

"So what happened to Corny, princess?" asked a lanky young man with caramel coloured hair.

"Dead," she replied with a shrug.

"What? Why? Did you kill him? Did you make him fall in love with you and have him kill himself?" asked another.

"Naw. He was just dead. Found him in the forest with his pockets emptied. Lucky timing, I guess." Siren pulled out a chair and rocked on its hind legs.

"You're never lucky. You're damned, that's what you are," Mick beamed. "That really sucks. It was a fun tradition - and we heard the bounty on Corny's head just rose. Think we could fool the person into thinking we got him?"

"Nope. Dude and I tried. Made him raise the price." With her legs crossed, Siren's strip of dress exposed nearly all of her soft, pale skin - especially on her sides. No one questioned her - she was a trusted bounty huntress. No one could think of any reason for her to lie and they were confident of her skills as a huntress.

"Ah well. At least you're back. To Siren!" Mick raised his mug.

"To Siren!" The crowd roared, mugs in the air.

"And her fake husband, Dude!" A voice called. The crowd echoed the words cheered for Siren and her fake marriage.

Later in the night

Siren lied. She did drink in public - just not all types of public. When she was in the Lion's Den amongst all her bounty hunters, Siren could, indeed, drink. Legs crossed, the long haired, now not so elegant beauty sat on a stretched table surrounded by empty mugs. She clutched a large barrel in her small hands and drank like a man six times her size. Her head was tipped back and her spine was arched as the crowd chanted.

While this was happening, the caramel haired man from before approached Jude. He leaned against the wall next to him and said monotonously, "Nial. 6. Shaharan." His eyes followed Siren's legs and strolled over her curves. Briefly glancing at Jude before returning to Siren, Nial said "You should give up. She's going to play with you and drop you when she's done. It'll never work and the higher you climb for her, the further you're going to have to fall. She tricked me, too. You look like you've had your fair share of women - so give this one up, Dude.

"Siren isn't worth it."

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf
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The meeting with Gilas didn't go as well as Jude had planned, nothing ever seemed to go right in "Murphy's Law". He hadn't had planned to resort to his next tactic but seeing as it was the only viable option Jude called over Gale to his table. Layla seemed to be happy to just have kept the sword, which Jude was not amused by. If the whole point of this was the sword than we wouldn't have had to resort to calling him here... Women... Gale had then approached the table when Layla had said she would be "doing it her way". But Jude couldn't leave the life of an acquaintance in the balance in her hands, no matter how beautiful they were.

"Jude... I mean Mr. Enzberg... How can I help you?" Jude than hugged his "brother" before shaking his hands to leave.

"Only a small task brother... You are up to it are you not?" Gale than looked at the note briefly, a smile in turn appearing on his face. He then proceeded to crumple the note, dropping it on to the ground.

"I will see that it is done... Brother."

After bidding farewell to the rest of his brethren, the not so patient Layla began to drag Jude out of the building, clutching to his arm as she did so. The crowd cheered to them as they left, some laughing at the sight of Omega being taken away by a women. The festivities of the city rang loud in the city and the tavern, so much so that no one else noticed the crumpled piece of paper lying on the floor. The note itself with only a few simple words, "Become the Moon"

Lion's Den

The place Layla had dragged him to was not an area Jude was fond of but he was familiar with the place. Although he was not a patron of the tavern he knew enough about it to know to be wary of the people inside. Bounty Hunters. If anyone caught a glimpse of his Wolf Pack tattoo he would be a goner, no matter how many people he has killed in the past he was not strong enough to kill an entire tavern full of bounty hunters. The place made him feel uncomfortable and he believed Layla knew this but she wouldn't leave, in fact he believed that because he was uncomfortable she would want to stay in the place longer. Women are so confusing and full of contradictions... Oh well... Might as well go with the flow for now... My brothers shall enact my request soon enough. A gunshot than rang through the tavern, making Jude instinctively grab for his own. Gaining himself a quirky remark from Layla.

"Don't worry dear... Unlike the folks in this place I can control myself... Which is more than I can say for you." Jude said this jokingly, hoping that Layla wouldn't take it to heart. Actually in fact... let her take it to heart. She looks a lot cuter when I tease her... She gets all embarrassed and flustered. He then laughed picturing Layla pouting at him at the idea. Yeah... maybe it would be better.

The tavern was full of a number of different characters; giant bruisers, seductresses, con-artists, mercenaries, you name it and this place had it. Any illegal activity within Cre' Est is either connected to the Lion's Den or Murphy's Law. Being associated with the latter gave Jude a bad taste in his mouth for even being in here. However he was pleased at the countless women gawking over him, being seduced by his amazing charm. That's right ladies... come to Omega! This however didn't last, with having Layla at his side any women who came near him would be put off by her, and her protectiveness. I'm not your property Layla... You're mine.

Jude's euphoria was then rudely awakened by a giant of a man, Mick was his name. Judging by his introduction Jude knew he was a bounty hunter, a proud one of that. Layla having introduced as "Dude" again was slightly getting on his nerves, he however couldn't care less what the crowd thought of him. And how Layla had dealt with the bounty issue surprised Jude, he knew it wouldn't tide over long, sure people of the Lion's Den might not hunt Keito down but with the increased bounty, hunters from all around the place will be hunting for him now. The peace from this wouldn't last long... Even with the backing of Layla... I mean, Mrs Enzberg.

With cheers all around Jude settled down at the bar with Layla. Hopefully their relationship, fake or not, would seem conceivable enough for Jude to get through this without raising suspicion from anyone in the crowd.

Later that night

Layla and Jude had spent the night together, drinking and talking amongst themselves, making the facade of them being married somewhat more believable, even to the disbelieving crowd. Jude didn't know whether it was the alcohol or not but Layla seemed to be a lot more beautiful tonight. Maybe it was because she was in her element... this was where she felt the most comfortable... in the presence of a horde of bounty hunters... Not something I can become accustomed to unfortunately. Yes, the night was great but Jude was ever wary of his tattoo and his silver jewelry, hoping no one really notices it.

Then a man named Nial seemed to appear out of nowhere, checking out Layla. The man had been stalking the two for a while, something which was annoying Jude considerably. He didn't like the man, nor the tone that he spoke in. His snake like eyes searching all over her, trying to make Jude leave her. That won't be happening... No way. Jude's patience wore thin as the man continued to hang around the too, until he had finally snapped.

Jude then suddenly quick drew one of his pistols, shooting a bullet which broke the glass of alcohol in Nial's hands and skimming past the man's face, cutting him slightly. Nial was taken aback, having been cut by the broken class in his hands and from having a bullet skim across his face. Nial in turn lunged at Jude with a knife drawn, trying to stab him in the chest. Jude however grabbed the man's arm, twisting it horribly forcing Nial to drop the knife. Jude then delivered a strong and quick punch to the man's torso, sending him flying a few feet in the air before he landed on the ground, six feet away from Jude and Layla. Standing up from the bar stool Jude then walked over towards Nial, standing above him. He then cocked the pistol he used, aiming it at Nial's head.

"My name is Duke Enzberg... My wife seems to find it funny to call me Dude, maybe it's a nickname thing I don't know... How long have I been a bounty hunter? All of my damn life son... Where was I born? In fucking Triveila!... And you son will become the five thousand six hundred and ninety eighth bastard I have killed if you don't get off your damn ass and get out of my face." Jude then shot off a round, grazing the other side of Nial's face, giving him a perfect pair of cuts on both sides of his face. The man then got up and ran out of the tavern, holding his broken arm as he did so.

After calming himself down Jude sat back down at the bar, holstering his pistol and placing his arm over Layla. Laughing to himself Jude ordered a bottle of ale, drinking it slowly. After finishing the bottle he placed it on the bar. Everyone seemed to be staring at him in which turn Jude turned around to them.

"What? The man was checking out my wife..."

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf
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#, as written by Layla
"Tables!" Siren yelped, the barrel now empty.

"Tables!" The crowd echoed her drunk nonsense.

"When I grow up, I shall be a fisherwoman or the queen!" She cheered, waving her arms upwards and down in a curved motion. Her gestures roughly translating into 'Give me another barrel, my minions. I will sleep with all your sons.'

"You sure that's a good idea, princess? I'm not cleaning you up if you pass out in front of some perverted, drunk men," Evi sighed as Mick slapped Siren on the back, handing her another barrel of whisky. Sitting the barrel on her crossed legs, Siren wrapped her arms around the large wooden container that was taller than her head. A gunshot sliced through the air, followed by a small squeal of shock. No one gave the shooter a second glance - accidental slips on triggers were the norm in Lion's Den.

After a moment, there were loud cheers as people watched 'Dude' pummel Nial. Siren was oblivious, still trying to uncap the small hole in the barrel by putting the cap between her teeth and strangely turning the barrel.

There was the cock of a pistol and an eerie silence as the bounty hunters watched the two men with anticipation. They were strange in the way they viewed danger. Rarely did the concept of death and mortality shake their foundations - they believed they were invincible and that everyone else was, too. Bounty hunters were independent people, rarely did they work in a team and they almost never watched each other's backs. There was respect - and respect was all there was. Well, perhaps a hint of lust.

"My name is Duke Enzberg... My wife seems to find it funny to call me Dude,"

"It is Dude!" Siren called with a moment of clarity - pausing in her unbarrelling of the barrel from the cap.

"-maybe it's a nickname thing I don't know... How long have I been a bounty hunter? All of my damn life son... Where was I born? In fucking Triveila!... And you son will become the five thousand six hundred and ninety eighth bastard I have killed if you don't get off your damn ass and get out of my face."

There was the patter of racing footsteps, the creek of the heavy doors opening and the loud bang of it slamming against each other. Then, there was silence. A muscled arm went around Layla's shoulders and ale was called for. Siren was still unbarrelling the cap.

"What? The man was checking out my wife..."

"Juuude," Siren whined, shoving the barrel to the side. Pulling the black and gold eyed man onto the bar, she crawled on top of him, nuzzling his neck and running her hands over the skin under his shirt. Siren sat back on his lap, her legs on either side of his - and pulled the bottom of his tight shirt up over his head. "You know what would be really funny, Jude?" she whispered, taking his lower lip between her teeth. "If this wasn't a dream and I was actually drunk," she mumbled, leaning over him. "And I screamed out "I'm sleeping with freaking Omega of the Wolf Pack!" and they came at you with pitch forks." Siren pulled back from his lips to look at Jude with glazed eyes.

"That would be funny, wouldn't it?"

"Get off of her, you thief!" Evi shouted. More screams came and Siren was roughly pulled off of Jude. Ow, that hurt, she thought with a frown. Then, she realised over the chaos of the Lion's Den - Oh crap, that hurt.

The drawing of swords and the click of guns sliced the air. Heavy, drunk men shook the building and women flicked their iron fans with a sweep of their wrists. Siren was pushed back, Mick held her and mumbled comforting words as she stared at Jude with complete shock. Jude - scarred and tattooed with a massive bounty on his head.

"Get him!"

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Having a girl straddled on top of you is any man's dreams, having her reveal your identity in a room full of bounty hunters when there is a delicious bounty on your head though is not. The short euphoric moment that was just shared between Jude and Layla was ended when Jude's identity of being "Omega of the Wolf Pack" was revealed to a tavern full of bounty hunters. Layla was pulled of of him while they all readied themselves to try and capture and possibly kill Jude. Outnumbered and currently lying on his back Jude was thinking of any possible way he could get out of this situation, knowing there must be some way to escape without resorting to violence. This hope of his was short lived as he saw people unsheathe their swords and cock their firearms, he knew there was only one way to escape. He had to run.

"Cmon now fellas... Can't we just let this slide this one instance? I mean... we are just newly weds..." This question was answered by the cocking of more pistols. I guess they don't really care for that... not at all. "Well... alright then... Let's play it your way!"

From where he was lying down on the bar table Jude sprung up doing a handstand. He then proceeded to spin himself, kicking the closest people to him in the head, knocking some of them out from the force of the kicks. Before anyone could react to him Jude then pushed himself off the bar, pulling out his pistols he fired two rounds shooting two bounty hunters in front of him in the knees, causing them to fall. He then landed in front of Layla, with his pistols drawn he ripped Mick's grip on Layla by pulling his arm off of her with his leg wrapped around Mick's elbow. Jude hit Mick on the head with the end of his pistol's handle, causing the man to become disoriented. Using Mick's size Jude pushed the man towards the exit, using him as a makeshift battering ram and riot shield. Jude dragged the drunkard Layla along with him, believing they would be unable to attack him with Layla right behind him, he was wrong. Two throwing knives had pierced Jude's right shoulder, causing blood to drip all over his white long sleeved shirt. After making his way to the door Jude threw Mick back towards the crowd, hoping to stall them just enough to get enough running ground between them. Holy crap... Hope they don't expect me to pay them a visit anytime soon.

Streets of Cre' Est

Although Jude had successfully escaped the grounds of the Lion's Den, a little worst off for wear, he knew they weren't out of the woods yet. With the amount of people he had just pissed off Jude knew he had to find a good enough hiding space for them, one which was close enough to hide in quickly. With the faster of the bounty hunters right on their tail Jude dodged incoming attacks from blades, arrows, and even the odd bullet. He went in between shops, hoping to lose them within the crowds of people, but with no luck. He then attempted to use alleyways to find shortcuts around the city and to find somewhere to hide but since he wasn't familiar with the area Jude's attempts of running lead to more dead ends than what he would have wanted. Layla was highly intoxicated and was no real help as Jude dragged her along. He hoped that she might be able to stop any bounty hunters from following them but to no avail. Damn drunk... do something before you get us both killed.

After running and incapacitating a few bounty hunters on the way Jude had finally found a modest hotel, where he then rented a room for him and Layla. Jude had been given the few odd looks from being out of breath, sweating, and currently holding a drunk women in his arms. He however told the owner that it was their honeymoon and that he and her were just out having some drinks when she had finally had too much. The hotel manager laughed at the comment, commenting himself that it is not an odd occurrence in this part of town and especially for this hotel. Jude was then pointed out that the hotel was named "The Drunken Mare", something which he and the manager both laughed about. After acquiring a room Jude had ventured the climb up the stairs to the honeymoon suite which he had just bought. One of my most expensive getaways... but effective nonetheless.

The Drunken Mare

The room itself was quite extravagant, the color scheme was red, white, and black. In the middle of the room was a king sized bed with red and black sheets, covered with rose petals. Maybe I shouldn't have gotten the honeymoon suite... With the drunken Layla in his arms Jude placed her in the middle of the bed, removing himself from the room for the bathroom. Checking the wounds he had just received from Layla blurting out his identity in front of her bounty hunter friends he found the two wounds received by the knives. He was glade that the hotel manager didn't notice it, or at least hoped he didn't notice it. Jude then resumed to remove his shirt, and bandage his new wounds up which will surely leave a scar. He had cleaned it sufficiently but not being an expert it was only a bandage until he could find a doctor. Hopefully sometime in the morning...

Jude then returned to the suite, passing the bed and looking out of the window, still shirtless. He searched the streets for any sign of bounty hunters, seeing a few but none which approached the hotel. Thanking his lucky stars Jude sat back on a black leather chair next to the window, constantly watching. He knew he wasn't going to be safe here forever and that he would need to leave in the morning, dreading the possibility of losing his life because some random girl he met who turned out to be a bounty huntress revealed himself to her bounty hunter friends in a bounty hunter's tavern, when he had a bounty on his head. Seriously what was she thinking? The little drunkard... and I thought she didn't drink.

Sighing Jude leaned back on the chair, hoping to find some rest from the day's activities.

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf
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#, as written by Layla
It was an ordinary day filled with ordinary happenings.

It rained fish.

"Why are you looking so red, Layla-child?" a green fish that had fallen into Layla's hands asked. "You smell like roses - you do, you do." Layla kissed the fish and it turned into a beautiful man with a scar on the side of his face. "Why am I looking so red, Layla?" he asked, his low, raspy voice close to her lips. Layla ran a slim finger over his scar. "Why am I looking so red?" the man asked again - this time his voice was distorted. Monstrous. He bled, bled from every inch of his skin and turned into something bigger. Crueler.

"Why is she looking so red, Layla?" the loud voice asked. It was a giant and it's blood was alcohol. "Why are you so red, daddy?" Layla asked in a frightened voice, fidgeting with her skirt. Her small hands clutched the material and everything turned into dust.

"Wake up, my little rose," cooed the smooth voice of a woman. "Wake up."


"Mommy?" Siren's eyes snapped wide open. She gripped the silky blankets and rose petals in her fingers - the fingers of a woman, not a child. She felt slightly dizzy, a headache biting at her skull. For a moment, she expected the ceiling to rain fish - she expected to be on a boat somewhere in the oceans of Triveila. Instead, all she saw was a flurry of red and black. The air smelled nothing of salty water but of sweet, fragrant roses.

Running her fingers through her waterfall hair, Siren sat up slowly. She saw a dark haired man sitting on a chair by the window, his lashes grazing his cheeks as his eyes were shut. Jude. Her gaze roamed around the expensive looking room, taking in the red, white and black colour scheme. It looked... Romantic. Softening her hold on the soft sheets, Siren watched Jude with her silver eyes. He looked peaceful - it was strange seeing him so at ease. Siren noticed bandages on his right shoulder and worry creased her forehead. She inwardly smacked herself for caring. Jude was a thief, he could take care of himself. Swinging her legs over the bed, Siren walked soundlessly towards Jude.

With her knees on both sides of his legs, Siren sat on his lap, tucking strands of his shaggy hair away. "Jude?" she whispered. "Are you okay? What happened?" She sniffed the air. "Someone smells like alcohol..." Then, bits and pieces came rushing back to her. Right, they went to Lion's Den, which meant only one thing. "Oh god, did I start drinking from barrels, trying to take the cap off by turning the barrel again?"

"Ah, doesn't matter," she vaguely mumbled, pressing her lips to his. She moved her mouth against his and then said something quite peculiar - "You have a lot of scars." She kissed the one on the side of his face and kissed many more. Pulling her red dress over her head and tossing it aside, Siren fell against Jude, her silky hair falling over her shoulder to rest on his skin.

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf
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Sleep... was I asleep. And here I was trying to lookout for anyone following us... Must've dozed off while I was... What was bothering Jude's mind, the imminent danger of those seeking for his life seemed to fade away in one moment. Nothing mattered in the world but this one moment, this fleeting moment shared between the two of them. As her soft lips wandered over Jude's shirtless and scarred body he noted the sensation of every kiss she gave him, how it felt, how she smelt, and the pleasure he felt from it. Layla then stopped for a moment, a slight moment to relieve herself of her material prison and her last defense. As Layla sat on Jude, with her soft skin touching his and her silky snow blonde hair falling on his scar ridden chest he knew that there was no turning back.

As payment for Layla's actions Jude himself began to wrap his arms around the small of her back, holding her tighter against himself. He then proceeded to embrace her soft supple lips with his own, kissing her as if nothing else in the world mattered. He than began to lower his lips, kissing her cheek, and then her neck, traveling down her body until he had kissed her everywhere he possibly could. Her petite body becoming trapped within his grasp, with his black and golden eyes he stared into her silver eyes, searching for an answer to a question that has been bothering him for a while. Do you love me? Slightly chuckling at the idea because he knew that no matter how much he loved, Layla or anyone, he would not be able to love them for he lives a cursed life, a thieves life. But that didn't matter to Jude, not in this very moment. For at least this time he would allow himself to let go, he would allow himself to love.

"You know this oddly reminds me of the first time we met... Only that time you had almost killed me. You would've succeeded as well... but you chose to spare me. Why?" Shaking his head Jude knew he did not care for the answer, not now or ever, all that mattered is that he was alive, that they were alive. Standing himself up Jude held Layla against himself tightly as he walked her across the room to the silky red and black sheet ridden bed. He placed her down gently amongst the silk sheets and rose petals, breathing in the sensation of the roses and their own sweat. It was a beautiful mixture or love and lust.

Leaning over Layla Jude noticed how petite and small she was, there was no doubt that she was a dangerous bounty huntress but as she laid there in front of him the picture of her being a bounty huntress was far from his mind. For she looked as beautiful as anything possibly could, from her pale skin to her silver eyes and her snow blonde hair. She was a perfect beauty. How could such a beautiful woman be the huntress she is? Life seems to love to mess with us... doesn't it? Silencing himself he lowered himself on top of her, embracing her within his arms. He kissed her against her lips again, his hands wandering over her smooth skin feeling everything he possibly could. He pulled her snow blonde hair ever so slightly, to where she gave a slight gasp. There was nothing else important in the world... Nothing but this moment between the two of us.

"Room Service! We were asked to bring our finest dinner and wine for the newly wed couple in the honeymoon..." Suddenly out of nowhere the door had swung open, revealing a small group of hotel workers, including a maid, waiter, and the hotel manager from downstairs. Slightly taken aback by the sudden intrusion Jude pulled some of the bed sheets over the two of them, not wanting to have their moment spoiled by the rude intrusion.

"...Oh I'm so sorry sir we didn't know... There is a placard that you put on the... Excuse us sir and madam. Have a "good" night." And just as suddenly as they arrived the group of workers disappeared, gratefully before Jude had to pull out his pistols against them. Jude sighed as he stood up, approaching the silver trays which contained a few bottles of wine, two glasses, and an ice bucket for the wine to be placed in. Pulling out the glasses Jude filled them with wine. Walking back over towards Layla he gave her one glass with an outstretched hand, sitting down on the bed next to her.

"So... do you wish to continue?"

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#, as written by Layla
Siren wrapped her legs around his waist, clutching him tightly as he set her on the bed. She pressed her small frame against his body, moaning at his touch. He was perfect and they were perfect and she could've live in that moment for all of-

"Room service!" Siren cursed the staff. "We were asked to bring our finest dinner and wine for the newly wed couple in the honeymoon..." Frowning, she sat up, her smooth legs still wrapped around Jude as she glared at them over his shoulder. Her scarred man quickly threw the blankets over them but she shimmied the sheets off. They had nothing to hide. She was beautiful. He was beautiful. She didn't much care what anyone else thought.

"Would you like to join?" she asked, reaching up to tuck her chin on Jude's hard shoulder. Siren gave them an innocent smile, blinking her large pale eyes at them.

"...Oh I'm so sorry sir we didn't know... There is a placard that you put on the... Excuse us sir and madam. Have a "good" night."

"Oh, you bet we'll have a good night!" she called after them, grinning as they disappeared out the door. Jude left then and strangely enough, that made her feel quite naked - and not in a good way. Siren sat still as Jude popped a bottle of wine and poured it into two glasses. She smiled to herself, remembering her very first thought of Jude when she saw shirtless-him fall from the sky. 'What a waste of good stature,' she'd mused. It was rather strange looking at him now, his muscles rippling under his skin as his hands moved. I was prepared to kill him less than a week ago. When he'd asked her why she'd changed her mind and allowed him to live earlier - she didn't really think about it. She was much too 'in the moment.' But now in the quiet of their honeymoon suite - she thought about it. Why did she let him go? Siren wasn't sure. Because she wanted to be bed him as she soon would be doing? Perhaps. The reason was not certain but what Siren was certain of was that it definitely was not for love.

Jude returned, handing her a glass of wine which she took and downed with a single backward tip of her soft neck. It was a careless thing to do - exposing her neck like that but somehow Siren wasn't worried in the least. Perhaps it was the alcohol that made her trust the Wolf Pack thief so much.

"So... do you wish to continue?"

Siren beamed, setting her glass down on the side table next to her and taking Jude's wineglass from his hand. She drank his wine and set it down next to her empty glass. Climbing back onto his lap, Siren shoved him down by his chest. She looked down into his eyes as she unravelled a red ribbon she'd had around her wrist, Siren held it in her mouth, pulling her flowing hair into a high pony tail and securing it with the ribbon. A mischievous gleam lit her silver eyes - Jude was up for the time of his life. Layla hadn't been nicknamed Siren for nothing.

"Hell, yeah."

Morning

Light was annoying. She didn't know which idiot told the sun to shine extra brightly that day but if she ever found him, he'd wish he was dead. Siren groaned. Sleep, Layla. Sleep, she commanded herself. The silky sheets were comfy and irresistible on her naked skin, hugging her back in a way no other blanket had hugged her before. Her white-blonde hair did nothing to help block out the sunlight. Still, for such an annoying morning, she felt at peace. Perhaps it was the scent of rose, sweat and musk or the large, callused hand her small fingers rested in.

Wait. What?

Siren slowly opened her eyes, squinting at the vicious sunlight as her breasts rested on the mattress. Not wanting to alarm whoever was next to her, Siren turned her head slowly - to find a handsome, sleeping man.

Oh.

Shuffling quietly to lie on her side and quickly changing hands with the one that rested in Jude's, Siren's fingers trailed down the length of him from his scarred chest to...

Yep, last night definitely happened.

Half shocked to death, half smiling like a fool, Siren mentally smacked herself in the head. She had one rule when it came to sleeping with random people: Get done, get gone. Failing that - though she never did - 3 other rules would apply.

1. Do not leave without their valuables
2. Do not hold their hand in your sleep
3. Leave before they wake up

Wonderful. She'd managed to betray her ultimate, unbreakable rule and she appeared to be failing at her other three. Get done, get gone. How hard is it, Layla? Sitting up, she tucked her hair - now fallen from its ribbon - behind her ear and gave Jude a lingering peck on his lips. She slid off the bed and picked her clothes off of the floor. After she'd slipped her garments over her skin and taken Keito's sword from a corner, she moved away from the man on the bed. Her movements were as elegant as always - but somehow mechanic. As if she were forcing herself to walk away.

"Bye, Jude," she whispered, unlocking the door.

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Lee Hart
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#, as written by Layla
Siren paused. She could hear the thuds of a body against a wall and the messy shuffling of drunken feet. Siren knew better, though. This was an inn of primarily couples and it was unusual for a lone man to walk through the hallways alone and drunk so early in the morning. She kept her hand on the door, choosing not to lock it back in case the person outside heard the click. Siren didn't need them realising she knew.

Leaning her ear against the slither of light on the side of the door, Siren shut her eyes and quietly clucked her tongue against the roof of her mouth. There were about a dozen men - all large, from the echoes of sound against their bodies. She couldn't be sure, though, because she was so far away with a wall between her and them. Siren cursed silently - Evi wasn't out there. Mick might be, though. The hunters adored her, she might be able to find a way out without encountering much conflict. She wasn't very useful without a weapon. Siren was small and light - her deceiving appearance and her skill with weaponry were the main things she had going for her. The other hunters couldn't be deceived, of course. They knew her, who she was and of her perfect record. They wouldn't underestimate her. Siren clutched Keito's sword - she favoured twin swords but it would have to do.

Siren clucked her tongue again - the sound barely audible as she listened closely. The man shuffling towards Jude and her sounded strange. She didn't recognise this hunter. He sounded about 6 feet - not very big, by the way the sound waves bounced off his flesh. She squeezed her eyes, frustrated - his constant shuffling was making it difficult to pinpoint where he was, what weapons he was holding and who he was. She prayed he didn't have a gun.

Pricking her finger on an inconspicuous edge of her circular ruby pendant, Siren pressed a drop of her blood to the maroon gemstone and it clicked open. She took a small, dried and rather unusual looking pink leaf from it and after crumbling it between her fingers, smudged it on her lips. She shut the red gem back in its place.

With one foot pressed against the door, Siren leaned over to tug on the nearest window - it didn't budge. She tried again. Siren considered breaking and climbing out when she saw a gleam of an arrow pulled tightly backwards on a string. She narrowed her eyes and jerked her head 'no.' Evi, tall and crouched, lowered her bow and arrow slightly. She was on the rooftop of the opposite building and Siren could tell Evi was confused. 'Why are you protecting him?' Siren could almost feel Evi asking.

She wasn't sure why.

Siren considered waking Jude but decided against it - they would hear her and know she was with him. Looking back up at Evi, Siren tapped her heart - hunters - and pointed downwards - below? Evi nodded, a small movement no one but Siren, who'd lived with Evi for a year, would notice. Siren didn't understand why they would go through all the trouble to capture Jude. The bounty on his head was massive but divided amongst so many people? It simply wasn't worth it.

Unless what they wanted was information.

They were going to torture the locations of all the other Wolf Pack thieves out of him.

The hunters wouldn't harm Siren - that she was quite sure of. She could easily excuse herself. Siren almost always got what she wanted by charming her way through. Goddess knew how many of her targets she'd slept with and killed or drugged in their sleep. They would think Jude to be no different. They'd be angry but they'd get over it. Siren worried for Jude, though. It was utterly strange for her to care about anyone but herself but she did. The thought of them torturing him to death didn't sit well with her. In fact, it made her want to gag and take his place. What's gotten over you, Layla? she chastised.

Siren put the sword down on the floor and slid it towards Jude, still keeping a foot on the door in case the people outside tried to open it. Keito's sword was too big to hide. Armed with her lips and a single dagger on the leather sheath around her thigh -

Siren opened the door.

She raised a brow at the brown man who was almost 6 feet tall as she locked the door behind her. "Drunk so early in the morning? Or is it late at night for you?" she asked casually, giving him a soft smile.

"Are you here with anyone?" Siren asked with a tilt of her head, her snowy blonde hair cascading across her spine. "I'm quite lonely, you see. The woman I was with left before dawn," she sighed, stepping closer towards the green-eyed man. He wasn't a bounty hunter Siren had met before, which meant he most likely wasn't one at all. Reaching up to touch his cheek, she looked up at him with her sad silver-grey eyes.

"Will you fill the hole she left behind?"

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Lee Hart
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The Drunken Mare - Morning

Scenes of the night before still danced around the consciousness of Jude's mind. The sensations, the smells, everything of that night seemed to live forever within his mind as he slept. These pleasant memories of the night before were abruptly ended when the sunlight streaming from the window shined upon Jude's eyes. Sunlight... the bane of my existence. Why can't the night last longer? Slowly but surely Jude had awoken, removing the red and black silk sheets from his body, revealing his masculinity in whole. Looking around he couldn't see Layla immediately, which he found odd. Jude then continued to put his clothes back on, including his blood stained white shirt.

It seemed as if the night before was just a dream but he knew that it wasn't, that everything that they had experienced was real, that the feelings they shared was real. Loading his pistols up Jude looked outside the window, finding that a women from the night before from the Lion's Den was sitting on the next building, bow and arrow in hand. Instinctively Jude raised his pistol towards her but was confused when she didn't ready herself. Did she want me to shoot her? She obviously saw me... why isn't she doing anything. The woman instead pointed down towards the ground. Questioning his own instincts to attack her Jude complied to her request, looking down at the ground bellow. The Drunken Mare was surrounded by bounty hunters. Now aware of the danger he was in Jude became aware of the scene outside the room, bounty hunters ready to capture him and Layla. Layla... crap.

Before turning towards the entrance of the room Jude motioned the woman to approach the Drunken Mare, hoping that she would comply to his own request. Cocking his pistols Jude slowly approached the entrance, only to find Layla being chocked by one of the men they were being followed by. Swiftly Jude struck the man's arm, making him release her. Pulling her away Jude ran back into the room with Layla close to him. While holding Layla he aimed one of his pistols at her head, slowly making his way back to the window.

"Sorry gents... Don't want to die today and I'm sure you wouldn't want your Princess to die either... So back away before I blow her head to pieces." The majority of the men seemed to back off but the man who had held Layla by the throat seemed to be edging closer. Not wanting for either of them to be captured Jude thought of the possible ways to escape the situation. Finding only one option viable to him. I've got to protect her...

Jumping backwards holding Layla in his arms, Jude smashed through the bedside window to the ground bellow, falling on to a merchant stall on the street bellow. Rolling off and standing himself up Jude looked around the vicinity, noting the many bounty hunters attempting to follow them. Jude looked around for help but there was no one there. I guess this is the decision of the pack... I will become the scapegoat. The woman bounty hunter who was on top of the building was now on the ground approaching the two of them. Seeing this chance Jude pushed Layla towards her.

"Protect her with your life... I will be unable to do so..." The bounty hunters which were inside the Drunken Mare were now approaching Jude, with speed. Turning back towards Layla and her friend Jude pointed his pistols at them.

"... Sorry love... I won't be back for a while... You'll have to live without me until then." Not waiting for them to comply to his statement Jude shot at the ground behind the two, forcing them to run away. Before they left Jude threw his pistols and Keito's sword at Layla, for her to keep safe. As Layla and her friend escaped Jude in turn looked towards the men who were pursuing him. Swords in hand and weapons at the ready they all were prepared to capture him. Now without a weapon Jude prepared himself for the battle which was soon to commence. Blood running down his right shoulder from the wounds from the previous night he knew he wouldn't be able to take them on for long, but he not going to go down without a fight. The first few bounty hunters Jude dispatched with relative ease, with critical attacks. He continued until he was face to face with the man who was chocking Layla earlier. His wounds burning and his breath shallow Jude stood up to stare the man in the face.

"Let's get this over with then shall we..."

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Lee Hart
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#, as written by Layla
Hand reaching for the dagger in her thigh sheath, Siren stared at the ceiling. She quite admired this green-eyed boy's choking skills. Very classy. Fingers on her dagger, Siren was just about to pull it out to stab her assailant in the neck when a familiar figure struck him in the arm and ripped him off of her. "You di-" The words were snipped off as Jude pulled her up -

and pointed a gun to her head.

Yoouuu sonofabitch.

"Sorry gents... Don't want to die today and I'm sure you wouldn't want your Princess to die either... So back away before I blow her head to pieces."

The large men looked at one another uncertainly and gradually backed off - they were practically Siren's multiple fathers. Giving them a stern look that said blow the sucker's head to pieces, Siren pulled her hand forward, preparing to elbow Jude in the gut and duck in case he fired the gun. Before she could act as planned, Jude wrapped a strong arm around her waist and another under her knees. They crashed backwards into glass.

It was an ordinary day, filled with ordinary happenings.

Siren was the unwilling participant of a suicide pact.

They crashed through air, endless, never-ending air and Siren thought dying in a handsome man's arms wasn't too bad of a way to go. They crashed. Well, Jude crashed, Siren had the comfort of two very nice arms - very nice arms, indeed.

"What the h-" Siren began, only to be shoved into the arms of her over 6 feet tall, dark-skinned friend. Jude mumbled something to her but Siren was too busy dodging a dagger that had just been thrown through where her face was. She glared at the tall man with his arm raised from the throw. The man shrugged, giving her quirky smile. 'Miss,' he mouthed.

"... Sorry love... I won't be back for a while... You'll have to live without me until then." Siren turned around to the click of a gun. She stared into the barrel, then into the black and gold eyes of the man she'd slept with. The man she'd believed was special enough to stay with. The thief from the Wolf Pack she'd trusted. She stared until she felt like crying - something Siren the bounty huntress with the perfect record never did. Her silver eyes pierced his and it'd be the last time she'd ever look into those eyes again.

"I won't be waiting."

Jude shot the ground just as Evi ripped Siren away, her grip tight and persistent. Siren's feet stumbled for a bit and then they moved on their own, smacking the debris on the ground. Soon enough, she was running faster than even Evi. Siren the Huntress was back, not weepy, stupid, gullible little Layla. Siren didn't turn back, didn't check to see if Jude was injured, if he'd been captured. With each step she took, a new layer of ice formed over her. Crystallised - until she was just a figure of frozen water.

It reminded her of song she'd sang with the women in Gweynura. The song of the Snow Maiden.

In a dried land, namely, at the ends of a red scorching hell

There was a mansion made from ice.

And I strongly wish to tell you an ancient story about it.


That mansion was cursed because of the ice.

There was an strong seal put over it.

And in one room of that mansion, a girl of ice was locked up.

The girl was completely alone.



Until a day, by pure chance, she was surprised when a boy that lived traveling opened the doors of the ice mansion.
The eyes of the boy reflected the sad expression that the ice girl had,

so the boy decided that he had to help the girl.



The girl thought, "I am very glad that you have talked to me..."

But her icy face couldn't speak.


The girl rejoiced, "I am so glad that you are here with me..."

However, her icy face couldn't smile.


Once the icy girl felt the warmth of the boy, she melted into water.

Then, the water soared as if it had wings, and returned to the heavens.



In a dried land, namely, at the ends of a red scorching hell

The voices of joy resounded.

And I strongly wish to tell you an ancient story about it.


The girl that returned to the heavens became rain, and fell over the land.

It was a great, great blessing.

And in the middle of that rain of joy, the boy left that village.



Once he realized that the body of the girl had become that rain, the boy became greatly saddened.

And then, he departed on a journey to find the heart of his lost girl.

Completely alone.



The girl thought, "I am very glad that you have talked to me..."

But her watery face couldn't speak.


For the sake of her boy, the girl was glad to become the rain, and downpour over the land.

However, her watery face couldn't smile.



Once the icy girl felt the warmth of the boy, she melted into water.


Then, the water soared as if it had wings, and returned to the heavens.


"Thank you for loving me so much."

The girl was very glad to have become a blessing for the boy,

and she smiled for the first time.



The frozen heart of the girl turned into water when she felt warmth.



And maybe that was because the tears the boy shed for her were very warm.


It was a stupid song and though she'd loved it before, she hated it now. If she were made of ice, she'd rather stay that way than turn into water. Surely, the boy didn't care for the cursed girl - he was merely curious and his curiosity destroyed the girl. The song was idiotic and so was she.

When Siren and Evi arrived in Lion's Den, no one approached her. They knew an angry Siren when they saw one. Stepping on the stage, she sang the song of the Snow Maiden. Her voice was haunting and though it was as beautiful as anything could possibly be, it was filled with sadness and regret -

For the man she vowed to hate.

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel
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#, as written by Layla
The streets were bright - lanterns dotted the scenery and painted swirls of colourful cloths with warmth. Children ran about, their small feet stumbling through the crowds of people with contagious laughter. It was New Year's.

Someone was about to die.

Silent feet floated over rooftops to land gently in an alley, falling into a crouch. A dark haired man dashed through the crowd to reach a dead end covered in grime with nowhere left to turn. He looked back and saw his huntress. Chuckling lightly, for he thought he was being chased by a vicious hunter, the man threw a sudden punch. The woman swivelled and struck the man's thigh in a back kick. He stumbled into the wet ground.

Holding two long daggers resembling nails in each hand, she clicked the single jewels on the handles open and with a slashing movement, long chains slipped from the handles. It was as if the chains had been made of ten sharpened blades moulded together and chopped into parts to allow it to bend. On the end of the chain, a long nail-like dagger similar to the handle rested. The huntress shot both chains at the man - and impaled his hands to the floor. A tortured scream spiked the air but the loud festival drowned the sounds.

"Who the hell are you?" the man wept.

Roughly ripping the chains from her prey's hands, the young woman sliced the end of the dagger through his throat. Lips tainted red with eyes of Winter, the huntress smiled.

"Siren."

After

A large crowd gathered in a circle around a raised platform, their excitement drawing more people in. The beauties of Gweynura, dressed in white, encircled a snow-haired girl. Their Layla had returned to them in the past months and as it was a rule in the House of Sirens to allow any of sisters who'd left to return, Layla was welcomed. Besides, their 'Mother' very much adored Layla and she did have a voice enchanting enough to draw the love of every man - almost every man.

Whilst in Gweynura, she'd become quite nocturnal, slumbering in daylight and working at night. Work was entertainment - including but not limited to selling her body. It was a good deal - the-man-who-shall-not-be-named slaughtered her mind daily so she kept herself busy with other men and women. She earned an income from doing what she would have done, anyhow. She continued bounty hunting, of course. Much more viciously than she did before, choosing to hunt her prey to the death and favouring thieves and young men.

After 'The Incident,' Siren grew rather volatile and violent, thus creating a rift between her and the other hunters. Evi had not spoken to her since The Incident and Siren couldn't quite bring herself to care. As always, when Siren was met with a conflict, she grew restless and left. Whilst in Gweynura, she worked alongside a merciless bounty hunter named Lachlan - well, they worked most of the time.

Strangely enough, Siren had kept Keito's sword.

Dressed in an extravagant Kimono with detail and allure to rival that of a Goddess', Siren stood out amongst the masses of people.

As the music began to play, the colourful doll in the centre stood in sharp movements. Siren sang softly, twirling in a kaleidoscope of light until she froze, silent. The women in white rose from the ground and began to dance - spinning around the girl born of colour. They spun in a circle, growing in intensity until they swirled like a white blizzard, until the canvas of colour in the heart of their dance spun along with them to create a blooming flower. Their voices sang - pouring over the festival in a blanket of light. The women in white froze - and Siren's voice of pure honey was left. A haunting, sad melody that echoed above the silence surrounding her.

The women unfroze and danced. Their voices growing louder and louder along with the instrumentalists until the people in the audience began dancing, too. Some even sang along. It was a popular song of Cre' Est - the bittersweet tale of a doomed world that was redeemed in sacrifice.

Men and women formed two separate lines and in a traditional dance, each couple was passed along until they reached the end, dancing with each person of the opposite gender along the way. The beauties of Gweynura and Siren danced in their midst. All the people sang the song as one, in a loud choir that spread throughout the capital of Cre' Est - divisions were no longer apparent.

Cre' Est was united.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: The Royal Knights Of Cre' Est
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"I'll be in the forest nearby if you need me."

Sereinia looked at Mayumi who donned a pretty black and silver detailed kimono. It complimented the young girl's features as it brought them out more. There was no doubt in her mind that the younger girl would grow into a more beautiful woman as time passes by. In any case, she had no arguments with the girl's desire to be on her own at the moment. Sereinia had often watched the trainings that Shadow and Mayumi conducted, and they were far too extreme in her opinion. She remembered one incident where she had stubbornly refused one of the training regimen in fear of the younger girl's safety. Even if, Shadow had told her it was necessary along with Mayumi's approval that it would not put her life at risk. The result of that discussion ended with her not speaking to Shadow for about a week or two. Every time she remembers that incident, she reprimands herself for acting so childish in the heat of the moment.

"Please be careful."

It was spoken with great concern as Mayumi turned around and left Sereinia for the time being. She knew that Mayumi heard her while Sora was left to accompany her in the stead of the young girl. She is very much well-informed that Mayumi could defend herself far better than before. But still, she cannot help but be worried. The memories of that horrible night in Triveila would sometimes flashed through her mind and it scares her greatly. There is this saying that the stronger shall fall at some point. She did not want that to happen at all. At the same time, she respects Mayumi's privacy which created a conflict with her concern and trust. In the end, her trust was put to test as she murmured under her breath.

"I should look for Shadow..."

Sereinia went on her way to look for Shadow while Sora watched over her. The people that she passes by could not help but felt awe and blushed at her current appearance. She was a beautiful sight to begin with but even more now despite the fact that there were a lot of females in their kimonos. There was just something different about her. Her raven black hair was neatly placed into a side bun wrapped with a red flower scrunchy that maintains it. Short strands and bangs framed her angelic face perfectly. This time she was wearing a pink kimono with roses as its imprint along with her obi. She also wore the wooden sandals just a bit modified as it has heels. Adding to that, her actions and gestures were so prim and proper. The people had concluded on their own that she was of nobility or a rich individual. Although, some had remembered her as one of the doctors at the clinic in Cre' Est. All in all, she had a certain way to bring out elegance and beauty in any clothing even how simple it may appear to be. All she had to do was to wear it.

"Sora, do you know where Shadow is?"

Looking at her avian companion, Sereinia asked Sora with sincere politeness and care. As if to answer her inquiry, Sora began to lead the way. Taking this action as a positive answer, she began to follow Sora amidst the growing crowd to celebrate the coming of the new year. However, a folksong of Cre' Est tickled her fancy as she caught the scene of females wearing such extravagant kimonos performing and singing. They looked like well-crafted dolls and their voices were like a haunting lullaby in a good way. No wonder the crowd gathered there to watch them. They were mesmerizing and beautiful in a whimsical manner. But if she was right to conclude, the one who had garnered much attention was the main performer, a petite girl donning such an elaborate and beautiful kimono who had snow blonde hair and silver-grey eyes. The other females with her were beautiful as well however, there was just something different. Although, she was certain there was something broken in those eyes. She wondered if anyone else noticed that.

"Huh?"

Feeling something pecking on her shoulder, Sereinia quickly looked and Sora trying to get her attention. She immediately gave an apologetic smile and bowed humbly to Sora. It was not her intention to ignore Sora or to cause concern.

"I apologize Sora. Let us be going now."

With that said, Sereinia went on her way as the show continued on while she heard the words from the crowd about sirens. The word was simply stored at the back of her mind as she continued to follow Sora to where Shadow would possibly be. However, it was getting quite hard as the crowd grew larger. It must be that the other people from other nations had come to celebrate here at Cre' Est. Fortunately, no one had taken advantage of such atmosphere; although, accidents cannot be detected or avoid in some situations in which she had a collision with another person. It was quite an impact for Sereinia was speeding up her pace while looking above to follow Sora. As such, it was her fault into bumping someone. Instinctively, she closed her eyes and waited for her impending fall on the ground. But, it did not happen.

Instead, Sereinia felt something warm blowing on her and the felt of someone's arm around her waist. She slowly opened her eyes and what she saw was a pair of crimson eyes. One name came into her mind as she spoke the name with surprise and an amount of gentleness.

"Shadow?"

"I beg your pardon?"

It was the immediate response and that was enough to make Sereinia realized that it was not Shadow who was before her. In addition, she finally took notice that the eyes were more of pink than red. It was also then she had taken a good look of the face of the one she bumped into and who had prevented her fall. This was an entirely different person though, it was a male nonetheless. As a result, she quickly moved away from the man as she did not notice the growing crowd of curious onlookers around her.

"I am very sorry about that. I have mistaken you for someone else. Please forgive me. I not only collided with you due to my carelessness but also took you for another person."

There was a undefinable silence while Sereinia had lowered her head in shame and a show of sincere apology. But soon enough, it was dispelled with a light chuckle which surprised her as she raised her head and look at the man before her.

"You're quite funny. I like you. The name is Yarun. Yours?"

The man was quite carefree and spoke with a casual tone along with a smile that was unhindered by anything. It was safe to say that Sereinia was being swept away by Yarun's tempo.

"My name is Sereinia Lucis Nouralail. I--"

She was not able to continue her words as an index finger was placed on her lips with Yarun leaning to close for comfort. His eyes gazed deeply into her amethyst ones while having a smile on his face. This gesture earned a light blush from her.

"Don't sweat the small stuff. If you want to apologize, let's go and have a date..."

Sereinia stepped back to regain a sense of her private space and blinked a couple of times upon hearing the word date. She had encounters with many different men who wanted her attention and heart. Some of them were not quite gentle and a bit of them were never noble as well. At the moment, she had no idea what category Yarun belongs to as the man was very handsome. The type where women would swooned over.

"I don't think you have a boyfriend seeing that such a beautiful lady is left alone. How sad."

It was at this moment that Sora swooped down and landed on Sereinia's shoulder. The gathered crowd gasped at the sudden intrusion of the creature. Yarun looked at the bird with slight surprise which quickly turned into interest. This was the time she had managed to regain a sense of composure.

"I apologize Mr. Yarun. However, I am with a friend and they are waiting for me. If you would excuse us... Perhaps, I would find another way to show my apology."

With that, Sereinia made her way through the crowd as she quickly left before Yarun could say anything after her. She was not sure why she had a feeling that this would not be the last time she would be seeing Yarun. Another pecking could be felt but it was now at her right cheek. She looked at Sora with an apologetic smile once more.

"My apologies Sora... I am quite a handful to watch."

After saying that, Sora flew once more leading the way which Sereinia followed. But this time more cautiously than before. Soon enough, she reaches her destination and saw Shadow sitting at the edge of the fountain seemingly in deep thought. This made her release a sigh of relief and a smile which was certainly unaware of as she approached him.

"I apologize I took so long, Shadow."

Setting

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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#, as written by Layla
The last note sang through the air and Siren slipped quietly from the dance, picking up her skirts - honestly, the kimono she wore was incredibly beautiful but also incredibly impractical. The music faded into another song - one Siren was not a part of. As she walked, people parted for her, not wanting to step and trip over the long cloths rippling from her small frame. Siren's hair had grown longer in the past months and now flowed quite a long way past her hips.

The sounds of the festival were comforting in a strange way, drowning out the noises in her own head. Her heart pulsed from the rush of the dance and the excitement of performance. Siren craved skin. Raising her head to smile demurely at a handsome man, she caught a glimpse of a familiar dark haired frame. Siren blinked carefully, there're lots of dark haired young men, Siren.

This was also the New Year's - everyone was here.

Like a sphere of ghostly light, Siren glided towards the figure. The snow-haired girl was a spot of solitude in an otherwise crowded city. Piercing dark blue eyes. Siren picked up her pace although speed was quite impossible in at least half a dozen layers of cloth. She wasn't sure why she was trying to reach Keito. Siren didn't care about him in the least and he brought back memories she didn't much like thinking of. I should've let him die, she thought. Thinking not of Keito but of... The-man-who-will-not-be-named. Perhaps it was because Keito was familiar and that was why she was trying her damnedest to hold onto him. Perhaps it was because she wanted to know if the thief was okay - No, of course not. I want to return his sword.

Lies. Keito's sword was no better than a paperweight in her mind.

"Hey, pretty lady! Will you buy this hand-made fan?" a stall owner called out to Siren.

"No, thank you," she mumbled in a rush, nearly tripping in her Pokkuri- the things were not made for running. Luckily, she didn't have to squeeze through any bodies because no one came close to her clearly expensive Kimono. Siren's wealth flourished during her months in Gweynura - being an expensive entertainer of the House of Sirens and one of the most in demand meant she could afford almost anything now. Not to mention she'd been completing the most unpleasant bounties. Countless men had proposed to her, giving her everything from gold to rare cloths to even houses - Siren kept all of their gifts, of course. Even though she had no intention of accepting their proposals.

With fingers as fragile as a porcelain doll's, Siren grabbed the swordsman's arm.

"Keito," she whispered.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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The performance was over and Layla stepped down from where she stood and into the crowd as it dispersed. He raised his chin a little, trying to spot her in the large group of people. Despite her decorative kimono and appearance, he couldn't seem to spot her over the heads of the other people gathered around. He pushed pass a couple of people, trying to get to where he watched her step down, but stopped abruptly as he felt someone take hold of his arm.

"Keito."

"Layla!" He said, a little surprised. He wasn't exactly the kind of person to stick out, but she'd spotted and found him before he found her.

He looked down at her, realizing that she looked much more amazing in her kimono up-close. He also found himself feeling relieved now that he knew she'd gotten out of the whether-confused forest without freezing and seemed to be doing pretty well. For a moment he lost himself as he admired her familiar beauty, but then he remembered his first priority. He needed to find Jude and get his sword back, and..maybe give the guy a good punch in the cheek as well. He just hoped that the thief hadn't sold it by now. The thought of it being used as just a weapon for killing or for something that Keito would never use it for enraged him.

"Layla," He started as he took a small step back and turned to face her, "Uhm..how should I put this..."

He hesitated a moment, trying to put some sort of sentence together. He knew what he wanted to ask her, but wasn't really quite sure how to put it into words. It wasn't even that complicated of a question, but a little obvious all the same. Why in the world would she have any idea where Jude was? She nearly killed him, after all.

"I..need to ask you a question about Jude. I mean, would you happen to have any idea where he could be? He took something of mine that is probably more important to me than my life, so I really need to find him so I can get it back."

It was true. That sword was the last connection that he had to Elina..the same weapon that had taken the girls life. That very thought just made him even more desperate to find it in fear of it being used for that kind of purpose a second time.

He gently placed his hands on Layla's shoulders and locked his eyes with hers, his expression more serious now than it was before.

"Listen, if you have any information about him at all, even if it just a little, please tell me."

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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#, as written by Layla
"Layla!" the swordsman exclaimed in surprise. It felt strange being called Layla, still. Didn't he know she was Siren now? Layla was long gone. Still, a slither of relief wiggled through Siren's shock. Strangely, she wasn't at all unhappy to see him. The lights of an overhanging row of red lanterns tinted his hair red.

"Layla," he repeated. "Uhm..how should I put this... I..need to ask you a question about Jude." Siren flinched at the mention of his name, a small seed of anger planting itself in the depths of her relief. "I mean, would you happen to have any idea where he could be? He took something of mine that is probably more important to me than my life, so I really need to find him so I can get it back."

"Listen, if you have any information about him at all, even if it just a little, please tell me." Siren stiffened at Keito's hands on her shoulders. Her eyes floated down to his lips to avoid the deep blue irises of his that always made her feel like she was drowning in them.

"Don't mention the thief around me," she said in a weak voice - I was aiming for stern. She stepped backwards, letting Keito's hands fall from her skin. "I don't know where he is, nor do I care. He's probably deflowering some stupid, gullible girl right now."

Siren fidgeted with her pale hair - a habit she was now certain she would never be rid of. Her eyes dipped down to Keito's chest. "Why do you care so much about -" she hissed the next word, "Him. He doesn't have your precious sword. I do and it's a very effective paper weight and I intend to keep it." Glancing a brief glare into Keito's trusting eyes, she picked up her skirts to walk away. With the number of patterned cloths around her - it took a significant amount of time.

"It's been nice seeing you, Kei- Corny," she emphasised, as if to say she could still get him killed if he so much as came close to stepping on her toes. "Have a wonderful time at this cheerful festival," she said sarcastically. Then, she brought her silver eyes up to meet his in full for the first time since they found each other again and said in a voice bitter enough to burn through steel and sad enough to drown the world.

"If you find him - stick a sword through his heart."

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius
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"Don't mention the thief around me."

Her voice sounded weak for a moment before she stepped back, something Keito wasn't really expecting. She even sounded a little sad.

"I don't know where he is, nor do I care. He's probably deflowering some stupid, gullible girl right now."

Had Jude done something to her?

At least now it was obvious the thief had come after her when he woke up, and must've brought Keito's sword with him. But Keito wanted to know why the guy would come after her. Was it really to save Keito? No, probably not. If anything it would be to get revenge for Layla poisoning him. If he did find Layla, nothing good came out of it, but t least they didn't end up killing each other.

Layla began to fidget with a strand of her hair as she if was nervous in some way and she moved her eyes lower, completely avoiding eye contact. She was acting different, flustered or maybe confused.

"Why do you care so much about him."

"I told you, he has--"

[b]"He doesn't have your precious sword. I do and it's a very effective paper weight and I intend to keep it."


"What?" He whispered, a little surprised. He had to admit, when she looked up and gave him a cold glance, he felt a little hurt. Still, it looked like she got rid of that shakiness that she had earlier.

It took her a little time to gather her skirts as the people passed them by, a few of them giving small glances at Layla and Keito as they talked, mostly being men. They were probably wondering why the beautiful girl picked Keito to approach before any of them, but Keito didn't really care about their thoughts. Right now he was trying to put the pieces together as to why Layla had his sword and not Jude, and why she was acting so cold towards him. Well, that was a naive thought. Of course she wouldn't want to see him, but she acted more like he was something to take out her anger towards Jude on. Jude must've hunted her down, and then she somehow ended up obtaining Keito's sword and now she planned to keep it?

"It's been nice seeing you, Kei- Corny,"

His serious expression returned and he quickly put his guard back up. She wasn't acting like Layla at all, this was Siren.

"Have a wonderful time at this cheerful festival."

Her eyes moved up and locked with his, and he easily matched her sarcastic glare with a cold one.

"If you find him - stick a sword through his heart."

She turned to walk away, and he instantly felt desperate again. He couldn't let the Kuroi Yuki slip away from his a second time, not when the person who had it was standing right in front of him. "Wait!" He said quickly, stepping forward and grabbing her wrist with his right hand and pulling her a little. "You don't understand how important that sword is! It's not just a silly weapon that you can use however you want! I'll pay you anything, do anything, just please!"

Damn..you probably look so pathetic right now..

"Please it's the only thing I have left of El--!", he cut himself off and paused a moment before letting go of her wrist.

I need it..

"Layla..", he started, his voice unusually cold. "That sword is more important to me than you could know..I already have a bounty on my head. So, it wouldn't make much of a difference if I killed you right here. I doubt you could do much fighting in those clothes." He slightly narrowed his eyes as he gazed upon her, though his own cold tone even surprised him. He was even a little surprised that he would threaten her in such a way, but right now he felt as if he meant every word, even if it was the last thing he wanted to do. "Layla, I need you to return my weapon, or you'll leave me with no other choice.."

I'm sorry.

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Lee Hart
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#, as written by Layla
"Wait!" A hand clamped on Siren's wrist desperately as Keito spoke in a rush, "You don't understand how important that sword is! It's not just a silly weapon that you can use however you want! I'll pay you anything, do anything, just please!" I don't want money, she growled with her eyes.

"Please it's the only thing I have left of El--!" -ina. Grinding her teeth together, she tried to tug her hand away. I'm not going to let Elina make me weak again. Keito was stronger than he looked.

"Layla..." Keito spoke. His voice was shockingly threatening - it was strange, hearing the name of her youth being used with such suggested violence. Countless men and women had hissed 'Siren' with anger, fear and betrayal, but never Layla. Not until then, at least. "That sword is more important to me than you could know..I already have a bounty on my head. So, it wouldn't make much of a difference if I killed you right here. I doubt you could do much fighting in those clothes."

Siren raised a blonde brow, a familiar smirk gracing her features. "Guess I'll just have to take my clothes off, eh?" she teased, trailing her free hand down his shirt. "Just to make it fair and even."

"Layla, I need you to return my weapon, or you'll leave me with no other choice.."

She stared at him uncaringly, her silver eyes turning into a paler shade of grey, muddy like clouds of storm. "You'd kill a beautiful lady for a mere sword? I thought better of you, Keito dear. Honestly, if you wanted the paper weight so badly, you should've simply said so from the beginning. There was no need for such threats and... Physical entrapments," she chastised, raising her wrist with its fingertips of blue.

"Besides, w-" she silenced abruptly, looking over Jude's shoulder at a familiar green-eyed man. She observed him without expression, giving him a curt nod of acknowledgement. She didn't care much for the man who'd pinned her to the floor for the-man-who-shall-not-be-named. He didn't pose as a threat as she wasn't anyone of interest. She wondered why he was watching her and Keito so intently, though.

"If you still want your precious thief," she said, turning her gaze back to the ocean blue eyes in front of her and tilting her head towards the green-eyed man, "You should ask that man over there. He's probably keeping track of the one that got away."

"As for your sword," she shrugged before giving Keito a playful grin, "I'll think about it."

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Lee Hart
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"Guess I'll just have to take my clothes off, eh?"

Well that wasn't exactly the answer he was expecting, but it wasn't too surprising either. He tensed a little as he felt her hand on his chest, but kept a serious stance all-in-all.

"Just to make it fair and even."

He wasn't going to let himself get distracted from his main task. He guessed that she didn't fully believe that he would actually kill her if she refused to give him his sword. Maybe she was right, but Keito had killed before. It had been a long time, but for a moment, from the way he spoke, he almost felt as if he could do it again without much remorse.

"You'd kill a beautiful lady for a mere sword? I thought better of you, Keito dear. Honestly, if you wanted the paper weight so badly, you should've simply said so from the beginning. There was no need for such threats and... Physical entrapments,"

He clenched his teeth for a second, not pleased by the way she was addressing his weapon. It might seem foolish to some people, but insulting a swordsman's weapon was one of the greatest disrespects. Keito regretted every second that he'd let the sword slip out of his hands five months ago. It had never happened before, and since he never traveled with anyone it was one of the last things on his mind, but now he just felt like half of him was missing. With one half of him burned away with Elina, and his sword missing, there wasn't much of him left.

He opened his mouth to give her a cold reply, but she continued speaking before he could get a word out.

"Besides, w-"

Why did she stop?[/b]

"If you still want your precious thief,"

[i]I want my sword, not Jude.


"You should ask that man over there. He's probably keeping track of the one that got away."

He turned his head a little, his eyes moving in the direction that Layla's pointed to. There was a man standing a little further off, maybe around Layla's age with green eyes and brown hair. Though Jude wasn't Keito's first priority at the moment, he was a little curious as to why that man would know the thief, let alone be keeping track of him. As Layla began to speak again, he turned his attention from the man and back to her.

"As for your sword, I'll think about it."

He glared at her, his eyes cold. Slowly, and almost as if Keito himself was unaware of it, his right hand began to raise, preparing to grip the handle of his temporary sword and unsheathe it. He wasn't playing around right now, and his desperation and anger had started to get the best of him as his fingertips moved towards his weapon.

"I did catch the Wolf."

Keito blinked, almost like he broke out of some trance. He clutched his right hand into a fist before letting it drop back at his side and he glanced over at the man who had spoken. Looked like the guy had overheard their conversation about Jude.

"I assumed you two had met up by now"

"The wolf?" He said, keeping himself facing Layla but his head turned a little. Why would he be referring to Jude as 'The wolf'?

"You mean Jude?" As he spoke, he didn't let his mind slip away from what he was truly after. If Layla tried to walk away, he would stop her.

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Lee Hart
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#, as written by Layla
"You mean Jude?" corrected Keito. Siren's smile grew wider - he doesn't know.

"Yeah, Jude the thief. Jude the Omega. Jude the Omega of the world's renowned thieves guild - the Wolf Pack. Ring a bell, sunshine?" she asked - she'd always wanted to call someone 'Sunshine.' Then, realising she'd so casually used the name 'Jude,' she gave herself a mental slap. "Let's call him Dude instead."

Tugging on the green-eyed man's shirt to pull him closer and to show Keito the person whom she was speaking of, she explained, "This kid over here attempted to capture Dude but failed miserably. Honestly, if I'd known what a massive bounty he had on his head," an obvious lie, clearly. Of course Siren would know of the large bounty on the thief's head, "I would've killed him the night we..." She gave the two men hard glares, Siren had never before been ashamed of sleeping with anyone. Then again, she'd never stayed till dawn, either. "The night we met with your father. Really, really handsome father, by the way. You should've told me you had such a young and respected parent. I would've brought you in no matter what. Just to be in his good bed- books."

I love making people uncomfortable.

"So, as I was saying, this kid here let him get away apparently." The light haired boy was in no way a kid, especially not when he was significantly taller and bulkier than Siren. "By the way, what's your name? Man-who-is-very-uncomfortably-crushing-my-wrist over there is Keito. I am your Lady. Please, call me your Highness and do feel free to bow down."

After giving the somewhat-stranger a suggestive wiggle of her eyebrows, she turned back to Keito, wiggling her hand in his. "If it's quite alright with you, I'd like my hand back." Then, with an all too cheerful smile, she said, "You're stronger than you look, short stuff."

No, because Siren clearly was not the shortest one there.

"You should try having some charisma, love. Though, on the other hand," she moved her free fingers, staring at them in feigned surprise as she searched the faces of the people around them to confirm that they were not looking. "You have fingers!"

Chopping her free hand into Keito's neck, Siren flipped the hand that was caught in his simultaneously and pulled herself free from the the area where his thumb met his fingers. Flipping her arm upwards, she knocked Keito under his chin with her elbow. Siren hooked her leg behind the green-eyed man's and stepped down on the back of his calves before picking up her skirts and considered speed-walking away.

To take off shoes, to not take of shoes... Nope. They're too pretty. So Siren used the one tried and proven technique that had never failed her before. It was a skill that had taken her years to master and not a single person in the whole of Cre' Est could do it as well as her. Siren took a deep breath -

And screamed.

Heads whipped around to the shrill and deafening sound of a helpless young girl. Siren quickly fell on the ground - she'd mastered the art of pretending to have been pushed, as well. Letting a look of absolute horror cross her pretty features, she cradled her bruised and 'broken' wrist in her hand. Siren curled herself into a small, trembling ball as she let frightened and violated tears fall from her large eyes.

"Are you okay, miss? What did these terrible men do to you?" A muscular stall owner asked, bending over her.

Siren let a sob shake her frail body before she spoke, "Oh, sir. I accidentally bumped into t-that man w-with the dark hair and they..." she sobbed louder, "They touched me!"

People began to crowd around the three, looking at Siren with pity and the two men with anger. Several males brought it upon themselves to set Keito and his accomplice straight. How dare they hurt an innocent young woman?

Siren cried into her hands to disguise her laughter - she wasn't sure if Keito's threat was serious but it was better to be safe than sorry. As for the guy with green eyes - well, it was payback for pinning her down.

Besides, this was fun.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Lee Hart
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Shadow smiled at Sereinia and looked back down to Taira in the streets, nodding to her. Shadow took a moment to remove the formal robes and replace his traditional black jacket and regular pants before Taira entered the room, walking over towards the man whom Sereinia had treated as Shadow himself picked Sereinia up in his arms once more and leaped out of the window. He landed with a light thud in the streets below and set her down. He stood up straight and looked around, taking in the sights and scents around him as he continued to move forward through the streets.

With Mayumi and Sora on the rooftops and in the air, Shadow knew that he was covered as he moved forward cautiously with Sereinia by his side. It wasn't that he didn't trust Taira to protect her, but at the same time he wanted Sereinia close by just in case something went wrong. The closer she was, the faster he'd be able to react and protect her. Her kidnapping last time had forced him to realize this in a manner most unpleasant and he was not in any sort of mood to repeat the same mistake. Shadow's grip on sanity was somewhat questionable, but he was not "insane" by definition. When he made a mistake once, he never made it again.

Slowly and silently he wandered the streets until eventually his ears drew him to a verbal confrontation a short distance away. Shadow peeked around the corner of a building and saw a young woman talking with two men. One of them had just knocked another man out by kicking his legs and hitting him in the forehead. It was interesting that his victim had gone down so easily though, as the forehead was not really a point of instant knockout which meant this man either struck with greater force than Shadow had initially given him credit for, or he'd struck another point without it being noticed which was unlikely since Shadow's eyes rarely missed such details.

He didn't want to get involved, but this night was not about confrontation but celebration so Shadow decided to put his search for whatever was going on in the city on hold for the moment as he approached the trio, signaling to Sereinia to remain at the building corner to wait for him.

He walked forward calmly, speaking in a clear but low voice as he came forward. The moon was in front of him and therefore shining directly into his eyes giving them their distinct red glow in the night against his raven black hair and black outfit. He was certain that, although he'd hidden his identity from the people of the festival thanks to all of the candlelight and torches, he would not be able to hide it from these three.

... However, there was nothing wrong with that now.

"I thought that tonight was about celebration, not confrontation. Is what you have to say really so important that you feel you have to knock someone out to make a point? I would advise the three of you to take a step back from each other and sort this out in a more calm and even manner, or I will have to settle it for you." He said, flashing one of his Twin Daggers by flicking it halfway out of its sheath.

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Lee Hart
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"Yeah, Jude the thief. Jude the Omega. Jude the Omega of the world's renowned thieves guild - the Wolf Pack. Ring a bell, sunshine?"

Jude? A Wolf Pack member?!

He had to admit it surprised him quite a bit. He wasn't expecting Jude the woman-loving, slightly rude, 'uses people as mattresses to save himself' as a member of the thieves guild. Then there was the other guy who hadn't introduced himself whom had attempted to catch Jude but failed. The thief probably had a much larger bounty on his head than Keito's, so he was a little curious as to why Layla hadn't taken Jude instead of himself. She would've gotten more money for him.

"The night we met with your father. Really, really handsome father, by the way. You should've told me you had such a young and respected parent. I would've brought you in no matter what. Just to be in his good bed- books."

She thinks that jerk is handsome!?

If Layla had let him go, why did she go and see his father, and with Jude along with her? That didn't really make much sense. Maybe it was to tell him that she'd let Keito go, but that would just ruin her record. They didn't meet with him to give him Keito's sword, since Layla still had it with her. Was it simply to tell him that she wasn't going to hunt him anymore? That didn't seem like something Layla would tell someone. If anything they had some plan to bargain with his father that Keito couldn't figure out.

"If it's quite alright with you, I'd like my hand back. You're stronger than you look, short stuff."

"Short stuff?!"

After a few more moments, he received a couple of unexpected blows from Layla and he stumbled backward a little, but quickly regained his stance after she freed himself from his hand.

"Layla!"

And then she screamed and toppled onto the ground, causing many heads to turn in their direction. For a moment he felt concerned for her. She wasn't exactly wearing the best kind of shoes to be running in and he was about to run to her to make sure she hadn't hurt herself. Of course, he was completely wrong.

"Oh, sir. I accidentally bumped into t-that man w-with the dark hair and they...They touched me!"

Keito was shocked.

"T-touched you?!" He blurted out nervously, stopping in his tracks. Before long plenty of the male villagers who had been enjoying the festival started to crowd around Keito and himself.

The green-eyed man acted quickly, even taking out one of the villagers as he started to make his way towards Layla. Was he going to hurt her?

Keito on the other hand, stepped back a little and slightly lifted his hands to show that he wasn't going to draw his weapon. Of course he'd be capable of doing so at any second if he didn't have a choice, but his threatening self from earlier quickly diminished as he searched for a better solution. Taking out a bunch of villagers that he doubted had much fighting experience just didn't suit well with him.

"Now wait a minute! You've got it wrong I wasn--!"

"I thought that tonight was about celebration, not confrontation. Is what you have to say really so important that you feel you have to knock someone out to make a point? I would advise the three of you to take a step back from each other and sort this out in a more calm and even manner, or I will have to settle it for you."

Suddenly the crowd froze and heads began to turn in a different direction, the attention turning to a new figure than had walked towards the crowd, eyes glowing red with the help of the moon's silver rays. There was silence for a few seconds before someone in the crowd screamed, "The red-eyed demon!". There were a few gasps and then the sound of heavy footsteps as the villagers began to run and clear away from the four of them. With the villagers gone, it was much easier for Keito to get a better look at the newcomer as the man showed them his weapons, though did not completely unsheathe them.

Keito slightly narrowed his eyes at the man, lowering his hands without a word. He'd heard of the red-eyed demon before, but never actually believed it. Myths meant absolutely nothing to Keito. Even so, a tall man, dark hair, and red eyes stood in the clearing with them. It wasn't a myth.

He cautiously approached Layla, though made sure to keep his eye on the newcomer as well just in case, and then stopped in front of her.

"My sword, Layla. Where is it?" He asked sternly and calmly, glancing at the red-eyed man once before moving his eyes back onto the bounty huntress.

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Lee Hart
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#, as written by Layla
Iridescent red eyes.

Siren blinked slowly, her heart wrenching itself from it's socket to smack against her ribcage. Pressing the palms of her hands to her eyes, she wanted to keep them there forever and dissolve into the earth so she'd never have to come back to reality - Reality? What is reality? Siren showed none of the quaking fear she felt to the very core of her being as she pulled her hands from her eyes. Her lids did not widen, didn't do anything but blink as if she were merely staring at the newcomer with severe boredom; she didn't even tremble.

Kill me kill me kill me.

Standing swiftly - with a confidence she no longer had - Siren wished she could blend into the crowds and disappear. Wonderful costume choice, Layla. Just bloody wonderful. Her large silver eyes flicked up the length of the Demon - tall, red-eyed, black - Demon. Siren wanted to scream, gauge her eyes out and shred her throat but she'd never been much good at showing her true emotions, not even when her emotions became all she was. Siren was beyond horrified.

Her heart was the only indication of her absolute terror as it smacked itself against her chest and smashed inwards. It flooded her body with a rush of blood, gushing it through her veins as if it were trying to cleanse her body of what she'd seen. Siren's feet stayed rooted to the ground - sucked in as if skeletal hands from Hell were forcing them down and perhaps they were. Perhaps every fear she'd ever had was reality and reality was not real.

She wished this was not real.

Siren was in a crowded place and she might as well have been all alone in a dark alley with Hell for light for the difference it made. Realising she'd been staring right into those ruby eyes and that she was probably possessed or cursed by now, Siren quickly dropped her pale eyes down to the Demon's feet.

Please, please, please go away.

Siren was a believer of Science but she could not deny the reality of the Creature that stood in front of her. She clenched her hands as tightly as she possible could, letting her nails slice into her skin. Siren wanted to rip a dagger through her arm and hurt. For, perhaps, the pain might overwhelm the horror in the very depths of who she was.

Keito said something to her but none of it registered. Nothing except the Demon was processing in her mind. Who is Keito?

Who am I?


Layla. Run live survive escape you're too small and he's too big run nothing you can do don't be afraid you'll be okay smile put on a show Layla don't let them see you cry lie

Run.


"I am truly sorry for disrupting your festivities," she whispered in her honeyed as she bowed, "Please forgive me."

Slipping out of her shoes - even freedom from those wretched things did not ease any of her despair - Siren pushed back into the crowd

And ran.

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Lee Hart
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"I'll be right back! Hold this for a moment!"

All of a sudden Keito tossed his bag to Ritsu and, nearly dropping it, she clumsily caught it in her hands.

"K-Keito!", she called, but it was too late. Keito had disappeared into the crowd and she couldn't see him anywhere.

She pushed through the streets with his bag in her arms, letting her eyes scan the crowds for his neat, black hair. With the music, talking, shouting, and sound of constant footsteps, there wasn't much of a chance that he'd hear her if she yelled his name.

That jerk. Running off without a word and leaving me to carry his stuff!

She was a little upset, but curious as well. She wanted to know why he would suddenly run off. Layla was it? She heard him barely whisper the name before running off, but she'd never heard him talk about anyone by the name of 'Layla' before. To be honest, Keito never talked about anyone and rarely even talked about himself. They'd been traveling together for five months now, and he'd even stayed in her village for a majority of that time, but she still barely knew anything about him. Whenever she did ask him about his past, he always found some way to avoid the question. He was a complete expert at it!

She wandered around for a bit and spent maybe fifteen minutes or more searching for him, but she couldn't find him anywhere. By now she was getting tired of looking.

Maybe I should just head back to the Inn and wait for him there..

For a moment she felt like she was the only one walking up this part of the street, while everyone else looked to be in quite a hurry to go the opposite direction. But, being the slightly clueless person that she was, she didn't put much thought into it and continued in the direction she was going.

When she turned the corner into the clearing, she felt another body hit against hers and she toppled backwards and landed roughly onto the stone beneath her. Keito's back dropped and rolled a couple of feet to her right and she sat up, rubbing the lower, right side of her hip where she landed hardest as she looked up to see who she had run into.

Ritsu's eyes widened for a second. It was a very beautiful young woman with hair that looked almost white and perfectly fair skin. She was also dressed in a very decorative, and most likely very expensive kimono. She stared in awe for a little while before jumping up from where she was sitting with an apologetic expression on her face.

"I'm so sorry! I didn't see you there and I wasn't watching where I was going! Are you alright I'm so sorry! You're not hurt are y-- Keito?"

A little further back she saw Keito standing with another man a little closer to him. Turning her head, she also realized there was another man, much taller and more muscular than Keito was, but that's not what really caught her attention. The man had the most memorizing glow to his ruby eyes. It was an eye color she'd never seen before, but they were beautiful in a way. Blinking a couple of times to stop herself from staring, she looked back down at the woman she'd run into and held out her hand to help her up.

"I'm sorry about that." She said with an apologetic smile, then looked up at Keito.

"What's going on here?"

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli
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The information which the woman had just given him couldn't have been more unwelcome than at this very moment. Jude had just barely been saved by his captors by the young women, only to have the target on his back to increase exponentially. The Red Eyed Demon?... Well ain't that just great! Not only am I a member of the most infamous thieves guild in Cre' Est the Wolf Pack who have been regularly hunted down by the Assassin's of Te'i Sai, I am now MARKED as a friend of The Red Eyed Demon... Great... just great. Sighing Jude looked down at the cane he was holding in his hands and his legs, his legs which would be unable to carry him if not for the assistance of that cane. Jude could just as easily stay in the inn for a while longer but knowing how the Assassin's of Te'i Sai were, how they hunted and killed so many of his "brothers" he knew he couldn't stay there, not for one more lingering moment. If I am to be hunted by them again I will have to be constantly on the run... Guess my life has become interesting once again, Father.

"Thank you for being honest with me love... Guess that if I am going to be associated with the man I may as well seek him. We shall meet up with them then... For me to thank them and to get out of here... Oh, and don't worry love. I might not look it at the moment but I can handle myself... even with just this cane." With that said Jude walked down to the floor of the inn, grabbing some food and some money from some unwilling patrons. If I am going to be hunted I can't be going out on an empty stomach... or without any money... Not like these people needed it, if they did they would've made better sure that they would be able to keep hold of it. After eating Jude and the woman left the inn, in search for The Red Eyed Demon.

"Hope he isn't as the stories say he is... Don't want to be killed anytime soon you know." He said this jokingly but he knew that the very fact of who he was seeking out that was actually a very high possibility. But right now he had to gamble on the demon, being a monster himself he couldn't be picky about whom he worked with to keep himself alive. I would trade my soul if it would grant me freedom... Heh, what a funny concept. To sell your soul to the devil to be forever damned and imprisoned by him to gain freedom... That is a laugh.

The Streets of Cre' Est

The night air was something which Jude had missed, the freshness and the very smell of the night. It is one hell of a thing to be free... I won't become imprisoned again... I rather die than to lose my freedom. Jude and the woman hadn't traveled that long before they heard the sound of commotion. Judging by the sounds of the crowd it was most likely because of the man himself, The Red Eyed Demon. I'm glad to know there are some people in this world more sought out and hunted down than me... I wonder if it is bad to feel that way? Following the sounds of the crowds Jude began to walk as fast as he could towards them, only to see someone he hadn't had planned to meet again. His muse and his bane, Layla.

As her beautiful figure began running towards them, snow blonde hair flowing as she ran, Jude began to remember the nights they shared together. He didn't know why she was there or why she was running, all he cared about was that she was there. Jude could've lived without her in his life, correction he could exist without her in his life but he couldn't live. No matter how she felt about him at that moment Jude needed to get something from her, something he knew that she would have on her if he knew her at all. As her figure ran near him he saw that she had been bumped into by a young girl. Odd girl... beat me to it I guess... Will have to find another way too... never mind. Jude walked towards them with his cane in his hands, looking down at her Jude took her hand, bringing her to her feet. Placing his hand on her back, feeling the fabric in between his fingers. Haven't changed a bit have you Layla?

"Well isn't this strange... I didn't think I would meet you again like this... or this soon... Did you miss me love?" He questioned her but she didn't seem to recognize him right away, or she didn't want to realize that it was him. Grinning Jude bowed, taking the top hat on his head off as he did, revealing his longer unkempt black hair. He then lifted the eye patch, uncovering his golden eye.

"Ain't this a serendipitous situation... Right Layla?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli Character Portrait: Lee Hart
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There was something incredibly off about Layla. She didn't answer him after he asked her the location of his sword. She didn't even look at him, or give him a smirk or a smart remark. She just continued sitting there, completely frozen. Could it be the presence of this 'Red-eyed man'? Sure, the glowing eyes did throw Keito off a little bit, but it's the aura that the man gave off that let Keito remind himself to keep a cool head. That man had far more experience than Keito, and by simply looking and measuring the confidence level the man had, it was better to stay away from him.

Suddenly Layla picked herself up off the ground and turned to run, leaving her shoes behind. She looked terrified, not like the Layla Keito knew at all. The snow-haired woman didn't get very far before a familiar figure turned the corner and collided with her, causing them both to fall back onto the stone.

Of course the red-head instantly became quite flustered and apologetic, repeating the words 'I'm Sorry' to Layla a few times before even stopping to figure out the situation.

"Keito?"

"Ritsu?"

"What's going on here?"

To be honest, Keito wasn't exactly sure himself anymore. All he wanted was to confront Layla and get his weapon back, but then the green-eyed man showed up, and Layla went and caused a scene, which seemed to be something she was too good at doing, and then a few moments later the man with the red eyes showed up. A simple confrontation turned into a real head-splitter in just a few minutes. He glanced over at the red-eyed man for a moment before walking over to stand beside Layla where she sat and picked up his bag to make sure all of his belongings were still inside. He pulled the string and peeked inside, glad to see his clothes still intact and in their original place. Knowing Ritsu, she probably wouldn't notice of some stranger decided to stick their hand in and take something. He tied the bag shut again and threw the strap over his left shoulder and adjusted it so the bag sat comfortable behind his shoulder.

"It's a little hard to expla--"

Layla was pulled to her feet by the hand of a stranger, though a stranger whose voice sounded all too familiar and who spoke to the woman with the up most causality in his tone. Of course, there was also the fact that he pulled her in close and placed his arm around her. Who else would do that to a complete stranger besides the one and only Jude? Still, the thief looked pretty ridiculous in his new attire.

"Ain't this a serendipitous situation... Right Layla?"

"Jude? What the..what are you wearing? You like you were just trampled by a heard of elephants and then stole clothes from some old homeless man you just picked up of the street." In truth, he probably could've looked worse, and in even more truth he didn't really look horrible either, but Keito hadn't exactly forgiven him for landing on top of him that day. "Or did you just loose a bet?"

So now the hunt for his sword turned into even more trouble for him.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli
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#, as written by Layla
"Layla!" he shouts, his feet shuffling across the floor boards. The door pounds against the wall as he steps in, like an angry palm against a tight drum. I pull the thin sheet tighter around myself and I wish I was brainless furniture. My father crushes himself on top of me, I struggle beneath his weight.

But I am too small and he is too big and there is nothing I can do.

Sitting up, he presses all of his heaviness into the knee on my chest, choking my lungs and crushing my flesh. He rips my hair and there is the smack of bones on wood. He jerks his shoe deep into my gut and a heavy pain spreads from my stomach. I croak pitifully and he stomps on my body before breaking my skull on the ground. For a moment, there is a blissful oblivion and I could bury myself in the emptiness forever but forever never lasts. My mind roughly awakens me to my father's puffy red eyes and his alcoholic breath - acidic, bitter, broken.

"I wish you died." His sizzling tears burn through my skin.

I wish I did, too.

There's the pounding of a door returning to it's place and the click of a lock pulling shut. I'm left alone in the darkness of my small and tarnished room - like me - with shadows for company. The eerie figures creep over the surface of the boxed walls, threatening to bury me alive. I tremble and pray that Demons do not come for father says they drag the souls of bad children to hell. He says I am the worst of them all.

Red eyes watch from the window high above the ground. "Saya," I whisper as my black cat lands gracefully next to me.

Tomorrow I will find her impaled to the floor next to me with my father's carving knife, with holes where her beautiful ruby eyes used to be, soaking in our blood.


"I'm so sorry! I didn't see you there and I wasn't watching where I was going! Are you alright I'm so sorry! You're not hurt are y-- Keito?"

The sweet voice brought Siren back to the present - How did I end up on the ground? Iridescent eyes the colour of blood embedded itself in Siren's mind. Her heart began to race again, panicking when she realised she most likely lost time. A million different escape routes nudged at her consciousness, all of which were futile against a Demon.

A warm, large hand held Siren's and pulled her effortlessly to her feet. Another rested on the small of her back. She pressed her small waist further back against the hand behind her, clutching the other. Somehow the hands felt familiar and safe. But for the life of her, she could not place her finger on why she felt so protected touched by them. Siren wasn't so terrified of the Demon then, for even if she did die, at least she would not die alone.

"Well isn't this strange... I didn't think I would meet you again like this... or this soon... Did you miss me love?"

Siren froze, her hand, bloodied from her sharp nails, holding onto the man's tighter. The voice was low and raspy, a voice that squeezed her heart in a longing and painful way. She raised her head, looking up at the large man who towered over her. A patch covered one eye but the other had a completely black iris. He was handsome, though - broken. She didn't wish to think about it but the man looked so much like...

The tall man pulled off his cap and lifted his eye patch to reveal an intense, lovely eye of pure gold. Siren wanted to cry.

"Ain't this a serendipitous situation... Right, Layla?"

A soft squeal escaped her lips - I'm a stupid fangirl - and then she wept without tears. Her small body shaking with an agony she could not spill from her eyes as she reached up to run her fingers through his hair. It grew.

"Jude? What the..what are you wearing? You like you were just trampled by a heard of elephants and then stole clothes from some old homeless man you just picked up of the street. Or did you just loose a bet?" Keito's voice asked. Siren sobbed louder, half laughing as she touched his messy hair. He could've been wearing a potato sack and he still would've looked ridiculously handsome to her. But Keito was right - he did look homeless.

"You look terrible," she managed to say, her voice breaking from her sobs. She trailed a finger over the familiar scar on his face, then down his neck and chest. He had so many more scars, some weren't even healed. Each new mark on his body felt like another explosion beneath her skin. "What did you do?"

Gripping his dark hair, Siren pulled his lips towards hers and just before they touched - she punched him across the face.

"Yoooouuu sonofabitch! Holy mother of God I could've been pregnant and you pointed a gun at my head. How could you do that to me? I trusted you! Youyouyou you should be a woman, yet your beard will not let me interpret you as such!"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Lee Hart Character Portrait: Aiden Syr Teodry
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Shadow watched as the young woman ran off, but chuckled to himself when she ran into the girl with red hair and was picked up by, oddly enough, the same man whom Sereinia had taken care of back at the inn. Shadow looked back to where Sereinia was and sure enough, there was Taira, smiling over at him and shrugging her shoulders. Shadow shook his head and smiled, knowing full well the kind of stubborn toughness that the man was displaying. When the young woman punched him in the face, Shadow laughed out loud a little bit. It wasn't overbearing or obnoxious in any way, in fact it was genuine and almost warm given the fact that he had shown his weapons to them earlier which surprised him a little bit.

However, his laughter faded as his eye caught sight of something very disturbing.

On the rooftop just to his left appeared a dark figure clad in dark grey armor with the red insignia of the Assassins of Te'i Sai on his chest. The armor was limited to his forearms, shins and upper chest, but that was typically all they needed. He knew from the outfit that they were part of the Vanguard Class of Assassins from Gweynura and that they were here for him which was not new but he hadn't seen them in some time. Then, all around him and the others on the rooftops and in the alleyways, more Assassins appeared until their numbers broke thirty in total. Shadow looked around slowly, turning in a circle as he watched them appear one by one as Shadow slid his right leg forward a bit to take a more active and defensive posture.

One of them, obviously the one in charge, walked right up to Shadow. He held no weapons and wore no armor, but was dressed in dark grey robes with the same red insignia on his chest and in the middle of his back as he approached. His expression was calm, but there was no hiding the slight hint of fear in his eyes and in his stride as he approached Shadow who's eyes were glowing yet brighter with every step he took.

"... Red-Eyed Demon..." He said quietly.

"What do you want here in Cre' Est?" Shadow asked.

"... Blood." Came a short answer as in a flash he had a hidden dagger exposed and lunging for Shadow.

Shadow turned his body to the side and easily avoided the attack as he grabbed the man's wrist, twisted it until it popped, and flipped him over his body and threw him hard into the ground. As Shadow stood up from the maneuver there were crossbows aimed at him which let fire. Shadow whirled around with blades extended and smashed each bolt fired at him away like nothing more than flies. Another flew at him from the rear and he spun around and split it down the middle as it flew at him, even cutting through the metal tip with his Orichalcum forged blades as he waited patiently for the next attack.

It came from all sides though, as innocent people from the streets had been gathered and thrown into the fray. Herded like sheep to create chaos in the pen as they unleashed the dogs within, the people ran about trying to find ways to escape this death trap. Some of the Assassins who were not guarding streets or rooftops to block escape ran in and started to attack. They didn't just attack Shadow though, they attacked everyone else in sight as well. While the majority of them focused on the Red-Eyed Demon, there were those who attacked Keito, Lee, Siren, Jude, Mayumi on the roofs and Taira in the street below.
Though they didn't fight to kill these other individuals, they did fight to cause damage.

Lee and Keito were knocked off their feet and pummeled on the ground for about fifteen seconds before they were then left alone in favor of the Assassins attacking Shadow instead. Taira held her own and protected Sereinia a short distance away as Mayumi dealt with her attackers on the rooftops. Siren and Jude were attacked as well, the two of them both receiving a small beating for about ten to fifteen seconds which undoubtedly felt like a lifetime before they too were then abandoned in favor of attacking Shadow.

Shadow himself had cut down a few of the other Assassin who'd come his way and as the crowd around him began to gather and grow there suddenly came a horrible and feral shriek from the center of the mass. The attacking Assassins all froze, as did everyone in earshot at the horrible and almost primeval cry that echoed forth into the night. Suddenly, there was a tremendous splash of blood that erupted forth from the center of the mass and a head flew one way while the arms and body flew another. The mass around Shadow began to back away and separate slightly as Shadow became visible once again. Both his daggers were held high, dripping from top to bottom in blood as his eyes were now wide open. Pure white eyes with red spheres in the center. There weren't any pupils to be seen, just two glowing, blank red spheres within the whites of his eyes as he smiled wickedly at his attackers.

Shadow came forward very quickly, faster than he had ever been seen to move before and horizontally slashed the belly of the nearest Assassin open with his left dagger while almost simultaneously slashing it open vertically with his right dagger. The effect opened up his stomach and the innards of the man fell before him into the cobblestone streets as he looked down to see his own entrails. Shadow lowered his stance and looked up into the startled Assassins eyes as he suddenly smiled once more and slashed his throat. Blood slowly trickled from a wound that encircled his entire neck before his head fell off ever so slowly. Shadow's head mirrored the effect as he leaned his head in the same direction as he watched it fall.

Shadow looked up and stood up straight, very, very slowly. He smiled at the crowd of innocent people and at the Assassins and other onlookers as he slowly lowered his stance and prepared to attack once more. Pandemonium ensued with Assassin and innocent alike running in all directions to escape the fury which had just been unleashed as Shadow instantly dove into the fray.

Taira shoved Sereinia into a nearby building and shut the door as quickly as she could, getting Sereinia out of Shadow's line of sight so that she would not become a target as she withdrew her own daggers and prepared to fight her master if need be.

Shadow was now on a full out killing spree. An old man ran by his left side and Shadow slashed the tendons in the back of his right leg to cripple him. Brought to his knees, the man begged the unreachable Red-Eyed Demon for his life but Shadow simply smiled at him and slashed his throat. A child ran by Shadow's right side, and Shadow knocked the boy to the ground and stomped on his neck, snapping it almost instantly as he slowly wrenched his foot from right to left on the boy's neck. A woman and her husband tried to escape by running behind him but Shadow kicked them both down at the same time and slashed their throats such that the other's blood spilled across their lover's faces. The last image they saw was of the love of their lives dripping with their blood before they fell into death's embrace.

Shadow's next target was Keito, the youth whom Shadow had known was there for a reason but never found out before the chaos ensued. Not that it mattered to him in his present state of course. Shadow ran forward and knocked the boy to the ground, stomping on his chest for all his worth and sending a crack through his breastbone from top to bottom. Though it didn't crack all the way through the bone, it would none the less be a very painful injury for several days until the bone repaired itself. Shadow picked him up and threw him against a nearby building wall and unleashed a volley of attacks again the boy even well after he was knocked unconscious by Shadow's attacks. Using the butt end of the handles as his weapons, he beat the poor boy senseless and let his body fall slowly to the ground.

Shadow whirled around and his eyes landed on Taira, who was standing in the middle of the street with her daggers drawn and her stance proving she was ready to fight.

Shadow's smile widened and his teeth now bared as he ran at Taira full speed. She had dealt with this once before in the past, but it was a near death experience for her then and she fully expected it to be so now too as Shadow ran at her. She apologized to her master mentally before she twitched to her right and threw a kick at Shadow as he aimed to slash her throat. The kick landed on the side of his stomach and slipped off to the side, knocking him off balance just enough so that his blade missed its target, but Shadow was able to recover very quickly as he stopped and turned to face her again. Master and student squared off as they began to fight, blades clanging together and sweat and blood mixing in the night air around them as they continued their struggle.

Amazingly, Taira's training during the last several years had improved to the point where she was able to hold her own against him. While he got the better of her in most of their engagements, Taira was able to recover and continue the fight for over three minutes before she finally hit the ground and could not get back up. She breathed hard, gasping for breath as she tried to reach for one of her daggers but Shadow stomped on her hand, causing her to cry out in pain as he lowered his body to look her in the eyes. His smile was otherworldly as he tilted his head to the side almost as if to taunt her with "is that all you've got?".

Shadow stood up and stepped off of her hand, but rather than continue reaching for the dagger she withdrew her hand and brought it to her chest. Cringing in pain and fright, Taira slowly looked up at her master as he raised the dagger in his right hand and prepared to bring it down right through the top of her head as a new figure appeared in the streets just behind him and a new and angelic voice rang out into the night.

The voice was as close to that of a goddess as one could get, with the woman singing the words walking out of the darkness and gazing calmly at Shadow with a gentle smile on her face. Had she a pair of wings, one could indeed swear that they had seen an angel rise from the depths and darkness of Hell and ascend to Heaven before their very eyes as she sang her melancholy song. When listening to the lyrics, it was very easy to tell they were designed to subconsciously grab and keep Shadow's attention.

Whisper to the darkness, eyes of red upon me...
In this hour of evil, peering through the night...
Blackened clouds now churning, eyes of red upon me...
Eyes of red upon me, eyes of red upon me...

(Song's tempo increases on the first three syllables and slows on the latter three)

Aching hearts do witness, suffering through the night...
Brought to bear before me, the scars and pain within...
In this hour of evil, a truth will be revealed...
Aching hearts do witness, the Shadow of my heart...

(Change in style with a higher pitch, volume and intensity of the notes with a brighter and almost happy melody. The final line sees a constant decline in tempo until the final words slowly fade in volume to nothing at the end)

Crimson orbs now floating, eyes of red upon me...
Come to me my dearest, I'll take your hand in mine...
Crimson orbs do focus, eyes of red upon me...
Come to me my dearest, I'll take your hand in mine...


As she sang the song the Demon's attention was completely focused on her. He had approached her with blades drawn, but she had shown absolutely no fear or apprehension with her approach. As her melody continued towards the end, Shadow's eyes slowly returned to normal as the strange, Demonic presence within him slowly faded to nothing and his body relaxed at last.

This new arrival reached out to him with her right hand, that same gentle smile on her face and Shadow took her hand in his after sheathing his daggers. He looked out behind him, grimacing at what he had done as he closed his eyes tightly and clenched his fist. Roda I'l Lousta had indeed taken hold, and despite his best efforts during the battle he had not been able to avoid the attack which started it all.

Looking back it was almost surreal.

When the gathering crowd of Assassin had attacked him Shadow saw a particular attack coming in but did nothing to stop it. Though he could easily have brought it to a stop, for some reason his body did not react to what his mind was telling it and the knife edge which came at him had given him a cut across the upper chest through his shirt. That one cut was all it took to mix the scent of his own blood with that of those who were around him and after that point, Roda I'l Lousta became inevitable. Looking around, though the carnage was miniscule compared to what it had been in the past it was still no easier to bear. Shadow looked at the new mystery girl with pain in his eyes as she slowly placed her hand on his face and smiled at him.

"You must be exhausted..." She said quietly as she retracted her hand.

Shadow shook his head and looked at the carnage he had wrought with the streets now painted red with the blood of his victims as he let out a sigh.

"No... Not exhausted..." He said quietly as he looked at Taira, who was now lying on her back holding her hand with her eyes closed and a small smile on her lips.

Shadow walked over to her and helped her to her feet as the new girl trailed closely behind. Taira nodded to the new girl, and received a nod in return. Shadow looked around, glancing at the faces of those who were still conscious and looking at them with pain and sadness in his eyes. He would have apologized, but there was nothing to be said now. Instead, Shadow simply asked Taira to fetch Sereinia while he looked up to the rooftops where Mayumi stood and signaled her to come down.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Linde
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#, as written by Layla
Thud.

Siren blinked, confused, before she began to fall. What the bloody hell? Just as she was falling a wicked dagger shot out at her, Siren quickly flipped to the side midair before grabbing her attacker's hand to balance herself. She kicked her right leg against the man's neck, causing him to crash into the ground. A sharp pain spiked into her left shoulder as a sword impaled itself in it. Eyes wide, she grabbed the handle and pulled it out without a second thought - a reflex and a mistake - a blinding pain imploded in her shoulder before blood shot from the wound. When she could see again, she noticed the chaos around her and the figures clad in grey armour, the red markings of the Assassians of Te'i Sai very much clear. Well, damn.

The Assassin she'd knocked down impaled a sword through her thigh. She gasped, doubling over before ripping the sword out - what the heck, I'm already bleeding. "That was... A really," she said slowly, panting from the pain and from the effort it too to parry the incoming attacks with her double swords. Now weapons she could use, "Expensive dress."

Several more blows were landed on her but she managed to not have any of her vital organs skewered or her pretty head decapitated - good enough. Glancing briefly over at Jude, she pulled her hand back and threw her sword at an Assassin who very nearly sliced the already injured man's throat clean. That probably wasn't very smart - one handed swords were not her strong point. Just as she was about to worry, the Assassins who'd been so focused on her moved towards a figure in the centre. No, not a figure -

A fountain of blood.

Figures rammed into her, screaming as if they'd just seen a Demon. Oh Goddess, please, no. No, no, no! Pure red eyes glowed in the world of red. Siren's body went numb as her eyes - hypnotised - stared, unmoving, at the Red-eyed Demon.

"He'll kill us all!"
"Please! Help me and my baby!"
"Daddy?"
"Siren..."


As if a bucket of water had just been poured over her head, Siren was roughly jerked from her trance. She found herself standing near the Fountain of Blood. So close to the Demon, she could smell the madness and death on It - how did I get here? She looked down at the person who'd called her name - she met soft brown eyes. No, eye. The other had been pulled from its socket. The dark skinned girl with the curly hair looked up at her, an arm and a leg nowhere to be found.

Evi.

Siren did not scream, did not even blink. She merely stared into the eye of her bloodied friend.

"Siren..." Evi croaked. "Good- Good to see you still... Have it in you."

"Evi?" Siren asked, confused. "What happened?"

"Think the red-eyed demon got a little... Carried away," she mumbled, laughing weakly. "Hey, Siren. I love you."

Siren watched as tears streaked down her huntress' cheeks, mixing with the thick blood her empty socket was oozing. "I love you, too, Evi," she managed, running a gentle hand over her best friend's curly hair. It was madness and stupidity combined, Siren sitting there while the Demon was on a killing spree - but at that moment, strangely enough, the only thing Siren was terrified of was losing her dearest friend. "You'll be okay. We'll -" a sob interrupted her words. How can I lie? "Patch you up at the Lion's Den and you'll be as good as new. Then you can laugh at me while I drink from a barrel that's about three times my size. Right, Evi?" she asked, half laughing and half crying.

"Sure, Layla," Layla? "Sure. Afterwards we can go hunting together. Every weekend like we used to, right? I can't believe you... Left for... Months..."

"Hey, Evi. Wake up." Layla urged, smacking her friend's face gently. Her remaining eye stared up, right through Siren, to the red lanterns glowing above. The lanterns remained bright and untarnished, as if Hell were not below it. A tear fell on Evi's dark cheek - then another and another until her entire face was covered in a salty mix of blood and water. "Evi, wake up. Wake up!"

Layla was shaking her friend desperately now, her white hair soaked in red from the blood around her - it's raining blood. She called for her friend over and over, until her honeyed voice was not honey but the bitterness of desperation. Her cries were loud and tortured, a horrible sound that echoed throughout the chaos and war - in which the Demon had all the weapons and no one else had any - for that was the voice Layla was gifted with. A voice that could be heard even in a time of utter despair. What did it matter, though, for right now and possibly forever, Layla's voice was Despair. It was not the quiet crying, the free fall of tears under clear rain. This was a horrible, heart wrenching sound - the type that made you hyperventilate with the intensity of it all, the type that felt like they would never end - under a rain of blood.

Tears fell from her silver eyes until there were no more tears left. Evi. Evi, the closest friend she'd ever come to having since Elina. Now they were both gone.

Gone, gone, gone, gone.

Eyes unfocused, she glanced up briefly to find Keito in a crumpled heap - his bones sticking out of places it shouldn't have, blood seeping from every pore in his skin. Layla's eyes were unseeing, yet they took in every inch of every surface, every broken body with their broken sounds.

A voice was singing.

Layla wrapped herself around Evi, holding her tall, beautiful, dark-skinned sister with her missing limbs as if she were a temple of tranquility in an otherwise hopeless world. Layla rested her head, with it's soft snowing hair and empty, silver eyes on the motionless body that now held a part of Layla's soul. A part of her was gone - gone with Evi to wherever dead people went.

It was a part of her she would never get back.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Linde
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Layla's reaction didn't take Jude by surprise, he in fact had expected her to hit him. I guess I deserved that... but from the circumstances they were faced with at that moment I believe I am justified... But there is no reasoning with this girl. Although small in stature Layla was able to throw a decent punch, which had caused Jude to stagger a bit. This was not because of the punch but because of his leg which currently wasn't healed properly yet, he tried to hide his wounds enough that she wouldn't notice. No need for her to know about it... She might start getting all emotional on me. Using his cane to keep himself up, in response to her questions Jude gave her a slight tap on the head with the end of his cane.

Jude had noticed that Keito was there also, a fact which had surprised him at first. He didn't know why he was there or why anyone was really there but all that really mattered was that they were back together. However despite the time spent away from each other Keito still seemed to be quite annoyed at the sigh of Jude. I just fell on top of him once... some people would die for just being able to touch me... I don't understand young guys anymore. He gave him a wave with his cane to show that he had seen him, hoping to talk to him later. Jude then turned his gaze back towards Layla, running his free hand through her snow blonde hair.

"Sorry I worried you love... I might tell you exactly why I did everything but for now I don't believe this is the time or place for it... Hope you can wait." Before she could do anything to reject his statement Jude had wrapped his free arm around her waist, pulling her into his body. Jude may have missed most of the festival but at least he got to see Layla in a beautiful traditional dress, which showed off her hourglass figure. He lowered his head down on to her shoulder, kissing her neck as he did. He knew it was one of her weak spots, one of the many he had discovered after the many nights they spent together.

"I wouldn't do anything to hurt you... you know that. And if you were pregnant I guess we would have to settle down wouldn't we..." Lifting his head from her shoulder Jude leaned his head against her forehead. "...Good thing you aren't right... Right?"

Their moment together didn't last long, it seemed as if the night held many more surprises for the two of them and those around them. Because of his years being hunted Jude had gained high awareness to those around him, he can even pick up the slightest scent of killing intent, and he could smell it all around them. On the rooftops, amongst the crowds of people, everywhere, and they were circling in the area around them. I don't know who they are... but anything like this isn't good... not good at all... We have to get out of here. Holding Layla by her waist and with his cane in hand Jude began to walk towards the nearest exit he could find that didn't have any killing intent coming from. They had made it to a small alleyway before Jude saw a man clad with grey armor and with a red insignia he knew all too well. The Assassin's of Te'i Sai...

It had been years since he had been face to face with an assassin, back to the night that his father was murdered in cold blood by one. Just as soon as he noticed the man chaos had been unleashed in the surrounding area, the Assassin's of Te'i Sai had begun to act. Suddenly the assassin struck Layla in the leg with a dagger. Before Jude could approach the man to Jude was attacked by another assassin wearing the same armor as the other. Using the cane in his hands Jude struck the assassin underneath his chin, staggering him a bit. His victory however was short lived, being forced back by the assassin and two others, forcing him to the ground where they continually attacked him. So much for being able to take care of myself... I should've stayed back at the inn. His wounds began reopening, blood streaming all over his body. The side of his head was kicked heavily, causing Jude to cough up blood. The assassin he had beaten into the ground had then mounted Jude, giving him back what he had done in spades. After what seemed like a lifetime Jude's assailants had left him, leaving him bleeding on the ground. Not good enough another second for you bastards? Am I that weak to you... One day... one day I will become the wolf who will bite the head off your organization... You will see... You will regret that you didn't kill me when you had the chance.

The group who had been antagonizing them though had redirected their attention towards The Red Eyed Demon, who seemed to be fairing off better than anyone else in the area. Scratch that... he was creating a fountain of blood all around him. But the only thing which can slay such monsters are either monsters themselves or demons, that man was the latter. He was relentless and ruthless, his actions were precise but Jude felt something coming off of him, a strange blood lust that he had never seen before in his life. Blood filled the streets as assailant after assailant fell to the man's hands. Good thing to know that I am not on his hit list...

The Red Eyed Demon began to lose himself though, he no longer just attacked the assassin's, he had begun to attack innocents all around him. The street was painted red by the blood shed by his hands, Jude only noted a few who had fallen to The Red Eyed Demon but it was enough. An elderly gentleman, a young child, actions which seemed despicable to anyone. But it was when he had brutally attacked Keito that Jude had finally lost himself, consumed by his own emotions Jude tried to stand to attack the man, but was wise enough to stay down. He knew he couldn't win in his state and judging by the man he himself wasn't in control of his actions. But that alone did not sway his hatred of the actions. Jude would've turned his eyes way but he couldn't, something deep inside him desired to be apart of it, to become a monster. Shaking his head he shrugged the idea from his mind, but he couldn't shake the grin that appeared on his face. All that blood... heheh... I would bathe in it. Jude's golden eye seemed to glow eerily, whether it did or not however is unknown.

Suddenly something close to a miracle had happened, amongst the hell and blood which surrounded them Jude could've sworn he saw pure white wings and a voice of an angel, singing a song to soothe The Red Eyed Demon. And is seemed to have worked, Jude no longer felt the strange blood lust from him anymore, it seemed as if the man had become the eye in his very own storm of blood and hell. He watched the man as he continued on, and the scene which was surrounding him. Standing up with much difficulty he walked towards Layla who was holding her dear friend in her arms, sobbing as she did so. Leaning down Jude wrapped his arms around her shoulders to try and comfort her. I couldn't do anything for you... I am useless... I will never let you feel pain like this ever again... I swear it.

Looking towards The Red Eyed Demon he stared the man straight into his red eyes. This is the man I have to bet my existence on?... Guess Lady Luck isn't smiling on me today.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli
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Layla punched the thief right in the cheek with an angry force. Even Keito flinched a little at the thought of that being his own cheek. Whatever the guy did to anger her, he probably deserved it, even though Keito had wanted to be the first to punch him when he met with him again. Despite the slightly uncomfortable reunion, Keito heard the sound of a laugh behind him and he turned a little to see who it had come from only to realize it was the red-eyed man. The sound made Keito smile a little, but that didn't last very long when the red-eyed man stopped laughing and he suddenly seemed very alert.

Within just a few seconds, the were surrounded, the red insignia of Te'i Sai seen on each one of them. He tensed, slowly moving his hand up to the handle of his sword. He didn't draw it just yet, but he made sure to be ready if any of them attempted to attack. Keito narrowed his eyes, letting them scan over each of the men that surrounded them, then they moved up to the roof tops. They did a perfect job at positioning themselves, that was for sure, but what were they after? Only a few moments later, Keito's question was answered, and his guess that the red-eyed man had far more experience than himself was quickly proven as the assassin's began their attack on the man.

There were many screams from the villagers as they began to shove and even trample each other in an attempt to get away. Keito reached forward and grabbed Ritsu's wrist, pulling her to the side and backing himself against the wall of a building. He wrapped his arms around her, making sure no one bumped into her or knocked her over. He shielded her for a few more seconds before finding an opening and pushing open the wooden door of the building.

"Stay here until it's quite!" He demanded, shoving her into the building and slamming the door.

He started to move away from the building towards Layla when he noticed her being attacked, but suddenly found himself being knocked to the ground. He landed on his stomach, letting out a small grunt as he hit the ground, then rolled onto his back just in time to avoid a blade that drove into the stone beside him. He made another attempted to draw his sword, but the hard pressure of a boot stepped down onto his right hand.

Damn it!

He brought his leg up, kicking the man hard in the knee with his left foot. It was a good thing he'd refused to wear sandals and instead kept his boots on, but it wasn't entirely easy to move around in his current attire. He pressure on his hand let up for a split second and Keito took this opportunity to push himself backwards and finally unsheathe his blade, doing a well good job at ignoring his now fractured wrist. He swung the blade up, meeting it with his opponents blade. A stabbing pain shot through his hand and up his arm and he slightly loosened his grip, the sword flying from his hand and landing a few feet behind him. Before Keito could pick himself up, the bottom of a boot slammed down on his left cheek and the back of his head hit the stone.

He was completely helpless.

There were a few more blows from the boot and then a blade jammed itself into Keito's left palm. He left out a short scream, which was cut off by another kick to the cheek and one to the side. He was starting to question if he'd ever find an opening to knock this man away from him. His left cheek was broken open now and blood dripping from the wound, it was probably bruised and starting to swell up as well. There was a small, dark chuckle from the man who stood over him as the lade that was driven into Keito's hand was pulled out. He clenched his teeth, keeping himself from letting out another scream. He barely noticed that the man had walked away, now focused on a different target in the center

He slowly rolled himself over and pushed himself up off the ground to stumble to his sword. It wasn't the first time he had taken a beating like that, but it had been years since he'd sparred with his father. He picked up the sword, clutching the blade with his right hand and spitting out a bit of blood mixed with saliva. He wiped the blood from his cheek and straightened up in a hard attempt to regain himself, the sounds of painful cries and terrified screams pounding in his head. There was so many noises, and the grey stone painted with thick blood with the smell of rusty iron filling the air.

His eyes widened for a second as he felt a strong presence approaching him. He spun around, ready to swing his blade, but stopped it abruptly when he noticed it was the red-eyed man, a mistake he would thoroughly regret. He was hit hard, once again being slammed back onto the ground. Another boot was brought down onto him, but this time landing in the middle of his chest and with much greater force than before. Keito's sword slipped from his hand once again as he reached up and grabbed the red-eyed mans foot, but with a fractured wrist and bloody palm, he could hardly apply any pressure.

The foot stepped down harder and Keito heard a snap, followed by am extreme stab of pain shooting through his chest and the rest of his body. He let out a rough gasp, unable to scream with the air just being knocked out of him. He had felt terrible pain before, but nothing like this. He'd always been so good at staying out of any situation that would put him in such danger, but without warning he'd been thrown into one. His blue eyes briefly met with Shadow's beaming red one's, and for once, Keito believed that this pain might just be the last thing he'd ever feel.

The pressure of the boot was gone and Keito felt himself being picked up like a rag doll before being thrown and slamming against a wall. The pain seared through him for only a second before everything went black and his consciousness was tossed into a dark abyss, the glowing red eyes of a demon being the last thing left to burn themselves into Keito's memory.

Elina..are you going to be waiting for me?

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli
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The atmosphere was warm and friendly for a moment, one of those moments that Ritsu always enjoyed and treasured. She didn't know the snow-haired woman, or the other man who had helped her up, but they lightened things up a little. Of course, that small, warm moment was so easily torn apart within a matter of seconds. The lantern-lit festival that was originally filled with people having fun, laughing, smiling, and maybe drinking a little too much, erupted into an unexpected blood bath caused by men she'd never seen before.

The red-head only stayed in the clearing long enough to watch the incredible, but terrifying fight between the man with the red eyes and the other men who had shown up, all bearing a red insignia. The mark looked a little familiar, but she still had no idea who these people were and why they were doing what they were doing. The screams echoed around her, but she was unable to move, frozen by fear with wide eyes as she watched the scene unfold. She couldn't move, speak, she barely felt like she was even breathing. She felt her heart pounding against her chest, cold as ice and making it hard to take in any air. The crowd began to scatter, but Ritsu was unable to move out of the way. She was too terrified to even move her eyes away from the sight of blood being splattered onto the stone floor.

At that moment she felt a warm hand grip her wrist and pull her aside, arms wrapping around her to protect her from the stampede of humans making a desperate attempt to get away. Even with Keito's arms around her, she couldn't tare her eyes away from the scene and she could feel herself trembling.

He pulled her towards a door and opened it, shoving her inside along with his bag which she held tightly to her chest.

"Stay here until it's quite!"

Don't leave me!

She wanted to say those words so badly, but she couldn't speak a word as the wooden door shut and she was left in a dark wooden room which looked to be an empty living room. The only window in the room was positioned beside the door, but it was covered by a red cloth and she couldn't see anything through it. Ritsu backed up against the farthest wall and slid down it until she was sitting on the floor, her knees pulled close to her and her arms tightly wrapped around Keito's bag.

I'm scared.

Even in this room, the screams and cries were hardly muffled and Ritsu could hear every noise. The sound of metal clashing together, red liquid being splattered everywhere, crying, desperate prayers, and footsteps pounding on the stone service of the city outside. She pulled her knees closer and, closing her eyes, she shoved her face into her legs and covered her ears.

I'm scared..I'm scared..

It felt like an eternity before silence dropped over her, followed by a heavenly voice and a beautiful song.

Ritsu lifted her head a few inches from her knees and her eyes slightly opened. The song continued and she pulled her hands away from her ears and lifted her head a few more inches. Her eyes moved up to the covered window as she listened to the song. It was almost like an angel had come down to sing the lost souls of Hell a comforting lullaby so they could finally sleep without torture. Whose voice did that belong to?

The song ended and Ritsu remained in the room for a few more minutes, repeating the lyrics in her head a couple of times before forcing herself to stand up. She stood with her back against the wall for a couple of more minutes with Keito's bag in her hands as she tried to get her knees to stop shaking. Her heartbeat had slowed down after repeating the song in her head for a little while and then, telling herself that she needed to make sure Keito was alright, she gained just enough courage to walk towards the door of the room. Gripping it with a sweaty palm, she pulled it open and stepped out.

Instantly she pulled her hand off the door knob and covered her mouth to keep herself from throwing up as the stench of fresh blood filled her lungs. Her eyes widened more at the grotesque sight of bodies ripped apart and spread around, blood drenching the ground and still dripping from the dead bodies of the victims, some of them being the strange men who had showed up out of no where, and a majority of them being innocent villagers who were unlucky enough to be standing around when the attack happened.

Then her eyes fell upon one body in particular about six feet away beside one of the buildings. Her eyes widened even more with complete shock and fear. It was Keito, broken and bleeding as he lay on his back with his eyes closed and blood dripping from his forehead and other areas of his body.

"Keito!" She screamed, her voice cracking as tears began to form. She let his bag fall to the ground and she ran over to him and dropped to her knees beside him. She reach out her hands, but stopped herself before her palms touched him. She was trembling again, all thoughts of the song vanishing from her mind. Salty liquid began to stream from her eyes and drop onto his stained, red chest. "Please! Keito, wake up!" She sobbed desperately, finally setting her palms on his arm but very gently.

"Keito, get up!" She sobbed again, letting her head rest softy on his stomach as her body trembled more. If she wasn't completely distracted by the sight of him and the terrifying thought of him possibly being dead, she probably would of noticed that he was still breathing, but not very strongly. "Please get up! Keito! Please, please.." Her voice started to weaken and she choked on her tears. The crying was starting to cause her head to throb, but that was the last thing on her mind.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: The Royal Knights Of Cre' Est Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli Character Portrait: Linde
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Sereinia was soon walking closely beside Shadow as he wanted. She wondered what dreadful thing was about to happen as she had no idea of the dangers that would come upon them in the near future. Nevertheless, she never doubted the acute senses of her companions. They were much more attuned with such fearful experiences than her. Looking at the rooftops, she saw Mayumi and Sora working with such harmony while scouting ahead. They had done what Shadow had asked them to do perfectly. She cannot help but find it adorable and at the same time a blooming pride. This brought a small smile on her lips as she took another glance at Shadow who seemed still apprehensive about the mysterious dread about to come. She hoped that somehow the ominous feeling was just a fleeting fancy. Reaching her hand towards him, she opted to ask him about what he thought would happen exactly. But before she could, distant voices of people welcomed them along with a quarrel of some sort.

From her point of view, Sereinia had noticed a familiar face which was the female who had performed beautifully earlier in the night. It made her curious seeing the rather obvious argument with two males. She wondered if they needed help. With intent to offer her aid, she was prevented by Shadow to do so. The man asked her to stay at the corner of the building and wait for him there. She wanted to argue about such a request however, she sensed a certain presence in him that dissuaded any debates. It was not fear that prevented her from deviating from his wish. Instead, it was to bring him a sense of comfort. His eyes wanted to keep her safe. It is what she could see. As such, she remained there and gave a nod of understanding.

Occasionally, Sereinia would peek behind the building to gain information about the ongoing event. It seemed that Shadow had intention to stop the confrontation. Due to the circumstances. she was certain that Shadow's identity would be known now. However, she was completely against about the method the assassin was about to use. She knew that he would not like what she was about to do; however, she did not want anyone to get hurt just because of arguments that could be ended with simple dialogue. Even more when the female entertainer she had seen before ran with such fright, she knew that it was time to intervene. Leaving her position, she was about to step out and call out to Shadow but a hand touched her shoulder. Looking at the owner of it, she looked with a rather surprised expression.

"Ms. Taira? Why are you here? What about the man in the inn?"

Before Taira could answer the questions, Sereinia saw the injured man walking with a cane towards the group of people in the distance. She released a rather disappointed sigh. After all, she had wanted for her patient to stay in bed for a few days to fully recover. But, it would appear the man had other matters to attend at the moment. Even Shadow was rather perplexed by the man's appearance as he looked towards her and Taira who simply shrugged.

"I do not think it would be good for him to walk around. His injuries are just barely healing and he is not yet properly nourished..."

Her voice was tinted with concern as Sereinia spoke within Taira's hearing range. She had wanted to interrupt but saw that the man seemed to know the beautiful entertainer she had watched from before. It sparked her curiosity; however, she knows that it would be better not to pry especially when the said girl punched the injured man on the face.

"Oh my!"

Sereinia gasped while covering her mouth. She was unaware what would have caused such actions but, the man was still wounded and barely able to stand. Her instincts to care and as a doctor filled her with worry as she left Taira's side and walked towards the group when the sense of dread that Shadow and Mayumi had foretell appeared around them. She stopped on her tracks and looked at the people on the rooftops and on the ground as well. There was animosity in their gazes and she could feel the hair at the back of her neck stand.

"Shadow..."

Without a moment too soon, the peaceful night suddenly changed into a rumble. Taira quickly went over to her side and protected her from the men who had every intention to bring harm. He watched the bystanders near them get caught in the crossfire. Her eyes widened in horror as she yelled.

"Please stop!!!"

However, Sereinia's voice fell on deaf ears as one of the assassins appeared behind her. She sensed the man somehow. It was just enough for her to look behind as she saw the knife coming straight at her. Fortunately, Taira was able to save her from such a strike. Nevertheless, she was not unscathed as the knife's blade slashed across her right cheek. It was not a deep wound so it would not scar. Then something unexpected happened, it was something that she was never prepared to see. The horror of which Shadow was capable of. She stood there frozen not in fear or horror but in disbelief.

"Is that Shadow?"

It was a question that left Sereinia's lips in shock. She had never seen Shadow so feral, vicious, and so happy killing. The men who came after Shadow were but now on the ground dead. Innocent bystanders witnessed the bloodbath in horror but the moment, Shadow looked at their direction, they ran for their lives. It was then knew she had to do something seeing the glint of violence in those eyes. The thirst of blood was overcoming the man.

"Shadow! No!"

However, Taira had shoved her unceremoniously into a nearby building and locking her inside. Sereinia pounded on the door in desperation. She knew that Taira was protecting her; but, she felt more useless than ever. Her role as being burdened was more emphasized to her than before.

"Let me out, please!"

This continued but as soon as she heard a voice. It was singing like a choir of angels. Sereinia stopped pounding on the door and listened. She was not sure of what was happening outside but, the door opened as Taira let her out. She quickly bypassed Taira and saw Shadow along with an unknown woman. If she would guess, it was probably the one who she had heard singing.

"Did she stop him?"

It was an inner question that Sereinia did not voice out. She looked around and saw the aftermath. Cries and wails could be heard clearly. Emptiness and sadness enveloped the whole area. The first day of the year 600 was supposed to be prosperous and wonderful. It was not meant to start this way. This was truly a dreadful thing. No, there were no words to describe how horrid this event was. It was as Shadow had told her earlier. The foreboding sense that a calamity is about to come was true. At the moment, she was not certain how to approach the man or even yet what to say. The wound she received on her cheek had now clotted. Although, there was still a few fresh blood on it. Looking at him once more, she allowed her duty as a doctor be prioritized.

"I have to tend to the survivors. Excuse me."

With that said, Sereinia walked passed Shadow without another word. She did not want to sound so serious or stern. However, she did not know what to say. She needed more time than a few seconds to think. In any case, she filled her mind with the need to help the survivors and the injured. She wanted to save them. As such, she went towards the nearest person she could see to, Keito who was being cradled by a female who was crying so terribly. She cannot help but feel a piece of her heart broke at that scene.

"Please, let me see him. I am a doctor. I can tend to his wounds."

Sereinia calmly said as she lowered herself to the ground near the two and began checking Keito's condition. The boy was in a horrible state. Still, it was not beyond hope. She began apply first aid and some treatments that would suffice until the boy would be transferred to a clinic or proper accommodations.

"This is a mess."

This took Sereinia's attention. The voice was familiar to her and there she saw Yarun with those seemingly similar eyes of Shadow's. The said man had a rather disinterested look on his face as he looked at the fallen, near-to-death's door, and survivors. He walked through the carnage and then casually looked at Shadow's direction.

"A job well done Red-Eyed Demon. I guess I would have to take you in. You won't mind, right?"

Yarun playfully gestured his right hand to the direction of the dungeons with a smirk that seemed to reflect certain intentions. His rouge pink eyes glowed ever slightly to mirror his current morality.

"Yarun, we could have waited for the battalion to arrive with us."

Another man appeared from behind Yarun who had a rather stern look but not towards them but to Yarun. Solomon was not overly fond of the idea of going ahead, especially with people's lives at stake. As for his companion, it was a different story.

"I don't like being restricted Solomon. After all, I don't do clean-ups. Let the other guys handle that."

Yarun answered without removing his eyes on Shadow. He was waiting for the infamous assassin to answer or to react to his words. Whatever it may be, he only hoped that it would give him the opportunity to slit Shadow's throat. As for Solomon, he released a rather frustrated sigh and looked at the casualties. It was not a pleasant sight at all. He went towards an injured civilian and helped the man to a better position until the medic team arrived. After doing so, he looked at the others and to Shadow's group.

"We are the Knights of Cre' Est. I would have all of you under arrest in the name of Her Royal Empress. Do not resist us. I have seen enough blood at the moment."

Unlike Yarun's eyes, Solomon's silver-white eyes gazed at Shadow and his crew with complete jurisdiction and great dislike for what has been done here. He had eyes that would not give any space for compensation or mercy.

"You heard the man, Would you go? Or do we have to force you?"

Yarun haughtily spoke while at the background the sound of thundering hooves and distant sounds of an army approaching could be heard. There was little time to spare until the Guards of Cre' Est surrounds the place and frankly speaking most of the people still alive we're not in the best shape to run or fight except for Shadow and his retinue.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli Character Portrait: Linde
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#, as written by Layla
A mouse pressed under an empty mug;
Bubbles floating to the surface, popping into fingers.

"Oh Heavens, this one's a mess."

"At least she died with a friend."

A creature made of squishy mould;
A voice of God - God is the Voice.
Tracing red paint with bleeding eyes,
A million and one moments -

Gathering into one.

Women, men, poised on a red and black mattress. Lust, breathless, empty - 'What's the matter?'

"What a pity. She was beautiful."

Shattering weight, shattering bones, shattered girl in a shattered home.
An Angel sings - falling backwards into the sky - Remember to come back for me.
Forget I exist.

Bleeding light, shining darkness.
Make sure you come back.

Perfect wings, perfect soul - I will never come close.
Turn away, melt into oblivion - rid the world of your presence.
Do not touch Her wings, do not tarnish

What is perfect.

A million lanterns pressed under a spoon.

"Please, please..."
"This is a mess."
"I have seen enough blood at the moment."
"I am a doctor."
"Eyes of red upon me."
"Sure, Layla..."

A million moments gathering into one.

"Sir, please let go of her."

Let her go.

Let me go.

Let it all go.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I'm not dead.

Siren's silver eyes snapped open, wide with panic; to stare into the darkness. The stench of rotting flesh and dried blood filled her senses and she found herself staring into the unseeing eyes of a small child. Her heart smacked against the walls of her ribcage as she tried to scream but instead found herself choking on the hair of a broken doll. She struggled, her limbs thrashing about - Oh god, oh god, oh god, I'm in hell.

'Welcome, welcome," she imagined the little boy on top of her saying - his mouth rising manically into the too-wide smile of a possessed soul, with his eyes large and red, like a black hole made of human blood.

Let me out. Let me out!

Siren had been buried alive.

She was trapped under a pile of dead bodies - mistaken for dead as her heartbeat slowed to an almost standstill as she collapsed on the corpse of her limbless Evi. Siren had spent all of what was left of her on the tears for her bounty huntress friend. When the raining liquid from her eyes ran out, Siren had either passed out or fallen asleep - it wasn't quite clear. Outside the miniature hill of corpses, two medics restrained Jude as one carefully explained how denial was understandable but the snow-haired girl was truly dead and he had to let her go.

With a desperate kick, the living girl buried under the dead managed to kick a body off of the pile. She struggled like this for some time, her body connecting with ripped flesh and contorted bone - before the cleaners finally realised something wrong. The bodies drenched in maroon crust were not supposed to move.

Hands gripped Siren and dragged her out of the rotting pile. The dead boy - his mouth spread in a grin that reached from one year to another, watched her with dull red eyes as he waved with his arm, his hand sliced off at the wrist.

"Dear god, we're so sorry. Are you okay?"

Siren stared at her bloodied and trembling hands before slowly lifting her head to stare blankly at the worried man who'd pulled her out. The young woman's eyes were so pale, they could've been made of ice. The bright shimmering silver of them had been replaced by a cold lacking as she stared right through the medic at nothing and everything.

"Am I okay?" she repeated his question, her sugary voice numb.

"Yes, miss. We made a mistake and-"

"Where's Evi?" she asked, not hearing a word of anything.

"Uh, do you mean the woman you were-"

"We need to make her all better. She doesn't like looking injured, you see," Siren mumbled, running her fingers through her blood-stained hair.

"I'm sorry, miss, but-"

"They're not dead, you know," she nodded towards the pile of dead bodies, her eyes large and blank, "You should put them back together."

"I think she's broken," the man who'd been trying to speak to Siren whispered to another. "What should we do?"

"Nothing. She's with the red-eyed demon. We should let the Knights arrest her," the other, taller man shrugged.

"He sure keeps nut cases for company," the shorter man laughed. "It's sad - she's a real beauty."

"Bet she's easy to sleep with. She's not exactly right in the head," came the reply.

"Unfortunately for you, I'm perfectly right in head. I bet you two were getting hopeful," Siren said with a raised eyebrow as she watched them with a fleeting moment of clarity. "I'm pleased to disappoint."

Then, as quickly as she came, Siren slipped away - leaving a lost soul in her place.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf
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Streets of Cre' Est - Pile of bodies

Some time must have passed as Jude laid on the ground motionless, his body overcome by his injuries. Last he knew he was holding Layla in his arms but now she was nowhere to be seen. Alarmed he brought himself to his feet to search for her. That damn girl... making me worry over her... Sometimes I have to wonder if I am sane to think about her so much... Using the cane in his hand he maneuvered around the streets of Cre' Est, til he saw a pile of dead bodies, a horrific sight. The incident just before had laid waste to many lives, many innocent lives. Jude could see both old and young amongst the pile of dead bodies, the sight caused him to vomit. He would've turned away from the sight if it weren't for one thing, he saw the familiar snow blonde hair amongst the pile of bodies. Layla!

Jude ran to the pile as fast as he could, clawing his way through the dead bodies to find her. No... you can't be dead... Don't you die on me! The pile was large and it seemed almost impossible to reach her. Two medics than ran towards Jude, pulling him back from the dead bodies, forcing him to the ground. Jude struggled against them, fighting to free himself.

"No one is alive in there man... pull yourself together." Jude fought back but because of fatigue he wasn't able to push them off of him. No... these men are wrong... she's in there... and she's alive... I KNOW IT! One of the medics pulled out a syringe, plunging it into Jude's neck and administering some form of drug. Jude however was trained against most sedatives so it didn't effect him, in fact he then fought back even harder. Biting the arm of the same medic who tried to drug him, causing the man to step back. At that moment Jude had pushed the other medic off of him, smashing the side of his head with the cane lying next to him.

"Be glad I don't add your bodies to the pile you bastards... She's alive and I know it. Now step away from me before I... "lose" it." The pair bruised and hurt walk away from Jude, murmuring between each other how insane he must be. But Jude knew he wasn't insane, he knew that she was in there and that she was alive. You can't die before me love... I won't allow it. His belief was rewarded, when he had turned to look back at the pile Layla had already emerged. Relieved Jude began to walk towards her, cane in hand.

As he walked towards her he noticed that the two doctors were talking to Layla. Jude didn't hear much but he did realize that the their intentions were anything but pure. Trying to take advantage of a maiden after such an event... Scum. I don't see why women are so fascinated by doctors... Lowlife scumbags. As Jude approached Layla and the two doctors he knocked them both out with a swift strike with his cane. Forcing their bodies onto the pile of bodies. Now you can know what it feels to be buried amongst the dead... Than maybe your actions may be forgiven... Looking down at Layla, her pale skin covered in blood and her snow blonde hair all in disarray, Jude couldn't help but smile slightly. He lowered himself, placing her one of her arms over his shoulders, pulling her up to stand.

"You know love... you really got to choose a better place to lie down... Almost gave me a bloody heart attack." Grinning he nudged his head against hers, hoping to get some form of reaction from her. With Layla with him again Jude felt better, his wounds seemed to have less pain and his burden seemed lighter. I wonder why I bother with such a woman... seriously I have to worry for my own sanity. With his arm around her Jude walked back towards The Red Eyed Demon, knowing that he must speak with him.

Streets of Cre' Est - The Red Eyed Demon

The Red Eyed Demon seemed to have been conversing with two gentlemen in front of him, although he doesn't believe it was a delightful conversation. How could it be with the situation around them... Guess I'm just an optimist... Heh, that's a laugh. With Layla in his arms Jude walked over towards the Demon, addressing him by lowering his head.

"I would shake your hand sir but as you can see... I am unable to." Laughing to himself he gave a small glare towards the two other men. Tsk... Knights of Cre' Est... what bad timing. Oh well, not like they can tell who I am at the moment. And if they did I always have an ace up my sleeve.

"It seems that we will need to talk... All of us. We may not have chosen to be apart of this but as both of us know... we are now..." Jude's golden eye shimmered underneath his blindfold, he knew that this was the beginning of a new and strange relationship.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: The Royal Knights Of Cre' Est Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Lee Hart
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#, as written by Layla
"Evi. Cre' Est. 4."

Siren tilted her head back to look up into the hazel eyes of an Amazon Goddess. "I'm sorry?" she asked in confusion.

"Oh man. You really are new, aren't you? That's how us bounty hunters introduce ourselves. Name, hometown, number of years in the field," the tall woman replied with a grin. "We don't take too kindly to new pups. You're in for one hell of a ride, short stuff." Short stuff? Layla thought with a huff, narrowing her light eyes.

"Layla. Triveila. 2," she replied.

"Two and you still don't know hunter speech? Damn. You one of those Veilbrand snobs, huh?" Evi slapped Layla on the back, nearly causing her to stumble amidst the den of vicious lions. The dark woman laughed, throwing her head of curly hair back as she did. "Relax, Layla. You'll love Cre' Est. It's the best nation in the continent!"

Then, leaning down to capture Layla's eyes and to capture Layla's heart - she said, "Besides, you'll have me."

I'm glad your last moments were in Cre' Est, Evi.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

"You know, love... you really got to choose a better place to lie down... Almost gave me a bloody heart attack."

The soothing voice poured its light through the endless layers of icy water. Layla swam towards it, her lungs burning from the lack of air. When was the last time she breathed? Layla couldn't feel her lips, fingers or toes; nothing could be felt and yet everything hurt. Just when she was about to disintegrate from the hopelessness of it all, a scarred hand reached under the water to grip her pale hand tightly - pulling her to the surface.

"I would shake your hand sir but as you can see... I am unable to."

Layla breathed in the low voice, her breath ragged and desperate as she choked against someone's shirt. A pair of hands held her firmly and she gripped the hard body tighter, never wanting to let go. The heat the man was emitting was a box of matches in the coldest Winter of Cre' Est and Layla could lose herself in his warmth forever. She pressed her small body against him, a silent request for him to hold her tighter, closer - and she could never be close enough. Her bones felt as strong as a quarter of a piece of paper as she went limp in his arms. Layla couldn't be bothered to use any fraction of her frail body.

"It seems that we will need to talk... All of us. We may not have chosen to be apart of this but as both of us know... we are now..."

Who was he talking to? Weakly forcing herself, Layla turned her head to look at a tall man dyed in red. He stood straight, a hand on a dagger as he watched two stern men with a weary patience. Layla raised her eyes to meet his and as if the candle of her mind had been blown out, her spine jerked upwards in the man's arms, her eyes rolling to the back of her head before she settled back into him like a limp doll.

Her long lashes fluttered upwards as she opened her tired eyes, no longer seeing anything but two men and a boy with light brown hair. It was as if a refresh button had been clicked in Layla's mind. She relived the past few minutes, a certain man completely non-existent in her consciousness.

"Well I'm not too sure about what is going on, but I guess I'm in. There's a lot of payback to be dealt with. Name's Lee, nice to meet you _______" said the brown-haired boy, completely unaffected by his cruel surroundings. She'd never met him before and she didn't quite understand what he was talking about but at that moment, she couldn't quite bring herself to care. Her mind worked with an inhuman crawl, processing each syllable individually. Somehow, with the bizarre way her mind was currently functioning, she decided the young man was "Squid ink."

"Squid ink," she slurred, tapping the green-eyed man's nose with a limp finger before rolling her head around to stare up at the prince who was carrying her.

One of his eyes was shielded under an eye patch, while the other's pupil and iris blended into a single, smooth obsidian. She noticed a light haired girl, drenched in dirt and blood in the darkness of his eye - how peculiar. Locks of his messy, shoulder length hair fell over his skin; there was a raised mark sat on his handsome face and Layla found herself brushing a gentle hand over his rough jaw and scar. Pressed against the safety of his body, she parted her soft lips and asked,

"Who are you?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: The Royal Knights Of Cre' Est Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli Character Portrait: Lee Hart
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"I am in no mood to spill further blood this night, but if you choose to go against me I will have no choice. I will not kill you, but I will make sure you learn your place."

Yarun was not sure whether to puke due to the hypocrisy of the man known as the Red-Eyed Demon or laugh due to the hilarity of it all. Clearly, Shadow denies the lust for blood when apparently he truly wanted it every single moment. Yarun could tell especially with the wounds and handiwork that the infamous assassin had done on the civilian populace and another group of assassins from his overcast observation of the corpses. This is the man that is feared by everyone and became the boogeyman of tales. Shadow was a big disappointment which only infuriated Yarun further.

"Kill? Hurt?" Yarun released a mocking laughter.

"You are the one who does not understand the situation clearly and does not know his place."

Rogue pink eyes met those eyes of crimson that had been described in tales of dread. Yarun advanced forward as the distance between him and Shadow shortened. Unfastening the locks on the two sword sheaths on each side of his waist, Yarun answered the threat with another.

"Our authority does not only end with protection. It also carries out retribution."

Pausing for a brief second, Yarun continued with a smirk that had rather a seductive and malicious intent behind it. Those rogue pink eyes glowed with challenge as the light from the setting moon sparked upon it giving those eyes a rather demonic quality.

"If you are so worried about bloodshed, you can just throw those table knives away and come with us peacefully."

After that, Yarun pulled out his his two swords halfway from their scabbards emphasizing that he would meet Shadow head-on. If this pathetic excuse for a criminal thinks this would be a walk in the park, he got another thing coming.

"Shall we start your round 2?"

Solomon released a sigh at the possible ending of this seemingly harmless conversation. He had no intention to start another fight or anything at all. The bloody event that had happened in this place was far enough for him at the moment. At the same time, his silver-white eyes glanced at the people beginning to gather around them. The three ladies that he had identified as the infamous assassin's acquaintances have already tend to to what they wanted to do. He had no objections about them helping the wounded; however...

"I suggest you let the medic crew handle your mess. I do not want you touching them again."

It was delivered in a deadpan voice as Solomon stared directly into Shadow's eyes. There was no apprehension or trepidation. Those silver-white eyes just clearly meant business and would do anything if it was violently refused. After that statement, it was noticeable that the advanced medic crew had arrived and began checking on both survivors and corpses. Even more, the guards had finally arrived surrounding the whole area blocking known entrances to current location to prevent anything or anyone from coming out or coming in.

"As for you, I suggest you save that glare or Do you intend for me to truly arrest you now."

This time, Solomon's eyes went towards Jude who carried Layla in his arms. He was not certain about the woman's condition; however, he really did not particularly care. After all, it seemed the man who carries her was enough attention. Furthermore, there was a subtlety of knowing in the tone that Solomon had used. It was like he had a certain idea who Jude really was but there were no concrete evidences for that.

"Yarun. His Highness would not like provocation. Mind your manners."

Upon hearing this, Yarun shrugged his shoulders and had a rather childish smirk on his face while looking at the people who seemed willing to be acquainted with the idiotic Legend in his opinion.

"Provocation? Pish, he started it and I will be ending it."

After saying that, Yarun walked passed the group who gathered around Shadow. When he was quite a distance from them, he looked at them one more time before leaving them to their own devices. But his focus was more on Shadow than everyone else.

"You take responsibility. But you should remember that the sins you have committed does not only stays with you anymore. Do not act all high and mighty when in truth you are just the same as the ones you have killed."

Delivering those words, Solomon headed towards the leader of the guards who saluted at him immediately. He did not want to partake in any altercations with Shadow or his make-shift group. There was enough blood spilled on the ground and on this day for his liking. He will allow Yarun to do all the retaliation at the moment. For now, he ordered the guards to extend the perimeter and told the medic crew to properly tend to the wounded and as for the dead to be separated and identified for the families they had left behind.

As for Sereinia, she had finally finished tending to Keito's wounds. The treatment she had done would ensured the young man to live through but in the best conditions. After all, this is all she could do at the moment due to the lack of proper provisions. She looked at the girl who was beside Keito and gave her a comforting smile.

"He will be fine now."

When it was done, Sereinia stood from her position and noticed Taira who would assist her. She also noticed the presence of other physicians attending to the other wounded. At the very least, she was not alone in the duty to save lives. However, her attention would be taken towards the center where Shadow and the others had gathered and that man named Yarun. She could sensed tension in the air and she did not want another repeat of anything violent. She turned to Taira.

"Please watch over them."

After saying that, Sereinia quickly went towards the group and put herself in between Shadow and Yarun. Her eyes of deep purple met those rouge pink ones who seemed to show recognition of her. She did not want another battle to begin and be a bystander. In addition, there had been enough blood, pain, suffering, and deaths than she could take.

"Please no more. I do not want anyone getting hurt anymore. So, please stop."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: The Royal Knights Of Cre' Est Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Lee Hart Character Portrait: Linde
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Sereinia was startled by someone grabbing her arm as she was removed in between of the two men. Along the way, she had fought in her own gentle manner to emphasize she did not want to leave sensing the brewing tension between the men. Her eyes of amethyst looked towards the one responsible for such an action. It was the woman who she had seen beside Shadow earlier and if she had concluded correctly, the one who was singing that stopped the violence. She retrieved her arm with resistance and her eyes were filled with confusion and a plead to not stop her. There was nothing good coming from fighting even more between Yarun and Shadow. She just had enough of fighting at the moment. She just want it to stop now.

"Let me go please. I need to stop this."

As a response the mysterious woman placed her hands on Sereinia's shoulder, somehow the good doctor stiffened upon the woman's touch. She was not certain why so. There was nothing wrong with how the woman was touching her. It was not forceful or was hurting her. Although, she was slightly confused how the woman knew her name when she had not. It was probably because Shadow had told her or she had just heard in the process. In any case, the woman had told her not to stop this fight as it would make Shadow released some frustrations. This was seconded by Taira who assured her that no harm would be received to the Knight.

"It is not a good reason enough. Are you saying just because I feel angry and frustrated? I should start a fight just to be released from it?"

Removing the hands on her shoulders as gently as she could, Sereinia stepped away from the two women and shook her head. Her hands were shaking from an unknown emotion erupting inside of her. She clenched her fists tightly to her side.

"...I know what you mean. I do..."

Biting her lower lip, Sereinia lowered her head as the pink kimono that she had on was now stained by the blood of the people she treated earlier. There were also noticeable dirt, and ripped fabric that were probably brought on by the events from earlier. Her hair that was neatly placed in a side bun had gone astray with strands falling out of it. All in all, she was in a mess and the same could be said about her current mindset and emotions. She had seen Shadow and Mayumi train together and even spar. It was very different from the spar she had witnessed with her colleagues at the University or those she had watched in competitions. It never set with her well even if it was for the betterment of their skills and such. Why do people need to learn to protect from each other even more to kill each other?

"I just do not understand it. I really do not."

After saying that, Sereinia turned her back to the two women and was about to head towards Yarun and Shadow whom were to close to each other for comfort. However, someone unexpected prevented her from moving forward.

"Do not interrupt them. There are things that you should just accept. You are better off doing your duty Doctor."

Raising her eyes to meet the one who spoke, Sereinia looked into those silver-white eyes of Solomon's. The man was obviously taller and had a rather commanding presence about him. It was unlike how she had accidentally met Yarun earlier.

"I just cannot---"

Solomon wiped the dried blood on Sereinia's slashed cheek which effectively startled her enough not to continue her words. He then directed his attention towards the medic crew that were busy tending to the injured and at the same time in anxiousness of the inevitable tangle between the Sword Dancer and the Red=Eyed Demon.

"Those two are doing what is expected of them. I suggest you do the same. The people need you more than they would ever."

Sereinia followed Solomon's line of sight and saw the other injured people in need of medical assistance. She felt a lump in her throat at the sight and feeling of guilt washed over her. She touched the cheek that he had touched and closed her eyes briefly before looking again towards Shadow and Yarun's direction.

"You are right. However, may I ask of you to stop them if need be?"

At this favor, Solomon simply gave a humble bow. "I intend to."

With that said, Solomon signaled for one of the guards and a medical assistant to assist Sereinia who gave a grateful yet sad smile before she followed the two people ordered to aid her in the treatment of the other survivors. At the moment, she left another guard approached him with a salute and a respectful bow.

"Sir Kreigg. We have extended the perimeter and secured it."

Solomon gave a nod of acknowledgement before he gave another set of orders needed to be done. He had every intention to complete his duty and it will be done. However for now, he would allow Yarun the luxury of this fight that even the infamous assassin desired as well.

"Continue to secure it. Tell the medic crew to evacuate the survivors and bring them to the College of Health for further treatments. As for the dead, remove them from the premises and inform their families about this."

"What about the people that seem to have an association with the Red-Eyed Demon?"

Silver-white eyes gazed at Jude, Layla, Lee, Linde, Taira, and Sereinia. Solomon answered the guard's logical inquiry with a rather deadpan tone. It was only natural to put these people into custody even if their connections with the infamous assassin might be accidentally or brief. They still made an interaction with a wanted felon. As a consequence, they are to be questioned as well.

"If they move in anyway to interrupt the fight between Yarun and Shadow, they are to be arrested immediately."

"Sir, Yes, Sir!"

The guard saluted and promptly excused himself from Solomon's presence who now directed his full attention to the confrontation in front of him. He had heard about a passing statement about pathetic comrades. Honestly, he would not argue with that. It was obvious as day how the sudden movement from the legendary assassin caused nervousness, anxiousness, and fear from the people present which included the guards as well. Although, this is quite expected. Solomon was quite aware of the history of the previous Royal Knights with the Red-Eyed Demon. However, it is far different this time around.

"I will agree with you on the pathetic part. They are lower than maggots. But good news, you're one of them."

Yarun smirked at this while he had already removed his two swords from their respective scabbards. They were now placed on each of his side as the moon's light was reflected upon the surface of the blade like a mirror. He stood there perfectly still.

"Let's make this a bit interesting. If I win, I get that rose. I plan on making her mine. You don't mind right? After all, you have a harem of girls with you."

At that point, Yarun pointed one of his blades towards Sereinia who remained completely oblivious while he casually glanced at Linde and Taira. She was only informed when her medical assistant urged her to take a look at the two men. The words that were spoken made the good doctor widened her eyes in disbelief and slight trepidation as she slowly glanced to Shadow.

"If you win, I will give you and your idiotic friends a reprieve to escape."

Upon hearing this statement, all of the guards had a look of disbelief in their expression and even let out a few gasps and statements regarding about Yarun being too reckless or for him to reconsider. However, they were immediately silence with a just a glance from those rogue pink eyes that now seemed to glow eerily. They had very deadly intentions that threatened all of them silently. As a result of the protests were silenced and dread filled the air.

"His Highness had always told you that overconfidence will kill you, Yarun."

Solomon spoke who was the only not intimidated at all. Instead, his silver-white eyes were filled with a warning and a stern reprimand for Yarun. The man was being too reckless and too cocky for his own good. However, this was the legendary assassin that had slain hundreds without much regard. He was the one who had killed the men who seemed to be trained assassins as well swiftly and without fuss. In summary, this is a gamble for fools.

"Too bad. I have no plans of being dead yet. Although, he would. Oh, I forgot to tell you. You're no demon. You're just a bastard. Take it from me I know one when I see one."

With that said, Yarun had placed one of his blades near Shadow's throat barely touching the skin while the other sword was placed behind his neck with the same distance. One wrong move would decapitate Shadow without fail. Yarun's eyes glowed eerily under the veil of the moonlight. There was something maniacal within those eyes but at the same time a certain coldness in it as well. At first glance, those eyes were similar to Shadow's. No wonder, people often mistake Yarun for Shadow. But upon closer inspection, there was a great difference.

"Your move."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: The Royal Knights Of Cre' Est Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Lee Hart Character Portrait: Linde
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Shadow remained silent as Yarun tried to voice his confidence, smiling at him with his eyes glowing steadily brighter with every word.

"Too bad. I have no plans of being dead yet. Although, he would. Oh, I forgot to tell you. You're no demon. You're just a bastard. Take it from me I know one when I see one."

Shadow's smile only widened at this statement.

"You talk too much." He whispered.

Shadow decided that it was ideal for him to make the first move given Yarun's stance. He used the dagger in his left hand to initiate the attack, swiping Yarun's blade off to the side to which Yarun simply spun and replaced it back in its original position at Shadow's throat. Shadow's smile grew as he saw an immediate weakness in the maneuver. Shadow repeated the attack, and sure enough Yarun tried the same move himself but Shadow had closed the gap and rammed him with his body, knocking him back several feet and protecting himself from the incoming blade as it came around using one of his daggers. Yarun was slightly taken aback by Shadow's move but was quick to compose himself and hide his surprise at being stopped from taking his stance.

Shadow continued to smile, not saying anything as it was now Yarun's turn.

Yarun slid forward and stabbed at Shadow with his left sword, prepping the sword in his right hand for a more secretive attack. Shadow parried the first blade off to the side and as the other blade attempted to sneak passed his defenses Shadow simply evaded to the side and slid forward, closing the gap and ramming his elbow into Yarun's ribs. In turn, Yarun managed to elbow Shadow in the jaw as he retreated from the attack. Shadow smiled as he licked his lips, backing away a step as Yarun retook his stance.

It was Shadow's turn again, and for this round he decided to heat things up a little bit. Shadow once again swatted Yarun's forward weapon to the side while Yarun changed tactics and tried to cut Shadow's advance off by sliding forward but Shadow simply used his forward momentum to headbutt him as his weapons were trying to find their targets. The temporary lapse in concentration caused by the blow to the head caused Yarun to step back as Shadow stepped forward and kneed him on the inside of his right thigh, striking the femoral nerve cluster and causing his leg to temporarily seize up and begin to spasm for a few seconds. Shadow backed away a step and gave Yarun the opportunity to recover and reset.

Taking full advantage of the opportunity provided by Shadow, Yarun decided it was time to return the favor by lunging forward and striking with a stab to the stomach. Shadow parried the attack and Yarun used Shadow's parry as a means to strike forward and punch his shoulder as his other hand came around and he used a back fist strike to bash Shadow across the face again in the same spot he hit before. From experience, striking the same place to cause overlapping damage typically stunned all of the foes he had faced and he had it in his mind that Shadow was no different but he was dead wrong. Shadow leaned forward after the strike and headbutted Yarun again, in the same spot as before with a smile on his face as Yarun stepped backwards. He was beginning to get increasingly annoyed with this 'Demon' who stood in front of him.

To anyone watching without experience the fight was already a heated match, but to anyone with experience such as Solomon the fight at this stage was a laughable warm up which wasn't even beginning to touch upon the true skills of either combatant. Right now they were feeling each other out and getting familiar with each other's fighting styles. Strangely enough both of them were smiling at each other, but their smiles were filled with deadly intent.

Shadow stood up straight and sheathed his daggers, cracking his neck by rotating it in a circle and turning his back to Yarun. He stretched his arms above his head and cracked his shoulders at the same time by shrugging them upward and then back down. Yarun too took the opportunity to sheath his weapons and stretch out a little bit, loosening himself up for the upcoming onslaught he was going to unleash against this "Demon". Shadow turned around and smiled as he got one more crack out of his neck before he took a defensive stance and Yarun did the same and they squared off again. Shadow decided that Yarun had earned a bit more of a match than just 'two minutes' so he spoke.

"No time limit... This is too much fun."

Yarun smirked and laughed.

"You mean you can't beat me in two minutes don't you? What's wrong Demon? Can't back up your own words with the actions you promised me earlier?" He mocked.

Shadow's smile never faded.

"No... It's because I want to milk this fight for all its worth. This fight is still going to end with my victory Yarun, so don't get cocky just because I have chosen to get rid of the time limit."

Yarun's smile faded at the notion that the Demon thought he could win but decided to let him have his fantasies for now.

Shadow and Yarun decided both to fight without engaging their weapons for now as they slowly came forward until Shadow suddenly grabbed Yarun's arm and threw him over his shoulder into the air. Yarun flipped his body in the air and threw a kick to Shadow's head which was subsequently blocked by Shadow who caught it squarely in its place without so much as budging his arm despite the power Yarun had put into it. Shadow threw Yarun to the ground with great force, but Yarun turned his upper body and used his hands to catch his fall, using his other leg to try and kick Shadow by spinning on his left palm but Shadow caught this kick and well. Now that Shadow had both of Yarun's legs he whipped him up into the air and started spinning, twirling Yarun like a rag doll as he spun around and around before letting go of him and launching him into a stack of empty wooden crates.

Yarun broke the crates upon impact and he shook his head and gritted his teeth at the fact the Demon had thrown him so easily. Shadow was still grinning at him as he took a stance as Yarun got up as fast as he could and charged Shadow. While this seemed like a mindless charge Yarun was actually forming a plan as he went. Shadow caught Yarun's hands as they came in to grab him but Yarun twisted his arms around and pivoted on his back foot causing Shadow to loose his balance and start to fall. As Shadow hit the ground Yarun tried to come back against his earlier rotation to square up and attack again but Shadow was just laying there with his arms crossed over his chest with a smile on his face. Yarun's anger began to swell and he leaned down and punched Shadow ten times in the face and the upper chest, hard. He backed away after his attack and took a breath as he watched Shadow laying there with his eyes closed and his arms across his chest.

Shadow opened his eyes and stood up slowly and dusted himself off, looking at Yarun with that smile still on his face.

"Were those punches or were you giving me a massage?" Shadow asked as he cocked his head to the side.

Yarun glowered at him and charged again, a new plan forming in his mind. He aimed a punch at Shadow with his left fist, only to have Shadow catch it at arms length and stop all of his forward momentum and wrench his shoulder back out of its socket. Yarun stumbled backwards gripping his shoulder in pain as Shadow simply smiled at him. Yarun spat at the ground at Shadow's feet and popped his shoulder back into place as he charged again but this time leaped at Shadow at the last second. Shadow wasn't quite expecting this maneuver and so he failed to stop it and ended up back on the ground with Yarun once again above him and punching him in the face and upper chest. Shadow this time, however, blocked almost every single punch save for a select few which were in placed he knew wouldn't cause damage to spare himself the energy it would take to block. Shadow then bridged his hips and launched Yarun off of his chest and rolled away to the side, rising quickly into a crouched position as Yarun stood up himself.

Shadow's smile had never once faded away and it was still adorning his face. That smile was already beyond irritating as Yarun clenched his teeth at the 'Demon' and also clenched his fists. Solomon, meanwhile, standing on the side of the battlefield was watching with great interest though also a hint of nervousness. He had never seen anyone match Yarun like this before while at the same time getting under his skin with nothing but a smile. This fight was going to be a long one and Yarun was slowly using more and more of his potential against Shadow who had thus far continued to match his intensity and up the ante. It was a sign that did not bode well for Yarun despite his confidence and his claims.

Shadow was the one to charge this time, closing the gap between them in about one second and throwing a punch at Yarun with his right hand. Yarun ducked it to the side and prepared to strike Shadow, only to receive a fist to the face without warning as he staggered back and held his nose. There was blood dripping from his left nostril, but his nose was not broken. He looked over at Shadow and saw that he was holding himself up off the ground with his left hand and his right hand was on his hip. His body was completely sideways almost as if he was doing one handed side push ups, but he was just sitting there and Yarun suddenly realized what he had done. At the last second Shadow and whipped his body around to his left side enough to punch Yarun in the face before he had the time to react.

Yarun had never seen anyone launch an attack that fast except for Solomon which was not a good sign at all and for the first time in the fight Yarun's confidence took a light hit but he quickly regained it when he saw Shadow stand up. There was a tiny hint of pain in him as he stood up which told Yarun that he was doing damage, even if the 'Demon' hid it from him until that point. While his nose was bleeding Yarun's body was not yet feeling pain which gave him a sense of superiority and a boost in confidence once more to think that he was damaging the Demon while the Demon was not damaging him. He renewed his attack and the two became locked in a continuous whirlpool of attacks against each other.

Shadow blocked Yarun's first strike with his left hand and punched at his head with his right. Yarun blocked the blow and pushed Shadow's hand down towards the ground as he struck high towards Shadow's head with his own right hand. Shadow nearly repeated the same action but shoved his fist full on into the ground shredding some of the skin at his knuckles and caused Yarun to feel the first real sense of pain he'd experienced all fight long. Yarun was far from intimidated though as he once again aimed to strike Shadow in the head, but Shadow leaned his head forward and struck Yarun's fist with his forehead causing the knuckles to crack and cave slightly and Yarun stepped back shaking off his hands. Shadow came forward to strike next but Yarun used his forearms to block the next volley of attacks and tried to throw a series of elbows at Shadow, none of which made contact.

Shadow ended up kicking Yarun away and resetting the playing field.

It was at this moment that Solomon noticed something very important which would be the deciding factor in this fight. Yarun was beginning to show signs of fatigue. A single bead of sweat dropped from his right temple but there was no sweat whatsoever on the side of the Demon. In fact, he was completely at ease as Yarun's chest rose and fell very gently, indicating that while he was not truly winded, he was beginning to experience the effects of a long and drawn out fight. Solomon also had a sudden epiphany as he realized just what Shadow had done. By luring Yarun into a fight like this and by testing his strength in the beginning, Shadow had learned all he needed to know about Yarun's abilities and more than likely had known that Yarun would need to be worn down before a victory could be assured. Like the stubborn young man that he was Yarun had played right into it and allowed Shadow to dictate the terms of the engagement.

"... Fool." Solomon said quietly to himself.

Yarun had rested enough and came in at Shadow again launching a flurry of attacks at him. The speed to which he was now attacking had increased drastically, but Shadow remained on par with him and matched every move Yarun threw with one of his own. Attack after attack landed against each combatant until Yarun broke away and got back into a more defensive posture instead of an aggressive one. His breathing becoming slightly more apparent while Shadow's chest still failed to rise or fall in any noticeable way as Solomon watched and shook his head. He looked around and saw that both Linde and Taira seemed to know this as well as they were both looking at him and nodding, acknowledging his awareness of what was going on. Slowly, his eyes returned to the fight.

Yarun had now had enough and drew his swords, slicing them together and pointing the weapon in his right hand at Shadow. Shadow in turn drew his Twin Daggers which sang out into the air as they were drawn free and he clashed the blades together, releasing a volley of sparks into the air around him thanks to the heat and friction that was generated by the nearly indestructible metal that was Orichalcum. His smile faded during the mid level rounds but was now back on his face.

"... Let's see what those toothpicks of yours can do..." Shadow said with a tint of ice in his tone.

Yarun lunged forward, stabbing at Shadow's midsection but Shadow parried the attack to the side and stabbed towards Yarun's head. Yarun moved his head out of the way and tried to stab Shadow in the stomach with his other blade, but Shadow had brought his first attack down before Yarun could bring his other attack up and had cut him on the neck just above where the neck met the shoulder.

Yarun stepped back and looked at Shadow with a combination of horror and pure rage.

Shadow had drawn first blood.

Once the weapons had been drawn it was a common understanding by warriors across the world that the one who drew first blood would be the victor of the fight. While it was not always one hundred percent true, the thought that Shadow was able to draw blood before he did once his swords were free of their scabbards was enough to infuriate Yarun to the point where he actually yelled out in rage at Shadow as the Demon simply smiled at him and innocently shrugged his shoulders.

Yarun came forward and struck at Shadow. The speed they two were now moving looked like nothing but a blur of bright flashing metal as the moons rays came down and illuminated the weapons. It almost looked like a combination of a dance and an illusion as the two continued to strike and block at each other with literally blinding speed.

Everyone watching except for Solomon, Linde and Taira were unable to follow the precise movements that were going on beneath this beautiful but deadly display. With every attack that was launched there were two more that suddenly took their places. Moving faster and faster until even Taira's eyes could no longer keep pace and she had to blink and look away. Linde and Solomon were now the only ones who could decipher what was going on beneath that bright and flashing battle that took place.

Suddenly, almost as quickly as it had started the engagement was over as the two combatants broke away and stared at one another.

Yarun was speechless, though he hid his shock and burning anger under a calm facial facade.

Shadow had blocked every single attack Yarun had thrown at him. Not only that, but he had even managed to get in close and cut Yarun's outfit twice. Yarun looked down at his chest and stomach, two small slices in the fabric that never touched skin but never the less were very easily seen and understood. Shadow's outfit, ragged as it was from years of combat, was untouched. Yarun looked up at Shadow and growled a little bit under his breath.

Solomon watched this and shook his head, looking over at Linde who was already looking at him. The two stood next to each other and seemingly were acting as interpreters for the fight and for the opposition.

"... So what percentage is he at now" Solomon asked.

Linde looked worriedly at Solomon.

"He's at eighty percent." She said quietly.

Solomon nodded, looking back to the fight.

"... Yarun's at eighty five..." He said quietly, though Linde could hear him perfectly well.

The idea that the two were a near perfect match was almost unbelievable to Solomon. While he didn't exactly believe that Shadow was as dangerous as the legends said, he had a new respect for why they existed at all which Yarun obviously did not. That disbelief and his overconfidence were what was now going to cost him this match as Shadow was now known to possess more strength and stamina in reserve than Yarun did. Solomon prepared himself to intervene, knowing that the fight was about to reach its end.

Taira watched the two standing there staring at each other and shook her head as she watched Shadow begin to take in a deep breath and let it out slowly through his mouth, a small amount of steam coming from his breath as it hit the cold night air.

"... Hard to believe he's only just now going to start fighting at full strength..." She said.

True to Taira's statement, Shadow was now fighting at full strength and it was plain to see as Yarun was quickly overpowered. Shadow closed the gap before Yarun could react and unleashed a flurry of seven punches to Yarun while keeping the blades away from his body. The final punch saw Yarun launched off his feet and onto his back, lying down stunned as he was now looking at the moon.

Even Solomon was shocked at the speed in which Shadow had moved as well as the power in those seven punches he'd displayed. To anyone else watching save for Linde and possibly Taira, it looked like Shadow had only punched four times with the final one being the punch that sent Yarun off his feet. Solomon felt a bead of sweat drop down from his own temple as he watched Yarun stand up and shake it off, taking in a breath and letting it out as he too prepared to launch an all out strike.

"... This isn't going to end well at all..." Solomon said to himself, more talking to himself about the possibilities of the aftermath of the fight instead of the fight itself.

Yarun came forward and unleashed Hell on Shadow as the two began to trade blows at full force. Shadow's attacks began to mirror Yarun's own until the patterns finally broke and became much more individual and unique to each combatant. The sheer force of their attacks sent small waves of pressure out from the weapons as they flew through the air, being strong enough to be felt by the others as they continued to watch the fight. Eventually though, the blades began to fly slower than before and their paths became visible to those watching until finally Shadow managed to push Yarun back and open up a gap between them.

Solomon took that as his cue and started to walk forward at a steady pace.

Yarun was breathing hard, his stamina drained and his hands barely holding onto his weapons as Shadow stood tall with slow and even breaths. Though he too was now winded, it was nowhere near how badly Yarun was. Yarun charged Shadow after taking in one final breath and as Shadow prepared to strike as well Solomon suddenly appeared beside them with a hand on both of their chests just below the throat in a tight grip. The two combatants froze on contact, both now looking at Solomon instead of each other.

"That's quite enough you two... This fight is over." He said aloud.

"Solomon... How dare you interfere! I was about to kill him!" Yarun yelled.

Solomon looked at Yarun and shook his head.

"...... Look down Yarun..." He said quietly and with a hint of sadness in his voice.

Yarun looked down and saw that Shadow had parried his sword off to the side and actually knocked it out of his hand entirely, something Yarun had failed to notice when Solomon had interfered. Shadow, meanwhile, was holding his dagger at arms length with the tip only a hair's width away from Yarun's throat and prepped to open it had Yarun or himself continued to move forward. All Shadow had to do was stand there and Yarun would have killed himself on his blade.

"... Had I not stopped you, Yarun, you would already be dead..." Solomon said quietly.

There were whispers and murmurs from the other guards and the other Royal Knights as Shadow backed away and sheathed his daggers, looking at Yarun with that smile now back on his face and a VERY mocking tone now filling his voice.

"I guess you weren't quite up to the challenge Yarun... How very disappointing." Shadow said as he slowly turned his back to Yarun and Solomon.

"I will give you this though Yarun, you kept me entertained well enough and you are a fine combatant... However, I would talk to your master if I were you because you fight more like an Assassin of Te'i Sai than a Royal Knight of Cre' Est."

There was a gasp from the onlookers and even Solomon looked at Shadow in surprise as he spoke those words.

"Your fighting style is reminiscent of Grandmaster Takai of the Cre' Itian branch of Te'i Sai which was based in Roda Valley before I destroyed it six years ago. Your moves remind me very much of his personal style of blade oriented combat and it's one of the reasons why I defeated you tonight, because I know your moves and your training even better than you do." He said.

These words cut deep in Solomon's mind and he could almost feel the burning rage being let off by Yarun.

"I have one more thing to say Yarun... I'm not sure what kind of warrior would drop their weapon at the end of such a fantastic battle just because of a sudden distraction. I'm afraid that this detail alone has lowered my expectations of you and should we ever meet again..." Shadow looked back over his shoulder with that smile still on his face, "I will be inclined to treat you as more of an inconvenience than a threat."

All of the words which were spoken held serious bite and ferocity coming from Shadow, especially given the tone of voice he was using, and the whispers and murmurs increased in volume and number around the battlegrounds as the onlookers looked to each other and whispered about what had just been said.

"I'm holding you to your word Yarun." Shadow said aloud over his shoulder.

Shadow was, of course, referring to the promise Yarun made at the beginning of the fight when he said that if Shadow won that he and the others were free to leave.

As Shadow started to walk towards Linde and Taira there were several details about the fight that hit home with Solomon as he watched Shadow leave.

Shadow was still, even after all that had happened, only just barely breathing despite the intensity of the fight while Yarun was still struggling to completely bring his breath under control. Shadow's attacks with those seven punches towards the end could very easily have been blade attacks and Yarun could have been sliced to pieces because of them. Nearly all of Shadow's hand to hand attacks landed in vital areas of the body and each individual technique could have been a killing blow in their own right had he put more force into them. Yarun's hand to hand attacks were more about simple redirection and landing wherever he could manage which were far less dangerous and held only a fraction of the overall damage potential as Shadow's attacks.

In the meantime Shadow walked over to Linde and Taira, letting out a single breath as he reached them. Both were smiling, but more for the fact that both Shadow and Yarun were alive.

"Come on, we need to get these people to a safe place." He said as they nodded to him and started to walk with him towards the others.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: The Royal Knights Of Cre' Est Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Lee Hart Character Portrait: Linde
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Eyes of rogue pink resembled a burning magma beneath the frozen ice. It glowed so eerily and with a vengeance as Yarun madly glared at Shadow's retreating figure. His hands were tightly clenched enough to have his own fingernails carved into his palms as bits of blood dropped from it. He was trembling not due to the pain, fear, or anything else. It was because of the anger and hatred boiling inside of him at the very moment. The statement about him fighting like a Te'i Sai assassin did not bother him the very least. He could care less. What truly got to his skin was when the so-called Demon even dared to undermine him of all people. If an aura of a person could be seen, Yarun's resembled a volcanic explosion of massive proportions.

his was a humiliation he would make sure that the good-for-nothing assassin shall regret this day that even hell and death will never give him an escape. One thing was for certain, this was not going to be the last time they would clashed blades with each other. For the next time, it was going to be more personal than ever.

"Do not get in my way again, Solomon."

Silver-white eyes looked at Yarun who did remove those flaming gazes on the form of the so called Red-Eyed Demon. Solomon knew very will that the oil-soaked wick had been lit by the legendary Te'i Sai assassin. Furthermore, he was more concerned about the comments that had been spoken. The possible connection of the Te'i Sai with the only father-figure he had ever known. It was no secret to his Master and Yarun the freezing hatred he has for the said organization. He wanted to see it crumble all to the ground and be ushered into nothingness. If he had not know that Shadow was responsible for some of the destruction in the Te'i Sai, he would have taken the fight from Yarun just because the man was part of Te'i Sai. For now, his mind filled with questions were put aside as Solomon answered the seething Sword Dancer.

"You would be dead and your ego would be in shambles beyond repair."

Upon saying that, Yarun grabbed hold of Solomon by the neck without touching the red crystal pendant. Those eyes of blazing crimson carnations pierced against those empty silver-white eyes. Solomon was not intimidated by such actions and calmly looked at his fellow Knight.

"I told overconfidence can kill. You were even considering disobeying His Highness' order, did you not."

It was spoken with a deadpan tone as Solomon grabbed Yarun's wrist and removed the hand around his throat without much effort. Yarun was resisting Solomon; however, it was futile. When it comes to pure strength, no one comes close to the one known as the White Grim Reaper.

"You knew better. Yarun."

Yarun angrily retrieved his hand from Solomon's grip and then begrudgingly turned his back from the white Knight. He approached his fallen sword which was the Sin Eater and picked it. The other sword was still in his other hand but with blood trickling from its tip due to his forceful clenching of hand. He sheathed both swords to their respective scabbards but did not bother locking it to the hilt. As of now, he wanted to kill somebody very badly. It did not matter who the person would be. He just wants blood to flow in grooves by his doing and nobody else.

"We can move now, right? You are men of your word, yes?"

After hearing that, a dagger passed Lee's cheek cutting the skin along the way with a few strands of his hair. The said dagger was now implanted on a nearby tree behind Lee. The culprit was Yarun who gave him a very deathly glare. He did not like being constantly reminded of a bet turned bad. The guards flinched upon seeing such eyes as they knew the consequences of those who would meet it.

"Everyone stand back."

Solomon issued the order and some of the guards were reluctant to do so. One of them was about to raise an objection but he was immediately silenced with a raised hand from the White Knight. Those empty silver-white eyes were now present with authority and sternness and the same could be said at his current posture. As a result, the guards had done so.

"This is just a reprieve. I will allow you a one minute time frame. When it is over, you will be hunted."

The guards held onto their weapons tightly upon hearing Solomon's statement. They had thought that the Red-Eyed Demon would be allowed to leave just because of reckless bet made by Yarun, a Royal Knight at that. They were relieved to know that their duties will still be realized at some point. As for Yarun, he made his decision to take his leave. He needed to release some steam. It would be best for him not to return to the Palace at the moment. But before he could, Solomon stopped him.

"Frigga is here, Yarun. We are being summoned."

At that exact moment, a white bird flew passed Linde, Taira, and Shadow with such elegance and surreality. It soon landed on Solomon's raised hand who peered at the said knight with its blue eyes and then to Yarun with an inquiring gaze. Yarun looked with irritation at the albino bird but more specifically a very rare color to be found on this type of bird. It was white raven that had been the main symbol for their Master and the current Emperor of Cre' Est.

"Fine."

Yarun said begrudgingly as he left without another word and vanished before everyone's sight with a second to lose. As for Solomon, he motioned for the Captain of the Royal Guards to come forward which the man did with slight fear and wonder.

"Go after them precisely after one minute."

Solomon then looked over his shoulder to the group of now wanted felons. He walked towards Shadow's group while Frigga removed itself from his hand and flew towards the dagger which Yarun had thrown earlier. Frigga perched on it as Solomon headed towards it as well passing Shadow's group in the process. He took out the dagger. At that moment, Frigga flew away and circled around him. He had a rather distasteful look towards the dagger. There was blood on the hilt and a bit at the blade. It was probably from Yarun's self-inflicted injury and the man who likely added salt to injury. At the same time, he had some of Yarun's blood on his collar. He should remind Yarun to keep his blood to himself.

"Your time starts now."

It was spoken with a certain authority and at the same time a subtle threat. Solomon's eyes looked at each of them with only a fleeting second as an interval. He then walked away from the scene but as for Frigga, it flew towards Shadow's group and the circled around them which was quite close to each individual. This made Solomon stopped on his tracks and looked over his shoulder for the white raven.

"Frigga."

The white raven seemed to be looking for something in particular and soon found it in the form of Layla. Frigga landed on the girl's head and carelessly pecked on her forehead. Solomon looked at this event with one raised eyebrow. This continued on as Frigga was quite good at dodging any blows or gestures to shoo it away. As such, Solomon had no choice but to approach them once more. However, he was still at a relative distance

"She is not dead Frigga."

As if understanding, Frigga flew above Layla and stared at the girl with those blue eyes and then landed on Solomon's shoulder. He then looked at Layla from his position. It was only natural to apologize. It was not above him and even more so as a Royal Knight of Cre' Est.

"I apologize. You reek of the dead. I suggest a shower. By the way, you only have 30 seconds left."

After saying that, Solomon walked away from the group and soon vanished from anyone's sight with Frigga in tow. The two was headed towards the path that leads to the Royal Palace of Cre' Est. As for Sereinia, she had already been sent towards Shadow. The guard and the medical assistant with her had told her to leave while there was still time. She stood before Shadow and averted her eyes from him. She was not certain what to do or how to act in front of him. There were still a lot of things she needed to think over. The only words that she could give in a coherent manner without her involving something about treating someone were.

"I want to leave."

In another area, golden eyes looked at the scenery of the capitol city of Cre' Est from the balcony at the Royal Palace of Cre' Est. The eyes were filled with a knowledge and the acknowledgement of something unknown. Its owner released a rather sad and long sigh. There was also sadness now present in those golden eyes that resembled the rising sun in the horizon. The light evening breeze that brought the stench of death had played gently with long midnight black hair that seemed to glow in purple hue under the moon's melancholy light.

"So, they meet. Is this what you want Takai? I wonder..."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli Character Portrait: Lee Hart Character Portrait: Aiden Syr Teodry Character Portrait: Linde
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Shadow listened to Solomon speak and listened to everything else that was said and done from a slight distance.

"I want to leave." Sereinia stated quietly.

Shadow nodded to her.

"Linde, Taira, Mayumi, take these people to the inn and treat whatever injuries they have. I will keep the guards from following." He said quietly.

Linde and Taira nodded, with Mayumi simply bowing and going off to her job. Shadow had noticed her injury, but it would be treated by either Linde or Sereinia upon reaching the inn.

As the ladies went about doing their job and started guiding people away with the few seconds they had left, Shadow took that moment to approach the Captain of the Royal Guards and stood not but six feet away from him. Looking over his shoulder, he saw the others disappear around a corner of the street and took that as his cue. He looked forward again, a serious threat rising in his voice.

"I understand your duties, and I understand your desire to follow them to the best of your abilities... However, Captain, if you so much as twitch before I have left the area I will reactivate Roda I'l Lousta of my own accord. You and your men will be slaughtered and more innocent lives may yet bleed out in your streets because of the orders you received from Solomon."

The Royal Guards all started looking at each other and whispered among themselves until the Captain told them to be quiet.

Shadow brought out one of his Twin daggers and raised it to the palm on his right hand, placing the edge of it against his skin as he looked the Captain of the Royal Guards in the eyes.

"You have a choice Captain. You either tell your men to retreat and leave the area, or you can stay here and die while possibly dragging yet more innocence into it as well. I will give you fifteen seconds to come up with a decision, and I pray that you make the right one." He said in a low voice.

The Captain looked at Shadow, then to his men and the surrounding buildings as well as the blood lying on the ground all around them. By now the blood on Shadow's chest had long since clotted so that was no threat for activating the deadly state known as Roda I'l Lousta, but if Shadow were to open his hand it would not take but a few seconds for the scent to reach his nose and then all Hell would break loose. Regardless of how well trained they were, the rest of the Royal Knights and Royal Guards were no match for either Yarun or Solomon and even they couldn't defeat Shadow. And that was without Roda I'l Lousta. Had Roda I'l Lousta been active when Shadow fought Yarun he would have been dead a minute in if not sooner.

The Captain heaved a sigh and turned to his men.

"Fall back through the streets to the gates of the Palace and await my return." He announced.

There was hesitation at first, but the men all complied none the less as the Captain turned to face Shadow one last time.

"You would threaten the lives of innocence just for the chance to 'get away'? What kind of person are you, Demon? Are you even human at all? What goes on behind those red eyes of yours that makes you think you can get away with all of this?" He asked.

Shadow tucked his dagger back into its sheath behind his back.

"Captain, you and your own have no idea who I am or what I will do to destroy Te'i Sai. Every life I protect from their grasp is a life that will continue to live without fear when they are gone and that is what Te'i Sai fears the most. Throughout the ages it changed from an organization which guided and protected the people of the land from a distance to an organization of corrupted Assassins who's only goal was to take total control of the people and force peace upon them through their own image and teachings. It is for that reason I rebelled against Te'i Sai in the first place and have since been fighting to destroy them. I am already responsible for destroying two of the five branches of Te'i Sai which exist on the continent of Cre' Est today and I plan to destroy the rest in time. I cannot do that, however, if people like Yarun and Solomon continue to get in my way."

He took a step forward, causing the Captain to retreat a step.

"As hard as it may be for you to believe this, given my history and past actions in Cre' Est and throughout the continent, I am working on the side of the people and the innocent against Te'i Sai. Every life of Te'i Sai I take is a life that will never threaten the innocent and a piece of the organization that will never be recovered. If His Majesty and his Royal Ilk such as Yarun and Solomon would be so kind as to stay out of my way and leave me in peace I will do the same for them, but if they continue to hunt me I will be forced to end the lives of the two most powerful Royal Knights to have ever existed and I do not wish for that to happen."

Shadow took a step away and turned his back.

"Yarun and Solomon are fine warriors and will do very well in their efforts to protect this place and their people. Taking their lives would only cripple Cre' Est against Te'i Sai and any other invaders who seek to challenge His Majesty. Though I don't really care for His Majesty as an individual, I do care about the lives of the people he watches and rules over. I would ask of you, Captain, that you relay my message about "he and his men stay out of my way and I will stay out of their way" to His Majesty. So long as you do not hunt me, I will not be forced to kill you."

With those words Shadow walked away to join the others. There were still bodies to be picked up in the streets and blood to wash away, but when the Captain got back Shadow was certain that he would send a clean up crew to take care of what was still there. Shadow took a few minutes walking back to the inn and when he arrived in the room it was a little crowded given the number of people who had since been brought to it. But it would have to do for the time being.

Shadow simply sat in a chair in the corner of the room and closed his eyes, resting them after all that had happened.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: The Royal Knights Of Cre' Est Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Linde
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#, as written by Layla
"Short stuff!"

A girl with snow-blonde hair turned around to look into warm hazel eyes. Layla's hair was near white, with eyes of silver and skin of ivory. The woman with the hazel eyes had dark skin and hair and was over 6 feet tall. The two women were as different as night and day.

"Evi," Layla acknowledged with a barely restrained smile.

"Heard you sang and danced for the men who ran Nashanti," Evi said, her grin so wide Layla wondered if it hurt. Nashanti was a group of underground slave traders with massive bounties on their heads. No one was quite sure if the authorities knew of their existence or if they simply couldn't find them. Nashanti was well known amongst the part of the population that meddled in the illegal. Still, Nashanti managed to exist for decades before a group of bounty hunters - Layla being amongst them - decided to take it apart. Not out of any good will of their own, obviously. Nashanti made the fatal mistake of stealing the wrong much loved daughter of a wealthy merchant with very little trust in Cre' Est's legal system.

"I can't believe you let them take you. A slave under cover," Evi chuckled, slapping Layla on her back. The dainty huntress was so used to it by now, she didn't even react. "That's my girl!"

"You charmed those men right off their swords. You know what they're calling you now?" Evi asked rhetorically. Layla waited for the answer but only received a pointed stare from the large woman.

"Oh, uh... What?" Layla asked.

"Siren."

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

A not too gentle pecking could be felt on Siren's forehead - What the hell? The light haired girl groaned, before slapping her hand on the pecking, just to end up slapping her own head. Then, in a sudden realisation she sat up quickly and gripped the shoulder of the man who was carrying her, her silver eyes wild.

"No!" she shouted. Siren knew those dreams of being trapped in a room with a gigantic parrot meant something more than a strange fear for multicoloured birds. "Begone, parrot!" she squealed, pointing at a nearby bird.

A white raven.

That's not a parrot...
Siren frowned, pursing her lips to the side as she stared into sky blue eyes and white feathers. If I've become the Emperor's concubine... Actually, that doesn't sound too bad.

"I apologize. You reek of the dead. I suggest a shower. By the way, you only have 30 seconds left."

Raising a perfectly arched eyebrow, the huntress spoke sarcastically, "Charming. Very charming. How do you keep your charisma at bay?"

Siren turned her head towards the voice to find herself looking into orbs of near white and hair that made hers look normal. Siren whistled - a failed attempt, for she could not whistle - as she studied the stunning man with appreciation. "Damn, I'd make a really hot man."

Then, as if a bucket of snow had been poured over her face, Siren had an epiphany. "I'm in a land of albinos!"

Suddenly, Siren began moving, she glared at the man holding her as she looked behind his shoulder to look at the man with colouring so similar to hers. "Get 'em girls, brother! Make me proud," she grasped her heart before wiping a dramatic, invisible tear from the corner of her eye. Then, she turned back to the person who was carrying her - "As comfortable as this is and as royal as I feel - where do you think you're taking me?"

]Inn

Large, clear eyes peeked from the surface of the steaming water. Snowing hair floated in the hot springs, rippling around a moonlit face as Siren stewed in annoyance. She was in the company of the red-eyed demon.

The last thing she remembered was being buried amongst the dead before falling asleep for a brief moment to wake up to an albino raven trying to eat her. Siren sighed, rising from the heated water of the springs. She stood utterly naked - her ivory skin smooth and unmarred, except for the red markings of Cre' Est, primarily Triveila. The red ink embedded under her skin spoke of peace, hope and strength as they caressed her spine and wrapped themselves around her wrists and ankles.

"Auruxeilla," she whispered under her breath, grasping her hands in front of her, "Please tell me what to do."

Siren waited, her full breasts tapering down to a small waist and curved hips as she waited for a sudden knowing. Nothing came. Siren sighed, tilting her head back to watch the round moon that hung overhead, painting Siren's hair that fell past her hips in a kaleidoscope of light. She suddenly thought of the Angel or whoever it was that had sung so beautifully amongst the chaos. A smirk twitched at the corner of her lips - now that was a woman she would love to indulge in.

Swaying slightly to invisible flutes, the huntress sang, as if she were a Siren who wished to lure an Angel. Perhaps she wished to lure the Moon to her feet. Siren sang the song of Luna Piena.

In the fog, in the night fog, the very thick darkness.
A lost child wounded by brambles.

A mirror of water still and rusty.
It reflects, sometimes, it reflects the truth.

Freedom is loneliness.
I turn to the sky, I turn to the night sky:
“Help me, help me!”

Oh sweet rays between the clouds (oh sweet rays),
my guiding way.
Oh Mother moon. Full (moon) moon.
(Full moon, oh Mother full moon.)

A day away, just you, a day away,
you have put us into the light, you have put us into the light.

Ah, you who enlightens everything,
to everything you give serenity in equal measure.

Here I go back into your lap (into your lap),
wrapped up in the soft light of your venter.
And sleep, and dream.
(Wrapped up in the soft light and dream.)

You are the moon, (compassionate Mother. You are)
Compassionate Mother, (the moon, you are the moon.)
Compassionate Mother, (you are the moon.)
Compassionate Mother, Mother full moon.

No longer drenched in the stench of death or covered in blood and filth, the girl of light seemed to blend perfectly with the moon. The fear and anxiety she had for the red-eyed demon ebbed away with her pure, feminine voice leaving her lips and somehow, she felt as if she she'd just sung a duet with an Angel.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: The Royal Family of Cre' Est Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: The Royal Knights Of Cre' Est Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli Character Portrait: Lee Hart Character Portrait: Linde
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"I have told you time and time again to not let your emotions take hold of your better judgment, Yarun."

Stern golden eyes gazed at Yarun who averted his rogue pink eyes to the side. He had an almost unnoticeable pout on his lips similar to a child being reprimanded of eating a cookie before dinner. It was a clear sign that he was not too keen with such a late audience with his Master and the current Emperor of Cre' Est who wore a simple attire to emphasize that the he had just risen from bed in an untimely manner. Especially, when the discussion would be about his so-called recklessness and headlong decisions in the heat of the moment. He did not need to be reminded of that constantly moreover, the individual that had been involved in this brash choice of his. Thinking about the foul creature was once again igniting the burning hatred within the Sword Dancer. His eyes of rogue pink were once more showcasing an ember burning deep inside.

"Because of what you have done, the Royal Knights' reputation for the people of Cre' Est will be downgraded. Moreover, the wanted felon and criminal assassin known as the Red-Eyed Demon made our nation his personal battleground. I could careless about the people after him or those he had killed; however, he involved the innocent citizens of this country in his personal vendetta. As protectors of this nation, you should have set aside your personal goals and gains."

Releasing a sigh, Eonis shook his head while Frigga was perched comfortably on his shoulder while listening and watching the proceedings of the discussion with those clear blue eyes. Yarun had yet to look at Eonis in the eye while Solomon had his signature emotionless facade on his face. Regardless, Eonis knew that the two knights were listening to every word that was being spilled from his mouth. The aftermath of their actions would cause ripples that he was not very fond of. There would certainly be a lot of complaints and arguments from the elected officials and the branch royal families about the capability of the Empress' rule on Cre' Est. The possibility of relieving Yarun from his duty as a Royal Knight would be asked and the same could be said to Solomon who allowed all of this on the side.

"I cannot clean your mess all the time. The two of you are no longer children."

Yarun remained silent through all of this but his eyes showed complete understanding of what Eonis had spoken about. Cre' Est may look peaceful on the outside but inwardly, the fight for power to rule continued even up to this day. One single mistake from those around the Empress may set the powder keg to explode. It will then place this nation in a crisis. At the same time, this would be a great opportunity for the other nations to invade and for those ill-minded individual to take advantage. Solomon used this moment to bow humbly in front of Eonis to a complete ninety degrees.

"We apologized for such transgressions to our duty and to the loyalty of the Crown. It will not happen again. We will track down the Red-Eyed Demon and make him face proper justice in the Royal Court of Cre' Est."

Eonis closed his eyes momentarily before gazing at the two knights once more. He had always treated these two men as his own sons. They had grown by his side and had been personally trained by him. As such, he knew Solomon and Yarun than anyone else who might think otherwise. He was certain that even without his permission, Yarun would have ran off to hunt the Red-Eyed Demon. The prized student that Takai had told Eonis about once. If he remembered correctly, the deceased Grandmaster of Te'i Sai told him that the prodigal assassin reminded him of Eonis in his youth. It is why Takai expressed his desire for Eonis to meet the boy someday.

"Are we that similar Takai?"

It was a floating thought in Eonis' mind as he stood from his chair while Frigga simultaneously flew above him. Solomon had yet to raise his head properly as the man remained in that position. Yarun remained still, but, he was trembling more of anxiety than anything else. Soon, Eonis stopped before the two knights and spoke with a very stern voice that left no room for debates, negotiations, or arguments. He knew very well this was the best thing to do at the moment. It would also give the two knights reprieve from the inquisition of the politicians and members of the Royal Families.

"You two will not come after the Red-Eyed Demon. I will have Addar handle this one."

Upon hearing that, Yarun had finally looked at Eonis with disbelief obvious across his face. He did not expect such an announcement. Did the Emperor have no faith that he would prevail against the so-called Demon the next time they meet? Or, the words about a connection with the Te'i Sai has something to do with this? Honestly, he was not bothered about the information but, he could not say the same for Solomon who had been more pensive than ever upon learning of that possible connection. His teeth clenched in retaliation and his eyes of rogue pink flickered with intensity.

"Addar cannot handle that man! He is useless wimp! You know that very well. I am the only who can defeat the pompous bastard! I just need to remove these stupid braces! And---"

Eonis immediately pinned Yarun on the nearby stone column that lined the pathway within the room. The movement was precise, quick, and filled with paralyzing strength. No one had sensed that movement even Solomon who had remained bowing. His hair of midnight black did not even have a strand of a mess that would indicate that he had made great effort in his action. Golden eyes gazed into those rogue pink ones now reflecting annoyance and a feeling of defeat. Eonis' hand was wrapped around Yarun's neck in a deathly grip.

"I know. However, it will be more foolish to send you to your inevitable defeat in the condition you are in. As for the restriction, they will not come off until I say so. There are no compromises."

Releasing Yarun from his hold, Eonis watched the young knight coughed vehemently due to the choke hold he had given his pupil. Yarun and Solomon were strong in every sense. However, they had yet to fully reach their potential. They need time especially Yarun who had the lust and enjoyment for a death-defying battle. If the Sword Dancer wanted to face the Red-Eyed Demon, he needed time to grow stronger. Although, it would be difficult for him to keep Yarun at bay right now. The young man had never had his ego or pride bruised like this before. Regardless, he would not have Yarun doing something against his wishes. Even if, Eonis had to painfully elaborate every detail to Yarun the consequence of disobeying him again.

"If you are truly the one to defeat 'him', the Gods will make sure that your paths will cross again no matter the stipulations are. For now, I want the two of you to focus all your efforts in unveiling the whereabouts of my daughter."

Yarun stood from his position and wiped a blood that trickled down from the corner of his lips. His back slamming onto the stone column earlier seemed did enough damage to provoke a fit of blood coming out of his lips. There was also his currently exhausted body which he cursed for being too low on stamina. In any case, he had heard enough. This discussion was pointless to him now. All that mattered to him was to kill that 'man'. If finding Eonis' daughter would be the first step to that goal, he would do it and see to its accomplishment. Then, he will have his time eliminating that Red-Eyed Demon.

"I am leaving."

With that said, Yarun left the room without waiting for a response from Eonis or the companionship of Solomon. The door was closed with an emphasis as the sound reverberated with in the room. Eonis sighed at this gesture. Yarun was really like a child throwing a violent tantrum. This must be what parents called as the rebellion stage. While mussing on ways to educate Yarun about his manners, Solomon finally stood straight and looked at Eonis squarely on the eyes. He had to know if there was really truth behind the accusations that the Red-Eyed Demon had spouted earlier.

"Your Highness, do you have any connections with the Te'i Sai?"

Eonis slowly looked at Solomon. He could sensed from the white knight the feeling of apprehension and a wavering hope. It was no secret to him the seething hatred that Solomon had for the Te'i Sai. This grudge had propelled the said knight to be stronger and to become a knight amongst the obstacles. The knowledge that the Master who had taught him was one of the Te'i Sai would drive Solomon into insanity and the state of being dead.

"Put restriction weights around Yarun's ankles from now on. This discussion is now over."

After stating that, Eonis left the room with Frigga in tow to return to his chambers ignoring the looks of protests and disbelief from Solomon. The next answer that Solomon received was the sound of the closing door leaving him alone. He lowered his head and doubts, suspicions, and questions flooded into his mind. At the very least, he had concluded that the Emperor would have denied any connections with the Te'i Sai abruptly. He did not expect an avoidance of the topic. Is it really true then? The only man he had treated as his father was also part of the organization that took his happiness in pure vanity.

"What do you expect me to do, Master...?"

As for Eonis, he walked along the hallways with Frigga hovering above him. His eyes of golden had a somber quality in it making them a dull yellow. The events that had been reported to him and the question that Solomon had prompted him with. He was certain that he had planted a seed of doubt within the boy's man due to his avoidance of the subject about Te'i Sai. However, it was not the time for any one to know his rather complicated connection with the deadly organization that brought terror and unhappiness to those it had touched.

"You should have told them."

The familiar and soothing voice made Eonis looked over his shoulder at the source of such a beautiful sound. It was the only person left alive that knew much of his forbidden past and hopefully, the future. The only thing that he would never give up even if he had to wage war against the Gods. His eyes of gold glimmered under the moon's light with softness and adoration. They were like sparkling topazes.

"My Empress... Did I wake you up?"

Regalie approached Eonis and placed her hand upon his cheek with such a feathery touch. She had found herself alone in bed a few minutes ago. It worried her. Thus, she had gone to find her husband only to hear some of the exchanges between Solomon and Eonis. She knew that it was not very proper to listen in other people's conversation. However, her intentions were purely innocent and incidental in acquiring the information.

"Yes... Forgive me, I overhead your conversation with Solomon. You should have told them about the Te'i Sai..."

Eonis leaned to Regalie's touch and held her hand as well. His eyes were closed as he finds comfort on such a simple gesture of care and concern. He did not want to worry her needlessly until the sun rises at the very least. It was his wish that she would not be troubled in her sleep. She had already had too much to deal with and the sudden carnage at the plaza that killed innocent citizens done by the Red-Eyed Demon would only add to her already existing problems. Moreover, he had become the Emperor to be by her side and to make sure no harm comes to her at all costs. So, he will do what he can even if the past would haunt him needlessly.

"There is nothing to forgive, my Love.... About the Te'i Sai, I just did not desire for them to know so soon yet... They are still not ready for the wish I want them to grant."

A kiss was gently placed on Eonis' lips and then Regalie gave him a comforting smile. She knew the dreaded past of her husband. Regardless, she could really careless about it. All that matters to her was the one now standing before her. He would never knew the taste of adversity and battle upon taking the title as Emperor. The duty he has left with was to be her protector. He would never be allowed to enter combat without her permission or to be placed in the front-lines. But, he did not have any complaints about that kind of lifestyle. Despite Eonis being a warrior and a traveler at heart, he chose to stay and remain by her side. Even if he denies it, he was a self-sacrificing type of person.

"They could use comfort especially Solomon... You did not join them. You should not feel guilt over it."

Eonis looked away from Regalie's dark purple eyes that was filled with such understanding. It is true that he had refused to be with the Te'i Sai. The result had been a bloody refusal period. There had been a lot of people who had suffered during that interim. Moreover, it was true he was never part of the treacherous organization of assassins. However, there was one truth that remained in the continuity of time.

"But, I did not do anything to stop them." These were the words that left his mouth while in his mind a question echoed. "So, how are we the same Takai? How?"




Sereinia upon arriving at the Inn did not share any conversation with Shadow or the others that had come with them. She has yet to fully comprehend the emotions and the information that she had obtained earlier. It would be better not to speak with him for now. She feared that there would be words that she might regret saying. As a result, she immediately put herself to work as a doctor. She immediately looked over Mayumi's injuries and did not allow the young girl to refuse her treatment. Somehow, she was more stern and focused on her actions. It was probably her own way to drown herself from the haunting questions hounding from the back of her mind.

After making sure that Mayumi was fine, Sereinia proceeded to take care of Keito who was placed gently on the bed. She continued her treatment into his wounds. This time with her medical equipments near her. She was now able to properly treat the wounds and placed necessary medications and proper operation on the other injuries. When she was done, Keito would just need proper rest, drink his medications as instructed, and proper nourishment. After a few days depending on Keito's recovery rate, he would be as good as new. On the side, Sereinia gave the girl with him a comforting smile to give her assurance that the man will be fine. There was nothing to worry about.

Her next patient was the man who had stubbornly left the safety of his bed and even joined in with the fight earlier. Sereinia did not allow the man to spout any reasons despite how important they were. She was more forceful than before that she was similar to a mother scolding a child for breaking a vase or something. Without a moment to waste, she began looking for some of the wounds that had reopened due to his previous physical altercations. There was more risk to an injury that had been reopened than the new ones inflicted. It is why she would need to treat them immediately. After some time passes, she was done treating Jude. The man would just need to sit still and rest as much as possible. At the same time, he should not strain himself too much.

When Sereinia was done, she took a seat and took a deep breath. She closed her eyes and the events from earlier flashed through her mind like a film. Now, she was more reminded of her indiscernible feelings and indistinguishable thoughts about what had transpired that day. Her decisions and her path from this moment onwards. She really was not sure anymore. Is she feeling regret? No, she wasn't. There was something else brewing inside of her. As of now, she has no answers and remained silent. Ignoring everyone else's presence including Shadow's. One would wonder if she was once more angry as she had showed this kind of action once towards Shadow with a disagreement.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: The Royal Knights Of Cre' Est Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli Character Portrait: Lee Hart Character Portrait: Linde
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The scene which had unfolded before Jude's eyes was not something he saw everyday, two very highly experienced and skilled combatants locked within a dance of life and death. Never been one to enjoy a fight, even a good one. I don't understand people like this... Why not just deliver the killing blow as soon as you can?... Red Eye's could've done it multiple times already... Tsk, guess I don't have a fighters spirit. He couldn't see all the quick movements and attacks which were being displayed, he tried following as much as he could but without having immense combat skill Jude was unable to do so. However at the climax Jude had caught something which the Knight had not, he had been bested and he was sure to be killed ...Interesting... letting an opponent kill themselves on their opponents blade, a humiliating defeat. Wonder if he will notice. But before the Knight fell onto the Demon's blade he was intercepted by his fellow knight, which made Jude quite frustrated, since he knew the Knight would've been killed if there was no intervention.

The pleasantries shared after the fight weren't anything to pay much attention to, at least that is what Jude believed. He didn't care much for the Knight's, seeing as he is a criminal himself but more than that it was the actions of The Red Eyed Demon which confused him the most. This man who is able to defeat assassins... This man who can best the Knight's of Cre' Est... This man who can kill this many innocent people.... why would he not kill that Knight? He didn't worry himself with his thoughts though, he thought it was better not to know. Familiarity breeds contempt... and I don't really want to have anything like that between me and such a man.

As directed by the two women in Shadow's company Jude had begun to walk towards the inn. Jude looked down at the woman he was holding in his arms, grinning at the antics she was getting at. He didn't know quite how to react when she asked who he was but he knew that something as traumatic at this could have an effect on her. Believing it wasn't the time or place to try and talk to her about such things Jude walked with her silently in his arms.

"As comfortable as this is and as royal as I feel - where do you think you're taking me?" Looking down at her Jude could only think of one thing to say.

"Home, my love."

The Inn

Leaving Layla to wash herself in the Inn's natural springs Jude sat down in the main room with the others, all of whom were receiving medical treatment. Jude wouldn't have any of his wounds attending to until everyone else had been treated, though his wounds were more severe than most he couldn't help but look at Keito. The young swordsman had been severely wounded during the scene earlier, by the same man sitting in the corner of the room, The Red Eyed Demon. He would've blamed the man for Keito's injuries but he was also the same man who was having them treated at this moment and Jude could tell he wasn't himself when he was doing it as well.

As soon as everyone else was treated by Sereinia, the doctor, she then proceeded to treat Jude. Stubborn though he tried to keep her from treating him but he was in no real condition to resist her, she was being rather forceful. She then began to scold Jude for having left his bed when he had such injuries, he however just ignored her, moving whatever part of him she began to tend to. He found her becoming a little bit frustrated with him, which just lead to Jude finding the scene hilarious. After his all his wounds were finally dressed Sereinia rested. Looking at his wounds a smile appeared on Jude's face. She's very skilled... it would be good to have her around. And she isn't bad to look at either.

"I think I'll go and wash myself... Don't want the stench of the dead to linger on me for too long... We should all talk later about what we should do after this incident... I already made my decision though... Hopefully everyone else here comes to the same conclusion. Til then..." Sighing Jude grabbed his cane as he walked towards the Inn's natural hot springs. The Inn's hot springs were shared between men and women alike, something which made Jude smile a little. Ah... the comforts of life... As Jude changed out of his clothes, only having a towel wrapped around his waists, he found Layla's clothing within the changing room. Looking through the clothes Jude had found his dual pistols in their holsters and belt. Sly girl... she had them on her all along... Taking his pistols for himself and placing them with his own "borrowed" clothing, Jude walked to the spring.

"Auruxeilla... please tell me what to do." He hadn't been in the springs long when he had heard Layla. Auruxeila huh... she really is from Triveila. Jude than listened to her sing, it had been a long time since Jude had heard Layla sing, he had dreamed about it many times while he was being tortured, it was one of the only things which kept him sane. Jude could've sworn he heard someone else singing with her but he couldn't tell who it was or where they were. After the song had finished Jude had walked over towards Layla from behind, inching ever closer to her as he wrapped his arms around her waist, lowering his head onto her shoulder as he kissed her neck.

"I may not be the moon Layla... but unlike her I can embrace you in my arms... Even when you don't want me to, I'll always come back for you..." After he said this he embraced her more, their bodies resting upon each others as he stole another kiss from her lips. As he stared into her silver eyes he knew something about himself that he never knew before. I am human... aren't I? As he lowered them both into the hot springs, the steam flowing around them, he looked back at her with his black and golden eyes.

"What did you mean by... "Who are you?" I'm Jude Vanderwolf... don't you remember?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf
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#, as written by Layla
An arm came around Siren's torso as bare skin pressed against her back. Siren resisted a twitch as she felt the all too familiar figure against her small frame. Soft lips pressed against her neck, her wet hair wrapping itself around the man who held her like honey on a tongue. Human contact and lust was in no way foreign to the Geisha and Oiran but the touch of the-man-who-shall-not-be-named was unwelcome in its pleasantness.

"I may not be the moon Layla... but unlike her I can embrace you in my arms... Even when you don't want me to, I'll always come back for you..."

A low growl escaped her throat as the thief pressed his lips against hers. Orbs of black and gold searched her moonlit eyes and she tugged her small body away from his towering grasp. For the lack of care or unawareness, Jude did not let her slip so easily from him but instead lowered her into the hot springs. Siren's silver hair floated in the steaming waters as her legs grasped his hips - how did they get there? - a girl of snow with her lover in a blanket of night.

Siren lifted a slim, flexible leg to hook around the back of the tall man's neck. She pulled, hoping to drag the man down under to drown him in a rather dramatic fashion - only to succeed in lifting her light body from the waters. Your strength is astounding, Siren thought to herself, forcing her lips into a smile as if she'd planned it all beforehand. With her upper body half in the water, half hanging from Jude, Siren abruptly swung herself upwards in an upside-down crunch, simultaneously shoving her lower body forwards. The momentum sent Jude falling backwards and the huntress gave a small, short-lived yelp of victory before she, too, fell in the water.

Wonderful display of elegance and skill. Well done - you must be so proud.

Running a pale hand bound in red through her glimmering hair as she stood, a stab of blinding pain rippled from her injured shoulder. Ignoring the whine of split flesh, Siren whirled around to face the significantly heavier man. "You used me," she hissed, the hurt in her sugary voice blatantly apparent, "You left me. You were prepared to break me for your own cursed survival! How could you do that to me, Jude?" she growled his name, a bitterness latching itself to the single syllable as she shoved against his chest to no avail. "To us! Why was I stupid enough to trust you? Why was I stupid enough to lo-"

Whipping her hair around - now even longer from being drenched in liquid - as she turned away from him, her shoulders shook from her trembling rage and overwhelming betrayal. "You have forfeited your right to ever touch me again," she said in as steady a voice as she could manage.

Striding towards the edge of the springs, she pulled herself out and twisted her long hair to squeeze most of the wetness from it. Siren slipped a white dress over her damp skin - always one for practicality. Without another glance behind her, Siren's bare feet glided over the damp ground. She felt as if she was floating on the air, wrenched away from someone she never wanted to leave by invisible strings. Every fragment of her core begged for her to turn back and throw herself into those sculpted arms - the safest arms in the world. She fought against her lust, at least, that's what she thought the tightness in her chest and the suffocation in her lungs was. Siren went against every part of her that wished to beg for forgiveness and beg for love.

Love?

Biting her lip, she went in search for the red-eyed demon.

Shadow

Smooth, toned legs dangled in front of Shadow from outside his perch by the window. "Open up!" came a feminine voice muffled through the glass. Before the end of 60 milliseconds, ankles bound in red ink launched viciously against the thick glass. Bare legs whipped backwards before coming down hard on the window. "Holy grandmother apples. Ow!" With one final kick, a snow haired girl crashed through the window, now popped open but unbroken.

With a surprising grace, the ivory skinned girl landed on her feet - just to stumble over flat surface and land with an ungodly thud on her back. Honestly, the sounds such a dainty lady could make. Cursing the name of miniature pumpkins and fishing nets, the unnervingly beautiful and even more shockingly bizarre woman lifted a slim hand toward the naked ceiling. She wiggled her fingers, as if expecting someone to pick her up.

Standing with the swiftness of a well seasoned dancer, the girl - who's hair somehow managed to remain impeccably neat and untarnished - brushed her palms over her sweeping skirts. How she managed to obtain such a beautiful dress amongst such chaos was one of the many mysteries of the world.

Vaguely registering the contents of the room, Siren's moonlit orbs froze abruptly as she found herself trapped in the accessing gaze of blood red. Reaching an unusually smooth hand to touch the cheek of the Demon, Siren ran her fingers over his face before stepping forward to get a closer look. Standing on the tip of her toes, she gripped the assassin's shoulders to lift herself taller in order to stare into his rather intimidating eyes. Anyone else would've cowered in fear by now but Siren was feeling rather reckless and bored - a dangerous combination with fatal consequences.

"Bend down, you are much too tall."

Lowering the curled lashes of her left lid, Siren peered her remaining silver eye into red irises. One could drown in the intensity and sadness of them. Lowering her feet, the light girl tilted her head to the side as she stared at the ruthless man with wide, albeit innocent eyes.

"You are human, yes? Do I have your word?"

Serial killers were alright by Siren's moral standards, as were murderers, rapists, thieves and sadists. She would sooner be tortured and killed than be in the presence of a ghost. She did not mind being in the company of the red-eyed demon if he was merely an ungodly skilled madman. She most certainly would mind if he was one of the demons her father had spoken so often of - the demons who took bad children. Siren was afraid for she was the worst of them all.

"If you are, indeed, a legitimate male," she began, her eyes dropping to his hips, up over his chest, to his face and down again. Siren raised an eyebrow, concealing a smirk as she nodded appreciatively. "Alright, you pass with a lot more colours than what exists within the spectrum."

Jude.

Inwardly smacking herself for thinking of the bastard, Siren dipped into a low curtsey, her delicate fingers pinching the white clothes that clung to her damp skin as a jolt of pain rippled from the wound on her thigh. Her waterfall hair slipped over her bare shoulder as she introduced herself.

"Layla," she said in a voice of gentle sweetness - better he think I'm a helpless maiden than a heartless killer. "I am so very pleased to be blessed with your presence," she couldn't help but say rather sarcastically, "Please, do not bother with pleasantries. It is not as if my lovely hands are worth kissing or anything." Forcing her red lips together, she said as genuinely as an uncaring huntress could, "What is your name, my lord?"

That didn't go too well.

Raven hair tickled the edge of Siren's vision. The Geisha rose from her curtsey, vowing to never curtsey again as she turned to face one of the most beautiful women she'd ever seen in her life. Having been surrounded by achingly attractive people of all genders throughout half of her lifetime, this was saying much. Deep amethyst eyes brimmed with pain glistened in the shadows of the compact room. The woman, although seemingly much too kind to be anything but a healer, had a strength within her that the huntress respected. She liked this woman a hell of a lot more than she liked the red-eyed demon.

Floating across the room to stand before the slim woman, Siren took her smooth hands in hers, tilting her head to look into the doctor's unusual eyes. Siren, being far from sensitive, did not register the tension in the room. Instead, the corners of her crimson lips tilted in her most charming smile. In a silky voice, she teased, "I do hope you like women as much as you do men."

Silver eyes gleamed with an ethereal kaleidoscope hue as they melted into amethyst orbs of equal beauty. Siren's smile burst into one so radiant, her straight teeth practically sparkled in the darkness of the inn.

"Or, you know... Just women."

Listening to the silence of the room, Siren's eyes flitted between the red-eyed demon and the tall woman before she cooed with very little subtlety, "Oooohhh... I'll uh... Go now."

Tip-toeing across the room, she quickly slipped out the window to lift herself onto the roof, her shoulder burning with its recent injury. Clearly, doors were not instruments of existence in the mind of the huntress. With the ridges of the roof stabbing uncomfortably against her back, Siren stared at the dark sky with its splatter of stars and moon. Siren had always had a knack for appearing at the most inappropriate of times and creating the most awkward situations. Honestly, her incredible skill with bad timing should be included in her resume.

"Layla: Third wheel since 580."

Siren moaned; Evi's voice a fresh, jagged cut in her chest. Tangling her shining hair in her fingers, Siren tried to shove the image of Evi piled amongst the bodies of dead from her mind. Laying there atop the inn was not the wisest or the safest move Siren had ever made and she felt utterly naked without the warmth of...

Jude.

Shoving thoughts of the thief away with brute force, Siren curled herself into a small ball - she could almost disappear. Despite her better judgement, Siren grasped an invisible hand and wished for her black and gold eyed prince to somehow stumble upon her. Yet, she wished she would never have to see him again. The uncaring girl did not quite understand why she cared so much for the infamous thief or why thoughts of him was so much more unbearable than her wounded body. She was betraying herself by imagining the traitor's messy hair entwined in her fingers and his distinct and strangely heart-warming scent of musk, pine and gunpowder.

Siren rested under the canvas of night, unmoving, as wet droplets spilled from the corners of her eyes to roll onto the rooftops. Siren who did not cry cried once more. She wasn't quite sure what was worse - losing Evi to non-existence or losing Jude who was a mere breath away.

"Happy new year's," she whispered with thoughts of the only two people who'd ever come close to mattering fresh in her mind. Siren's eyes drifted shut.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel
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"Do you love her that much?" Came Sereinia's voice through the haze.

Shadow raised his head a little and turned around to look at her, the sadness in her eyes and the fresh markings of tears down her face despite her attempts to rid herself of them causing Shadow to think that perhaps he had pushed her too far by making her come with him like this.

"... No, Sereinia. Linde has strong feelings for me and I do consider her a very close friend, but I could never return her feelings." He said quietly.

Shadow was about to speak further when all of a sudden Layla knocked at the window and kicked herself through it, landing on her back for a moment before getting to her feet and walking over to Shadow.

"Bend down, you're much too tall." She said as she tried to put her face close to his as she stared at his eyes.

""You are human, yes? Do I have your word?" She asked.

Shadow was truly perplexed by this woman who now stared into his eyes but decided it best to answer.

"... Yes, miss. I am human." He said somewhat awkwardly.

She was truly a strange individual.

"Layla," She said, ""I am so very pleased to be blessed with your presence. Please, do not bother with pleasantries. It is not as if my lovely hands are worth kissing or anything. What is your name, my lord?" She asked.

Shadow simply shook his head with a smile on his face, but it was not a typical smile as his red eyes landed on hers for a brief moment once again.

"Well Layla..." He started quietly. "You can say what you will but I can see something more in your eyes than you are telling me or the others. In fact, I see something quite dangerous in them and it isn't your charming smile." He said, but Layla was not one to linger on Shadow for long as she then turned and looked at Sereinia.

When Layla had gone, Shadow shook his head as he watched her leave and heaved a sigh. Looking back to Sereinia he decided it would be a good idea to tell her the whole story about himself, Taira and Linde so he walked forward and put his arm around her shoulder and led her out of the room. He walked outside with her out into the streets, walking in a small circle around the inn and a few other surrounding buildings as they spoke.

"Sereinia, I grew up without kindness, compassion or sympathy in my life. I do not know or understand emotions in the same way anyone else does though I've tried my best to understand them. It is for that reason that I cannot return Linde's feelings for me..."

He looked up at the sky for a moment as he recalled everything for her.

"Linde and I met outside the Villa of Winds just to the north of Roda Valley. At first we met as combatants, with a fight between us ending in a draw due to time and interference. Later she helped me recover from my wounds after finding me in Roda Valley after I killed Grandmaster Takai. As we spent more time together she began to change her demeanor around me. She started out cold and distant, given my history, but she soon started to change and treated me with more care and subtlety than she had before. Eventually, before we parted ways, she told me of her feelings. As it is today, I could not return them to her then either, but we did part ways amicably and it was nice to see her again."

He looked down at Sereinia for a moment, his eyes now calm and much more relaxed than they had been all night.

"Linde is an affectionate individual, but a good one at heart. She is a friend and a valuable ally though I have asked her not to participate in this fight. I do not know what your interest is in her feelings for me or mine for her, but I do not know what love is Sereinia and so I cannot love her." He said with some finality.

As they came back to the inn and walked inside Shadow looked to the innkeeper and tossed two gold coins onto his desk.

"I need one more room." He said.

The innkeeper handed him a key and he gave it to Sereinia.

"Here, this is a key to another room that will be all yours. Clean yourself up and get some rest. I can only imagine how mentally exhausted you are after tonight's events." He said quietly as he started to walk up the stairs.

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Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel
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#, as written by Layla
A beautiful maiden sat on a wide table littered with empty mugs. With her spine arched and her sensitive neck tilted back, golden liquid burned down her throat to fog her clouded mind. Pale blonde hair so light, it was near white, cascaded down her back to ripple across the table. The crowd chanted as she knocked back another barrel of whisky.

"Albino! Albino! Albino!"

Parting with her container of alcohol for a brief moment, she growled like what sounded to be annoyed puppy, "I am not albino!" before continuing to suck on the hole of the large barrel. As always, the method she chose to consume her drinks was impractically practical. Although it spilled a lot more blurring whisky into her system, the barrel was significantly larger than her as she sat cross legged in the inn's tavern.

"Another!" Siren announced, tossing the empty barrel to the side. It was ridiculous how much she could drink when she truly lost herself in the buzz - it was almost inhuman.

Somehow, a barrel of beer ended up between her hands. It was nowhere near as strong as what she would've liked but she couldn't quite bring herself to care. Gripping the cap that covered the entrance to the wonderful liquid that would send her to Heaven or wherever drunk people went between her teeth, Siren began turning the barrel. She groaned impatiently as she attempted to unbarrel the barrel from the cap - with surprising success. Siren's multipurpose teeth were relentless.

When Siren could not take any more, she slapped a handful of gold onto the table before unceremoniously falling off. She rolled onto the laps of some large and lucky men who flashed her crooked smiles of stained yellow teeth. She grinned her pearly whites at them before crawling off and leaving, albeit rather clumsily.

A long stretch of hallway greeted her - the longest travel she'd ever been on. Siren wasn't even quite sure where she was going but she did not think of such things, she did not think of anything. The walls felt flimsy as her side clanked viciously against it. She let out a small yelp as her injured shoulder sent a dull stinging through her small body. It was not quite as bad as it could've been, seeing as the alcohol had numbed the pain.

Numbed everything.

Her eyes threatened to fall shut as she stumbled onto the never-ending steps, her waterfall hair slipping around and around as her head wobbled on its hinges. Her legs might've been boneless for the strength they provided.

The world swayed as Siren grasped blindly with her hands, trying to pick up the universe and make it stand still.

"Stop bloody ssswwaaayyiinngg," she swooned, her feet slipping on the a wooden step before several pairs of hands caught her none too gently. Siren was pushed up against a wall as a heavy weight pressed against her.

"For the love of sheep, stop jostling me about. You are giving me a terrible headache." Rather than listen to her requests, Siren's head was tipped to the side as wet, hungry lips slobbered down her collarbone to her breasts. Groaning with frustration, Siren knocked a limp elbow into the temple of the man who was ruffling her clothes. "This dress was expensive."

"You won't need it soon enough, little lady," growled a voice from her side before she found herself sliding down the length of the wall, her behind sitting uncomfortably on the edge of a step. Another pair of hands lifted up her skirts and Siren couldn't care less. She wasn't too sure what was happening, nor did she care. Whatever they wanted with her, she hoped they'd get it done and over soon with before she spilled her guts all over them.

That was very unladylike.

"Jude," she moaned before her head thumped against the wall and she was roughly manoeuvred like a rag doll. Why did she have to think of him? Suddenly, red eyes watched her from the back of her mind - or maybe from right in front of her. What did she know? As if her mind had an avalanche, images she never wished to see crashed over her in vicious waves. Evi with her limbs missing, Evi in the bodies of dead, Layla buried alive beneath her and the Demon killing. Killing us all. Then, her father with his too large body pressing down on her, his fists in her hair and his knees on her stomach. Siren sobbed like a small child as she was crushed beneath the weight of the several men.

"Be quiet!"
"Stop crying."
"We should take her somewhere else."
"It's more fun when they cry and beg."

The voices barely registered in Layla's mind. Even the rough, callused hands and bodies that shoved her against themselves didn't sink into her clouded thoughts. Strangely enough, the only thing Layla processed was her beautiful, tattered dress - shredded into pieces.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel
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"... No, Sereinia. Linde has strong feelings for me and I do consider her a very close friend, but I could never return her feelings."

Sereinia did not know the reason for the sudden feeling of relief that washed over her. Somehow, she found comfort in the sadness of another person. She quickly inwardly reprimanded herself for such a degrading thought. Looking away from Shadow, she made a small fist with her right hand. It was not right for her to have such an emotion when it was obvious that this woman named Linde had love for this man. She could tell that much from what she had seen before. Moreover, the fact that one's love is unrequited. It was a tragedy in its own color. This why she does not understand herself anymore. The more time she spent in the company of Shadow. The more she could feel something inside of her being changed. To be honest, she was more afraid of this than what she had witnessed. She was afraid of losing the grip of all that she knew and understood.

Then, there was this sound of something hitting the window surface. Sereinia looked at it with curiosity. She wondered if it was just the wind or a stray cat wanting to come in. She was about to move forward to open the window, but there was no need to do so. The window opened by itself without the aid of those inside the room. Instead of cat or a gush of wind, it was actually a woman with a beautiful white dress. Taking a good look at the female, she cannot help but wonder if it was a ghost or perhaps an angel. But soon, memories of the festivities came to her. The face of the main female performer and this woman before her coincided with each other. Her eyes of purpler widened at the coincidence of this meeting. She did vaguely remember the man calling himself Jude carrying a girl. It must have been her.

In any case, Sereinia was about to inquire if the girl was fine and needed help. However, the said female was already on her feet and approached Shadow. The doctor cannot help but feel a certain oddity about the smaller girl. She asked rather awkward questions and seemed very different from the one she had watched singing. It made her wonder which side was the real one. Her inward contemplation was broken by the rather awkward question about Shadow being a human. It probably took him by rather surprise as he answered in a rather clumsy manner. Without warning, she cannot help but released light laughter. Her concerns were lifted for a brief moment. It was probably by then she found silver-grey eyes gazing at her.

"I apologize if I offended you by laughing. I did not mean anything rude about it."

But before Sereinia could offer an apologetic bow, Layla had taken her hand. This gesture made her blinked a few times as she looked at their hand both entwined together. She was completely confused upon the sudden interest towards her. She then returned her eyes to meet those silver eyes gazing at her somewhat expectantly. It made her confusion elevate a little bit. She has no idea what the smaller girl was expecting of her.

"I do hope you like women as much as you do men. Or, you know... Just women."

If it was possible for question marks to appear right now above Sereinia's head, it would have been done. She was completely at lost with the smile and the rather seductive tone in her voice. Her face had a rather adorable expression of being ignorant of what was being said between the lines. Thus, she could only look at Layla in a quizzical manner and with silence as a reply. It was probably by then that the girl had noticed the tension that filled the room.

"Oooohhh... I'll uh... Go now."

In a moment's notice, Layla was once at the window. This time she was going out through it. Sereinia blinked a couple of times as she was quite slow in the thought process as of now. Soon, she snapped out of her ignorant trance and went towards the window in worry. She had also noticed subtle discomfort in the smaller girl's disposition. There was a possibility that she was hurt. If so, she must treat it.

"Wait, miss! Are you hurt? It is not safe going out there. You could use the door or---"

The sentence was left incomplete as Layla had disappeared from Sereinia's line of sight. Concern flashed obviously across her purple irises as she looked at Shadow for help about the petite girl. However, she did not expect him to put his arm over her shoulder. It was then she had been reminded of what the two of them were discussing before the appearance of the pale beauty. She averted her gaze away from him and simply followed the man outside as he motioned for it. They walked along the silent streets as Shadow had decided to tell her about his meeting with Linde.

Sereinia listened very intently while she remained quiet for the entire duration. Her eyes were focused on the streets she was walking on. Raven black hair trailed behind her like a silken veil. Her steps had a rather somber gait about it while her eyes were slightly hidden behind her hair. Hands were at their respective sides. The bright pink kimono now was a mess still appeared beautiful on her. Despite her disheveled look, she appeared dazzling in her current state which she was complete oblivious about. Feeling eyes on her, she met those ruby red eyes with her purple ones. She could see that they have calmed down. It was far different from the ones she had seen at the plaza.

"I wonder what you think of me... Am I just an obligation? Unlike, her..."

It was a whisper that only echoed within her mind. Sereinia wanted to ask it out loud; however, she knew better than to do that. Her Aunt once told her a secret about a blissful life. It was to never ask questions that you do not want to hear answers to. Perhaps, it would be good to apply this principle about right now. Lowering her gaze, she returned her attention to the ground before her. It seemed that it was far more interesting than the man beside her. Regardless, they had returned to the inn in silence. There she was a bit taken back by having her own room at the behest of Shadow. The room key was handed to her which she took.

"Here, this is a key to another room that will be all yours. Clean yourself up and get some rest. I can only imagine how mentally exhausted you are after tonight's events."

Looking at the key, Sereinia then saw Shadow climbing the stairs. It was then she felt a wave of guilt coming over her. She had been an idiot and a complete selfish person. All this time, her thoughts were only filled about herself. She did not even consider how the others are feeling and even more him. He seemed so tired not in a physical way. She noticed this by looking at his back that appeared to her to be so weary and lonely. Instinctively, she grabbed hold of his clothes to prevent him from moving further.

"I am so sorry... I was being selfish... I am not sure what came over me. I said I will stay by your side then..."

Sereinia raised her head to look at Shadow. Those amethyst-hued eyes glistened and flickered with an emotion that even she was not certain of. Her grip on his clothes tightened.

"So, please I want you to depend on me for a little bit. If you want to talk about anything, I will listen. It would make the burden a bit lighter."

Releasing her hold on his shirt, Sereinia stepped a bit back with a gentle smile. However, she did not gauge that she had miscalculated the distance of her foot at the edge as she stepped behind. Her foot stepped on air and she instantly lost her balance without a delay. They were already at the top of the stairs and the realization of that flashed across her face as she felt her enveloped in a sense of weightlessness as she fell.

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Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel
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Shadow stopped when Sereinia grabbed his close and listened to her plea as she asked him to depend on her. He wasn't sure why she wanted him to do that, since dumping his concerns on her would only add to the burden she carried, but it was nice to hear her try to comfort him even if it wasn't really working. Shadow smiled, more to himself than anything else as he turned around and that was when Sereinia fell backwards. The shock in her eyes as she suddenly realized what she had done was almost surreal but Shadow was quick on his feet as always and had used the stairs as a launchpad to jump behind her and catch her as she came down.

His arms gently supported her light body as she eased back against him, her upper back against his chest as he stood up straight and helped her to straighten out as well.

"Are you alright?" He asked, looking over her shoulder slightly to try and see her eyes.

Before Shadow could get an answer, however, he heard a commotion down towards the tavern's hallway and he knew that leaving it alone to get worse would only hinder their efforts to stay out of the eyes of the Royal Guards.

"I'm sorry Sereinia, but whatever that is I have to put a stop to it." He smiled as he brushed a few strands of hair away from her face and off of her cheek.

"I will... do my best, Sereinia. To depend on you, I mean. I know that it isn't easy for you, traveling with Mayumi and I and now all these other people. And I know that not being able to help on the battlefield frustrates you, but please never think of yourself as a burden or as dead weight. Without you by our side Mayumi and I would have to tend to our own wounds and as good as I am at taking care of them my skills are nowhere near yours. My whole life I was molded to cause damage, not to heal it. You are needed Sereinia, much more than you know."

His smiled brightened a little bit as he looked into her eyes and he pressed gently on the tip of her nose with his right index finger.

"Now, get some rest Sereinia. We've got a long day ahead of us tomorrow." He said as he turned around and headed back towards the tavern.

After inquiring with the innkeeper about the commotion he was pointed in its direction and he found that girl, Layla, being sexually assaulted by a group of men. Shadow rolled his eyes when he saw she was drunk and too out of it to know what was going on or care. She didn't even look like she understood what was happening, so Shadow took a quick moment to knock each of them out with a quick knock tot he back of the head below the base of the skull. With Layla secured he did what he could to fix her clothing and picked her up in his arms.

Whether she knew it was him or not didn't really matter as all he wanted now was to get her back to her room and put her to bed so she could rest. She would need all the strength she could get for the days they'd all be spending together. With Te'i Sai now hunting them, and the Royal Guards now pursuing them, Shadow had now put plans into motion to ensure that each of his new companions would be able to hold their own without him should things go wrong. He took her back to the room despite her drunken fussing and set her down gently on the bed and pressed a nerve point at the base of her neck which knocked her out after a few seconds.

"... You sure are a hand full miss Layla..." He said quietly after she was out.

He closed the door to her room and walked back to his own, sitting down on his chair in the corner and falling asleep.

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf
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"You left me. You were prepared to break me for your own cursed survival! How could you do that to me, Jude?" He felt guilty for what had happened between them, Jude never had wanted to use Layla to escape but it was the only way he knew to save both him and her. He did what he did to make her look like a victim, to make it seem as if she wasn't associated with him so that she could live her life without being hunted like Jude. But she didn't understand... she didn't know I had planned for that to be our last meeting... That I was going to become a ghost again... a myth. I didn't want her to live through the pain that I had... Even if I would no longer be with her. But fate seemed to have another idea in mind, their fates were intertwined more so than they could ever imagine.

"To us! Why was I stupid enough to trust you? Why was I stupid enough to lo-" Jude couldn't believe what she was saying. Wait... was she going to say that she loved me? But she cut herself off, whether or not she loved Jude or not was not something she wished to reveal to him. And he was fine with that, it would only complicate things further if she had said anything further. What came next though was something which amused Jude even more than her almost admitting her love for him though. She said that Jude had "forfeited his rights to touch her". Since when?

As he watched her pale and dripping hourglass figure walk away he said, "Don't know about that love... but keep telling yourself that. Maybe you could go, I dunno... A day before you give in love... You'll see." Jude laughed as she walked away, staring a bit longer than he intended to. Damn, sure hope I'm not restricted too long. Jude than continued to wash himself, making sure to rid himself of the stench of the dead which he had on himself. Not long after Jude had finished washing himself and had dressed himself with better fitting clothes, courtesy of another patron, he saw an all to familiar face.

"Took you long enough chin fuzz... Thought I told you to "Become the Moon", not to "Become a Blue Moon" you son of a gun."

Later that Night in the Inn

"...Word is that you got yourself in quite a mess tonight Omega... are you sure you'll be able to become a ghost again?" Jude was loading the chambers of his pistols while he listened to one of his brothers. They had begun conversing after their meeting in the hot springs changing rooms but had decided to go to the bar to relieve themselves.

"Not this time... I've gained a few more heat levels since our last meeting... You know what I'm talking about right?" Jude's brother was twirling a knife in his hand, a family trait was to spin whatever they had in hand when they were nervous. And this was no exception to Jude as he also began to spin one of the pistols in his hand.

"...Of course I do... You got yourself involved with the Devil himself... Heh, you sure have a knack for finding strange company you know Jude. I think I know what you're planning... I hope you don't end up biting your own tail though... We won't be able to watch over you this time though, you know that right?" Laughing Jude began to drink from one of the bottles which resided on the table before them.

"Don't worry Zeke... I can protect my own back, believe me." Sighing Zeke tossed Jude his tattered crimson red coat which he had lost when he had been abducted, leaving his Jude alone in the bar. Jude than put his coat on, feeling a lot better having it back in his possession again. As he continued to drink from his bottle Jude noticed that Layla had been getting up to no good in the bar while he was talking to his brother Ezekiel. Damn girl... she always was one to not control her alcohol intake that well... Guess I'll have to... Jude than noticed some of the men around her, trying to take advantage of her while she was in a drunken state. Those bastards... Time to die...

Layla however was saved by The Red Eyed Demon, who had beaten Jude to the point, having knocked out all of the men and then dragging Layla off to her room. Hmm... Guess he made my job a lot simpler... but still... Just knocking them out?... I guess it's for the best. He gave a sigh as he thought that, wanting to send more of a message to the men currently incapacitated on the ground. Jude walked over to the barkeep, handing them a pouch of gold coins.

"Insurance for later my friend... I believe that it will cover this... And the drinks for them afterwards." Picking up two jugs of alcohol Jude poured it on the men who had previously assaulted Layla. The shock of the liquid having woken them up they tried to lunge an attack at Jude, only to be greeted with a gun barrel on their foreheads. Soaked from the alcohol and sweat running down their faces, the men stared blankly at Jude's black and golden eyes. Quietly Jude whispered to the men as low as he could, so low that no one but the men could hear him.

"... Let me be Frank, both blunt and yes the name. If I ever witness such crude behavior out of any of you in the future... If you even think of touching a woman like that again, I will personally visit you in each of your homes, gag and tie you up, and make you watch as I sexually assault your wives and your daughters. Than I will take this gun, yes this one in my hand, and shove it down your throats as you beg for mercy... Ending your sad and miserable lives... Does that sound fun to you?" With frightened eyes the men shook their heads violently, not willing to say anything about the threats Jude had given them. Seeing as they were complying to his words Jude lifted them all up to their feet.

"Oh... and if you say anything about what I said to all of you... Get a coffin ready... Night boys, have a drink on me." Jude grinned as he walked passed them, it had been a long time since he had felt so passionately, he didn't know why. Maybe it's because you lo... Mentally Jude pointed one of his pistols at his conscience. Stop thinking... no thinking for you.

Jude than walked to Layla's room, setting up a chair he leaned against the door. Resting in front of her room.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli Character Portrait: Lee Hart
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Upon the morning Shadow awoke at the first light of the sun and woke everyone around him whether they were ready for it or not. It was time to move and the less time they spent in the city the better. He dragged their weary bodies out to the new horse drawn cart brought about for them by Taira and loaded them up one by one. Those who couldn't or wouldn't wake up on their own to get in were simply knocked out and placed in the cart anyway as Shadow and Mayumi both decided it would be best to run alongside the cart for some morning exercise as they traveled to their new destination.

Stopping once or twice along the way for approximately one hour at a time Shadow and Mayumi took the opportunity to train by sparring the entire time. Given that the others were either too beat up or too tired to join in the fun Shadow let them stay in the cart and watch and relax but that would all change soon enough and if they didn't believe he was a Demon before, they certainly would once their training began whether they wanted it or not and whether they were ready for it or not. If they were going to survive Te'i Sai Shadow couldn't afford to show them sympathy at this time as Te'i Sai most certainly wouldn't either so it was better they get used to it now from him instead of from them later.

Within a day and a half worth of riding they arrived at Shadow's 'Base Camp' in the underground caverns where he trained Mayumi before the New Century Festival had begun.

The cavern was four hundred feet wide by about six hundred feet deep and had several small, flat 'levels' within it ranging from a few inches in height to several feet which served well for multiple training purposes. There were about eight of these levels throughout the cavern, the nearest to the entrance about thirty feet away being only six inches drop in height to the floor below. The next one back, about fifty feet away was approximately ten inches in height up. Twenty feet back there was another six to eight inch rise. One hundred feet back further still was a four foot increase with a one foot decrease eighty feet beyond. One hundred thirty feet back was a seven foot rise. One hundred and twenty feet back was a two foot drop and the final rise was about one foot fifty feet further in.

There were three small pools where dripping water from the ceiling gathered and formed natural springs to wash and bathe in. Two of them were on the upper level in the back and one was just to the rise side off the center of the cavern just after the second rise. There were a few stalagmites around the cavern with a few stalactites hanging from the ceiling and nearly touching the stalagmites but not quite. It made an excellent gap for training with accuracy of throwing knives and daggers and other weapons which was why there was a weapon rack not far away. In the front of the room were several weapon racks with exotic and even some weapons lost to time from the outside world.

Training began within a few hours of arrival with the exception of Keito and Jude who were still recovering from wounds that prevented them from training properly as Sereinia continued their recovery process. As for the others, their first task upon arrival after having rested for a day and a half was to do a "simple routine" as Shadow called it of completing five hundred push ups and one thousand full situps before one hour had passed. If they couldn't complete it in time there was an obstacle course set up and waiting for them. For most this was an impossible task given the state of their bodies and injuries but Shadow was hoping at least one would finish. Mayumi was required to join in and Shadow even partook as well.

Within the first seven minutes Shadow was finished with the push ups and started into the sit ups which were completed after about another ten minutes. For Shadow, who was fresh and used to such harsh numbers, it was nothing but a warm up. He got to his feet slowly and waited for the others to finish their task. As he had expected, given their pitiful state, nobody except for Mayumi completed the exercise in time and they were all forced to partake in the obstacle course which involved a long jog around the outside edge of the cavern. There were small obstacles for them to jump over, none below three feet in height. Obstacles for them to duck and/or crawl under, some of which were as low as eight to ten inches in height, as well as several weapons which were automated by switches in the floor as they came close enough that would swing in and attack them along the way as they went. Dodging these weapons was always a challenge thanks to how tight the activation mechanism was and how fast they came in and several of them were struck with the weapons as they tried the first lap.

Most of them were able to avoid the weapons the second time around, but one or two still ate it once or twice before they finally got the hang of it. The course had ten five for it occupants, and each time they came back to Shadow at the front of the cavern they had to switch to a lane they hadn't used yet since each lane presented a different weapon obstacle at different times which changed the game and kept them on their toes. None of the weapons were bladed, but they were powerful and well hidden to prevent everyone from guessing when they would end up being attacked. Some of the more perceptive individuals were able to feel when they hit the switch along the route and prepped themselves just in time to dodge but it took a good three laps for that to take place in any of them. It was interesting to watch them do this, while Mayumi was ordered to continue with isometric exercises until they completed the course in all five lanes each.

At the end of the course they were allowed a ten minute break to rest, during which time Sereinia tended to their injuries from the weapons as best she could. Without delay she had objected to Shadow's methods, but Shadow confirmed that while harsh this was the best way to prepare them for Te'i Sai. It was best to see and experience what kind of training Te'i Sai had to offer so that they would have a better feel for how their opponents would move and attack without warning. This course was a near exact duplicate of the one used in Roda Valley during Shadow's early years as well as a slight influence from the Shaharan branch's obstacle course. Some of the other training routines were reminiscent of the Triveilan branch's training methods and also influenced by the Veilbrand branch's routines. The methods of meditation and awareness were based on the Gweynura branch's training so that no matter where they ended up, they had a good insight into the minds and bodies of Te'i Sai operatives so that they could tell exactly where they originated from just by fighting with them.

This was no guarantee that they would ever truly be ready for them though, as the Assassins had decades of experience with training like this and worse. Shadow had days to prepare them for a confrontation because, whether they liked it or not, they were staying with him for their own protection until he was certain they could handle themselves on their own in the world without his protection.

Once their ten minutes were up Shadow gave them another hour to do another five hundred push ups and one thousand sit ups to which they all failed once again and had to repeat the course again. By the end of the night they were dead on their feet and completely exhausted. Shadow was satisfied with their exhaustion and so let them relax shortly after the skies darkened and the torches around the cavern were lit. They all circled around Shadow in the center of the room for meditation, with Mayumi watching over them and making sure they didn't wander or fall asleep. Anyone who did was to be given a rather harsh warning of Sora landing with one foot on either shoulder and squeezing just enough to cause discomfort without drawing blood until they fixed their posture or stopped nodding off.

Once meditation was over after about two hours the women were allowed to bathe on the two upper level springs while the men bathed on the lower spring. Neither of the two sides could see each other because of the distance and the scattered objects in their way, but just in case Mayumi stood watch for the girls while Shadow stood watch for the guys, just to make sure there were no attempts to wander to a spring where you didn't belong. Shadow did not give them a choice in the matter either, as all the men were forced to bathe, even Ketio despite his delicate state as Shadow stood watch with his back against a stalagmite just a few feet away from the spring. The complaining from each side at being forced to bathe in the springs was understandable, being around strangers with whom they were uncomfortable showing their bodies to (or at least most of them), but there was a method to the madness.

These springs were sprinkled with a special gathering of herbs and natural minerals which not only sped up the body's natural healing processes, but also strengthened it which was why Shadow's body seemed so durable despite how often he was injured and worn out and also accounted for much of his stamina. These effects, so far as Shadow could tell, were permanent. He knew this because he had not visited these springs in over a year but his body's efficiency had only increased since his leaving and had never once reverted to its original state. Some of the herbs were also designed to nourish the muscles once absorbed into the skin which would assist in the muscle's ability to recover from exhaustion and also would help to build them faster during training so that it took less time to reach their potential. This was also how Shadow had become so physically strong over the years, also accounting the beyond extreme training he'd received to go along with it.

In short these springs were one of the few secrets behind the success of the Te'i Sai Assassins and it was why Shadow had brought them here and not to any other training ground. These springs were only found in five other places on the continent, the five lairs of Te'i Sai. Two of the lairs were destroyed and unusable so Shadow brought them here. Even if he only had a few days to train them, they would, without a doubt, emerge stronger, faster, more agile and more reactive than they had when they first entered the cavern. However, with only days, their recovery and strength increase would still limited to but about 0.3% to 0.5% during that time and as such would be nearly unnoticeable over the time they would spend with him. The only thing that they would notice would be the increase in stamina and endurance at the end. By tomorrow, they would be completing the obstacle course in about ninety five percent of the time they did today and they wouldn't lose their breath as fast thanks to these springs. It was a small change, but once which they would notice if they paid attention.

Shadow gave everyone the chance to go to sleep once their group bath was over near the entrance where it was warm from the torches but cool enough from the entrance to be just the right temperature for optimum recovery. Staying too near either exclusively warm or cold temperatures was a mistake and one which Shadow would not allow them to make. They needed every ounce of his skills as a teacher and every microscopic bit of knowledge as an Assassin if they were to have any hope of standing a chance against actual Te'i Sai Assassins.

The next morning, shortly before the sun came up, Shadow exited the cavern while letting the others sleep for just a short while longer. As he exited the base he heard the sound of footsteps, but he was not on guard during their approach. The sound was familiar. Seemingly one set of footsteps, but if one listened closely the slight phase in their echo told Shadow that it was actually two sets of feet walking towards him. He knew who was coming, and he looked over to the location of the sound and waited. Surely enough, two familiar faces emerged from the brush.

The Moonlit Twins, known to Shadow by their names of Linos and Calandra had arrived. No doubt they'd heard about the commotion in Cre' Est during their time there and had figured Shadow was in the area and were looking to rejoin him after their time spent elsewhere. Most of it had been in training designed for them by Shadow to suit their united battle style as well as to give them that much better of a chance for survival if they ever were separated. They were the same as always, with Calandra saying very little upon arrival as Linos did most of the talking. They exchanged words as Shadow told them what had happened and they both looked at him somewhat worriedly when he told them about Roda I'l Lousta's activation and the deaths of innocence. However, this did little to deter the twins from rejoining him as they had business which required his aid. It helped that it coincided with his own mission, so Shadow accepted and as the sun rose over the horizon Shadow walked them inside, woke the others, and introduced them to everyone.

Within a few minutes everyone was dressed and ready to start the day. They began by all doing the same five hundred push ups and one thousand situps in one hour's time. Again, they all failed, due to the incredibly minute changes the spring provided over so short a time. Afterwards, they were all given a new training lesson by the twins. They were partnered together in pairs and taught the ways of the twin's unique "united" combat style. While this would ultimately take years to master, they basics of it were very simple and would give everyone the foundation to begin learning how to fight in perfect sync with anyone who shared their own style of fighting. Again, Keito had to sit out thanks to his injuries, but observation proved useful enough as he recovered from what had happened and processed what he saw in his head. He would be able to practice very soon, but most likely he would not be joining training with them for another week or two.

This, however, was not an issue as they all spent a total of eight days with Shadow. Keito was able to stand on his feet and walk through the motions of the basics by himself while everyone else continued Shadow's ruthless routines and were continually pushed to the pique of exhaustion and their physical limits. Since each one was different in where they were at, Shadow adjusted their training accordingly to push them farther and farther even when they claimed they couldn't take it anymore and were convinced of it in their own minds.

As they all completed the course for the third time during that final day Shadow called a sudden halt to their training and ordered them to gather around him in the center of the cavern. One by one they were brought up to spar with Shadow himself, also being instructed to make use of the entire cavern before the match would be called to an end. One by one they came up, and one by one they were defeated but Shadow limited himself to using but a fraction of his full strength and speed for each one. This allowed them all to make use of the techniques they had learned by training with him, the twins, and Mayumi. While it was almost painful to hold back so much, he knew it was for the best as he gave them all a chance to land the necessary strikes and make use of anything they needed to be declared the "winner" of the match by points. Everyone knew what was going on, but he was still pushing them to the brink of their capabilities and making them perform the techniques under pressure which, for each individual, was different and unique to make use of their own body's abilities. Ultimately it was successful in Shadow's eyes as each one had managed to land the required techniques in a timely fashion and win the match within a few minute's time.

As the final day came to a close everyone was again sent to their respective sides to bathe in the springs as Shadow too finally joined the men in theirs. The scars covering his body from throat to feet, as well as the numerous signs of injury throughout the years were a little unsettling to most except for Jude who seemed to be almost as scarred as Shadow was, but not quite. They even spent a few minutes comparing injuries and scars across their upper bodies and talking about the experience, much to the amusement and amazement of the others who sat with them in the springs.

After everyone had rested for the night and morning broke, Shadow received a message via a raven from Taira with some good news. Shadow's primary targets from Triveila had been seen taking refuge in Cre' Est and were still in the city awaiting their fate though they did not know it. Shadow could not help but smile as he burned the letter and sent the raven who carried it back to Taira. He gathered everyone around at the entrance and told them that he had business to attend to and that, while he was gone, they were free to either remain here to practice on their own or go into town for whatever they wanted or needed. However, the twins were in charge and should they call them back at any time they must be obeyed or the twins would hunt them down and drag their sorry butts back by force. Luckily there was no reason for the twins to do that, given the state of things right now, but the authority to do so was in fact there.

With that parting thought, Shadow left and disappeared into the brush outside as he headed for Cre' Est to hunt his targets.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: The Moonlit Twins Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli
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#, as written by Sil
Pain and sorrow is a necessity in the world today. Pain and sorrow, for some, is all that is known. These feelings are especially potent in the hearts of the twins. After a life of misery with only each other to comfort, it is surprising they are still sane. Then again, are they really even sane?

For nearly a year now, Linos and Calandra have spent their time deep in Cre' Est, hunting for the heart of their family's murderers. To no avail. Then again, that is to be expected from the Te'i Sai. Perhaps it is a blessing from angels that the twins have yet to find the guild of assassins. After all, even they know they wouldn't last two seconds against such people. Thirty mercenaries nearly killed Calandra that year ago. If it wasn't for the Red Eyed Demon, Linos would be alone in the world, starving and killing mercilessly innocents and murderers alike. Sorrow would have consumed him had it not been for dear Shadow that day.

But still...Calandra is silent. Caught within herself, not even open to her precious brother. Instead, she simply holds his hand, silent and brooding. Perhaps at times she will sing to him a lullaby sang to them when they were still so very small. But that is usually the only time her voice is heard. The voice of the songbird. The mockingbird. What is a falcon without his mockingbird?

The last night of Cre' Est, the twins had managed their way to a smaller part of town, where they happened across the bodies of innocents and assassins alike. The memory of such skill flashed in the eyes of the twins, and they knew instantly that Shadows had been there. But where was he now? It all pointed to a small inn. But they weren't about to enter such a crowded space. So, instead, they waited, falling into a light, gentle sleep on a rooftop across the street. Upon the sun's rise to show the next morning, they grabbed their horses and followed behind the carriage, remaining an hour away as to not be seen just yet. First, they wished to remain hidden and watch from afar...judge the people he had placed himself with.

And when he made his way into that cavern, they had become lost, abandoning their horses to track him on foot. It took another night, and together they ended falling asleep just outside without even realizing it. Backs against each other, hands held out to the side with fingers twined together, they slept silently, breathing in unison. And once more, the sun began to shine, and they stood and began to look again, steps coming down in unison. Everything was in unison. This was a natural feat of the twins. Not only is it training...but that connection shared only by such powerful siblings.

Shadow met them outside. Calandra stared at him with a distant look in her round, golden green eyes, the silver flecks sparkling like stars as her lips twitched into a small smile, her free hand rising to tug at the little scarf she had pulled around her neck to hide the still painful scar on her throat. Linos couldn't help but grin, his hand squeezing hers lightly as he bowed respectfully to the Red Eyed Demon. "It's wonderful to see you again, Shadow," he had said. Then, everything was to be explained, and with his sister's nod of approval, the twins agreed to join Shadow in the training of the injured ones. After all, the twins owed him. And perhaps they could finally repay their debt to him...and finally take out the Te'i Sai...the murderers of the Galiendhe family.

Introductions went...as smoothly as they possibly could. Linos would let go of his sister's hand to tip the chins of every young, beautiful woman here, including the youngest, Mayumi, paying particular attention to her, as she appeared to be a younger version of his dear sister. His voice was soft and sultry, his lips moving only to allow the gentle whisper of his words caress the skin of his victims. His eyes sparkled. Calandra, however, was less than amused. Though they were no longer in unison, when she stepped forward, she seemed to regain that control of unity once more, her step timed perfectly with his as she caught up to him and proceeded to drag his shoulder back, forcing her twin brother to look at her big, glaring eyes. "What?" he had said in that innocent-like voice. She would say nothing, shoving him into a stalagmite as her jaw ticked with frustration. He pouted and kissed her cheek with a busted lip, and just like that, she forgave him with a small smile and a kiss on that lip, as if to say she was sorry. "I forgive you," he said, touching her cheek gently, brushing her bangs from her eyes and pulling a lock of hair from one of her pigtails, running it between his fingers. And then, his hand returned to hers, and though he gave a special wink to Mayumi, he didn't leave his sister's side for the next while.

When Shadow gave the day's exercises, the twins did a particularly differnt set of push ups. With Calandra's feet hooked on the shoulders of her brother, she and Linos worked their push ups in perfect unison, taking around fifteen minutes. They were fast, never making a mistake. Perhaps this was why Linos could handle the heavy chain he had on his belt? The sit ups were just as quick, each taking fifteen minutes. Crossing their feet at the ankles, they proceeded to do these in unison as well, taking around 25 minutes.

The training was hard, as the twins had never taught others how they did what they did. Unison had been hard for them at some point in their lives...but that was when they were such younglings. Unison came naturally. All it took was balance and practice. And a strong connection. Their breaths were timed, coming out slow and steady. Their hearts beat steadily. Their ears pricked to listen to each other. Arms came out, daggers in hand as they did what appeared to be nothing more than a dance. They stood with their backs against each other, daggers reaching out slowly as they began to turn. When he stepped forward with his left foot, she stepped back with her right. When he stepped back with his right foot, she stepped forward with her left. And they would do this strange, deadly dance slowly, showing each move with precision and grace. And then, when they did it slowly, they did it at full speed, showing the moves that had taken them nearly ten minutes to show individually together in less than thirty seconds.

Sure, others didn't quite get the hang of things. The twins were and odd pair, and it took them years to truly master the arts of fighting in unison. But they listened. And they watched. That, for the twins, was all that could be taught.

That first night was hard for the twins. Bathing separately had never been a thought for the two. After all, when at home they would bathe together as to keep their connection strong. They were never forced to separate, only forced to come together when angered at each other. And when they went without a home, they had no choice but to bathe together. At least, that was how they saw it. So being forced to separate was not something either enjoyed. Both would bathe begrudgingly, scrubbing themselves down and ignoring any comments on their scars with heavy hearts. Neither would speak, not even the ever-talkative Linos. Every bath would be like this for the next eight days.

When Linos and Calandra trained with Shadow, they were silent and grateful, sparring hard and pushing themselves past their limits. Though they could feel the worry of their sibling at all times, both knew that this ruthless way was necessary and very refreshing, since they hadn't trained quite like that since they were blasted from that house all those years ago. When not with Shadow, they trained the others of the group. Linos spoke for them, giving his commands and verbally going through each step of their united attacks slowly. They would show techniques of not only daggers, but knives as well. Sometimes, she would thrust a dagger out, ducking for the general height of the kidney as her brother leaned over her shoulder with a near frightening grace to throw a knife through the tiny gap of a stalactite and stalagmite to hit the target behind it. They were beautiful and deadly.

But none could ever compete with the grace of the mimic ability Calandra finally showed on the seventh day. The sound of a bird outside echoed through the walls, and instantly Calandra mimicked it perfectly, her lips barely moving she whistled and chirped the little tune that had been sung. Linos smiled. "My little mockingbird," he had said, lifting her up and kissing her nose. She smiled and hugged him before returning to her feet and watching those in the area being trained. He turned to look at everyone with a smile. "I hope you have all learned something special with us. If not...well...we understand."

On the eighth day, they stood by Mayumi and watched everyone spar. Linos would once more tip Mayumi's chin and try to flirt, once more being shoved by his sister. This time, though, he had made it out alright. Always was there forgiveness. And then he would return to dote upon his beloved twin, silenced until the next hour. Upon the washing with the spring water, both remained silent and sulking, even as the other men talked of their scars. Linos would only look down at his arms, caring not for the dozens of other scars covering his torso, remembering the licking flames that had hurt his sister so. Then, he would proceed to dress and sit outside to await the return of Calandra.

Finally, as morning of day nine breaks, Shadow has news. Linos grins, knowing what is going on. He speaks, his sister right behind him, staring with hard eyes glinting with hurt. "Why do this alone, Shadow? And leave us to tend to people we do not know well? Can you not take us with you?" Calandra nods, her lip trembling as the memories of murder and flame once more trickle into thought.

Even so, Shadow goes alone, leaving the twins to handle their memories and pain in the company of those they do not know. Linos turns, looking to everyone. "Alright, make your decisions. We do not care," he says, his grip on his sister's hand tightening slightly in a squeeze. Leaning down to Mayumi, he speaks again, tilting her chin up. "What say you to speaking with us for a few moments?" Calandra stands tall, looking down at the girl with those distant eyes, her lips quirking in a small, innocent smile as her hand slowly reaches out in offering to be taken. With particular interest in the little archer, the twins simply wonder...and if they are to be stuck here with the remains of painful memories, it's best to make friends, yes?

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: The Moonlit Twins Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli Character Portrait: Lee Hart
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#, as written by Layla
"Wake up," commanded an unfortunately familiar voice. Siren moaned, the world falling in the worst way as she tilted her head to the side. Her body buzzed in a slow crawl, a curious machine where her heart should've been pumping liquid sludge through her veins. "For the love of Auxureilla, it isn't even daybreak," she hissed, pulling the loving sheet over her head just to have it ripped roughly away. After some more persistent protesting, Siren was met with darkness with the demon's pressure in her neck.

Lovely. Now he can control me with...

She awoke to the sounds of sparring. Her thick lashes fluttered and she frowned, her moon painted irises attempting to watch the movements passed between the demon and a young child. Smacking her head against a tree behind her, she rolled her eyes and gave up trying to follow their precise and abnormally quick swings and parries and she could not be bothered. Why on Cre' Est was she here, riding on some cart, much less with the creature that plagued her nightmares?

When they finally arrived in some Goddess forsaken cavern, she could not even bring herself to appreciate the quiet, sturdy beauty of the damp structure. Siren collapsed onto the wet surface - I refuse to live in a cave as if I were a barbarian, she thought gruffly before falling into an all too short nap. She was awakened to be made to do five hundred push-ups and a thousand sit-ups. Bloody hell. Pain shot through her shoulder - I just got a sword in this, you wusses - her eyes throwing daggers at the thief who sat so luckily on the side lines before she decided to keep going no matter what. Siren most certainly would not let these men and the thief have the better of her.

Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow.

How she wished she was dead right then for an hour felt like a millennium. 695 sit ups and one hour passed, she'd given up on the push-ups before she'd even reached a hundred and her shoulder tried to murder her. Siren fell on her back, never, ever wanting to get up. Pushing her long fringe back with her fingers, she thought numbly, At least my hair is still neat. The red-eyed demon was a monster. Siren bit her lip to hold herself back from crying with the burning in her body. Her shoulder felt as if it would fall from its hinges. Siren's abilities did not lie in strength and she despised the demon for completing the torture so easily and she despised herself for losing to the small, silver-haired child. Yet, she could not help but feel a slither of respect. Okay, perhaps more than a slither.

The long run around the edges of the cavern was not quite as bad for Siren was light, agile and her stamina was ridiculous. The corners of her lips lifted slightly as her feet slapped gently onto the ground, I wonder why. With her concentration wandering to bedroom, Siren tripped over an obstacle before her. Hissing, she shot what she hoped was a deadly, rather than tired, glare at the red-eyed demon. She managed to jump over most of the obstacle courses without much trouble. The huntress stared in surprise as she regarded the obstacles and slashing weapons that stood in her way. I knew the bastard wouldn't just make it an easy jog.

Wiggling her way under an obstacle course, Siren found her full breasts to be a weakness - curses - a wicked iron weight swung overhead, dangerously close to her face. Shoving her chest down with her palms, Siren shuffled through, narrowly missing the weapon that was trying its damnedest to shred her face. Of course the demon would wish to mar her lovely face, it was just like him.

Siren was quick and although she could dodge most of the vicious weapons, admittedly with little grace. She yelped, skipping around until finally deciding to take a chance and climb the trees in the third lap. Her thigh crumbled every now and then from the gash that had been embedded through it. Her shoulder screamed as she lifted herself onto the branch, her watering eyes darting around to search for any bizarre contraptions. Flipping onto the branch, she climbed higher and higher, her body now numb from Hell's Boot Camp.

Sighing with relief, Siren leaned against the bark of the mighty tree. She would rather rip herself apart swinging from trees while injured than be slapped in the face with those obstacles of her 'teacher's.' Gripping a branch with both hands, she swung herself forcefully backwards before letting go to fall into the next tree - just to have a wooden bar whack her now wounded other-shoulder.

No trees, then.

Hell went on till night. Siren with her limbs of jelly shook, her entire body trembled with exhaustion, hunger, death - she wasn't sure and her brain of mush couldn't bring itself to care.

The springs were Heaven. In fact, they were so miraculously wonderful, Siren almost drowned in them. Oh, how she would've loved to drown in them.

For eight days, the demon pushed them beyond the end of the world and Siren grew quieter and quieter. The first night she'd been snarky, even humorous, slipping a joke about the obstacle courses and the demon's breathtaking charisma here and then. She'd even dropped a seductive hint every now and then to Sereinia, although the doctor did not seem to realise she was doing such a thing. It seemed the assassin's name was Shadow - a peculiar name for a man of his... Lack of shadowiness.

"You should've been named Virgin for it suits your charming purity," she'd teased.

As the training wore on, however, Siren grew more and more quiet, that was, until The Twins came. Linos and Calandra were beautiful and she couldn't help but think rather unladylike things about them, not that shame existed in Siren's definitions. The two moved as one, as if they were separate bodies sharing the same soul - it was rather unnervingly wonderful to watch.

Morning pressed against Siren's eyelids and she willed it all away, slapping herself in the face as if her body's awakening were a pesky fly. "Who gave the cavern permission to wake me up?" she moaned, flipping onto her back. Someone had brought her clothes, she wasn't sure who but she was grateful. At least she looked mildly elegant as she tripped and had herself hit with massive sticks.

"No, Shadow. My bed is comfier," she mumbled, half dreaming. "For the love of Auruxeilla, Jude... Sereinia, take those off. What? Of course I don't sleep talk. Linocalakeileeritma mmm... What does breast milk taste like?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: The Moonlit Twins Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli Character Portrait: Lee Hart
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The morning after the horrendous event, everyone that was now known as Shadow’s accomplice was made to move on to a cart provided by Taira. They were heading for the cavern Shadow had trained her in before. Mayumi ran alongside the cart which contained weary people whom she weren’t familiar with while Shadow ran along the other side and Sora in the air looking out for possible threats.

While on the road, Shadow stopped to have a spar with her and Mayumi didn’t mind being used to it. In fact, she had done much more sparring with her previous master while they were on the road. There was hardly any time for rest then. Every second, she was training in some form and this time, she was training her speed with weights placed in her open toed black boots.

A few hours upon arrival at the caverns, rigorous trainings started as Te’i Sai was sure to strike again. Shadow made them do a simple routine of five hundred push ups and one thousand full sit-ups before one hour had passed. Mayumi joined in and so did Shadow, it was barely a hard work out for her having done less than her usual trainings. Shadow had said that the obstacle course was a punishment if they couldn’t complete the simple routine within the given time but for a punishment it seemed a little… easy? Even then, Mayumi was finished with the simple routine within half an hour.

As the others went through the obstacle course, Mayumi made her way through it with her eyes closed putting her senses to the test. Running round the outside edge of the cavern at high speeds with her weights still on, she spread out her senses. The young archer first sensed small obstacles in front of her through the objects’ small aura of presence, she then estimated the distance between her and the obstacle before jumping over them when the distance was covered. Next she sensed obstacles above and on the ground. Doing the same thing, she ducked and slipped through the obstacles easily. Presence of small objects came flying at her next which Mayumi quickly took to dodging her way through them making it seem like she was dancing. Next came objects that swung from side to side. Mayumi heard the way they moved against the wind and waited for a moment before stepping through them one after another listening to their rhythm. It would seem like she was playing with them had people not know she was in fact training. Mayumi completed the obstacle course within 6 minutes. After completing the obstacle course, she proceeded with intense isometric exercises pushing beyond her limits.

After hours of training they were allowed a 10 minute break which Mayumi thought could have been shorter but did not say anything. Once the break was over, they redid the simple routine and like before everyone except her and Shadow failed to complete it within the given time therefore had to do the obstacle course again. Mayumi observed that some of them had improved from the previous round but still got hit quite a few times. Shortly after night fell, they were taught meditation while Shadow ordered her to watch over them. Upon seeing someone fall asleep, Mayumi got Sora to give them a squeeze on the shoulder. Two hours of meditation passed before they were allowed to bathe in the springs. The two genders were separated with the women going to the upper springs and the men to the lower one while Shadow and Mayumi stood guard. Once the group bath was over everyone was finally allowed to sleep.

The next morning, Mayumi awoke to the vibrations she felt through the ground. Upon registering that someone was approaching them, Mayumi got into a half crouch in the blink of an eye. Shadow had alos noticed them as he had gotten up and was walking out of the cavern, but his actions told her there wasn’t any need to worry thus she relaxed. At first she thought there was only one pair of footsteps but then felt the faint vibrations of another in perfect sync with the other.

‘Interesting.’ Was her first thoughts on the new company.

Two faces emerged from a bush and recognition flittered across Shadow’s features. Shadow then greeted them and awoke the others before introducing the two people who looked alike to each other as the Moonlit twins, Linos and Calandra.

Linos would let go of his sister's hand to tip the chins of every young, beautiful woman here, including the youngest, Mayumi, paying particular attention to her, as she appeared to be a younger version of his dear sister. His voice was soft and sultry, his lips moving only to allow the gentle whisper of his words caress the skin of his victims. His eyes sparkled.

Mayumi stared at Linos blankly, slapping his hand away from her when he tried to lift her chin like he did to the other women. The young teen was trying to figure out what he was doing since she sensed no malice in his aura.

Calandra, however, was less than amused. Though they were no longer in unison, when she stepped forward, she seemed to regain that control of unity once more, her step timed perfectly with his as she caught up to him and proceeded to drag his shoulder back, forcing her twin brother to look at her big, glaring eyes. "What?" he had said in that innocent-like voice. She would say nothing, shoving him into a stalagmite as her jaw ticked with frustration. He pouted and kissed her cheek with a busted lip, and just like that, she forgave him with a small smile and a kiss on that lip, as if to say she was sorry. "I forgive you," he said, touching her cheek gently, brushing her bangs from her eyes and pulling a lock of hair from one of her pigtails, running it between his fingers. And then, his hand returned to hers, and though he gave a special wink to Mayumi, he didn't leave his sister's side for the next while.

Mayumi observed the exchange between the twins and wondered if she was supposed to be seeing that exchange. They then left her but not without a one eyed blink from Linos.