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Mayumi

An emotionless archer whom will do anything to accomplish her missions.

0 · 1,103 views · located in Triveila

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

Description

Birth Name: Unknown
Character Alias: Mayumi <3, Night Angel, Black Guardian

Appearance: Image

Written appearance: The girl has pale skin with long silver hair and mesmerizing black tinted red eyes that has a cold sharp feel to them. She has a slim but toned flexible body. She wears a half top that exposes her toned stomach with a skirt that has slits at the sides and shorts underneath it paired with boots that reaches just below her knees. She wears gloves that goes up to her metacarpal bones and has arm guards on both arms. Her overall outfit color is most of the time black, enabling her to blend into the dark.

Sex: Female
Home Nation: Unknown
Current Location/Residence: Unknown
Age: Around 14
Height: 5’0
Weight: 105 lbs
Hair color: Silver to pale blue
Eye Color: Black with a tint of red
Complexion: Pale
Body type: Toned/Athletic
Blood Type: Unknown
Fighting Style: Soft
Adaptability Ratio: 8.8

Personality

Personality: Mayumi has a constant straight face and doesn’t talk unless necessary. She is set on her goals, determined to finish what she started and never strays away from them unless complete. There is rarely a time when she isn’t on guard and is distrustful of others. She knows nothing of the words family, friends and love, neither has she heard of them nor experienced them.

Quirks: Has a long scar across her front starting from just under her left breast diagonally down to her right hip bone. She has a pet golden eagle named Sora.
Likes: Training, Full moon, High places
Dislikes: Thieves, People who kill innocents, Daylight, Staying in one place for more than 5 hours, Incomplete goals
Special Talents/Skills: Setting of traps, Deadly Accuracy, Chemistry

Equipment

Weapon/s of Choice: Metal Bow & Arrows
Weapon/s of Last Resort: Twin Katanas
Weapon you avoid:
Weapon/Training History: Mayumi was first taught basic stance and was trained to have sharp hearing through many torturous practices. Keen sight and observation followed closely after she mastered the previous trainings, and close combat, stealth, speed, stamina next in line. The trainings were never ending with little to no breaks given. The little breaks trained her to be able to function with little sleep as what Mayumi’s master had planned all along. Every single second of her life was to be passed with training of some form even while eating and sleeping. Slowly, the trainings were ingrained into her life.

After she had mastered the basics, she was given a wooden bow which she was made to carry and practice with everywhere she went. She trained with the proper stances of an archer, types of aiming methods, estimation, mental training which made her focus on her goal no matter how many distractions there were. She trained every day and every second, trying with her entire being to master all the trainings within her given time period which was 2 weeks. When she was half a day late, she received a deep slash across her front.

They then moved on to obstacle courses that she was expected to complete within a minute with all the speed, stamina and stealth training she had done. She failed the first time by a few seconds which she was punished severely for with intensive training for her stamina, stealth and speed while she bled profusely from deep wounds inflicted by her master. After the training, blood was impossible to not be seen all over the huge field where they trained. Mayumi was told sternly to clean up after her own mess and was not to leave a single sign of her even being there or existing. She was his after all and was not to be known to the world that she even existed. The next day on her second try at the obstacle course, she passed by a second. Her master wasn’t very pleased and made her do it repeatedly without wasting a second until she passed his expectations of half a minute.

After she finally mastered the archer’s techniques, she was given a metal bow which she carried and practiced with every day and everywhere she went until she figured out how to train herself to be able to use it like how she did with the wooden bow. Her master had high expectations of her, expecting no less and wanting no less. Simply put, failure was not an option.

Mayumi went through extra trainings for survival and to enhance her weapons like setting of traps, crafting poisons and their remedies, first aid on a battle field, advanced close combat stances and techniques of the Katana. Together with these extra trainings, Mayumi’s previous trainings had gone up a notch in level making them tougher. Each time she masters the trainings they will become tougher. This trained her to improve herself and kept going until she reaches her limit, which she was still far from.

While training one day, her master observed her more closely than usual and noticed that she danced with what one would not even be able to feel, the elements. She embraced and used them to her advantages, avoiding them when they would disrupt her trainings. From there, he learns of her natural understanding of geometry and physics that was beyond an expert archer’s understanding enabling her to judge distances and elemental resistances without any difficulty. She also has a rather high IQ enabling her to estimate needed velocities at alarming rates. He was pleased with his findings and trained her to use her natural abilities to the fullest.

Mayumi started missions at age 10 and slowly, her existence became known to people though they have never seen her neither did they have any evidence of her, therefore her master saw no reason to blame her.

History

History: At age 2, the girl was abandoned while passed out on the snowy pathway of a dark forest. When she woke up, she found that she had no memories of her past. The girl crawled through the forest for days to weeks, trying to find a way out. She suffered from starvation for weeks in that forest and nearly lost all hope of living when a mysterious young man came along and took her with him.

The man named her Mayumi, meaning archer/true bow. He became her master and she, his weapon whom he brought up and trained. He was breaking her down mentally and physically, bit by bit. From there, her life slowly turned into one that was owned by him like a true weapon that would be meaningless without him, her existence fading into the background together with her emotions…
Mayumi was blinded by gratefulness to her master for bringing her up and failed to see what she was doing to herself. She did not complain about the rigorously painful trainings she was made to go through and even decided to devote her life to him. She was shaped by him, mentally and physically with not a single thing that she could call hers, even her personality.

Mayumi travelled with her master from nation to nation every day, stopping only for enough time to rest and train. She felt like they were hiding from something by the way they were always blending into the crowd or walking within the shadows of shady trees in the forests, and there was also the question of why she was not allowed to be seen by the public. Knowing her place, Mayumi daren’t ask her master for the reason. She was obedient and would do whatever her master said without question, ‘for I am nothing without him, I’m a mere weapon.’ She constantly told herself, until it became engraved into her mind.

At age 11 Mayumi was an expert archer. She had made a name for herself with all the missions she had done for her master. She had nicknames like the Night angle and Black guardian, having killed people like thieves, assassins who had killed the innocent, and many others who had done things to harm innocent people. No one had actually seen her since she always strikes after dark and leaves no evidence of her existence behind. Seeing that the killings were always somehow related to the same category of killers, the people had assumed that a single person was doing them and gave those names of their own accord. Mayumi did not understand what she was doing though, she was only following orders from her master. She does not know the meaning of friends, family and love, she neither heard of them nor experienced such things. She lived every second of her life training, serving her master and completing missions.

One day after a mission, Mayumi found her master in a deserted forest, lying in a pool of his own blood, dead. In his hand was a note for her.
‘Kill Shadow’ it read. Her observant eyes instantly noticed that the handwriting wasn’t her master’s and a dark red stamp that smelled suspiciously like blood was spotted at the corner of the note. Grabbing the note, her senses went on high alert, knowing that whoever killed her master had a high chance of still being around, but to her disappointment the culprit had already left. After cremating her master’s body and swearing vengeance for his death, Mayumi took off on her own.

Mayumi continued her training while travelling through the nations looking for information on Shadow, killing anyone in her path and being cautious of her tracks. She needed to know why Shadow was wanted dead and there was a high chance that this person might know who killed her master.
There was once she saved a black smith from thieves and he taught her the makings of a bow and it’s arrows in return. That was where Mayumi made her first custom metal bow and also where she first received information on Shadow.

On the way to a nation, she found an injured eagle and felt the need to look after it. After it healed, the eagle followed her wherever she went becoming her little helper. She named it Sora meaning Sky, and would train together with it every day. It understood her and she understood it, this was rather helpful to Mayumi and soon both were working well together.

Presently around the age of 14, Mayumi continues to travel through the nations, looking for answers as well as training. With each passing day, she steadily grows stronger…

So begins...

Mayumi's Story

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In a forest, outside Triveila


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Night Angel’

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Character Portrait: Mayumi

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Entering Triveila


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

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Character Portrait: Mayumi

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Small Village, Triveila


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

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

Forest outside Triveila


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

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

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

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

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

Somewhere between Triveila and Cre’Est


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The setting changes from triveila to Cre' Est

Setting

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Character Portrait: Mayumi

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


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

‘A fight?’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Shadow.’

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

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

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

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Character Portrait: Mayumi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

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

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

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

‘He has keen eyes.’ She took note.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Was that hallucinating too?’

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

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

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

Still, she was an interesting one.

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

“You are Shadow. Correct?” She asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

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

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


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

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

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

Kill Shadow...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

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

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

‘Kiiro?’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I do not understand what you speak of -“

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

‘Danger.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

However...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Soon, the battle neared it's end.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shadow studied her for a long moment before answering.

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Does he mean a gift to kill?’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Very well then." He said calmly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Master, this will be for you.’

She turned to face her new master fully.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"It is time." He said quietly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mountains north of the clearing


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

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

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

More obstacles came one after another like endless attacks, oxygen level decreasing dramatically and rapidly shifting terrain... Stopping for rest was something she knew could not afford while on these mountain.

While climbing she was careful not to step on any patches of soil, the soil could stick to her sandals leaving a trail behind and that was what she could not risk. The smell of the richness of the earth became faint as she travelled further up the mountains. Looking back, she could see the mass of lush greenery that was the forest she had been in just a while ago.

By the start of evening, she had reached the top of the mountain without taking any rest. As expected, her muscles were aching like no tomorrow and her energy was near depletion. After taking a minute to catch her breath, she made her way down the other side of the mountain with no time to waste. Taking a rope out of her cloth bag pack, she hooked it to the edge of the cliff that reached just a few feet above another cliff edge. Using the rope as support, she walked down the side of the cliff jumping off when she was near enough to the other cliff which she then unhooked the rope by pulling one end of it and letting the other go. Using this method, she continued travelling down the mountain’s edge climbing whenever necessary. She was used to using her energy till over depletion since she and her previous master was always travelling and training twenty-four hours a day with little to no rest.

It was nearing dawn when she made it down the first mountain. Looking ahead, she saw that she still had two mountains to climb. Fortunately, the next two were half the size of the first meaning that she would be able to conquer them in one day.

After resting for half an hour, she continued her journey again. Using the same methods as before, she made it through both mountains by evening of the second day with her energy level dangerously low. Mayumi decided to rest for that evening and continue her journey the next day.

‘One step closer to avenging master.’ Was the young girl’s last thought before she passed out on a steady tree branch high up among the leafy shade.

The setting changes from cre-est to Triveila

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Heading West from the mountains to Triveila


The next day Mayumi was up on her feet once again, travelling west from the mountains towards Triveila as Shadow instructed.

Passing by a small stream, she washed her hands. The moment cool water touched her hand, she felt something similar to sharp needles piercing her skin. Turning them over, she realized that she had received blisters from climbing the mountains earlier and hadn’t noticed it for her hands had been numb from over using her muscles. Ignoring them, she tested the water to be sure it was safe to drink and as she felt the cool water trickle down her throat and the sweet after taste of it lingering…

A warm putrid feeling rises up in in her throat and with a hacking cough she spits the water out onto the ground beside her. Since a few months back, she had noticed that whenever she tasted something sweet her body would reject it and she would feel the need to puke. She did not know the cause of it and thinking it would go away after a while she ignored it. But now it has been a few months and still it persist. In fact, it had gotten so much worse that even the slightest sweet taste of raw fish would be rejected. She was confused as to what it could be that was making her this way. Her lack of nutrition was starting to disrupt her senses, she could also tell that she had lost a lot of weight from the way her ribs were starting to show themselves through skin. Mayumi tried drinking the water again, only to end up spitting it out.

Dumping the water back into the stream, she continued travelling at high speed, her senses alert for any unusual moves around her.

‘Doesn’t matter what happens to me, as long as Master’s death is avenged.’ She told herself.

‘I just hope I’ll still be able to train.’ Silver eyebrows narrowed forming a frown.

By noon, she had gone through Triveila and was now nearing a small village called Shielg. Instead of going into the village, Mayumi travelled outside of it heading south and found the southern gates Shadow had spoken of. Sensing a strong presence within the forest, she advanced towards it knowing it would be Shadow.

She had been here a few times with her master when they were finding places to rest and had also trained a little there but never stayed for more than 5 hours. They would usually train while travelling so they would cover more ground faster, though the training always seemed to focus mainly on stamina, arm and leg muscle training, and to further improve her keen sight for her aiming skills.

Two miles to the southwest of the city's Southern Gate, lost in the lush greenery of the forest, Mayumi finally finds Shadow training himself.

“I’ve arrived… Sir.” She spoke a little unsure of how she would call him, recalling his reaction when she had first said his name.

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Shadow's training was almost complete when Mayumi finally arrived, worn out and very much affected by the route he intended for her. But that was a good sign of things to come if she could close that distance so quickly. Her training with him would run fairly well depending on how well her body responded to it. He was going to have to try a few different methods at first to discover what type of body she possessed.

Certain people gained weight and muscle quickly, but lost it just as quickly. Others gained muscle at a slower rater and lost weight quickly, and Shadow himself was that type. Some gained muscle quickly and lost weight quickly, and others still, though much more rare would both gain and lose muscle at an equally fast or slow rate depending on their diet and training habits.

From the way she was able to carry on despite her obvious lack of body weight, Shadow was guessing she possessed the same body type as he did. She would not gain muscle very quickly, but she was quick to lose excess weight and build the strength and stamina she needed to press forward. If that was in fact the case then he would have a much easier time training her since he knew how to work with that body type.

"I'm pleased that you made it here so quickly, but I see that you've neglected your personal health a little bit. The blisters on your hands and the lack of weight to your frame despite your size are things we'll need to work around for the next month." He said, seeming somewhat indifferent to the words that were coming out of his mouth.

He stopped his training a moment later and rotated his head in a circle, cracking the vertebrae in his neck with a few small pops before he rolled his shoulders with a similar effect as his shoulders pulled back towards his spine. Most people didn't realize how easy it was for the spinal chord to go out of alignment, even for the healthiest and most well trained individuals. Shadow himself had to stretch and realign it at least three times a week given his habits and workout regimen.

This girl's training would need to be tailored very carefully. If he was going to help her gain the weight and muscle she needed, the first few days would have to be decidedly slower than he would have liked. None the less if she was going to be able to conquer what lie ahead, this was their only option.

"First thing you are going to do is this..." He said, turning towards her.

"I want you to catch a total of ten fish down by the river. Take that little basket with you and place them in there. I will have a fire going in a few minutes, hopefully by the time your return. Today we are going to relax and let your body recover properly from what it has already done and tomorrow we will begin your training in full."

He was about to turn away when he remembered something important, and turned back towards her.

"I forgot one thing... Tell me your name." He said, offering a small but never the less genuine smile.

"If I'm going to be your master I can't just call you 'pupil' or 'hey you' all the time now can I?" He asked.

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"I forgot one thing... Tell me your name." He said, offering a small but never the less genuine smile. "If I'm going to be your master I can't just call you 'pupil' or 'hey you' all the time now can I?" He asked.

Seeing Shadow’s mouth lift at the corners like what she'd seen the people in the photos at the inn had done, she wondered what it meant. Could it mean a threat?

“Mayumi.” She answered him as she pushed down her hood, revealing her identity to him once again.

Thinking she had stared enough, she turned and picked the little basket up before heading in the direction where sounds of water running were heard, aware of her surroundings at the same time.

Once she was by the river, she placed her bag under a tree and took off her black cloak revealing the black clothes she wore underneath which consisted of a light greyish green half top that exposed her ribs and same colored mini skirt with black tights underneath. She also wore a black leather glove that covers her middle three fingers on her right hand, dark grey arm guards covering both her forearms and black leather boots with dark grey metal calf guards. A black leather quiver with 15 silver carbon arrows was hooked to a belt on her skirt and a bow strapped diagonally across her top enabling quick access to her weapons the second she needed them.

Taking off her boots so she would have a better feel on the river bed, she placed them beside her bag and stood by the river. Looking down, she saw her reflection and like it had been for the past few months she had gotten even thinner without fail. Her ribs were starting to show and so were her other bones. The young girl stared with a straight face at her reflection.

‘Will I be able to hold out until my mission is complete?’ she questioned herself.

Not making any more time to stare at herself, she took an arrow from her quiver and got into the river till it reached mid thighs. She stayed still, waiting patiently for fishes to come by and sure enough a few minutes later, some passed by. With lightning fast reflexes, she used her arrow and speared three fishes with deadly aiming skills. Dumping them into the basket she had hooked to her waist with a rope, she waited again.

‘Are we going to eat this?’ she wondered, knowing she would have a problem if they were going to do so.

15 minutes later, she had caught exactly ten fishes like Shadow had requested and was now heading back to the training grounds with her cloak back on to cover her obvious flaw beneath. She couldn’t afford to waste time on her problem, she needed more time on training so that she would be able to make it through her mission.

‘I should wear a full shirt for training.’ She noted.

She placed the basket in front of Shadow and stood waiting for his next set of instructions.

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Mayumi gave her name before setting off, and Shadow committed it to memory.

When she returned with the fish, Shadow inspected them and nodded. He had started a fire while she was away and proceeded to stick the fish with branches from trees he'd snapped off and placed them around the fire to cook.

"They will be ready to eat shortly, and with any luck they won't be too bitter. Typically when cooking fish like this it leaves a bit of an aftertaste that I don't particularly like, but we can't afford to be picky about our diet while training."

He looked over at Mayumi and analyzed her frame once more, though her cloak hid a good portion of it. He was able to see that she was thin, and that would be a problem if she was to truly get the full experience out of her training and be able to put the skills she was going to use to work against Te'i Sai in the near future.

"... Call your bird. Now that the first leg of training is over you're free to call her back to your side." He said as he sat down on a fallen log near the fire.

"The life that you are about to enter is cold and cruel, and every ally you have is going to be invaluable to your survival. Your bird will serve you well in the times to come, so keep her close to you." He said as he put his hands closer to the fire to warm them.

The temperature was beginning to drop, and part of Shadow allowing her bird to come down was for the birds own safety. If the temperature fell to where he was expecting it to, the altitude the bird was likely hovering at would be dangerous for its blood pressure. He could identify with her relation to the bird, as it was really the only family that she had since her master was gone. Shadow knew that feeling all too well, and he wanted to do everything he could to help her keep her family in tact as the coming darkness approached them in their journey.

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"... Call your bird. Now that the first leg of training is over you're free to call her back to your side." He said as he sat down on a fallen log near the fire."The life that you are about to enter is cold and cruel, and every ally you have is going to be invaluable to your survival. Your bird will serve you well in the times to come, so keep her close to you." He said as he put his hands closer to the fire to warm them.

She knew that Shadow was thinking of her bird’s health and for that she was thankful. She reached her hand up towards the sky and soon, a dark golden-brown figure soared from the skies towards them, defying the winds directions and within a minute landed on her hand. Bringing her hand down, she stroked her pet’s head and swept down its coat of golden-brown feathers.

Sora’s hunting had seemed to be a success seeing as she had gotten a little bigger in size and her weight had increased a few kilos. Sora snuggled up against Mayumi, showing its affection for her and in return she pets its head. When Sora first expressed its affection, she did not know what it meant being one whom knew no emotion and till now she still doesn’t understand but would just pet Sora’s head comfortably.

Feeling Sora’s shiver, Mayumi picked up a fallen log behind her with one hand, placing it by the fire and sat down hoping it would bring Sora some warmth.

The smell of fish filled the air around the fire, but Mayumi’s stomach failed to respond to it even though she had been going on without food for a few weeks now. She used to be able to eat just about anything she found but now, everything was being rejected cause of their slight sweetness to it. Mayumi could only hope that her stomach would just accept the fish that night. She didn’t want to be seen as weak in front of Shadow.

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Shadow sat with his eyes closed in front of the fire as he waited for the right moment to pull the fish away from the flames. It wasn't going to be long now, as they had been sitting in silence for a while now. Fish was not his favorite meal, but it was better than anything else this area of the forest outside of Shielg had to offer. Another fact that he couldn't ignore was that he had approximately one to two months to prepare Mayumi for the fight ahead. Any longer than that spent in training would give his targets too much time to anticipate his arrival and put a stop to his momentum.

While he didn't want to hide that fact from Mayumi, the less she knew about his private agenda the better.

He looked over at Mayumi for a moment, and did a quick analysis of her current form. It had already been established to him, but another look at her thin frame had him worried. Two months would be very tight and quite difficult if she was not up for what he was going to put her through. Knowing her master gave him a spark of confidence that it could be done, but either way it wasn't going to be easy.

He looked away from her towards the fire and was able to smell that the fish were complete. While not very sweet or particularly delectable being prepared in this manner, they would serve the purpose of providing Mayumi's body with vital proteins and other nutrients that her body would need to build muscle and weight.

"Alright Mayumi..." He said in a calm voice.

"Take five of the fish and eat. If you don't think you can finish them, eat them anyway. You will not sleep tonight until all the flesh has been stripped of the bones, save for the head of course."

Shadow stood up and took in a deep breath through his nose and then looked over at her.

"Give the five remaining fish to your bird. She'll need to build up her strength as well, because she too is going to be in training." He said calmly, gazing over at the bird for a moment.

Once he was satisfied his message had been absorbed, Shadow stood up and began walking away into the forest but stopped himself at the treeline. He turned his head slightly back towards her and one of his red eyes found its way to the corner of an otherwise white surface to lock onto hers.

"When your meal is finished, you will go to sleep. If you can't fall asleep on your own, then hit yourself just under the nose at the infra orbital pressure point on your upper lip. Tomorrow your training begins the instant you wake up from your sleep, and so does hers." He said, pointing to the bird before turning away and disappearing into the forest.

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"When your meal is finished, you will go to sleep. If you can't fall asleep on your own, then hit yourself just under the nose at the infra orbital pressure point on your upper lip. Tomorrow your training begins the instant you wake up from your sleep, and so does hers." He said, pointing to the bird before turning away and disappearing into the forest.

Sora glared after Shadow, not liking the way he pointed at her while Mayumi stared at the fishes she caught still being cooked over the fire.

Taking 5 sticks off the fire, she gave them to Sora while she let the other five cook a little more before she would consume them. She was hoping that the fish would be bitter so that she wouldn’t have a gag reflex from any sweetness in the fish. After a few minutes, she took one of the five fishes off the fire and blew on it before biting into the soft burnt flesh.

She tasted slight bitterness in the fish and chewed a little before swallowing. She felt the strange feeling of warmness going down her throat and slowly, she wondered...

‘How long has it been since I last ate?’

After a few minutes, she was done with her meal and so was Sora. Her stomach felt weird with all the food she had just eaten but it definitely felt better than being empty.

Scanning the area for a comfortable place to sleep in, she found a sturdy looking tree and climbed up to her usual level which was quite a few feet above ground. She had always felt safer on higher grounds as she felt it was easier for her to keep watch from above than on the ground where most enemies were. With Sora by her side keeping watch, Mayumi fell asleep. The two could never trust anyone other than each other with their life even if the person claims to have no intentions to harm them.

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When morning broke, Shadow was ready and found Mayumi and Sora in one of the trees. The bird was awake, and with just a slight snapping of a twig in his hands, Mayumi awoke. It was a good sign that she could wake up at a moment's notice and at such a slight sound. Training began immediately, and it became clear that while she was indeed advanced in her techniques the lack of nutrition and vital energy her body needed was holding her back.

The first thing on day one of Mayumi's training regimen was to show Shadow what she was capable of as far as combat was concerned. Shadow attacked her at about half strength, just enough to push her and bring out her instinctual drive to protect herself. Subconsciously every human being was programmed to react to things flying at them such as fists, and Shadow used that to figure out where Mayumi was as far as strength, skill, flexibility and stamina as they sparred for about ten minutes.

When sparring was over Shadow had her stop and eat breakfast which consisted of a handful of berries and a bit of animal meat on the fire. He received a nasty surprise from her though as the berries touched her taste buds. Mayumi instantly gagged and the berries found their way to the ground. Unhappy with this, Shadow inquired as to why this occurred and received a reply that rather irritated him. Mayumi had a gag response to sweets, and so Shadow would have to make sure that her meals were either bitter or covered with ingredients that would get rid of any sweetness factor. He was not much of a cook, so that was going to be difficult for him to do. However, he was determined to make good on his promise to help her avenge her master so if it meant some trial and error to figure out what worked best then so be it.

When breakfast was over and the food given one hour to digest, during which time they both meditated, Shadow began her training anew. Mayumi was made to run a circuit designed to push her muscles to their limits by jumping, crawling and running without pause. The concept behind this was that constantly running, dropping to the ground, standing back up only to jump over and over again before going back to the ground would exhaust her muscles and help her build up strength from having to constantly lift her body weight with both her arms and legs throughout the circuit. It was a technique that worked wonders despite its simplicity, and before long Mayumi had hit her wall and could no longer continue.

When this occurred, Shadow ordered her to meditate for another hour before continuing and finishing her required amount of time on the circuit as he turned his attention to Sora. The bird was naturally gifted towards understanding what someone wanted of it, and so he started to get her used to the idea of being targeted by weapons. While the bird was large, fast and powerful, it was not designed for maneuverability which made her a target for one with either a gun or a strong bow and arrow. In order to help the bird avoid becoming a victim to such tactics, Shadow taught her to look for signs of such weaponry and tactics by forcing her to fly low to the treeline while searching for him through the leaves while he aimed a throwing dagger at her. While he decided it best not to aim directly for her just yet, he did throw the dagger several feet in front of her when she ventured too close without spotting him in time to let her know that she would have just been killed by a gun or bow and arrow. The bird obviously didn't take too kindly to this, but never the less seemed to get the idea because after a few more tries the bird ceased to fail in finding him before he could let the dagger loose.

When Mayumi's time was up, Shadow resumed watch over her as she returned to the circuit. Muscle fatigue was the greatest weakness of all those who held and active and dangerous lifestyle such as the two of them and she had to get used to being completely exhausted now before she fell victim to it later. Being as thin as she was and as malnourished as she was, it didn't take long for her to hit her wall again and cease to continue. Once again, Shadow ordered her to sit down and meditate for one hour before finishing her final few minutes on the circuit. When she was done they ate lunch, and Shadow made sure to keep everything from being too sweet. She still gagged at one or two mouthfuls of meat that weren't cooked quite enough, but she was able to put them back in front of the fire to cook more before eating them without issue.

When this was done, Shadow had Mayumi lift and toss large fallen logs which weighed in excess of one hundred and eighty pounds. This was well over the girls body weight and he noticed that it was very difficult for her in her weakened state to perform such a task. Given time it would cease to be an issue, but for now he continued to exhaust her muscles and then have her rest throughout the day with such exercises. Before long her body would become used to the routine and build up stamina and proper endurance against such workouts and that was when she'd be at her most dangerous. It was not necessarily the skills of the one involved that made the biggest difference. Sometimes it was how long and how hard they could go before exhaustion that made the difference, and Shadow had fallen victim to that in the past and nearly been killed.

He had no intention of allowing her to succumb to the same fate.

Before long the afternoon was upon them and Shadow stopped their muscle training to have them take turns washing up at the river before eating dinner and going to sleep. It was a very simple way to live, but it had the desired effect because Mayumi fell asleep almost immediately after clambering into the tree with Sora by her side. Day one was complete, and tomorrow would be a very adventure. Shadow had been an instructor to Assassins for years before rebelling against Te'i Sai, and as such he was also one of the "doctors" when things went wrong for his students. Massage and relaxation was also a part of the Assassin's lifestyle because of how stressful on the mind and body it was, and so Mayumi was about to experience that segment.

When she woke up Shadow had her warm up with stretching and a light cardio workout that still proved difficult because of how exhausted and sore her body was. When she was stretched out, Shadow began working with her on assisted stretching. Shadow began with her arms, stretching them behind her back and gently pulling almost as if to put her in an arm trap. When he reached the point where it was uncomfortable she gave the signal and he stopped and waited. When she told him the feeling disappeared he pulled her arm a little farther until it was again uncomfortable before stopping and waiting again. This was done for several hours for both arms, both legs, her back and her neck. Building up maximum flexibility was crucial for her, as she was likely to face off against other Assassins in the future who would be able to get her into such traps. If she was to escape or turn the situation to her favor, she needed to be able to move and react with their techniques which required her body to be as limber as possible.

When stretching was done Shadow informed her of the massage techniques. While not thrilled, Mayumi didn't question him and so she allowed him to massage her back, legs, arms and neck while she took care of massaging anything else that was overlooked by Shadow. While he was familiar with massaging women, having done it numerous times in Te'i Sai, Mayumi made it pretty clear she didn't want him touching her chest, butt or stomach. She was able to reach those areas on her own anyway so having her do it for herself was not unreasonable.

The entire day was about relaxation and focusing on her body's ability to relax after being under so much pressure the day before. Soon enough the days would bring combined workouts where Mayumi would both exercise and relax in the same day, but for now she could not afford such luxury.

The next day was more of what day one offered but with different methods in mind. This time it was all about attack power. Building up her raw strength by having her punch and kick the trees as hard as she could until her hands and knuckled bled and her shins and feet had bruises all over before allowing her to relax. During that time Shadow applied several salves and special herbs to her skin which would aid in protecting them against internal damage to the muscles. The skin would still be worn and bruised, but underneath it all her muscles would be fine which would also serve to build her tolerance for pain which was already quite high. He had to give her former master credit for that one, but she needed more and that was what he planned to give her.

Along with attacking was retreating, and so Shadow began to literally throw everything he had at her. She was not allowed to counter strike or make contact with his body in any way. She had to use all of her speed, agility and stamina to evade his attacks and escape to the treeline. This was easier said and done as Shadow had both longer arms and legs than she did, not to mention experience and so he managed to stop her retreat several times before she finally made good her escape. The time it took her to accomplish this task was insufficient in Shadow's eyes, and so she repeated the exercise several more times before being allowed to rest. Sora's training was slow and steady, helping the bird overcome her natural maneuverability issues and also helped her identify new ways to scan her environment while still keeping an eye ahead for danger. Both the bird and her master were naturally gifted, and he had to marvel at how well they both took to their training. Before long Sora's training would be complete, but Mayumi still had a long way to go yet.

The next day was more of what day two offered with relaxation, massage and more salves and medicines to assist her wounds. Shadow warned her that this would become regular for her but she didn't seem to mind very much. Her drive to avenge her master was strong, and it kept her going despite everything Shadow was throwing at her.

Over the next two weeks Mayumi added over ten pounds of muscle and was beginning to look much more like a real human being instead of a skeleton. She was getting stronger, faster, and already her stamina was increasing at a rapid rate. Her ability to complete the circuit for muscle exhaustion was no longer an issue for her as she was able to finish it without stopping once before moving on to flip and move the fallen trees. Shadow had recently cut down a rather large tree and used its trunk and branches as new weights for Mayumi, the trunk being almost three feet thick and full made it much heavier than the hollow fallen logs. At over two hundred and fifty pounds, they were a much greater test for Mayumi, but would have to wait just a little longer before she was ready for them.

By the end of the first month, Mayumi had made excellent progress and was able to keep up with the training enough to the point where Shadow could both train her and allow her to relax for a few hours during the course of a single day. This being the case, Shadow ramped up the difficulty of her training by several times and once again she began finding a wall to which she could not easily overcome. She had since lost almost all of her body fat content, save for her chest which was the same as when she began, and replaced it with five more pounds of pure muscle and had a more natural and full figure as opposed to being a stick with legs. Her muscle tone had improved a great deal and her eating habits had also improved. While she still gagged somewhat at sweets, Shadow was able to get her to finish a complete meal of up to five fish, two helpings of animal meat and some vegetables from the nearby town on occasion. Sora had since completed her training and was allowed to do as she pleased so long as it didn't interrupt what Mayumi was doing.

By the end of the second month, Mayumi was undeniably a different girl than she had been when Shadow took her in. While her personality had remained the same, she both looked and fought like very differently than before. She had completed her trial of surviving Shadow's attacks for two minutes at the end of her training without any issue, and now she was a true Assassin. Shadow was confident enough in her abilities to the point where if they were confronted by one or two Assassins from Te'i Sai Mayumi could handle the situation on her own. She was in terrific health and even better shape, and she was ready to avenge her master. While not ready to be the one to take on Kiiro herself, she would be able to hold her own against those who followed him. Te'i Sai was one thing, but the Wraiths were another matter entirely and Shadow was still wary of letting her fight one just yet. Her training would continue on a daily basis to keep her new found skills sharp and in peak condition, but otherwise they were ready to finally start on the path to avenging her master.

"You've done well Mayumi, and I'm proud of all you've accomplished." Shadow commented, standing by the fire as evening set in around them.

"I have something to give both you and Sora, and I know you'll both make good use of them." He said as he stood up and walked over to a tree with a small hollowed out section of the trunk.

During their training in the second month Shadow disappeared for three days while Mayumi was free to train on her own in his absence. During that time he had returned to his home and fetched special weapons which he had crafted long ago when he was still a member of Te'i Sai. A slight modification was made to one of the two gifts, specially designed for Sora, while the others were pre made for Shadow by a friend. However, he had no use for them so he had simply kept them safe until now.

From within it's dark recesses Shadow pulled out a long pouch with with something obviously metallic within its confines. A smaller pouch made its appearance as well, more than likely for Sora as Shadow handed Mayumi the longer pouch. He opened the smaller pouch and presented to Mayumi small claws of metal which could be easily attached to Sora's natural talons at any time during missions and detached just as easily via specialized clips on the back under the talon.

"These metallic talons are made from Orichalcum, a nearly indestructible metal which will make Sora a weapon unto herself should she need to make use of them. Her natural talons are a fine weapon, but these will help to protect and reinforce them whenever necessary on missions in places where stone and metal are an issue." He said as she put the Orichalcum talons back into the pouch and set them down beside Mayumi.

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

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Mayumi glanced at the small pouch that was now set down beside her before proceeding to open the long pouch in her hands. She could tell they were arrows from the feel of it and upon opening, pulled out one of the many arrows. The tip of the arrow was made from Orichalcum, and if she recalled correctly they were a type of indestructible material the same material Shadow’s twin daggers were made of. Thinking about it, the combination of the bow her previous master gave her and these arrows she have received, they would make a great combination and enhance her skills greatly.

Red-black orbs looked up to crimson ones.

“What do you want from me in return for everything, Sir?” She asked him.

She never took things without payment for them and in this situation it was the same in her eyes.

Sora was perched on her shoulder, looking out for danger around them while she conversed with Shadow.

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

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Shadow glanced at her and was caught somewhat off guard from her question about payment. Shadow hadn't expected any from her, but he knew of a way to answer her that would satisfy them both.

"I want you to swear to me that you will do whatever you must to keep yourself alive until you can see your master's life avenged. You will never, and I mean never, go anywhere without my consent on your own. You will never try to take down a target that is out of your reach to prove yourself either to me or anyone else. And you will never go after Te'i Sai Assassins without me. The Assassins of Te'i Sai have numerous rankings and I have yet to teach you what they are. As strong as you've become over these last two months taking on a Master Assassin of any caliber or specialty, let alone a Wraith, is still out of your reach. You have more training ahead, but for the time being we will press onward. Now stand up Mayumi, and put your things away. We've a lot of ground to cover. Our current target lies in Triveila's Capital City."

Shadow himself walked over to his bag and grabbed all of his belongings, which luckily fit into a small pouch that he could sling over his shoulder and clip into position at his hip. It wasn't ideal for combat situations to have something around your neck, but if need be he could simply snap the line and let it drop to the ground. Shadow gave Mayumi a few moments to gather what belongings she had with her and take her place beside him before pressing onward. As they continued through the forest, Shadow's ears caught very faint sounds of a struggle in the distance.

Shadow raised his right hand to shoulder level with a slight curl to his fingers. This was his signal for Mayumi to stop moving and be dead silent as he continued to listen. No doubt she could hear the faint sounds as well now that they weren't walking anymore, but they were too soft to figure the exact location. He looked over to Sora, and the bird immediately leaped into the air and began to fly higher and higher until it spotted what Shadow was looking for and returned to them, facing the direction of the sounds.

"Good work Sora." He said quietly.

Shadow looked to Mayumi and slowly leaned his head towards the noise and back to neutral position, a small signal for her to follow closely and be ready.

Shadow took off for the source of the sounds of this struggle and before long when they broke a small clearing they found a scene that got Shadow's blood boiling as they halted near the treeline. A young woman was being sexually assaulted by four large men, and it brought back bad memories for Shadow. He had to get a grip on himself and stop from reaching for the Twins, as he wanted nothing more than to kill... no that wasn't the right word, he wanted to slaughter them where they stood. Someone very dear to Shadow had experienced such a thing in the past, but unlike this time Shadow was not there to help or put a stop to it. Though he didn't know this young woman, he would not let her fall victim to the same fate.

Shadow looked over at Mayumi for a brief second.

"They're mine, so the two of you stay put." He said as calmly as he could, fighting the urge to grit his teeth.

Shadow purposely found a large branch sitting on the floor of the forest and snapped it with his foot, causing all four of the men to cease their activities and look his way.

His bangs hid the full coloration of his eyes, and so they obviously didn't recognize who he was or they would never have even bothered to remain where they were.

"Well, I guess the girl has herself a would be savior boys!" One of them laughed.

The others laughed with him and three of them let go of her and began walking towards Shadow as the fourth kept the girls hands bound behind her back with one hand and covered her mouth with the other.

Shadow waited for them to gather in a semi-circle around him before moving further. As the one to his right drew in close enough, Shadow let loose with a single kick just above his groin and retracted it in less than a second. The speed of his kick hid the true power behind it from all but Mayumi, who undoubtedly knew what was about to happen to the unfortunate victim on the receiving end of the blow. The man's friends were a bit stunned at how fast the kick was, but otherwise thought nothing of it and started to laugh again.

The man paused for a moment as his body struggled to recognize what had just happened to it, but before long he was doubled over in pain and gagging as he tried to vomit but nothing came out. His friends stood there in awe as their laughter came to a halt, but their awe was then replaced by fear as their friend began to cough up blood in between his short, ragged breaths. They took a couple steps back before looking back at Shadow, who had since raised his head just enough for the moon to reflect the perfectly red coloration of his eyes.

Their faces went pale as they slowly looked to their friend, who slumped to the ground and passed out with blood trickling out of the corners of his mouth.

Shadow watched them as they looked to each other and tried to psych themselves up, thinking that if they took down Shadow here they would become heroes. The first of them lunged at Shadow, aiming a punch directly at his face. Shadow simply let the punch come, turning his head at the last moment so it landed on his cheek bone, breaking the smaller bones of the man's fingers on contact and sending a reverberating shock through the man's arm. Shadow's superior neck muscles kept his head from budging upon impact, but the man who punched him was not so lucky as he reeled back grasping his hand in pain.

Shadow walked forward a bit and struck the man with the knife edge of his hand just in between the second and third vertebrae in the man's neck. The blow separated the two vertebrae and caused him to become temporarily paralyzed as he fell to the ground in a heap. Since Shadow didn't sever any nerves the man could be allowed to walk again if surgery was used to help reposition the two bones into proper alignment, but given the severity of these times, he would never walk again. But he would live. The last man in front of him took one more look from his friends to Shadow, looking him in the eyes before running away and disappearing into the forest.

Shadow slowly turned around to face the man still holding the young woman as he glared coldly into his eyes. His unlucky opponent was too stunned to move, though he still had a death grip on the young woman he held, and so Shadow simply walked forward until he stood right in front of him and the poor girl. He reached out and placed his thumb, index and middle fingers about an inch above the man's wrist which held the cloth over the girls mouth, and as the stunned thug looked at Shadow's hand there was a sudden twitch in Shadow's arm and a loud snap echoed throughout the area.

The man screamed out in pain as the Ulna bone in his forearm was broken under Shadow's grip and he instantly let go of the girl with both hands as he reeled back in pain. Shadow took a step forward and put his hand on the girl's shoulder, and though he wasn't looking at her, he was beckoning her to move behind him as he stepped past her towards his now reeling opponent. He grabbed the man's lapel with his right hand and pulled him in close, the man's screams coming to an end when his face was but a mere inch from Shadows.

"... Leave..." Shadow said in a low and menacing voice.

As he let go the man didn't hesitate to follow the order as he ran away into the forest after his friend.

Shadow took a moment to breath and clenched his fists, still wishing he had just slaughtered them like the animals they were for what they had almost been able to do. Shadow gave a short whistle, a signal for Mayumi to take her place at his side as he turned back towards the young woman and offered a slight bow of his head.

"I apologize for what those men were able to do to you miss. I hope that you will be alright, having had to bear witness to this violence." He said gently, his tone and facial expression now completely relaxed.

He could tell by the look of her that she was not one for combat in any form, and that likely she didn't appreciate the treatment Shadow gave these men. In fact, if she was anything like the one Shadow had failed to save before, she would likely try to help the two who remained unconscious on the ground despite what they had just done. Shadow wouldn't have been surprised of she had, but either way she was safe now and that gave Shadow a bit of a boost to morale.

The bad memories had taken a small portion of his morale away and disheartened him, which was not uncommon for him. One of his few true weaknesses was his susceptibility to his own gruesome past, and every time he ended up allowing himself to think about those memories for too long he suffered from depression which would sap small portions of his strength and diminish his fighting capabilities.

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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"You wanted to kill them but did not. You are a gentle person, Mr. Shadow. I would like to have that kindness be extended for a little bit If you would not mind."

Shadow winced at her use of the word "gentle", but none the less offered her a small smile. When she requested he help her carry them to the village and to her clinic, he thought about refusing. Knowing what he and Mayumi had to do and the time they needed to do it in, there was something in him that told him to refuse. However, her disarming charms had gotten to him, just as a certain someone else's had in the past as well and he couldn't do anything but heave a sigh and look to Mayumi.

"... Seems our plans are on hold for the moment Mayumi. I will ask that you bear with me on this, as it's not something I can just ignore. I will take care of carrying these men while you scout ahead to make sure our path to the city is clear. Get Sora into the air and let her be your eyes as always, and if anyone or anything threatens our path to this clinic, you have my permission to bring them down by whatever means necessary. With any luck, you won't need to, but in these areas during these difficult times I wouldn't be surprised if you had a run in with at least one small gang of thieves on your way. Be careful." He said in a clear but quiet voice.

With that Shadow picked up the man who's neck he had broken and the other whom he had kicked in the stomach, hauling them each over either one of his shoulders and turning back towards this new acquaintance.

"After you, miss." He said calmly, awaiting her guidance to her clinic.

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Sereinia looked at Shadow and his companion as the two interacted with each other for a few moments. She wondered if she had disturbed them from their travels. If that was the case, she should apologize to them. Her thoughts of remorse were interrupted by Shadow's words.

"After you, miss."

It would seem that the discussion between the two companions were done as Shadow was now carrying the two fallen men that were hauled over his shoulders. He was quite strong in her opinion despite how he looked like. He was not the overly muscular type of man that one would usually recognized as strong. Dispelling such things in her mind now, Sereinia nodded towards Shadow's words as she pointed at the direction on her left side.

"Thank you for your consideration." Sereinia spoke sincerely as she lead the way.

The path was quite linear although the occasional overgrowing trees and bushes do block the way. Moreover, the walk was quiet for the most part. Sereinia described it as a comfortable one. It was not because she was afraid or something. Somehow, it just felt right. However, she does not know what Shadow might think. It was then at that moment she remembered something very important. She could not believe how rude she is. Instantly stopping midway, she turned around and faced Shadow with an apologetic face. It does resemble a child in a way.

"Please forgive me for my rudeness. I have yet to introduce myself. My name is Sereinia Lucis Nouralail. You may call me however you may wish. Most people do call me Dr. Nora."

After saying that, Sereinia offered a polite bow and had a small smile on her face. It was not probably the brightest idea to bring such a dangerous man to her residence or give her name to a wanted criminal. Her Aunt Beatiz would most likely scold her for this. But at this moment, Shadow was the man who saved her and that is all she needed to know. No, it was the only thing that mattered to her. She continued her walk as the opened lights of the village were soon revealed to them. It was like stars twinkling above the sky. They were almost there.

"Mr. Shadow, I apologize if I delayed you and your companion on your travels. You saved me and you even have to carry the two men whom you went out of your way to save me from. Honestly, you have no obligation to do so. I am very thankful."

Sereinia looked at him once again but this time, she had a rather big and grateful smile upon her face. If the people especially the men in the village would see her, they would have blushed furiously.

"I am in your debt. So, if you need my help... I will come to your aid."

It was spoken with truthfulness and at the same time with warmth. Afterwards, the gates to the village was before them. Sereinia led Shadow to her house where the clinic should be as well.

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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She could sense the woman Shadow had saved was no harm to them but never the less was wary of her, her distrust in others too strong to be ignored. With a face devoid of warmth, she observed the woman closely. Seeing no harm she looked at Sora and nodded sending her into the skies, the bird understanding her command flapped its huge wings and soared off into the cloudy skies.

"After you, miss." She heard Shadow say to the woman evenly.

Ignoring them, Mayumi went ahead and scouted the path leading to the city with Sora, their teamwork never faltering for a second, one scanning the skies whilst the other scanned the grounds. The wind blew their direction and with Sora’s signals Mayumi affirmed obstacles ahead of them, but could sense they wouldn’t be much of a problem for her.

Once near enough to her opponents, Mayumi swung herself up into a nearby tree, her silhouette a blur as she made her way up to the tree top. Within the leafy tops of the tree, multiple arrows were shot off into the distance within seconds. No later from when they were shot, faint thuds were heard from a distance as all landed with a thud on their goal, no doubt a deadly one. Sora gave the signal that it was clear and dived down into the forest, coming back up towards her direction with the charcoal colored arrows she had shot.

During the two months that she had been training, she found interesting plants around the area and had mixed them into a type of poison that decayed skin and bones within a minute when touched, even if it was just a drop. She had even made an antidote for it in case someone accidentally touches them. The main purpose for her making this poison was so that she could coat her arrows with it and would no longer need to waste her time disposing off bodies.

Retrieving her arrows from Sora, they both head out of the forest and back on to the path, continuing the journey without any more delays, oblivious to the conversation going on behind her.

Upon reaching their destination, Mayumi stood under the shade of a tree stubbornly refusing to go anywhere nearer to the house and clinic. She did not like entering houses of people whom she did not trust and Sora seemed to agree with her.

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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As they walked together Shadow couldn't help but feel a strange sense of nostalgia until his wandering thoughts were brought back to reality.

"Please forgive me for my rudeness. I have yet to introduce myself. My name is Sereinia Lucis Nouralail. You may call me however you may wish. Most people do call me Dr. Nora."

Shadow stopped mid stride and nodded to her.

"Very well then, Sereinia. I hope you'll accept my calling you by name, as I am not one to observe titles with any sort of consistency." He said, somewhat apologetically.

As they drew nearer and found their way to the edge of town where the forest began and the buildings ended, Mayumi appeared and seemed to stop as both he and Sereinia walked passed.

Normally he would order her to follow, but Mayumi had taken everything he'd thrown at her during training without complain so he could hardly force her to enter a house she was unfamiliar with. During their time together, Shadow had managed to dissect small bits of her psyche by watching her movements, body language, listening to her vocalizations when speaking and during training, and by listening very carefully to how she voiced her sentences. It was clear that Mayumi had never trusted anyone before, and in that sense she was not very different from Shadow when he was her age. In fact, she was more like him than he wanted to admit, but this was not the time to be thinking about such things.

Shadow decided it was best to press onward, but once again was faced with Sereinia's somewhat disarming voice.

"Mr. Shadow, I apologize if I delayed you and your companion on your travels. You saved me and you even have to carry the two men whom you went out of your way to save me from. Honestly, you have no obligation to do so. I am very thankful. I am in your debt. So, if you need my help... I will come to your aid."

Shadow smiled at her, the more pleasant memories of one long since passed on flooding his mind and bringing a slight ray of warmth to his heart as he sighed through his nose quietly before nodding to her once again. No words really needed to be spoken this time, as it was a simple gesture which was easily understood.

Shadow decided to take point after this and walked ahead into the town with Sereinia close behind. The clinic Sereinia spoke of was the only one available in this area, so it was not hard to spot. When Shadow reached the door he set the men down and analyzed the building before looking at his clothing. During the time he and Mayumi had spent training, he'd neglected to properly clean or maintain his jacket and shirt, and thus needed to repair them. Not only that, but Shadow had ordered Mayumi to travel light without any extra food or other supplies other than her weapons and any small items she always kept with her during traveling. Shadow was not usually so neglectful of things that he needed, but he had been so focused on training Mayumi and setting off without delay that he had forgotten to plan accordingly.

The fact that his past had been haunting him was not helping the issue either, and it was one of Shadow's greatest weaknesses.

Phantoms from the past, the voices and threats of his past victims and enemies swirled in his head, as well as the voices of allies who died in his arms were a constant threat to his sanity and focus. More than once they had gotten him into potentially fatal situations, and it was not so long ago that one such incident had taken place. Despite all of his strength and skills as the most feared Assassin in the world, Shadow was helpless against the ghosts of his past as they constantly buzzed through his mind like a swarm of bees waiting to sting him to death at any moment.

He turned to Mayumi and sighed, letting his shame be known.

"I have neglected ample supplies and blame myself for this humiliation. For tonight you will find a place to rest on the rooftops and out of sight. I will give a signal Sora is sure to pick up on tomorrow once I am ready and we will press onward in the morning. Forgive me Mayumi, but there is no avoiding this setback. I will be sure to never neglect our needs like this again."

With that he turned to Sereinia.

"I hope that I can ask for your assistance now Sereinia. I need to replace these clothes, or at least repair them. Would you happen to have anything I could use in the clinic to get the job done?" He asked quietly.

The setting changes from triveila to Cre' Est

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Sereinia looked at the men that Shadow settled down and would seem that she would need to operate on one. Regardless, she must in order to treat that one with the broken neck. As for the other, she must properly check if there are other organs internally damaged. For now, she injected them with a medicine that would ease the damage done to their bodies earlier. It was good to know that her Aunt left for a trip after lunch that day to a nearby town to deliver some goods to a client. Her Aunt would probably return by tomorrow noon. The thought gave her relief that she would not be scolded for the night about her reckless actions that her Aunt usually describes as. After making sure the two unconscious men were comfortable, she turned her attention towards Shadow and from what she had heard from the earlier conversations, Mayumi. It seems the young girl was very wary of her and she could understand that. After all, trust is something that cannot be easily given although it is quite different in her case as she had been told many times.

Gazing at the one called Mayumi, Sereinia cannot help but be intrigued by her presence a little along with that adorable feathered creature of hers. She was beautiful in her opinion. In addition, she liked her name. It has a nice ring to it. Her curiosity was halted upon hearing Shadow's question about clothes. She looked at him and did noticed his rather quite ragged appearance. It does seem that they need to take care of themselves before they go on the road once more.

"I believe I have some clothes that could fit you. They are stored upstairs. I will get them for you and as for repairs I have some needles and threads."

Sereinia said with a cheerful smile afterwards, she went upstairs to get hold of some clothes and then a sewing box that was a gift from her Aunt. She handed it to Shadow and then looked at Mayumi with worry. Well, the young girl could be wary of her. She does not find anything wrong with that although, she is quite worried about her health.

"I have a room for where the young lady could rest. It is chilly outside and I do not want her to catch a cold. But, if she does not want to. Would she mind if I get her a blanket and some pillows and perhaps a meal as well. I do remember I said that I would thank you properly with dinner. It is the same for you."

Saying with the sincerest of intentions, Sereinia looked at Mayumi and then to Shadow with a gentle smile. Her Aunt always more than two people. She remembered that her Aunt said it was so that she would not feel so lonely. Somehow, Sereinia understand that sentiment.

"You can rest here for the night. As for supplies, I may be able to procure some for you. It is the least I could do. Oh yes, if you want you can have a bath to freshen yourselves up."

After saying that, she looked at her patients with determination to help them. It was truly awkward to see such a look especially what had happened to her earlier. These two men were after all intend to do her harm. But somehow, Sereinia had forgotten all of that without much of a hesitation.

"I would be probably up all-night. So, you could use my room to rest in as well." She said gently while looking at Shadow.

The setting changes from cre-est to Triveila

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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"I believe I have some clothes that could fit you. They are stored upstairs. I will get them for you and as for repairs I have some needles and threads."

Shadow nodded to Sereinia and watched as she began to get to work on the two men whom he had defeated.

"Mayumi will not require assistance. She prefers to be alone." He said with gentle finality.

Shadow looked over to Mayumi, expecting her to listen to his disguised order.

Though Shadow knew that Mayumi did indeed intend to spend the night alone and by herself with Sora, there had been instances of attacks on individuals walking alone at night throughout the town during their time training together and Shadow wanted Mayumi on patrol. What the people needed the most in these difficult times was hope, and with people such as the thieves, gangs and rogue bounty hunters and mercenaries out looking for trouble the people were afraid to hope. Though Shadow typically fought for himself, during his travels he had found a reason to look past his own goals and help those who needed help when he simply wanted revenge and to satisfy his own personal agenda.

Shadow took up Sereinia's offer to go inside, picking up the two men after her injections and carried them inside and put them on medical tables to make her work easier. As he did so he took off his jacket and, albeit with great reluctance and hesitation, his shirt.

As his shirt came off it revealed the extent of the damage his life had done to him. Scars, both new and old, covered his body from his neck all the way down to the small of his back and extending yet further, indicating that his entire body was covered in such wounds. Slash wounds from blades, two bullet wounds, several stab wounds, and signs of severe physical damage from falls and other such injuries littered his flesh and told stories unto themselves as to the extent of how dangerous his life truly was.

One in particular was across the center of his back from just under his right shoulder blade all the way to his left hip. This wound happened shortly before he met Mayumi and on occasion, despite his best efforts to tend to it, still bled and caused him great pain and irritation. He was hoping with everything he had that he'd be able to stitch his shirt and put it back on before Sereinia noticed, or else she'd insist on taking care of it after tending to the two men on her tables.

... Just like her... He thought.

He found the needles and thread in a drawer in the desk he set his clothes on. He did his best to keep his back away from Sereinia, but there was no telling whether or not she'd seen it already.

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Even without Shadow telling her to do so, Mayumi would have gone on patrol herself. After all, it was what her previous master had trained her for and what she had been doing for her entire life. She still wasn’t used to sleeping at night and while Shadow might have thought she was asleep on some nights during the training period she wasn’t. She had learned to slow her breathing to make it feel like she was sleeping before she even got to know the name Shadow so that she could surprise any enemies that thought could sneak up on her.

Getting on to the rooftop of the house, she laid down with Sora on guard beside her as she gazed at the darkening sky above them. She briefly wondered when Shadow was going to get his wound treated. All throughout training she could tell that Shadow was uncomfortable with something and had stumbled across the answer to his discomfort one day when he had his shirt off. Since he hadn’t asked for her help, she had not done anything about it thinking that he would be fine but it has been 2 months since then and still she could see no improvement in his discomfort.

‘That woman would probably help him.’ She thought impassively.

Slowly, Mayumi fell into a light slumber, awaiting attacks of innocent ones as her deceased Master had described them.

As she slept, a person appeared in her mind with his back facing her. It was dark and hazy but upon having a closer inspection, she was undoubtedly sure that it was her deceased master whose name she still had yet to know till this day.

‘Master?’ she called out to him.

The man turned and as she had thought it was her Master, but… the expression in his eyes, was something Mayumi could not understand. Slowly, he faded off into darkness, his expression burned into the dark recesses of her mind.

Eyes snapped open to a dark twinkling sky as thousands of birds, hidden in trees, broke out in a spontaneous melody. Sitting up, she felt something wet trail down her face. Swiping it off, she looked at the wetness on her fingers and wondered where it had come from. If it had been raining, she would have awoken the moment a single drop touched her. Could it be poison then? She shook her head doubtfully. After a minute of pondering, she decided to overlook the strangeness of it. Signalling Sora to stay and watch over the village, she leaped off the roof landing with an inaudible thud on the ground beside the house and disappeared into the mass of trees behind the houses.

In a small clearing behind the houses


A little travel away from the house, Mayumi came across a small clearing. Going into the center of the clearing, she closed her eyes acknowledging the elements surrounding her and becoming one with them. Red-black eyes snapped open a few seconds later, and Mayumi began an array of fierce punches and kicks enough to knock a full grown man down. Warm puffs of breath became visible in the cold air after an hour as she planned to continue this routine for a few hours unless Sora alerted her of an attack. There was no way she was going back to sleep after that dream.

‘Master…’ His strange expression bothered her more than needed. She felt like she had seen that expression before but can't remember what it was. Just what was it?

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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As Shadow had guessed, Sereinia was not one to let something such as his most recent wound slip by her professional eye. She had ordered him to accept her medicine and treatment, but he didn't really mind. He wouldn't be able to properly treat the wound himself anyway, given its position on his back. The sting of the slave was nothing he wasn't already accustomed to, and as he had done for so many years he simply ignored it as he finished stitching his clothing.

When he was done he lifted it into the air and inspected it. The shirt was back to normal, with the signs of the repairs being prevalent only in direct light. His jacket was more or less back to normal, but would soon need to be replaced. While most Assassins chose not to travel with such clothing, Shadow rather enjoyed the freedom a simple jacket brought with it, and more than one he'd used it as a weapon in combat with others. His jacket was something of a keepsake from a friend, one who was luckily still alive, and he wanted to preserve it for as long as possible.

Shadow waited until Sereinia had finished treating his wound before turning to face her with a smile, the candle light illuminating his eyes like two rubies in the sun.

"Thank you for your help Sereinia, I appreciate the food and the assistance. It is best you remain wary when we leave though, as you will more than likely be visited by other Assassins of Te'i Sai before long. Being the only clinic in this town, your skills will not go unchecked, nor will the condition of your patients... And unfortunately I made the mistake of leaving a rather blatant mark of professionalism in that one with the broken neck, so they will likely come to question you about who did this to him."

Shadow's expression softened to one of genuine concern as he walked towards the door, putting his shirt and jacket back on as he turned around half way to look at her.

"Please be careful, and if they do question you I want you to promise that you'll cooperate with them and tell them the truth. Tell them that I am responsible for this damage and that I headed further into Triveila. If you tell them a lie and they end up on a wild goose chase they will mark you for death for having tried to hide me from them and they will begin a massive hunt to find and kill you. Your kindness should not go unrewarded, and I can only hope that this is enough of a payment for what you've done. People like you are the ones who need to live if this continent is to find peace again. But with Te'i Sai still out there and still going strong with three branches left at full power, I don't know how long the hope and courage we bring to the people with our actions will last if too many like you end up as casualties." He said softly.

He opened the door and looked outside, wondering what Mayumi had done and where she had gone. He looked up and still saw Sora flying high above the town, which was a good sign as it meant she was close by. More than likely she had either found a place to rest or a place to train, as she seemed to enjoy training as a means to pass time and continue to hone her skills. Likely driven by her desire for revenge, Shadow could only hope that eventually she would see a different reason for doing what it is she does and discover a reason to live that had nothing to do with revenge.

"Take care Sereinia... and may whatever Gods you pray to protect you when Te'i Sai arrives in this town." He said sadly as he started to walk outside.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Shadow took a single step out the door when Sereinia's hand caught his jacket, and something he wasn't expecting came forth from her lips.

"Why do I feel you have no reason to come back alive after all of this is done? Why do I feel that you think you are alone? Please, do not burden yourself so much. If you do not want your life, give it to me. Come back to me alive."

Shadow turned around to look at her and was met by a watery pool of emotion in her eyes as she suddenly seemed to realize what she had said and turned bright pink, even in the dim light of the night around them.

"I am so sorry! I must have caused unneeded confusion. Please, do not worry. I will be fine and everyone in the village as well."

Shadow chuckled lightly at her comment and turned his head away from her.

"To tell the truth Sereinia, I really don't have a reason to come back alive. Once my mission of destroying Te'i Sai is completed, I will have no further reason to exist. I was created and shaped from birth to be the perfect killer, and to this day it's the only thing I truly understand in this world. I have nothing to offer this world, and to this day I still don't understand the values of kindness, empathy, compassion and mercy. To me they have always been distractions and pointless emotions that can only cloud one's judgement and get in the way. People like me have no purpose in this world, so when my mission is complete I will simply disappear. I expect that when we are finished, if she's still alive, that Mayumi will hold a similar opinion..." He said quietly.

His voice trailed off into the night as the air around them suddenly went cold and vacant of all other sound. Shadow's head instantly snapped up and his eyes began to search for anything they could find. He instinctively backed up silently into the frame of the doorway and his whole body became tense as his eyes frantically searched for the source of this anomaly.

This silence, often experienced in heavily animal populated forest areas, was almost always followed by the arrival of a serious predator. It was as if the night around them had gone into hiding from whatever was coming for them.

Shadow continued his frantic search and scan of the area around them while moving his left hand to the hilt of one of his Twin daggers behind his jacket.

"Sereinia... find a place to hide." He said, his voice now very quiet but full of authority and commanding tonality.

If this is what I think it is, I can only hope Sora is going to avoid sending Mayumi any signals that something is wrong... He thought.

Shadow's worst fears were realized when a single figure in a pitch black cloak appeared on the rooftop across the way. Te'i Sai Assassins always wore charcoal grey robes and were easily distinguished by the red symbol of the Assassins on their chest. This cloak was pure black and resembled Shadow's outfit in many ways, save that the cloak had a hood to cover the face of the individual in question. The only thing that could make this worse was...

And there they are... Shadow thought as two more figures in black cloaks appeared beside the first.

Wraiths almost always traveled in threes, and it looked like tonight was no exception. How they found him so quickly was a mystery to him, as Shadow had an entire private network of spies and scouts all around the continent from those who had been loyal to him from his time in Te'i Sai and those who had joined his cause in recent years. However, the Wraiths had always proven to be the most resourceful and intimate of Assassins, infiltrating even the most tight night organizations nationwide to expand Te'i Sai's influence. It seemed that he had an information leak, or worse yet, a traitor in his midst.

That issue, however, would have to wait.

Shadow now had three very big problems on his hands and to make things worse, he had three bodies to defend in the inevitable confrontation that was now slowly descending from the rooftops.

... This is going to be a very, very long night... Shadow thought as the first dagger from behind his back made its appearance.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Mayumi was just about to start another set of training when she sensed an abrupt change in the atmosphere. The air stilled, the night fell silent, and there was a strong aura of killing intent that was far from normal coming from the houses.

‘This air…’ Several possibilities flashed through her mind.

A slight breeze was felt on her back followed by metal talons gripping her shoulder. Looking at Sora, everything immediately fell into place. There was only one thing that could make Sora in distress after all.

‘Wraiths.’

With blinding speed, Mayumi tore across the distance between the small clearing and the village, stopping only when she was nearing the line between the village and the forest of trees. She hid her presence carefully and crept up a tree with ghostly silence while Sora perched on a branch a few meters back from her looking out for any incoming danger from behind.

"Sereinia... find a place to hide." She heard Shadow say to the woman.

She could see their backs from where she was and noticed where Shadow had his eyes fixed on. There on the rooftop of the house opposite them, were three dark figures with pure ebony cloaks. No doubt they were wraiths.

"I am very certain that whatever business you have with Mr. Shadow is not my concern. However, he is currently patient. I would not have any actions that could harm him or anyone before me in any manner. I request that you leave. Visiting hours are over." She heard Sereinia say to them.

‘How peculiar.’ Mayumi thought, frowning slightly.

Knowing Shadow wouldn’t want her to be involved, she stayed where she was watching cautiously, at the same time ready for any incoming attacks.

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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At Sereinia's words there came a laughter from the Wraith standing in the center of the group, and Shadow couldn't help but narrow his eyes in disgust at hearing that wretched sound coming from him. At the same time Shadow felt a presence approach from the back of the building, but he knew exactly who it was by the faint sound of the footsteps.

"Mayumi, it's your job to protect Sereinia from harm during this fight. I may be their target, but they have gone after innocence before and I know they'd do it again in a heartbeat."

With that Shadow stood up straight and let his body relax as he turned his back to his three new opponents and gently started pushing Sereinia back inside towards Mayumi, stopping in the center of the room.

"The two of you will stay inside. I thank you for your concern Sereinia, but you cannot bargain with or reason with these men. They answer to only one thing."

Shadow lifted his dagger in his left hand and then drew the second dagger from behind his back with his right hand. He turned his head and crossed the daggers in front of him, raking the two Orichalcum blades together creating a brief flash of light from the sparks created as he walked outside. He rolled his shoulders a little bit and rotated his neck in a single circle in either direction before stopping in the middle of the street as he looked up to face his opponents. They all leaped down from the building top and landed in a triangle around him, with one of them being the apex and positioned in between Shadow and the girls inside.

Not a good start... He thought to himself.

The Wraiths had received their training specifically designed to counter his own so that they would stand a better chance against him in combat, but what they lacked which gave Shadow the edge was that Shadow was trained by each of the five Grandmasters themselves and had over two decades worth of experience working in his favor. The Wraiths only training came from the observations of the second in command of the fortress in Roda Valley and while it was effective for being able to predict most of his normal attack routines, Shadow's experience and his further development still gave him the edge.

Shadow took up an angled stance and brought his right dagger down and held it in an Earth grip as he held his left dagger up higher in front of him in a Heaven grip. His feet were about a shoulder's width and a half in distance from each other and positioned perpendicular to his hands, giving his body a near "x" pattern if looked at directly from above. The three Wraiths closed in, walking within about two meters of Shadow's position as they readied their weapons. All three of them carried a single dagger forged in Orichalcum, the blade alone of which was fourteen inches in length. While their training to counter Shadow's own was formidable, what made them the most dangerous was their resourcefulness and teamwork. For every hour they spent training to counter Shadow's style of fighting, they trained for five hours working together as a unit.

Shadow had a long and brutal fight ahead of him, but it was nothing he had not faced before.

"Prepare yourself Red-Eyed Demon, for your reign come to an end tonight." The lead Wraith proclaimed.

Shadow rolled his eyes for the Wraiths commonly used bold yet unconvincing lines before they attacked and tonight it didn't seem they'd give him peace from that awful habit of theirs.

It didn't take more than a few more seconds for all three of them to lunge at him with blades out. Shadow had trained Mayumi well, and he could only hope that what he was about to do would assist her learning further as she watched the fight.

Shadow's body rotated slightly and he let out a single breath before his eyes opened wide, the entirety of his blood red iris's glowing in the moonlight and ominously announcing the full extent of his fury. Upon his breath being let out, the world began to slow and the movements of his opponents began to follow suit. By utilizing a special blend of both a special assortment of physical training methods combined with an unusual meditation practice, Shadow had learned to control the flow of adrenaline through his body. This ability was incredibly rare, and almost unheard of in males as it was nearly exclusive to females. One such ally of Shadow's had mastered it not long before he did, and he'd learned it from her.

Shadow flipped the dagger in his right hand sideways as he trapped the blade of his opponent behind him against his own blade and his forearm as he spun to the right, taking his opponent with him. His other blade came up and parried a thrust towards his head as his arm wrapped around that of his opponent and the three of them spun in unison as Shadow threw the opponent in his right hand into the third attacker, sending them both to the ground as he released the opponent in his left arm's grip, kicking him in the ribcage as he did so. It was a single, well timed movement and it now had all three Wraiths on the ground as Shadow immediately turned towards the lone Wraith and lunged forward, extending the dagger in his left hand towards his stomach as the blade entered for about two inches before it was stopped in its tracks and retracted by the Wraith's last second interference.

Shadow recoiled from the block and leaped away as the three Assassins composed themselves and regrouped for another attack.

This time they attacked one by one, being much more careful in their efforts as they kept their attacks short and fast, not giving Shadow any time to counter but not one attack touched him at first. Then, their attacks changed patterns and they started to alternate double teaming him and after a few failed attempts to make any headway one of them managed to grab hold of Shadow and threw him into an empty food stand, destroying it and putting Shadow under about a hundred pounds of broken wood. Not wasting any time, the lead Wraith took a lit candle from the street and a bucket of oil that was sitting near another building which was meant to simply relight the lamps and keep them burning.

He threw the oil onto Shadow and the heap of wood he was sitting under and threw the candle, lighting up both Shadow and the once proud food stand. Shadow threw the burning wood off of him in the direction of his attackers, who honestly hadn't seen that part coming and frantically dodged the attack as Shadow ran straight for them. Though his outfit was on fire, Shadow didn't really seem to care very much as he rammed head long into the lead Wraith and pinned his body to the wall of a nearby building, his shoulder extended outward into his lower abdomen where the muscles were the weakest and causing him to instantly become nauseous and fall to the ground. He began to heave but nothing came forth from his stomach as Shadow continued his attack.

As he moved, his outfit slowly started to break apart as it continued to burn though the flames were beginning to die down. It became clear though that Shadow couldn't ignore it for too much longer though as he threw off the jacket and watched it burn on the ground. It pained him to get rid of the jacket, but there was nothing that could be done about it now. Shadow's pants were in tact but badly burned to the point he'd have to completely replace them, but that too would have to wait. The other two Wraiths began to prepare another assault as well, and Shadow once again had to deal with a tag team effort as the both alternated between attacks and defenses while they continued to do what they could to wear Shadow down.

Round after round of knife thrusts, slashes, kicks, punches and grappling continued in the street, and Shadow was thrown clean through a cinder block wall that was erected to block off one of the alleys for construction purposes. The lead Wraith, during this confusion, managed to slip away into the night while Shadow was busy dealing with the other two, but before long Shadow had grown accustomed to their patterns of attack and managed to split their defenses and overtake them. Shadow ended their lives quickly, slashing the neck and severing the bones and the muscles as well as the entire nervous system connection to the lower body under the second spinal vertebrae.

When it was all over, Shadow began returning to the clinic as he tore off his now completely ruined shirt and dumped it into one of the trash baskets outside one of the other shops near the clinic on his short walk back. He stopped inside the doorway and looked back out into the streets and scanned for any signs of the last Wraith, but it was no use. He was gone, and there was absolutely no doubt in Shadow's mind that he was going to report the development to Kiiro. Shadow decided there was nothing that should be done about it as it would take them out of their way to go after him, so Shadow made a mental note to prepare for another confrontation with Kiiro.

Before turning and walking inside the clinic, Shadow did a quick check of the damage he and the Wraiths had done to the surrounding area. He lowered his eyes a bit and frowned at what had been done. Four food stalls, a cinder block wall, a bucket and two lamps, and even a bench near the end of the street.

"... Perfect..." He said sarcastically and in a lower tone of voice.

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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The moment the fight started, Mayumi got onto the rooftop of the house from behind, swinging herself down into the doorway where she landed gracefully and situated herself in front of Sereinia. Even though she was still a long way from trusting her, she could at the very least tell that she was an innocent person and as her previous master had drilled into her, the innocent do not deserve to be killed.

While the fight continued, one of the wraiths seemed to have caught sight of her from the corner of his eyes. Recognition flitted across his features and slowly she notices him begin to retreat from the fight, letting the other two take over. She wondered if she should do something about him but dismissed the thought focusing all her attention on protecting Sereinia.

Using a distraction, the lead wraith disappeared into the forest while the other two wraiths distracted Shadow, though it wasn’t long till Shadow emerged as the victor.

Shadow did a quick check of the damage he and the Wraiths had done to the surrounding area. He lowered his eyes a bit and frowned at what had been done. Four food stalls, a cinder block wall, a bucket and two lamps, and even a bench near the end of the street. "... Perfect..." He said sarcastically and in a lower tone of voice.

Mayumi looked at Shadow, her eyes inquiring if he would like her to return the place to its previous state. She had been trained to do so ever since she was 8, thus there was no reason to leave things the way they were now.

Sora was back in the skies scanning the area from above with her keen vision for any other incoming danger, not taking any chances of letting her guard down even for the briefest of seconds.

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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"The two of you will stay inside. I thank you for your concern Sereinia, but you cannot bargain with or reason with these men. They answer to only one thing."

Those words saddened Sereinia as she was led to the center of the room with Mayumi who would serve as her protector. She truly understands what Shadow meant but, she just really does not like someone getting hurt in anyway. It does not matter to her who they are or what their intentions are. However, her pleas were useless to ears that would not listen. At this moment, she would have preferred real deaf people. Her thoughts were slightly disturbed as Mayumi positioned herself before her. It made her wonder how such a young girl like her was put into such a life. In her opinion, Mayumi looks more fragile than her. It should be her protecting Mayumi not the other way around.

Her thoughts were distracted when Sereinia noticed that one of Shadow's enemies looked at their way. However, it was not at her but at Mayumi. She glanced at the younger girl in curiosity. It would seem she had noticed as well. The said enemy had a brief moment of recognition. Somehow, Sereinia had a bad feeling. She was not sure what it was about but, it made her really worried. It made her wonder if Mayumi would go after the one who had fled. Fortunately, the young girl stayed and she released a small sigh of relief at this. Soon enough, the fight was over.

"... Perfect..."

Sereinia took that sign to remove herself from behind Mayumi. She saw Shadow looming at the two dead bodies by her judgment as the victor. She was happy that he was safe with only a casualty of a destroyed shirt. However, the sight of the two bodies made her depressed. She slowly closed her eyes and without a warning a lone tear fell across her cheeks like a falling crystal.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Shadow scanned the area one final time before looking to Mayumi and giving her a nod of his head. During their training Mayumi had told him what she had and had not been trained for, so he knew she was good at erasing such evidence of what had transpired. Shadow decided it would be best to dispose of the bodies rather than try to hide them somewhere, so he walked over to them and dragged them towards a storm drain in the street which led to the sewers and pulled out a vial from a small pouch at his hip.

The substance which flowed forth from the newly opened vial was a highly acidic compound enhanced and augmented by a special blend of herbs and was strong enough to literally melt the flesh, muscle and bone of anything soft that it came into contact with such as a human body. It did not work on harder substances like glass, metal or very strong wood, but for something like this it was perfect. By simply pouring a small amount onto the torso Shadow was able to have the bodies melt away and drain into the sewers within about a minute's time. Their blood and the residue left behind was easy enough to clean when he found and used a bucket of water nearby that was meant to clean the streets in front of a shop to wash everything away as Mayumi got to work on cleaning the damage of the walls and the food stalls which had been destroyed.

Shadow himself watched her for a moment and was satisfied she'd be alright getting the job done, so he walked back towards Sereinia in the clinic and saw the trail of what had been a tear under her eye. She was indeed a lot like someone very dear whom Shadow had lost, and he couldn't help but feel a familiar sensation as he slowly brought his left hand up and used his thumb to gently wipe the tear away before walking inside and to a dresser where he found a shirt that would fit him. It was a forest green coloration, but it was all he needed to use for now before he and Mayumi would be on their way the next morning.

Shadow gathered the rest of his things together and walked outside, looking for a rooftop which would suit his needs for the night as Mayumi got to finishing the task of cleaning the street. He looked back to Sereinia and offered a small, but somewhat forced smile.

"I do apologize for all you've seen her tonight... It saddens me to have to leave things like this, but we don't really have a choice in the matter. Tomorrow morning I will find what we need in the town's shopping district and we will be on our way. You'll never see us again Sereinia, and with any luck you'll never have to deal with this kind of violence in such a direct way ever again."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Upon receiving approval, Mayumi got to work immediately, moving about as silently as she could to not cause any disturbance to nearby villagers whom were most likely still asleep.

Having photographic memory, she had remembered every teeny tiny detail of the place before the fight occurred, therefore knew where to place things. Badly damaged objects were replaced by not too new ones and others that weren’t badly damaged or just couldn’t be replaced were fixed back to its previous state.

Soon enough, the place was back to its original state. Not a single thing misplaced. It was like the fight had never occurred, never existed. This showed Mayumi’s years of experience in living a non-existent life. Not even the slightest evidence of her existence was left behind. To normal people it was terrifying, but to her it was just a normal way of living.

Done with her task, she thoroughly inspected the place to make sure that nothing was missing and once she saw that her work was done, she looked to her current master whom was speaking to Sereinia. Eyes widened as they caught a glimpse of wetness being wiped away from Sereinia’s cheek. Remembering the wetness on her own cheek earlier, Mayumi looked around searching for maybe an object of some sorts spraying water, but found no such thing. Confused, she stood there staring at Sereinia thinking she might be able to find the source of the wetness is she stared long enough.

"I do apologize for all you've seen her tonight... It saddens me to have to leave things like this, but we don't really have a choice in the matter. Tomorrow morning I will find what we need in the town's shopping district and we will be on our way. You'll never see us again Sereinia, and with any luck you'll never have to deal with this kind of violence in such a direct way ever again."

Hearing Shadow’s words, Mayumi was even more puzzled. Was it not normal to see fights? She seemed to be entering a whole different world, and her instincts were telling her to retreat from it. So being one who always followed her instincts, she backed away from the two young adults and made herself comfortable in a tree quite a few meters away, evading what she had just seen. But then…

‘What is that wetness? Where did it come from?’ She couldn’t help but wonder curiously.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Shadow dragged the lifeless bodies of the assassins to someplace to dispose of them. This is after all the logical conclusion that Sereinia could think of. She knew that it was something that he would do naturally as that is what he had been doing for all of his life as he had implied to her before. She hold no resentment on that yet, she still feels sad about what happened. Those two people who had died. They probably had someone that would cry for them. Someone that would missed them dearly. It saddens her that those people would be able to have a moment to say goodbye properly. As for Mayumi, she noticed the girl was cleaning up the area where the fight had occurred. The young girl as also fixing the damaged town properties skillfully. It was probably something that Mayumi was used in doing so. This ability must be very handy when she needs to kill someone cleanly. Evidence must not seen at all. Releasing a sigh, she looked at the windows of her neighbors. It seems that no one was awakened by the ruckus. That is good to know and cleaning up the mess would also make sure feel safe that the night passed by peacefully.

Looking at her two patients, Sereinia was grateful that they were sleeping. She would not want for them to strain themselves especially when they are just freshly treated from severe injuries. She went to check them to make sure that everything was in order. After doing so, she took a seat in one of the chair within the clinic. She looked at the window beside her with a distant gaze. It was ironic for her to see the cruelty that she was very helpless with in her own hometown. In her travels, she did encounter hardships, sadness, and even violence. However, she had always managed to do something about it. In the end, she was able to avert such things to result into something drastic. But this time, she was not able to do so. Perhaps, she was just fortunate that the people she met in her journey were someone to be reasoned with or perhaps the scars of hatred were not that deep to penetrate the heart. Closing her eyes momentarily, she felt someone brushing away the tear that she had shed earlier which she had forgotten due to her inner turmoil. Opening her eyes, purple and red met. The hand that was soothing her was also the same one that coldly killed those men. She should avoid that hand or even pushed away. It would be a normal reaction for anyone to do so after witnessing such an event. But, she did not. Truthfully, she liked how he wiped her tear away.

Despite that, Sereinia remained silent as Shadow walked passed her. He took a shirt that she had told him before he could use. As for her, she remained in her chair and looked away. She knew that she seemed so childish. But, she was confused with what to think. Her belief and reality were two things that was hard to combine at the moment. It seems she finally understand what her father had said about her. She was too naive. At the corner of her eyes, she noticed Shadow heading towards the exit of the clinic. This time she could not find the voice that wanted to stop him from leaving unlike the last time. She hated herself for that. She was like a hypocrite. No, she was a hypocrite. She slowly made a fist with her hands that were on her lap when she heard Shadow spoke.

"I do apologize for all you've seen her tonight... It saddens me to have to leave things like this, but we don't really have a choice in the matter. Tomorrow morning I will find what we need in the town's shopping district and we will be on our way. You'll never see us again Sereinia, and with any luck you'll never have to deal with this kind of violence in such a direct way ever again."

Everything he said somehow caused her to feel irritated. Sereinia does not understand why. Moreover, she hated how Shadow smiled at her. It was forceful she could tell. She does not like it one bit. Clenching her fists tightly, she looked down. Shadow's words repeated through her mind like a broken record. She wanted to understand why it irritated her so. However, it was no use as she stood from her chair immediately. She approached Shadow and held him by his collar. Her hands were shaking but it was not because of fear. She was furious. Raising her head to look at him, her hold on his collar tightened.

"I am not so fragile. I understand really why these things are happening. I also know that this what you do. This is what you are. I know that. I should hate that but, I don't. I really don't. And if it saddens you to leave things like this, then do something that would make you happy before you go then. You don't need to run away from me. Do you understand? Don't run. I don't care if people call you demon, devil, or monster. To me..."

Sereinia loosen her hold on his shirt and then slowly cupped his face. She had a gentle smile on her face. After a few moments, she pinched those cheeks and stretched as far as she could. She didn't care if it hurts Shadow. She wanted him to learn a lesson and she was teaching it strictly as she could.

"To me, you are Shadow who saved my life. You are Shadow who is my patient. You are Shadow who I am pinching his cheeks for giving such an ugly smile. So, don't smile at me when you don't want to. You can cry. You can get angry in front of me. It's fine." She released his cheeks and gave a warm and sincere smile. "I want to see you again and Mayumi."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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When Sereinia go up from the chair and walked over to him, Shadow was somewhat expecting what came next. He was not, however, expecting the "why" when she grabbed his collar, her fist shaking gently in what he expected to be fear and anger.

"I am not so fragile. I understand really why these things are happening. I also know that this what you do. This is what you are. I know that. I should hate that but, I don't. I really don't. And if it saddens you to leave things like this, then do something that would make you happy before you go then. You don't need to run away from me. Do you understand? Don't run. I don't care if people call you demon, devil, or monster. To me..."

When she loosed her grip and cupped his face in her hands, he was truly shocked and his mouth opened partway but no words or sounds came out. Suddenly, he felt his cheeks being pinched and pulled apart. He would normally have retreated from the sensation, but knowing where it was coming from eroded what sense of danger would normally have occupied his mind.

"To me, you are Shadow who saved my life. You are Shadow who is my patient. You are Shadow who I am pinching his cheeks for giving such an ugly smile. So, don't smile at me when you don't want to. You can cry. You can get angry in front of me. It's fine." She released his cheeks and gave a warm and sincere smile. "I want to see you again and Mayumi."

Shadow held still for a moment as he took in her words and processed them in his mind. It had been a few years since he had heard words this kind and honest, and it was an alien feeling, one which he did not enjoy being exposed to very often. Tonight, however, he didn't seem to mind which both interested and annoyed him. Was he going soft? Was he loosing his edge? Why did he not mind what she had said and done? It didn't take long for him to figure out the answer as his mind drifted and an image of someone very close to him appeared in his mind.

"You... are much... like her." He said under his breath as he backed away a step, seemingly in a trance as more memories began to fill his mind.

After a moment Shadow looked up, obviously no longer day dreaming about whomever it was he was thinking about.

"Very well them Sereinia, then I will do something about these feelings of sorrow. I was trying to hide it... or rather, trying to hide from it. I told you that more Assassins would come here, this being my most recent location, but I didn't tell you that either way you were now marked for death for having witnessed what happened. I tried to convince myself that they would just leave you be if you cooperated, but I was fooling myself. Sereinia, for your own safety, I want you to accompany Mayumi and me for the time being. It will not be forever, just until I can guarantee that you'll be safe from Te'i Sai's gaze. Right now you are marked for death, but I will not let that mark take hold or accomplish its purpose."

Shadow looked her dead in the eyes.

"So Sereinia, what is your answer? Will you come with us?" He asked quietly.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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"You... are much... like her."

"Her? I wonder who that person is...? Mayumi?" Sereinia blinked a couple of times upon hearing that. Her thoughts began to be filled with questions of curiosity regarding about the identity of this person that was like her. She did not notice that Shadow was also in deep thought. Finally giving up on guessing, she decided to ask the man before her about this. But before she could, he looked at her with steady eyes.

"Very well them Sereinia, then I will do something about these feelings of sorrow. I was trying to hide it... or rather, trying to hide from it. I told you that more Assassins would come here, this being my most recent location, but I didn't tell you that either way you were now marked for death for having witnessed what happened. I tried to convince myself that they would just leave you be if you cooperated, but I was fooling myself. Sereinia, for your own safety, I want you to accompany Mayumi and me for the time being. It will not be forever, just until I can guarantee that you'll be safe from Te'i Sai's gaze. Right now you are marked for death, but I will not let that mark take hold or accomplish its purpose."

Sereinia remained silent after hearing his explanation. Everything that Shadow meant made perfect sense. The Te'i Sai as she had heard in her travels were not easily appeased. They make sure there are no loose ends. Honestly, she was not that afraid facing those assassins from before. It is why she felt quite odd for not feeling so. Something must be wrong with her. The only thing that worried her most to consider leaving the town earlier than she anticipated was her Aunt Beatiz. She did not want her only living relative to be involved in this. However, superseding all of that was the idea to stay a little bit longer with this man who had beautiful ruby-colored eyes. At the moment, she was not sure what was happening to her. Looking at him as if in a trance, she was only taken out when she heard him speak again.

So Sereinia, what is your answer? Will you come with us?"

Her Aunt might have a few problems with her leaving early when she had just arrived recently. Still, Sereinia wanted to go with him and Mayumi. Something was propelling her to do so. She was certain that her life with them with be filled with danger without doubt. She will certainly things that she does not wish to. However, she could confidently say that she was fine with all of that. Closing her eyes momentarily, she had a small smile and then looked at Shadow warmly.

"It seems I would be running away with you then, Shadow."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Shadow wanted to smile at her acceptance but he couldn't bring himself to do so without forcing it again. The circumstances behind her joining him on his travels were not ideal, and he knew he would spend much of his time watching over her and protecting her but the more he thought about it the less he minded.

"Very well then... Pack your things and get some sleep. I'll return here in the morning when I have everything we need for our journey."

With that, Shadow walked outside and did a quick once over of the surrounding area. Mayumi had really done a fantastic job with cleaning up the place, and Shadow spied an ideal place to ascend to the rooftops across the street. Two walls within six feet of one another and a slightly cracked and worn away wall on the building to the left would make ideal stepping stones on his way up. He got a running start and just before reaching them he launched himself into the air and wall jumped from one to the other and grabbed the edge with his right hand before pulling himself up and standing up straight as he closed his eyes and listened.

"... Two people sleeping on rooftops about two houses down, a burglar just made it into town where we came in with Sereinia, and from what I'm hearing there is a struggle taking place a short distance away in one of the alleys."

Shadow opened his eyes and looked around to each individual point he had identified.

"I'll have to do something about that burglar..." He said quietly.

Shadow took off towards the town's gate and managed to locate the would be thief before he could make any headway and eliminated him with a single poison dart to the neck, the tip embedded inside his carotid artery. Once that was finished he retrieved the dart and went towards the sounds of the struggle, but he was too late. A man had been mugged and stabbed to death while he was dealing with the burglar, and unfortunately he had made the wrong choice. If he had stopped this violence first he would have had plenty of time to nab the burglar during the night, but these were the kinds of choices and consequences he dealt with on a daily basis. This was his life, and these were his worries.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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"Very well then... Pack your things and get some sleep. I'll return here in the morning when I have everything we need for our journey."

Sereinia nodded as her gesture of understanding. Afterwards, Shadow left her alone. She stood there for awhile wondering what would happen now. Her Aunt would not be back until lunch. She would have wanted to say goodbye properly. For now, all she could do is to write a letter to her. She did not want her Aunt to worry so needlessly. Although, she was certain the older woman would once she hears about her niece going with a well-known symbol of evil, Shadow. Thinking about it, the rumors do tend to be untruthful. The man in question was nothing like the stories about him. Perhaps, he had reasons for doing the things he did. Taking a deep breath, she closed the doors to the clinic and locked it as she always have. Then, she looked at her two patients and had a thoughtful smile. The two men would be fine. After making sure the patients were comfortable for the rest of the night, she began to keep away her tools and such.

"This was truly an eventful day..."

Remembering the things that happened earlier, Sereinia looked at her stash of salves and medicines. She would definitely need to bring some knowing how dangerous Shadow and Mayumi's actions were. She is also worried about their health. She began preparing the things she would take with her in the journey. After a few moments, she was done and released a small yawn as she covered her mouth. It seems that feeling of exhaustion has finally caught up on her. She looked at the small bag that carried all her medical supplies and smiled proudly. She picked it up and went upstairs where her room was.

"I should clean up... My clothes are still packed, so I would not have to worry about packing."

Speaking to herself, Sereinia went to the bathroom and began cleaning herself. She took this time to relax and just let the sad events that happened today drift. When that was done, she went to her room and changed into one of her sleeping robes. But not before noticing her rose-shaped birthmark on her back, it was quite an eccentricity in her opinion. She had always wondered what it meant. Her mother said that it was the mark of her lineage. Somehow, she finds that quite funny especially remembering how her father would say it. They make like she was some kind of royalty which was impossible. After all, she was a humble daughter of a very good baker. It is the life she had known and it is the only life she wanted. Memories of the past begin to enter her mind as she quickly wore her robe and went to her bed. She did not want to think anything that would further augment her sadness. As Shadow had said, she needs to rest. Although, she is worried for him and Mayumi. She had rooms to spare for them to sleep in. There was no need for them to sleep outside on rooftops or something. However, if that is what they prefer. She would leave them be. Closing her eyes, she would be waiting until the sun rises.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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When Shadow had finished his business for the evening he found himself a suitable location on one of the rooftops near the clinic as he laid down and fell asleep. A few hours later the sun rose, but in order to get the supplies they needed, Shadow had to wait over two more hours for the market to fill and for a special individual on the east side to open for business. When the time had come, Shadow ducked into an alley from the rooftop and adjusted his posture to seem less conspicuous as he walked through the streets.

By ducking his head just so, his bangs hid his eyes from the crowd so he could move freely among them as he wandered the market. He first bought a set of large baskets for different supplies and wandered around a bit more and filled them with clothing, food, water carrying supplies and more. Once that was done, Shadow went to the east side of the town and found the man he was looking for. One of his former friends and contacts, Burtos.

Burtos ran a horse renting/buying shop on the edge of town near the gate. Shadow didn't need to say anything before Burtos had a pair of horses saddled and ready for him when he walked inside his establishment. Shadow ordered a third horse be brought around, and in no time it was done. Shadow loaded the supplies into the saddle bags and had Burtos hold them for him until he came back later.

In the meantime, Shadow went back to the clinic and knocked on the door.

The setting changes from triveila to Cre' Est

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Mayumi pondered on the dreams she had been getting for the past few nights while keeping an eye on her surroundings, her face impassive. She had already gotten atop her gray stallion and was waiting for Shadow and Sereinia under the shade of some nearby trees. She wasn’t too fond about the idea of travelling with Sereinia but didn’t feel the need to say anything about it.

She was starting to feel restless with this weird feeling she was receiving from the dreams of her master’s face and it had been getting worse each time she had it. Was she doing something wrong? And what could it possibly be? She kept asking herself those questions over and over trying to get an answer. She had never seen her master’s face that way before throughout the years he had been training her, so she had no idea what it was that he was trying to tell her.

She hears light footsteps among the noise of the market approach and looks up to see Shadow arrive taking lead of the black stallion and looking back for Sereinia. It was good that they were finally getting a move on, she was feeling rather on edge for spending more than 5 hours in one place. Though she hid it well, she was sure that shadow had noticed her edginess.

The setting changes from cre-est to Triveila

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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"If you're ready, we'll be off. Knowing Mayumi, she's already waiting with the horses at the town's eastern gate. We've got a long road ahead of us over the next few days, so steel yourself."

Sereinia listened to Shadow's words and a nod to show that she understands. Taking one last look at the clinic, she took a deep breath and closed it behind her as she followed the man that had promised to protect her from the Te'i Sai due to her connections with him. Carrying her luggage, she did not feel much apprehension leaving the town even if she had only been there for a short while. After all, she did tell her Aunt that she was only passing through and would leave on her travels when she sees it is time. Well, it seems that time was now. Keeping a few inches of distance from Shadow, she could feel the curious glances from the townspeople. It was probably due to the rather awkward presentation of her companion who had seemed to hide his eyes from plain sight. In her case, she does understand for it was the most defining trait that he has which is known throughout the insignia of the vile criminal named Shadow.

Soon they arrived at the marketplace where most of the vendors greeted Sereinia with a smile and warmth. As a result, she reciprocated with stopping occasionally but not too long to not lose sight of Shadow. Some asked her why she was leaving so abruptly. All she could tell them without lying was that something had happened. She cannot tell them any further than that knowing the trouble that will cause in the long run. But before she could finally leave the market, some of the kids that she had been teaching the other day approached her.

"Ms. Nora! Ms. Nora! Ms. Nora!" They called to her in which she stopped from her walking.

"Oh, what is it children?" She looked at them with subtle curiosity and a gentle smile.

The children immediately presented her with a wreath of flowers as goodbye present. Sereinia took it and had a grateful smile which even made her beauty more brilliant than usual. Some of the men that passed by had blushes on their face and women sighed with slight envy.

"Thank you very much. Please, be good while I'm gone." She spoke with much tenderness as the children agreed with much enthusiasm. "Yes, Ms. Nora!"

After that short exchange, Sereinia waved them goodbye and quickly ran after Shadow who was almost out of her line of sight. When she finally caught up with him, Mayumi was already there as she was told.

"Good Morning, Ms. Mayumi." She greeted the younger girl with polite smile.

It was then that Sereinia climbed aboard her horse which was a lovely pure white stallion. This made the young doctor fret a little about getting such a beautiful horse get dirtied which was quite an odd thought. In any case, she looked at Shadow and Mayumi with a small smile.

"Let us depart. I will be in your care now."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Shadow nodded to Sereinia when she spoke and turned to look at Mayumi as he led his horse closer to hers so they could communicate privately for a moment.

"We'll likely come across travelers and gangs of thieves or mercenaries on our way. If that proves to be the case then I may send you on scouting missions as I did before when I led Sereinia back to this town to take out anything in our path. Be ready, for that may not be all we face along the way." He whispered quietly.

He knew Mayumi didn't fear the unknown and she wasn't afraid of simple thieves, but he was unsure if she held any fear of Wraiths just yet. He had a feeling that if she fought with one, she would learn what fear was. During training, Shadow had deliberately avoided certain behaviors and training methods which could instill fear in her heart because he wanted to see how far she could go without it. However, he would soon have to teach her what fear meant because if he didn't do so, then the lesson may come with a fatal price.

All humans had something to fear, and Shadow had a feeling he knew who Mayumi would be afraid of in time. However, now was not the time to worry about what her fears were. They had a path to travel and a few days of riding ahead of them.

"Alright, let's get moving." He said as he led his horse down the path ahead.

Four days later


Four days seemed to fly by very quickly without any serious hindrances to their advance. Shadow had to have Mayumi scout ahead several times, but each time she either dealt with the problem or was able to guide them around it. There were no attacks from Te'i Sai during their trip, which had Shadow somewhat concerned. It was a prime opportunity to catch up to and attack them since the roads were fairly straight and without obstacles such as mountains or forests.

The Capitol City Triveila came into view as they rounded a small hill and Shadow looked to the left of the grand establishment to the mountains beyond it. Ahead were several small mountain ranges with numerous canyons and it was within those canyons that the third base of Te'i Sai was located. For the time being they would stay in the city, but within the next day they would make their way, very carefully, into the canyons beyond and attack the hidden base.

It would be impossible to do much damage with such a small force, but there was only one target that was worth anything and that was the Grandmaster.

As a rule, the Grandmasters would die before leaving their respective bases which was the downfall of the first two over the last six years. By taking advantage of this fact, and infiltrating the establishment, he was able to silently eliminate the Grandmaster of the base in Shaharan, and he had unfortunately attacked the Cre' Est base head on when he was in the final stages of his initial rebellion. Now that he was older and had more experience than he wanted, he knew better than to take on a base of Te'i Sai Assassins even if he was the Red-Eyed Demon.

"... Let's make our way into town and rest for now." He said as he guided them towards the city gate.

"Sereinia, could you get us passed the guards? I'm sure that Dr. Nora escorting some of her patients to the local clinic could get us through." He said as he looked at her over his shoulder.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Before anyone of them could notice, four days had already passed by. Sereinia could say that it was quite a peaceful journey. There were no attacks on them or even the commotions with the locals. There were trouble-free and she was thankful for that. Although, she did sense that Shadow was quite troubled by this pace and atmosphere. Regardless, she did not voice out any of her questions. She did not want to bother them with her useless ramblings. After all, she came along with them so that they could protect her from the Te'i Sai assassins that might come after her. Soon enough, they could see the Capital City of Triveila. She had come many times for medical missions or just to help her Aunt with supplies and small business matters. She followed Shadow's lead when her attention was taken.

"Sereinia, could you get us passed the guards? I'm sure that Dr. Nora escorting some of her patients to the local clinic could get us through."

Well Sereinia did not mind using her influence, however, lying to anyone was never her strongest trait. Actually, she lacked in that department completely. Looking at Shadow for a brief moment, she was trying to assess how she could not lie and at the same time gain access for the three of them without trouble. Taking a deep breath, she nodded towards Shadow and rode her horse in front of him. As she approached the gates, the soldiers came into view to block their path.

"Good day, gentlemen." Sereinia greeted them with a polite smile which earned some of the men instant admiration.

"What business do you and your companions have with the Capital, Miss?" One of the soldiers asked while the other looked at Shadow and Mayumi sternly and warily.

But before Sereinia could respond to the inquiry, a familiar elderly voice called out her identity. "Dr. Nora? Is that you?"

Looking at the person approaching them, she could not help but smile brightly. "Mr. Durkin, I'm happy to see that you are now feeling well."

The soldiers instantly saluted the Durkin emphasizing that the man was of a higher rank than any of them at present. "Captain, Sir Do you know her?"

Durkin glanced at the soldier who asked and narrowed his eyes. "Of course! This is Dr. Nora one of the best doctors out their in the world! This beautiful lady saved a lot of lives after that skirmish at the far north including me!"

Sereinia had a light blush in her cheeks for such extravagant praises attached to her profession. She believed that she did not do much at all. "Mr. Durkin, I have only done my duty as a doctor."

The elderly soldier smiled at the humbleness that Sereinia presented. "You are still too kind for words, Dr. Nora. Anyway, are you here for some business?"

Sereinia reminded of her true situation nodded and looked at Shadow and Mayumi before looking back at Durkin. "Yes. I was accompanying my friends here."

Durkin looked at Shadow and Mayumi with doubtful eyes but once he looked at Sereinia all those suspicions were removed without a moment's notice. "I see! Well, let them pass! If they are Dr. Nora's friends then they are certainly good people!"

The soldiers acknowledge this as they moved away from them and allowed them entrance to the city. "Thank you very much, Mr. Durkin. I appreciate this."

Durkin gave a hearty laughter, "No need to thank me. You saved my life. I hope to see you around the city then." Sereinia nodded and gave a grateful smile. "Yes, I do hope so as well. Take care."

With that, they had gained entrance as Sereinia waved goodbye to the Durkin and the soldiers. When the three of them were out of sight, she rode beside Shadow and released a sigh. She was really worried about lying there. She truly hates that and has no skill in doing so. "I guess that went well, right?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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As they approached the gate Shadow began to feel slightly apprehensive of a possible fight given his elevation on horseback and how hard it would be to hide his eyes from the guards. It was at that moment that Sereinia began to say hello to the guards when someone else seemed to recognize her and a conversation began in which the guards opened the path for them to enter the city.

Shadow was slightly taken aback by it, but none the less grateful that they wouldn't have to kill the guards.

"I guess that went well, right?" Sereinia said after a sigh.

Shadow looked over at her, but carried no real emotion on his face.

"Yes, that did go well. I'm glad we didn't have to fight the guards, but we shouldn't get too comfortable. Now that we're here in this city, Mayumi and I have some business to attend to over the next several days."

Shadow got down off of his horse and took the packs he had put in the saddle bags out and carried them over his shoulder.

"Time to drop the horses off and find a place to stay. I suggest we stay here during our visit." He said, pointing to the Lion's Head Inn just fifty feet away.

"It's fairly large, easy to spot from a distance, and close to the entrance of town. There are other reasons I have chosen this Inn rather than searching for another one, but for now you'll just have to trust me. Anyway, Mayumi, take these horses to the stables and I'll take all of our supplies to the Inn. Meet us here when you're done and you and I will discuss our business and how to get it done."

Once finished speaking Shadow made his way to Mayumi's horse and took the extra supplies he'd placed in her horses saddle bags and hoisted them over his other shoulder. Mayumi's own belongings were few in number so he let her keep them with her while he turned around and waited for Sereinia to get off her horse and follow him into the Inn. Once inside he spoke to the young man at the counter and paid for a two week stay on the top floor of the four story Inn. Shadow liked being at higher elevations and near rooftops as it made traveling easier at night.

The room Shadow paid for was really four rooms turned into two. The walls had been removed to allow for a larger space without as much to get in the way and had been modified to have three windows instead of four as each room usually had its own window. Mayumi and Sereinia had one room with two large beds and Shadow had the other which was more of a single bed and a workspace than a real room. Once he unpacked their belongings he walked over to the window on his side and opened it, taking a seat on the edge and looking out at the city.

It was an old habit of his to memorize the terrain of the rooftops and label key landmarks in his mind. He had a photographic memory and found it very easy to mark buildings and other such important objects so that he knew his way around before he even had to really set foot in the city streets.

He waited patiently for Mayumi to return to the room, which would be a few minutes since the stables were a decent distance away near one of the other city gates. She wouldn't be long though, so Shadow simply sat and waited.

The setting changes from triveila to Cre' Est

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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The setting changes from cre-est to Triveila

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Sereinia looked at the establishment that Shadow had pointed at. She had no complaints but was quite curious of what the other reasons were for choosing to stay at the Lion's Head Inn. In any case, she did not ask any questions and simply nodded. She had decided to join Shadow and Mayumi in this journey under complete faith. It is why she would not be doubting or distrust the two of them anytime soon. Following him, their group soon arrived at the said Inn. She listened as Shadow stated what they should do at the moment. It seemed Mayumi would be delivering the horses to the Stables. She took this as the cue to get off her horse which she did. After doing so, she took her luggage and allow Mayumi do what she had been asked. She wanted to accompany the young girl since it's quite dangerous walking around on her own. Although, she knew that it sounded quite funny as Mayumi was able to protect herself unlike her. So, she satisfied herself with words.

"Please be careful, Ms. Mayumi."

After saying that, Sereinia followed Shadow inside the Inn where they paid for the rooms that the three of them would be staying in. It seemed that they would be staying for two weeks at the Capital City of Triveila. She would be a liar not to admit that she had an idea that whatever business that Shadow and Mayumi had would involve the three assassins that came at her town that fateful night. When their business was done at the reception, she followed Shadow once more to their respective rooms. It was quite spacious. She looked at the room where Mayumi and her would be sharing. There were 2 beds however, she did wonder if Mayumi would be fine sleeping with her. Based on her observation, Mayumi preferred being alone and rarely comes in contact with her. It made Sereinia wonder if Mayumi hates her.

"I wonder..." She softly whispered under her breath.

Shaking such depressing thoughts, Sereinia followed Shadow's lead and began unpacking things for convenience. It also been quite apparent to her as well that Shadow seemed to be in deep thought during their journey in here. It is why most of the times, she allowed silence reigned between the three of them. In her opinion, it was an awkward one but perhaps for Mayumi and Shadow, they were comfortable. Stopping momentarily, she wondered if her Aunt had found the letter that she had left. She was certain that her Aunt was speaking profanities and all. At the very least, she did not divulge the identity of her companions. It would be better that way since, she knew that her Aunt would probably send the Royal Guards after them thinking she was kidnapped or something which is not true at all. Releasing a sigh, she was finally done and wondered if Mayumi has come back from the stables.

"Excuse me..."

Saying with politeness as Sereinia entered the room, she found Shadow sitting on the window's ledge. She would have warned the man of its dangers however, he was not a normal man after all. He seemed to be thinking about something and partly waiting for Mayumi. He did say that the two of them had something to discuss about their business here in the city. She should probably give them some privacy. They might feel concerned to talk about their matters with her around.

"You and Mayumi will be discussing some matters right? If so, I would go out for awhile then."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Shadow's mind was elsewhere as Sereinia spoke, but her voice soon broke into his thoughts and brought his mind back to the here and now. He looked over to her, his eyes betraying his mental exhaustion before he turned and looked back out to the city.

"... You may attend to your own devices however you wish Sereinia." He said, half distractedly.

Shadow's mind was a tornado of thought, but luckily for him his years as an Assassin had taught him how to organize his thoughts which was why he always seemed to know what was going on and was so quick to deduce problems and solutions. He was deemed a genius level Assassin by the five Grandmasters of Te'i Sai, but when it came to everyday life Shadow was a fish out of water and his analytical mind often got him into trouble. However, Shadow couldn't escape his curiosity and so seemed at times to be quite innocent and naive though only two people had seen that side of him before.

"Tell me, Sereinia." He said quietly.

"What is this... Festival of the Gods that is being spoken of by the people in the street." He asked.

The Festival of the Gods was a special once a year even that was celebrated across the continent by all five nations even during such times as these. The festival was a celebration with singing, danging, acting, food, alcohol, sports and street performances which all celebrated the creation of the world by the hands of the Gods. It was a special event which was always colorful, cheerful, and very special in the hearts and minds of the people of the continent.

However, growing up in Te'i Sai, Shadow was unaware of the festival and didn't understand why it was so special. Being brought up in a world without Gods, Shadow was always taught that faith in the Gods was a waste of time though he did believe in one particular Goddess though he'd never admit to it. He was naturally a curious person, and during the time he spent in his first few years fighting against Te'i Sai he had learned what it meant to both peak and satisfy his curiosity since he found that it was not something to be ashamed. While in Te'i Sai his curiosity was a waste of time and was frowned upon, so he ignored it.

Learning to re adapt to civilization was a difficult task for him, but he honestly was trying.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Sora perched on Mayumi’s shoulder the moment she got off her horse. She took lead of the other two horses before making her way to the stables that were quite a distance away. Her hood was up letting her blend into the shadows so as to not draw attention, and though she got a few looks from passing people no one seemed to be suspicious of her.

Once done with her task which had taken no more than 2 minutes, she walked towards the inn Shadow had told her to meet him at. While doing so, she took note of her surroundings taking every bit of detail into mind with a single look. She saw kids playing around with each other while adults watched on, the corners of their mouths lifting each time the kids did something ridiculous. Mayumi took a minute to observe what she thought was a weird scene but soon carried on with a newfound question in mind.

‘Why do kids always seem to be with adults?’

Soon, she was near the entrance of the inn but instead of going in and taking the normal way up… Mayumi looked around the area for anyone who was watching her, finding none, she went behind the inn and climbed up a tree near it while Sora flew up to the branch near the window where Shadow was. Seeing Shadow by the window, she leaped through the window quite a few feet away from the tree with a cat’s grace and landed soundlessly on the room’s ground.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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"... You may attend to your own devices however you wish Sereinia."

Sereinia remained still after hearing his response. It was not because she was surprised. There was just something odd about Shadow as of late. He seemed to be preoccupied with something. She was quite curious to find out what it could be. However, she held herself back. She did not want to appear too presumptuous. Even if the three of them would be traveling together for some time, it does not mean privacy cannot be observed among them. So, she simply said her goodbyes to him for now.

"Well, I will be going now. I will see you and Mayumi later." After saying that, Sereinia turned her back at him and proceeded to leave with her hand reaching for the doorknob.

"Tell me, Sereinia. What is this... Festival of the Gods that is being spoken of by the people in the street."

This stopped Sereinia from opening the door in front of her. She looked at Shadow over her shoulders in slight bewilderment. Well, it was quite a common knowledge as it is an international event recognized among the different nations. When she was younger, she had always looked forward to the Festival of the Gods. It was a wonderful time with her family and even more lovely when her little brother could come along. In which, it made her wonder why he does not know. In his kind of lifestyle, he would be more knowledgeable as he travels from different locations. Unless, he never saw or even experience even once.

"Have you not been in one?" Sereinia asked without any ill intent. This time she faced him once more with a curious expression.

"The Festival of the Gods is a way for us to thank and be happy about the creation of the world with the Gods' powers. After all, without the world where will we be?"

Leaning on the door behind her, Sereinia had a small smile as she remembered a fond memory. She was reliving her childhood days that were filled without much worry. She has yet to see the harsh realities of the world. At that time, she was ignorant and knew nothing about what was sadness or tragedy. She wallowed herself in a glass world that only showed her the good things. Releasing a sigh, she stopped her dreary thoughts at that and continued her explanation.

"It is celebrated by all of the nations. It is truly a festive day where everyone just have a good time and forget their troubles. There would be games, contests, dance, and just everything related to fun. Everyone comes even the Royal Family of Triveila although they would only attend for the show. It is a spectacular firework show that is coordinated with the other nations. It lights the sky with brilliant colors as a tribute to the Gods."

Standing properly, Sereinia noticed that Mayumi had finally arrived with a rather cat-like entrance. The more she gets to see the young girl's abilities. The more she feels useless in terms of physical skills. This only proves that one could never judge by age.

"Welcome back, Ms. Mayumi." Sereinia greeted with a warm smile and then looked at Shadow. It seemed they would start their discussion now. "Well, if you don't have any other questions. I will be leaving you two for awhile then."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Shadow nodded to Sereinia as she left and looked over at Mayumi.

"Well, I suppose we should get started." He said as he hopped out of the window, glancing at her on his way.

He grabbed the edge of the window sill and hauled himself up until he managed to get a proper handling on the side of the building and scaled it to the roof in a few seconds. He got to his feet on the roof and began to run and jump from rooftop to rooftop as he sighted the building of interest where his meeting with Mayumi would take place.

The building was fairly tall compared to the others around it, standing nearly six stories and surrounded by three and four story buildings. It had an arch at its top, beneath which would be perfect for the meeting once they arrived. It took Shadow about five minutes to get to the location, with Mayumi being very close behind. He scaled the wall in about twenty seconds from the third floor rooftop across the way and made it to the sixth story roof under the archway where he found no evidence of human trespassing for a very long time. More than likely this building was either abandoned or scheduled for demolition which suited him just fine.

He waited for Mayumi to get there as well, which wasn't long, before starting.

"Alright Mayumi. We're here for a very specific set of targets. Your first target, Mayumi, is a man named Csargil, and he is a Senator here in Triveila. He received word of my presence in Cre' Est a few months ago before you and I met and has been in hiding since. I'm leaving it up to you to find and kill him, and don't bother being discrete about it. This mission is about killing him, and if it's public, all the better. However, be careful. He has dealings with Te'i Sai and will no doubt have at least a few of them with him since he's an important asset for the organization."

He handed Mayumi a small piece of paper which had a list of recent activities according to a contact of Shadow's which she could use to start her search.

"While you deal with finding and killing Csargil, I'm going to be dealing with the Assassin presence in the city. If you come across a Wraith, run. I trust you to take down an Assassin or two, but I forbid you from fighting with Wraiths at this time. Is that understood?" He asked, which was more of a demand than a question.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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"Let me see... Do I have everything I need now?"

Sereinia whispered to herself as she looked inside the paper bag that contained her earlier purchases. It had been quite a while since she had left the inn to do some errands of hers. She did not want to bother Shadow and Mayumi with their discussion. In addition, she had a feeling that the business they have would not settle well with her. Dismissing such lingering thoughts, she had a small smile on her lips upon confirming that everything that she needed was complete. Nodding to herself, she began walking along the busy streets of the Market District of the city. Well, she still have some time before she should return to the inn. So, she decided to do some shopping. Perhaps, she should buy something for her two companions. After all, there are a lot of cute products on sale. It was probably for the Festival of the Gods.

"I wonder if he would like this..."

Approaching one of the stalls, Sereinia spotted a black pouch bag with the insignia of the Primary Deity of Triveila. It was well-made and had golden linings as an accent around its opening and edges. Well, there are other pouches with the different insignias of the other Gods. However, she was not sure what kind of God did Shadow believed in or if he even believes in them. She had a feeling that Shadow was not that devout to religion. Releasing a small sigh, she continued looking for something else. Soon enough, another object caught her attention as she went towards the said stall. It was a cute stuffed toy in the images of the Gods. They were quite famous to the children as she could see a lot of them gathered and others pleading to their parents to have one. The scene made her smile warmly. Focusing her attention back to the merchandise, she wondered if Mayumi would like one.

"On the other hand, I am not sure..."

Looking at one of the stuff toys, Sereinia remembered how Mayumi is in their brief moments she had experienced the young girl's company. Frankly speaking, she has no idea what Mayumi would like or if the young girl even desires such toys. She did not want to offend Mayumi considering how strained their relationship is. Deciding it would be better to look for another gift, she left the stall and continued looking around for something suitable. After a few minutes walking around, her face lit up with a smile. It seemed she had found the perfect gift for both Shadow and Mayumi. She quickly approached the stall and pointed to the vendor the two objects that she wanted to buy. Without a delay, she soon held the gifts she had bought for her two companions.

"I hope they would like this... I wonder what they would say about it though..."

Sereinia muttered to herself as she walked along the streets. She had decided to return to the inn as it was already far into the night. She had too much fun shopping. Remembering something, she should invite Shadow and Mayumi to the firework show. After all, Shadow had yet to experience the Festival and she had a feeling that Mayumi is the same as him. Hopefully, the two would have some time despite the business they should be taking care of.

"Well, I should just ask them. It would be no use pondering about it."

After saying that, Sereinia stopped walking as someone was blocking her path. That someone was wearing a hooded cloak. So, it was hard for her to identify whether it was a man or woman. It also added to her confusion as the person was not moving or even speaking. This made her worry and concerned as well. Thus, she approached the individual with sincere concern.

"Excuse me, are you feeling well? I am a doctor. So..."

But before Sereinia could finish her words, the hooded figure grabbed her arms and placed a white cloth over her face. Her eyes widened in shock and realization as she could slowly feel her losing grip to consciousness. The bags that she carried were dropped to the ground. She wanted to fight but it was futile. Her strength was being sapped from her probably due to the drug attached to the cloth. The scent was an effective anesthetic. She knew for she uses it for surgical operations.

"If you are going to blame anyone... Blame your companions..."

Those were the last words that Sereinia heard as she completely fell unconscious and went limp in the hands of the hooded individual who carried her and disappeared into the crowd of people without much effort.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Mayumi didn't like the sound of running away from a fight but agreed to it none the less with a small nod. She knew Shadow had a reason for his every action, and since he was once a part of Te'i Sai he should know how they work better than anyone.

Mayumi scanned the small piece of paper in hand which consisted of the man named Csargil's recent activities. From the list she noted that he wouldn't stay outside for more than the necessary time needed to complete his task. It was rather clear that he was on the look out for Shadow and since he was an important asset to Te'i Sai he would most likely have guards by his side and assassins watching from higher grounds. She was almost sure that there would be at least one or two wraiths in disguise watching his back as well. Seems like she would have to be extra careful for the missions ahead.

Suddenly, Mayumi felt an odd unnoticeable shift in the atmosphere. Something had happened to someone, but since Shadow was here with her the other person could only be...

Mayumi's head snapped up to the skies, looking around she spots Sora flying in circles at a particular spot about 160 meters from where she and Shadow was. Seeing that Mayumi had noticed her, Sora soared in a direction where she supposed Sereinia was being taken to. She had sent Sora to watch over Sereinia before Shadow and her took off. At the look of the situation it was a good thing she did.

"Sereinia's in trouble. Whoever took her is going in the northwest direction and will be heading into the woods soon." Mayumi calculated.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

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Shadow looked at Sora in the skies, just barely able to see her in the darkness surrounding them circling high above the city. Shadow guessed it was a short distance away from the inn, likely near the market where she was probably buying gifts or supplies. It was a concern to be sure since Assassins weren't the only threats in this city or the nation itself to people like Shadow. Assassins fetched a high bounty for mercenaries and bounty hunters who were looking to make a name for themselves.

"Split up, Mayumi. You get to the North Gate as fast as you can and I'll go check Sora's current location. If I don't find whomever did this I'll send her back to you so she can scout ahead of you and let you know what's happening. Now go!" He ordered.

Shadow immediately ran to the edge and jumped off the six story building, flipping in midair and landing on the balls of his feet on a third story building rooftop just across the street with a loud crash which splintered the wooden rooftop under his boots. Luckily for Shadow, the roof was secured and reinforced so he didn't go crashing right through it. If he had, he had a backup plan but was counting on such architecture to keep him on the roof instead of going through it. He stood up and sprinted across the rooftops towards where Sora was circling and leaped down into an alleyway and used the two walls of the buildings to slowly slide down to street level.

Once in the street he checked Sora's flight path once more and ran towards her, checking every face he passed along the way and every outfit that went by. He didn't know what to look for right now, as anyone could have done this in a city of this size, so he kept an eye out for anything that could be suspicious.

Finally, he found the bags that Sereinia had been carrying. The contents hadn't spilled out, so Shadow picked them up and looked around very, very carefully. Shadow's keen eyes analyzed every detail of his surroundings, looking for anything that could be used to track whoever did this. The problem was that anyone who had seen it happen had likely moved on already, and they were walking on cobblestone streets which didn't leave tracks or footprints since they were regularly washed and cleaned. Shadow's teeth clenched behind tight lips as he continued scanning the area for a moment longer before he could not afford to do so any longer.

He walked up to the nearest person he saw, hiding his eyes as best he could.

"Excuse me, did you see where the girl carrying these bags went?" He asked.

He received a 'no' in response, so he went to the next one. His fears had been realized, as he asked everyone who passed through what had happened but received the same answer all around.

However... He suddenly realized something.

Everyone who was here wasn't leaving. They were going from one spot to another in circles, breaking the pattern every so often but were obviously untrained. Shadow's eyes narrowed and his jaw flexed as he gritted his now open and bared teeth and grabbed the first man who came near to him.

"Where is she?!" He yelled as he lifted his head, revealing the full extent of his glowing red eyes to everyone within sight.

There was a gasp from the crowd and the man under his grip lost all color in his face upon the meeting of their eyes and he started to shake.

"P-pl... Please... Don't hurt me. I am a man with a family." He pleaded.

Shadow gave him a hard jerk and shoved him up against the nearest wall he could see, lifting him with one hand a foot into the air as he pressed his fist against the man's throat.

"I'll ask once more... Where is she?!" He demanded.

The man started choking under his grip and pointed Northwest, but Shadow had to release him as there was more to say.

"*Cough*... *cough*... He paid us all to keep quiet when you got here and said that we'd die if we gave you any aid. He didn't say where he was going, but there was another one like him who I overheard speaking before he disappeared with the girl you're looking for. They said that the diversion worked and that you'd surely be coming to help your new friend. They also said something about someone named... Kairo? Kyero? Something like that... That's all I know, I swear."

Shadow's eyes widened as a look of horror crossed his face before being wiped away and replaced by pure rage as he suddenly realized what had happened. He looked up to Sora and immediately gave her the signal to rush to Mayumi's side now that he no longer needed her eyes. She was now his only chance to save them as he had been completely pulled in. The only explanation was that one of Shadow's contacts had either been captured and interrogated, or they had betrayed him. Only a handful of people knew where he was going and what he was doing, and too many of them were people he trusted completely. There were two, however, whom he had always been leery of and he had a strong feeling he'd be seeing one or both of them very soon.

Shadow raced to the inn and dropped off Sereinia's bags with the woman at the desk, asking her to hold them until they returned as he sprinted outside again and towards the North Gate as fast as his legs could carry him.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi

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‘Shadow should have gotten Sereinia by now.’ Mayumi decided seeing as he hadn’t sent Sora to her.

She had sitted herself on a high tree branch situated near the North gate. For some reason, ever since she they got near the village she had been getting the feeling that someone was watching them, or maybe her alone. She wasn’t clear, but she knew that someone was definitely watching them.

‘Even now. Who is it?’ Mayumi felt strange. This foreign feeling she was getting. It didn’t seem right.

Moving stealthily, careful not to move any leafs or twigs on her way, she reached the highest branch of the tree that was still within coverage of the leafs. High places had always seemed to make her feel safer, but this time round, it didn’t seem to be working.

The once light atmosphere of nature was turning dark, the air around her was starting to feel suffocating, and the place around her had gone eerily quiet. Why hadn’t she noticed it before? She was on guard all along, wasn’t she?

She scanned the area for signs of recent activity or movement, and for a split second she was sure she saw a figure move from shadow to shadow. Bow and arrow in hand, she stayed alert as she got ready for a battle she knew would take place in the nearing future. A battle where victory was further off from her reach than she would like, but no matter, will do whatever it takes of her to try and accomplish her goal.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi

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There was a darkness moving in the wind which nobody could explain. Even the air within the city suddenly went cold and clouds began to move in overhead in the sky obscuring the moon's light and clouding the land in a veil of shadows. A lone figure now walked through the streets, standing tall and proud with a small armament of weaponry on his person. Two large daggers at his back, a single straight edge in his right boot, a small assortment of throwing daggers across his hips and chest, hidden darts disguised as a bracelet on his left wrist, and a belt of utilities with numerous small pockets for carrying Gods only know what.

His stride was slow and even, no fear of anything in his steps. His dark brown hair waved gently in the wind as it slowly blew through the streets around him. He wore a simple black tunic with a thin black shirt beneath it, black pants and black boots, and a black bandanna around his forehead to keep his hair out of his eyes. His boots were reinforced at the soul and in the toes, perfect for combat, while his pants and tunic were comprised of a very flexible and sturdy fabric that could withstand much abuse before tearing. In essence, he was armed similarly to Shadow.

As he walked the streets, some people who were still out and about this night mistook him for the Red-Eyed Demon from his manner of dress and posture. Even their faces looked similar, with the only major differences being the coloration of the eyes and Shadow's slightly darker skin tone. Other than that their jawline, lips, nose, and even their hair and eyebrows looked almost exactly the same. Had nobody known better, they could easily mistake them for twins.

He approached the city Gate and stood in the entrance, looking around to the surrounding trees and scanning for a certain someone's presence. One of his informants appeared beside from out of the darkness and stood next to him.

"Sir, we have found her. We await your command." He said quietly in a whisper.

The figure nodded to him and looked ahead once more. His informant disappeared while others began to move silently through the night. Slowly and steadily, they moved from shadow to shadow as they tracked her position and her point of focus. Those within line of sight didn't move while those out of her sight slowly crept forward foot by foot. It took approximately ten minutes, with the lone figure never moving from the opening from the Gate, before one of them finally made it up to her location.

Silently, he found his way to her and knocked her at the base of the neck to stun her momentarily. While she was stunned he grabbed her bow and arrows and leaped down out of the tree and walked quietly over to his master standing at the city gate a short distance away. The figure examined the bow and the arrows, determining that the arrows had come from Shadow since their tips were made of Orichalcum, before giving them back to his subordinate and looking up to where Mayumi had been with a small smile on his face.

"Come, young ward of the Red-Eyed Demon!" He called up to her.

"I think I have someone you would wish to see again." He said as he gestured to his side.

Another of his subordinates appeared from out of the gloom with Sora in his arms. The bird had a protective muzzle of sorts over its beak and its talons tied and padded so she couldn't do any damage. She appeared to be in a daze, and had in fact been shot with a drugged dart to put her under so she couldn't help Mayumi see these men or warn her of the impending danger.

He gave a flick of his wrist and the bird and the man holding her disappeared into the darkness once more as the figure turned away from her and ran back into the city streets. His steps were smooth and soft, almost like he was trying to walk on water. His movements were almost serpentine in nature given their fluidity and length, and it didn't take him very long at all to reach his chosen location where he would face the young ward of the Red-Eyed Demon. No people around, no light of the moon, no bird. Just the two of them, just the way he wanted it.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi

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Her eyes widened as she found her bow and arrows being ripped away from her hands. How were they able to creep up on her without her noticing? Had she let her guard down?

She was torn between going after the man who had Sora and sprinting to find Shadow, but now that she looked around it didn’t seem like either option was available to her. Her only options were to move forward and face the man who has called upon her or face the wraiths that had surrounded the area around her. Either way, it seemed like a dead end to her.

Mayumi leaped from the tree, flipping in the air once before landing in a crouch on the ground. Having not much of a choice, she walked cautiously towards the man who now stood in the middle of the city streets intersection. She was feeling rather on edge after having been crept up on from behind. Her instincts were screaming at her to stay away from the man who now stood a few feet in front of her, but even if she wanted to now, she couldn’t. Mayumi decided that she disliked how she felt at that instant.

He noticed her discomfort around him and a smirk found its way onto his mouth.

“Who are you, what do you want?” she asked flatly to the man whom had features alike to Shadow’s.

A deep chuckle rumbled from the man. “Has the Red-eyed Demon failed to mention me?” He asked with mock hurt.

Mayumi thought back to the time when Shadow had warned her of a certain man.

‘No… Could it be?’

“Kiiro.” Black tinted red eyes narrowed as the identity of the man was confirmed with his acknowledgement.

“Ah, so he has mentioned me, but now.” His tone went cold and the distance between them was closed under a second.

“Let’s begin.” Dark orbs filled with blood lust connected with mesmerizing ones for a second before a sudden punch to her guts was thrown.

The vicious blow sent her reeling across the streets, but within seconds Mayumi stopped herself from going any further using her arms as friction against the pebble stone grounds scrapping her skin along the way and jumped back up on her feet ready for his next attack.

Kiiro began an array of attacks on the teen, his every movement fluid. He could see that she was faster to react than the assassins in Te’i Sai as she dodged some of his attacks but still wasn’t fast enough to dodge his quicker ones.

“Is dodging all you’ve been taught?” He taunted.

Mayumi ignored his taunt, bruises starting to form on her body. Her observation of him told her that he was not using his full potential. She guessed his tactic was to wear her down and if this were to continue it was most definitely going to work. The battle was most likely not going to end in her favor, but that didn’t mean that she was going to just sit there and be his punching bag. After all, her master had been killed by this guy and she had yet to fulfill her mission of revenge.

Observing his pattern of attacks closely, she found a split second opening for an attack. With a slight jerk of her arm, long needles that were cleverly hidden in her arm guards dropped into her hands. Locking her sight on Kiiro, she charged at him dodging most of his attacks but still getting hit a number of times. She managed to recover quickly and when the split second opening came she feigned a punch to the left and the moment he dodged it she threw a needle in the direction he dodged and threw the rest of the needles half a second after the first with the distance of his quick dodges she had estimated spaced between each of the needles to lessen his chance of dodging them. She then continued her attack with a combo of punches and kicks, her movements smooth like a dance she had memorized and long mastered.

Kiiro still managed to dodge all of the needles save for one that grazed his arm slightly. It was hard not to be impressed by Shadow’s little protégé. At such a young age, one wouldn’t be able to even dodge one of his attacks, but since she had been trained under Shadow and a former high ranking member of Te’i Sai, he had expected that. On the other hand, grazing him and drawing even the slightest amount of blood was a completely different story.

‘Impressive.’ He thought in amusement as he dodged her punches and kicks.

“Is that all?” Kiiro mocked her.

Mayumi jumped back a few feet to put some distance between them.

“The needles are laced with a poison that will slow down your movements even if it’s just a small graze.” Mayumi informed him monotonously.

Kiiro’s eyes widened for a second as he felt his muscles tighten. A smirk broke out on his face “Do you think that will really work on me?” his voice oozed with pride.

Mayumi threw her cloak to the side, finding it a hindrance to her quick movements.

Kiiro noticed a long scar going diagonally across her torso, the work of someone whom he had killed quite a while ago.

“Shall I help you remove that?” He asked her with malicious intent clear in his voice.

Mayumi followed his line of vision and upon realizing what he meant immediately glared at him as if daring him to do so.

“Isn’t it painful to be reminded of him?” He smirked as he said contemptuously.

“Painful? It wouldn’t have turned out this way if you hadn’t killed him!” Mayumi’s voice rose in anger.

She charged at Kiiro, her hatred for him growing and blinding her insight. She did a combo of kicks and punches in an attempt to land an attack on him. She then flipped backwards landing on a wall and retrieving a dagger in her boots at the same time before she jumped at him, aiming a slash at his face.

Kiiro easily evaded her attacks smoothly but wasn’t ready for the slash to his face thus was half a second late in dodging, added with the fact that his movements had slowed because of the poison that had entered him. Being substantially larger, he overpowered the teen effortlessly and pinned her against the wall with both wrist above her head with just one hand.

“Do you really think you can land an attack on me with such pitiful attempts?” he asked with an air of arrogance about him.

He took the dagger from her hands and slowly brought it down to her torso tracing the scar with it lightly in a teasing manner. The girl struggled to free herself from his grasp, attempting a kick at his crotch but failed miserably as Kiiro pinned her legs down with his own.

“Such a beautiful scar. But… I think I can do better.” Within the next second, Mayumi felt a searing pain across her torso.

Letting her go, she fell to the ground clutching her torso as blood poured out of her new wound. The wound went across her first scar and was no doubt going to leave another scar on her torso. Mayumi ignored the pain and got into a half-crouch ready to attack again, her eyes showing determination.

Mayumi threw a punch at Kiiro, he blocked it and held her arm going underneath it and getting behind her. He twisted her arm behind her and stepped on her lower back, pushing her down to her knees.

"You fought just like your deceased master did... Slow and weak, no substance at all." He told her as he stepped on her ankle putting more and more pressure on it until he felt the bones give way and crack beneath his sole. Letting go of her arm, he kicked her side with full force sending her skiing across the ground.

At that moment, Mayumi was sure that she heard her ribs cracking from the impact of the kick, her light weight causing her to slide all the way until she reached a wall where her back slammed hard against which left her lying limply there, unmoving.

Footsteps were heard coming towards her, but Mayumi couldn’t find the strength to get up.

Kiiro crouched beside her, reaching out a hand to lift her head to face him.

“You should have just done as the letter had said. Look what you made me do.” Kiiro said in mock sympathy.

Just then an informant of his appeared beside him from the shadows of the alley way.

“Sir, it seems that the other two will be heading this way soon.” He informed.

Kiiro nodded and the informant disappeared into the shadows once again.

“Looks like we’ll have to part here for now, but before that…” Kiiro took out a carving knife and Mayumi could only watch on.

A while later, Kiiro stood back and admired his art. Satisfied, he threw her cloak together with her bow and arrows onto the ground beside her.

“Well then, we’ll meet again soon enough young ward of the Red-Eyed Demon.” With those words, he disappeared into the Shadows with ghostly silence.

Soon enough after his leave, the scream of an upset golden eagle filled the skies, seeing its fallen mistress unmoving on the ground. Sora circled the location Mayumi laid knowing Shadow would see her, at the same time watching out for anyone except Shadow who dared to come near her mistress and attacking them. For now, everyone was an enemy in her keen sight.

After a while, Mayumi finally got enough strength to push herself up to lean back against the wall. She reached for her cloak and covered herself with it, trying to hide the shame of her defeat. For the first time in her 14 years of life she was feeling vulnerable.

Her ankle was going numb and every breath she took sent a jolt of pain throughout her whole being. Blood had formed a puddle beneath her but she failed to notice this as her mind started fogging up, her senses dulling with every passing second and her skin paling due to the massive amount of blood she was losing. She briefly wondered if she was going to make it…

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Shadow managed to get his desired work done which was to contact a friend of his in the city and put everyone on their 'team' into the streets and the shadows looking for signs of trouble and reporting them back. Shadow had a small network of spies and informants and he should have tapped into them the moment he set foot in the city. He knew that much, but for whatever reason his mind had been clouded recently and he didn't like it.

As he was on his way back to the Gate he heard Sora scream out into the night. As he drew yet closer he saw her making circles in the sky, making sudden though infrequent dives towards the ground before ascending back into the skies above. He couldn't understand exactly what she was doing. Was Mayumi fighting right now? Was Sora trying to fight along side her? What was going on?

More and more he started to worry about what Sora's now violent intentions were until he finally came into sight of Mayumi as he skidded to a halt in the open street. His mouth dropped as he saw her laying there in a pool of her own blood and his fists clenched so tightly that his nails, small as they were, cut into his skin and tiny drops of blood now fell from his fists to the ground. He approached Mayumi very slowly, knowing exactly who she had come into contact with and from what he was seeing, the extent of the damage was severe.

He knelt down in front of her and placed his right index finger against her throat beneath her jaw, checking her pulse. It was steady, but weak, and he knew he didn't have much time. He instantly scooped her up in his arms and kicked her bow and arrows into the air, catching them as they came down on his left arm before shifting his weight and walking quickly away. Sora was above, flying and guiding overhead as he walked back through the streets. Sereinia had made it there first and done as Shadow asked by standing there silently, but she didn't look to be doing too well upon seeing Mayumi in Shadow's arms like that.

Shadow led them both back to a safe house, if it could be called that now, and walked inside. He set Mayumi down on a table and opened the window for Sora to fly in at her leisure. He removed her cloak and all of her clothing save for her undergarments and took a good long look at the new wounds she carried. Not only did Kiiro claw another wound across her chest, starting under her collar bone and ending just above the bone in her hip to make an "X" with her old scar, but he also carved his name in small letters on her other hip. It almost looked like a tattoo were it not for the blood oozing from it.

He heaved a sigh.

Shadow knew that this was Sereinia's forte, but this was a matter for him and his protege to settle so he turned his head and looked at her, his eyes glassy and empty of emotion.

"Sereinia, I know that you would like to help, but this is my job now. I will tend to my protege. I want you to attend to yourself. Go take care of whatever wounds you carry and get some rest. I will be standing guard here all night so you needn't worry about any further trouble."

With that, Shadow got to work.

The first thing he did was check Mayumi's vitals from her pulse once more for good measure to her breathing and skin tone. He knew that Kiiro had done a number on her, but she was tough enough to live through it without much difficulty though she would be out of action for several days, if not a few weeks.

Shadow quickly began mixing a special blend of herbs from his personal stash from the pouches on his belt. After about two minutes the concoction was ready and he began to apply it to the large gash on her chest and Kiiro's name on her hip. The blood flow stopped almost as soon as the pasty concoction was applied and he was then able to clean and disinfect the wound with several other herbs from his pouches. He'd have to resupply soon, but that was not an issue.

The new and gaping wound on her chest started at just below her collar bone and went all the way down to just above her hip, making an "X" with her old scar. No doubt Kiiro's way of giving himself a target when they next met.

One Shadow finished applying his herbs and cleaning the wounds he sewed them up, starting with the larger of the two. Kiiro's name was small, and sewing it proved to be a bit of a challenge but Shadow managed to sew each tiny letter shut. In the back of his mind for every stitch he applied he counted a number and promised himself that he'd inflict that many non life threatening wounds to Kiiro when they next came into contact with one another so he'd know how it felt. When that was done, Shadow took a step back and examined her once more with his eyes only.

He stepped forward again and felt her bones starting at her neck and skull before moving down to her shoulders and arms. When he got to her wrists, he noticed that one of them was both dislocated and broken just at the base of the Ulna near her wrist. The break was benign and not out of place and it would heal on its own given time, but the dislocation had to be fixed. Luckily Mayumi was out cold, so Shadow simply applied pressure and a small pop echoed through the silent room. Shadow moved on, checking her breast bone on her chest beneath the bloody wounds, her ribs, and her hips and legs. He didn't feel anything wrong with much else, though a few ribs were definitely cracked but not completely broken.

Once he was finished with Mayumi Shadow removed his shirt and tossed it on a nearby char as he picked Mayumi up and set her gently down on the couch. He stepped back and sat down in the chair where his shirt was and leaned his head back as he took in a deep breath and exhaled on a sigh. So much had happened and so much had gone so very wrong in so little time. Was Kiiro really just that far ahead? Did he know what was going on? He had to, and Shadow's fears were confirmed when one of his informants approached the door and let Shadow know that a few of his past "comrades" had now partnered with the Wraiths and leaked what information they had about his plans to Kiiro.

"... Perfect." Shadow said quietly as his informant closed the door and left.

Shadow was exhausted both physically and mentally though he knew he couldn't rest just yet. There was still danger about and if he fell asleep now the girls would be at the mercy of whoever showed up. For their sake, he would stay awake all night long.

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Character Portrait: Mayumi

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The world started spinning around her and just as she saw a figure sprinting towards her, she fell into a dark abyss with no signs of return…

Three days later…


Pale eyelids slowly opened to reveal unfocused black-red orbs. Sight adjusting they found themselves staring at a ceiling of what they weren’t clear of.

Out of the corner of her eyes, Mayumi caught sight of familiar brownish golden feathers. Slowly turning her head to the side, she found herself staring at Sora who was perched beside her. She reached out a hand to touch her loyal pet and found that her muscles were a little stiff.

Sora understood what its mistress wanted and bent its head toward her hand, snuggling against it. The golden eagle had stood by Mayumi’s side throughout the three days that she was unconscious for fear that someone may attack her again.

Mayumi sat up but immediately regretted the action as pain shot down her front. Recalling the previous events that occurred before she blacked out, fists clenched till knuckles turned white.

‘He will pay for this.’ She wasn’t about to relent. Especially not to someone who killed her master.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

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Shadow stayed awake through the night for three straight days and rested his eyes during the day. All in all it had been four days since he had gotten any real sleep whatsoever and it was beginning to take its toll on him. His complexion was beginning to pale, his eyes were getting to be slightly bloodshot and he had less energy every day. For Shadow, it was an unusual time with unfavorable circumstances.

One of the traitors in Shadow's mini organization had tipped his targets off about his presence and they had retreated from the city before they could be hunted down. Shadow's top Assassin in this little organization was on their trail and he was confident they'd have taken care of business before the end of the month, but it was no guarantee.

Shadow was now at his wits end with everything playing out against him.

Shadow himself wasn't sure how much longer he could sustain this kind of existence and he was beginning to have second thoughts about his recent course of action. Kiiro had managed to completely bait and trap him the night Mayumi was injured, and that was unacceptable. Kiiro, while very intelligent and capable, had never bested Shadow in such a way before and Shadow was having a hard time dealing with it. Whether it was his pride or if it was just the frustration of having been handed a defeat, he wasn't sure anymore.

Eventually, Mayumi started to awaken and tried to sit up with unfavorable results. During the three days she had been moved from the table to a proper bed and was in the main room of the building they were staying in. It was an abandoned house which Shadow's comrades were keeping off the market, and it provided an excellent shelter since they were also keeping prying eyes away from it. Mayumi laid back down with Sora by her side and Shadow had a feeling he knew what was on her mind. Shadow didn't bother moving from his position at the far end of the room, but never the less decided to speak to his protege.

"So Mayumi... how did it feel to fight with the man who murdered your master?" He asked.

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

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Mayumi turned to look at Shadow. She could see that he had not been resting for quite a period of time and knew it was most probably because of her vulnerable state.

After accessing the situation she turned back to stare blankly at the ceiling above her.

"It was interesting, though I failed miserably. For that, I apologize if it has done harm to your reputation, but I will be sure to defeat him one day, even if I have to go to the deepest depths of hell to do so." she spoke in a tone that could lower temperatures to the degree that icicles formed.

'The marks on the ground left over from the battle I had with Kiiro was the same as the ones I found master in. Though Kiiro's fighting style is similar to that of Shadow's there is a slight difference between them.' Mayumi observed from her last glimpse of the battle field before she had blacked out.

She had few doubts about Shadow’s words of her master being killed by Kiiro before, but now she knew it was definitely true. Shadow had just gained a little more of her trust in him. She had never trusted anyone except her previous master so this was particularly new to her and a first time for her.

“Sir, I have a feeling that Sereinia will be doing something unnecessary.” She deadpanned.

Mayumi knew no emotions but her sixth sense was rather strong and would tell her what was right and wrong. Somehow she could gain information just by staring at a person and at times she would even have bits of flashes appear in her mind while she slept and a few days later the bits of flashes would happen. She didn’t know what it was but found it rather useful anyway.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Shadow listened quietly to Mayumi's words and truly closed his eyes for the first time in over three days.

"Mayumi, your name and mine are not affiliated with one another. The people of this continent know me as the Red-Eyed Demon, and only the underground and the world of Assassins knows me by the name of Shadow. You have nothing to fear for my 'reputation', as I don't care about it one way or the other in the end."

He looked over to her for moment, taking in the last part of what she said and then realizing that Mayumi was probably right. If Sereinia was truly as much like the one from Shadow's past, she would definitely think she was a burden by now if she hadn't thought it before and try to leave. The problem was that it was still too dangerous for them to be apart. A fact that was clearly demonstrated during their recent encounter with Kiiro.

Shadow stood up and placed a hand on Mayumi's shoulder, gently feeling the muscles of her neck and shoulder for a moment before turning away to find Sereinia. When he did, she didn't look very good. She was still in pain, and she had that look of defeat on her face. Shadow himself had experienced this frustrating feeling many times before, so he knew what she was going through.

"Sereinia..." He said quietly as he approached and sat down beside her.

"How are you?" He asked gently.

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Shadow felt a certain level of guilt as he watched her tears flow. He was able to keep the smile on his face, but it very slowly became less genuine as she looked away and started cry. Shadow took looked away from her and slowly his smile disappeared. He wanted to say more, but he wasn't the one who always knew what to say. That title belonged to someone dear to him who was not here and who he likely would not see for some time to come.

"I... I want to stay with you and Mayumi... I need you two more than I thought..." Raising her head to look at him, Sereinia appeared like a child. "Can I really stay with you?"

Shadow closed his eyes and smiled, the smile being genuine once again as her desire to stay made him happy.

He looked up at her and nodded his head.

"We wouldn't have it any other way." He said quietly.

With that, Shadow stood up and extended his hand to her.

"We should check on Mayumi now. I haven't changed her wound dressings this morning and I was planning on letting you do that if you don't mind."

Shadow wanted Sereinia to become more involved in their lives so that could stop feeling like a burden. If she had a job to do, even a small one, thoughts like those would stay far from her mind. He wanted her to stop feeling useless, so he decided to be honest with her about himself for a moment.

"I am a halfway decent healer, given that I had to dress my own wounds for so many years. But as you well know I'm better at inflicting wounds than healing them. I am not a professional, and Mayumi's wounds need to be tended to by someone who really knows what they're doing. So will you take care of her for me?" He asked quietly.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Sereinia smiled warmly as Shadow affirmed the desire for her to stay. She was very glad to hear that. Her guilt and regret were slowly dissipating within her. It would be safe to assume that her worries and fears were being buried away for now. Wiping her tears away, she saw him stood up and gave his hand for her to hold. She looked at his hand as if it was a foreign object that has never been encountered before. However, it was only for a brief moment as she took a deep breath and held it. She used it as a support for her to stand up as well. There was slight jolt of pain from the sudden movement but it was not that major like the last 3 days. It was more tolerable to say the very least and would not impede her to do light physical work if needed.

After standing up, Sereinia listened to Shadow's suggestion and she agreed completely. She was also very concerned about how Mayumi's condition was now. Although, she did hear that the young girl was still part of the living which was a very good news. Now, all that she was worried about was how Mayumi was faring with her injuries. Hearing the latter part of Shadow's statement, it effectively perked up Sereinia's sense of duty.

"I do not mind at all... I will be happy to do so."

Saying with a very sincere and gentle tone, Sereinia looked at Shadow with her deep amethyst eyes now cleared from her earlier depression. Regardless, there was still something sad about her eyes and she had failed to notice that. Standing beside him, she continued listening to his words about being a halfway decent healer. He had become akin to dressing his wounds as it was a necessity for his lifestyle. She understands this as certain situations would not have him go to a cleric or doctor despite how grave his wounds may be. It was then he asked her to take care of Mayumi.

"Of course. I will do my best to treat her and to make sure she will be fine."

Remembering Shadow's words on that fateful night where he had told Sereinia that it was between him and Mayumi, she chose not to say anything noticing the seriousness and the air that he would not have any argument about the subject. Despite that, she did feel that she was pretty much useless. But as of now, she was concluding that he must be doing this for her sake. For her not to feel insignificant, she could not help but release a small yet fleeting smile on her face. It appeared that he understand her more than she had estimated. Perhaps, it was because of her similarities with his little sister, Era.

"I will take care of Mayumi. It is why you should take this opportunity to rest."

Looking at Shadow, Sereinia's eyes were filled with concern as she had noticed how he seemed to push himself harder than before. With her free hand, she placed it on his forehead to check his temperature. If this continues on, she would not be surprised if he gets a cold or a fever. He did say that they were safe now within the city since those after them had already left. So, he should rest.

"I would want to have you and Mayumi be in good condition for the Festival."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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When Shadow placed a hand on her shoulder earlier, Mayumi found herself flinching from his touch but had quickly caught herself the second she did and managed to stay still. If it weren’t for her stiff muscles, she was almost sure that she would be half way across the room by then. She shrugged off the weird shivers she was getting, reasoning with herself that it was due to the pain she was feeling at that moment.

Looking around the room, she noticed that it was starting to spin around her and her head was beginning to throb painfully. Her body grew weak forcing her to lie back down and beads of sweat begin to form on her forehead.

'What's going on?'

Eye lids grew heavier by the second, and soon they closed as the small teen passed out.

As time went by, the young girl’s condition grew worse as her body began to tremble and her skin paled.

Sora noticed its mistress’s weird behavior and swiftly flew outside to where Shadow and Sereinia was, pulling on Shadow’s sleeve with its bill while flapping golden-brown wings wildly.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Shadow was about to speak again when Sora found him an started tugging on his shirt to have him go inside. Shadow knew without ever having to be informed that this was not a good sign. Shadow looked Sereinia, the usual determined and serious expression back on his face as he ran towards the door and walked inside. He went to Mayumi's bedside and felt her forehead, checked her pulse, and lifted her arm to see if she had any control over it when he let it fall to the bed once again.

She did not seem to have any control.

Shadow looked back over his shoulder to Sereinia.

"Give me one second to knock her out and she's all yours." He said calmly, but still with a hint of authority.

Shadow placed his right thumb on Mayumi's forehead just at the peak of her crown where her hair line was and his left index finger behind her at the base of her skull. He pressed firmly but gently enough to do no damage as he applied pressure to small meridian lines which allowed the brain to receive signals back from the body which effectively was like putting it in a choke hold. After but a few seconds Mayumi was out cold, and Shadow felt her pulse and vitals and she was still strong enough for Sereinia to do her job.

Shadow looked at Sora.

"Behave yourself Sora. Sereinia is going to take care of Mayumi now and that is not a request." He said in a calm but still authoritative tone as he had before.

He looked over his shoulder to Sereinia and took a step to the side to give her full access to Mayumi as she lie unconscious on the bed.

"Now it's up to you. That long cut on her chest should probably be dealt with first given its size and condition. I've kept it from getting infected but it's not healing as well as I'd hoped and her temperature is rising. Use anything and everything you need. If you need my assistance at any time I will be in the next room resting my eyes, but I will not hesitate to aid you if you call."

With that Shadow left the room and sat down in a chair to close his eyes. He needed rest if he was to be of any true use to Sereinia. He had gotten used to powering through hazy and dreary mental conditions, but it could only work for so long before the brain shut down from lack of rest and recuperation. Shadow was, right now, in no danger of that happening but he was in danger of collapsing from a lack of sleep. He closed his eyes and let his mind clear, already feeling a slight ease wash over him.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Noticing the avian companion of Mayumi, Sereinia could not help but feel the quickening beat of her heart due to concern. Without further ado, Shadow entered where the young girl was in as she followed closely behind him. He checked her vitals which seemed to be stable at the moment but her response was not on par. From her current position, Sereinia could already assessed what Mayumi's condition is at the moment. The girl had undoubtedly received first aid but not the proper treatment. Her eyes narrowed as she hoped that her suspicions were incorrect. She would need a closer inspection to make certain of the girl's health.

Disrupting Sereinia's thoughts, Shadow had looked at her and inform her that he would be knocking out Mayumi. She wanted to object as it seems that the young girl was already passed out. In addition, she could just concoct a sleeping drug and an anesthesia if needed. In that way, she could assessed how much time she needed to fully treat all wounds that Mayumi suffered. But Shadow's tone prevented Sereinia from saying any further as she watched him do his deed.

After doing so, Shadow asked Sora to behave knowing the avian's protectiveness to his mistress. Then, he moved to the side to allow Sereinia access to Mayumi. She nodded and immediately went to Mayumi's bedside. She quickly placed her hand on the young girl's forehead and confirmed what Shadow was saying about her temperature. Not looking at Shadow, she listened to his observations in the background as she checked the scar that was stitched by Shadow and the other wound that seemed to be a carved name. It had sealed but it was not completely free from infection as a result the girl has a fever and judging by Mayumi's skin tone. The child was suffering from blood loss and malnutrition. She did hear that Mayumi had slept 3 days straight and without proper nourishment and replenishment of blood will be very slow to accommodate the loss of blood.

"It will be fine Shadow. Go ahead and rest." Sereinia managed to say as she looked over her shoulder and gave a sincere smile.

Afterwards, Sereinia focused her attention to Mayumi but not before looking at Sora. "I promise. I will help Mayumi with everything I can."

Giving her words of promise to Sora, Sereinia started to take out one of her anesthesia concoction from her medicinal bag. She had took it with her before leaving her room. She used a sterilized syringe and injected on a vein in Mayumi's arm. Passing out was not equivalent for not feeling pain, this would numb Mayumi's sensation. It seemed that she would have to remove the stitches that Shadow had done and re-do it to fully see where the infection was. Thus, there was no need to say how painful that could be. Taking out her surgical equipments, she made sure to sterilized them with the proper methods and even tied her hair and wore gloves.

"Hang on, Mayumi."

With that said, Sereinia began removing the stitches on her large scar first. Soon, it was reopened and at that moment pus spilled out from it. It must have been infected from the tools used or Shadow must have not thoroughly cleaned it before sealing it. She immediately removed it and thoroughly cleaned it with antiseptic that if without anesthesia and being knocked out, Mayumi would feel a painful sting. When that was all done, she took out a special thread of hers. There was no need to remove it once the skin had made a connection as it dissolves without harm to the body. But before that, she applied one of her salves that would aid in regeneration and protect it from infection. After doing so, she closed the large scar that overlapped an old one.

When that was done, Sereinia placed her attention to the carved name. She did the same but this one has more pus than the large one. The weapon that made this must have caused it. Cleansing it, she did the same procedure. Afterwards, she looked at handiwork and one could see the even and seamless stitches. With proper application of her salve, there should be no scar or if there is, it would only be a faint line that would be almost invisible to the eyes. She did checked other parts of her body and noticed bruises that seemed to be healing slowly. It was probably because she lacked the blood that helps in the clotting process. Thus, she applied a salve to prevent from infection for now.

Next, Sereinia checked any broken bones and noticed a previously dislocated wrist. Shadow seemed to have put it back in and released a sigh at that knowledge. She also noticed a few cracked ribs but it should be fine once she asked Mayumi to drink the drug that would in bone regeneration. But as she looked further down, she noticed that Mayumi's ankle seemed to be swelling. This must be the other source of Mayumi's fever. She felt the lump and could see a deformity forming around it.

"This is bad..."

Sereinia could theorized that it could just need realignment but if comes to worst, she would need to do a surgery to connect the bones. For now, all she could do was to ease the pressure by creating a small cut. After a while, the swelling has decreased and she could now properly feel that the bone was dislocated rather than being broken. All she had to do was to realigned it. Injecting a small portion of the anesthesia around the area, she then quickly realigned it without much trouble. It seemed that she had more strength than she is credited for. After doing so, she placed a cooling salve around it and then placed a splint around it which would aid in its recovery.

"This should be fine for now..."

Speaking under her breath, Sereinia checked once more Mayumi's body for any other injuries that she might have overlooked. There was none as she was now worried about how to ensure that Mayumi regain some of the blood she lost and proper nourishment. At the same time, she would need for the young girl to take some medicine to combat further infection, medicine for fever, aid in bone regeneration, and iron supplements. Well, all she could do for now is to inject in directly to the blood stream. The bone regeneration medicine was already in liquid form but the other three medicines were in capsules.

"I would have to dissolve this."

Thus, Sereinia began to make her preparations that took quite some time. She would occasionally feel slight jolt of pain from her cracked ribs but they were bearable. After all, she is much more concerned about Mayumi knowing the young girl's condition is much worse than hers. After turning all the medicine into liquid forms, she injected it with orderly and with specific interval of time and certain dosages. When it was all done, she released a sigh of relief. This should make Mayumi feel a bit better as she wiped some of the sweat that Mayumi had around her face. Then, she looked at Sora with a gentle smile.

"She should be fine now."

After doing that, Sereinia noticed that much time had already passed along with the growling of her stomach. It seemed that her concentration had made her ignore the hunger she was having.

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Shadow allowed himself to drift off into a light sleep, one that would easily have been broken by something as slight as the sound of a small object hitting the floor, but sleep none the less. His consciousness drifted and his body relaxed in the chair as he slowly began to succumb to the power of unconsciousness and began to dream.

He was outdoors somewhere, but it was familiar. Like a memory. He looked around and saw that the sky overhead was partially cloudy, and that the skyline around him was marked by buildings which stood several stories in height. He walked the streets, recognizing it as the "Central Path" of the Capitol City of Cre' Est where he had eliminated so many targets in the past. Slowly he walked the street, looking left and right as the people around him took a single look and fled indoors. It was not unusual, but it still left a pang of guilt and pain within his heart as he continued to walk.

Eventually, as he continued to walk down the central path, he started seeing faces of those familiar to him. Immediately to his left as he continued on his way passed the blacksmith was a face he knew well. A man slightly older and larger than he, but still with an impressive muscular build and a large two handed sword at his back which he could wield with one hand. He smiled at his friend, but received only a cold glare in return. He remained silent and looked away as he continued down the street.

Another face he recognized as his sister, Era. She too, was looking at him with cold eyes and was held in a stand offish body posture as he passed her, almost as if she was expecting him to lash out at her. Shadow's heart began to grow cold as he continued his now solemn path down the street ahead. More and more he saw faces of those he knew and those he had come to see as friends giving him cold and distant glares as he passed them. It became almost unbearable as he neared the end of his journey when the central path came to an end and he stood in front of the palace where the Royal Family dwelt.

He looked at the mighty structure, slightly in awe since he had come to appreciate the strength and majesty of architecture, and then he looked down to just inside the front gate passed two guards. They glared at him, but did not stop him from entering the garden just beyond the gate which led to the two large doors of the palace. Shadow stopped in the center of the garden, looking around and wondering what it meant and why he was here. However, his answers came all too suddenly as the final piece of the puzzle made itself known.

Standing before him, seemingly from out of nowhere, was the face of the most important person in his life. She stood on the opposite side of a small pond with a fountain in the center, not saying a word. Her expression was not one of anger or disappointment, but sadness. He tried to speak, only to find that his voice did not work and his vocal chords produced no sound. She tried to speak to him, but the sky turned red and her body moved in slow motion as a blade was suddenly thrust through her stomach from behind her. Blood exploded forth from her chest as the blade was turned face up and ripped skyward out through the side of her neck, her body collapsing into two distinct halves in front of him as the pond in between them filled with her blood and the fountain began to spout dark crimson red liquid into the air.

Shadow could only watch in horror as he looked up to see a dark figure there, holding the blade exactly where it stopped when it exited her body. Two glowing red eyes peered back at him from the darkness of that was the figure's form, and he knew all too well what that meant. The haze that was the shadows cleared and revealed Shadow himself standing there, holding one of his Twins in the air with blood smeared across his face and covering his hands. His eyes were wide and feral, his pupils dilated so they were almost invisible which gave him a very sinister and primal appearance. His jaw was clenched tight and his muscles tense, his body nearly trembling from the obvious lust for blood which was coursing through his veins. Slowly, as Shadow tried to turn his vision began to change.

He blinked, and suddenly he found himself dressed in the clothing he wore when he first became an Assassin. Black robes with the red crest of Te'i Sai in the center of the chest as he held the dagger in his right hand high in the air, blood smeared across his face and covering his hands. He looked down in front of him and there she was, split in two lying in the fountain at his feet. He looked up and there was nobody where he used to be standing. However, a figure began to appear out of the gloom ahead and finally took a position where he had once been standing. The figure began to become clearer with time until he saw the face of his old master, Grandmaster Takai himself.

Grandmaster Takai's mouth moved, but no sound came out. The message however, was not lost.

"You'll never escape what you have become... What I made you. You are now, and forever will be the Red-Eyed Demon. Roda I'l Lousta is a part of you now and forever more, and you'll never be rid of its beautiful curse so long as you live. Know despair, Red-Eyed Demon, and live your life forever in fear of your own two hands!"

At that moment Shadow awoke with a start and in a cold sweat, his eyes wide in fear and his heart beating much too fast. He looked around and found that he was still inside, sitting in the chair he sat down in earlier to rest his eyes with Sereinia and Mayumi in the next room. He checked his hands and found that they were shaking. For the first time in a long time he had no control over them as they trembled in fear of what he had just witnessed in his dream.

Shadow leaned back in the chair and took in a deep breath to slow his breathing and his heart rate. It took several seconds, but he finally got his heart rate under control and managed to stop the shaking of his hands.

He stood up and removed his now sweat drenched shirt, placing it in a small bin where laundry was done as he walked to the window and opened it. A cool, evening breeze caressed his face and brought the sweet smell of freshly made food from nearby houses to his nose as he closed his eyes and took in another deep breath. He let it out on a sigh and opened his eyes, looking around in the street at the people going about their lives near the end of their day. It was calming to him to watch other people's content states, and Shadow managed to stop the sweat from coming forth as well as his body relaxed. He walked away from the window and fetched himself a towel and dried his body off in the bathroom, coming back and dropping the towel in the laundry bin as he once again found his way to the window. He didn't bother to replace his shirt, since the evening air was cool and sweet and he just looked out the window as he continued to watch people go about their business.

It's been almost one full year without incident... Why now of all times am I suddenly having these dreams of it again? He thought to himself.

"... Roda I'l Lousta..." He said to himself.

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Character Portrait: Mayumi

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Light engulfed her out of nowhere. Once the light dissipated, her vision was blurry.

Darkness surrounded her. Everywhere she looked was total darkness, not a single light in sight. This would have been rather comforting to Mayumi if it weren't for the gloom that filled what seemed to be a decent sized room.

She caught sight of a small framed silhouette lying unmoving on solid white in the middle of the room.

'Must be a bed.' she guessed.

Senses heightened as the almost inaudible sound of a door opening caught her attention. Turning towards the direction of the sound, she found a tall figure walking towards her. By the broad frame, she could tell it was a man but due to her blurry vision and dark surroundings she couldn't see his face.

Instead of stopping in front of Mayumi, the man walked through her, only stopping when he was by the bed where the small framed person lay.

The man sat down on the bed beside the person which Mayumi thought to be familiar. He reached out a hand to touch what she guessed was the face of the person and then he bent over the bed, but Mayumi could not see what he was doing and had a feeling that it'd be best not to know either. Whatever it was, the person lying on the bed didn't have even the slightest reaction to it.

This scene disturbed Mayumi since she had never been fond of physical contact, much less watching them. She had never came into physical contact with anyone besides when in fighting or training and she would prefer keeping it that way as much as possible.

Just then, the scene faded only to be replaced with a dark void.

This time, the air wasn't gloomy but dark and malicious with a hint of blood lust. Curious, Mayumi moved cautiously towards what she felt was the direction in which the aura was coming from.

She wasn't sure how much time had passed since she started walking. It was like walking on nothing as she walked through the endless void of black, and for some reason the dark presence wasn't getting any stronger than it should have if she was moving closer to it, neither was it growing weaker which would indicate if she was heading the wrong way.

Suddenly, it hit her and she stopped in her tracks. Looking up, she found her goal.

A lone dark figure floated high up above in the center of the dark void. Though the figure’s back was facing her she could tell from the muscular frame that it was clearly a man. Dark aura seeped out of him like a stream and clothed him in his own darkness. He seemed to be asleep, unaware of his current surroundings.

‘This black void… is made of this man’s dark aura?’

Without a second more to think, the scene faded and a blanket of darkness covered her as she was pulled into deep slumber...

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Shadow continued to think quietly to himself as he watched the sun begin to set behind the horizon line that was the rooftops on the edge of the city. As he watched the colors in the sky slowly shift from one to the next he began to reminisce about the times he spent with the others during the early stages of his initial rebellion.

The first person to ever trust him and treat him as a human being was a young woman named Iris Di' Nelma. She was intelligent, kind hearted and sweet tempered and she lived to bring happiness to others. It was one of the reasons she worked as a maid for an important family in Cre' Est's Capitol City. She was the one who first managed to force Shadow to think about his life up until that point when he was seventeen and begin to question his "purpose" in life. As they grew closer Shadow began to lose sight of his paranoia and because of that Grandmaster Takai was able to have Iris poisoned while Shadow was away on another mission. When he went to visit her next she was alive, but only just. She told him of her dreams to live a simple and peaceful life with a family all her own, and that she wished her children could have eyes as "beautiful" as his. Her words caused tears to fall from Shadows eyes for the first time in his life and he was forced to end her misery after she fell asleep by cleaving her heart in two.

After he resolved to make Grandmaster Takai pay for what he had done, Shadow met a young woman who had joined Te'i Sai with dreams of being able to grow strong enough to bring peace and security to her homeland. A naive dream to be sure, but a dream none the less which was brought about by a pure heart and mind. Her name was Taira, and she was a vivacious young woman with a strong heart and an even stronger drive to accomplish her goals. Shadow initially had trouble identifying with her and because of that her training under him was slow to progress and because of that she had suffered wounds similar to those of Mayumi when she was seventeen... However, they were caused by Shadow himself.

Roda I'l Lousta, translated as "Lust for Death" in the ancient language of the Assassins, was the ultimate cause of her near death experience and Shadow had never forgiven himself for inflicting such grievous wounds. During the final battle against the Cre' Est branch of Te'i Sai when Shadow managed to trick the Cre' Itian army into attacking the fortress, Shadow was wounded and blacked out after falling down near a corpse which was lying in a pool of its own blood. When he awoke, Taira was nearly dead at his feet but he had just barely managed to save her. She recovered fully and today worked for him as his most trusted Assassin and scout, gathering information and taking out targets which he could not chase because of other, more important targets or because of time issues.

Shadow turned around and decided to stop thinking about the issue, burying it in his mind as he walked back into the room with Sereinia and Mayumi. He did a quick inspection of Mayumi's wounds and smiled at Sereinia for her work as he sat down next to the table and looked over at Sora. He then remembered something as his eyes widened slightly, and he closed his eyes with a look of pain on his face. He stood up slowly, turning around to face Sereinia with a look of frustration and sorrow in his eyes.

"... I'm sorry for making you see this again..." He said.

He looked down slowly, having only just remembered he wasn't wearing his shirt again. His expression was sour and filled with disgust as he looked at his own body, littered with scars, as it was once again revealed to the world. Shadow was kicking himself mentally for making her see them again. From the base of his neck to the top of his pants with some of them extending below, scars abound. Long, short, wide, thin, new and fading all adorned his body as he slowly started walking away to return to the other room and out of sight of Sereinia.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: The Royal Family of Cre' Est

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"You're face does not befit such a sorrowful expression, my beloved."

These words were spoken with a sincere yet gentle concern as the one who spoke gazed at a woman who had the flowers surrounding her enchanted in some manner. However, it was not surprising as the female was truly a beauty to behold in every form. It would not be surprising if the moon or stars grew envy of her. The woman was adorned in a very intricate and form-fitting white gown with detached sleeves. It had beautiful gray embellishments with gold pearls and a very prominent brown rose located at the neckline and golden delicate vambraces with a red gemstone as the centerpiece around the detached sleeves. From this, one could assessed that she was not just an ordinary citizen. There is a great probability that she could be a noble. Upon further inspection, her chosen apparel complemented her straight ankle-length ash-blonde hair left untied but was decorated with an well-crafted headdress perfectly suited for a royalty. The gems that brought brilliance to it was of red and amethyst hued. It enhanced those sad deep purple colored eyes of hers as she looked at the one who had addressed her.

"Then what fits it?"

It was her almost whispered answer as the one who had spoke revealed himself to her. Golden eyes reflected warmth and at the same adoration as its owner approached the female. He was a very attractive male in every angle. His face was of masculine aesthetic but a subtle touch of feminine curves made it alluring and even beautiful. He has golden hoop earrings in both ears but it would be a mistake to think it degrades his masculinity. Actually, it complements him perfectly somehow. It also adds to his sexual charm that his long dark violet hair often mistaken as ebony in color at times would find its way wrapping his well-toned physique. This form would always be craftily showed with his rather choice in loose clothes but complemented with exquisite fabric and jewelry.

"This..."

After that word, he without hesitation kissed the female in front of him. His right hand cradled her cheek while his other hand was placed firmly on her back. She did not reject such a passionate kiss as she simply closed her eyes and placed her arms around his neck. There was no way she could rebuke such an action directed towards her by this male.

"You need not worry too much. We will find our child, safe and sound."

He spoke after the kiss ended and he looked at the female now in his secure embrace. Purple and gold met with an understanding unique only to the two of them. She a small nod to show her acceptance of his words of encouragement. It was just her heart still yearns for her baby that she had only held in her arms only for a few minutes.

"Eonis, is it fine for me to feel this helpless?" She paused briefly before continuing on. "I am the Empress of Cre' Est. I should be... No, I must be strong."

A hand run through her ash-blonde hair and she was pulled into a tight embrace in Eonis' arms. At that gesture, she could not help but feel the burden in her shoulders lighten even just a bit. In his arms, she felt that nothing could harm her in any way. It was unbelievable in her opinion for her to feel such dependency on one person and that person was her lover, her husband, and her emperor.

"Before you are an empress, you are only a woman and above all of that as of now... you are a mother, Regalie." Eonis placed a kiss on top of her head. "It is why it's fine to worry about our child. I also feel the same... I worry but I believe everything will be fine. After all, she is our child."

Regalie gently pulled herself away from Eonis' embrace and smiled with gratefulness. He always knew how to make her feel better with just a few words. She must not give up on the hope that they will be a complete family in the future. Their daughter would be found soon and when that happens. She is certain that it would be her greatest happiness and joy.

"You are absolutely right. We will find her, our precious rose."



Sereinia began to clean up as she wanted to ensure that Mayumi's wounds would not be infected as much as possible. After all, she had had made certain that the younger female's injuries would be healed in the best possible conditions. When it was all done, she could feel her stomach complained once more as she decided to blatantly ignore it once more. There were still some things that she needed to do before leaving Mayumi to her rest. Thus, she checked the young girl's vitals and her wounds once more if she missed out anything. As for the broken ankle, she had concluded that Mayumi would need to be more astute to not put much pressure on it while it is still recovering.

"I only hope she would not be stubborn about getting proper rest..."

Saying it to no one in particular, Sereinia released a small sigh afterwards and then looked at the avian companion, Sora. She offered the bird a small smile. It was very remarkable to see such bond between a human and animal. If she would be bold, she had interpreted that to Mayumi. Sora is family no matter what others might say and she find that thought beautiful. Removing her attention from Sora, she untied her hair as it fell around her like ravishing waterfall. There was a slight pain that tingled at the action but she knew it was normal in the recovery process. It was at that moment that Shadow had made his appearance before her once more.

Without ado, Shadow went to Mayumi's bedside to check on the girl's condition. Sereinia moved away to give him space as she observed him in silent. It seemed that he had managed to retrieve some energy from his sleep. However, it is not enough in her opinion knowing how much he had pushed himself in the past few days. He needed more rest than any of them. She was about to say something when he turned around to look at her with a smile.

"I only did my best. I would still need to look over her to make sure that her recovery would go smoothly."

Sereinia spoke while looking away from Shadow who was already looking at Sora. She did not know what caused such a reaction from her. If she remembered correctly, she had expressed her desire to see him smile more. With that in mind, why is she looking away from it? She truly does not understand herself at the moment. But perhaps, he had mistaken this gesture of hers for something else as she heard his sorrowful tone.

"... I'm sorry for making you see this again..."

This statement was enough to make Sereinia gazed at him as she now understood what he meant. It was then she had noticed that Shadow was half-naked before her. She had truly not noticed at her attention was on other matters. But now looking at it, he had a battle-worn physique as she would described it. Scars littered his body in varying forms, sizes, locations, and origins. It only proved how much violence, pain, and sadness he had gone through up to now. With this knowledge, she felt an ache echoing in her heart as he had began to make his leave.

"Shadow!"

She called out to Shadow instinctively and Sereinia did not noticed that she had closed the distance between them. She had grabbed his arm in a desperate manner. Upon noticing it, she quickly released him and looked away with a slightly flushed face. It was noticeable due to her milky white complexion.

"Do not misunderstand. I am not disgusted or irked seeing your scars." She slowly looked at him.

"These prove the trials you had to face." Her hand touched one of his scars present on his upper right chest.

"The pain you suffered and overcame. Each are undeniable proof that you have live through all of it." Removing her hand from the scar, she looked at him gently.

"I see a man who lives and faces his tribulations with strength." Raising her hand, she removed a few strands of his hair that blocked the sight of one of his red eyes.

"They are beautiful just like your eyes. I have always adored them even now."

It was at that moment that Sereinia's stomach had chosen to interrupt the mood as it grumbled loudly to emphasize that she ignoring its complaint. This made her blushed awfully as she quickly stepped away from Shadow in embarrassment. She was awfully red that even her ears were red as a tomato. Actually, she looked quite adorable with as she covered her face with her hands.

"I apologize... This is so embarrassing..."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Sereinia's response to his trying to leave the room was surprising, having grabbed his arm tightly before letting go of it and blushing. Her face turned a light pink in color and Shadow couldn't help but smile again. As she spoke to him and reassured him that his body did not bother her it brought a warm feeling to his heart that he had only felt when in the company of two people before in his life.

One of them was Iris, and she was dead.

However that fact didn't seem to matter at the moment. Sereinia continued to speak to him about about his eyes, referencing them as beautiful and saying that she adored them.

... My eyes... He thought to himself.

His blood red eyes had always been a symbol of fear and death in the world wherever he went. Even the fiercest warriors had grown to be afraid of them and lost all manner of confidence when they were revealed. Shadow had faced many a would be challenger in the past who claimed to know that the Demon was but a man and could be defeated, but upon Shadow looking at them their confidence disintegrated and their speech patterns became scattered and incomplete. The strongest bounty hunters and mercenaries around were afraid of Shadow's eyes.

Yet Sereinia, a doctor and a kind soul to all, was not.

Then, there was a sound from Sereinia's stomach. A small growling noise to which Sereinia turned a deep red in the face and ears as she turned away from him.

"I apologize... This is so embarrassing..." She said quietly.

Shadow was absolutely stunned. There was a strange feeling in his throat as he looked at her, a feeling he was unfamiliar with as he continued to examine her tomato red face.

But suddenly... It didn't matter.

Shadow, for the first time in years, burst out laughing. His laughter was pure, warm and oddly innocent as he put his hands on his knees while trying to keep himself upright. He grabbed his ribs a moment later as his laughter filled the room, stunning even Sora on her perch. Mayumi was drugged and could not hear it nor would she wake from it, but if she had been awake Shadow was certain in his mind that she would look at him with confusion as well. Shadow laughed for a good minute before finally calming down and resting against the wall.

"... I haven't laughed like that in many years..." He said, wiping a tear brought about by his laughter away.

"Thank you Sereinia. That was just what I needed." He said gently as he stood up straight once more.

Shadow heard a knock at the door and was instantly on guard as the simple joy and innocence to be found in his face vanished in an instant and the deadly seriousness for which he was known made its reappearance. He walked slowly to the door and opened it, only to stare into the eyes of a young woman whom he knew very well. He let out a relaxed sigh and stood to the side to let her into the room.

She stood at five feet eight inches in height and had a sleek and athletic body. Carrying womanly curves in all the right places but still having a similar musculature to Shadow's indicating that she was very, very strong and quite a capable fighter. Her face was heart shaped, her locks flowing down just above her eyebrows and elongating on the sides by her ears to frame her face as the rest of her hair flowed elegantly down her back to her hips in straight, dark brown strands. She looked at Sereinia as she walked into the room, and then looked to Mayumi, and then turned around and looked back to Shadow once more with a bow of her head.

Shadow smiled at her, looking then to Sereinia.

"Sereinia, this is Taira. She is my most trusted Assassin and has been with me since the beginning when I turned against Te'i Sai." He said, gesturing to her with his arm.

Taira took a small bow to Sereinia, a courtesy which she didn't often extend to most as she smiled and spoke for herself.

"I am here to watch over Mayumi for the next few days and will be taking her to a safe location elsewhere in the city for her recovery. During this time, myself and several other trusted Assassins who are loyal to Shadow will watch and care for her which will give you and Shadow the time to recuperate for yourselves."

She paused for a moment, looking to Sora.

"Beautiful Sora, I have heard much about you. Of course your presence is required for this as Mayumi will not be pleased if she finds you anywhere but her side."

Taira's voice was young and sounded so very sweet, but was, under the surface, very authoritative. Her confidence oozed through her tone and told in and of itself the battles she had seen and the experience which she held in Shadow's violent life. Her eyes were soft, but could pierce the hardest metal and her upright posture was enough to intimidate most who ever took a stance against her.

Shadow put a hand on Taira's shoulder and smiled as she looked at him. With that, he looked to Sereinia.

"Mayumi will be away from us for three days, Sereinia. But fear not for her safety. Taira is the first person I have ever taken under my wing and is the strongest Assassin in our small force. She is more than a match for most of the Assassins we've seen up until now, and I guarantee that Mayumi will be safe under her watchful eye."

Taira nodded, closing her eyes while doing so before opening them as her head came up once again. She walked over to Mayumi's body and gently picked her up, taking great care in the way she held her and how slowly she stood to not aggravate the wounds which her body was now recovering from. Shadow opened the door for Taira as she walked away and carried Mayumi's unconscious body away into the fading light. On the rooftops around them were other trusted Assassins in Shadow's little mini army who would follow and protect both of the girls with their lives.

Shadow closed the door and walked towards Sereinia once more.

"I think I will go to bed now. It has been a while since I have slept and I have no intention of letting my body fail on me in the coming days. The Festival of the Gods will take place in eight days from now if I'm not mistaken, so that's plenty of time for Mayumi to reunite with and join us when you show us this Festival."

He smiled warmly to her and turned away but stopped at the stairs leading to the second floor.

"Go ahead and find something to eat Sereinia. I have Assassins all over this city watching over you and Mayumi so do not fear for your own safety as you walk the streets... Goodnight." He said gently.

With that, Shadow walked upstairs and laid himself down to rest...

... Finally...

Setting

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Sereinia was caught in the boundaries of many emotions. She felt embarrassment, surprise, disbelief, and admiration. The cause was the sound of laughter that Shadow had released. She had witnessed him smile in a detached manner and at the rare times, sincere. However, she had never heard him laughed before. In their travels from her town to the capital, she had not seen or heard a sound of merriment from him or even from Mayumi. Anyway normally, she had the right to be annoyed as he was unintentionally making fun of her. But, she did not feel any form or irritation emitting within her. Instead, she slowly removed the hands covering her face and gazed at him who was laughing in such a carefree manner. He looked like an adorable child a far cry from being known as feared assassin. Her eyes of amethyst glimmered with enchantment and childish curiosity. She had heard laughter as she grew up from many people who were her friends, acquaintances, patients, and loved ones. Thus, she should not feel such wonder. Despite such logical thinking, she cannot help but to love the sound of his laughter which was quite heartily as he rested himself beside the wall and even had a tear due to the humor at her expense.

Remaining a silent spectator, Shadow soon was able to reclaim his sense of self as time passed by. Afterwards, he thanked Sereinia for making him laugh which had not happened for a very long time. His words brought a small yet warm smile on her lips. She felt very glad to hear those words.

"I am happy to do so."

Like the saying, everything must come to an end at some point. A knock was heard at the door which made Shadow wary. But soon enough, he was able to identify the person and was relieved from what Sereinia could tell. The mystery person entered the room with Shadow's permission and it was a female. This earned a rather curious look from Sereinia. She had heard from Shadow that he had allies and contacts. However, she never knew anyone of his acquaintances or met them except for Mayumi and Sora as his traveling companions. So, she was rather curious especially upon hearing Shadow's introduction about the person now known as Taira.

"It is nice to meet and make your acquaintance, Ms. Taira. My name is Sereinia Lucis Nouralail."

It was spoken with a warm and friendly tone as Sereinia returned Taira's bow with another one as well which was also accompanied with a smile. She was amazed and did not feel even an ounce of wariness or fear upon knowing that Taira was also an assassin. For Sereinia, she admired the combat prowess that Taira possessed. She did not expect another girl much like Mayumi for her to meet.

"Somewhere else?"

Taira's explanation was well-put. In addition, Sereinia did not doubt the strength of Shadow's friends. She knew for a fact that they are surely strong and capable. However, she could not help but still be concerned about Mayumi. The bloody scene of Mayumi on that night flashed within her mind like a haunting specter. She bit her lower lip in reaction. On that note, Shadow must have noticed her uneasiness of being near Mayumi as he spoke.

"...I understand. I truly believe that Ms. Taira and everyone else will do their best to keep Mayumi safe and sound. Please do not be offended by show of concern. It is just that I have been told to be quite the worrier."

Sereinia paused for a moment as she made her way to the bedside table where the medications that Mayumi should take on a certain frequency to ensure her full recovery. She found a piece of paper and wrote down the dosage and even specific instructions regarding Mayumi's broken ankle. Taking them into her hands, she placed them inside a pouch and returned to where Shadow and Taira were.

"Please take this with you. The medications along with instructions on how to use it are inside. It would make certain that Mayumi recover completely and about her broken ankle. Please remind her not to put much pressure on it. She needs adequate rest before she could walk properly again."

There was the tone of an authoritative doctor as Sereinia spoke. It was probably due to her profession as she delivers instructions to her patient which she had demonstrated to Shadow in the not so distant past. However, it was more notable that she had the tone of a very concerned mother or sister more than anything else. Her genuine expression of worry also added to that. As if noticing herself, she immediately apologized.

"I am sorry if I sounded like a motherly hen. I just cannot help it."

After that, the medicine pouch was taken from Sereinia's hand and Mayumi was taken afterwards. Within a few moments, Taira and Mayumi were gone from her sight. There was still the mist of concern clouding her heart. But, she trusts Taira and Shadow's words that Mayumi would be safe. She was only taken away from her self-induced trance when Shadow approached and spoke to her.

"The Festival? Oh! Yes!" Sereinia had completely forgotten about it which made her lightly blush.

"I will look forward to have you and Mayumi with me on the day of the Festival..."

She said with much happiness and a bright smile. Yet again, her stomach made a very unladylike gesture once more. Sereinia held her stomach and looked at it with annoyance and a very red face. But, this time Shadow did not laugh but gentle spoke to her.

"Yes, I will do that. Please do rest well. Good night and sweet dreams, Shadow."

Saying it with such tenderness and a gentle smile, Sereinia watched as Shadow took his leave. When he was now gone from her sight, she opted to follow his suggestion and address the matters of her hunger. Soon enough, she had her money pouch in hand and looking around the city to have something to eat. Unbeknown to her that eyes from Shadow's allies watched her and at the same time another pair of eyes who eluded what kind of intention it may have.

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Character Portrait: Mayumi

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Mayumi woke up to the silence of her most preferred time of day. Cool temperature, darkness that enveloped her, peaceful air. It all just signifies a perfect night for training in the forests where mysteries and danger lurked around every corner, just like always.

Her senses went on alert the moment she awoke, keen eyes scanning and noting the state of the room she was in. She noticed it was a different room and seemed to be located in an isolated area. Pairs of eyes could be felt watching her every move, but she couldn’t sense any dangerous intentions from them, and since Sora was by her side and not attacking them, she assumed they meant no harm but still, she couldn’t help being on her guard. She absolutely disliked being watched, especially when she was in a vulnerable state.

Testing the pain level of her wounds, she found it was less than before.

‘How long have I been unconscious?’ She wondered.

Slowly, she recalled the dark scenes she saw during the period of her unconsciousness. The young teen knew better than to ignore this dream and could only acknowledge the high possibility of a nearing storm.

'The two people were familiar, but I can’t get a grip on their identities and that man with the dark aura… I have a feeling I felt that aura before.' She pondered.

Pushing her thoughts to the back of her mind to be pondered on later, she got out of bed with little difficulty and stretched her stiff muscles from lack of movement. She had never been one to stay at the same spot for more than a few hours.

Passing by a mirror, she caught sight of the wounds on her torso that was most definitely going to leave a scar. It wasn’t that she minded scars, but the name etched into her flesh over her right hip bone was most disturbing. It was the name of the murderer of her master and this was as good as a punch in the face to Mayumi.

Her previous defeat and the nearing of a dark storm called for more training. Thus, she wasn't going to sit around doing nothing after having rested for what she felt was more than enough. The silver haired teen gathered her things and got herself dressed. Covering herself with her onyx cloak, she headed out onto empty streets and blended into the night as Sora flew overhead, blending with the night sky and scouting the area.

In a forest outside the Capitol City of Triveila...


An hour had passed when she finally found a perfect spot in the forest. Wasting not another second as time was precious, Mayumi sat down in the middle of a circle of trees and closed her eyes starting her meditation. She would have preferred climbing up one of the trees to meditate, but her current state prevented her from doing so.

Many things had happened. She needed to clear her mind of them in preparation for more to come. One little slip could lead to failure and failure wasn’t an option taught to her. Her only options were success or death.

The young archer’s thoughts drift back to her defeat by the person who killed her master. Now that she run through her memories of that battle, she noticed a slip of her emotions causing her to act rashly and thus leading to her defeat. That defeat was a big scar to her though she didn’t show it. There was no space and time for mourning. If she had time and space it would be used for solving the cause of her weakness to improve herself and calculating her next moves.

Thinking through her problem, she realized that it had been because of his taunt that triggered her strong hatred for him. There was only one conclusion that came to mind for solving this problem.

‘Rid myself of this weakness called emotions.’

Unbeknownst to her, she was blindly walking into darkness in her quest for revenge. The innocence that her master took so much careful effort to preserve was beginning to fade.

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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((Here we goooo!!))

Shadow's mind was a torrent of thought and it showed as Sereinia reached down to make contact with him. His muscles in his face began to twitch as his head tilted slightly to the side. The expression went from peace to pain an less than an instant as he remembered more about his gruesome past.

It was the battle that would ultimately decide his fate in life. Shadow vs the Grandmaster Takai and Korvaiis, the second in command of the mountain fortress in Roda Valley who was also Kiiro's father. Shadow had his Twin daggers on display while both Korvaiis and Takai chose to fight with a sword resembling a Katana but slightly thicker and more meant for fast mauling using the extra weight than simple fast slicing. They all charged into the fray at once as Shadow parried the two blades off to the sides and used his elbows as he rushed passed them to knock their jaws and take their point of balance. At that moment he whirled around and kicked them both across the head and on top of each other on the ground. They quickly rolled and recovered, fighting well as a team as they continued to press their assault.

One slash, two, three, four, five... It was an unusual rhythm, and not one Shadow had encountered before. Typically the body moved unconsciously in even increments of time and movement but this time they were off beat which was strange for Shadow but he caught on right away. Thanks to their on training, Shadow had the advantage of adaptability and knowledge of how to adjust to the rhythm of the enemy. One slash, two, three, four, five... six, seven, eight. Their rhythm was changing, making it difficult for Shadow to counter attack since the instant one blade was parried safely away another was flying directly at him.

Eventually it took a toll on his and his concentration lapsed for a single second, but that was all it took. One of the blades pierced his chest just below the collarbone, but Shadow managed to drop his blade and grab the sword before it penetrated more than one inch. The blade was ripped backwards, slicing Shadow's right hand. He would no longer be holding a blade in his right hand for a time, making the fight even harder. As time wore on, Shadow's superior endurance and stamina outweighed the skill presented by his two opponents and Korvaiis was knocked out halfway through the fight.

It was now Shadow vs Grandmaster Takai.

The fight continued for several minutes, neither truly gaining and upper hand save for Shadow's lack of rapid breathing vs Takai's being that he was in his fifties and not in the same shape he was in as a younger Assassin. Being a Grandmaster he didn't partake in missions and spent most of his time training other high level Assassins, but that was mainly barking orders so his stamina and endurance had diminished over time. Shadow's youth and experience were beginning to pay off and it showed until Takai managed to outmaneuver Shadow at the last minute and stabbed him in the stomach. Shadow grabbed the blade with his left hand, dropping his own in the process as he was forced to guide the blade through his body since he wasn't in a position to stop it. His knowledge of anatomy and the location of the major organs helped him guide the blade safely through and out the other side as he punched Takai with his right hand and knocked him away.

Standing very still, Shadow slowly removed the sword from his stomach as blood trickled from the wound. Since it didn't strike any major organs or arteries Shadow didn't bleed much from it which was good, but the pain was still intense. Takai pulled a hidden blade from his robe sleeves and charged Shadow with it. Picking up his own blade with his left hand Shadow leaned to the side and jammed the blade forward with all his strength. Takai's blade slashed part of the skin on Shadow's left bicep as he came to a stop, but it was only a surface wound and did not strike the muscle layer beneath. Shadow's blade, however, had cleaved Takai's breast bone at the base and was turned blade up, ready to move at a moment's notice. Knowing he was about to die, Takai dropped his blade as Shadow informed him that he pledged to erase what Takai had done to him and find his path to becoming the human being which was denied him his whole life.

Takai spoke his last words at that moment... "Is that... an Assassin's Pledge, Kyero?" He asked.

There was no answer save for Shadow's blade ripping skyward and cleaving his body above the solar plexus into two halves and exiting through the top of his skull. Shadow's blade, being made of Orichalcum, cleaved bone like butter and made the trip through the Grandmaster's body that much easier.

This final question by Takai was part of Shadow's greatest hatred in life. His true name was Kyero, spelled differently but pronounced the same as Kiiro. The meaning of the name in the ancient language of the Assassins was even the same though was spelled differently depending on context of the word, but ultimately the names both mean this: ... Assassin.

Holding a name which marked him as an Assassin from birth, Shadow chose to simply go adopt the moniker Shadow as his true name from now on because he was tired of being what he was. His pledge to Takai was indeed an Assassin's Pledge, and it was the last such pledge Shadow would make as a member of Te'i Sai.

An Assassin's Pledge was a pledge made by one of Te'i Sai which would be fulfilled under two circumstances: death or success. Whether Shadow succeeded in erasing what Takai had done to him both mentally and physically or died trying didn't really matter because the statement was the promise he now lived by. Every day since then, whenever he found the time, he endeavored to understand normal human life and was curious about it as well which aided in his learning process. To date, he has learned very little, but he is trying and that is what counts to him.

As those thoughts slowly faded, Shadow's tears ceased and his eyes slowly opened to see Sereinia sitting by his side holding his hand gently in hers. He was somewhat surprised, but never the less offered her a weak smile. He had not eaten much in the last few days so his body was weak and he couldn't give her the full smile he wanted to. He slowly sat up as best he could, struggling to lift his own weight for the first few inches but managed to finally sit up and apologize for his long slumber.

Over the next several days, Shadow ate his normal healthy meals and his strength slowly returned to him. Before he knew it, Mayumi had returned to them and was well on her way to recovery thanks to Taira's careful watch and instruction. Days passed yet further and it was finally the night of the festival. Shadow and Mayumi were dressed in traditional Triveilan garb ceremonial robes. Maumi's outfit was black with faint grey lines resembling vines (not spider webs) across her arms and stomach. She also had a red sash around her waist which was perfect for some of her smaller armaments which she seemed to refuse leaving without. Shadow's outfit was black as well but had a somewhat more formal appearance as it had some specially designed material which sparkled in dim lighting. Shadow thought he looked ridiculous in such an outfit, but Sereinia was dressed for the occasion as well so he didn't complain outwardly.

The festival itself was held within the city's central expanses where a large open circular area was reserved solely for the occasion. Innumerable stands and stalls for food, drink, fun and games, and other such things were everywhere you looked and at midnight, to celebrate the Gods, the Royal Family would come down and partake in the lighting of fireworks which would explode in the sky with dazzling shapes and colors for all to see.

... Needless to say, Shadow was nervous...

As they all gathered and approached the festival, Shadow became tense. It was the exact kind of environment he disliked down to his core. A lot of people surrounding him, even if they were happy and enjoying their time at the festival, and way too many places to conceal oneself for an attack. Though his informants said that they had not seen anyone suspicious enter the city, Shadow was on his guard. As they walked by a food stand on the edge of the festival the owner walked out and forced his arm in front of Shadow to stop him and ask if he'd like to try a sample of his cuisine. Shadow instinctively grabbed the man's arm and flipped him, his eyes wide with fright as he pinned the man to the ground. The poor man yelled out in pain as Shadow suddenly realized what he had done and released him, bowing his head in apology for his actions as the man rose and rubbed his shoulder in confusion. He said it was alright but went back to his stand in silence, still rubbing his shoulder.

As they continued on, Shadow's instincts continually failed him as he repeated the action to a young man selling wine, pinned an elderly gentleman trying to get him to partake in a small game of chance to the nearby wall face first, shoved a woman selling small portions of fruit away, and spilling her plate on the ground (earning him a quick slap across the face which hurt the woman's hand), and even accidentally nearly attacked a child who ran into him from behind on accident. Shadow was so on edge and so frightened about his surroundings that he actually had to stop and sit down on the edge of the festival grounds to try and calm down. As he sat there, he tried to meditate a little bit to calm himself and remind him that it was a celebratory gathering and that these people weren't there to bring him harm.

Shadow sat on his bench with his eyes closed and took deep breaths in and out.

... Relax Shadow... It's just a festival and it's supposed to be a celebration... You've never been one for the Gods, but you're here with Sereinia and Mayumi... You need to calm down... He told himself mentally.

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Mayumi did not see what would require of her to wear such clothing that would limit her movements, weigh her down and was even hard to walk in. It was simply ridiculous in her opinion, but since Shadow wasn't taking no for an answer she had no choice but to wear it.

As Mayumi followed Shadow and Sereinia, she grew wary of the crowded area they were approaching that was full of shiny lights and stalls of sorts. She didn't understand why Shadow would even suggest coming here, knowing that he too disliked crowded areas.

Everyone she saw had their mouths in an upturned semi-circle and they were all dressed up in the same long outfits. The emotionally challenged girl was failing in comprehending the current situation.

"Why does everyone do that with their mouths? Why is everyone wearing this ridiculous outfit?" she asked monotonously. She really wanted an answer to her questions for this was rather confusing.

Just then, a man from a stall went up to Shadow placing a hand on his shoulder. Mayumi knowing what would happen next took a step away from Shadow, and sure enough, within the next second the man was pinned to the ground. As they continued walking through the crowded place, Shadow repeated the action to several other people who came up to him.

Mayumi had long retreated to the comfort of the alleyways ever since she caught people staring at her and had been watching Shadow and Sereinia from atop a rooftop while Sora kept a close eye on any signs of danger from above.

After a while, Shadow finally had to stop and rest. Taking this opportunity, Mayumi approached him slowly, sensing his edginess.

"Master, why are we here? There's nothing that would benefit us here." Mayumi inquired, her face was void of emotions.

If possible, she would be in the hideout or training in the forest by now. She really disliked crowded places and she wasn’t planning on staying for long either.

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

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"Master, why are we here? There's nothing that would benefit us here." Mayumi asked.

Shadow looked up at her for a moment.

"I understand your confusion Mayumi... I know how odd this seems to you but I must ask that you bear with it. If you allow yourself to relax and simply enjoy the cool night air and wait for the fireworks, I think you'll find you enjoy them too. I've seen fireworks once before, but they were very small though still fun to watch. These will light the night sky in various colors and give off loud explosions which is rather entertaining."

He stood up, taking a breath and looking at her with a smile.

"Just try to relax. I know I'm not setting a good example right now, but try to enjoy the night and observe these people as they interact with one another. You may find something in this festival that you enjoy doing such as playing some of the games or competing with others in strength and stamina challenges for money or prizes. Walk around and get a feel for how these people celebrate this special day for themselves."

Though he said it calmly and with a smile, it was still an order and he knew she'd pick up on that. She wouldn't like, most likely, but if she could find even one thing to enjoy in this place it would make the experience worth it. If Shadow was going to preserve and rebuild her connection to humanity, he needed to start small. This was not exactly starting small, but there had to be at least one activity at this festival that Mayumi would enjoy participating in.

Shadow himself waited where he was for Sereinia to arrive. She said she had gifts to give to him and Mayumi, but Shadow wanted Mayumi to explore and observe the people so for the time being he'd accept her gift for her when Sereinia finally arrived.

The setting changes from triveila to Cre' Est

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Character Portrait: Mayumi

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(Triveila)

Mayumi knew by Shadow’s tone that his words were not to be argued with, so she took off to the rooftops again not knowing what she could possibly do at this weird thing called a festival.

A few minutes pass with Mayumi just observing the place when suddenly, fire blew up in the alleyway. It was not an explosion, that was for sure, but what else could possibly do that? Curious, she headed towards the place where she saw the fire.

Looking down into the alleyway, Mayumi spotted a boy with red hair and hazel eyes holding chains of fire. He seemed to be a little older than her and had tan complexion with red tattoos decorating his body. Fire seemed to surround him as he drew pictures of sorts with the chains he held. Though there weren’t any music, his graceful movements and the sound of crackling fire filled the silence making it seem as if there was music.

“How long are you going to stare at me like that?” the boy asked.

Mayumi stared at him for a while, unsure if she should go any nearer. He could easily hurt her with those chains of fire and since her movements were constricted by the clothes she currently wore she would be open for any attacks.

“Don’t worry. I won’t let the chains hit you.” He told her as if he had read her mind.

Mayumi decided to get off the rooftop but would still stay at a safe distance from the fire boy. With a double flip in the air, she landed soundlessly a few meters away from the guy.

“Impressive. Are you an acrobat?”

Mayumi stared at him, wondering what an acrobat was. Eventually, she shook her head seeing as the guy was waiting for an answer.

The boy chuckled at Mayumi’s actions. He observed her facial features for a while then started to draw again.

Mayumi watched as another image was being drawn out before her. Once the drawing was done, she found that could do nothing but stare at it. The resemblance between the image of her and her face really startled Mayumi. She hadn’t a clue that such things could actually exist.

“You haven’t lived much huh?”

Mayumi wondered what he was saying now. She still couldn’t take her eyes off the fading image of herself.

“Better start living girl. You’ll regret it if you don’t.”

Red black orbs stared at the boy blankly. What was he saying? Was she not living now? Mayumi headed back onto the rooftops, having too much to think about now.

The setting changes from cre-est to Triveila

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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There was not much to say. When Shadow had awoke from his slumber, Sereinia had decided not to pry into his dreams that had caused for him to cry. Instead, she had returned the small smile of his with hers. At the same time, she spoke her concerns about his health which he apologized for. In the end, she cannot fully scold him as the scene of him crying flashed through her mind from time to time. Adding to that, he was not being difficult when she would asked him to eat properly or take a rest when needed. So, there was no further need to pester him with her feelings of worry. It was like that the days passed between them as she would at times ask how Mayumi was doing. Over all, it had been quite peaceful and relatively normal in her opinion.

A few days before the Festival, Mayumi had returned to them in a far better condition than she was in the past days. Sereinia could not help but smile happily. She had almost run towards the young girl and gave her a tight embrace. Fortunately, she was able to refrain herself knowing that Mayumi would be probably be frightened. She did hear from Shadow that the young girl was not much accustomed in such gestures. Thus, she satisfied herself by welcoming Mayumi with a heartfelt smile and with the occasional checking of her injuries to ensure that everything was on the right track to recovery. Soon enough, Mayumi's ankle was good as new. Still, Sereinia would remind the young girl not to put much stress or pressure on it just to be on the safe side.

Time passed by them and they had finally arrived at the focal area where the many events of the festival would take place. Sereinia was really glad that she would be able to share this celebration with Shadow and Mayumi. Adding to that, she had managed to make the two wear Triveila's Traditional Clothing which was very different from their everyday clothes. Well, she did want them to fully enjoy the festival. As such, she also donned a blue ombre-colored kimono with white sweet clover patterns found at its sleeves and lower half. It is also complimented by a green obi with a white obijime and a brown maple leaf brooch which served as its design. She even wore a zōri instead of her usual boots. Her raven black hair was put into a simple loose bun while 2 brown maple leaf pins adorned her bangs. All in all, she was quite a beauty to see with a simplistic elegance.

Walking with Shadow and Mayumi, Sereinia did not expect Shadow's nervousness around the crowd. It resulted into a lot of incidental self-defense maneuvers. He would apologize and she would follow it up in her own way. Although, she was not able to stop the woman who had slapped him. At the very least, she had prevented the female from making much of a scene. Fortunately, Mayumi was more calm in the crowd as the young girl opted to be on the roofs or alleyways. It is then that she had fully understood that her two companions were much ignorant and uncomfortable with the workings of a normal life.

In the moment, Sereinia was apologizing to the person that Shadow had mistakenly attacked. She had caught glance how tensed he was and somehow, she regretted bringing him and Mayumi here. Perhaps, it would be better for them to return to their lodgings. They could still see the fireworks there on the roof. After her profuse apologies, she noticed a short conversation with Mayumi who afterwards went on her own. She wondered what it was about as she approached Shadow who was still seating and taking his time to get comfortable with the crowd.

"Where will Mayumi go?"

Serenia inquired as she looked at Mayumi who soon faded from her sight. Hearing Shadow's answer, she truly wondered if the young girl would be fine on her own. She could show her around at the very least. However, she was more worried about the man before him. For someone so mature in her eyes, he seemed like frightful child. She found it quite adorable in a sense.

"Shadow, will you be fine? We can still watch the fireworks at our lodging. You, Mayumi, and me can watch it from the roof."

Stopping before Shadow, Sereinia lowered herself and looked at him with concern and gentleness. It was already enough for her that Shadow and Mayumi had accompanied her here. There was no need to push the two of them further. It would be better for them to take just one step at a time.

"I am already happy that you and Mayumi came with me here and even wore the clothes I asked you both to do so. I cannot wish for more."

Taking out something from the hidden pocket in her kimono, Sereinia handed Shadow a small pouch with a bright smile on her face. She was even more beautiful. She had told Shadow earlier that she wanted to give him and Mayumi something. It seemed to be the perfect time to do that.

"I found it while I was shopping around the market. I was not sure if you would like it. But at the very least, I wish it would cheer you up."

After saying that, Sereinia gestured for Shadow to open the pouch to look at its contents. When he did, he would see a small silver chain with 3-leaf clover behind its were the engravings of their name. It could be used as a pendant, bracelet, or could be tied on his belt, daggers, or anything.

"It would be a good luck charm to keep you safe and even if you find yourself around. Just look at it and Mayumi and I are always with you."

Sereinia said with the most sincerest feelings as her deep amethyst eyes glowed with radiant warmth as she looked at the charm and then to Shadow with a slight blush on her face.

"Do you like it? If not, I could get you another just tell me what you like. I am going to give Mayumi the same gift too... It would be just for the three of us."

The setting changes from triveila to Cre' Est

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Sorry, please ignore this.

The setting changes from cre-est to Triveila

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Mayumi had been deep in thought when Sora landed in front of her with Shadow’s message.

Following her most trusted ally, she found Sereinia and Shadow sitting on a slanted roof. As she got nearer, she sensed a certain aura between the two young adults. Relying on her insight, she had a feeling that it was wrong to interfere at this point, but what was she to do?

Looking on at the two adults, Mayumi felt a strong sense of emptiness in her chest seeing Sereinia being this close to Shadow. If she had seen correctly earlier, they had even held hands.

‘What was the meaning of that?’

Instead of settling down behind them, Mayumi decided to head down and stand in the alley way.

Seeing its mistress head down, Sora followed suit and landed on her shoulder.

“Everything is becoming confusing. Ever since we met Shadow, a whole new world has been opened to us. Is this right? Is this what my previous master wants?” Mayumi questioned only receiving a cock of the head back from Sora.

Mayumi still had many things to learn from this world. Her memories only consisted of constant training and never-ending battles there was never a second where she wasn’t doing nothing but relaxing. Even now, Mayumi was on guard.

Suddenly, Mayumi heard Sereinia’s voice

"It is a nice thought. Even if someone is far from you, just look up. Because the two of you are viewing the same sky..."

Looking up, she sees Sereinia doing what everyone at the festival had done. The corners of her mouth were lifted and her eyes were shining with… something she had yet know of.

Within seconds, Mayumi was on the slanted rooftop staring at Sereinia.

“What are you doing?” she questions curiously.

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Shadow listened to Sereinia's words and smiled.

The night air was cool and relaxed, and his senses, though on high alert at all times, were very much relaxed as well. He could not sense anything in the immediate area and it made little difference since Taira was present in the city to help out as well. Being his most trusted friend and pupil, Taira was easily capable of taking care of any problems without Shadow having to get his hands dirty.

Suddenly, Shadow could sense movement and when he opened his left eye Mayumi was on the roof staring at Sereinia.

“What are you doing?” She asked.

Shadow closed his eyes and his smile grew just a tiny bit.

Mayumi was growing more and more curious about the world around her and that was a fantastic first sign that her link to humanity was beginning to form roots. If this were to keep up for even just one year Mayumi would find herself continuing to ask questions and experimenting with what she saw as Shadow had done tonight. With any luck, this would continue unhindered. However, Shadow was prepared to keep his guard up no matter the circumstances so that she would indeed have her chance. If Kiiro dared show his face to her again, Shadow was prepared to kill him.

When the thought of Kiiro entered his mind, Shadow's insides began to boil and his smile slowly changed to a frown and his eyebrows furrowed a little bit as the muscles in his face tightened.

The history of the two was long, bloody and beyond a simple hate for one another. Though they held a silent respect as opponents, they both held a raw and seething hatred that went far beyond the intensity of what most mortals could feel for each other. When Shadow and Kiiro were in the same area and were within a line of sight, the air between them would literally grow thicker and warmer because of the amount of energy their bodies were beginning to produce as their temperatures rose and their focused energies began to gather. The heat of their bodies would rise to the point where their bodies would both begin to release steam in lower temperature environments, even when they weren't yet fighting. When they were fighting the air around them would steam as well, not just their bodies.

From the perspective of onlookers in the past their confrontations were viewed as a battle between two Demigods due to how violent and destructive they were despite how easily they were able to get back up and continue on. The two of them had actually destroyed half of a small village on the outskirts of Cre' Est a number of years ago during one of their earlier confrontations when they were both younger and less in control of their hatred for each other. While Mayumi and Sereinia had seen how destructive a fight between Shadow and other members of Te'i Sai such as the Wraiths could be, it was nothing compared to how destructive he and Kiiro were when they squared off.

This extreme hatred ensured that every encounter drew greater and greater levels of blood and damage for each subsequent confrontation. Their first encounter saw no blood drawn except for a bloody lip on Shadow's part and a bloody nose on Kiiro's while their second saw both receive a one inch gash to their upper torso. Such a consistent increase in blood drawn would ensure that one of their next few encounters would see one of them die. However, neither combatant had any intention of dying anytime soon. They both had goals to fulfill and plans for the future, and the only real question was which of them would see theirs fulfilled first.

Since their first encounter Shadow and Kiiro had traded the upper hand in both combat and tactics. Typically Shadow emerged victorious, though he payed a heavy price for it each time. The main difference between Shadow and Kiiro's tactics was that Kiiro didn't hold the morals which Shadow had since picked up. Shadow wouldn't bring innocent lives into a fight, but Kiiro would and often did. His recent attack on Mayumi was a clear example in Shadow's eyes. Mayumi, though Shadow's new pupil, was not a part of their confrontation and he had no right to bring her into it with such violence. The thought made Shadow's blood boil even further and his eyes began to glow brighter as his anger rose.

It was an odd "mutation", as the Grandmasters had labeled it, that Shadow's eyes would glow and change the intensity of their coloration depending on his mood. The angrier he got the brighter his eyes glowed and the more red they became, especially at night. The calmer he was, the more relaxed and stable and lighter in coloration they seemed to become. During Roda I'l Lousta, however, his pupils nearly vanished and his eyes would be at their brightest and their most deep blood red coloration to the point where you could see them beneath closed eyelids, even during the day. They were almost like two red candles inside behind his eyelids with how brightly they shone during Roda I'l Lousta.

Right now Shadow's eyes were indeed glowing but not to the point where the difference was all that noticeable and they didn't shine through his currently closed eyelids. However it didn't take long for Shadow to open them and looked to the sky, wondering where Kiiro was right now and what he was planning.

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Slightly Surprising Sereinia, she looked to Mayumi who had arrived. Her deep amethyst eyes showed her light surprise but soon it was replaced with warmth. She was glad that Mayumi had come to join them. Removing her arms around her legs, she gave the younger girl a small smile.

"Hello Mayumi... "

Then, she thought of what Mayumi had asked her. There was a moment of silence before Sereinia comprehend what the young girl was pertaining to. As a safe measure, she pointed at the sky and then looked at it.

"Admiring the sky... Oh, I have something to give you."

With that said, Sereinia took out another small pouch and gave it to Mayumi. Its contents were similar to the one she gave to Shadow earlier. As Mayumi took it, she gave the girl a warm smile. She was not really sure how Mayumi would react to the gift; however, she was willing to explain anything that she asks about. There was nothing wrong with being curious. It means that one is willing to learn and to know.

"I hope you would like it."

At the end of her words, the sky had its first fireworks fired into the sky. It lit the night sky with brilliant colors while Sereinia looked at with glee and wonder. They were like flowers blooming in the dark sky for a moment of beauty and then become a wonderful memory. The fireworks show had began as continuous launches of fireworks filled the evening skies. The people in their respective spots looked at it with awe and the Royal Family of Triveila was also present in their special place along with a lot of Royal Guards to ensure their safety. However, position, rank, status, career, morality, and all of that does not matter at the moment. Everyone was mesmerized It by the sight of fleeting flowers of the sky.

"So beautiful..."

Sereinia softly whispered as the lights of the fireworks reflected on her form as a small smile was present on her lips. The thought that everyone else in the continent were sharing this same sight. Everyone was seeing and sharing this patronage for the Gods and Goddesses who gave us the gift called life. It made her smile even wider and somehow she filled contented more than ever. She had attended this Festival in the past years. However, she was not that satisfied. Perhaps, it is because of the presence of the two people with her. Her eyes looked at Shadow and then Mayumi.

"I am happy to have this memory with you two. I am. Thank you very much."

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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"I am happy to have this memory with you two. I am. Thank you very much."

Shadow instantly was brought out of his thoughts about Kiiro and the Wraiths when Sereinia's voice rang through his ears. He looked over to her and smiled to her.

"I think we should be thanking you Sereinia." Shadow said.

He looked over towards Mayumi and gave her a smile as well.

"How about you sit down with us Mayumi?" He asked, gesturing with his left hand for her to sit down next to Sereinia.

As he retracted his hand he looked up at the sky just in time to catch the next wave of fireworks going off. The sounds of the explosions in the air and the feeling of power they brought with them was almost entrancing. Shadow's smile changed from one of closed lips and contention to one showing a little bit of his beautiful white teeth and an expression of admiration and excitement. Shadow continued to silently watch until the wave was over and there was a temporary pause in the fireworks.

"I've never seen anything like this..." He said quietly to himself, still smiling.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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"Admiring the sky... Oh, I have something to give you."

‘Admiring skies will make the corners of your mouth lift? But I’ve done that countless of times and it has never happened.’ Mayumi was perplexed.

Sereinia held out a small gift and Mayumi looked at it for a few seconds before taking it, wondering what could possibly be inside something that tiny.

"I hope you would like it." Sereinia said.

Suddenly, the faint sound of something screeching caught her attention. Turning around, Mayumi saw colourful bouts of lights shoot into the sky where they exploded into shimmering lights. The explosion startled Mayumi quite a bit causing her to move behind Shadow within a splitting second. Sora seemed to be staring weirdly at its mistress’ odd behaviour.

"I am happy to have this memory with you two. I am. Thank you very much." Sereinia spoke.

"I think we should be thanking you Sereinia." Shadow said.
Shadow looked over towards Mayumi and gave her a smile as well.
"How about you sit down with us Mayumi?" He asked, gesturing with his left hand for her to sit down next to Sereinia.


"I've never seen anything like this..." Shadow said quietly.

“Master what is that? Should I eliminate the cause of it?” Mayumi asked while staying behind Shadow.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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“Master what is that? Should I eliminate the cause of it?”

At that question Shadow burst out into laughter, holding his sides as he rolled to his left side. Not of his own conscious decision he tilted his head forward in his laughter and his forehead touched Sereinia's thigh before he straightened his neck and tried to sit up as he brought his laughter under control, not realizing what had just happened in the slightest as he was too focused on what Mayumi had said and trying to stop laughing.

"... Mayumi, those are the fireworks we were talking about this whole time. They are meant to be festive and something to be enjoyed... I think." He looked to Sereinia with a half confused look before looking back to Mayumi.

"Just sit down with us and watch the lights in the sky Mayumi. Don't mind the explosions or the screeching they cause before they explode."

With that Shadow sat back in his spot and laid back down with his head cupped in his hands which were behind his head. He looked up at the sky again and just sat quietly as he watched the skies, waiting for the next wave of fireworks.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Mayumi stared at Shadow, her eyes wide. Shadow just did what all the people at the festival were doing.

‘Is that contagious?’ Mayumi wondered.

Deciding she had enough surprising events Mayumi settled in between Sereinia and Shadow. When she did, Mayumi felt a feeling of warmness fill her. Something she had never felt before. It felt so right, yet so foreign, but…

‘It’s nice.’ Mayumi thought.

Slowly, Mayumi started to relax as she watched the thing called fireworks. Between the two adults, she felt a weird sense of security, something she had never really felt before. All she had ever felt before being the coldness of the night and the endless cold battles she fought.

Eyes begin to drift close and soon Mayumi was asleep between the two. For the first time in Mayumi’s life, a peaceful look graced her young face. A single tear leaks from between her eye lids and down her cheek.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Sereinia blinked at the rather odd question of Mayumi. At the same time, she find it very adorable in every sense. She would have laugh; however, she was distracted by the sudden sound of mirth that came from Shadow. It would seemed that he also find Mayumi's innocent question quite humorous. But more that, Sereinia felt her cheeks beginning to have the shade of red as Shadow unconsciously contacted with her thigh. There was no damage done and she knew very well that there was no perverted meaning to it. After all, it was just pure coincidence. The one thing she does not understand was why she was blushing at that meaningless gesture. She must be getting too giddy from all of the festive mood. Although, she knew for a fact that the real reason for her reactions were far from that thought. In any case, Shadow took her out from her inner monologue as Shadow explained what the fireworks were for. Asking for her input, Shadow gazed at Sereinia which she obliged with a warm smile towards Mayumi.

"They are a colorful spectacle for people to watch and admire from the skies. They are created for the pure purpose of wonder and enjoyment..."

After Sereinia's explanation, Mayumi followed Shadow's suggestion and settled in a position between them. When that was done, Sereinia proceeded to watch the next wave of fireworks and they were getting more elaborate than the previous ones. It was really a beautiful spectacle. Glancing to her side, she noticed that Shadow was also enjoying the fireworks and if she might be bold to point out, she had never seen him so calm and relaxed. It was a good idea to have them watch the fireworks show. It was then she looked at Mayumi and noticed that the girl had fallen asleep. This was also a first for Sereinia as she never seen the young girl sleep. Well, it was because she had always been the first to sleep and the last to wake up when it comes to Mayumi. But now looking at her, Sereinia cannot help but smile warmly. The young girl looked so at peace.

"Happy Festival Mayumi..."

It was spoken lightly above whisper as Sereinia was about to inform Shadow about Mayumi when she caught sight of a lone tear falling. Instinctively, she gently wiped it away and looked at the young girl with concern. Similar to what she had done to Shadow before, Sereinia took Mayumi's hand gently as a show of comfort if the girl was having a nightmare.

"Shadow... Mayumi is fast asleep..."

Speaking in a hush tone, Sereinia looked at Shadow with concern as she alerted him about the situation. Moreover, she seemed to be like a doting mother or sister in any case when it comes to Mayumi.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Mayumi sat in between Shadow and Sereinia and he couldn't help but smile to himself as he watched the fireworks continue. Eventually, Sereinia spoke quietly to him as the fireworks broke for a moment.

"Shadow... Mayumi is fast asleep..." She said.

Shadow turned in time to see Sereinia dry a tear from Mayumi's cheek, and Shadow's smile faded when he thought about what the tear could mean. Her face was content and there were no signs of any kind of problems on her end so Shadow thought that perhaps it was just a tear of unrecognized inner joy at being here with two people who cared and slowly being accepted into someone else's life. That's how it was for Shadow when it happened to him, so he guessed that Mayumi was having the same experience as he was when he started to learn what it meant to care like this.

"Poor thing must be exhausted what with all that's happened." He said quietly as he leaned over to double check that he wasn't missing anything.

He leaned back and laid down once more, cupping his head in his hands and looking at the sky as the finale to the firework display started to go off. Burst after burst of light and sound cascaded forth through the night sky and Shadow's senses began to sharpen. While it wasn't particularly in response to the fireworks themselves, whenever loud noises began to sound off Shadow's instinct was to become more alert. His adrenaline took a slight jump, nothing like in a fight, but a jump none the less and time slowed for a few seconds until he was able to suppress the urge to enter combat mode and relax once again as the final firework exploded in the sky.

Shadow smiled and closed his eyes, laying his head back and letting a breath out on a sigh through his nose.

It had been a strange evening, but this firework show had made it all worth it. Mayumi's emotions were beginning to resurface which meant that Shadow was on the right track to bringing her back from the mentality that she "was a weapon" and beginning to help her realize that she was a human. It would still take time, possibly even years, but eventually she would realize it and when that happened she truly would become a weapon.

The biggest mistake "warriors" make when they think they are weapons is that they forget their own mortality and they begin to think that since they were trained as a weapon and trained to fight and kill that they should no longer pay heed to their own human limits. That manner of thinking was a quick and short trip to the end of your life, and the less Mayumi though she was a weapon and the more she thought she was a human, the longer her life expectancy would be. Even for Shadow if he though he was a weapon he would have died a long time ago.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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"Poor thing must be exhausted what with all that's happened."

Sereinia looked at Mayumi gently as she tucked away a stray hair of the young girl behind the ears. It seemed that Shadow was not that much entirely concerned as he returned to his relaxed position and watched the final showcase of the fireworks. Thus, it must meant that the young girl was in no danger physically or mentally at the moment. Knowing this, she released a sigh of relief and moved closer to Mayumi. The hold she had on the younger girl's hand remained. When she was young, it was one of her fondest memory asking her mother to hold her hand until she falls asleep. It was comforting to know that someone was beside you and even more so when you wake up.

"Haru ni saku hana
Natsu hirogaru sora yo
Kokoro no naka ni
Kizamarete kirameku

Asa ni furu ame
Mado o tozasu hi ni mo
Mune ni afureru hikari wa
Kumo no ue

Yorokobi kanashimi
Subete idaite aruite iru
Watashi no te to
Kimi no te o
Tsuyoku tsunagu mono

Aki wa mizube ni
Fuyu kozue ni hisomu
Sekai no oku no
Kagirinai yasashisa

Yoru ga kuru tabi
Inori o sasageyou
Ashita kuru hi o
Shizuka ni mukaeyou

Watashi o michibiku
Tooi tooi yobigoe yo
Hohoemu you ni
Utau you ni
Hibiku kaze no oto

Yorokobi kanashimi
Subete idaite aruite iru
Watashi no te to
Kimi no te o
Tsuyoku tsunagu mono"


It was a lullaby that Sereinia had often sang to her little brother before. She had been told that it brought pleasant dreams; so, she hoped it would do the same for Mayumi. Her eyes were closed as her voice was light and whimsical. When the song ended, she proceeded to watch the fireworks that once more filled the evening sky. She felt a sense that this moment here was perfect which was awkward in more ways than one. Shadow and Mayumi grew and lived in a world far different from hers. However, the more time she spent with them, the more she understands about them. People tend to discriminate and hate others just because of reputation or allegations that at times are baseless. Well, she could not completely say that the stories about Shadow and even for Mayumi were lies. She knew well what they are capable of from their travels. But at the same time, she knew that they have hearts and feelings just like everyone else. This thought brought a smile on her face as her eyes remained on the wondrous lights of the fireworks.

"I forgot to tell you and Mayumi. Forgive me, about that. There is this legend about the fireworks."

Her eyes remained on the dancing lights in the dark stage of the sky. Sereinia had a very solemn look on her face as her eyes reflected a gentle warmth. A small smile was present on her lips as she continued on.

"The last firework that would explode in the sky is the brightest and the most beautiful; however, it quickly dissipates faster than the others. Before that happens, you must make your wish. If you make it in time, it will be granted by the Gods and Goddesses."

Placing her free hand near to her chest, Sereinia waited for the last firework to make its show. She had already a wish ready unlike before. Whenever the last firework would appear, she had nothing she wanted to wish even just for humor. It did not bother her before but as of now, she regretted not making at least a childish wish even if it would be a whim. With that, the last firework was fired as it filled the night sky with its unique brilliance and shape. It took the form of the Main Deity of Triveila along with floating lights that resembled water droplets falling all over the town.

"I wish to watch the fireworks together with Shadow and Mayumi next year."

Closing her eyes, Sereinia made her wish silently. One of the raindrop light fell on the tip of her nose which alerted her. It did not hurt but felt much like a warm tap. Opening her eyes, she saw it. A rather childish admiration was present on her face as she looked at Shadow.

"Look Shadow, it is beautiful."

The light slowly fades into nothing and this made Sereinia sad for a bit. However, it soon was replaced with a warm smile as she looked at Shadow and then to Mayumi. It was time for them to go back. The festivity for the evening was over at the moment.

"Shall I tuck you and Mayumi to bed now?"

Sereinia's tone was warped with light humor but at the same time with endearing affection. She was very contented with the events of this night. It was definitely one of the best memories she will ever have.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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"Shall I tuck you and Mayumi to bed now?"

Shadow laughed a little to himself, quietly, and looked down at Mayumi. Her contented expression as she slept was a silent comfort to Shadow that he was doing something right and that gave him greater hope and confidence than ever before. He decided it was time to head back, so he gently picked up Mayumi in his arms and carefully brought her back inside from the roof. When he was done he came back to the roof for Sereinia, picking her up as before but taking her all the way down to street level using the outside wall of the building instead of going in through someone else's window as he did with Mayumi. He didn't mind it if people thought that he and Mayumi were strange, but he didn't want Sereinia to have that issue. She was an innocent who was not truly a part of the battle that he and Mayumi were fighting in and so he was trying to preserve her innocence and separation from them as long as he could.

He had already failed in that regard to an extent when they first met. By saving her from those thugs he ensured that they would forever associate her with the Red-Eyed Demon even if they never came back to see her. At the very least, they would spread word about "Dr. Nora" being associated with the Demon of people's nightmares and that could be a problem for her if she ever returned to that clinic. Shadow would forever fear for her safety in the back of his mind when this was over and they went their separate ways, but there was really no avoiding that now. The only thing that could save her from that was her own actions. If she went back, she would just behave the way she always did and that would hopefully be enough to protect her from people's gullible beliefs.

Shadow hit the ground and stepped off the wall, still holding Sereinia in his arms for a moment longer while looking down at the ground.

"Sereinia... I don't want to put a note of sadness on this night but I hope that you will be able to continue to enjoy yourself like this... At least in small doses... I can make no guarantees of that, but I can guarantee that the longer you stay with us the more likely you are to see violence on a scale you never have before and it will test your resolve more than you know... Are you sure you're alright with that?" He asked, finally looking over at her.

Shadow's greatest concern was Roda I'l Lousta and although it had been over a year and a half since it was last activated Shadow was on edge that it would happen now that he was finding some semblance of peace and comfort with Sereinia and Mayumi. It was the same as before when he first rebelled against Te'i Sai. Taira fell victim to Roda I'l Lousta during the end of that phase when they, along with a few other companions, destroyed the branch of Te'i Sai in Roda Valley in Cre' Est. Though she survived thanks to Shadow and one other's quick emergency surgery, she carried a massive scar down the front of her chest to the base of her stomach from the surgery as a reminder for the rest of her life how Shadow almost killed her.

The last thing Shadow wanted was for Sereinia to experience the same thing, or worse.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: The Royal Knights Of Cre' Est

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Sereinia caught a tidbit of entertainment in Shadow's expression based on her inquiry. This brought a small smile to her lips as that was the intended purpose. In any case, she watched him carry Mayumi into his arms without reprimand. But before that, she noticed warmth and a sense of comfort in those red eyes of his. This invited her to gaze at the younger girl once more. She seemed so content and at peace. Mayumi appeared so carefree which truly made Sereinia overjoyed. In the days that she had traveled with the two assassins, she had never seen Mayumi relaxing or even being remotely unaware. The girl had always been wary, cautious, stern, and unyielding. It is no wonder that Shadow always finds these comforting which Sereinia had concluded in her opinion. After all, seeing Mayumi like this was truly an amazing thing. She tucked another loose strand of hair behind Mayumi's ear and then gave her a gentle good night kiss on the forehead.

"Sweet dreams... Mayumi."

It was spoken in such a melodic whisper as Shadow whisked Mayumi away. Sereinia waited at her spot as Shadow had assured her that he will be back for her and she knew better than to doubt the man. She saw him entering a window to gain entrance. Honestly, she was slightly bothered about as people might recognize them as robbers. Even if, their intentions was just passing through. Hopefully, no one would care as all of the townspeople seemed to be drunk with the remaining festivities of the night. Taking a deep breath, she simply remained sitting while looking at the dark horizon. Her mind riddled with worry and the thoughts of what would occur at the future. However, it was more of curiosity than of anxiety. She was not certain if the events that had happened a few days ago had brought a sense of change in her. Perhaps, it did. She now only wonders if it was for the better or not. That was the exact moment, Shadow had returned to help her down from the roof.

"Welcome back..."

Smiling at Shadow, Sereinia was rewarded by being carried into his arms similar to what he had done before. She wrapped his arms around his neck for support and nuzzled her face at the crook of his neck. At this distance, she could breathe in his scent. It was not like the smell of flowers, herbs, or perfumes, but she liked it very much. It brought her a sense of comfort as she slowly closed her eyes. She did not notice that Shadow had taken a different route than the one he took earlier with Mayumi. If she did, the good doctor would have voiced her question about this choice. She liked the place where she was at the moment. It was something she was certain. Feeling that Shadow had stopped from moving, she took this as a sign that they were now on solid ground.

"Thank you..."

Giving her thanks, Sereinia opened her eyes and noticed that Shadow seemed preoccupied with something. She was still being held by him which earned her confusion. He was not looking at him but at the ground as if there was something very interesting there. She followed his line of sight and saw nothing spectacular or out of ordinary. It would not be good for her to move out of his arms on her own as the bystanders might think that she was being abducted or something. So, she remained still and asked.

"Is there something the matter?"

Eyes of amethyst looked at Shadow with concern as she removed her face from the crook of his neck to have a good look at him. This question was soon answered by him who still avoided looking at her.

"Sereinia... I don't want to put a note of sadness on this night but I hope that you will be able to continue to enjoy yourself like this... At least in small doses... I can make no guarantees of that, but I can guarantee that the longer you stay with us the more likely you are to see violence on a scale you never have before and it will test your resolve more than you know... Are you sure you're alright with that?"


At the end of his statement, Shadow finally looked at Sereinia. She could see the concern, guilt, but if she would be bold to speak, there was also fear in those ruby red eyes that she had find solace in amidst the fearful stories that entailed it. There was a moment of silence as she simply gazed at him as if he had said something truly peculiar. Soon, this odd silence was broken by her voice as her answer rolled out her lips like soft waves.

"I am very aware the intentions and goals you have. I completely do not agree with them no matter what reasons the two of you might have. I am also certain that the event on that night will happen once more and it would probably be more worse. I truly understand the danger and the trials that would come before me. It would be hard or difficult than I could ever anticipate. I know this and despite that I can never be prepared for it."

Pausing for a moment, Sereinia had her hand gently touch Shadow's cheek.

"But right now at this moment, I truly want to be here with you and Mayumi. It is what I feel. I do not feel fearful of what horrendous thing that would come after me if I stand by your side. I am completely fine here with you. I do not regret anything."

After saying that, Sereinia warmly smiled at Shadow and then suddenly pinched his right cheek with all the strength she could muster and brightly smiled.

"So, do allow this troublesome doctor to be by your side a bit more? If not, I will pinch both of your cheeks next time."

Sereinia said with a cheerful tone while showing her hands to Shadow. "What do you say? Will you let me go or not?"




"Are you certain it would be a good idea to mingle with bounty hunters in this?"

It was asked by a man with silver-white hair and matching silver eyes similar to the pale moon's light. This was even more noticeable as his sun-kissed complexion bring out it more. He had an athletic physique that was not overdone but showed that he had gone proper, rigorous, and daily training. Another thing to notice is that he had a beautiful face. All in all, he was quite the handsome man. He was leaning on a nearby stone column in the hallways in one of the most oldest and important structures of Cre' Est. His current apparel has the Royal Insignia of Cre' Est which was reserved specifically for the Knights.

"You worry too much Solomon. They don't have loyalty but, they have principles in terms of money."

The one who answered was also a man who was just slightly taller than Solomon. He was also very attractive and appealing to the eyes. Long brown with black tips for his hair, a feminine face with the touch of masculinity, an athletic body, white complexion, and the most notable trait was his eyes. They were of a unique shade of pink that dabbles with red and carnation under certain lighting. At times, he had been identified as the Red-Eyed Demon due to this. But, he vehemently denies this as he does not want to associate himself with a good-for-nothing criminal.

"You're too carefree about this Yarun. This is a mission entrusted to us by the Empress and the Emperor."

A huff was the first answer as Yarun turned his back at Solomon and walked ahead. He did not need to be reminded consistently the importance of the mission assigned to them. It is why they were given the directive to do whatever means necessary to achieve the completion and the success of their mission. With that, he was willing to do anything or get his hands dirty to deliver good news and bring honor to his nation.

Solomon released a sigh at this reaction. He removed himself from the column and followed his partner. This mission was very difficult in every sense; however, he has complete confidence that it can accomplished. At the same time, he is the type that never loses and he does not intend to do so anytime soon. Although, he was not certain where to start as the clues they had in the first place were not exactly helpful. As he was in deep thought, he had finally exited the magnificent palace of Cre' Est, the home of the Empress and her family. But the thing that snapped him out was the explosion and splendor of the fireworks upon the sky.

"The Festival... I forgot about that."

"You always forget such mundane things." Yarun noted as he looked at Solomon with an impatient look. It seemed he had been waiting for him.

"There are times... Any case, do you have any hunters in mind?"

At this question, Yarun had a rather sinister smile on his lips and closed his eyes momentarily. "Oh, I have."

The setting changes from triveila to Cre' Est

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Shadow smiled at Sereinia and simply said "yes" to her as he too then looked up at the skies above.

The next morning Shadow made good on his promise and guided Sereinia and Mayumi back to Cre' Est. The trip was uneventful but still entertaining to a fault, what with Shadow asking questions about almost everything they passed along the way and curiously approaching and examining certain things such as passing horse drawn carriages, statues along the sides of the roads, and other random objects they passed. His curiosity knew almost no bounds and it was as if a child were now accompanying Sereinia and Mayumi as he curiously and almost aimlessly wandered from their path along the way from time to time to investigate things he'd always taken for granted and never given any thought to before.

Upon arrival with the Capitol City on the horizon, Shadow led them around the city and slightly north to a small rocky outcrop among the vegetation of the forest. Within the rocks was a hidden chamber leading slightly below the surface of the earth and into a large cavern. The expanse was approximately four hundred feet from left to right and another six hundred feet deep before hitting its wall. This single massive cavern was all natural and undisturbed, save for a few weapon racks Shadow had put there as well as a few other amenities. Shadow and Mayumi's training began that day and lasted for three months.

During that time Shadow intensified her strength and endurance training for the first month and a half, carving decent sized rocks into items similar to dumbbells for her to hold during sparring and forms training to weigh her down and wear down her muscles. He tied larger rocks about the size of a large watermelon to her ankles via a chain to slow down her legs and stop her from being able to kick at all. In between sparring rounds she was made to do isometrics and active workout routines to change the training on the day and change the way the muscles were forced to react to the weight they now carried. When the first month and a half was over and Shadow was satisfied with her progress, Mayumi began training in a completely different manner and Shadow nearly negated sparring and weight training altogether save for one or two rounds to test progress.

This second month was used to bind Mayumi's hands behind her back and blindfold her, forcing her to use not only her ears but her sense of touch in ways that she hadn't before in order to detect Shadow's light footsteps and body heat as he moved about. It took almost a week for Mayumi to get used to it, but eventually she did and her body began to adjust to the new sensations around it. Sensing Shadow's body heat within a distance of about five feet. Being able to hear his silent breaths and feel his footsteps through the dirt that they trained on. If she could detect his footsteps through the dirt she could easily do so through rock or anything else that was harder or more compact than soft soil due to the nature of the pressure waves through them.

The final three weeks before the Festival were spent meditating and recounting what they had gone through, and when it was complete Shadow gave Mayumi one final test the day before the festival. Shadow bound her hands behind her back and blindfolded her once again, this time forcing her to spar with him. Shadow's attacks came in at about one quarter speed to start the match, but gradually picked up speed and intensity as she continued to prove her training had paid off by gracefully leaning, bobbing, weaving and rolling to avoid them. Eventually Shadow landed a hit when he picked up intensity to about four fifths of his natural speed and that was when the match ended. He cut the bindings and let her remove the blindfold as they bowed to each other as Master and student once again before leaving their training grounds for good and joining Sereinia in the city to prepare for the festival.

The day came and went, and with the advent of nightfall came a new air for everyone all over the world as they all waited for and experienced the coming of the new century at midnight.

It was only ten o'clock or so right now as Shadow, Sereinia and Mayumi entered the city streets dressed in their new festival garb. Shadow's new outfit was similar to his last but instead of a glittered surface it was more decorated with what appeared to be stars lining his body and creating a small cascade of white and light blue against a black background. Shadow himself actually kind of thought he looked alright in such an outfit, but still didn't like how restrictive it was.

That aside, Shadow was slightly concerned because Taira had contacted him and told him there was an Assassin presence within this city. It was unlikely they were going to target Shadow, but undoubtedly they were here for the life of someone important. Shadow decided though that this time they were to be left alone so that Taira as well could enjoy this special night. She took him up on the offer and dressed up herself in a beautiful black (for lack of a creative word for the RP) kimono with pink blossoms running along the bottom and the sleeves. She looked wonderful, and she left Shadow and the others shortly after their meeting to go enjoy the festival on her own.

Shadow, in the mean time, walked about the edge looking for that one fish game he had played at the previous festival. He had quite a knack for it and found it amusing to toy with arrogant and otherwise cocky owners who thought he could never succeed at catching the fish in their tanks. He had a bit of trouble locating it, but when he finally found the game he immediately got in line and waited patiently for his turn to take a stab at catching a fish. The little girl in front of him failed miserably and splashed the poi straight down into the water and breaking it. The man laughed at her a little bit and said "better luck next time" which more than ticked Shadow off.

Shadow knelt down next to the girl and offered to pay for her next attempt which amused the man who owned the fish as Shadow took the poi in his hand and brought the little girl's hand to his own as they held it together. Shadow helped her line up the poi, and then when all was quiet Shadow lashed the poi forward making sure to keep the girl's arm in consideration as a fish was launched from the tank into the air and into the bowl in Shadow's left hand. The girl gleefully cheered with joy as the man's mouth dropped and cheers came from the crowd behind them. The girl thanked Shadow with a bow and a little hug before turning to show the fish to her parents as they walked away. Shadow smiled and looked at the man behind the tank.

"My turn." He said confidently.

The man renewed his facade of calm and confidence as he allowed Shadow to pay for his turn. Shadow lined up four bowls on the side of the tank, promising two fish for each bowl which would leave three left in the tank when he was finished. The man laughed out loud and several whispers were exchanged by those that watched as Shadow lined up his poi and prepared to strike the water once more. Shadow waited for almost a minute, angering the man behind the tank but finally lashed out several times. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven and eight. Each time he slashed at the water with the poi a fish flew into the air and landed into one of Shadow's four bowl, filling each of them with two fish before he set the poi, still in tact, down next to the tank and picked up his bowls and walked away. More whispers went through the crowd about someone who'd done something similar before in Triveila which told Shadow that perhaps some of the same people from that festival were here as well.

Shadow set the bowls down on edge of a fountain where other fish were swimming and pushed them over, sending the fish into the water as they happily swam about their new home with the others.

Shadow sat down on the edge of the fountain and looked up at the sky above, wondering what Sereinia and Mayumi were doing at the moment while he was out having fun messing with cocky game owners.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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With each passing day, Mayumi grew more and more on edge which was causing her to feel restless. She hadn't gotten much sleep at all for the past few days, but that wasn't what bothered her.

The incoming storm she saw in her dreams was approaching and she still had no clue to who those people were. Except...

'Shadow's back really looks alike to that guy, but with no concrete evidence I can't confirm it.' Mayumi speculated, recalling the time when Shadow's back was facing her and how it had reminded her of the man with dark aura.

"I'll be in the forest nearby if you need me." Mayumi told Sereinia. For some weird reason, she had felt the need to tell the older lady before she left.

Leaving Sora behind to watch over Sereinia, she sped up her pace heading into the forest soon enough. She had worn her usual clothing under the kimono she wore without Shadow and Sereinia knowing. The kimono she wore was black with white designs on the bottom and silver-white petals falling around the top.

Stripping down to her usual clothing, she hid her kimono in a bush before closing her eyes and heading a little deeper into the forest. Her senses raised a few levels higher than normal thanks to Shadow’s training and she was able to sense any object surrounding her. Not even a falling leaf would escape her.

While everyone had been sleeping, Mayumi had gone out to train on nights that she found sleep out of her reach. She had also found thin pieces of heavy metal and stuffed them in the sole and back of her boots as weights to train her speed. Since ‘that man’ was alike to Shadow, she needed to get up to Shadow’s level of speed. Only then, will she be able to accomplish her goal.

The detection of movement through the dirt made Mayumi stop in her tracks. The body heat of someone unknown to her met her senses and eyes snapped open in a split second as she dodged an incoming fist aimed for her gut. It was a young man whom she guessed was a thief from the way he acted and the mask over his face.

‘Must be from the village.’ Mayumi guessed since he didn’t want his identity to be exposed.

Another blow came at her but this time with a long dagger. Mayumi grabbed his wrist and brought her right hand up, striking the man in the neck over his adam’s apple, not hard enough to kill him but it was a hard enough blow that the man wouldn’t be going anywhere for quite a while. Mayumi maintained control of the long dagger as she struck, then moved her right hand down to the dagger, brought her hand under the weapon and grasped it, twisting it until she heard the man's wrist break with a sharp crack causing him to muffle a blood-piercing scream that would be sure to alert the whole festival of his little devious activities.

Letting go of him, the young man fell to the ground holding his broken wrist and curled up in pain. His long dagger lying forgotten in the dirt few feet away from him.

“I usually would kill people like you, but…”

‘Why didn’t I kill him?’

It wasn’t like her to let someone who threatened innocent lives stay alive. She would usually kill them without a second thought even if they were still young. Mayumi stared at the young man on the ground still writhing in pain. So why was she letting him live?

Brushing it off, she left the man there and went back to where she hid her kimono. Putting it back on and leaving the forest grounds.

She wandered the crowds looking for either Shadow or Sereinia, but gave up after a while settling to sit on one of the rooftops surrounding the area watching out for any danger.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail 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

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Lee Hart

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'All of them are forming an upwards semi-circles with their mouths again.' Mayumi observed.

The presence of another entered her senses. Turning her head in the direction the presence was coming from, she spotted a figure running across the rooftops carrying something on their back. Judging from the figure it was most likely a young male. He was approaching her at a fast speed when he then stopped seeming to have noticed her.

Mayumi thought of the probability of another thief but then saw his hesitation upon noticing her. The man seemed to be in a hurry and quickly planned to take another route around her which would most likely delay him.

Mayumi decided to vacate the place. Stepping off the roof, she flipped forward effortlessly before landing inaudibly in a crouch. Without delay, she blended into the shadows of the alleyways erasing any traces of her presence so much so that people would think their eyes were playing tricks on them if they had seen her on the rooftop a second ago.

The teen had modified her kimono in a way that she would be able to move more comfortably while in it this time.

Mayumi wandered from alley to alley keeping clear away from the hordes of people, her eyes on the constant lookout for danger. She noted Sereinia's location with Sora's blurred silhouette in the dark sky. From her calculation, Sereinia was 100 yards northeast from her and was most likely to be with Shadow.

Mayumi did not want to end up in the same weird situation as last time so she kept on travelling north till she reached the far end of Cre'Est. She found a deserted little ruined cottage isolated from the others there. Curiosity reaching its peak the young teen scanned the horizon for anyone who might be watching her. Finding no one, she entered the cottage exploring every inch of it careful not to leave anything behind. Further in, she found a single dark room.

Going into the centre of the room, she felt a force tug on her mind and her eyes glazed over as a familiar dark scene played out before her, but this time...

There was no way out, there was nothing she could do. There she lay unmoving on a bed in the middle of a bigger than average sized room. No matter how much she willed herself to move her body wouldn't listen. It was as if her body had a mind of it's own. A pale hand approached her and familiar words echoed around the room.

"We'll meet again soon enough young ward of the Red-eyed demon."

Mayumi snapped back to the present before the scene could go any further. Her face slightly paler than usual.

Mayumi glared at the walls of the dark room as if it would help. She wasted no time in getting herself out of the ruined cottage but headed back to the festival at her own pace .

'Master, what would you do?' Mayumi looked up to the twinkling night sky seeking advice from her long deceased master.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf

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Mayumi sensed movement below her feet. Following the movement, her senses led her back to the old cottage where she heard the creak of a door opening somewhere within. Stealthily, she moved away from the entrance of the cottage and peeped in from a hole behind the cottage.

A man had just exited from what seemed to be an underground passage. The man looked around before walking out, closing the door behind him and walking back towards Cre' Est. Feeling no more movement, Mayumi re-entered the seemingly cursed cottage.

Mayumi looked around, seeing nothing at first though she knew she had heard the sound of a door opening somewhere inside. She searched high and low for a moment before stopping in front of the fireplace. Seeing as there was no chimney, it was strange to have such a fireplace within this cottage. As Mayumi drew closer she felt a slight draft coming from the cracks around the edge and pressed the fireplace, finding that it slid back into the wall before slowly turning away and revealing a hidden passage leading down into darkness.

Intrigued by this new development, Mayumi pressed forward.

The passage led her into a dark labyrinth alit with torches by the sides. Venturing deeper into the maze like tunnels, she felt the presence of a group of people nearby.

“Shall we just kill him? He simply refuses to talk even after the weeks of torture.” Mayumi caught the words of a distant voice.

‘weeks of torture?’ Mayumi’s eyes narrowed, her mind immediately assuming that they were torturing an innocent.

Mayumi flattened herself against the walls of the tunnels when she saw the shadow of a figure heading in her direction. As the figure passes her, she sticks out her foot tripping the person and gripping the person’s neck with great force till they went deathly pale and fell limp before a sound of warning could be made.

Following the scent of human odour, Mayumi found a large room with 7 average sized men sitting round a table playing with some sort of paper in their hands. Behind them was a cell in which she assumed was where they were keeping the innocent person they had tortured for weeks.

Mayumi retrieved 3 poison laced needles from the pouch she had tied to her thigh underneath her kimono and aimed it at the three men whose back was facing her, hitting the pressure point on their neck and killing them instantly. The other 3 men were alerted by this action, literally dropping everything they were doing and reaching for their weapons only to find none. Mayumi had slipped in the moment before they were alerted by the deaths of their companions and took their weapons from them.

Slipping out of her hiding place with a single movement, she aimed a kick to one of the man’s face. Having no time to dodge, the man was sent flying across the room ending with his body slamming against the wall on the other side, knocking him out with the force of it, all this happening within a second.

The remaining 3 conscious men looked at their knocked out companion, then at each other before facing their assailant. Mayumi’s face was void of emotions, her eyes determined to save the innocent person inside the cell.

The 3 men were angered at the fact that such a child had taken out more than half of their group. They charged at her, rage blinding their senses. Mayumi dodged their punches and kicks, closing her eyes and sensing her surroundings like how Shadow had taught her.

One of the men had managed to get behind Mayumi, a proud sneer twisting his face. As his fist was a second away from making contact with her back, the teen stepped to the side avoiding the punch, letting the man in front of her take the blow instead. The blow met his companion’s guts and the proud sneer was wiped clean off his face as his companion fell to the ground twisting and writhing in pain.

“Why you-“ The man started but was cut off with a kick to his shaved head, joining the list of his unconscious companions.

The last men was trickier to deal with and seemed to have more experience than the rest, but was nothing much compared to the men Mayumi had dealt with in the past before she had even met Shadow.

Soon enough, the man was down and Mayumi took the keys to the cell from his pocket. The rusty cell gate unlocked and Mayumi kicked it in accidentally kicking it off its rusty hinges as well. The cell was filled with the smell of death while the floor and walls were mouldy. A man around Shadow’s age was chained to the walls with bruises and cuts decorating his body. When she got a closer look, she could see that the cuts were infected from the pas oozing from them with dried blood surrounding them.

Pouring a bit of an acid poison on the chains, they melted enough for her to break the chains with her hand. The man seemed to ne unconscious so Mayumi hauled him on to her back and made a quick dash for the exit. Luckily, there was no one on the way out and Mayumi was able to escape unscathed with the man.

Mayumi found an alleyway near the festival and sat the unconscious man against the wall. She crouched in front of him and looked through the extent of the damage to his body.

‘Should I call Sereinia?’ Mayumi wondered.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf

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Alleyway in Cre' Est

As Jude opened his eye's he couldn't truly believe what he saw. He was no longer in the dank, dark, and horror of a room underground. No, now he was instead in an alley, an alley he was actually quite familiar with, an alleyway in Cre' Est. Who would've thought... the damn people dragged me back here when I was trying to get out of here. But this surprise was surpassed by another he saw in front of him, a young girl. The girl in front of him couldn't have been older than her mid teens, she was beautiful though. Careful now Jude... You don't want that on your criminal record also... The young girl had long silver hair and very pale skin. Hey eyes though were the most striking thing about her, they were black tinted red eyes, which weren't something you would see everyday. Jude didn't recognize the girl but judging by his current placement and situation he must have her to thank for escaping the prison he was captive in, which he will be forever grateful for. However he didn't believe that she could've saved her, he couldn't imagine her being much of a fighter by her appearance. But the facts couldn't lie, he was no longer being tortured and she was standing in front of him. Damn... the world sure are making killers at such a young age these days.

Jude opened his mouth to speak but his throat was so dry that he was unable to. Leaning over to the side Jude coughed into a clenched fist, finding that his cough had left a bloody residue on his hands. Well ain't that great... I'm currently a broken toy soldier. His coughing persisted until he grabbed a nearby bottle which had some alcohol still remaining. He drank down the bottle fast, trying to savor the fresh liquid running down his throat. It had been days since he last drink, his assailants being less than hospitable towards him. After he had finished drinking the bottle from all of it's remains he sat the bottle next to him, looking for something more to drink around him.

"Well... I don't know quite what to say Lil Miss. I guess it wouldn't be sufficient enough just to thank you for saving me from that hell hole now would it... Right now my thanks is all I have however... But do know that I will do everything in my power to repay this debt to you." Jude tried standing up but a sharp pain had driven him back to sitting down, sliding against the wall against his back as he did so. Seems I'm more broken than I thought... Damn... Must remember to never get captured again. I don't think my body could take it. Jude tried to hide the pain running through his body as to not burden the girl. He however knew that she could tell he was hurt and hiding it could possibly even worry her more. Jude however shrugged off the pain, trying to show the young girl that it was nothing.

"Thank you... I wouldn't want to burden you any further Lil Miss. I will forever be grateful for saving me. If you ever need me... don't be afraid to call." Pushing through the pain, Jude pushed himself off of the ground, wincing as he did. Using the alley wall to support himself Jude walked along it, trying to remain upright and look as if he wasn't in pain. However every step he took burned his very legs, he knew that there was something wrong with them. Must have a fracture in my left leg... My ribs also seem to be quite damaged... Possibly three already broken... He had traveled not that long until something seemed to "snap". There was a loud noise which had been generated by his left leg, it seemed that the damage he received was a lot more severe than he first believed. He fell to the ground with a thud, straight into a nearby puddle. Ain't this great... pathetically lying on the ground... unable to walk... What has become of you Omega?

He desperately tried to lift himself off of the ground but he was unable to do so. Guess they got me pretty good. Using the wall again Jude brought himself back up into a sitting position, leaning against the wall. He than turned back towards the girl who was still standing there looking at him.

"Guess they really did a number on me aye Lil Miss?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf

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Mayumi watched as the man tried to walk away only to fail miserably.

"Guess they really did a number on me aye Lil Miss?" The man said.

‘This won’t do, he’s too vulnerable and here.’

Mayumi approached him and hauled him onto her back once again. Remembering there was an inn nearby; she made her way there through the shadows of the alleyways just in case those men were still around. Upon reaching her destination, Mayumi climbed up the side of the inn with the injured man on her back and got into a room on the fourth floor of the inn. She set the man on the bed gently and went to lock the door of the room so that no one could get in.

She then climbed back down and went to the lobby of the inn to book the room for 10 days, paying for it before going back to the room, but this time using the stairs. The reason Mayumi did this was because she did not want anyone to see the injured man in case those people who captured him came round asking people if they had seen him.

Mayumi went into the bathroom, emerging a minute later with a towel and a basin of water.

She quickly got to work, placing the basin of clean water on the bedside table and soaking the towel in the lukewarm liquid. She then got to work cleaning the dirt and pas off the man’s top half of the body, but since Mayumi had high pain resistance she had the thought that everyone was the same so she was none too gentle on the scrubbing but not too hard either that blood would start running.

Half an hour later, Mayumi was done and the man was almost sparkly clean but with clean wounds sporting him. She had poured a kind of mixture into the water that would help the broken cells heal at a quicker rate, something she had invented herself some time ago when she was still travelling by herself.

‘Should get Sereinia now.’

She went back into the bathroom with the now dirty water and towel before going back out to view her work. Satisfied she went to the window, an opened it.

“I’ll be back.” She told the man before climbing out the window and up to the rooftop.

Leaping from roof to roof, she felt a gentle breeze on the back of her neck as her loyal companion joined her by her side. Mayumi reached out a hand to ruffle the feathers of her golden eagle.

“Is he calling?” she asked and was answered with a sharp nod.

Following Sora, she found her present Master and Sereinia by a fountain.

“Master you called?”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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There was a lingering sadness that filled Sereinia's heart. In the end, she cannot do that much even towards the people she had identified important to her. Memories of the past flashed within her mind like a silent film. Her eyes of purple seemed to darken even further and the smile present upon her lips appeared to have a tinge of sweet sorrow in them. However, the instant that they came, they had also disappeared without a trace as she gave Shadow a bright smile with her eyes closed happily to provide comfort to the troubled assassin. Despite knowing, she could feel well the calamity of doubt brewing within him and even more inside of her as well. The seed had been implanted and it would just wait for the right time to bloom. If it does, she knew that it will leave her broken that not even her pieces will not be picked. Still, she remained holding his hands.

"...Sorry..."

That word left Sereinia's lips at the same time the sudden explosion of the fireworks and the music echoing through the streets. It drifted without having anyone heard it except for the one who spoke it. The festivities for the new year's celebration had began in full swing. She noticed Shadow taking a step behind him in surprise. It was clear he was startled as his eyes of crimson reflected it clearly. She had a small smile on her lips as a result. A few moments passed before he had concluded that what he had done was rather childish of him in more ways than one. Thus, he apologized.

"You do not have to. I told you before, you can show me what you feel without pretenses."

After delivering that statement, Sereinia released his hands and stepped away from Shadow. She looked at the evening sky as wisps of multicolored lights fell down all over the city. This was quite similar to the firework effect at Triveila. She caught one on the palm of her hand as it changes its colors at an interval. It was like a having a small rainbow in at the one's hand. Innocent adoration flashed across her eyes and childish glee reflected on her beautiful face. Closing her palm, she looked around her and noticed the people enjoying the night so happily and carefree.

Once upon a time, Sereinia was just like them with her family. Then, she began enjoying these festivals halfheartedly. Now, she felt strangely satisfied. The answer must be because of the companions she has with her. She would have a hard time believing in the past that she would be in the company of the infamous Red-Eyed Demon and his student if anyone had told her. Even more, she was spending time with them in festivals. Looking at the moon above, it was officially the start of the New Year. This past year had been truly filled with surprises. She only wished that with this new year it will be a good one. The festive mood continued on until the people began retreating to the respective homes or lodgings to get some well-deserved rest.

"Shadow..."

Calling out to Shadow, Sereinia noticed him enjoying the night breeze with his eyes closed. The music that filled the city had now been reduced silence. At this moment, the only ones present at the fountain was her and him. She approached him and had a thoughtful expression. She had yet to give him a greeting for the new year.

"Happy New Year. I wish you a prosperous one."

Then, Sereinia lightly gave Shadow a kiss on the cheek. This time she did not blushed or felt her heart beating fast. Oddly, she was completely calm and at ease. It was nice to share this event with him and Mayumi. This was her true feelings. She had a gentle smile on her face as she then turned to see that young girl had finally arrived. Her face immediately brighten into happiness upon seeing Mayumi. She went towards the girl and smiled brightly. Noticing a few creases at Mayumi's kimono, she instinctively straightened it without warning.

"Happy New Year, Mayumi." Then, she looked at Sora and did the same. "Happy New Year, Sora. I wished both of you a beautiful year."

However, Sereinia's happy face was replaced with a look of concern. Upon fixing the young girl's kimono, she noticed blood stains which are not obviously seen. A frightening thought entered her mind as the events of that horrifying night replayed in her mind. She immediately checked Mayumi for injuries.

"What happened? Are you hurt anywhere?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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"Master, you called?" Mayumi asked.

Shadow's eyes opened and he looked over at Mayumi and nodded.

"I wanted you to come and enjoy the festivities, though the time for that is now passed."

He looked into her eyes for a moment, gazing passed the simple reflection given off by the black and red eyes which stared back.

"... You have something to tell us Mayumi, don't you?" He asked.

Without warning and before Mayumi could provide an answer Shadow's instincts began to run wild. His eyes widened and suddenly began to glow, sending small rivulets of crimson light forth from his eyes and into the night. He looked around from rooftop to rooftop but he saw and heard nothing. For the moment he thought for certain he'd heard footsteps on the roofing, but right now everything was silent. He backed up towards Sereinia and Mayumi, placing his left arm outstretched protectively in front of Sereinia and his right arm stretched out in front of Mayumi as he continued to listen to the night air for signs of danger.

Looking over his shoulder, he looked at Mayumi.

"... Something is wrong..." He said in a low voice.

"... We should go... Whatever you have to say, you can do so on the way but right now we need to get out of this area." He said as he turned around and placed a hand on Sereinia's shoulder.

"Let's go." He said as he looked to Mayumi to lead them away.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf

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Mayumi sensed something odd in the air and her suspicion was confirmed by Shadow's words.

"Let's go." Shadow looked at her.

Understanding the silent instruction, Mayumi ran back the way she had came from earlier while Sora swooped into the air searching for the danger they had felt. Mayumi leapt from roof to roof swiftly back towards the inn making sure Shadow and Sereinia were behind her.

"The blood is not mine. I found an injured man earlier and brought him to an inn." The young girl answered their earlier questions but failed to mention the vision she had in the ruined cottage.

Sora seemed to have spotted something but was unclear of what it was.

It wasn't long till they arrived at the rooftop of the inn. Mayumi jumped off the roof letting herself fall before grabbing on to the window sill of the fourth floor room and swing herself in.

She stood in the room and waited for Shadow and Sereinia to arrive.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Shadow kept a quick pace but noticed that Sereinia was falling behind so he lagged for a second and scooped her up in his arms, dashing faster through the streets once she was safely in his grasp so as to not lose track of Mayumi. She made her way to the rooftops and jumped into the window on the fourth floor, and Shadow quickly used the nearby alleyway to wall jump from wall to wall until he reached the required level and jumped through the window. Sereinia was still in his arms as he did so, narrowly squeezing through with her in his arms but landing softly on his feet without ever bringing her to harm.

Shadow stood up and set Sereinia down as he looked at the injured man in the room, giving him a suspicious glare for a moment before taking the time to look back out the window.

Shadow didn't worry about taking any of the work load for treating his wounds as that was Sereinia's forte, not his. The mans wounds looked infected, being older than most wounds he'd seen in a good long time and it was evident that he had been tortured by his captors given the state of his clothing and his body. Shadow looked back out the window and scanned the area, checking the rooftops and alleyways very carefully before pulling a chair to the window and standing guard.

(sorry for constricting your path again Misdemeanor, but in order for the story to flow smoothly I had to)

Some time went by as Sereinia tended to his wounds, and when she finished Shadow decided that it would be a good idea for him to go out and patrol the area. There were still people about in the streets enjoying private festivities such as burning candles, dancing in front of their homes and singing pretty little tunes to each other. It was peaceful enough at first glance, but the air was heavy to him and his eyes still glowed faintly in the night as his frustration began to rise. He could not longer sit still anymore, and so he stood up and opened the window all the way. He put one foot on the edge of the windowsill, prepared to jump out but he refrained from doing so for a moment as he looked down and saw Taira looking up at him from the street below.

He looked up and turned his head, looking back at Sereinia.

"... Sereinia, if you wish to remain by this man's side then you may do so but I would ask that you think about coming with me. Taira is just outside and she can watch over him while we're gone. Either way I must figure out what's going on out there tonight..."

He looked back out towards the open air of the night as he glanced over at her out of the corner of his eye.

"So will you come with me? I'd feel better if you were close by."

He looked over at Mayumi.

"You're coming with me though, Mayumi. You and Sora will be my eyes above as I walk the streets, understood?" He asked.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: The Royal Knights Of Cre' Est

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Sereinia's question was not immediately answered but it was good to see that there were no noticeable external wounds or major sources of blood loss that were apparent to her at the moment. Acquiring this knowledge, she released a sigh of relief. It was at that time Shadow had asked Mayumi if there was something that the girl needed to tell them about. Her eyes reflected her curiosity at this topic and judging by the young girl's appearance, there were a lot of things that had occurred when she had gone out on her own. It was not a lot but the blood speaks to Sereinia particularly loudly. But before the answers could be heard, Shadow was instantly before them and his gestures were of danger and protection.

"Shadow?"

It was a query that Sereinia asked. Unlike Mayumi and Shadow, she could not sense danger or maligned intentions from miles away. The same goes to the people that she interacts with. Unless, she was already in such a perilous situation to begin with. Her nature to believe people wholeheartedly and to give chances always wins against doubts and suspicions. In any case, she was certain that Shadow would act in such a manner if he did not sense something terrible approaching. In which, the memories of that Triveilian night flashed once more inside her mind.

"... We should go... Whatever you have to say, you can do so on the way but right now we need to get out of this area."

Stopping herself about remembering those dreadful events, Sereinia gave Shadow a small nod as her answer. It was then he told Mayumi that they should leave with the young girl in lead. Understanding this, Mayumi ran off to the direction she had come from while Sora began its own search of the danger that the two assassins were feeling. As for Sereinia, she trailed behind two in her best ability. After all, she was not trained like they were or even had an athletic stamina to begin with. Thus, it was clearly she would be left behind as the distance grows larger.

"The blood is not mine. I found an injured man earlier and brought him to an inn."

Hearing Mayumi's answer to her earlier question, Sereinia had mixed emotions. They were in between relief, happiness, concern, and wonder. At the moment, she was not sure how to express all of it without appearing a person with mental illness. So, she simply said one thing that she was certain that she was going to do.

"I will treat him."

After saying that, Sereinia felt Shadow picking her up. It would appear that he had noticed that her speed had yet to be par with the two of them. Honestly, she knew that whatever she does their physical abilities will always be far superior than hers in anyway. There it was again a certain feeling enveloping her once more. She closed her eyes briefly and lowered her head as so that Shadow would not notice her expression. For, she does not know what was her face or eyes were showing about her inner feelings/

"I apologize for the inconvenience."

Sereinia spoke softly as Shadow carried her all the way to the inn where Mayumi had directed them to. The moment her feet touched the wooden floor, Sereinia approached the injured man on the bed. She looked at the man's condition and flinched at the images of his wounds. They were infected despite appearing to be well-cleaned. Looking over her shoulder, her eyes were on Mayumi. She felt a swell of pride at this and gave the young girl a small smile. Afterwards, she returned her attention to the man on the bed. Judging by the damages, he had incurred. It would take a quite some time before he could be considered 100% healthy. For now, she grabbed her portable medical kit inside the obi of her kimono and then looked at her impromptu patient.

"Good evening. My name is Sereinia Lucis Nouralail. You may call me Dr. Nora if you like."

Her voice was calming and soothing. There was also an essence of gentleness in it as she gently dabbed the seen wounds of the man with some painkillers. She would need to cut some of the dead tissues to promulgate the living cells to regenerate. Adding to that, she had noticed an injury to his left leg. It was broken by the looks of it and physically checking his ribs by touching it, she could assessed that 4 ribs were fractured. Fortunately, it had not pierced any organs that may lead to internal hemorrhaging.

"You will be fine, sir. I will make sure of that."

Her eyes deep purple looked at the man along with a sincere and comforting smile. Sereinia was determined to save this man's life. In addition, these kinds of wounds would have incapacitated any person if one had no will to live. As such, she was certain that this man had an important reason to continue living in this world. After saying that, she proceeded her work as tender and efficiently as she could. It was like watching a master craftsman or artist creating a perfect product within a matter of seconds without trouble. Time passes by quietly. Soon, Sereinia was done. All the man needed was proper rest, medication, and nourishment. She would also need to watch over the man since this night would be crucial to him to see if there are other injuries she had missed.

"Your safe now." Sereinia gently said as she placed a hand on the man's forehead.

"... Sereinia, if you wish to remain by this man's side then you may do so but I would ask that you think about coming with me. Taira is just outside and she can watch over him while we're gone. Either way I must figure out what's going on out there tonight..."

He looked back out towards the open air of the night as he glanced over at her out of the corner of his eye.

"So will you come with me? I'd feel better if you were close by."

Looking at Shadow, Sereinia gave a small nod as she removed her hand from the man's forehead. She stood from her position. It is true that she did not want to leave the her patient however, there was something so desperate in Shadow's eyes. If her presence with him could ease him at the very least, she would do so. In addition, it was good to hear that Taira was here to keep an eye on the injured man.

"I will be with you." Sereinia answered with a small smile and then looked at her patient. "Please rest for now. A friend of mine will watch over you. I will come for you again."

With that said, Sereinia brought out a pen and a piece of paper as she wrote down specific instructions for the medical care of the man. She knew that Taira would do her best to follow what she had written. After all, Taira had done the same thing to Mayumi before. Putting it on the nearby table, she then went towards to Shadow as he also told Mayumi that she would be coming with them. Honestly, she wondered what was about to happen on the very dawn of the first day of the year 600. At that time, she had no idea.



"You seemed happy. Did you find something interesting at the town square?"

Solomon inquired as he looked at Yarun who had a very noticeable smirk on his lips and that scheming glint in those rouge pink eyes of his. There was no doubt that the guy had found something entertaining to play with. He already felt very sorry about that person or object who caught Yarun's attention. The reason, it always ends in a very big mess.

"You should have come with me Solomon. I found a very beautiful rose, although; it has not yet bloom."

Yarun said with a tone of pure confidence and a mixture of serious intent. He looked at the evening sky through the several lined stone columns. The events of his encounter with Sereinia replayed within his mind that brought a wide smile on his face. This only made Solomon sigh upon witnessing it. At times, he wondered how such a man became one of the Knights of Cre' Est.

"So unfortunate for me. In any case, the night has yet to end Yarun."

At the mention of that, Yarun sharply looked at Solomon and the atmosphere of carefree grandeur dispersed. It was replaced with a feeling of tension and deadly seriousness. Those eyes of rouge pink glowed briefly.

"Is the Empress and Emperor secured?"

Solomon removed himself from the column he was leaning on and answered Yarun's question. "In our opinion, yes."

Yarun closed his eyes momentarily before opening them again. "Let's go." He casually muttered as he walked passed Solomon. "The hunt has began."

Silver-white eyes followed Yarun's movement and gave a brief nod. Once the man passes him by, he followed without another word. There was the scent of dread blown by the wind towards the capital. It is their duty to ensure that nothing of chaos would come close to the palace or to the citizens of Cre' Est especially on the first day of the year 600.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel 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.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

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Mayumi had cleaned up and changed into a black sleeveless mini kimono while Sereinia tended to the injured man. She had disposed off her old clothes for it showed the scars on her torso. She used to display the scar as a reminder of her previous master but now could no longer do so with the addition of the other two scars given by 'that man'.

Putting on her onyx metal guards and toeless boots, she headed back out into the room.

"You're coming with me though, Mayumi. You and Sora will be my eyes above as I walk the streets, understood?" He asked.

"Yes master."

With that, they headed out. Mayumi went through the rooftops with Sora above her covering a bigger area searching for the danger they both felt. Their teamwork flawlessly carried out as if they were one. Half way through the search, Mayumi noticed Shadow stop to speak with a trio. His voice alone seemed to have made everything around him freeze. The silver haired girl wondered what Shadow could have said to make everyone stop and stare at him. Mayumi put her search on hold and watched the interesting development around Shadow from the rooftops.

Sora noticing Mayumi had stopped searching swooped down and landed on her shoulder. Joining her in watching the little show below.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel 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: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli Character Portrait: Linde Character Portrait: The Royal Knights Of Cre' Est

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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: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Aiden Syr Teodry

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The moment the assassins came into sight, Mayumi jumped back a few feet from them, taking out her metal bow and Orichalcum arrows in the process. The metal bow was given by her previous master while the arrows were given by Shadow. Both worked pretty well together for some reason.

She shot down a few assassins before they could get to her and threw combos of punches and kicks at the others that got within close combat range, sending blows after blows leaving no openings for them to attack only stopping when they were dead.

Taking two Orichalcum arrows out of her quiver, she held one in each hand and closed her eyes clearing her mind of thoughts, letting her senses connect with her surroundings. With her eyes still closed, she rushed at the group of assassins, weaving through them gracefully and agilely as if she were dancing. As she passed, she used the arrows as an extension of her hand and pierced the assassins' vital organs with trained preciseness giving her receivers an instant death. Through the rooftop made of clay shingles, she could feel droplets of blood landing close behind her feet as she moved forward with not a single drop landing on her. Within seconds, the group of assassins were finished off.

Only trained eyes would have been able to see her at that speed, while to any normal eye she would have just been a blurred silhouette.

A cry nearby made Mayumi's eyes snap open. The cry was filled with emotions she weren't sure of but instincts told her they were not good ones. A few rooftops over to the west, Mayumi spotted a guy with long red hair being attacked by three assassins. He was then kicked away, the assassins seemingly done with their torture and was now finding their next target.

Just then, Sora appeared with the arrows she had shot earlier in its sharp hooked bill. Within half a second, Mayumi took the arrows from Sora, loading three of them and aimed them at the three assassins killing them with one blow.

Mayumi leapt over to the rooftop where the unconscious red haired guy had landed and carefully lifted him onto her back. She was about to bring him back to the inn when all of a sudden, a blood-curdling shriek was heard and with it came the dark aura from her vision. Mayumi snapped her head in the direction the aura was coming from and found her previous suspicions... to be true.

A large mass of blood splattered the ground where Shadow stood. His eyes glowed like red spears in the dark, the corners of his mouth lifted in a weird way and the aura radiating off him was filled with menace and blood lust.

'Innocents will be dying tonight.' Was all the young archer could think of right then.

Mayumi dashed to the inn with the red haired teen on her back. Leaving him on the bed and ensuring his safety by setting traps around the area before returning to the scene that would indefinitely unfold to be a bloodied one.

While on her way back, she heard an unfamiliar voice singing with lyrics that reminded her of Shadow. Listening to the voice alone seemed to calm her senses. Mayumi quickened her pace curious to see who it might be.

By the time she reached, Mayumi wasn’t surprised to see the streets bloodied with little to no places that were without a splatter of the vital liquid. Shadow had returned to his normal state and was helping Taira up from where she had been lying. She could only come to the conclusion that Shadow must have attacked her while in ‘that’ state. It was then that Mayumi noticed the lady following closely behind him.

‘Is she the one who sung?’

Upon Shadow’s signal to her, Mayumi approached him cautiously, the scene from before constantly replaying in her mind along with the stench of blood filling her lungs. Mayumi glanced at the victims of her present master. The open throat of the old man, the crushed neck of the little innocent boy, followed by the man and woman who were stained with each other’s blood.

Directing her line of sight back to her present master, she did not know what to say. She had failed to protect her deceased master's innocent people yet again.

"I apologise master. I should have told you about my vision but I didn't. I should have known better than to keep quiet about it.” She told him in a monotone with her head bowed.

‘If I had told him about the vision this might not have happened. Today many innocents were killed because of my one mistake.’ Mayumi reprimanded herself silently.

The young girl suddenly felt exhausted, her energy drained from training and the weeks she had been unable to sleep because of the visions.

‘Master, I’m sorry. I’ve failed you.’

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Linde

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Shadow heard the words of Yarun and Solomon but he paid them absolutely no attention as Mayumi walked up to him.

"I apologize master. I should have told you about my vision but I didn't. I should have known better than to keep quiet about it.”

Shadow softly placed his hand on her shoulder and tried his best to look her in the eyes but his own energy was drained from his shock and horror at what he had done.

"This is in no way your fault Mayumi... I am the one who did not stop the attack which triggered Roda I'l Lousta, and as such the deaths of these people are my responsibility to bear and mine alone. Your visions simply proved that your Gift is awakening and has already come to some level of prominence. I promise to explain the Gift to you in full very soon, but for now please take to the rooftops with Sora and make sure the area is in fact clear."

With Mayumi now attending to the rooftops, Shadow turned his attention to Linde and Taira who were still standing there waiting for him.

"You two should help Sereinia tend to the wounded." He said quietly.

"... What about you?" Linde asked, with Taira nodding her head.

"I have... something to say before I too help the wounded." He said as his eyes turned towards Yarun and Solomon.

Shadow voice had since lost all of its conviction and commanding presence. It was now empty and monotone, a side effect of Shadow's burning inner hatred towards that side of his soul that was Roda I'l Lousta. He inwardly cursed his own existence for such an atrocity living within his heart, but never the less he still had important matters to attend to and a battle to fight which would more than likely never truly end.

As the two girls left, Taira walking over to Sereinia's side and Linde going to inspect the dead and those who were close to it, Shadow finally focused his attention on the Royal Knights of Cre' Est who had appeared. He walked up to them calmly and casually, not paying any heed to their past words or statements as he stopped in front of them, his arms at his sides and completely relaxed.

"I have no fight with you two this night, so do not make me take up arms against you. These people around us are all innocent of any charges that may exist within your minds and were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Regardless of what has transpired here tonight by my hands, the fact remains that the Royal Knights have failed in their duty to protect this city and its people this night and as such you have no right to claim any sort of authority here whatsoever. I will say this once more, do not make me take up arms against you."

Shadow's right dagger came halfway out of its sheath.

"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." He said, his confidence and drive returning to him.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Aiden Syr Teodry

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Mayumi still insisted it was her fault but nodded to Shadow's command and took off to the rooftops without a word. It wasn't long before Sora spotted a few assassins in hiding, but seconds later were nothing but heaps of ashes . While scouting, she also helped in returning Cre' Est to its original state, cleaning up the blood that stained the streets with a chemical she had created. Broken things were fixed while others that were beyond repair were disposed off and replaced.

Once Mayumi was sure the area was back to its original state and cleared of assassins, she decided to head back to the inn, but a sudden piercing pain in her side caused her to stop abruptly. The young girl clutched her side wondering what the problem was only to feel sticky liquid gushing out of a wound she didn't realise she had. She had been too focused on killing assassins and getting the place back to its original state that she didn't feel the pain until it was in a serious state.

'Can't afford to delay others just because of a wound.' Mayumi told herself, being one that never really cared for herself.

The teen forced herself to continue ignoring the pain.

Upon reaching the inn, Mayumi slipped through the traps she made leaping through the window and landing in the room inaudibly to avoid startling the guy. He seemed to be drifting in and out of consciousness.

Mayumi went into the bathroom, once again getting the basin and a clean towel. After doing so, she approached the guy slowly, thinking he might mistake her as one if the assassins of Te'i Sai and lash out at her in self defense. Once by the bed, she did what she had done earlier on, cleaning his wounds and carefully avoiding the hand he cradled.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Aiden Syr Teodry

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#, as written by Sil
Pain, but not agony. A sense of calm. Gentleness. Cool water and cloth flowing over broken flesh. He winces in his sleep, pulling his arms closer against his frail body. Afraid. Unsure. Tired. Hurt.

Aiden's eyes snap open, glowing richly with the color of a dying star, looking over at the face of the young beauty who cleans his wounds. His body tenses, then relaxes as he gazes at her in wonder. Silver hair...round eyes sparkling mysteriously...to him, she is the most beautiful thing he's seen in a long time. Then again, perhaps that is his numbed mind talking.

He stares at her, unblinkingly, as she washes his arm, then his neck. When the cloth runs over the slash on his throat, he winces and sits up, clutching his shattered hand. "P-please...don't touch it." A tear falls from a glowing eyes as lids slowly lower to a close. His hair is matted with crusted blood, which blends well with the auburn locks. The wound on his throat once more opens, and a fresh stream begins to flow, even after hours of setting. "It...hurts too much."

He pulls his knees to his chest, caging his hand so that it can't be harmed, even as his fingers throb in agony. But her face...

His eyes open again, and he looks over at her curiously. "What...what is your name?" His voice is tentative, his eyes glowing a little less now, revealing the emerald flecks behind the glowing amber. He manages a gentle smile, speaking again in that melodic tenor voice that could sing angels from the sky, "I'm Aiden..."

His eyes gaze at her gently, taking all of her in, every inch, when he realizes that her side is bleeding. Uncurling himself, he reaches to her with his unbroken hand. "Y-your hurt..." This is said in a whisper as he opens the slashed fabric to reveal the wound beneath. "Perhaps it is I who should be tending to you?" So bold this night. One might wonder where he got that all of a sudden...then again, being beaten half to death does tend to open the eyes somewhat.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Aiden Syr Teodry

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Eyes snapped open to reveal glowing orbs of mixed colours. They land on her seemingly observing her features before she brushes the cloth over a slash. The long haired boy sits up abruptly, clutching his broken hand to himself as a droplet of water fell from his eye that reflected pain as they shut tightly.

Mayumi’s impression of him was a weird one. She had never seen anyone behaving like this before.

"What...what is your name?" His voice is tentative, his eyes glowing a little less now, revealing the emerald flecks behind the glowing amber. He manages a gentle smile, speaking again in that melodic tenor voice that could sing angels from the sky, "I'm Aiden..."

“You need not know my name.” Mayumi told him calmly. She refused to give him her name for her existence wasn’t to be known to the world. Her master who was no longer in this world had told her that her presence would bring nothing but trouble among the innocents, thus she was to live a non-existent life and stay away from them once her mission was done.

“Don’t get attached to anyone Mayumi. Both parties will only be hurt in the end.” The voice of her master echoed in her head.

"Y-your hurt..." This is said in a whisper as he opens the slashed fabric to reveal the wound beneath. "Perhaps it is I who should be tending to you?"

Mayumi flinched from Aiden’s touch and stared at him, her eyes questioning his actions with suspicion. Nobody except Shadow and her previous master had made contact with her and they had been mostly during training.

“I’m fine.” Mayumi lied.

‘I doubt Sereinia will be able to attend to him any time soon.’ Mayumi thought back to the streets filled with injured people and Sereinia rushing off to tend to them.

She left the bed side and disappeared into the bathroom with the basin and towel in hand, returning a few seconds later with a long piece of thin cloth for his hand.

“I need to realign your wrist to its original place. If you don’t it will start healing in that shape.” Mayumi told him bluntly, her face void of emotions.

She took his hand in hers gently, not waiting for his answer. With a quick painful jerk, the bones were set back in their places and the young girl got to work, wrapping his hand neatly with the cloth making sure it would support the bones and secure them in place.

By the time she was done, it was around midnight according to the moon that had appeared in the skies above them. Looking out the window she felt the caress of a gentle breeze as she stared up at the full moon, letting it calm her as memories of nights under the same full moon with her previous master flooded her mind. Without knowing it, her mind started to shut down, her energy depleted causing Mayumi to lose her balance and fall to the floor of the inn in a semi-conscious state.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Aiden Syr Teodry

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#, as written by Sil
He stares at the girl, confused. What's wrong with the simple sharing of a name? It's not like he's giving her his entire life's story. "It's only a name, girl," he says lightly, eyes watching as his brows furrow, "You act as though I am asking for your entire life's story. I am Aiden. Simple. You still do not know who I am." When she doesn't answer, he gives a sigh, taking a look at the cut.

Her lie is almost believable. But anyone can figure out that a wound like that would make sure the person with it is not fine. He grumbles. "Bandage yourself up, girl. I mean, really. It's not that hard to figure out that you need attention yourself." Quickly has his tentative tenor voice taken that of a stern man, as if he cares for her. Perhaps he does. Musicians are known to care easily. And she has been helping him so far, so why not care?

She stands a leaves, taking a few moments before returning with a long piece of cloth and speaking the words Aiden really didn't want to hear.

"I need to realign your wrist into its original place. If you don't, it will start healing in that shape." She is blunt and monotone about it, making him wince and hold his shattered hand closer to his chest.

"N-no, it's fine!" But does he really have a say so? Of course not. She takes it from his chest, which wouldn't take much effort as any jostle sends pain up his arm, and snaps the wrist back into place. The bones in his fingers just seem to follow. He gives a scream of pain, the only scream he will give for the rest of the night, as he has no more left in his lungs. It is quickly wrapped up, and once more, Aiden pulls it back to his chest. "Dammit," he mutters to himself, "I'm never going to play again..." Looking away, he allows a few tears to flow, hoping, praying, that his beloved mother isn't watching.

Then he hears a thud, his head snapping back to the girl, who now lies on the floor. His brow furrows as he jumps from the bed and kneels before her, placing his good hand on her forehead. "See?" he grumbles at her, "That's what you get for not taking care of yourself." Careful not to jostle his broken hand too much, Aiden lifts the girl into his arms and lays her down on the bed before making his way where she had gone, finding the bathroom in mere moments. Dumping the dirty water out of the basin and filling it with clean water, Aiden grabs a clean cloth as well as something to wrap around the wound.

Making his way back, Aiden crouches beside the bed, dipping the clean cloth into the water and pulling back the fabric of her mini kimono gently. Slowly, with the steadiness of an artist, he begins to stroke the slash on her side, cleaning all of the excess blood from it before grabbing the cloth to wrap around her. "I am sorry, girl, but you need a bandage. I will have to wrap it around you." Hoping no one will take what he's about to do as his being a pervert, Aiden unties the mini kimono and opens the front, blushing when he sees the scars across her bare chest. His eyes look at her waist where the wound is, and slowly, he begins to wrap it, lifting her up every time he needs to get the bandage under her. And with a broken hand, this is a painstakingly slow process. But he gets it done.

Once she is bandaged, Aiden closes the kimono and ties it back as well as he can, before allowing her to rest. Without any other reason to stay, he decides it is time to take his leave. So, rising from his crouch beside the bed, the young musician takes the basin and cloth and places them back in the bathroom before finally making his way out of the inn.

The moment he steps into the streets, though, Aiden regrets it, seeing the bodies lining the area. Had he anything in his stomach, he would have thrown it all up, but instead he only manages a few dry heaves. Then, in hopes to get back to his cello, he goes to make a run for it. Perhaps if he's lucky enough, he might just die right there and not have to worry any more...instead flying off to Heaven where he can play and sing and paint all he wants.

A boy can dream...

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Aiden Syr Teodry Character Portrait: The Royal Knights Of Cre' Est

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"Bandage yourself up, girl. I mean, really. It's not that hard to figure out that you need attention yourself." The boy tells her, his voice stern.

‘Why does he care?’ Mayumi questioned herself curiously, racking her brains for answers that would suit the situation she was in only to find none.

"That's what you get for not taking care of yourself."

Mayumi didn’t have the energy to deny his words, opting to stubbornly ignore them instead. She hardly had the energy to stand and her senses were going foggy on her as she lay on the ground helplessly.

Suddenly, she felt a hand on her forehead, her eyes widening at the contact. Ivory arms wrapped around her, and for a moment the scene of the night that she was helpless in front of her greatest enemy. The night she had received those scars that insulted her deceased Master. The night… she had failed her Master. The memory flashed across her mind like a huge bolt of electricity slapping her in the face. Had she not been so depleted of energy she would have attacked Aiden in a flash. Realizing what she had wanted to do to an innocent person, Mayumi turned her head away from the older teen wanting to get away from him as quickly as possible.

Even if she thought him to be weird he was still innocent and did not deserve to be attacked. Especially not by a weapon like her whose mission was to forever protect the innocents and keep them away from people like her.

The young archer relented to Aiden, letting him set her on the bed and clean her wound. She inhaled deeply in an attempt to calm her senses that were going haywire at the moment, but found that it wasn’t such a good idea as all she smelled at that moment was her blood, and the faint scent of Aiden’s blood which had dried up on his clothes.

"I am sorry, girl, but you need a bandage. I will have to wrap it around you." Came Aiden’s tenor voice.

Mayumi just stared neutrally at the ceiling, not paying any attention to his doings any longer. To her, this was a normal everyday thing. The wrapping took longer than needed because of Aiden’s injured hand but it was done and she was dressed back appropriately.

Aiden then rises, going into the bathroom before taking his leave, heading out the door and disappearing from sight. Mayumi took out a concoction she had made to restore stamina temporarily and gulped it down in one shot. The liquid ran down her throat leaving a bitter taste on her tongue. It was worth it though as her energy instantly returned and Mayumi let it settle before getting up and heading out once again.

‘Got to report to Shadow quickly. Don’t have much time till the concoction wears out.' Mayumi noted to herself and sped up, Sora going ahead of her to spy for danger.

She soon arrives and finds Shadow in the middle of a battle once again. This time, it was against a royal knight of Cre’Est. She could see that the two men were almost on par with each other, but she could already tell who would be the victor of this battle and it was as she guessed. Shadow had won, once again.

"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."

Shadow’s words seemed to have made the knight burn with anger. It was after all a rather big insult to someone who was supposed to be a knight of Cre’Est.

‘But it wouldn’t be wise to be angered till the point where it blinds ones senses.’ Mayumi recalled what had happened when she had done it once.

"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."
"I'm holding you to your word Yarun." Shadow said aloud over his shoulder.


Mayumi observed the knight who had been defeated by Shadow, she noticed that he was struggling to get his breath back to normal while Shadow was still barely breathing.

‘He’s strong to be able to hold his own against Shadow, but still not enough to defeat him.’

The silver haired teen than noticed the man by the side lines wearing the same armour as Yarun observing him and Shadow as well. Just then, Sora landed on Mayumi’s shoulder telling her of the information it had found.

Mayumi took this as the time to report to Shadow. Quickly making her way through the shadows and making her presence known to her master and only him. Her instincts telling her to be cautious of the knights surrounding them, as well as some of the people.

“Master I have done what you have told me to do. The whole of Cre’Est has been cleared of assassins now and I have returned it to its original state.” Mayumi reported in a volume only Shadow could hear.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli Character Portrait: Lee Hart Character Portrait: Linde Character Portrait: Aiden Syr Teodry

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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: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli Character Portrait: Lee Hart Character Portrait: Linde Character Portrait: The Royal Knights Of Cre' Est Character Portrait: The Royal Family of Cre' Est

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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: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli Character Portrait: Lee Hart Character Portrait: Linde Character Portrait: The Royal Knights Of Cre' Est

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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: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

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Once Sereinia had forcefully dealt with Mayumi's injuries and left the room, Mayumi sneaked out the window careful not to disturb Shadow who was now asleep on the chair beside her bed. The inn was too crowded for her liking and she wanted to be alone. Getting up on the rooftop, she lied down and gazed at the moon feeling the gentle breeze caress her as it goes by. Sora soon joined her, circling once around her before landing by her side. The young teen wondered if she should have told Shadow about another storm in the near future. One that would involve his darker half.

Soon, she fell asleep but would be ready for anyone who dared attack her.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel 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: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli Character Portrait: The Moonlit Twins

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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: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli Character Portrait: Lee Hart Character Portrait: The Moonlit Twins

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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: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli Character Portrait: Lee Hart Character Portrait: The Moonlit Twins

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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.

The day began with the simple routine once again and then a training session by the twins. Everyone paired up and she paired up with Sora thinking it would help improve their partnership. She noticed training methods were rather different from her master’s and Shadow’s as it had always been individual training with them.

Eight days flew pass quickly since the surprise encounter with Te’i Sai at Cre’Est. Shadow had gone off to finish off his task leaving them in the hands of the twins.

"Alright, make your decisions. We do not care," Linos 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.

Mayumi flinched from the physical contact of Linos’ hand, still perplexed as to why he kept doing that, especially to all the girls. Upon hearing his question, Mayumi looked up at him then looked at the hand that was being offered to her from Calandra. She cautiously took the hand and stood up with Sora watching over her closely from within the cooling shadows of the cavern.

Onyx tinted blood orbs stared at the two twins inquiring what they would like to talk about.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli Character Portrait: Lee Hart Character Portrait: The Moonlit Twins

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A feathery touch to her face and a distant yet familiar voice called her name with complete gentleness. Slowly, Sereinia opened her eyes revealing amethyst colored irises. There was still a haze over her vision. She blinked a few times and tried to wipe the sleep away from her eyes. The sense of time was lost to her as she glanced towards the nearby window. It was not opened but at the very least she could see a few glimmers of light entering from the cracks. As such, she sleepily sat on her bed while rubbing her eyes. It was an adorable sight and at the same time quite seductive. Black hair cascaded around her frame in an elegant mess while the strap of her nightgown had already slid down from her shoulder to her arm. Without a blanket to cover her, her current apparel offered little protection to prying eyes. Her slender, long, cream-white legs were seen as it was usually covered with long skirts, and pants. It is safe to say that it was good that she had her own room that night. She was obviously so defenseless in the mornings.

"Shadow?"

Sereinia called out as the haze in her eyes were slightly removed. She could see the familiar face of the lone assassin. As if to answer to her question of identity, she felt a hand with certain roughness to it touch her cheek and ruby red eyes peered down on her. She could see his lips moved and made out the words coming out from it that they would need to leave the inn now. At the same time, he said about giving her time to change. Repeating those last words in her mind like a broken record. It was then she had finally returned to the state of awake consciousness. Her body stiffened considerably and her eyes of purple widened to a noticeable degree. Immediately, she grabbed the blanket near her and covered herself in it. Her face was slightly flushed as she was embarrassed being seen in an entire. Usually, she wore long sleeping gowns. However, she was just too tired to look for it and picked this from her luggage.

"...I will get changed now."

Without a second delay, Sereinia quickly made her way to the bathroom. She was so embarrassed that the very moment the door was closed behind her. She leaned on it and slid down to the floor while burying her face on her knees. This was one morning that will not be forgotten for sure. If she remembered correctly, she did lock the door and the windows were closed. How did Shadow enter the room? In any case, she released a sigh. It was no use thinking about that he is a master assassin after all. Entering a room is not that difficult. But truthfully, she was not mad at all. Instead, she was quite happy about it which was something quite odd to her in every way. For now, she should prepare herself. They would need to leave after all.

Taking a comfortable seat in the cart, Sereinia had maintained quiet through their journey. At times, she would cater to Keito's injury and the others just to make sure the healing was going nicely. She had been told that they would be returning to the lodging near the borders of Cre' Est. It would probably be the safest place for them to be. After all, the Tei' Sai assassins had made quite a statement they wanted Shadow and all his companions dead in most torturous ways. At the same time, the military force of Cre' Est have considered them wanted fugitives. She wondered what would her Aunt Beatiz think once the news spread about her being a felon. The elder lady would probably faint or cursed her companions. It was inappropriate however, she would find that scene humorous. Speaking of which, she had yet to send another letter to her only known living relative.

Reaching for a piece of paper and a pen in her satchel, Sereinia began writing her letter. She would just ask Shadow how to deliver her parcel without alerting or putting her Aunt in danger. She wanted to inform her Aunt that this would be probably the last letter she would receive for her at the meantime. It was not safe considering the situation. Adding to that, her Aunt was much more defenseless than her current companions. On the two stops they had made along the way, she would take time to watch the spar between Mayumi and Shadow. She had gotten used to this activity during the months she had spent with them. Still, she really did not like seeing them get hurt as the two tend to at times take it too serious. Although seeing the two of them like this right now, it was comforting.

Soon enough, the group had arrived at their destination. Sereinia saw the rather surprised and amazement among the faces of her new companions. Well, she could not blame them to be. She had the same expression when she found out about this place. It was quite unbelievable and at the same time frightening to think there are really people so dedicated to the art of combat more specifically, to kill. The idea made her slightly shiver. In any case, Shadow had announced that their training would commence in a few hours. She was reluctant about that and asked the assassin to let the others rest for a day. However, she was told that their time was restricted. In the end, she had managed to have Keito and Jude off the training list for now describing their current condition.

After ensuring that Keito and Jude were to remain at the corner of the cavern which was a comfortable place to recuperate, Sereinia had asked the girl named Ritsu to watch over the two. She would like to see how the others were doing knowing how Shadow could be brutal in his training regimen. There were times she would argue with the man about his methods. Once she had arrived, she shook her head in dismay. It was like she had imagined. At the ten-minute break, she immediately tended to the wounds that the others had received with utmost care and efficiency. However, it was noticeable in her eyes and expression the disagreement to Shadow's methods. As such, she objected to Shadow personally. The man told her it was necessary so that they would have at least a chance to fight against a Tei' Sai assassin. She understood his point nevertheless, she was still apprehensive with it ending the discussion with her parting words.

"If you break them, I will repair them. But please remember, I am not God and at this rate, they would not be able to face a Tei' sai at all."

It was good to know that Shadow had allowed the others to take a spring bath. Sereinia had heard from Shadow that it would aid in the recovery process. It is why she had agreed allowing Keito to soak in the waters. Although, she had took a taste of the waters earlier and noticed something odd. She had deduced that the said spring can do much more than aiding in the healing of wounds or injuries. In any case, she did decide not to dwell on it as she was certain that despite how Shadow was in training. The man never had any intention to harm them; however, he tends to go overboard at times. All in all, she was not against it as long as the health of their new and old companions were closely monitored by her. She did not want for any of them to aggravate the injuries they had received at the New Year Festival.

Night came and the training was over for the day. Sereinia was thankful for that as she had also prepared a meal for everyone to enjoy earlier. Of course, it was both healthy and tasteful. She might not be the best cook although, she knew certainly if it tasted good or bad. Once everyone had been situated in their proper sleeping locations. She had as well found a spot to take a sleep but not before reminding Shadow and Mayumi not to overwork themselves. If she was right, the two would probably stay up and watch the perimeter. After doing that, she sat in front of a very large stalagmite and closed her eyes to rest like the others have. Upon the next day, there was another addition to their group.

The addition was not one person but two, specifically twins. Sereinia was not amazed by that fact as she had her fair share in meeting twins and delivering some of them from birth. The fact that astounded her in a sense was the synchronicity of the two. Adding to that, the one named Linos held his chin. It made her slightly uncomfortable as she politely removed the hand from her chin and stepped back with a polite smile. In any case, the two were like a single person. Their movements were in coordination with such authenticity and grace. It was like they had the same brain impulses which was quite very rare in every sense. This was further proven as training had began by having partners. Of course, she was not involved in the training but just watched the proceedings on the sidelines alongside Keito and Ritsu. Regardless, she was quite amazed how everyone was quite determined on becoming sync with their respective partners. In her opinion, it would be difficult to do so in such a short time especially when everyone just had basically met.

In any case, the synchronicity training ended and they were now going to spar with Shadow on a one-on-one battle. Somehow, Sereinia was a bit worried about this for even Keito had to be included even when she had objected to it. Shadow was quite insistent and despite her concrete disagreements, the spar continued on. This slightly infuriated her as she decided not to watch the battles any further. She retreated to the nearby forests outside the cavern. As such, she sat underneath a tree and leaned her back upon it. Her eyes of purple looked at the rustling leaves above her as some of the sun's light peeked through the green canopy. Soon, she drifted to sleep with thoughts of what she would cook later for dinner.

Soon enough, Shadow seemed to have business to attend to as he left the twins in charge. Sereinia had no problems with that and they had been allowed some free time until then. She had remembered some herbs she had seen deep in the forest before. It would be nice to get some. She needed more supplies especially with such a growing group she has here. It was never too plenty to have medicines just in case. As such, she bid everyone a goodbye and told them that she would just gather some herbs. She will return before the sun sets and did not want to interrupt Mayumi who had a conversation with the twins. It would be good for the young girl to have someone else to talk to. With that, she went on her way.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli Character Portrait: Lee Hart Character Portrait: The Moonlit Twins

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Keito felt quite useless for the entire time he spent in the cavern, only watching from the sidelines as the others trained. He simply sat back and tried to gain as much knowledge as he could by simply observing. For Keito, it wasn't entirely difficult to map out the movements in his head and try to figure out how he could act them out with his body and weapon. At least Layla had finally returned his sword to him after he'd woken up. It was nice having it close to him again, but he was still worried about Ritsu as well. The journey to the training area where Shadow took them, and for the entire time they spent here, she hadn't spoken once about that unfortunate night. She didn't seem like the kind of girl who had ever witnessed such a thing, so he was curious as to how she really felt after seeing something like that. Bloodshed wasn't knew to Keito, he'd seen it plenty of times despite how he was usually good at avoiding such situations. She seemed to be acting like her usual self, which was comforting, but maybe that was all just a mask. He was never all that good at sorting out emotions like that.

The hot springs were the most relaxing part of staying with the group. Even though Keito felt a little bad since he couldn't join in with all the training the others had to endure, he still enjoyed just soaking in the hot water. Ever since he was badly injured by Shadow, the person who surprisingly enough was taking the time to train them, he had quite the difficult time making his way around the place. A majority of the time he'd be told that he needed to rest but, despite the fact that napping was one of his favorite things to do, he didn't like having to lay around the whole time.

He was glad that the springs quickened his recovery enough to start practicing a few things on his own, but that didn't help with the pain of healing at all and he'd often have to sit and take a break. His legs and arms weren't hurting as much as they used to, and Keito could tolerate it just fine, but the hardest thing to ignore was the constant pain in his chest. If he accidentally stepped down to hard or moved in a wrong way, he'd get a rough stab of pain in that area. It seemed that's one of the only things that was taking the longest to heal. Luckily with Sereinia around none of the gashes or cuts he'd received had been infected and they were healing quite nicely. He still hadn't had a chance to properly thank the girl for taking such good care of his wounds.

Still, his training was moving much slower than the others due to his injuries, and Keito constantly scolded himself for not being able to recover faster. Being beaten in such a way by a single person caused him to slowly start to loose his confidence. Though he tried to push himself to his limit even with his wounds, he still couldn't do nearly as much as the others were doing, and he could feel himself slipping behind. He wasn't even sure why he wanted to become stronger so badly. Was it just because he didn't want to be looked down on? Or maybe being put up against such a strong opponent made him feel like he wouldn't be capable of protecting the one's he cares about. Then again, for that same reason, he always made such an effort to not get that close to someone, so who was he so fixed on protecting right now? Either way, he wasn't going to be staying here for very long. Sereinia was healing him for free, and he knew he wouldn't be able to afford a doctor if he left before he was healed.

That was his plan then. After being healed enough to be capable of walking away, he'd leave. He never asked to be a part of anything like this and yet he was thrown into it anyway. Ritsu would be taken care of just fine without him around, so he wouldn't feel guilty about it at all, or at least that's what he kept telling himself.

With the arrival of the twins and a knew form of training, Keito once again felt like he was falling behind. With his wounds the way they were, there was no way he'd make a fitting partner for anyone at the moment, so once again he watched from the sidelines and tried to take in as much as he could just by observing. Even so, working with others was never his strong suit and he didn't think that kind of fighting style would fit him very well, and probably not at all.

Eventually Shadow decided to leave for some unknown business that Keito wasn't really all that curious about. Whatever the man did was his own business and he could do whatever he wanted, however he wasn't overly fond of being babysat by the twins. At least they also seemed not-so-fond of watching them, since the male quickly told them that they could do whatever they wanted and they wouldn't care.

It would probably best if he sat in the hot springs for a little while, but instead he decided that he'd go into town for a while or maybe just go for a walk in the forest. Being cooped up in a damp cavern couldn't be good for the soul. He put on his usual clothes and left, keeping his footsteps slowly and softer than usual so not to cause any pain to stab his chest any more than it already was.

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: The Moonlit Twins

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#, as written by Sil
The moment the girl takes Calandra's hand, she turns to lead Mayumi to a less crowded area into the shadows of the cavern, drifting off to a small corner, her eyes flickering silver at the bird watching from deeper inside in warning. Her look is almost animalistic as she gives a small, low-pitch whistle resembling the lower tones of a nightingale, making her brother smile warmly as he turns and leans against the smooth wall, looking over at Mayumi, whose hand is dropped. Calandra then turns to the girl with a gentle smile before looking at Linos, who will do most - if not all - of the talking.

"So," he says gently, his full attention now on Mayumi as Calandra begins to allow her breaths to quicken to match the pace of his talking, "How did you come to meet Shadow? I take it you've known each other a little while, but less than a year. But you seem to be attached to him...and we are curious as to why." This is the first of many questions, of course. There will be more to come.

After a couple of moments, Calandra decides to seat herself, locking one leg behind the other and falling gracefully to the ground in a cross-legged position, resting her elbows on her knees, her knuckles to her chin. Linos soon follows suit, sliding down the wall as he pulls the long gloves from his hands and sets them aside, uncaring at this point of the nasty burn scars tracing across them. She grimaces and looks away, turning her attention to the floor as her finger traces patterns across it, her ears trained on Mayumi.

"Did he save you?" Calandra finally says gently, her voice, though slightly rasped, a gentle low saprano fit for the lullaby of an angel. Her hand rises to the scarf covering her throat as her eyes rise to meet that of the girl's, silver traces dancing through the endless golden green. Linos rises to his feet and steps to his beloved twin, seating himself behind her, his arms wrapping around her waist as his legs spread to either side of her, his chin resting on her shoulder gently. "Now now, my dear...we do not want to rush to conclusions." He gives her neck a soft kiss before nuzzling her and looking back up at Mayumi as Calandra nods, her hand falling back to the ground to trace it.

To anyone but a Galiendhe, this kind of behavior would be strange at best, incestuous at worst. But to the twins, this is natural. They are an odd pair, but the kind of devotion they have towards each other is what makes them so very dangerous...and so very vulnerable.

Linos speaks up just after Mayumi would give her answer, smiling in invitation. "We have a proposition for you...and we are wondering if you are up to it. We see that you hold yourself far from the others...and you are much younger than the rest, yes? So...what say you to being our scout? Or better yet...our...ranger. And in turn we will teach you whatever you wish. Whether it be to sing, understand...enjoy...whatever you wish that we can provide, we shall provide it for you. Because a third would be wonderful." Now, of course, if Mayumi has the understanding, she would see that it is not her abilities he is after as much as it is a cry for help. Because the child is so much like Calandra, Linos hopes that she can open his dear twin up and get her to talk again. Or talk more than she does. Talk and sing...oh how he misses the lullaby she used to sing all the time...

But the question is....does Mayumi catch on? Or will the offer be turned down?

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: The Moonlit Twins

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"So," Linos says gently, his full attention now on her. At the same time, Mayumi noticed Calandra’s breath quicken to match her brother’s. It was almost as if Calandra wanted to hide in her twins’ shadow the young teen perceived while keeping a listening ear on Linos’ words.

"How did you come to meet Shadow? I take it you've known each other a little while, but less than a year. But you seem to be attached to him...and we are curious as to why."

Mayumi didn't get what they mean by attach. The only attachment she had was to her deceased master and him alone. Even Sora her loyal pet could not be considered an attachment to her. If Sora were to be killed in a future battle, life for the silver haired girl would still go on. Attachments weren’t allowed in this life as a weapon for it will only be a weakness in the end.

"I had sought Shadow out to gain information on the murderer of my master. After finding him he offered to train me. I only follow Shadow because I owe him for training me. Once I'm done with my mission I will be of no more use here. That's all there is between us, nothing more nothing less." She explained bluntly.

"Did he save you?" The female of the twin asked. Her voice was slightly rasped but gentle.

Her hand rises to the scarf covering her throat as her eyes rise to meet that of the girl's, silver traces dancing through the endless golden green. Linos rises to his feet and steps to his beloved twin, seating himself behind her, his arms wrapping around her waist as his legs spread to either side of her, his chin resting on her shoulder gently.

"Now now, my dear...we do not want to rush to conclusions." He gives her neck a soft kiss before nuzzling her and looking back up at Mayumi as Calandra nods, her hand falling back to the ground to trace it.


Mayumi watched the exchange between the twins and was once again left perplexed by their actions. She turned her head from them to observe the on goings around them as she answered.

"Shadow did not save me. In fact a note was left for me on my master's corpse with orders to kill Shadow but knowing it was not my master who wrote it I refused to do so." The teen stated dispassionately.

Linos speaks up just after she gave her answer, the corners of his mouth lifting.

"We have a proposition for you...and we are wondering if you are up to it. We see that you hold yourself far from the others...and you are much younger than the rest, yes? So...what say you to being our scout? Or better yet...our...ranger. And in turn we will teach you whatever you wish. Whether it be to sing, understand...enjoy...whatever you wish that we can provide, we shall provide it for you. Because a third would be wonderful."

'Scout? Ranger? I feel there is a hidden meaning behind his words but I’m failing to comprehend it.' Mayumi contemplated his words.

"Do you mean you would like my aid in missions? If so, I do not mind so long as Shadow agrees to it too for he is my current master."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

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The moment she felt Shadow’s presence, she knew something had gone wrong. If anything his rash intense training just further proved her suspicions.

Mayumi continued to observe Shadow from afar until she felt something amiss. Her intuition was telling her that someone had gotten into some serious trouble and needed aid immediately. The first thing that came to Mayumi’s mind was…

‘Sereina.’

Sora was immediately sent to seek out Sereinia’s location and Mayumi excused herself from the twins to report to Shadow of the possible problem her intuition was telling her. If they didn’t act fast, more problems might occur.

“I should have sent Sora with her when she went out alone. I apologize for my carelessness once again Master.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: The Moonlit Twins

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Shadow stopped what he was doing when Mayumi came up to him and looked towards the entrance of the cave before looking back to her.

"... I swear I'll need to find that girl a bell or something." He said quietly.

He walked to the entrance and walked outside, looking up to the skies as he waited for Sora to come back with good news. It took some time, but the bird finally came back and flew off in a particular direction to which Shadow knew well. It was another good training area, but in the state most of these people were in it wasn't ideal for them compared to the cave which was static and easy to access and leave from.

Shadow took off after Sora with Mayumi close in tow.

The two of them tore through the forest with effortless ease as they made their way towards where Sora was flying. It took a few minutes of running at top speed, and Shadow could swear he saw wolf tracks along the way which was not a good sign. Unlike wolves in most other nations, wolves in Cre' Est were vicious and cruel when humans wandered into their domain.

Shadow and Mayumi eventually came to a stop when they came to a cliff edge and Shadow peered over it and saw a shape down on a ledge a ways down. He concluded that it had to be Sereinia. There was another tiny object about halfway between Shadow and Sereinia's position and he figured it was probably whatever she had taken with her when she left earlier. Shadow looked over at Mayumi for a moment.

"Take Sora and head back to the cave and inform the Twins that I will be back tomorrow with Sereinia. There's no way we can climb back up this face without equipment, but there is a path we can take that will have us back by tomorrow in the mid afternoon. When you get back, the Twins are still in charge of the others but you are exempt and are free to do as you please."

With that, Shadow lined himself up and leaped off the ledge. He slammed his boots into the side of the face and used the friction and a very narrow stance to slide down, catching Sereinia's satchel on his way before landing softly beside her on her little ledge.

"You seem to have a strange knack for getting into trouble, Sereinia." He said with a somewhat mischievous smile.

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