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Assassin's Pledge: War of Attrition

Cre' Est

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a part of Assassin's Pledge: War of Attrition, by KumoriRyuu.

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KumoriRyuu holds sovereignty over Cre' Est, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

3,193 readers have been here.

Heads Up: Completed Storyline!

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

Setting

Default Location for Assassin's Pledge: War of Attrition
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Cre' Est

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Minimap

Cre' Est is a part of Assassin's Pledge: War of Attrition.

7 Characters Here

Shadow [143] A cold blooded Assassin who desires only one thing: the total destruction of Te'i Sai
Layla "Siren" Luciel [113] A huntress who will stop at nothing to get what she wants.
Sereinia Lucis Nouralail [88] A traveling doctor who desires to help the world in her own modest ways.
Dietrich "Leer" Faust [48] "I'm a Line-Breaker, standing my ground isn't my speciality."
The Royal Family of Cre' Est [17] They are the ones in power and in control... But they are not above anyone as the curtains of darkness are slowly removed.
The Moonlit Twins [13] The Alluring Mockingbird & The Troublesome Falcon ~ Chasing shadows, Moonlight mystery
Era [7] The "Bleeding Rose" of Cre' Est

Start Character Here »


Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow

Earnings

0.00 INK

The City of Xi' Mael


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

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Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I'LL KILL YOU!!!"

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

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

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

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

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

"Wow, that one went far."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Man, I'm not even drunk yet." 

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

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

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

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Earnings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

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Earnings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"They all lo'k a bit different, no?" 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wanting a closer look, she turned towards the mortician. 

"Could you light a lantern?"

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Aerith

Earnings

0.00 INK

Streets of Xi' Mael

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

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

Boldar's Bar

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

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

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

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

"Water."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She blinked for a moment and nodded to him.

"O-of course." She said hesitantly.

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

Streets of Xi' Mael

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unnamed Clinic

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

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

The nurse smiled at him and nodded.

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

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

Shadow bowed to her and walked outside.

Streets of Xi' Mael

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

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

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

...and this didn't really sit well. 

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

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

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

"That should work."

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

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

"Awful shame, isn't it"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"--shadow of the church."

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

"--hear about the demon?"

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

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

"That's what those bangs were?"

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

"The Red-eyed demon?!?"

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

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

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

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

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

 She didn't want that to happen. 

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

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

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

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

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She took a chance.

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

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

"It's the Red-eyed demon!" 

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

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

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

"D-damn it." 

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

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

"H-help..."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She would know, she had done the same.

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

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

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

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

Two red eyes watching her from the shadows.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"How are you feeling."

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

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

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

"Absolutely lovely. You got any ale?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"A hunter."

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

"Why am I still alive?" 

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

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

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

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

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

"May I sit here?"

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

"Lovely night, no?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Do you want to talk about it?"

"No."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Do you need help?"

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

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

"Buy something to eat, my lady." 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"My name?"

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

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

But she had no sister, not anymore.

She was a murderer, after all. 

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

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

"My name is..."

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

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

"...Aerith"

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

"Aerith." He said quietly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shadow, by his very nature, hated bounty hunters.

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

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

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

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"It's funny that you should ask."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Only human?

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

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

Less, definitely.

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

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

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

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

Stretching couldn't solve everything, after all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Character Portrait: Aerith

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

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

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

"And what will you do after that?"

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

"Or, I guess--"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

...and not then either.

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

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

He thought to himself for a moment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Aerith

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

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

Stay safe Shadow,

Taira"


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

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Character Portrait: Serei "Sev" Vaelt

Earnings

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-Titerus Mountains, Shaharan-

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

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

She was blind, after all. 

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

"You alright back there?"

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

"I'm fine."

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

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

"No such luck."

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

But assassins lacked such leisure.

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

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

"Not really."

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

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

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

"About the story? Yes."

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

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

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

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

"I'm fine, let go."

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

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

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

But it was too late. 

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

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

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

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

"...and they all lived happily."

Setting

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Character Portrait: Shadow

Earnings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Serei "Sev" Vaelt

Earnings

0.00 INK

-10 Days Earlier-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Was she that strange?

-4 Days Earlier-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How oddly fitting and pleasurably ironic.

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

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

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

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

“’Course Sev.”

-Present Day-

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

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

It was unbelievably hot.

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

“I see you’re awake.”

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

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

Anger coursed through her, possessing her senses.

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

Her patience was wearing thin, which he promptly noticed.

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

Her eyes widened as the utterance left his lips.

“--It’s Evan, Evan Raske.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shako Khan

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

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


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

‘A fight?’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Shadow.’

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

No characters tagged in this post!

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

Either way, he wanted to know more.

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Serei "Sev" Vaelt

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

"--Evan Raske."

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

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

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

Soft?

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Yo-" She coughed "--umm"

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

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

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

"You're..."

Her voice fell to a whisper.

"...Dead."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

‘He has keen eyes.’ She took note.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Was that hallucinating too?’

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

Still, she was an interesting one.

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

“You are Shadow. Correct?” She asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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


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

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

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

Kill Shadow...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

‘Kiiro?’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I do not understand what you speak of -“

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

‘Danger.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

However...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Soon, the battle neared it's end.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shako Khan

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shadow studied her for a long moment before answering.

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

‘Does he mean a gift to kill?’

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

"Very well then." He said calmly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

‘Master, this will be for you.’

She turned to face her new master fully.

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

"It is time." He said quietly.

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

Mountains north of the clearing


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shako Khan

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by elloit
Shako's head hurt. It felt like his skull was several sizes too small for his brain. He gritted his teeth and started piecing together what happened. It came slowly, but the memories were complete, and he still knew who he was. As far as he could discern he didn't have any brain damage. Slowly, he opened his eyes.
He was inside a log cabin. A small lantern was hung on the wall he was facing, and behind him he could hear the crackling of a fire. He was lying on a filthy straw mattress slung over a couple of wooden pallets to form a bed. It looked like it would almost have been better for his health to have slept on the floor. There were two doorways on the wall at his feet, both of them open. A quick glance upwards revealed dozens of crates filling the rest of the room. Evidently it was some kind of storage room. Slowly, carefully, he sat up. His body ached whenever he moved, and he felt stiff, but otherwise he appeared unharmed. 

No sooner had he wondered who his rescuers were than two burly men trudged into the room. As soon as they saw he was awake they started grinning. They were both big, ugly, and looked like they had taken several too many blows to the head (and face). Shako took a guess and decided they were brothers, and this was confirmed when the first one grunted "Oh look bro, our guest is awake!"
The second one swaggered closer, kneeling down beside Shako "So he is! Tell me friend, how are you feeling?"
The pair were being anything but friendly and sincere, but Shako answered the question anyway "I think I'll live."
"Well, if that's your plan," the first one said leaning in close and grabbing the front of Shako's robe "what were you doing snooping around our cabin?"
Ordinarily Shako would have broken the man's forearms - he didn't respond well to threats - but he needed some information from these people, and he didn't entirely trust his body not to betray him just yet. 
"I was lost in the blizzard and looking for help. How long was I unconscious?"
"You slept for two days." number two replied, as one released Shako, seemingly satisfied "What kind of fool are you to go into the mountains without sufficient supplies?"
"I hadn't realised just how insufficient they were at the time. I'll not be making that mistake again."
"You'll not be making any mistakes again if you aren't careful." growled number one. He appeared to be older, but less intelligent than his brother. Not to mention more aggressive. 
"All I want is to know the route back down the mountain. I will leave you in peace."
"That's as maybe, but we need to be sure that's all you were doing. Get a dose of skalm ready, Jim."

Shako's brain worked like an encyclopaedia. Skalm: an extremely powerful painkiller often used in cases of amputation, large burns or other such horrific injuries. It was a paste which gave a sensation of floating and disconnection from the body when applied to the skin, even in small quantities, for more than a minute or two. It also impaired higher brain functions somewhat, meaning it was difficult for people to lie whilst under its effects. It could be taken recreationally, though it was illegal to do so on most of the continent save for a few backwaters. Shako had never had it, and didn't intend to. If that meant he had to beat the two men whom had saved his life then so be it. Shako began to subtly tense his body, getting ready to strike. He watched the man, Jim, preparing the dose whilst feigning fear. 

Shako was just about to strike when a third figure entered from the other room. It was a woman, and she would have been pretty if not for the huge scar that ran down the left side of her face and pulled her nose and mouth out of alignment. 
"What do you two think you're doing?" she screeched, and they both flinched
"We're gonna give him some skalm to make sure he tells us the truth." Jim bumbled
"You most certainly are not!" she snapped, switching to the other brother "You do realise he's a monk, don't you?"
"I don't see how that makes a difference, Sandra." the brother replied, standing his ground. 
"It means he has no reason to lie to you, you fools! Now get out so I can have a word with him."
The two brothers left in a hurry, the second staring daggers into Sandra's back as he went. 

"I'm so sorry." Sandra began, her voice suddenly soft and sincere, the abrupt change catching Shako off guard "I hope they didn't hurt you."
"No, I'm fine. Thank you for intervening." Shako smiled politely.
"My pleasure," she continued sitting down on the bed next to Shako "they need a firm hand to keep them in line, but they mean well."
"I'm sure they do." Shako stated sarcastically, those two had anything but good intentions. 
"You do realise we can't just let you go though. You've got no money, but we need some kind of payment for saving your life. Food and firewood isn't free, and times are tough." 
Shako sat in silence for a moment, he had been expecting something like this and already formulated a plan. "How about a trade then?"
"I'm listening."
"Well, judging by how protective your friends are of this place, and how many crates full of skalm you've got, I'm going to assume that you are smugglers, correct?"
Sandra nodded cautiously. 
"My guess," Shako continued "is that you're shipping the stuff out of Shaharan and over the mountains into Cre'Est. So my offer is, that you tell me the routes down from the mountain, and in exchange I will carry three sacks of skalm to your dealer."
"How do you propose to manage that much without being searched?"
"I'm a holy man, remember? If I tell them it's for medicinal purposes, they won't question it."
Sandra was grinning "Are you sure you're a monk, you seem very willing to get your hands dirty. Plus how do we know you won't rat us out?"
"Trust me, I'm doing this to further my agenda not yours. This is just a means to an end. And I will swear an oath to you that I will not tell the guards. The monks of Uirlin are not allowed to break their oaths."
"Fine then," Sandra smiled, standing "I accept our arrangement. I'll have some provisions prepared and then guide you down the mountain myself tomorrow morning."
They shook hands, and she left to oversee her minions. Shako, meanwhile, was repeatedly telling himself he was doing the right thing. He had to leave this place as soon as possible, preferably without making enemies, and this was the best way to do it. Even if it went against his moral compass, he doubted it was the worst deed he was going to accomplish before Te'i Sai was finished. 

As planned, they departed the next morning. There were no snowstorms, and the sun was out. It was right back to the beautiful vistas Shako had first been lured in by. The trek down the mountain was treacherous, following numerous unsteady goat paths slicked with ice. Many of them overlooked sheer drops. Despite the dangers, they made it to the base of the mountain without any serious incidents. Hidden in a small wood they said their goodbyes, which were not particularly heartfelt.

"Before I go." Shako asked "What's the latest rumour on the Red Eyed Demon?"
Sandra's brow creased as she thought "Last time I was in town was a month ago, but they say he's left Cre'Est. There was talk that he'd entered Triveila but then again some say he headed into Veilbrand. Why do you want to know?"
"Oh, it's just a hobby of mine to follow the gossip about him." Shako answered, slinging the sacks over his shoulders and turning to leave. 
"Wait! One more thing!" Sandra called, her tone suddenly slightly pleading
"What is it?" Shako enquired, turning back towards her and dropping the sacks to the ground again. 
"I know I don't really deserve it but...will you bless me?"
"You do realise that the blessings of Uirlin are meant to bring luck in battle? Normally only soldiers ask for them."
"I know," Sandra replied, blushing slightly "but I feel like I could use whatever favours the Gods will give me."
"Very well then." Shako shrugged, and laid his hands upon her shoulders and closed his eyes, taking a moment to collect himself before saying "Uirlin, I implore you to look after this daughter. To watch over her, and see her carried victorious through her struggles."
He removed his hands and slung the sacks again, and this time she did not stop him, simply calling out "Thank you."
He walked on, considering the rumours she had told him. They may have been old, but Shako knew he was at least five steps behind from the beginning. What mattered was how quickly he caught up. He would head into Triveila and try his luck there once he had made the drop. He was in no hurry to go back to Veilbrand, and whilst he was eager to get back on the Demon's trail, he would keep his vows and deliver the skalm first. 

One step at a time, he told himself, one step at a time...

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Helpless. It is what Sereinia was feeling at the very moment. She tried many times to have them relinquish their hold on her but to no avail. They were clearly superior to her in terms of strength. She could talk to them however, she knows when that is hopeless. All she could do was cry silently hoping that someone would come or at the very least they could make her death swift but that was not how she felt it would be. Their touches were getting vulgar by the minute and in a show of clear reluctance she bit her lower lip in shame that it bleed. The man holding her nuzzled his face on the crook of her neck and she truly felt disgusted by that action.

"You smell divine, don't you? Hmmm..." It was by that moment they all heard a branch being broken alerting them of someone else's presence.

"Well, I guess the girl has herself a would be savior boys!"

Eyes of deep amethyst looked at the unknown man that had ventured on her predicament. Sereinia had never seen anyone like him in town before so he was not probably from around here. Moreover, she felt that this man was very dangerous. Three of the men that were 'feasting' on her went to take care of the lone man. Her eyes widened in fear of what could possibly happen. She struggled from her captor to stop what was going to happen. Somehow, she has a strong feeling that those three men would be killed or injured severely given the chance. But, the hold on her only tightened as her captor looked at her arrogantly.

"Where do you think you're going? We'll take care of this whelp and then you." The man smiled at her lecherously which made her blood go cold.

Sereinia would have said something if it was not for the cloth on her mouth. But even before she could finish her thought on the matter, she heard laughter. It caught their attention however, the laughter soon ceased when the one of the men fell to the ground with blood coming out from his mouth. She had a horrified look understanding the damage that the man must have received. In summary, the man needed medical assistance. She could feel her captor slightly tensed and she completely understands. This lone man was not just anybody. Soon, the identity was revealed to them with those red eyes receiving gentle light from the moon. It was the one known as Shadow.

The two men were shaken but still believed that they have the advantage. However, Sereinia knew that they didn't. She had heard tales about the man named Shadow and in combination of what she had sensed and witnessed. These men were not in competition with him at all. The fight began but the results were soon revealed. One of the men fell to the ground after taking hit at his neck. She could see well the possible damage to the fallen man. Following that, the other men proceeded to flee deeper into the forest in fear of suffering the same fate or even worse.

The grip on her hands tightened even more considerably. Sereinia cast a glance towards her captor and could see the fear in his eyes, He was holding her as if she was his lifeline. She cast her attention in front of her and saw Shadow stopping just a few inches before them. She could tell that her captor was shaking. As for her, she should be as well sensing this eerie bloodlust. However, she was captivated by something else. It was at that moment Shadow broke the man's arm before her eyes. She was released instantly while Shadow beckoned her to get behind him as he continued forward towards her captor.

"Please, that is enough!" Sereinia spoke out-loud towards Shadow.

It is true that they intended to cause her great harm however, Sereinia did not want to see anymore violence if she could stop it. Fortunately, it would seem that Shadow had listened somehow as the man was able to run towards the same direction as his companion did earlier. At this act, she released a small sigh of relief. A whistle caught her attention and it would seem that Shadow was not alone as she originally thought. His companion was quite a sight to see. She looked at him as he approached politely bowed before her.

"I apologize for what those men were able to do to you miss. I hope that you will be alright, having had to bear witness to this violence."

It would seem that the rumors about Shadow being someone of pure evil is not true. Sereinia remained silent for a while hearing his words. She took in his appearance and in all honesty. This Shadow person seems to her as a normal person and the same could be said about his companion although, they do have this air of danger around them. Regardless, she sensed that she should not be afraid of them. She closed her eyes briefly and then opened them again accompanied by a small yet grateful smile.

"Thank you for saving me."

After saying that, Sereinia look at the two unconscious men and knew that her aunt would scold her dearly for what she was about to do. Perhaps, Shadow would also think of her as foolish but, she just had to. After all, who was in their right frame of mind to help someone who wanted to hurt them to begin with. She approached the two fallen men and knelt down to look at their current conditions.

"You have given them quite the beating. I would have to take them to the clinic to treat them."

Standing up properly, Sereinia looked at Shadow with those deep amethyst filled with gentleness and at the same time a bit of sternness. The moonlight shone upon her as if she was a creature that descended from it. Her raven black tresses that had taken the tint of purple were being blown gently by the wind and her scent that is natural of hers mixed with it.

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

Sereinia spoke with a smile as if the attack did not happened. She would usually scold the person who harmed somebody even if it was for her sake. However, there was this lingering sadness in Shadow's demeanor. It would seem that what happened to her might trigger something within him. She did not want to further pry into scars that have yet to be healed. Furthermore, he had hold back in not killing them despite her sensing how he wanted to do so.

"Would you help me carry them to the village? I would also want to show my gratitude to you and your companion with dinner."

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

"Good morning, Shadow." Sereinia smiled warmly as she greeted him for the morning.

Shadow nodded to her and offered a small smile. It wasn't fake by any means but it was not the same kind of smile he was able to offer in the past.

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

Shadow turned and began to walk towards the town's east gate as he ducked his head slightly to hide his eyes from passersby. It wouldn't do to help them in any way if Shadow's eyes had been seen. While the rest of him was normal enough, those eyes of his were so famous that anyone would see them and instantly panic. If the town panicked and loosed the guards on him and Sereinia, it wouldn't be a good start to their journey.

As they began to walk through the market again, Shadow glanced occasionally over his shoulder to check and see that Sereinia was following and not getting lost in the market looking for anything. In the past he had a companion who couldn't say no to a bargain in the market place and he had to constantly stop and check for them to make sure they didn't get left behind. He wasn't too sure about Sereinia yet, but it didn't seem like she'd be one to behave like that. If in the event she did, however, he was prepared for it.

However they continued through until they found their way to Burtos and the horses where Shadow took the lead on the black stallion with a white mane. He turned the horse around and waited for Sereinia to find her horse and get ready to go.

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK


Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius

Earnings

0.00 INK

A forest outside of Cre' Est

It was warm. Almost too warm for Keito's own liking, but the slight breeze that brushed its was through the landscape every now and then kept it somewhat cool. It was peaceful, with the quiet buzzing of insects and the chirping of many birds, but nothing too loud to turn into a nuisance. His eyes opened slowly at first, squinting at the evening sun which beams streamed through the leafs of the large tree that Keito had been sleeping under. He sat up in the grass and rubbed his eyes for a moment as he tried to push his drowsiness away. Another breeze swept its way through the trees and he let out a yawn, his eyes still slightly narrowed as they adjusted to the sunlight. He stood up and spent a few minutes brushing the leafs off his clothes and picking strands of grass out of his hair, along with occasionally wiping the sweat from under his bangs. It probably wouldn't be as warm if he took his coat off and removed his gloves, but the only time he'd ever do that was if he was walking through the desserts of Shaharan.

He'd fallen asleep on his back under and immensely large oak tree, the branches sprawled out high above him with a rather thick trunk. In front of him was a small, grassy clearing with trees surrounding him as far as the eyes could see along with plenty of undergrowth and brush. He leaned down and picked up the small black bag that had been sitting next to him while he was sleeping and threw the strap over his shoulder. He'd gone and slept through another day, something he usually did since he never had anything better to do other than sleep. He let out a sigh and started making his way towards Gweynura. He still had a long ways to go and wasn't taking any of the usual travel routes, but walking never bothered him and finding his way around some rivers or ravines never caused him any problems before, aside from lengthening the amount of time it took him to get places.

He'd only been in Cre' Est for a few days to pack up on food and trade in a few squirrels he'd barely managed to hunt down for some money. Once again, he was moving around with no real reason to do so. It wouldn't be so hard for him to settle down again and make a home for himself in another country, perhaps Gweynura. He was heading in that direction anyways and it was a peaceful enough place with many sights to see, but staying in one place never seemed to satisfy Keito. He'd tried it a couple of times already, but always found himself moving again whether he had a reason to or not. With the current amount of money he had now, there was no way he'd be capable of renting a room for himself for even one night, let alone a lifetime. In four or five hours the sun would already be going down and he'd have to stop again for the night, even though he'd just end up staring at the night sky for hours on end until finally falling asleep an hour or two before sunrise. With all of the naps he's been taking, his sleeping schedule has gotten so off course that day time felt more like night time to him.

And another day wasted on doing absolutely nothing...

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf

Earnings

0.00 INK

A forest outside of Cre'Est

Running fairly early in the morning is not something that Jude Vanderwolf particularly enjoyed but because of the current circumstances it was a necessity. Although the temperature was anything but comfortable for this time of the day the man would not cease running. Shirtless, trying to buckle his belt, and currently carrying most of his possessions within his hands he was running away from a middle aged gentleman with a hunting rifle. Now to understand how such an absurd situation had arisen you would need to understand the reasons as to which this scene is taking place. The night before Jude Vanderwolf had been traveling from the Cre'Est to another land, staying in one place to long was never a good thing for a professional thief. Yes the shirtless man running for his dear life is a thief, and a good one at that. Now how had these two gentlemen met? Well while traveling Jude had asked the middle aged gentleman if he could sleep the night in the man's house. Being a kind man and not knowing the others occupation he let Jude sleep at his estate. The gentleman had give him food and shelter for the night while expecting nothing in return. Now why would such a nice and caring individual be pointing a rather lethal weapon in the direction of said man he assisted? Well the gentleman had a beautiful daughter, she had flowing blonde hair that reached her lower back and a body of a goddess. Jude also noticed this and being the type of man that he was he couldn't help himself. Needless to say the gentleman found the two together and with blind rage tried to assault the man. Now to continue from where we left off.

The forest in which Jude was running in was littered with foliage of different kinds and many trees covered the immediate area. Being a skilled escapist Jude weaved in between the trees and foliage to dodge the gentleman's not-so-friendly fire. Jude was fairing fairly well against the assault but because of all the running he was doing to dodge the man, he had become fatigued. Sweat covered his back and chest, his breaths were shallow and his footwork began to slow down. With exhaustion catching up with him a passing bullet had grazed his right arm, causing a small cut. Alarmed Jude exerted himself, running faster and more agile than before. It seemed that he was going to out run the gentleman until he reached a cliff face. Unable to continue forth and unable to go back in the direction he came from Jude found himself in a tight situation. Before he could formulate any plan the gentleman emerged from the forest, pointing his hunting rifle directly at Jude.

Well, I'm in deep shit now, he thought to himself. Now with nowhere left to run, staring at the gentleman seemed like the only thing he was able to do. As the gentleman cocked his rifle, aiming it directly at Jude's head the man asked if he had any last requests. Laughing to himself Jude stared up at the clouds, hoping to find an answer there or at least something interesting to look at before he died. Unable to find either Jude conceded that this was going to be the end. Throwing his possessions behind him and down the cliff face Jude stared directly at the middle aged gentleman and smirked.

"No need for a last request... your daughter fulfilled every last one. But if I were to have another it would be to survive this fall.. Goodbye." He said this while putting his arms out to the side and jumping backwards towards the cliff face, falling down to the earth below.

Turning his body midair Jude tried his hardest to try and survive the fall. The height of the fall was rather tall so he had sometime before falling but not enough time to really think of an appropriate action to save himself. The ground grew ever closer to him and the trees seemed to be coming towards him. Using all of his might Jude tried to grab on to one of the branches of a tree he had fallen past, only to shatter the branch from where he tried to grab it. He tried this a couple of times but to no avail, these attempts did however slow down his descent but marginally. He continued to fall, without any real hope left he still tried to hang on, to survive. Luckily for him it seems that a means is always provided if ample work is put in. With only twenty feet between him and the earth Jude noticed a young man walking through the forest. Unable to warn him in time Jude fell upon the young man, causing both of them to be laying on the ground.

"Well that was not one of my most brilliant performances... but at the very least there was a soft landing awaiting me." He said this while sitting up next to the young man, placing his hand on him while he thanked him for being there to "catch" him.

It was then that Jude noticed that all of his other possessions, and some of the gentleman's, were littered around the area. Walking towards a black and rather beat up traveling bag Jude took out a black long sleeve shirt, putting it on to cover his many scars. Cringing when the fabric passes over the injury he sustained from the grazing bullet on his right arm, which was now bleeding. Taking out some bandages he lifted his sleeve to where he had been hit, cleaning the wound and dressing it well enough until he could receive medical attention. He walked towards a long tattered crimson red trench coat which was hanging on one of the tree branches above his head, placing it into the traveling bag as it was too hot to wear at the current moment. After gather up all the rest of his possessions Jude sat back down, leaning on a nearby tree.

"Thanks for the save there... didn't know what would have happened if you weren't there to break my fall. What is your name?" He asked the young man who had broken his fall, hoping to at least give him thanks, even if he didn't mean to help.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf

Earnings

0.00 INK

Keito somehow made his way down into a ravine, littered with dead leaves and plenty of fallen trees. The center of the ravine was wide and open, with a faded dirt path running down the middle and a few rotting branches blocking the way. Keito climbed over a large tree that had fallen maybe a few months ago until he reached some shade cover under an area close to the wall of the ravine where the trees grew more thickly. It might not have been too hot out, but the humidity was getting to him. It wasn't anything he wasn't used to, but that didn't mean trudging through a humid forest in the late afternoon wearing all black was enjoyable. He wiped more sweat from his forehead and stopped under a large tree to take a break. Pulling his back off his shoulder, he opened the strap and dug through it for a moment, searching for his canteen. After a few seconds he felt the metal against his fingers and pulled it out and untwisted the top while holding his bag under his armpit. He lifted the canteen to his lips, but was quickly disappointed to find that there was only a couple sips left. He tipped the bottle upside down and shook it a couple of times as if there was more water stuck to the bottom of the bottle. As expected, nothing came out.

I filled it up in Cre' Est!..Don't tell me I have a leak..

He was ready to peek into his bag to see if anything was wet when suddenly the loud sound of branches splitting rung out above him. He took a small step back and looked up, barely having any time to think as a weight crashed down on him. He let out a loud 'hmph!' As he fell onto his stomach and his canteen and bag dropped onto the grass in front of him. "What the...hell?" He moaned, pushing himself up of the ground and staying on his hands and knees for a moment, trying to catch his breath. He coughed a couple of times, cringing a little at the pain in his back.

"Well that was not one of my most brilliant performances... but at the very least there was a soft landing awaiting me."

He heard the voice of a man and felt a hand on his shoulder for a moment before watching his back get picked up and one of his shirts was removed. "Hey, wait a minute!" He said, quickly followed by more coughs. He leaned back onto his knees, deciding to let the man do whatever for now. He was a little amazed the shirt actually fit the man, but it was a tight fit at that.

"Thanks for the save there... didn't know what would have happened if you weren't there to break my fall. What is your name?"

Keito picked himself up off the ground and leaned himself against a tree, glaring at the man also leaning on a tree across of him. "It's Keito..and I don't remember asking to be your savior." He said, taking a couple more breathes before walking over and picking up his canteen and shoving it back into his black bag, then picking up the bandages, a coin bag, and a slice of bread wrapped up in a piece of blue cloth. He put them back in their rightful place and snapped the bag shut before throwing it over his shoulder and looking back at the man. "Since when was it a good idea to go jumping off of cliffs? The last time I checked, people usually want to die when they do that, but you seem grateful." He said with a hint of irritation in his tone as he tried to ignore the pain in his back. He may have been accustomed to the heat, but it wasn't everyday someone fell from the sky and landed on him.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf

Earnings

0.00 INK

The young man had introduced himself as Keito, he was rather cold and not the least amused by the situation. When Keito had asked, "Since when was it a good idea to go jumping off of cliffs? The last time I checked, people usually want to die when they do that, but you seem grateful", Jude got the impression that Keito thought that Jude was somehow mentally unstable. Something which irked Jude a little, he never liked to be thought of as anything but sound of mind.

"To answer your question Keito, no I am not suicidal. No it is not a good idea for an able bodied and sound minded person to jump off a cliff, of any size... I however had little choice on the matter and if you were in my shoes, which seems anatomically impossible because of your... stature, you would've done the same. I however don't think you would be interested in why I jumped off the cliff really, you would need to gain a few more years... or at the very least more inches before I could go into "real" detail." Jude said this in a joking manner, as to respond to Keito's rather cold and irritated tone. Jude wasn't a personable person either but he at least knew how to joke every now and then. With his "brothers" at least.

From the way Keito had addressed Jude Vanderwolf he could tell that the other didn't feel as grateful for such good fortune. Then again since Keito didn't really get anything for his "assistance" it is understandable why he would be irked at Jude. Wanting to reward Keito for being Jude's savior, well reluctant savior, Jude started to rummage through his traveling bag to give to Keito. Going through the bag itself was quite troublesome because he couldn't find anything that he wanted. One of the many faults of a thief, they can never seem to find what they want within their bag of stolen goods. After a few short moments Jude produced a small leather pouch from the bag, tossing it in the air.

"This is your other coin pouch, the one that you keep under your jacket... I didn't think it was very grateful of me to steal from my "savior". But if you would rather not have saved me this could always just be another addition to my funds." After a few moments of thinking Jude tossed the pouch to Keito. "I put some more coins in there for you to... Even though you might not be grateful for this serendipitous situation, I am." Standing up Jude walked towards Keito, leaning to whisper into his ear. "Besides... a few coins isn't much to me, I've got enough money as it is. And if I ever run out, I just "take" what I need... Well maybe more than what I need."

Looking across the landscape Jude noticed that the forest which they were in was rather beautiful, when not being chased by crazed middle aged men. The sun wasn't the friendliest of acquaintances today, the heat was incredibly hot especially with the humidity of the forest. Jude however was use to humidity, being raised in Triveila the water nation he was use to humidity. The forest had many beautiful plants, some of which Jude hadn't seen before in his life. The river that they were near had crisp blue running water, which was coming down from a waterfall not that far back, a part of the cliff face that he had jumped over not that long ago. The river was the life giver in the immediate area, everything seemed to be growing well in the area. Looking into the river Jude noticed some fish swimming around. Fishes of all types and colors, it was like a rainbow.

"You're rather young to be wandering aren't you Keito? What brings you to a place like this? You heading somewhere or something?" Despite not knowing much about the young man Jude felt some sort of connection to him. Maybe it was because he reminded him so much of one of his younger "brothers" within the Wolf Pack. An invisible bond seemed to connect the two of them together, whether they knew it or not.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf

Earnings

0.00 INK

What do you mean I need to grow a few more inches!? He was ready to snap, but held it back since it would just make him look childish. He might not be as tall as most boys his age, but at least he didn't act like a little kid. And what did he mean about his 'stature', that he wasn't some crazy person running the the forest with no shirt on and jumping off of cliffs and landing on people?

"This is your other coin pouch, the one that you keep under your jacket... I didn't think it was very grateful of me to steal from my "savior". But if you would rather not have saved me this could always just be another addition to my funds."

"Wha-?"

Keito clumsily caught the coin pouch with his hands and looked at the man with a little surprise. When had he managed to grab it? Probably after he landed on him. He tensed a little when the man walked over and leaned in to whisper that he could just take what he needs if he were to run out. He wasn't comfortable having him that close when he'd so easily taken the coin pouch from his belt without him even realizing it. It figures, this guy was just some thief probably running after being caught doing something stupid or trying to steal something. Keito took a small step back, keeping his eyes on the man as he walked over to the stream that ran through the ravine nearby. He placed the coin pouch back in its rightful place and, remembering that he was out of water, he also walked over, staying a couple of feet down river from the man of course, and knelt down on the bank. After setting his bag next to him and taking out the canteen, he untwisted the lid and stuck it into the water as the man started to ask him questions.

As he'd suspected, the metal canteen somehow gained a small crack on the corner of the bottle and the water was slowly tripping back out after he pulled the bottle out the the river and examined the outside of it.

"I'm perfectly fine on my own, thank you. And.." He paused a moment, lowering the bottle a little as he thought. What did bring him here? There really wasn't an answer to that question. "I guess I'm just here. I'm heading towards Gweynura..for whatever reason. I'll figure that out when I get there." He stood up, taking a few gulps of the water in the canteen before dumping it out. There was no use carrying it around full if it would just leak all over the place. He twisted the bottle shut and dropped it back into his back and strapped the bag shut before throwing it over his shoulder and turning his attention back to the man.

Now that he got a good look at him, he had some pretty strange coloring in his eyes that almost drew you in in a way. Apart from that though, he looked shaggy and unorganized as well. Completely opposite of Keito, who kept his appearance clean and well kept. Then there was the part where, once again, Keito felt utterly small compared to him. "What about you? You seemed to be in quite a hurry to leave Cre' Est. You came from that direction and why else would you risk jumping off of a cliff? Oh, and by the way, I don't think you've actually told me your name yet. That's the least you owe me after using me to break your suicide jump." He said, taking a small, barely noticeable step back and remembering to keep his distance to at least a couple of feet.

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Layla
A forest outside of Cre' Est

It was an ordinary day, filled with ordinary happenings.

A shirtless man fell from the freaking sky.

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

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

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

She was just talented that way.

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Layla
He knew.

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

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

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

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

She did so love a chase.

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf

Earnings

0.00 INK

Keito kept his eyes on the man as he started to load the two pistols he'd been carrying with him. Wonderful, two of Keito's least favorite weapons. He was secretly relieved that this thief didn't try to attack him while he was still on the ground before. There would've been little chance for Keito to recover fast enough and distance himself from him if that had been the case. Yet, he didn't really feel all that threatened from him, aside from the fact that he didn't want this guy to snatch up any more of his belongings. Even so, that didn't mean he trusted him and he wasn't about to let his guard down for a second.

Keito took a small step back as the man walked up to him and finished loading his guns into..whatever you cal those round things where you put the bullets. With the man standing closer to him, he felt even smaller than when he was standing a couple of feet away.

"My name is Jude Vanderwolf, but I am more commonly known by the name "Omega"."

Omega?..ironic with a last name like that.

"If you don't know me from that name than I am not surprised, I am more well known in the nation of Triveila. I am a professional thief, and a damn good one at that."

Triveila, it had been a while since he'd heard that name. It caused his heart to fall a little as a blurry vision from the past jumped to the front of his mind. For a second he wondered if this person knew anything about the old man he used to work for, but asking something like that would just sound weird.

And the scene that you just witnessed of me jumping down the cliff was not because of some job gone wrong... It was something a lot more personal... Well intimate. I slept with a gentleman's daughter and he didn't react to well to that, if you catch my drift..."

And that is what kicked Keito's past memory to its original place in the back of his head. How do you think a father would react to that?! He thought to himself, feeling a little nervous. That wasn't exactly a topic he was very familiar with, despite almost being eighteen. He'd rarely had any experience with girls and..after that accident..he'd never tried to pursue any either.

"If you're heading towards Gweynura wouldn't it be much quicker to take the main roads than to travel via the forest? It will take a while to get there this way... Is there something that you're hiding from me?"

His expression went from nervous to stern once again and he took another small step back. "Why I don't take the main roads isn't really your business." He said bluntly. There was no way he trusted this person enough to give him the real reason why he avoided main roads. For one, he'd only just met Jude and still had his suspicions about him. Secondly..telling him the reason would bring back too many upsetting memories that Keito was still struggling to forget.

Suddenly Jude made a swift, quick movement and caught something between his fingers only a few inches away from where Keito was standing. This made the man stand closer, and Keito immediately took another two steps back as Jude explained something about trying to catch a fly. Strange, he hadn't heard any buzzing. Maybe the ringing sound of a mosquito now and then, but a fly would usually be louder and easier to spot. He noticed something was off about Jude shortly after his quick attempt to 'catch a fly' and he quickly started to feel alert. He kept a calm outlook as his eyes darted around the trees, trying to spot something or someone that might be a threat to them.

That alertness didn't last very long though after Keito felt a hard hand on his back and he stumbled forward in the direction he had previously been going. "Wait a minute, since when did I say I would travel with you?" He said stubbornly, turning his head to look at him. Still, Keito continued to get the feeling that something wasn't right. "Fine, but we're separating when we get there. And don't you dare try stealing any of my stuff or I'll be forced to take it back." He said, turning back around and starting his way down river.

((Woops, didn't mean to tag me twice sorry!))

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

A forest near the borders of Cre' Est and Gweynura

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Layla
The idiot nearly killed her.

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

Night

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

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

Food. Gosh, she was hungry.

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

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

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

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

Must. Mate. Immediately.

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

Jude was right in front of her.

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

Why is my growth any of your concern?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Layla
Siren was not shocked.

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

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

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

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

Siren blinked, slowly, and moved her head ever so slightly to see Jun Corny, the boy with dark blue eyes, the crescent moon birthmark and the bounty on his head. She watched as Jude pulled a piece of jerky from his pants. She watched as he ate. Watched as that was all she could do. Jude Omega Vanderwolf had a very nice back.

"So... is it an everyday occurrence that you fall out of trees because if it is it seems that we may have something in common... I jumped off a cliff earlier today and the young lad over there is my savior."

And now you're mine, she thought numbly. I've forgotten how to speak.

"So young miss, what are you doing out here at this time of night by yourself? I mean..." Jude withdrew two sharpened knives from his back pocket and held it in front of her and that's what confirmed what she already knew. He doesn't know. Why else would he practically hand his destruction to his enemy? She felt relieved. Not only because her beauty and petite figure bought her some time away from possible death, but because she didn't want him to know she was his huntress. Guilt wrenched her heart from its socket and it was as if an ocean of sadness rested in her silver-grey eyes.

"And before I forget... What is your name love?"

Speak. Move. Do something or you're dead.

"Si-" she stopped herself. Siren was a name well known: a seductive, beautiful bounty hunter with a 100% success rate - so far. "Layla," she whispered meekly, her melodic voice breaking the quiet of the night.

"Layla Luciel," she said, stronger. The ice began to melt and she became a river again. "I was on my way to Gweynura. I was looking for a place to rest for the night so I climbed to the top of the tallest tree I could find to scout the area. You two looked a little dangerous will all your weapons so I'm really sorry for sneaking around," she said as sincerely as she could, an apology in her eyes. Then, a flirtatious smile played on her lips.

"Thanks for saving me, my dear, mighty prince. I am forever in your debt." She curtsied and with a wink said, "You're very beautiful yourself."

"It's nice to meet you two gentlemen," she smiled, revealing two perfect rows of pearly white teeth. "Are you headed for Gweynura, too? It's strange to be out in the woods this late."

Siren tilted her head to the side, blinking her large, innocent eyes and thick, curled lashes at them - playing the 'innocent young lady' look. She was glad she didn't bring her double swords today for it would've been too obvious. Her whip luckily matched her dress like a pretty belt. She unclenched her fists, not realising she had held on so tight, her nails had left markings on her palms. It wasn't the first time she'd been caught, but lying was never this painful.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

Once again, Jude ended up falling from the sky, though this time with a passenger in his arms. The man landed on his back in the grass with a thud and quickly recovered. All Keito could really do was watch with a dumbfounded look on his face. He released his hand from the swords handle and dropped his arms to his sides after relaxing a little. She was just some girl, a beautiful one at that, who's been in the wrong place at the right time. What was she doing out here in the forest in the first place?

Jude ended up wrapping a blanket around her and he was acting mighty gentlemanly, not really the sort of image he could place on the guy. In fact, he was acting extremely friendly towards her and she seemed to be pretty dumbfounded herself for the most part. Still, he was suspicious. How many times could someone fall out of the sky in one day? He tensed for a moment, expecting another body to fall out of no where and land on him, but he quickly shook the thought after Jude introduced him as 'his savior'.

Not by choice..

"Si-"

The girl had started to give them her name, but cut off the word and quickly redirected herself.

"Layla, Layla Lucile."

Her dumbfounded first-appearance seemed to melt away and she looked more relaxed than before. Still, why had she cut off the first thing she was going to say?

"Thanks for saving me, my dear, mighty prince. I am forever in your debt. You're very beautiful yourself."

Well, she was definitely more comfortable than she was before, but for some reason it caused a small spark of frustration to flare up for a brief moment. As far as Keito could tell, Jude was far from being a prince, and his shaggy, unkempt appearance looked nothing like that of a beautiful person. Not to mention his personality was sarcastic and irritating.

Wait a minute? Why the heck do I care?!

"It's nice to meet you two gentlemen. What are your names, if I may ask? Are you headed for Gweynura, too?"

She had quite the pretty smile, which just added on to her nearly white hair and alluring silvery eyes.

"It's Keito, and yes that's where I'm headed", He gave a small nod towards Jude, "And Jude there is just tagging along."

Letting out a small sigh, he realized he was probably coming off a little cold or maybe rude, so he let a friendly smile play over his lips.

"It's nice to meet you, Miss. And you should be more careful. A girl like you shouldn't be climbing up so high, it's dangerous. And I assure you we're no threat to you." He paused a moment and glanced over at Jude. "Or at least I'm not threat, but you should be careful of the pick-pocket. There's a story behind why he had to leap from a cliff."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Layla
Siren pretended to gasp in horror. "He's a thief?" She grinned mischeviously. "Somehow that just adds to his allure."

She strolled over to the their bags, near the fire, all confidence. Sitting down, she looked at Corn- Keito. The boy was handsome and who was she to call short and tiny, she was barely over 5 foot 3. Siren felt the sultry bounty huntress seep back into her bones, along with her love of all genders. She brushed her hair to the side, the firelight glinting off the pale shade and making strands of her hair appear kaleidoscope in colour. She gave Keito the most suggestive look she could muster after the shock of her life for he was her target and he seemed a lot more stiff compared to Jude. Also, he truly was attractive - his dark blue eyes reminded her of the seas of Triveila.

"So what do you do for a living, Keito? Saving thieves from impending doom seems quite exciting. What was he running from? The angry father of a lady he'd deflowered?" she joked. Then, growing serious, she stared intensely into Keito's eyes. "Are you running?" After a pause, she smiled.

"I have to ask. Are you from Triveila? Your eyes are such a deep shade of blue, it reminds me of the waters there. I was born there-" Realising they could make the connections with her place of birth and her full name, she hastily added. "Well, I'm not sure. I lived in an orphanage in Triveila for some time. I didn't know who I was so I just took the name of a fictional character in this story book we once read in the orphanage."

Siren shifted her body and the left sleeve of her clothing slipped off her shoulder to reveal smooth, light skin. She smiled demurely. They'd be smitten in no time. Maybe I should leave. Wait for them at Gweynura. She wiggled her injured ankle and a sharp jolt of pain made her shiver. Nope. She'd have to take the chance and stay. What were they going to do? Give her feminine iron fan a meticulous examination?

"If it's quite alright with you two, could I please sleep here for the night? I-" she let a look of fear pass over her. "heard these noises. It sounded like a large man and I was just so scared. I'm somewhat afraid of the dark, you see. And I'm a terrible fighter. I sing and dance and that's about it." She gave them an embarrassed laugh.

Siren knew they wouldn't simply turn their backs on a helpless maiden and that made her hate herself a little more. Still, she would wait for the right moment to give them both a heavier dose of sleeping needles and take Keito. She'd do it because she was Siren and not Layla. Siren the Huntress who did not give a damn.

Embers floated from the fire to land on her fair skin, spreading pinpricks of pain up her arms. The night air was chilling, the wind singing haunting tunes with its high whistling. It sounded like a warning or an angry, disappointed parent.

Even nature disliked her now.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

Jude sat across from Keito and Layla, finding their conversation quite amusing. Keito of course was still stiff and cold as a corpse, but at least he tried to be friendly with Layla, unlike with Jude. It wasn't long before Keito decided to try and destroy his gentleman status which he had built with Layla, hinting to events earlier in the day and revealing my occupation. Little runt... Got to be more careful of what I tell him. He might start telling everyone who I am... and that's not something I am looking forward to. He thought this because if information of who he was and where he was was leaked he would find himself surrounded by bounty hunters, an experience that the thief did not want to relive. "Omega of the Wolf Pack" had killed enough already in his lifetime. If he could Jude would settle down and quit the life of a thief but he knew in his heart of hearts that it was impossible. Once you know who you are it is hard to become someone else, even if it is in your best interests.

"Well, you wouldn't be wrong with your assumption Layla... That is exactly the reason as per why I had jumped off that cliff. Don't want to have more scars from gunfire, considering I have a lot already." To support his statement Jude had lifted up his shirt, revealing a number of scars that he had received to his torso. There were many scars across his chest and torso, so numerous that it was almost impossible to pick out a distinctive one, all of them stood out. He than put his shirt back on since he didn't like the feeling of be watched, even by such a beautiful lady and Keito.

When Layla had asked if she could stay with them for the night Jude had nodded, seeing no real reason to not let her stay with them. It was actually quite uncharacteristic of himself to be this trusting of people but Jude felt there was no need to be cautious. What is a young beauty and a shrimp possibly going to do to him?

"Triveila? That is my homeland as well... I don't really miss it though. Too many bad memories... I had a lot of good memories too but I think it will be a while before I am able to travel back there. I don't think I would meet welcoming arms if I did go back anyway." When Layla had mentioned the orphanage memories of his past came flooding into Jude's mind. Such as the time he was nearly beat to death for defending another child from an abusive caregiver. Or when he had received a very large scar on his back from being attacked by another caregiver. And of the day that he had met Edgar Vanderwolf, one of Jude's most cherished memories.

Jude had noticed that the blanket and Layla's clothing had slipped a bit, revealing her soft pale skin. Trying to stay seemingly calm Jude just started to twirl his guns around his fingers, a nervous tick he had developed when he was in the Wolf Pack. You could describe the action as to twirl a pen in your hand, only a lot more dangerous to himself and those around him. Looking away for a second to regain composure Jude finally calmed down, holstering his pistols as he did.

"You said that you can sing and dance?... Would you by any chance sing for us? I mean I think that is compensation enough for letting you stay with us." Jude said this as a joke but was also serious, it had been a while since he had heard a maiden's song.

To stand guard and to get a better seat for the possible performance Jude climbed back up the tree he had previously met Layla on. Looking around the area to see if he could spot anything suspicious. He hadn't forgotten that they were being hunted but Jude felt at ease for some reason despite his better senses. He couldn't feel anyone watching them as he did before, whether their hunter had left them or not he did not know, but he did know that their presence had disappeared. Which concerned him more than when he could feel them there.

Where did that bastard disappear to? He thought as he twirled one of his pistols in his hand.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

The girl, Layla, walked herself over to the tree where their bags were and she sat herself down after practically complimenting the fact that Jude was a thief. He had to admit, the guy was pretty talented, but to Keito being a thief wasn't exactly something to be proud of. Of course, he'd taken a few things before when he was younger, but only because no one would give him any jobs because they all required heavy lifting. Now that he was bigger, well, taller at least, he was better capable of convincing people. Even so, he wasn't very happy with himself whenever he did manage to steal something. Of course now he completely restrained himself from doing it.

"So what do you do for a living, Keito? Saving thieves from impending doom seems quite exciting. What was he running from? The angry father of a lady he'd deflowered?"

Spot on.

"Are you running?"

That question caught him off guard, especially the brief moment of seriousness coming from her as she asked. He wasn't particularly running from anything of physical form. But he was always trying to run from his past. Though, he wouldn't tell her that and he was relieved she quickly moved on to another question.

"I have to ask. Are you from Triveila? Your eyes are such a deep shade of blue, it reminds me of the waters there. I was born there- Well, I'm not sure. I lived in an orphanage in Triveila for some time. I didn't know who I was so I just took the name of a fictional character in this story book we once read in the orphanage."

He gave her a sympathetic smile.

"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that...and no in fact I've never visited the place."

Liar

"See I'm not really a big fan of fish and I heard that's pretty much all they've got in the restaurants. Well, I'm sure they have other food too but I don't even....like....the smell."

The last few word slurred a little as the blanket and Layla's sleeve slipped off her shoulder. He swallowed nervously, trying to ignore it.

"If it's quite alright with you two, could I please sleep here for the night? I heard these noises. It sounded like a large man and I was just so scared. I'm somewhat afraid of the dark, you see. And I'm a terrible fighter. I sing and dance and that's about it."

His seriousness returned and he let his eyes scanned the trees. Could someone be following them? He'd felt like it earlier, and thought that it was probably this girl. But now that she mentioned it, he still didn't feel completely safe. Almost like someone was watching him with wanting eyes.

"It's fine! You can travel with us all the way to Gweynura if you want to."

He smiled at her and knelt down in front of her to pull the blanket back up over her shoulder.

"There's a chilly breeze tonight, so you don't want to go catching yourself a cold.", he said as he pulled his bag over to him and opened it. After a little digging he found the bread wrapped up in the blue cloth and handed it to her. It wasn't much but it would help if she was hungry.

"Here. If you're hungry you can have this. Oh, and I bet if we slice it open and put some jerky in between it would make a pretty good sandwich."

He leaned back a little and looked over at Jude.

"Hey, how much of that jerky do you have anyway?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Layla
"Well, you wouldn't be wrong with your assumption Layla... That is exactly the reason as per why I had jumped off that cliff. Don't want to have more scars from gunfire, considering I have a lot already." Jude lifted up his shirt and she withheld a gasp. Not from disgust but from shock and anger at whoever it was who did this to him. Then, sadly, she realised she might possibly just add another scar to his body. He was covered in them and she would be another betrayal. He's just another enemy temporarily charmed by your good looks. You're on a mission. He's just charming and good looking, that's all. They both are. You'll get over it. She inwardly brushed away her foolish thoughts and continued speaking.

"Triveila? That is my homeland as well... I don't really miss it though. Too many bad memories... I had a lot of good memories too but I think it will be a while before I am able to travel back there. I don't think I would meet welcoming arms if I did go back anyway." Jude's eyes appeared haunted. His one black iris pulled her in and she was afraid if she looked too long, she might fall into their depths from which she would never return. She focused on his gold eye instead - a mistake. She felt defenseless looking into them, like they could see into every unhealed wound she did not otherwise show on her body. Siren looked away.

She wondered why he wouldn't be welcomed and very nearly asked when she realised. He's a theif, duh.

"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that...and no in fact I've never visited the place," said Keito. She wished he wouldn't be so sympathetic. She tilted her head, sensing the lie about him having never visited Triveila. Why the lie?

They let her stay, though - as expected. Men could be so foolish. To offer their enemies shelter - hah. She took the jerky and bread they offered gratefully.

"You said that you can sing and dance?... Would you by any chance sing for us? I mean I think that is compensation enough for letting you stay with us."

Siren smiled warmly. "Of course."

Standing up, she ran her hands through her dress and her already perfect locks. She felt a tad nervous, somehow. Strange, for she'd performed for men countless of times. You just want to impress these two more than normal. Idiot.

Her voice flowed like a stream without debris, like moonlight and honey. Siren was indeed - a Siren. She sang a simple but haunting lullaby she often whispered quietly to herself when she could not sleep. The lullaby of her childhood when her father kept her locked in a closet and the lullaby she sang as Siren who was not Layla when the memories and loneliness grew to be too much to bear. Her voice was pure, like that of a muse or angel or both. It echoed in the dark forest and it was as if a stream of light spilled from her ruby lips.

Then, she danced.

Her feet glided over the damp ground and she appeared weightless. Her white dress and snowing hair twirled and twirled until she was a dizzying blaze of graceful light. The warm fire reflected off her light hair, eyes and robes, making her gleam with an eerie kaleidoscope glow.

She danced and sang and then she slept - forgetting they were her enemies. She slept peacefully, eyes gently closed and body curled into a ball.

She slept and awakened in the dark. For when neither Jude nor Keito were looking - she put poison on her lips.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

Keito listened to Layla's singing as he sat once again with his back against a tree. It was the most beautiful thing he'd ever heard, reminding him of the way his mother used to sing him to sleep when he was still just a toddler. It was peaceful, but something about the song was sad as well. It wasn't any problem with the lyrics, but the tone of her voice. It was sad in a way, but still beautiful. She danced like a perfect professional, the light of the fire gleaming off her snowy hair and clothes. He was still curious as to why a girl like her was out in the forest alone, but her voice seemed to push those thoughts aside as the sound drifted in. The suspicion of someone following them also seemed to vanish into thin air and it became the least of his worries. Right now, this moment was completely perfect. It wasn't everyday he could so easily forget everything and just let the world take him in.

They're both from Triveila, how ironic. The one place I'm never going back to.

His eyes saddened a little as he stared into the fire and listened to Layla's voice. Her song had been helping, but it didn't take long for his thoughts to come back. So then, Jude said that he wouldn't be welcomed if he went back. It was almost the same as Keito, but Keito wasn't entirely sure whether he would be welcomed or not. He never caused any trouble for the place, never broke any laws and treated everyone with respect. But Elina..he let her father down. He said he'd protect her and he broke his word. How could he ever go back to that place? It would bring back too many hurtful memories. It wasn't really a case of Keito no being welcomed, but more like he felt he had no right to go back.

So now there were two places he didn't belong; his homeland and Triveila. Recalling the bounty his father had place on him, he wondered if anyone would ever waist their time to catch him. For one, most bounty hunters preferred larger prey in which they could kill and bring back. Secondly, anyone who did try to find him would have to do quite a lot of digging. His thirteen-year-old image on the wanted paper didn't have too much of a difference, aside form his hair being a lot shorter. Then there was his birthmark that didn't even show up in the image, but anyone who did some digging or talked to his parents could easily get that information. Still, it had been nearly three years since his father paid to place that bounty, and not once had he run in to any trouble. It would be easy to assume no one ever bothered to pursue him or no one ever took the trouble to actually talk to his parents or consider what he would look like in the future.

He listened until nearly the very end. By then he found himself laying on his side his arm being used as a pillow. The warmth from the fire and Layla's voice was like the perfect lullaby and eventually Keito's eyes closed and he drifted off into sleep, Layla's voice and the quiet crackling of wood blurring into nothingness.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Layla
There is a heaviness, a weight, a mountain, a troll, a nation, a house, an orphanage, a corpse, a rope around my neck – and it bleeds on everything I love. It holds me down, falls on my head and grips its chains around my ankle and anchors me to the ocean – close enough to breathe but not enough to live.

"If you want to go, that's okay," they'd say. Maybe. Hopefully. One day. I wish someone would give me permission to die. Or at least forget me. I have people to live for – but I don't. The happiness doesn't outweigh the misery. It never does. And even if it did, it'd be hard to remember. To be.

We have no scars to show for happiness.


Light teased her eyelids, I don't want to wake up, she stirred. Her arm bumped against another body. Siren sat up quickly, immediately awake. Where am I? She looked around and down at the familiar body next to her - Keito. Right, she was on a hunt. Looking around, she searched for Jude, she didn't see him. A pang of worry and disappointment hit her. Don't be silly, he's your deer.

Then, she found him. His bandage had fallen from his arm and she kept a straight face but inside, she was utterly shaken. Siren was not mistaken - she could only see half of it but she knew with a certainty that it was the head of a wolf. The Wolf Pack. She raked her fingers through her waterfall hair - a nervous gesture she often could not shake despite years of lying. Surely she was overreacting. Tons of people had tattoos of wolves. Especially thieves. She chuckled nervously. How silly of her to think a wolf tattoo certainly meant he was a part of the infamous thieves guild. Then a frightened, excited and disappointed thought hit her.

Omega... Omega. Omega Vanderwolf. Wolf tattoo. Triveila. Orphanage. Omega of the Wolf Pack. Jude Vanderwolf wasn't just Omega, he was the Omega. The Omega with a very, very big bounty on his head.

The poison on her lips tingled. This is your chance, Siren. Seduce them. Kill Jude and take Keito. It's not like you haven't betrayed people before. But she didn't want to. She liked them in a way she didn't quite understand but felt nonetheless. They were not terrible men. Yeah, a killer-thief and a most likely killer. Of course they're not terrible.

Yeah, a bounty huntress who kills others and sells herself for money is soooo much better.


The poison on her lips continued to tingle. Siren clutched her iron fan and its array of needles tightly. She had to do this. It was more than money now - though that was a huge added bonus - she needed to do this because it was the way of things. She would either be the huntress or the hunted. Because who was she kidding? She couldn't hide her identity forever. Honestly, she was surprised they didn't recognise the red marks on her hands and feet. There was only one bounty hunter with those marks of peace, love and trust, of Auxureilla the Goddess of the Sea - ironic. If she let them go, she would become weak. She needed to succeed in these bounties or she would forget who she was. She would not become weak. She'd been defenseless before, naive. Siren would destroy them because she was afraid - of them, of herself.

Kill Omega, kidnap Corny. Kill Omega, kidnap Corny. Kill Omega, kidnap Corny. She repeated this to herself, hoping if she thought of them not as Jude and Keito but as mere targets, she would be able to convince herself that really was all they were. She took a deep breath that felt like her last for after she did this, she would not deserve to live. She was killing her future.

Siren's poisoned lips were soft, beautiful, deadly as she tenderly held Jude's face as if she were his lover. Her silken cascading hair fell around them like a veil. Siren leaned forward - and kissed him.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

Jude sat above the two in a nearby tree, looking out for them. All imminent danger seemed to slip away as he listened and watched Layla dance, she had the voice of a muse, a siren. Layla was singing an old lullaby native to Triveila, a song Jude remembered all to well from his childhood. Jude was no longer in the dark of the forest of Cre' Est, no he found himself on top of the white sheets of an infirmary. Covered in bandages, his back covered in blood from the punishment he had received from a caregiver within the orphanage. The melody was being hummed by the doctor as he took care of Jude's wounds, the doctor was Dr. Edgar Vanderwolf. Jude had spent much time in that infirmary bed, countless days. Whenever he was there he remembered that song being hummed as he fell asleep and as he woke up. It was a peaceful melody but also a sad one, an incredibly sad song.

The lullaby itself tells of a story of a little girl named Alice, a beautiful girl who lived with her parents in a small cottage. Life was good, or at least content until one day her parents had been killed by a highwayman. Grief stricken and heartbroken the girl named Alice was put into the care of fellow family members. While in their care she was maltreated, and abused. One day she heard one of her family members saying how much of a burden she was to them and how they wished she would have died as well as her good for nothing parents. Lost in grief and anger the girl named Alice picked up a kitchen knife, walked up to all members of her family, killing all of them. Having no reason to live and being overcome with the loss of her parents the girl named Alice ended her life. It was then that she found herself in the afterlife, embraced by her parents. No longer again to be separated.

The story itself is fiction but the song had several meanings and lessons. The song tells that when a person is at their worst they are capable of doing anything, even the innocent Alice. The song heeds a warning that no one even the beautiful Alice shouldn't be trusted because all humans are capable of atrocities, no matter how innocent they are. It also warns people to be kind to those they meet because they never know how the person will retaliate.

Lost in his head Jude didn't notice the others fall asleep beneath him. Looking down he noticed how innocent the two were, the beautiful young woman and the young boy. They looked innocent but so did the girl named Alice, how could he trust them so readily? Jude came to realize that he didn't know them well enough to trust them, nor should he. He would've left the two of them right there but he couldn't, he couldn't leave them. Sighing he leaned back against the tree, looking up at the night sky above his head his mind wandering to thoughts of the past. You are the Omega wolf... You shouldn't be taking care of children... You are not able to take care of them. Run while you still can... leave them for your sake... RUN!

It seemed that Jude had also fallen asleep, dreaming about memories best left forgotten. His eyes becoming heavy he began to drift to sleep again. This however was interrupted by the feel of soft lips and the taste of strawberries, and also something else, something strange. Opening his black and gold eyes he found himself staring into the face of Layla. Pleasantly surprised Jude embraced her in his arms, kissing Layla back in turn. Her skin was soft and felt like silk underneath his hands. Her hair was smooth as well as he passed his right hand through it. Jude had become lost within the embrace, wanting to savor every feeling, ever taste, every sensation. Despite the pleasure he received from this he knew something was wrong, something was off, the taste in his mouth was no longer that of fruit and strawberries, that strange taste instead filled his mouth... Poison.

Breaking the embrace and pushing Layla away from him Jude took out his pistols, aiming them towards Layla. Jude the pleasure seeking thief was no longer there, Omega the Wolf the heartless killer had taken over. Staring straight into her silver eyes Omega cocked his pistols in preparation to shoot. His body began to sweat and he became numb all over.

"What did you do to me Layla?... Who are you?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Layla
The kiss was horribly beautiful.

She loved it, love him a little. For a few, wonderful seconds, she forgot who she was, who he was and what she was doing again. She held him, ran her hands down his built chest and slipped them under his shirt. She kissed him and he kissed her back, holding her tighter. Siren's lips fit with his more perfectly than any other kiss she'd ever had. Let me stay.

She hated it.

The poison poured onto his tongue, seeping into his mouth. It would destroy him as it had so many others before. He wouldn't be resistance to this, she was sure. For it wasn't any mere poison used by killers or hunters - it was the poison of Sirens, a special concoction nobody who'd tasted had lived to tell or make. It would kill him.

What have you done?

Then, he shoved her roughly away and she found herself staring up into vacant, hard eyes - black and gold without a trace of mercy. The eyes of Omega. Then, they were no longer eyes but the deadly blackness of pistols. He's going to kill me. Fear screamed for her to run, to feign oblivion.

Then, she laughed. A lilting, slightly crazed laugh, fuelled by adrenaline and hate for herself. You were very willing to kill him just a minute ago.

"What did you do to me Layla?... Who are you?"

Siren grinned and stood, slowly, in one fluid motion, brushing her skirts. She tilted her head to the side and him like prey - a serene and mad gleam in her eyes. "Oh, absolutely nothing, my love. I was curious to see if you liked poison berries and you were oh so lovely in your sleep. I myself love them so I went" she smiled wider, straight white teeth and maroon lips. "-gathering."

"As for the latter question, I am who I've always been - Layla Luciel," her quiet, feminine voice was serious now.

She pulled the whip from her hips, ducked and swung the long whip around his pistols in one elegant motion. Siren ripped the guns from his hands.

"Simple self defence for helpless maidens," she whispered, looking into Jude's eyes. She snatched one of the pistols midair and flung the other backwards in Keito's direction - she didn't know that, of course.

Pointing the gun at Jude, she started trembling ever so slightly - you wouldn't notice it if you didn't have a trained eye. Keeping the gun trained on Jude, she made a decision. Siren reached for the red and silver necklace she wore around her neck and her long sleeves fell to reveal the enchanting, intricate red marks of Cre' Est and the maidens of Auruxeilla that had been made onto her skin. She pricked her finger on a section of the pendant that somehow appeared smooth. She held the maroon liquid to the ruby necklace in the centre of the pendant.

It clicked open.

Her hands shielded the contents within but when she clicked it back shut, she had a infinitely tiny, single red sphere between her fingers. Siren held it out to Jude even though she knew he might slice off her hand or something as or more horrific.

To mend my mistakes.

Silver-grey eyes sad and apologetic - although she knew no amount of apologies could make up for her betrayal - Siren spoke quietly, as if she were trying not to wake Keito. Even her long, long hair was silent in the wind. All of her could be summed in one word - solemn. The red bead stood out against the contrast of her pale skin and delicate hands, they were the hands of the finest of princesses, of dancers - not killers. She sang when she spoke.

"The cure."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

It was quiet, and peaceful. He was used to sleeping all the time, but somehow this time the sleep was different from any other time. He just felt more relaxed and safer than usual. It had been a while since he'd actually fallen asleep at night before the moon reached the middle of the sky. Usually he would just stay awake until sunrise and then sleep until the late afternoon. Or we would just space out naps every few hours, but that eventually started causing him too much drowsiness and fatigue to care for. Why was this sleep any different from the rest? Perhaps it was because he didn't fall asleep alone somewhere. This time he fell asleep with company, and a warm fire, and a beautiful song sung by a beautiful girl.

'Thud'

Keito's eyes cracked open, his vision blurry at first and his mind hazy as he tried to figure out where he was. The fire was starting to dim and go down, and it seemed well into the night. The sun might even rise in a few hours. His eyes opened a little more as he tried to recall why he'd woken up. There was a noise of some kind that interrupted his sleep. What was it? Maybe that thief just fell asleep and toppled out of the tree...

"The cure."

Layla?

His suddenly found himself awake as he recognized Laya's singing voice and he turned his head to look up where it came from. The sight surprised him more than it should have. She was standing in front of Jude, a gun in one hand and a vial of some kind in the other and a little smile on her lips while Jude sat there looking like he was going to vomit. Keito silently sat up, putting together the reason for this scene in his head. Of course, it made sense now. The feeling he got earlier of someone following them, it wasn't a man at all, it was Layla. But why was she doing this?

He quickly reach up to grab the handle of his sword, but then stopped himself. There was no way he could reach them form here, and he gun would travel a lot faster than his blade. He turned his head form side to side, trying to find something he could throw to distract her. That's when something silver caught his eye sitting in the grass only a foot away from where his head had been resting a minute ago. He would've preferred not to, but right now he didn't have a choice.

He reached for the gun and messed with it for a minute in an attempt to get it to be ready to shoot the bullet, whatever you called that.

Man, I really need to better knowledge myself with these things..

He then pointed it in the direction of Layla, but hesitated a moment. Could he really shoot her? Of course! He had to help Jude, but that look in Layla's eyes...

Just pull it!

Pull it he did. He was a little surprised when the gun briefly yanked itself upwards a couple of inches as it fired, but was able to recover. He picked himself up off the ground and continued pointing the gun. He was pretty sure he missed the first shot, but he was being serious now and if need be, he would kill Layla.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

It was just as Jude had expected, Layla had poisoned him. She must have laced her lips with the poison, kissing me while I slept to end my life... And I fell right into her trap. Layla Luciel? If there was a hidden meaning behind that name Jude didn't know it. He tried to think of where he would have heard of that name before but because of the poison Jude was unable to keep his thoughts straight. Under a moment of weakness Jude found himself unarmed, without his precious pistols; Fenrir and Warg.

Jude could see Layla was speaking but nothing was registering in his mind, everything seemed to be melting away. Colors merged and sounds distorted, Jude couldn't trust his eyes anymore. Using his willpower and fighting experience alone Jude stood up to face Layla. He could see that Layla was pointing one of his pistols at him, possibly Fenrir but Jude couldn't really tell. She was playing around with something in her hands, a necklace. Layla had something in her hand, a red sphere. Her mouth was moving but Jude couldn't tell if she was saying anything or not. Losing consciousness Jude knew he had to do something fast, whether or not it would speed the effects of the poison no longer mattered. He had to do something.

Using his remaining power Jude threw three strikes, one to knock the pistol out of Layla's hand, one to grab whatever was in her other hand, and the last to throw off Layla's balance on the tree branch. The strikes were fast but because of the poison running through his veins his strength was weakened an incredible amount, he didn't know if any of those attacks had any effect. Following this he had heard gunfire but because of his current condition he was not sure if it was real or not.

Finally consumed by the poison Jude found himself no longer standing on top of the tree, but instead falling. Nothing seemed to resemble anything anymore, all it was was shadows made of colors. The item he had taken from Layla was spherical in shape, but that no longer mattered for Jude could no longer feel it within his hands.

On the verge of death itself, losing consciousness and all of his senses with the last remnants of his strength Jude placed whatever that item was into his mouth, hoping it would do him some good. Nothing mattered anymore, Jude had lost. As his eyes turned towards the back of his head Jude had finally lost consciousness.

An infirmary room inside Jude's subconscious

"Are you okay Jude? Did someone try to hurt you again" It seemed as though Jude was now on top of an infirmary bed, the bed in which he was so familiar with in his childhood. Father was in the room, he was sitting on his desk, messing around with some papers as he usually did.

"You know old man I'm no longer a child... I can take care of myself... I don't need anyone anymore." Sighing Edgar Vanderwolf walked over to Jude, placing his hand on Jude's shoulder.

"Everyone needs someone my boy. You needed me then and you most positively need me now... Despite your own beliefs." Moving away from his father Jude looked at himself in the mirror, not seeing himself as he was as a child but as he was now, scars and all. Confused Jude looked back at Edgar, trying to ask him what he already thought.

"No my son... this is not the afterlife. It is the plane of existence in between... And it is my job as a doctor and as a father to make you all better."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Layla
It was an ordinary day, with ordinary happenings.

We fell from the sky.

"Jude!" she cried without planning to. Siren reached toward him midair and then she crashed into the ground. A sharp pain spiked through her head. She couldn't breathe, couldn't move and a horrible thought crossed her mind. I'm paralysed.

A shot fired.

Oh god, I shot him.

Siren managed to wiggle her hand, the gun was still clutched in it. She drew a shallow breath, then another and another. She had to check on him. She didn't give him the cure just so he could die. She didn't want him to die. Siren sat up, slowly, her ears rang from the gunshot and her head pounded with the impact of hard rock on skull. Blood trickled from the wound and a drop fell into her left eye, it stung badly.

"Jude...?" she mumbled. You idiot, why the hell would he answer the woman who just tried to kill him?

Siren stumbled over to Jude, the sky spinning in endless circles. She collapsed to her knees next to Jude. She exhaled, relieved to see Jude hadn't been shot. She rested her head gently against his chest. He was breathing, his hard was beating. She looked around and didn't spot any red pills. He must have swallowed it. He's going to be okay.

Running her hands through her hair, she leaned forward to bury her face in Jude's shirt. What the hell am I doing? Lost in her thoughts and dizzy from the fall, Siren didn't notice a gun aimed at her head until that very moment. She turned around to find herself staring into the barrel of a gun and deep, piercing blue eyes.

Keito.

Her heart wrenched itself against her rib cage, beating painfully. I'm going to die. Oh goddess, Auxureilla, I'm going to die. A hundred scenarios bounced against one another in her mind. A dagger to the throat, duck. Use Jude as a shield. Run. Siren looked around. There was nowhere she could go if Keito wanted her dead. Keito wasn't drugged, she wouldn't be able to dodge his bullet. Maybe she could leave it to chance, Keito might be a bad shot. No, she couldn't. She panicked. She'd never been this afraid since she was a defenseless child under the painful strangles of her father.

Then, an eerie calm settled over her. She wouldn't fight. She wouldn't run. She wouldn't do anything except look at Keito with her light silver eyes.

This was it.

Permission to die.

"You killed your mother," a voice growled in her head. A foot smashed into her gut. Layla fell against the corner of a wooden table. "You should never have been born." Hands pulling back hair, a forehead smacking against a wall.

Helpless.

A door slammed shut, bolts attaching. Siren's eyes turned into ice. A blizzard. Vacant. I won't be helpless anymore. She stood, ignoring the blood seeping from the cut on her head. She smiled and winked.

"You're going to shoot a beautiful lady? That's cold."

She ran forward and ripped her whip, wrapping it tightly around Keito's wrist - and pulled. Siren reached up her skirt and pulled a red dagger from her thigh. She became a different person. Her eyes were no longer warm and Layla was no longer there. The seductress with a conscience was gone. Fear became violence.

Siren aimed for Keito's neck - and threw the dagger.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

"Jude!"

He yelled, watching the man fall from the tree after Keito had failed miserably to hit his target. But then something strange happened; Jude's attacker also fell from the tree, attempting to grab him? But why? That didn't make any sense! Layla looked utterly worried for Jude, as if she completely regretted the action she just took on him. Wasn't she trying to kill him just now? Had Keito made a mistake?

No way!

The signs were too obvious to be excused as a simple mistake of the situation. It was clear what Layla's intentions were. He just didn't understand why. Was there a chance this girl was a bounty hunter after them? It was possible that Jude also had a price on his head, since he was a thief after all. But were the two of them worth going through all this trouble?

Then their eyes met, and Keito felt a chill go up his spine. He clutched the gun tighter as he continued to point, wondering if now would be a good time to drop it and unsheathe the weapon he was more capable of wielding. No, Layla still had the other gun in her hand, and she was probably more experienced with it as well. Even if he drew his sword, she would still have the advantage in this fight. He had to find some way to better distance himself from her. Right now he only stood maybe four feet from where Jude lay, that was too close to be able to dodge if she fired her gun.

Wait a minute, what was that he was seeing in her eyes? Was she suddenly giving up? Why did she look so calm?

Don't..don't do that..I can't shoot if you do that..

He clenched his teeth and swallowed dryly. There was no way he'd be capable of killing someone who looked so ready to die. He shut his eyes for a moment. Perhaps he could do it if he didn't watch.

"You're going to shoot a beautiful lady? That's cold."

His eyes snapped open and he looked a little surprised. She'd stood up blood dripping from her head, and she now looked like a completely different person. No, she hadn't given up. She didn't plan on dieing here. His eyes narrowed as he glared at her, a calmness sweeping over him. It was about time he stopped showing such sympathy and did what he needed to do.

She suddenly charged at him, whip cracking like lightening across a stormy sky. He felt the leather wrap around his left wrist and he was yanked forward. The gun dropped form his hand and he clenched his teeth tighter, refraining himself from letting out any noises to show the pain that his hand and arm were feeling. He quickly leaned back, grabbing onto the whip with his left hand and pulling as hard as he could. His feet slipped forward in the grass a little and he ducked just in time to watch a dagger fly itself over his head, a little too close to his forehead for his own comfort. At that moment he reach up and drew his sword, bringing the black down onto the whip a couple inches from his left hand. The whip snapped and he stumbled backward, avoiding a fall after his back roughly slammed up against a tree behind him, the same tree a dagger was sticking out of a few feet above him.

He kept himself from letting out a gasp or grunt, and took a small step forward, his sword at his side and his other wrist starting to drip blood. He didn't need to speak; his glaring eyes said it all. He wasn't about to let himself get killed either. There was no way he'd been taken down here.

"Who are you?..and what's your reason for doing this?" He asked bluntly, his voice calm and cold; ompletely unnatural for him.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Layla
"Who are you?..and what's your reason for doing this?"

She shook her broken whip distastefully, the spikes slapped against her leg, drawing blood. "Man, that was my favourite." Siren calmly wrapped the damaged weapon around her hips, ignoring Keito-the-man-who-wanted-to-kill-her. "You're buying me a new one," she said, a playful smile on her red lips, dipping her already deep cupid's bow.

Siren reached behind her back, grasping for her double swords, forgetting she'd left it at Cre' Est. "Aw man. That just isn't fair, Keito." She stepped forward and trailed her fingers softly over his face. She had nothing left to lose. Her hands trailed over his body until she clenched his bloodied wrist. She crushed it and bent it backward at a terrible angle. There was no Layla left to tell her not to.

"Who am I?" she asked, cold eyes looking into Keito's but seeing nothing. "Who am I?" She reached up her long white skirt to take another white dagger from her thigh sheath, almost sensually. The snow-haired beauty pressed the dagger to Keito's throat and in a single word, it was as if the very last of her sanity drained from her. She became a terrible beauty.

"Siren."

Keito was taller than her, bigger. She didn't seem to notice anything at that moment, though. She was lost. Unthinking. Siren pressed the dagger harder against his throat.

"Or maybe not. Maybe I"m a figment of your imagination." She whispered her lips over his birthmark, her hand still painfully grasping his bloodied wrist. It was a horrific mix of love and hate. "My dear Keito,

"I'm everything you want me to be."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

She was way too close to him. Closer than he'd ever had any other girl before. He wasn't used to this. He wasn't used to this at all. Still, although he was tensed up and completely nervous, he kept his eyes calm and glaring as she moved her fingers over his cheek. He pushed himself up against the tree, growing more nervous as her hand trailed down his chest, until she grabbed his wrist. He winced in pain, clutching his teeth together harder to keep from letting out a yelp. He made an attempt to push her away, but she was just standing too close to him. It was like his body was paralyzed.

Move you idiot..what's wrong with you?

"Who am I?"

The end of a second dagger was pressed to his throat and he swallowed as she repeated his question. Who was this girl, really? He liked her before. He liked having such a friendly, sweet person around. It just brought him peace of mind. But this girl wasn't Layla. This girl was Siren, and he knew that name well. So she was a bounty hunter after all. She did a fine job at playing them, he had to give her that much. His eyes moved onto Jude for a brief moment. Had she actually killed him? He hoped he was alive. If Keito was the one this girl was after, then it would be his fault that Jude got caught up into this mess. He should've never let the guy travel with him. Whenever he made bonds, there was always something there to snap them in half. He should've known that from the start.

"Or maybe not. Maybe I"m a figment of your imagination. My dear Keito."

Another chill made his way up his spine as her lips brushed his neck. She was definitely too close. He didn't know how to react to something like this. She still had a firm grip on his wrist which was surging with pain, but he was more focused on how close she was. He was stuck between the tree and her, and there was no way to slide out.

"I'm everything you want me to be."

"So then, you really don't have any idea who you really are then..that's a little sad in a way. Don't you think?", he managed to say, his right hand clutching the handle of his sword, but he made no attempt to move it. "I don't think you said that right, Layla. I don't really want you to be anything. There is nothing that I want you to be."

He paused a moment, glancing at Jude once again, then looking down into Layla's eyes with complete calmness.

"If you're just after me, I'd like you to cure whatever you did to Jude. In return I'll go with you without any resistance", he paused for a moment, his eyes narrowing, "But if you plan on taking Jude as well, I don't think I'll be able to let you live for much longer."

All he needed was a single answer. For now he needed to push his nervousness aside and focus on what action he should take next.

Please...please don't make me kill you..

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Layla
"So then, you really don't have any idea who you really are then..that's a little sad in a way. Don't you think?"

She paused. Siren lifted her head from Keito's neck and looked into his eyes of deep ocean. A mistake. Her vacant silver eyes clouded over and turned greyer. She quickly looked back down, burying her smooth face in his neck and nibbling gently. "Of course I know who I am. I'm just adaptable," she mumbled. Siren wrapped her arms behind his neck, grinning.

"I don't think you said that right, Layla. I don't really want you to be anything. There is nothing that I want you to be."

She ran a nervous hand through her silky pale blonde hair. Everyone expected something. They had to. She wouldn't know what to be if there was nothing anyone wanted her to be. Keito's eyes were cold, as if a wall of ice had slammed down behind them. It hurt a little and strangely enough, it melted her own ice and resolve - a little. Layla peeped through.

"If you're just after me, I'd like you to cure whatever you did to Jude. In return I'll go with you without any resistance." Come back, Siren. She glanced at Jude, briefly, her hair swayed with her slight movement. Siren hooked her finger under Keito's collar, smirked, and pulled him in, walking backwards. Jude had already been cured but Keito didn't need to know that.

"But if you plan on taking Jude as well, I don't think I'll be able to let you live for much longer." Siren laughed her melodic chuckle.

"I don't think I'll let you kill me that easily, Keito." Siren twirled a strand of his dark hair and looked as if she were contemplating his deal. "Sure. If I let him live, you'll come with me, yes?" She waited for the nod. "You'll have to be drugged, though. I don't trust you. Don't worry, you won't be knocked out. Just... Not there."

Siren waited for Keito to promise her and slipped a needle in his skin. The drug would allow him to walk - like hell am I lugging him through the forest - but he wouldn't know friend from foe. In fact, Siren doubted he'd know who he himself was for some time. Before the drug kicked in, Siren made a show of gracefully strolling over to Jude and sticking a plain needle into his arm. He'd wake up soon when the antidote finished its work. She'd have to move quickly. Siren began contemplating killing him but she didn't have time to finish the thought before a loud voice in her head screamed No.

Slipping the spikes of her torn whip back in, Siren tied Keito's hands together and held the handle. His eyes were already becoming vacant. She tugged - and then she ran, Keito in tow.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

It was dark, blurry, muffled. What was happening? Where was his sword? Why was it so cold?..or was it hot? Was it really that dark, or was it possibly just too light for him to see anything? It was almost like he was standing in a vast ocean of nothingness. He could feel a little something, vibrations coming from below him. Was he running from something? Why was he running, what reason did he have to be in such a hurry? There was another presence though. Someone was running in front of him, but why were they running? He could see something amongst the darkness. Snow? No, hair. Snowy white hair. There was a pressure as well, something tied around his wrists. Why couldn't he move his hands?

Keito's eyes were empty and dim, his eyelids softly narrowed and he was staring off into nothing. At first, he'd slightly winced when the needle pricked his skin, but then everything just started to become blurry. Everything just went silent, or it was all just too confusing for him to understand. He knew at that moment that she'd given him quite the strong drug, and there would be no chance of defying her now. At least he was able to see her 'give the antidote' to Jude before his consciousness faded away into a dark wonderland, dropping his sword onto the grass beside him before she bound his wrists.

What am I running from? What am I running to? Am I alone?...it's so crowded. What are all these voices? Why is it so quiet?

The dark blurriness faded into white and he found himself standing in a vast waist land of freshly fallen snow. The snow continued to fall slowly, unchanging as they rested themselves on Keito hair, the white specks sticking out like bright stars in the night. The sky was white, and the distance dissolved into nothing but complete white. Even so, he didn't feel cold at all. In fact, he couldn't really feel anything, as if he wasn't even standing there. Was he really standing there? Did he even exist anymore?

"Jun, you need to finish up everything on your plate, or you'll be small like that forever."

What was that voice? It was so familiar, and comforting.

"I'm not small! If I eat all this I'll get fat like grandma!"

The voice of a little boy. The voices vanished as quickly as they came. He raised one of his hands, a few snow flakes falling onto his palm and melting. It didn't feel wet at all, or cold, as if he wasn't even touching them.

"Ryuu, if you keep eating so much fish you're going to get fat."

Which voice was it this time? Why did it make him feel sad?

"Hey, I'd never let myself end up looking like your old man. I'm a growing man I gotta eat!"

"Maybe you could use a few inches, but eating so much is just going to make you fat and you'll have to roll around everywhere."

"Wait could that really happen!? No way!!"

The distant laughter of a young girl echoed around him. Go away...don't..leave me here..stop..., he wasn't sure what he wanted, and despite him opening his mouth to speak, no sound came out.

On the outside, Keito continued running behind Layla, a blank expression on his face. Instead he'd ended up speaking those words out loud, but only in a small whisper. His eyes were empty, staring at nothing. His lips stayed slightly parted after his whisper, but for now he couldn't figure out what was going on away from that snowy place. It was as if he'd been split in half, one side left to keep his body moving and reacting, and the other being thrown into a white abyss.

"El..." He whispered again unconsciously, the image of Layla in front of him blurring and weaving unnaturally.

"Eli.."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf

Earnings

0.00 INK

Jude didn't understand what his father was saying, none of it made sense. How could Jude be sitting in the old infirmary room of the orphanage with his father who is deceased? He didn't know whether or not whatever he was experiencing was real or if he had just gone completely insane. That or the poison had some sort of hallucinogenic trait to it, he thought. Not wanting to waste anymore of his time in whatever the hell he was doing Jude stood up and walked to the door. Once he was standing in front of it his father, Edgar Vanderwolf, begun to laugh. Confused Jude looked back at his father, trying to find some meaning in his father's response.

"That won't help you my son... That door leads to nowhere... Well in truth it does lead to somewhere but wherever it leads to I have no knowledge what it is." Riddles, Jude hated riddles, especially since it was a test within the Wolf Pack thieves guild that he had a particular problem with. When it came to anything physical Jude would have no problem but deductive reasoning and ingenuity were not things which came naturally to him. Maybe that was why I spent most of my days training with my mind rather than my body.

He tried to ascertain the meaning behind the riddle of which his father was asking him but nothing seemed to come to mind. A door which leads to nowhere but in fact does lead to somewhere but there is no knowledge of the place of which it leads... If there is no knowledge of this particular place it can not be anywhere known to man. Simply i should lead to nowhere... but why would a door exist if it didn't have a purpose? If the whole reason for its existence is to just make people wonder about where it leads than it is a useless door... Confused and without a certain idea of what he should do Jude sat back down on the infirmary bed next to his father.

"Tough ain't it... It took me a while for me to find the meaning behind that door... And if you don't figure out what it is for than you may be stuck here a long time... Leaving your friend to die at the hands of that woman." How did his father no about Keito and Layla? What did he mean I would be leaving my friend to die?... Was Keito defeated by Layla as well? Panicking Jude ran to the door, trying to open the door but the door was locked. Jude tried forcing his way through the door, slamming himself against it and even kicking it but nothing he did made the door budge an inch.

Edgar Vanderwolf began spinning his pen between his fingers, a nervous tick that Jude also shares. "It's not as simple as that my son... Just wanting to go through it doesn't make you able to open it... You hope that the door will lead to your freedom but in reality this right here is true freedom... Death is freedom... All that lies behind that door is pain, misery, and betrayal. Will you be able to throw your chance at freedom to return to such a place? To return back to life?"

"I thought you said that this door lead to nowhere and that there is no knowledge about it... How could the answer to that be life?" Jude retorted, not understanding the thoughts behind his father's actions.

"Son... What is life? A painful journey filled with regret and sorrow... That is nothing worth going through... I didn't say there is no knowledge, I said "I" have no knowledge and I say this because I do not know what lies before you on that path... Now that you know what lies behind that door can you so readily open it?"

Jude thought about this for a moment, he didn't have anything waiting for him back there. Nothing worth risking his life for, nothing worth living for. Why shouldn't he just let himself die? He knew this to be true but despite his better judgement Jude had opened the door. Looking through it there was nothing, an empty dimension that was all just space.

"I'm sorry father, I can not stay. I have some debts to pay to a few individuals, I won't be able to rest peacefully with those two on my conscious... I hope you understand my decision." Waving goodbye to his father Jude let himself fall down the abyss, not knowing whether or not he would see the light of day again.

Sighing Edgar Vanderwolf walked back towards the infirmary door, closing it. He than walked back to his desk and began to read from the newspaper on his desk. "Jude... you made the right decision my son... But your path will be a thorny one, forgive your old man for trying to keep his son from hurting himself... And failing at that..."

A forest near the borders of Cre' Est and Gweynura

Snowflakes began to fall in the forest, blanketing it in a sea of white a most beautiful sight to see. The trees seemed to be hanging themselves down as the weight of the snow began to weigh them down. The fields of green grass seemed to disappear amongst the snow. It was chilly, colder than usual for this time of the year. The wind itself seemed to howl, blowing ever so quickly within the forest. Amongst this seemingly winter wonderland lay a man in the snow, covered with snow insomuch that if you weren't looking you would not see him there. A single snowflake began to fall, floating down to the earth until it landed on the man's face. Suddenly the man's eyes opened, revealing his black and gold eyes.

Omega the Wolf was back.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Layla
'Go away...don't..leave me here..stop..." Siren looked back, Keito's dark blue eyes were distant and unseeing. She wasn't surprised that he'd spoken, that's what the drug normally did to you. But she was curious, What's he going on about? A soft pang tapped against her chest at his words. Gosh, he was adorable.

"I'm not leaving you, Keito. I didn't go all the way out here to let you go," she breathed, her feet falling and picking lightly on the surface as she ran. Siren turned back ahead, her long white-blonde hair and white dress a flurry behind her.

"El..." Siren slowed down a little. El?

"Eli.." She stopped abruptly, her skirts swooshing against her legs. Eli?

Elina.

No, that was too ridiculous of a coincidence. There're lots of Eli's in this world. Siren continued walking. She didn't run this time, couldn't. Her legs felt like they were going to collapse beneath her any minute now. Besides, we've been running for hours. Jude's probably really far behind. The forest was an endless sea of green with the occasional blur of wildlife. Speaking of wildlife, she was hungry and thirsty. Siren needed Keito alive - not starved and exhausted to death. Stopping, she tilted her head to search for running water. There's a stream nearby to your right. Siren went right and the sound of running water grew louder and louder until it filled her.

Siren untied Keito's wrists. Thoughts of Elina and affection for Keito and Jude made her more reckless than she'd ever been. Perhaps, Siren wanted the two to escape. It would be easier telling herself she'd been outnumbered or defeated by a skilled swordsman than "Oh yeah, I kinda liked them so I let them go." No, she wouldn't let Keito go. It would tarnish her perfect record. Everyone knew about her hunt for Jun Corn-what's-his-name but no one had to know she'd encountered Omega of the Wolf Pack.

Siren went hunting.

She skewered two rabbits with a dagger on her thigh - it required incredible skill to hide these many weapons under your skirt, she smiled to herself at the thought. God, I'm hilarious, she thought drily. Siren glanced briefly at Keito before running off to gather some firewood to roast the rabbits. When she returned, Keito was still there. Good. As the meat cooked, Siren found a large cupped leaf and dipped it into the stream. She poured it gently down Keito's throat, cooing softly. I'm acting like his mother. She shredded the meat into small pieces and tried to make Keito chew and swallow. He did - surprisingly.

Now that that was done, Siren ate and then drank from the stream. "I love water!" she cried. Her clothes came off immediately, falling pass her shoulders and down the length of her small frame to bundle at her ankles. She dipped a toe and then a foot into the freezing clear waters.

"Never test the depth of water with both feet," she mumbled to herself. Slowly, gingerly, she sunk her whole body in. Her long winter-blonde hair swirled around her like a ripple of snow. She stayed underwater for some time, her eyes shut. Triveila, she thought wistfully. Siren loved being underwater - it gave her a peace she did not find anywhere else. It was her sanctuary. When she was a little girl, she used to pretend she was a mermaid.

Minutes later, she popped up from the water with a gasp. She glanced at a nearby tree where she'd wrapped her whip on the branch to make sure she hadn't drifted downstream. Then, she floated. Most of her pale skin was emerged in water, her hair floating like a halo around her head, as she stared into the bright sky of noon. The sunlight glinted off her pale grey eyes, making them even more silver than they already were.

"Hey, Keito," she whispered - she didn't expect him to hear her, anyway. "Do you know Elina?" She paused. "Oh, right. You've never been to Triveila - or so you say - so I guess not. You should've. She was a nice girl. I lived near her when I was with my father and we used to play together. She was kind. After I left my... The house I lived in. She sneaked around her father, taking food from his restaurant to give to me. Actually, she always did that. My father wasn't very fond of feeding me, you see. In fact, he wasn't fond of me at all."

Her delicate feet bobbed in the water. Siren closed her eyes. I could sleep here and never wake up. Float and float until someone finds me or until I reach the end of the world. She felt like sobbing but Siren didn't cry. Couldn't. She stopped crying when she realised it wouldn't do her any good, she'd just get a harder beating.

"Do you know what happened to her, Keito?" she choked on tears that were not there. "I miss her."

Siren opened her eyes.

It was snowing.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

""Hey, Keito,"

Keito...why did that name sound so familiar? Who was that supposed to be again? Wait, that was supposed to be his name. Or was it some other person's name?

"Do you know Elina?"

Was that supposed to be his name? Keito stepped forward in the snowy waist land, but his foot stepped down with no feeling. There was no weight or sound. Was he even there? The snow in the waist land continued to fall softly, the flecks starting to roll off his head as the whiteness continued to rest itself on his hair and shoulders.

"We used to play together. She was kind, taking food from his restaurant to give to me."

Whose voice was that that continued to echo around him? Why did it sound so familiar? Was it familiar or was it the first time ever hearing tat voice?

"In fact, he wasn't fond of me at all."

"Do you know what happened to her, Keito? I miss her."

Keito....why are you so sad?

__________________________________________

Keito rose from where he was sitting on the grass and walked over to stand on the river bank. He knelt down onto the river bank on his hands and knees and reached into the water, taking Layla's hand. His eyes were still empty, but there was a small, but sad little smile on his lips.

"Don't cry." He whispered, his voice cracking a little at the attempt. He was completely oblivious as to what he was doing, but something about Layla speaking about his past made a little spark of his conscious return, ready to fade as quickly as it came though.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Layla
A gentle hand held Siren's. She froze. Did Keito wake up? Impossible, that was a really heavy dose. Was it Jude? No, she'd be dead or dying by now if it was him. Siren didn't dare turn to look. It must've been Keito, anyway. It felt like him. A naked lady and a drugged boy. Hah. Now we just need a pissed off thief. Why was he holding her hand, though? He must think I'm someone else.

"Don't cry."

And she wanted to even more than she did before. Siren knew it was because of the drug she'd poured into his veins that made him treat her with such kindness and that made it so much worse. She wanted it to be real.

"Don't cry, Layla," said a soft spoken voice. Elina's. "It wasn't your fault your mama passed away. She wouldn't want you to feel so bad - she would've wanted you to live. You deserve to be happy and you're going to do great things one day. You'll make your mama proud."

I'm a bounty huntress without a conscience. Are you proud, mom?

Keito's hand held her still, stopped her from floating far, far away. Made her stay when she wanted to leave. She stood, slowly, her long wet hair pulling itself out of the water, droplets dripping down her body. Siren looked at Keito. He had a sad smile on his face and it made the world feel like it was shattering.

"Where's Elina?" she asked, her eyes desperate, searching. As if Keito's blue eyes were a magical map that could point her to Elina and tell her what to do. She held Keito's hand tighter and repeated, more desperately, "Where's Elina?" Siren knew she was being unreasonable, for who was she to think Keito even knew an Elina? Eli could be Elizabeth or Eliza or Elisa or Elida or just Eli. She didn't know if he knew but he was the only one there.

"I need to find her. She'll know what to do, Keito. She'll know how to fix us." Her voice wavered but still she did not cry. Siren wanted to destroy something. Her pain and anger - for what, she did not know - was overwhelming and she needed to destroy. A familiar gaze in Keito's eyes made her think of Elina, even though Elina's eyes were never drugged and vacant but were instead compassionate and emotional. Siren couldn't hurt him.

She snatched her hand away from Keito's and dropped herself into the bottom of the stream, hooking her feet between the smoothed rocks so she wouldn't float away. Fingernails in her skin, Siren hugged herself. Submerged in water, she wept - or maybe she didn't, it was hard to tell. She choked on the water and she stayed a little longer. She'd stay there until Elina or her mother came, as she often did when Elina couldn't escape from her duties to be with her sister Layla.

Siren would hold still - and wait for tomorrow to be kinder.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf

Earnings

0.00 INK

The after effects of the poison still effected Jude, despite his usual immunity towards most poisons. He didn't know what that poison was that Layla gave him, but he knew that he would need to find out. He tried moving his arm finding that it was still numb, unable to feel anything even with the snow falling all around him. Jude looked around the winter wasteland around him, it had just been scorching hot earlier that day, why was it snowing now? It is possible that the extreme weather changes are because of the forest's natural weather patterns but because of how erratic it was Jude couldn't be certain if it was natural at all. But what else could be causing the forest's extreme weather patterns? Laughing at his own random thought he noticed that Keito and Layla were nowhere to be found.

"Just as my father warned me... Guess I'll have to save that little guy." Begrudgingly Jude got his body to stand, despite the effects of the poison. The snow under his feet was fresh, and was extremely soft under his feet. Jude felt at home with the snow falling down around him, it was an uncommon occurrence of where he grew up in Triveila so he cherished all the days that it did snow. Today however was not a time to be fondly thinking about the weather. Jude knew what he had to do, he had to track Layla down and he needed to get Keito back. Despite not having a real close relationship with Keito, Jude felt obligated to helping him. Not because Keito had broken his fall off the cliff face but because it was his duty to be the lookout that night and he failed in his duties. He would save Keito in redemption for his on short comings, hoping he will be able to find them.

Wiping the snow off his traveling bag Jude looked through it to find the equipment he needed. He pulled out a tattered red trench coat which was so long that it extended to just above his feet when he wore it. He put the coat on, pulling the hood of it over his head, readying himself for the upcoming pursuit. Slinging the bag over his left shoulder Jude began to look around the grounds for his cherished pistols, Fenrir and Warg. The silver custom made pistols were hard to find since snow covered most of the grounds at this time but he needed to find them, they were the only things he had left of his father, Edgar Vanderwolf. After some time spent searching for them Jude finally found the two pistols generally close together. Opening the chambers of both the pistols Jude found that one bullet had been used, whether by Layla or Keito he knew not. Taking a bullet from his makeshift bandolier belt he placed it in the empty chamber, holstering both weapons afterwards. Jude had also surprisingly found Keito's black sword lying near where his pistols were. Picking up the sword and sheath Jude placed it over his back, as he continued to ready himself.

"Well... I guess now is a better time than any." Trying to track down Layla and Keito was going to be difficult with the current weather, the snow must have hidden most of their tracks to begin with. Since Layla was the person who was following Keito it was most likely that she would head back towards the direction they had come already. But this was speculation, he wouldn't be sure unless he found some tracks to follow. Slowly but surely Jude looked over the grounds, trying to find a single hint in which direction they went. After much time Jude had found some tracks, they weren't as fresh as he hoped they would be but he knew that the only people possible to make them were Layla and Keito, and the tracks lead back to Cre' Est.

Suited up Jude began to follow these tracks, hoping to find them. He ran for a long time, moving across the tree tops at times to speed the chase, he knew he was far behind and that he needed to catch up. He had to save Keito. Like a lone wolf on the hunt for his prey Jude ran across the forest, tracking Layla and Keito very closely, he wasn't going to lose this time around he was to make sure of that.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

"Where's Elina?"

Elina?

"Where's Elina?"

Why do you sound so scared?

Elina, that name sounded so familiar, but Keito just couldn't process it. He took another step forward, the snowy waist land disappearing and he was suddenly standing in the middle of an everlasting meadow with the sky painted with a flurry of pinks, oranges, and reds. In the distance two, glowing white moons floated above the horizon and a breeze ruffled the golden strands of grass, causing flecks of white to spread across the land from the dew reflecting the moons rays. Where was he now? He felt heavier this time, not as light and invisible as he did in the snowy waist land. Wait a minute, it was warm too.

He lifted his arm and stared at his palm for a moment. Was he alive this time? Is he started to exist? What was this pressure on his fingers?

"I need to find her. She'll know what to do, Keito. She'll know how to fix us."

The voice was louder this time, and he swore he'd heard it before. The pressure on his fingers slipped away and he took a step forward through the golden grass.

Eli...no..Layla.
___________________________________

The name suddenly clicked into his head and a heavy realization hit him. As if he'd woken up from a deep sleep, his eyes snapped open and he found himself sitting beside a snowy river bank, the white frost starting to rest on his head and shoulders. When had it started snowing? For a moment he thought maybe he was back in that waist land, but that image quickly started to fade to the back of his mind as if it had never existed.

Where is she..she drugged me..

Could he possibly be in Veilbrand? No, it was supposed to be the hot season there right now, so it definitely wasn't Veilbrand.

He turned his head from side to side, his vision blurring every now and then. The effect of whatever she drugged him with still hadn't warn off completely. He felt light-headed and dizzy and his legs were sore as well. Had they ran all the way to the mountains or something? He picked himself up off the ground, leaning a little but he made sure not to fall over as he rested his hand on the side of a frost-covered tree. His finger tips has started to turn a bright red color, and he was slowly starting to shiver a little. This was his most least favorite kind of whether and the worst kind to take a nap in.

Then something hanging in the tree caught his eyes. It was Layla's whip, the one he had broken with his sword. Right, his weapon was missing too, most likely dropped back where Jude was. He hoped the guy wasn't still laying on the ground, since he'd be covered in snow by now. Still, right now he wasn't concerned about that. Where was Layla?

She couldn't have..

He leaned forward a little, peering down into the waters of the river. His eyes widened for a second when he saw her, white hair, fair skin, and sitting at the bottom of the water with her eyes closed and curled in a ball. As if his body moved on his own, he jumped into the water and held his breath as he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her out of the river. He set her down on the river bank, relieved to see she wasn't unconscious. Removing his long coat and relieving his long-sleeved black shirt, he threw it over her and wrapped his arms around himself.

"Do you want to die of hypothermia! What made you think it was a good idea to jump in a river while it's sno--"

His words cut off and he stumbled backward a little, dropping down into the snow and placing his hand on the side of his head as it throbbed a couple of times. He took a couple of deep breaths, then turned around and sat on the snow with his back facing Layla.

"Could you please put your clothes on at least.." He said, his tone showing a little irritation, but it wasn't too hard to tell he was just nervous and a little concerned for her.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Layla
Siren was pulled from the water. It was a shock. These past two days were a shock but this really stunned her. Siren prepared to throw the person who held her over her head until she noticed who it was.

Keito?

The young man wrapped her in his long coat and black shirt even though it was obvious that it was freezing. That stunned her even more. I just tried to kidnap you. Why are you being so nice? she wanted to ask. She sat there on the snowy banks, gawking at Keito for a little longer until he spoke.

"Do you want to die of hypothermia! What made you think it was a good idea to jump in a river while it's sno--"

Siren wanted to tell him living in Triveila made her somewhat immune to the cold. You could have 4 seasons in a day there with its fluctuating weather patterns. She didn't, because she kind of wanted to coo at what a sweet guy Keito was. She doubted Keito would appreciate being cooed at, though.

Keito pressed his hand on the side of his head and breathed slowly, turning away from her. She felt instantly bad. Poor thing. The drug's giving him a headache and it's freezing. "Triveila!" she gave a little cry of pride. Then she hastily took his clothes off her to return to him. He'd freeze long before she did.

"Could you please put your clothes on at least.." Siren laughed.

"You're the sweetest thing," she smiled, placing his long sleeved shirt on his lap. Siren made sure she brushed up against his exposed back, smirking. He's so much fun. "Saving the damsel in distress. How kind of you," she teased, though her tone was honest.

Siren took her own sweet time slipping his coat over his shoulders. "I'm sure I don't have anything you've never seen before," she whispered, very close to him. Siren paused and stood. "Actually, I probably do." She chuckled lightly.

"There's a first time for everything."

Siren twisted her endless snowy blonde hair. This snow is really good camouflage. Siren squeezed her hair so it wasn't so wet, it took quite some time because of the length of it. She threw the dress over her body, straightening it and pulling on her hair so it rested over the classily provocative clothes. Pulling up her skirts, Siren sat at the edge of the river bank. She watched her smooth legs as she kicked them in the water.

"You can go."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

"You're the sweetest thing, saving the damsel in distress. How kind of you."

He kept his eyes locked on the snow in front of him as she leaned in and placed his shirt on his lap, tensing up quite a bit when he felt her skin on his back. If his cheeks weren't already red from the cold, it would've been quite obvious that he was blushing nervously. He slipped on his wet shirt as quickly as he could, then stuck his arms through the damp sleeves of his coat and hugged himself.

"I'm sure I don't have anything you've never seen before,"

Okay, now you could probably tell he was blushing. Good thing he was facing the opposite direction.

"Actually, I probably do. There's a first time for everything."

You're not funny and I'm not interested.

That's what he wanted to say, but for now he was too focused on forcing his eyes to stay locked on the snowy ground in front of him. How cruel, trying to disturb his pure-hearted intentions. He let her get dressed as he tried to recall how exactly he'd reached his destination. Everything was such a blur, and so faded, like the way the moon looked on the surface of a puddle after someone tossed in a rock in. Where had his mind gone after she had drugged him? It frustrated him that he couldn't remember. Though, he could recall one thing. He remembered hearing a woman's voice, Elina's voice. They were just echoes of the past though, and it just caused him to feel worse. He'd done well so far to keep those thoughts in the farthest reach of his mind, but thanks to Layla's drug, they managed to push themselves forward.

There was something else to, he could've sworn he'd heard Layla say something. It was something that sparked his up most attention, but he just couldn't remember. Even so, it felt so important, like he had to remember, no matter what.

"Lay--"

"You can go."

He looked up from the snow and over to where she sat on the river back, her legs softly kicking the water. He was quite surprised, didn't she just kidnap him?

"You mean, you're not taking me in?"

He felt suspicious, and confused as well. She'd nearly killed him earlier, and there was dreid blood crusted around his wrist from the whip earlier and it looked to be a little bruised too. It didn't look like his quick dive into the river washed it off properly. He scooted over to the edge of the back, dipping his wrist into the water and letting the blood wash off. The wound didn't look to be that bad, it was just because she'd bent it back in an unnatural angle that it was hurting the way it was.

He glanced over to her as he let the cold water numb the pain.

"Did..something happen while I was drugged..you don't exactly seem like the type of bounty hunter to just let her bag of money walk off. And if you really are the well-known Siren, then that's going to have quite the effect on your perfect record, don't you think?"

His voice shook slightly as he shivered, his breathing forming little puffs of white that vanished soon after forming, only to be followed by another one.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Layla
"You mean, you're not taking me in?"

Siren didn't look at him. Didn't even answer. She just kept staring at her feet kicking in the water, splashing freezing cold droplets on her now semi-wet dress.

"Did..something happen while I was drugged..you don't exactly seem like the type of bounty hunter to just let her bag of money walk off. And if you really are the well-known Siren, then that's going to have quite the effect on your perfect record, don't you think?"

"When something good happens to you, do you always question it?" she sighed. "It doesn't matter why I did it but let's just say I owe someone something and this is my way of paying it back. Besides, the bounty on your head isn't worth it. You're just somewhat of a legend amongst us bounty hunters - the boy who was never found. As for my perfect record..." she trailed off and smiled.

"If you won't say anything, I won't, either. Your real name's Jun Cornelius, isn't it?" she surprised herself by saying. Siren didn't remember his last name until now. "No one recognises you. As far as I'm concerned, Jun Corny- Cornelius is dead.

"You're Keito"

Siren swung her legs from the water and stood. She traveled light, everything she owned was on her and not in a bag. She took a small vial from the sheath she wore around her thigh that now rested limp over the branch where her whip was and sat in front of Keito. She motioned for his hand, put a drop of the ointment on his wrist and gently rubbed it in circles. "It'll help it heal," she explained. "Sorry."

Concentrating on his wrist, Siren spoke. "So what's the bounty for, anyway? The person who placed it just said they wanted you alive." Siren heard the reply and then she decided screw it, I'll ask.

"So who's this Eli you were mumbling about?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

"When something good happens to you, do you always question it?"

He smiled a little at that and looked down at the water from where he was kneeling in the snow. It was kind of just a natural reaction for him really. He couldn't remember the last thing something good actually happened to him, aside from taking naps whenever he wanted or saving enough to eat a good meal or buy something sweet. He decided not to answer that and let her continue on.

Besides, the bounty on your head isn't worth it. You're just somewhat of a legend amongst us bounty hunters - the boy who was never found."

Another little smile crossed his lips and he stood up. It was true, his bounty wasn't all that high at all, maybe enough to buy yourself a pretty gold necklace or something like that. He wasn't really sure how much something like that would cost, though. It had just never been in his price range, but wasn't something that was too hard for nobles to buy.

The legend part was a little amusing. He figured the only reason no one had ever come looking for him was either because they weren't interested in his bounty price, or it was simply that his photo was too old to totally pick him from a crowd, and that he'd changed his name a couple of times of course.

Basically, she was after him because his name would look good on her record.

"If you won't say anything, I won't, either. Your real name's Jun Cornelius, isn't it?"

He looked over at her at the mention of his real name.

"No one recognises you. As far as I'm aware, you're dead. You're Keito"

Right, that was his name, not Jun. It was Keito, and he hoped he wouldn't have to change it again.

She got up from where she was on the bank as she finished her sentence and made her way over to him. He was a little cautious, but she seemed completely serious about letting him go, so he was able to relax a little bit. And after seeing her pull out a vial of some kind and gently hold up his wrist, he decided to let his guard down for the most part. The medicine that she rubbed onto the wrist already started to relieve the pain, and he was pretty grateful for it. Last time he checked he'd left his bag back in the little clearing along with his sword, so he didn't have any kind of medicine with him.

"So what's the bounty for, anyway? The person who placed it just said they wanted you alive."

He hesitated a moment, but decided that he at least owed her an answer. She was letting him go after all, and treating the wound she'd caused.

"Just a father looking for someone to keep his last name going, that's all."

He said bluntly, keeping up his little smile, though his voice grew slightly dim as he spoke. It wasn't the clearest answer he was capable of giving, but he didn't really like talking about his past.

"So who was this Eli you were mumbling about?"

His eyes widened for a second, the shock barely noticeable as he quickly shoved it away. Of course she would be the only think he'd think about when blacking out. He wouldn't have control over his memories if he wasn't able to control his actions while under the drug Layla had given him. His smile vanished and his eyes moved down to his wrist, though they seemed to loose their light for a moment.

"Elina...just someone I knew a long time ago. No one all that special.."

Just speaking her name made him want to dive into a black ocean and hide there forever. And saying out loud that she wasn't anyone special hurt even more. He softly clenched his teeth together and looked down a little more, trying to keep the unwanted emotions from bubbling up to the surface.

"Thank you for the medicine." He said, quickly wanting to change the subject. "I'll be on my way now. I left my sword back at the campsite, and should really be getting it back."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Layla
"Elina...just someone I knew a long time ago. No one all that special.."

Oh. Siren was disappointed. Elina was special. What? You thought the Elina you knew was the centre of everyone's universe? She looked at Keito closer, though, and realised he didn't seem to be telling the complete truth. In fact, he looked pained and restrained.

"Thank you for the medicine. I'll be on my way now. I left my sword back at the campsite, and should really be getting it back."

"Of course," Siren said, gathering her belongings. She walked towards Keito and squeezed him in a tight hug. It'd be another eternity before she got to simply hug someone.

"Good luck on your journey, I hope you'll arrive safely in Gweynura. And if you ever happen to pass by the House of Sirens," she gave Keito a winning smile. "Make sure you say hi to them for me. From Layla and-" she paused, thinking. "Tell them I'm sorry."

Siren regretted leaving at times. She could've made a life for herself there, if she'd stayed. She didn't because she couldn't. Couldn't bring herself to grow so attached to any one place, with any one person. Besides, they were cruel women sometimes. Still, instead of hunting, she could've become an "entertainer." It was what she did, anyway. She entertained, charmed, bought love with giggles and skin and beauty - she just killed and kidnapped, too, that's all. She wondered if that was to be her whole life, then. Siren never thought about the future, in fact, she rarely though about anything at all. Occasionally she'd find herself dwelling on the past but never the future.

It's yesterday and there is no today, no tomorrow. Yesterday and yesterday is all I've ever known. Yesterday, because I can't move on when I can't hold still.

"You still owe me a new whip. I really liked that one," she sighed, exaggerating her sadness over the broken weapon. "Until next time, then. Goodbye Keito who is not Jun. Say bye to Jude for me, will you? He'll be quite peeved - but there's no harm done."

Honestly, Siren would miss Jude quite a bit. A slither of regret and sadness wiggled through her. Ah, well. Suck it up and get over it. She wanted to race back where they came and apologise to the handsome man. Beg for forgiveness and kidnap him. Keep him in her dungeon for all of eternity and for a moment, she actually considered doing it. She took the high road and decided she'd had enough adventures for now. He'd attempt to kill her, anyway. Not that he'd succeed, Siren thought triumphantly. You have cunning and speed. The first isn't going to work anymore and he has a gun. Jude has a pretty good chance. Watch your back. Siren wistfully imagined hundreds of might-have-been scenarios. If only she really were a damsel in distress with no combat skills. For now she'd have to give kidnap a break. Siren would find him again.

Curtsying with gentle fingers pinching up the sides of her skirt, Siren bowed her head, making her pale hair swing forward. Siren looked up, gave Keito one last wink - and left.

Later that night

Siren was surprisingly cold. The fire crackled - it reminded her of the night she'd found Jude sitting from the branch opposite her. The air was frozen and she'd chosen the absolute worst thing to wear. The dress provided her with no warmth whatsoever, she'd probably have been better off naked, buried in the snow. She sat as close to the fire as she could without setting her long and flammable hair on fire.

She didn't stand out in the snow. At least this was better camouflage than green trees. Siren wasn't any shade of green. The fire will give you away, she thought. You should put it out. Her lips weren't lips of blood as they normally were, in fact, they were looking quite blue. Hell no. I'd rather die from a bullet to the head than hypothermia. Damn I should've kept that gun. Siren's teeth chattered. This was the dumbest, most impulsive thing she'd ever done in her life. If you love me, Auxureilla - you'll make it Summer. Please? Pretty please? I promise not to swear for an hour. It was a stupid promise and an easy one to keep. Siren never swore. Never.

Ah, fuck.

A white drop of softness fell on the tip of Siren's nose.

It was snowing.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

It had been two days since Jude had begun his search, tracking down Layla and Keito proved to be some task. It was only a few hours ago that Jude had finally caught up with them, only to have found Layla by herself. He didn't know what had happened to Keito, varying thoughts seemed to scramble his mind but one thing was for certain, whatever she did to him wasn't good. Layla, this woman had kidnapped Keito, for whatever reasons. She had left me for dead, lying on the ground... I have no sympathy for what I am about to do to her. Taking his pistols out of his holsters Jude sneaks up to Layla, blending with the shadows.

Despite Jude's unwillingness to engage in fights he wouldn't let anyone get away with such an injustice. Freedom was an ideal that Jude held close to his heart, anything that he witnesses which would impede on his or anyone's freedom enrages him to his bones. And what Layla had done to Keito, kidnapping him had lit a fire inside Jude that he hadn't felt for years. He was going to punish her for what she did, he will destroy her.

The snow was falling all around him as he approached her. The fire burning in front of her provided light but from where Jude was she wouldn't be able to see him coming. She was incredibly close to the flames, most likely because of how cold it was. The fire would prove useful to him. Sneaking as quietly as he could Jude was a few meters behind her, he then placed a black bandana across his face. Better I seem as a monster than to appear as the man she poisoned... Pulling his red hood over his head Jude prepared himself for the conflict.

Jude than lunged towards Layla, tackling her and trying to pin her to the ground. She struggled but with her size against his Jude forced her down, striking the left side of her head with the handle end of one of his pistols. He then placed the barrel end of the other pistol close to the fire, heating the silver barrel. Cocking the pistol he struck Layla with against her left ear he then placed the heated pistol above her face, with the silver barrel red from heat.

"You're going to answer a few questions for me Layla or your pretty little little face will get a little burnt..." He then signified this by motioning the heated pistol barrel closer to her face.

"Who are you really Layla and what did you do to Keito?"

Layla felt cold against Jude, her skin colder than the snow falling all around them. He would've done something about this if he wasn't so enraged with her. How could someone this delicate and beautiful be such a bad person? Jude than thought about himself, how much of a hypocrite he was for exacting his own sense of justice against someone who had done little worst than what he had done himself. If it was anyone else Jude wouldn't have cared, if she had kidnapped anyone else Jude wouldn't have had acted this way. If she had only done it to someone he didn't know he wouldn't have to do this to her.

Suddenly Edgar Vanderwolf appeared in front of Jude and Layla, looking down at them. "Son... don't be too hasty to exact judgement against this girl... She isn't what she seems to be." Jude ignored his father, it was nothing more than his imagination running wild again, trying to keep him from doing what he had to do. I will not be weak again... I will never be the runt again. He then forced the pistol against her ear harder against her, staring down at her with his black and golden eyes.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Layla
Siren was pressed to the ground, a large body pinning her down. She pulled at her arms, wriggling underneath the weight. She started panicking, she hated feeling small and helpless. A ringing pain smashed against the side of her head. A gun. Siren stared into fierce black and gold eyes.

They're pretty.

"You're going to answer a few questions for me Layla or your pretty little little face will get a little burnt..."

Her scared eyes betrayed her bright smile. "You wouldn't want to ruin my pretty little face, would you?" Her skull ached all over, first from falling from the tree, then from cracking it on a sharp rock, then from being tackled and finally from being hit with the gun. She probably had a concussion. Siren was scared. She didn't mind getting thrown around, having her face permanently scarred would destroy her career. Her life.

"Who are you really Layla and what did you do to Keito?"

The snow fell softly around them - caring for nothing. It fell and Siren felt like a snowflake. She'd touch the ground and melt into nothingness. She wiggled her wrists that were trapped Jude's arm. She tried to get her leg up and over Jude to swing him underneath her. Too bad she couldn't budge her legs either. Well, damn. You're a real skilled fighter, aren't you, Siren? Her light hair and skin blended with the snow and she thought if only she could melt into it. Turn into snow and flutter around forever. She'd forgotten about Jude's question until then.

"I let him go."

Siren struggled a little more. "You know, Jude. This is really uncomfortable." She felt like the small child trapped under her father. "You're not dead. He's not dead. There's no harm done and I'd very much appreciate it if I remained not dead, too. Besides, do you think you just lived when- Never mind. Now get off and be a gentleman. You're hurting me."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

The snow continued to fall, blanketing itself over the forest. Night had come again, and Keito had had no luck finding his way back to the campsite he'd been kidnapped from. This wasn't the first time he'd come through this forest, but he'd never gone so of course before. It was not like he could trace his way back, the drug had completely blacked him out from any physical feelings or thoughts. There was no way to feel the landscape to figure out if he'd walked through and area before. The snow wasn't doing him any justice either and he'd barely gotten any sleep the past two days. He couldn't even take a simple nap because he'd stay up shivering.

Damn whether confused forest! Turn spring already!

He let out a loud sigh, plopping down and leaning his back against a tree, the snow crunching beneath him. He slightly bent his knees and rested his arms on them, staring down at the snow in front of him. He hoped Layla had better long than he did finding her way. She wasn't wearing anything heavy, and the snow had been falling for two days now. What if she'd frozen to death? He let her walk off, figuring that she'd know how to take care of herself. She probably did, but that didn't make Keito feel any better. He was worried about her, and about Jude too. He hoped the guy had woken up and continued on before the snow started falling.

Had he?

Yes, it would be best if they didn't continue traveling together anyway. Keito could keep going on his own, like he's always done. If that was the case though, why couldn't he stop worrying about them? He was a little less concerned for Jude, since he couldn't even begin to start thinking of him as some delicate, small girl shivering in the forest. Wouldn't that be an amusing sight to see, though.

Wait a minute...my sword and bag..

"Great.."

Jude had probably taken them. The man had mentioned that his sword would probably fetch a good price. That was a sharp guess too. Kuroi, which he used more often than the swords full given name, had been specially created by his eighth great grandfather on his fathers side. It been used by his seventh great grandfather for quite some time, but then become more of a family heirloom rather than a used weapon. Keito had never seen his father use it, in fact, despite how it hung up on the wall and was polished and checked every day, his father barely acknowledged the swords presence. For some reason though, Keito just felt compelled to use it, as if it was pulling him in.

Like that childish impulse matters now..

He let out another sign, pulling his legs a little closer in, though it didn't really do much for his shivering.

That thief probably ran off with it and found someone to buy it today.

The thought made him angry and frustrated. He forced himself up off the snowy ground and continued walking, not exactly positive where he was going. He was most definitely lost, but he was set on getting his sword back. No amount of snow was going to stop him.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

(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.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf

Earnings

0.00 INK

Cre' Est

It was hopeless, completely hopeless. The only good thing that came out of trudging through a snowy forest for hours was that he'd finally found the campsite he'd been dragged away from. Even so, the only thing that was left behind was his bag, which was buried and soaked under piles of snow. He dug through the snow for even more hours, but had no luck discovering his lost sword. It would figure the thief would run off with it. After searching a few more hours, he continued his way to Gweynura and stayed there for a day, the entire time spent searching for any trace of Jude. As expected, the guy was no where to be found and Keito was still traveling without a weapon. He didn't have enough to even buy a child sword and barely had enough to buy himself a piece of bread after he'd given his other one to Layla.

After failing to find Jude in Gweynura, he made his way back to Cre' Est, this time taking a shorter rout closer to the main roads, but he still made sure to avoid them. He'd made it back the afternoon before the festival, but failed to find himself any work. It would have nice nice if he'd gotten hired to help work for one of the stands, but it seems all the spots were filled.

And now he was sitting at one of the many stands along the many streets that were decorated in plenty of lights and filled with plenty of people and plenty of music and dancing. With the last of the coins left in the pouch around his waist, he managed to buy himself a cup of hot tea, which didn't do much for his lack of food. Even so, the feeling of the warm liquid in his throat was relaxing and brought him a little stress-relief, but only a little.

He let out a loud sigh, slouching a little as a frown formed over his lips. He really [i]did[/i[ feel empty without it. Now that his word was missing, the sheath on his back was just too light for him to deal with, and the lightness of it was just a constant reminder that the sword was no longer there. It would be quite a while before he could possibly save up to get a new one, but even then it wouldn't feel the same.

"You look mighty depressed there, kid."

The older man on the inside of the stand poured him another cup of tea and rested his elbow on the long table that the cup was sitting on. It was a simple tea stand, but it looked more like a long bar with tall chairs where one would sell alcohol rather than selling tea.

"You noticed.." Keito mumbled, picking up the cup and taking a drink.

"It's pretty obvious, kid. You keep sighing every ten seconds and if ya keep slouching like that yer never gunna be able to stand up straight when ya get older."

Had he really been sighing every ten seconds?! Yeah, he probably had.

He sat up a little better and gave the man the best forced smile he could, trying to keep a friendly appearance.

"I'm just a little tired, it's nothing."

"You've got yourself a sheath there, right? Why's it empty?"

"Eh..technical difficulties...it's nothing."

The man let out a loud laugh that made a couple of customers turn their heads for a moment and give the man a couple of annoyed looks.

"Well it's a festival! Young kid like you should be enjoying life! Not sighin and moping around!" The man said with a wide smile.

"Eh..right. I'll remember that.." Keito replied awkwardly as the man turned to help out a new customer.

Keito let out another sigh, his eyes moving down and fixing themselves on the steaming liquid in the white ceramic cup that Keito held on to. He let out a sigh, and took another sip.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli

Earnings

0.00 INK

It was so crowded, with music filling the streets of Cre' Est and laughing and the smell of many different foods being cooked. It was a good thing Ritsu arrived earlier that morning to rent out a room in one of the Inn's on the further outskirts of the city. All of the Inn's within closer walking distance to the main center of the festival were all booked up or too expensive for her to afford. At least she was able to drop off her belongings and change her clothes and tidy up her hair and appearance a bit. Though this was one of the rare occasions that she was seen without her boots on and instead was wearing a pair of wooden sandals, her ankles were still covered by the length of her kimono. She was glad she decided to leave Gweynura and arrived just in time for Cre' Est's famous festival. There were plenty of things to do, though she was really looking forward to the main event.

_______________________________________

Four days ago in Gweynura

"What do you mean you've decided to go to Cre' Est!?" Ritsu's mother, a tall woman with green eyes and long, auburn hair pinned up in a large bun, slammed her bowl of rice down onto the wooden kitchen table with a shocked expression on her face.

"Now, mom let's keep calm here." Ritsu said with a cautious smile and she pulled her own bowl of rice back a couple of inches to avoid any flying grains from her mothers bowl. "I told you this yesterday, remember? I want to go and see the festival there. I heard they have a this huge art exhibit, and I've never seen fire works before either."

"Do you know how dangerous it is for a young lady like yourself to go traveling about in the forest?! The roads aren't as safe as they used to be! And you're too defenseless on your own! What would I do if something happened to you?"

"It's..really not that bad.."

A short woman with silver hair and squinting eyes barged into the room with a large wooden bowl of salad. "Ritsu's going to Cre' Est? It's about time!"

"There's no way she's going!" He mother snapped back, and the older lady gave her a menacing glare in return before replying.

"The girl's been trapped in this tacky village forever! Bout' time she goes n' does something with her life! She don't go do something now she'll be exactly like you! A widow with no job and living under her mothers roof!"

Ritsu let out a sigh and looked down at her half-filled bowl of rice. For certain reasons she suddenly felt her appetite run away.

"I'm happy with my life you old hag!"

"Hag?! Well I'd be happy if ya just dropped dead already! Not like you've got any reason to be here!"

Another sigh. The arguing was completely normal, and usually never bothered Ritsu all that much. But this time was different, she was trying to be serious and the two of them were going at each other like an old married couple.

"That's enough!" She shouted, standing up and glaring at the two of them. The two ladies went quiet, but they would be ready to go at each other any time. Honestly, Ritsu felt like the only adult one in the house. These two were like little kids!

"Listen, mom, I'm going okay. Grandma's right, I'm tired of living here. It's boring! I'm eighteen so whether you like it or not, I'm going." She said sternly before taking her bowl over to the kitchen and setting it on the wooden counter.

Her mother remained quiet with an unusually serious expression on her face. this lasted for about 40 seconds before the woman let out a sigh, and Ritsu's grandmother started laughing.

"Look's like she told you! That's my granddaughter!"

"Shut up, ya old hag!"

"What did you say! Show some respect to your elders!"

And there they go again..

Even so, Ritsu let out a little giggle and gave them a smile. She'd leave tomorrow then and make her way to Cre' Est.

_______________________________________

Four days later back in Cre' Est

Ritsu had come here with the art exhibit on her mind, but now she was just so dazed by all the event's going on that she'd completely forgot about it. She pushed her way through the crowd, realizing there were a lot more people in this area of the street than she'd thought there was. Suddenly she passed by a larger man who decided not to bother stepping aside. She ended up bumping into him, then stumbling backwards. She let out a small gasp, bracing herself for a fall, but then her back roughly hit the back of another person.

She spun around, briefly dipping her head a couple of times at the young man who was sitting at what looked to be a large tea stand.

"I'm sorry! Excuse m--"

Oh no, since she'd bumped into him, the tea that he'd been holding ended up toppling forward and spilling onto the long bar in front of him.

"I-I'm sorry!" She said again, this time more urgently. She hoped this person didn't have a short-temper. "I'm really sorry, let me buy you another one!" She stepped up to the bar beside the young man and opened up her change purse, a little red pouch with a string tied around the top that had been attached to her wrist.

"I'm sorry..w-what kind of tea was it that you had? Oh! Of course, I'll get you any kind you want!"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Sorry, please ignore this.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

With the snow falling all around them, Jude leaning over Layla with both his pistols drawn ready to deliver the final blow. But her answer shocked him, he couldn't believe what he was hearing. She had let him go? How could he believe that? How could he believe that this woman who had spent any amount of time trying to track down and kidnap Keito suddenly decide to let him go? Jude thought something was off by this but no matter how much he tried he didn't sense a lie in her voice. Either she is really good at deceiving or she did what she said... But how could I know which was the truth? Though conflicted Jude decided that he couldn't harm her without reasonable doubt, which he didn't have. Jude then stood up, grabbing Layla by the arm and dragging her up to stand.

Jude than took of his tattered crimson red trench coat, placing it over Layla's shoulders, just as he did with the blanket a few nights before. He then leaned in to her, looking deep into her eyes, trying to find any hint, any reason to not believe her. But there was none. Conceding Jude placed his hands on Layla's shoulders, bowing his head before her.

"I don't trust you... but I can't think of any reason to not believe you. I shall give you the benefit of the doubt but there will be a price to this trust I place on you..." Aiming one of the pistols in his hands at Layla's face. "...Once I do find reason to not trust you I shall put you down just like all those I have killed before... Understand me?"

Not waiting for an answer Jude looked towards Gweynura, the area Keito was heading to before they had met Layla. He then looked at the black sword in his possession, Keito's sword. He wouldn't want to part with this sword for too long... He must've headed back towards the campsite, hoping to find it and possibly me. The travel back to the campsite would take a few days in which time Keito could've been attacked by anyone. Jude knew that he was strong enough to handle himself but if another bounty hunter were to track him down he would need the sword. Finally decided the best course of action to do Jude looked towards Layla, hoping she would comply with his question.

"Would you travel with me Layla?"

Cre' Est

A few days have past and Jude was no closer to finding Keito. Layla and Jude had traveled back to the campsite, only to find that there was no one there, and no sign of Keito. They were going to head to Gweynura but the passage was blocked off because of the intense blizzard which had occurred, making the two have to turn back to Cre' Est, where they have been staying since they have arrived. Sitting in a local tavern Jude and Layla were sitting down at a small wooden table, with a pitcher of ale in front of them. The tavern was called "Murphy's Law", it belonged to one of Jude's "brothers", an old Wolf Pack member. The tavern itself was modest, but extremely large and was the headquarters of the Wolf Pack in Cre' Est. It was called "Murphy's Law" because of the owner's track record as a thief. If anything could go wrong with Gale... it would happen. Despite Gale's bad luck with thievery he was a good business man, who provided shelter and a cover for the other Wolf Pack brothers when they were in Cre' Est.

Drinking a swig from a mug in front of him Jude looked around the tavern, hoping to find any sign of their contact. Jude hated being in situations such as this but because he was in his home turf he hoped that he would be able to soften his nerves. He then leaned over to Layla, placing his arm over her shoulder. During their time in Cre' Est him and Layla were undercover, acting as newly weds, spending their honeymoon in Cre' Est, even Gale believes this. The cover was needed for what they were truly trying to accomplish, removing Keito's bounty and anyone who was hunting him. The current festival happening was useful to their cover as well, their timing couldn't have been better.

"You are actually really good at acting aren't you Layla?... Hope this contact of yours shows up... The sooner we do this the better." The day before Jude and Layla had contacted the person who had hired Layla to kidnap Keito, hoping to remove the bounty.

Jude didn't like this, not one bit, situations like this were things that he avoided but to save a "friend" he would go to the ends of the world. And he owed Keito at least this, if he would never see him again he will at least keep him from being hunted ever again.

"Who was the one who placed the bounty on his head anyway Layla? Who would want someone like Keito dead?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Layla
Murphy's Law was torture.

Siren resisted fidgeting in her seat but couldn't help but comb her fingers through her now flawless hair. She was a bounty huntress in a tavern full of members from the Wolf Pack. She might as well have had a sign above her head screaming "Kill me now!"

Jude drank from his mug of ale and Siren flinched every time he did. Not only did it remind her of her drunk father, but she didn't want Jude putting his guard down and babbling about their identities. Judging by his size and his suspected drinking tendencies, a mug of ale wouldn't affect him in the slightest. Still, she couldn't help but feel uneasy. Maybe it's because he picked the worst possible tavern. She'd been privy to parts of Jude's past, especially of his time with the Wolf Pack and now the thieves guild didn't seem so bad - he didn't seem so bad. It was hard to shake off years of bounty hunting mentality, though.

An arm came around her shoulders and she leaned into him, sighing, with a soft smile playing on her lips. She had to play it just right. Everything had to be laced with newly wed honey. Oh, Jude... she thought sarcastically.

"You are actually really good at acting aren't you Layla?... Hope this contact of yours shows up... The sooner we do this the better."

Despite Siren's seemingly irresistible urge to roll her eyes, she didn't. "If he doesn't show up, you can weep over it all by yourself," Siren said a little too cheerfully, whispering a soft kiss on Jude's cheek.

She didn't know why she was with this guy and why she was trying to clear Keito of his bounty. It was out of character and Siren didn't like thinking about it. I'm turning into a giggly idiot. It just seemed reasonable at the time in the forest, when Jude had lifted Siren from the ground and threatened to destroy her. Looking at him now in all his scarred glory, Siren had to admit she didn't actually think anything snarky when he'd had his gun to her head. Omega was more than capable of killing her - and she hated him for it.

Yet he is somehow strangely attractive.

Clearly, she wanted to die more than she'd originally believed.

"Who was the one who placed the bounty on his head anyway Layla? Who would want someone like Keito dead?"

Siren twirled a black lock of Jude's hair around her finger and kept the adoring smile firmly engraved onto her lips. "His father, I'm quite sure," she whispered. The bartender glanced over and she immediately softened her gaze. My true love, you are the prince of my bed and I am so honoured to be your wife. We must make 9 babies, at least. 9 little Jude's and Siren's running about stealing and killing. "He doesn't want Keito dead - at least, not yet. The bounty asked for him to be captured alive."

"Mrs. Leina Enzberg?"

Abruptly pulling away from Jude, Siren swivelled around to face a tall, indigo haired man. "That's me!" she smiled brightly. Her straight teeth practically sparkled in the man's face with all her enthusiasm. "You must be Gilas." He's a lot younger than I expected - tougher, too. Siren could tell he was a swordsman by the very obvious sword at his belt, the scars and the way he stood. Probably a military officer. Well, that just sucks, doesn't it, Siren? "This is my husband, Dude Enzberg."

Yeah, Dude was a bad name choice.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli

Earnings

0.00 INK

As Keito pressed the ceramic cup to his lips, he felt a hard object roughly bump into his back and he coughed, the cup slipping out of his hands and splashing onto the table. Luckily it didn't break, but some of the liquid that had managed to make itself into Keito's mouth was now trailing down the wrong side of his throat. He coughed a couple more times as he tried to clear the warm liquid from his pipes, then turned to face the person who had run into him

"Watch what you--!"

"I'm sorry! Excuse m--"

Keito stopped himself, his expression lightening up a bit as the young girl quickly apologized. The girl quickly noticed that she'd spilled Keito's drink all over the wooden surface in front of him as well and she pulled out a small coin pouch and stepped up a little closer. She looked pretty flustered and was acting more like she'd broke Keito's finger rather just just simply causing him to spill his tea.

"I-I'm sorry! I'm really sorry, let me buy you another one!"

"No, that's alri--"

"I'm sorry..w-what kind of tea was it that you had? Oh! Of course, I'll get you any kind you want!"

He gave her the friendliest smile he could muster, despite his somewhat depressed state at the moment, and raised his hand a little, signaling that she could put her coin purse down.

"Really, it's alright! It was just a little cup of tea, nothing too expensive so it doesn't matter. I was about to go watch the fireworks anyway."

He scooted back a little, letting the server wipe away the liquid with a white cloth and pick up the cup. Keito gave the man a small apology and an thank you before turning back to the girl.

"You must be new to city life, huh? You seem a little flustered and out of place. Where are you from? If you don't mind me asking."

Murphy's Law: Gilas


"You must be Gilas."

"I am."

Gilas had a perfectly calm, but stern composer to him. He stood tall, naturally being 6'2", but seemed taller with the proud stance of a high-ranking officer. He kept his left hand calmly at his side with the other lightly resting on the handle of his sword, kept in a plain black sheathe. He was clothes in a creamy white, V-neck shirt with a heavy, short-sleeved, long black coat pulled around him with the collar folded over. His shirt was loosely tucked into a pair of black pants with a thick black belt around his waist that held his sword. Lastly he wore a pair of black, buckle up boots with his pants tucked into the and his medium-length hair pulled back into a small, loose pony tail with his loosely combed to the sides.

This is my husband, Dude Enzberg."

Gilas slightly narrowed his eyes at the man for a brief moment before ignoring him and turning his attention back to Leina.

"I hope you have a good reason for calling me here, mrs. Leina. It's not often I take time off from my duties to deal with simple business like this."

He spoke with ease, his tone as calm and collected as ever, but there was also a hint of strictness in his voice as well. His gold eyes were a little softer, but still serious.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

Keito's own father placed the bounty on him? Jude couldn't believe this, how could a father in his right mind place a bounty on his own son? This intrigued him even more, Jude himself didn't have any relationship with his biological family but his sense of family was stronger than most, having an incredibly large "family" with his brethren in the Wolf Pack and his caring father, Edgar Vanderwolf. He no longer cared for his biological family, to Jude Edgar was his real father not the man who left him as a newborn on the steps of the orphanage in Triveila. Jude once cared to find whoever his true family was but those ideas soon passed, he had no need for them, or so he thought.

After a prolonged moment of comfort in the embrace of Layla, Jude was rudely awakened by the man who had just entered the building, Gilas, Keito's father. The man was tall, as tall as Jude but had an aura that made him seem even larger than what he was. Not what I expected from the runt... Guess he does have good genes in him. The man was certainly a militant man, clean and proper, the type of men the Jude avoided like the plague. Men like him aren't easily intimidated, or even possible to intimidate. His body was strong, of many years of training, something which Jude could tell just from looking at him. Despite his proper appearance and disciplined actions Jude sensed that the man was a walking "Disaster Zone", just like him. Jude attempted to stand to greet him but was forced back down by Layla. Wonder why she did that? The man eventually came down to sit across the table from the two, not seemingly pleased by the visit. You and me too brother... but it is necessary.

"This is my husband, Dude Enzberg." Jude stared at Layla with his black and golden eyes. Couldn't she have thought of a better name than, "Dude". The man however seemed to not care for Jude, ignoring him when introduced.

"I hope you have a good reason for calling me here, Mrs. Leina. It's not often I take time off from my duties to deal with simple business like this." Simple business? I hardly think that a bounty contract on your son is anything but "simple business" Trying to hide his own anger Jude settled himself down, twirling one of his pistols in his hand underneath the table. I've got to have a better coping mechanism than twirling firearms with my fingers... It is seriously dangerous.

"Sorry about my wife's stutter, my name is not Dude Enzberg... It is Duke Enzberg. And we did not call you here to celebrate our marriage. No, with the information that me and my wife have I hardly think you will think of this as... simple business... "Sir"." Looking over behind their seats Jude pulled out Keito's black sword, quickly stabbing the sword into the middle of the table in front of Gilas. The sound the action made was very loud but no one in the tavern looked over towards them, Gale had told them to pay no attention to our table and so the patrons agreed.

"You have a bounty for your son correct sir? It so happens that we are in possession of said person, that sword is proof of that. Check it as you wish but know that I will need that back, I'm not contracted to you so I feel no need to give you anything at this time... Do I make myself clear... "Sir"?" Not really caring about the man's reaction or not Jude emphasized this by flipping one of his pistols in the air, catching it in his right hand. "Crystal clear... "Sir"?" Jude then gave Layla a short kiss on the lips, to keep her from talking at that moment. Almost losing himself in the sensation of her soft lips. Pulling himself away he looked at Gilas straight in the eyes. Don't hate me old man... I owe your son more than I owe you.

"Now me and my wife are going to decide whether or not we "give" you your son... You see not much information was give on that bounty of his, we just want to know who exactly we are dealing with. No, not you, I don't care for you. You're a high ranking militant man, anyone can see that. But why would such an upstanding man contract a bounty and for his own son? Something is highly suspicious about this job... And I don't know if we should work with you..." Taking another swig from the ale in front of him Jude placed it back on the table in front of Gilas, pouring a new drink for the man.

"So.. Tell us what we want to know or we can keep your son... Possibly sell him off to some slaver... He seems like he is strong enough for something such as that... Could fetch a good price to the right buyers you know... So... why the bounty?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Layla
Siren couldn't help it - she cocked an eyebrow. It's probably weird for me to be attracted to Keito's father. It wasn't just that he was oozing confidence, though, or that he had the air of someone important - it was the nonchalant way he spoke and his scrutinising gold eyes. You're married, Siren.

"I hope you have a good reason for calling me here, Mrs. Leina. It's not often I take time off from my duties to deal with simple business like this."

Flipping her long winter hair over her shoulder, Siren smirked and patted the stool next to her. "Have a seat, will you? I assure you we have good reason for contacting you. Would you like a drink, Gilas?" She rested her head on her knuckles, making her hair float across her shoulders to rest on the bar. Giving the handsome man a flirtatious smile, Siren made sure to expose her wrist and neck. Oh look, I'm a weak little girl who's hitting on an old man I've underestimated. Yay me.

"Sorry about my wife's stutter," Stutter? Siren gave Jude a small but hard kick under the bar. "My name is not Dude Enzberg... It is Duke Enzberg. And we did not call you here to celebrate our marriage. No, with the information that me and my wife have I hardly think you will think of this as... simple business... "Sir"." It was obvious Jude disliked the man. She wasn't sure if it was mostly because he was a militant man or because Jude was half in love with Keito. Still, she disapproved of his disrespect. It was sure to create greater hostility.

Jude was twirling his pistol in his fingers under the table - a habit Siren realised he did just about every day. She placed a smooth hand over his and squeezed gently. She looked dainty and fragile next to him. Siren was too young to receive a bullet through her knee cap. Jude stabbed the table between them with Keito's sword. Well, that was straightforward. Running her fingers down over his scars - her version of comfort and calm down, you reckless idiot - Siren shut her eyes. Might as well let the two men deal with it their way.

"You have a bounty for your son correct sir? It so happens that we are in possession of said person, that sword is proof of that. Check it as you wish but know that I will need that back, I'm not contracted to you so I feel no need to give you anything at this time... Do I make myself clear... "Sir"?" Siren felt Jude take his hand from hers and heard the thud of a gun being caught. Show off. "Sir"?"

Sudden lips pressed against Siren's. She knew who it was without having to open her eyes, Jude's lips had been engraved in her mind by then. Siren brushed his hair from his face and pressed up against him, tasting his lips. She seemed to have forgotten about Gilas. Jude pulled away and Siren's lower lip formed an almost-pout as she frowned. Gildas was such a nuisance.

"Now me and my wife are going to decide whether or not we "give" you your son... You see not much information was give on that bounty of his, we just want to know who exactly we are dealing with. No, not you, I don't care for you. You're a high ranking militant man, anyone can see that. But why would such an upstanding man contract a bounty and for his own son? Something is highly suspicious about this job... And I don't know if we should work with you..."

She found it quite cute, the way Jude kept calling her his wife. She'd never been called that before. Siren took a cautious sip from her mug. She never drank in public. Siren was a real light weight - 5 sips and she'd be giving everyone a lap dance. To be honest, she didn't much care about the bounty on Keito's head. The boy could take care of himself. Sure, although he was somewhat a part of every bounty hunter's initiation ceremony, no one found him and that was fine with them. Trying was what mattered. Though she supposed if she found him, others would eventually, too. Wait. Scratch that. No one's as amazing as me.

"So.. Tell us what we want to know or we can keep your son... Possibly sell him off to some slaver... He seems like he is strong enough for something such as that... Could fetch a good price to the right buyers you know... So... why the bounty?"

She wondered what Jude planned to do. Kill Gilas? Have fun with that, husband. I'm not helping. What was he going to do once he had the reason, anyway? Did he just think Gilas would drop the bounty on his son? Clearly, what they had was a very typical marriage. One sided and secretive. "Marriage is a relationship in which one is always right and the other is the husband," she whispered to Jude, nibbling on his earlobe. "Piss him off and I don't care if we're in your pack's tavern. I will cut your heart out and make a nice stew with it for my next, infinitely richer spouse."

Siren gave Jude her Wink of Doom and turned around to face Infinitely Richer military man. "By the way, Gilas," she said casually. "He's been poisoned so you better think quick." Pausing, Siren added with a playful shake of her finger. "And you wouldn't try anything funny in here if you wanted to keep that adorable neck of yours intact, pumpkin."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli

Earnings

0.00 INK

"Really, it's alright! It was just a little cup of tea, nothing too expensive so it doesn't matter."

"Oh..are you sure?"

"I was about to go watch the fireworks anyway."

She let out a small sigh of relief and tightened the red strap around the little coin purse before sliding it back over her left wrist and turning to the man behind the counter as he begun to clean up the mess she'd caused. "I'm sorry, sir." She said briefly, the man just giving her a slight nod and a smile in return as he finished wiping up the spilled tea. She was thankful that the two of them seemed friendly enough and she hadn't run into some crazy, giant monster man with a history of anger issues and tattoos and scars...well..that was going a little bit over-the-top.

"You must be new to city life, huh? You seem a little flustered and out of place. Where are you from? If you don't mind me asking."

She turned to him and gave him a friendly smile, relieved that he'd turned the subject away from the little incident she had caused.

"It's that obvious?", she asked, giggling awkwardly a couple of times.

Of course it is..

"City life is pretty new to me. I'm from a small village in Gweynura so I'm not used to all the crowds and this is actually the first time I've actually traveled. Good timing too though! I got here just in time for the festival and I came to see the big art exhibit that is supposed to be presenting all kinds of forms of art. I guess I got kind of distracted from all the commotion and event going on though, and I've never seen fireworks before either so I--" She stopped abruptly, realizing she'd been rambling on for a while to a complete stranger.

"Eh, I'm sorry about that. Oh yeah, my name's Ritsu. It's nice to meet you." She quickly introduced herself with an apologetic smile. Now that she was able to get a better look at the boy, she realized he seemed kind of young to be out alone.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jun "Keito" Cornelius Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Ritsu Kirinelli

Earnings

0.00 INK

In truth, Keito was a little disappointed that she's stopped explaining the reason why she'd come to Cre' Est. Sure, she had added a bit more information than he'd originally asked for, but her energy was a nice change. Plus, it wasn't everyday he could talk to someone who seemed so normal. Well, normal compared to him at least.

"Eh, I'm sorry about that. Oh yeah, my name's Ritsu. It's nice to meet you."

"I'm Keito. Nice to meet you too." He replied with his friendly smile. He slid off the stool and slid it back into place up close to the tea stand, deciding that he'd been sitting there long enough. At least this girl, Ritsu, wasn't as tall as she looked when he was sitting down. Now that he was standing up he realized that he was maybe four or five inches taller than her, though that didn't do much for his seemingly incurable small body size.

great I just admitted it...

"You say you've never seen fireworks before, right? I don't really get the chance to watch the big ones all that often, but you haven't lived until you see the ones they set off for the festival. I know a pretty great place where you can get a big view. I could show you if you want?"

He needed something to pass the time anyway, and something to also get his still missing sword out of his mind. This girl showed up at nearly the right time, and fireworks were more fun to watch with a partner anyway.

Murphy's Law: Gilas


Gilas took a seat at the table, leaning back in the chair a little to show that he was perfectly relaxed and comfortable around the two of them. Of course, that wasn't really the case. In fact, he was fully prepared to draw his sword at any second if need be. The one thing the man never did, was let his guard down, even around his most trusted subordinates. He politely refused the drink offered by Leina, letting her know that he didn't drink any kind of alcohol.

The blonde woman's husband, Duke, in which he had corrected his wife, got right to the point with their meeting. Gilas didn't flinch in the slightest when a very familiar black sword was stabbed into the middle of the table in front of him. Instead he continued looking on, his emotions being completely unreadable.

"You have a bounty for your son correct sir? It so happens that we are in possession of said person, that sword is proof of that. Check it as you wish but know that I will need that back, I'm not contracted to you so I feel no need to give you anything at this time... Do I make myself clear... "Sir"? Crystal clear... "Sir"?""

Duke tossed his pistol up into the air and caught it quite gracefully in his right hand, all while emphasizing the word 'Sir'. Only seconds later the man leaned over the table to give his wife a kiss, which this time Gilas slightly narrowed his eyes to. He was barely swayed by the mans rudeness, but took note of it all the same. He came here on the woman's request, so he had no reason to show this man any kind of acknowledgement.

A few moments later Duke pulled himself back away from the blonde woman and stared straight into Gilas's eyes, in which he returned the stare with cold calmness.

"Now me and my wife are going to decide whether or not we "give" you your son... You see not much information was give on that bounty of his, we just want to know who exactly we are dealing with. No, not you, I don't care for you. You're a high ranking militant man, anyone can see that. But why would such an upstanding man contract a bounty and for his own son? Something is highly suspicious about this job... And I don't know if we should work with you...So.. Tell us what we want to know or we can keep your son... Possibly sell him off to some slaver... He seems like he is strong enough for something such as that... Could fetch a good price to the right buyers you know... So... why the bounty?"

"By the way, Gilas," The woman started to add on to the man's last threat and Gilas moved his eyes onto her for a moment to listen. [/b]"He's been poisoned so you better think quick. And you wouldn't try anything funny in here if you wanted to keep that adorable neck of yours intact, pumpkin."[/b]

A very small, barely noticeable grin pulled at the corner of Gilas's lips as the two finally finished. He moved his gold eyes back onto Duke to start his response.

"First off, I ask you to show a little more respect for that sword there." He said, glancing over at Keito's sword for a brief moment before moving his eyes back onto Duke, "It's an old family heirloom and not something you can simply come across in smith shops anymore. Secondly, you seem to care a lot for Jun, my son, which I must admit I am a little curious about, though not curious enough to want to hear the whole story. As for why I placed the bounty on him.." His eyes moved back onto Leina, his meaningless little smirk showing slightly more than before. "You two seem like a new couple, so I doubt you would have any children. I don't believe you would understand what is it is like to have your first and only son disappear on you without warning and to go missing for years."

He paused a moment to look at the sword that continued to stand in the middle of the table, then he turned to look back at Leina, continuing to show little acknowledgement of Duke's presence. "You seem to have gone through a bit of trouble for such a small bounty, that makes me a little suspicious of your threats upon my son. I'm a little insulted though that you would think I'd try to force you to reveal him to me, I have to admit."

He stood from the table, resuming his proud stance. "I guessed the price I placed on him wouldn't gain much attention. I suppose I'll just have to higher that price. Also, if you have my son like you say, I want you to let him know about the passing of his mother four months ago, and that he also now has a younger sister who turned three six days ago." He briefly waved his hand as he began to walk away. "Enjoy the festival. I think I might stay here in Cre' Est a few days too. It would be a shame to miss up on such a celebration, don't you agree?" With that he left the tavern and made his way down the crowded street.

Setting

Characters Present

No characters tagged in this post!

Earnings

0.00 INK

Lee looked around as he entered the city of Cre' Est. He had passed through other cities before this but each time it felt new and different. But this was different because this had been his primary destination since he had left the monastary. Lee had noticed first that a lot of people didn't make eye contact with strangers, which always made it a little harder to make friends.

Lee just wandered the streets not knowing where exactly to start his search for injustice. It wasn't long before he noticed a group of men harassing an elderl woman. Lee walked up casually.

"Excuse me," he said as he stepped through the men and bent down at the woman. "Are you alright, ma'am?"

"I, I am ok." she started to reply.

"You heard her, she's fine so get lost kid!" responded a quite rotund man with little hair on his head. His ham sized fist was placed on Lee's shoulder. He felt the pressure but as for it being anything he couldn't handle it seemed with reason so far. The fact that Lee didn't look intimidated caused a response in the other men in the group. They straightened their backs to give them the appearance of being taller and more menacing.

A shorter guy stepped forward. Seemed quite smug and the alpha of this group.

"Well in all honesty the woman here owes us money but, if you give us a hand with something then we will consider the debt paid." Lee noticed the woman about to say something in response but she was quieted by the stares of the other men.

"Very well. I will lend you hand, but if I see you bothering this woman again, then I will be ... less willing to help."

Lee followed quietly as he watched as the woman had a worried face. He was feeling a little worried now but he had a bad habit of jumping into the unknown to help those in need.
'I wonder what I got myself into this time.' he thought as he continued to follow.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Layla
"Thanks for the sword!" Siren called after Gilas. After a moment of silence in which she felt multiple pairs of eyes crawling over her skin, Siren turned around to look at Jude. "What?" she arched a perfect brow. "We got to keep the sword."

Siren took a sip from her mug and uncharacteristically plonked it onto the wooden bar. In a strangely fantastic mood, she jumped off her chair and jerked Jude against her body by his shirt. "Now we're doing it my way," she grinned.

Lion's Den

"SIRRREN!!!" Voices bellowed in almost unison as a curvy silver-eyed girl stepped through the heavy doors with a stiff and muscled man in tow. She was dainty, barefooted and dressed in a rather provocative red dress that emphasised her femininity. Honestly, she thought it was rather classy. Her snowy blonde hair was pulled back into a high pony tail with two beautifully deadly shafts. The young woman might've been a huntress and she might've been an expensive escort - it was hard to tell.

The underground tavern was packed, loud and smoky. The strong "fragrance" of alcohol masked the blood of bleeding noses and broken fists and the sweat of countless men. The tavern was massive but all the heavy, ripped men made it seem much smaller than it actually was. About a dozen women roamed amongst the males - all gorgeous, all seductive and all armed. There were weapons of every kind - from gauntlets to iron fans, arrows to guns, chains to swords and daggers to bodies.

A gunshot shook the air.

"That happens a lot. Gun twirling habits," Siren looked at Jude from the corner of her eye.

"Siren's back!"
"Where've you been, princess?"
"Did you get Corny?"
"That's insulting. Of course she got Corny!"
"Man, there goes the Corny Initiation."
"Who's the guy, Siren?"
"New toy?"

"You sharing him, blondey?"

Siren shot the tall, grinning brunette who'd asked the last question a hard look. Grabbing a glass mug from the nearest person, Siren smashed it onto the floor - bounty hunter language for 'Too far, earth-vexing hag-seed. Too far. I will drink all your beer for the rest of your life and steal all your bounties if you don't back off my property.'

The crowd Oooohhhh'ed for a while, letting the two women stare each other down. Then, the two huntresses broke into toothy smiles. "It's been a while, Evi," said Siren as the brunette picked her up and slapped her butt, setting her delicate feet back on the floor. Evi had a fury of curly hair and being well over 6 feet tall, towered over most men.

Although Jude and Siren had arrived in Cre' Est some time ago, she hadn't yet visited Lion's Den because of him and his "beliefs." Jude had been trying to talk her out of bounty hunting - a futile but adorable attempt - and Lion's Den would just make him dislike her job even more. Siren wasn't giving up her life for anyone.

"A while? It's been nearly two weeks! Where've you been? You missed a really good mission I wanted to do with you. And who's the handsome man behind you?" Evi gave Jude a suggestive grin, looking him over appreciatively.

"Not yours," Siren bumped the dark skinned Evi away with her hip, holding onto Jude's arm possessively. "But if you must know - this is my husband. Dude Enzberg."

The tavern was silent - utterly unusual. It's the end of the world. Then, a low chuckle began, creeping into a manic laugh. Soon enough, the entire building was shaking with everyone's laughter.

"Funny joke, princess! You had us fooled for a moment there. Of course you got married. Congratulations! I'm surprised none of your admirers have killed themselves, yet," said a bald mountain man, wiping tears from his eyes. No one reacted to the man's name being Dude - Siren, succubus Siren, married, was much more interesting. Grabbing Jude's forearms tightly, the large man gave him a light slap on the side of his head - typical male hunter greeting. "Welcome to the Lion's Den, Dude. Mick. 14. Veilbrand." Name, number of years bounty hunting and place of birth - it was how bounty hunters introduced themselves. Everyone assumed Jude was one of them as Lion's Den was exclusively for people of such class.

"So what happened to Corny, princess?" asked a lanky young man with caramel coloured hair.

"Dead," she replied with a shrug.

"What? Why? Did you kill him? Did you make him fall in love with you and have him kill himself?" asked another.

"Naw. He was just dead. Found him in the forest with his pockets emptied. Lucky timing, I guess." Siren pulled out a chair and rocked on its hind legs.

"You're never lucky. You're damned, that's what you are," Mick beamed. "That really sucks. It was a fun tradition - and we heard the bounty on Corny's head just rose. Think we could fool the person into thinking we got him?"

"Nope. Dude and I tried. Made him raise the price." With her legs crossed, Siren's strip of dress exposed nearly all of her soft, pale skin - especially on her sides. No one questioned her - she was a trusted bounty huntress. No one could think of any reason for her to lie and they were confident of her skills as a huntress.

"Ah well. At least you're back. To Siren!" Mick raised his mug.

"To Siren!" The crowd roared, mugs in the air.

"And her fake husband, Dude!" A voice called. The crowd echoed the words cheered for Siren and her fake marriage.

Later in the night

Siren lied. She did drink in public - just not all types of public. When she was in the Lion's Den amongst all her bounty hunters, Siren could, indeed, drink. Legs crossed, the long haired, now not so elegant beauty sat on a stretched table surrounded by empty mugs. She clutched a large barrel in her small hands and drank like a man six times her size. Her head was tipped back and her spine was arched as the crowd chanted.

While this was happening, the caramel haired man from before approached Jude. He leaned against the wall next to him and said monotonously, "Nial. 6. Shaharan." His eyes followed Siren's legs and strolled over her curves. Briefly glancing at Jude before returning to Siren, Nial said "You should give up. She's going to play with you and drop you when she's done. It'll never work and the higher you climb for her, the further you're going to have to fall. She tricked me, too. You look like you've had your fair share of women - so give this one up, Dude.

"Siren isn't worth it."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

The meeting with Gilas didn't go as well as Jude had planned, nothing ever seemed to go right in "Murphy's Law". He hadn't had planned to resort to his next tactic but seeing as it was the only viable option Jude called over Gale to his table. Layla seemed to be happy to just have kept the sword, which Jude was not amused by. If the whole point of this was the sword than we wouldn't have had to resort to calling him here... Women... Gale had then approached the table when Layla had said she would be "doing it her way". But Jude couldn't leave the life of an acquaintance in the balance in her hands, no matter how beautiful they were.

"Jude... I mean Mr. Enzberg... How can I help you?" Jude than hugged his "brother" before shaking his hands to leave.

"Only a small task brother... You are up to it are you not?" Gale than looked at the note briefly, a smile in turn appearing on his face. He then proceeded to crumple the note, dropping it on to the ground.

"I will see that it is done... Brother."

After bidding farewell to the rest of his brethren, the not so patient Layla began to drag Jude out of the building, clutching to his arm as she did so. The crowd cheered to them as they left, some laughing at the sight of Omega being taken away by a women. The festivities of the city rang loud in the city and the tavern, so much so that no one else noticed the crumpled piece of paper lying on the floor. The note itself with only a few simple words, "Become the Moon"

Lion's Den

The place Layla had dragged him to was not an area Jude was fond of but he was familiar with the place. Although he was not a patron of the tavern he knew enough about it to know to be wary of the people inside. Bounty Hunters. If anyone caught a glimpse of his Wolf Pack tattoo he would be a goner, no matter how many people he has killed in the past he was not strong enough to kill an entire tavern full of bounty hunters. The place made him feel uncomfortable and he believed Layla knew this but she wouldn't leave, in fact he believed that because he was uncomfortable she would want to stay in the place longer. Women are so confusing and full of contradictions... Oh well... Might as well go with the flow for now... My brothers shall enact my request soon enough. A gunshot than rang through the tavern, making Jude instinctively grab for his own. Gaining himself a quirky remark from Layla.

"Don't worry dear... Unlike the folks in this place I can control myself... Which is more than I can say for you." Jude said this jokingly, hoping that Layla wouldn't take it to heart. Actually in fact... let her take it to heart. She looks a lot cuter when I tease her... She gets all embarrassed and flustered. He then laughed picturing Layla pouting at him at the idea. Yeah... maybe it would be better.

The tavern was full of a number of different characters; giant bruisers, seductresses, con-artists, mercenaries, you name it and this place had it. Any illegal activity within Cre' Est is either connected to the Lion's Den or Murphy's Law. Being associated with the latter gave Jude a bad taste in his mouth for even being in here. However he was pleased at the countless women gawking over him, being seduced by his amazing charm. That's right ladies... come to Omega! This however didn't last, with having Layla at his side any women who came near him would be put off by her, and her protectiveness. I'm not your property Layla... You're mine.

Jude's euphoria was then rudely awakened by a giant of a man, Mick was his name. Judging by his introduction Jude knew he was a bounty hunter, a proud one of that. Layla having introduced as "Dude" again was slightly getting on his nerves, he however couldn't care less what the crowd thought of him. And how Layla had dealt with the bounty issue surprised Jude, he knew it wouldn't tide over long, sure people of the Lion's Den might not hunt Keito down but with the increased bounty, hunters from all around the place will be hunting for him now. The peace from this wouldn't last long... Even with the backing of Layla... I mean, Mrs Enzberg.

With cheers all around Jude settled down at the bar with Layla. Hopefully their relationship, fake or not, would seem conceivable enough for Jude to get through this without raising suspicion from anyone in the crowd.

Later that night

Layla and Jude had spent the night together, drinking and talking amongst themselves, making the facade of them being married somewhat more believable, even to the disbelieving crowd. Jude didn't know whether it was the alcohol or not but Layla seemed to be a lot more beautiful tonight. Maybe it was because she was in her element... this was where she felt the most comfortable... in the presence of a horde of bounty hunters... Not something I can become accustomed to unfortunately. Yes, the night was great but Jude was ever wary of his tattoo and his silver jewelry, hoping no one really notices it.

Then a man named Nial seemed to appear out of nowhere, checking out Layla. The man had been stalking the two for a while, something which was annoying Jude considerably. He didn't like the man, nor the tone that he spoke in. His snake like eyes searching all over her, trying to make Jude leave her. That won't be happening... No way. Jude's patience wore thin as the man continued to hang around the too, until he had finally snapped.

Jude then suddenly quick drew one of his pistols, shooting a bullet which broke the glass of alcohol in Nial's hands and skimming past the man's face, cutting him slightly. Nial was taken aback, having been cut by the broken class in his hands and from having a bullet skim across his face. Nial in turn lunged at Jude with a knife drawn, trying to stab him in the chest. Jude however grabbed the man's arm, twisting it horribly forcing Nial to drop the knife. Jude then delivered a strong and quick punch to the man's torso, sending him flying a few feet in the air before he landed on the ground, six feet away from Jude and Layla. Standing up from the bar stool Jude then walked over towards Nial, standing above him. He then cocked the pistol he used, aiming it at Nial's head.

"My name is Duke Enzberg... My wife seems to find it funny to call me Dude, maybe it's a nickname thing I don't know... How long have I been a bounty hunter? All of my damn life son... Where was I born? In fucking Triveila!... And you son will become the five thousand six hundred and ninety eighth bastard I have killed if you don't get off your damn ass and get out of my face." Jude then shot off a round, grazing the other side of Nial's face, giving him a perfect pair of cuts on both sides of his face. The man then got up and ran out of the tavern, holding his broken arm as he did so.

After calming himself down Jude sat back down at the bar, holstering his pistol and placing his arm over Layla. Laughing to himself Jude ordered a bottle of ale, drinking it slowly. After finishing the bottle he placed it on the bar. Everyone seemed to be staring at him in which turn Jude turned around to them.

"What? The man was checking out my wife..."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Layla
"Tables!" Siren yelped, the barrel now empty.

"Tables!" The crowd echoed her drunk nonsense.

"When I grow up, I shall be a fisherwoman or the queen!" She cheered, waving her arms upwards and down in a curved motion. Her gestures roughly translating into 'Give me another barrel, my minions. I will sleep with all your sons.'

"You sure that's a good idea, princess? I'm not cleaning you up if you pass out in front of some perverted, drunk men," Evi sighed as Mick slapped Siren on the back, handing her another barrel of whisky. Sitting the barrel on her crossed legs, Siren wrapped her arms around the large wooden container that was taller than her head. A gunshot sliced through the air, followed by a small squeal of shock. No one gave the shooter a second glance - accidental slips on triggers were the norm in Lion's Den.

After a moment, there were loud cheers as people watched 'Dude' pummel Nial. Siren was oblivious, still trying to uncap the small hole in the barrel by putting the cap between her teeth and strangely turning the barrel.

There was the cock of a pistol and an eerie silence as the bounty hunters watched the two men with anticipation. They were strange in the way they viewed danger. Rarely did the concept of death and mortality shake their foundations - they believed they were invincible and that everyone else was, too. Bounty hunters were independent people, rarely did they work in a team and they almost never watched each other's backs. There was respect - and respect was all there was. Well, perhaps a hint of lust.

"My name is Duke Enzberg... My wife seems to find it funny to call me Dude,"

"It is Dude!" Siren called with a moment of clarity - pausing in her unbarrelling of the barrel from the cap.

"-maybe it's a nickname thing I don't know... How long have I been a bounty hunter? All of my damn life son... Where was I born? In fucking Triveila!... And you son will become the five thousand six hundred and ninety eighth bastard I have killed if you don't get off your damn ass and get out of my face."

There was the patter of racing footsteps, the creek of the heavy doors opening and the loud bang of it slamming against each other. Then, there was silence. A muscled arm went around Layla's shoulders and ale was called for. Siren was still unbarrelling the cap.

"What? The man was checking out my wife..."

"Juuude," Siren whined, shoving the barrel to the side. Pulling the black and gold eyed man onto the bar, she crawled on top of him, nuzzling his neck and running her hands over the skin under his shirt. Siren sat back on his lap, her legs on either side of his - and pulled the bottom of his tight shirt up over his head. "You know what would be really funny, Jude?" she whispered, taking his lower lip between her teeth. "If this wasn't a dream and I was actually drunk," she mumbled, leaning over him. "And I screamed out "I'm sleeping with freaking Omega of the Wolf Pack!" and they came at you with pitch forks." Siren pulled back from his lips to look at Jude with glazed eyes.

"That would be funny, wouldn't it?"

"Get off of her, you thief!" Evi shouted. More screams came and Siren was roughly pulled off of Jude. Ow, that hurt, she thought with a frown. Then, she realised over the chaos of the Lion's Den - Oh crap, that hurt.

The drawing of swords and the click of guns sliced the air. Heavy, drunk men shook the building and women flicked their iron fans with a sweep of their wrists. Siren was pushed back, Mick held her and mumbled comforting words as she stared at Jude with complete shock. Jude - scarred and tattooed with a massive bounty on his head.

"Get him!"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

Having a girl straddled on top of you is any man's dreams, having her reveal your identity in a room full of bounty hunters when there is a delicious bounty on your head though is not. The short euphoric moment that was just shared between Jude and Layla was ended when Jude's identity of being "Omega of the Wolf Pack" was revealed to a tavern full of bounty hunters. Layla was pulled of of him while they all readied themselves to try and capture and possibly kill Jude. Outnumbered and currently lying on his back Jude was thinking of any possible way he could get out of this situation, knowing there must be some way to escape without resorting to violence. This hope of his was short lived as he saw people unsheathe their swords and cock their firearms, he knew there was only one way to escape. He had to run.

"Cmon now fellas... Can't we just let this slide this one instance? I mean... we are just newly weds..." This question was answered by the cocking of more pistols. I guess they don't really care for that... not at all. "Well... alright then... Let's play it your way!"

From where he was lying down on the bar table Jude sprung up doing a handstand. He then proceeded to spin himself, kicking the closest people to him in the head, knocking some of them out from the force of the kicks. Before anyone could react to him Jude then pushed himself off the bar, pulling out his pistols he fired two rounds shooting two bounty hunters in front of him in the knees, causing them to fall. He then landed in front of Layla, with his pistols drawn he ripped Mick's grip on Layla by pulling his arm off of her with his leg wrapped around Mick's elbow. Jude hit Mick on the head with the end of his pistol's handle, causing the man to become disoriented. Using Mick's size Jude pushed the man towards the exit, using him as a makeshift battering ram and riot shield. Jude dragged the drunkard Layla along with him, believing they would be unable to attack him with Layla right behind him, he was wrong. Two throwing knives had pierced Jude's right shoulder, causing blood to drip all over his white long sleeved shirt. After making his way to the door Jude threw Mick back towards the crowd, hoping to stall them just enough to get enough running ground between them. Holy crap... Hope they don't expect me to pay them a visit anytime soon.

Streets of Cre' Est

Although Jude had successfully escaped the grounds of the Lion's Den, a little worst off for wear, he knew they weren't out of the woods yet. With the amount of people he had just pissed off Jude knew he had to find a good enough hiding space for them, one which was close enough to hide in quickly. With the faster of the bounty hunters right on their tail Jude dodged incoming attacks from blades, arrows, and even the odd bullet. He went in between shops, hoping to lose them within the crowds of people, but with no luck. He then attempted to use alleyways to find shortcuts around the city and to find somewhere to hide but since he wasn't familiar with the area Jude's attempts of running lead to more dead ends than what he would have wanted. Layla was highly intoxicated and was no real help as Jude dragged her along. He hoped that she might be able to stop any bounty hunters from following them but to no avail. Damn drunk... do something before you get us both killed.

After running and incapacitating a few bounty hunters on the way Jude had finally found a modest hotel, where he then rented a room for him and Layla. Jude had been given the few odd looks from being out of breath, sweating, and currently holding a drunk women in his arms. He however told the owner that it was their honeymoon and that he and her were just out having some drinks when she had finally had too much. The hotel manager laughed at the comment, commenting himself that it is not an odd occurrence in this part of town and especially for this hotel. Jude was then pointed out that the hotel was named "The Drunken Mare", something which he and the manager both laughed about. After acquiring a room Jude had ventured the climb up the stairs to the honeymoon suite which he had just bought. One of my most expensive getaways... but effective nonetheless.

The Drunken Mare

The room itself was quite extravagant, the color scheme was red, white, and black. In the middle of the room was a king sized bed with red and black sheets, covered with rose petals. Maybe I shouldn't have gotten the honeymoon suite... With the drunken Layla in his arms Jude placed her in the middle of the bed, removing himself from the room for the bathroom. Checking the wounds he had just received from Layla blurting out his identity in front of her bounty hunter friends he found the two wounds received by the knives. He was glade that the hotel manager didn't notice it, or at least hoped he didn't notice it. Jude then resumed to remove his shirt, and bandage his new wounds up which will surely leave a scar. He had cleaned it sufficiently but not being an expert it was only a bandage until he could find a doctor. Hopefully sometime in the morning...

Jude then returned to the suite, passing the bed and looking out of the window, still shirtless. He searched the streets for any sign of bounty hunters, seeing a few but none which approached the hotel. Thanking his lucky stars Jude sat back on a black leather chair next to the window, constantly watching. He knew he wasn't going to be safe here forever and that he would need to leave in the morning, dreading the possibility of losing his life because some random girl he met who turned out to be a bounty huntress revealed himself to her bounty hunter friends in a bounty hunter's tavern, when he had a bounty on his head. Seriously what was she thinking? The little drunkard... and I thought she didn't drink.

Sighing Jude leaned back on the chair, hoping to find some rest from the day's activities.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Layla
It was an ordinary day filled with ordinary happenings.

It rained fish.

"Why are you looking so red, Layla-child?" a green fish that had fallen into Layla's hands asked. "You smell like roses - you do, you do." Layla kissed the fish and it turned into a beautiful man with a scar on the side of his face. "Why am I looking so red, Layla?" he asked, his low, raspy voice close to her lips. Layla ran a slim finger over his scar. "Why am I looking so red?" the man asked again - this time his voice was distorted. Monstrous. He bled, bled from every inch of his skin and turned into something bigger. Crueler.

"Why is she looking so red, Layla?" the loud voice asked. It was a giant and it's blood was alcohol. "Why are you so red, daddy?" Layla asked in a frightened voice, fidgeting with her skirt. Her small hands clutched the material and everything turned into dust.

"Wake up, my little rose," cooed the smooth voice of a woman. "Wake up."


"Mommy?" Siren's eyes snapped wide open. She gripped the silky blankets and rose petals in her fingers - the fingers of a woman, not a child. She felt slightly dizzy, a headache biting at her skull. For a moment, she expected the ceiling to rain fish - she expected to be on a boat somewhere in the oceans of Triveila. Instead, all she saw was a flurry of red and black. The air smelled nothing of salty water but of sweet, fragrant roses.

Running her fingers through her waterfall hair, Siren sat up slowly. She saw a dark haired man sitting on a chair by the window, his lashes grazing his cheeks as his eyes were shut. Jude. Her gaze roamed around the expensive looking room, taking in the red, white and black colour scheme. It looked... Romantic. Softening her hold on the soft sheets, Siren watched Jude with her silver eyes. He looked peaceful - it was strange seeing him so at ease. Siren noticed bandages on his right shoulder and worry creased her forehead. She inwardly smacked herself for caring. Jude was a thief, he could take care of himself. Swinging her legs over the bed, Siren walked soundlessly towards Jude.

With her knees on both sides of his legs, Siren sat on his lap, tucking strands of his shaggy hair away. "Jude?" she whispered. "Are you okay? What happened?" She sniffed the air. "Someone smells like alcohol..." Then, bits and pieces came rushing back to her. Right, they went to Lion's Den, which meant only one thing. "Oh god, did I start drinking from barrels, trying to take the cap off by turning the barrel again?"

"Ah, doesn't matter," she vaguely mumbled, pressing her lips to his. She moved her mouth against his and then said something quite peculiar - "You have a lot of scars." She kissed the one on the side of his face and kissed many more. Pulling her red dress over her head and tossing it aside, Siren fell against Jude, her silky hair falling over her shoulder to rest on his skin.

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Earnings

0.00 INK

Outside the Lion's Den

Lee had noticed that the group of men had stopped wallking. Three of them ran up to see what the commotion was about. Lee considered knocking out the two men behind him, but that would have just caused trouble for the old lady. The men came back muttering something about a man worth a large bounty running off with some woman. Lee noticed the greed in their eyes but also a bit of worry. Then all their eyes fell on Lee. "You want to help that old lady?" the small leader asked. Lee could see where this was heading.

"I will help you find this man and I will help with his capture," he stated. "You get my share as the old woman's payment and she will no longer owe you money." Sean added. The men looked at each other. Sean could tell that the amount of money was a lot and knew that such a deal would not bother such ... business oriented men.

"Yeah, but you better be as good as you think you are." said the small man. The small man's eyes had caught glimpse of the symbol of the monastary tattooed just under the collarbone. He knew of it from stories, but right now he was hoping it was more than just stories.

After a few minutes the lackey's returned with vague information about men and women together. Among them was mentioned a man and woman matching the description going off in a direction and there being bounty hunters laid out through out the street. They followed around and Lee just kept his eyes open for the couple. The bodies ended which prompted the little man to send his lackeys again.

"You stay with me kid," he said as he placed his hand on Lee's shoulder. Lee was focused enough to not break the man's arm, but his mind was truly focused on what kind of man could not only run from groups of men, dragging a woman behind as well as successfully fending off his assailents as well as protecting the woman. Lee's blood boiled but at the same time his heart felt heavy. He knew nothing about the man but he was helping these men capture him. Though if a man has a bounty he can not possibly be that good of man, but working with these men did settle his heart.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

Sleep... was I asleep. And here I was trying to lookout for anyone following us... Must've dozed off while I was... What was bothering Jude's mind, the imminent danger of those seeking for his life seemed to fade away in one moment. Nothing mattered in the world but this one moment, this fleeting moment shared between the two of them. As her soft lips wandered over Jude's shirtless and scarred body he noted the sensation of every kiss she gave him, how it felt, how she smelt, and the pleasure he felt from it. Layla then stopped for a moment, a slight moment to relieve herself of her material prison and her last defense. As Layla sat on Jude, with her soft skin touching his and her silky snow blonde hair falling on his scar ridden chest he knew that there was no turning back.

As payment for Layla's actions Jude himself began to wrap his arms around the small of her back, holding her tighter against himself. He then proceeded to embrace her soft supple lips with his own, kissing her as if nothing else in the world mattered. He than began to lower his lips, kissing her cheek, and then her neck, traveling down her body until he had kissed her everywhere he possibly could. Her petite body becoming trapped within his grasp, with his black and golden eyes he stared into her silver eyes, searching for an answer to a question that has been bothering him for a while. Do you love me? Slightly chuckling at the idea because he knew that no matter how much he loved, Layla or anyone, he would not be able to love them for he lives a cursed life, a thieves life. But that didn't matter to Jude, not in this very moment. For at least this time he would allow himself to let go, he would allow himself to love.

"You know this oddly reminds me of the first time we met... Only that time you had almost killed me. You would've succeeded as well... but you chose to spare me. Why?" Shaking his head Jude knew he did not care for the answer, not now or ever, all that mattered is that he was alive, that they were alive. Standing himself up Jude held Layla against himself tightly as he walked her across the room to the silky red and black sheet ridden bed. He placed her down gently amongst the silk sheets and rose petals, breathing in the sensation of the roses and their own sweat. It was a beautiful mixture or love and lust.

Leaning over Layla Jude noticed how petite and small she was, there was no doubt that she was a dangerous bounty huntress but as she laid there in front of him the picture of her being a bounty huntress was far from his mind. For she looked as beautiful as anything possibly could, from her pale skin to her silver eyes and her snow blonde hair. She was a perfect beauty. How could such a beautiful woman be the huntress she is? Life seems to love to mess with us... doesn't it? Silencing himself he lowered himself on top of her, embracing her within his arms. He kissed her against her lips again, his hands wandering over her smooth skin feeling everything he possibly could. He pulled her snow blonde hair ever so slightly, to where she gave a slight gasp. There was nothing else important in the world... Nothing but this moment between the two of us.

"Room Service! We were asked to bring our finest dinner and wine for the newly wed couple in the honeymoon..." Suddenly out of nowhere the door had swung open, revealing a small group of hotel workers, including a maid, waiter, and the hotel manager from downstairs. Slightly taken aback by the sudden intrusion Jude pulled some of the bed sheets over the two of them, not wanting to have their moment spoiled by the rude intrusion.

"...Oh I'm so sorry sir we didn't know... There is a placard that you put on the... Excuse us sir and madam. Have a "good" night." And just as suddenly as they arrived the group of workers disappeared, gratefully before Jude had to pull out his pistols against them. Jude sighed as he stood up, approaching the silver trays which contained a few bottles of wine, two glasses, and an ice bucket for the wine to be placed in. Pulling out the glasses Jude filled them with wine. Walking back over towards Layla he gave her one glass with an outstretched hand, sitting down on the bed next to her.

"So... do you wish to continue?"

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0.00 INK

'Hair', Lee thought. Pale blonde was not common for Lee. He was actually quite intrigued to see such a sight.

Time passed and all the men came back with nothing to show for their efforts. They were accosted by their boss but he didn't seem to discouraged

Lee simply waited here while the little man yelled and then sent men into the buildings to ask around. Hotel districts would be a good place to hide. It seemed the little man was cunning after all. Lee heard that there were around fifteen such places.

"I suppose we'll be finding them soon," he muttered as he looked at the picture of a drunken horse or donkey in the distance.

Lee moved with the little man as they checked off one place after another.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Layla
Siren wrapped her legs around his waist, clutching him tightly as he set her on the bed. She pressed her small frame against his body, moaning at his touch. He was perfect and they were perfect and she could've live in that moment for all of-

"Room service!" Siren cursed the staff. "We were asked to bring our finest dinner and wine for the newly wed couple in the honeymoon..." Frowning, she sat up, her smooth legs still wrapped around Jude as she glared at them over his shoulder. Her scarred man quickly threw the blankets over them but she shimmied the sheets off. They had nothing to hide. She was beautiful. He was beautiful. She didn't much care what anyone else thought.

"Would you like to join?" she asked, reaching up to tuck her chin on Jude's hard shoulder. Siren gave them an innocent smile, blinking her large pale eyes at them.

"...Oh I'm so sorry sir we didn't know... There is a placard that you put on the... Excuse us sir and madam. Have a "good" night."

"Oh, you bet we'll have a good night!" she called after them, grinning as they disappeared out the door. Jude left then and strangely enough, that made her feel quite naked - and not in a good way. Siren sat still as Jude popped a bottle of wine and poured it into two glasses. She smiled to herself, remembering her very first thought of Jude when she saw shirtless-him fall from the sky. 'What a waste of good stature,' she'd mused. It was rather strange looking at him now, his muscles rippling under his skin as his hands moved. I was prepared to kill him less than a week ago. When he'd asked her why she'd changed her mind and allowed him to live earlier - she didn't really think about it. She was much too 'in the moment.' But now in the quiet of their honeymoon suite - she thought about it. Why did she let him go? Siren wasn't sure. Because she wanted to be bed him as she soon would be doing? Perhaps. The reason was not certain but what Siren was certain of was that it definitely was not for love.

Jude returned, handing her a glass of wine which she took and downed with a single backward tip of her soft neck. It was a careless thing to do - exposing her neck like that but somehow Siren wasn't worried in the least. Perhaps it was the alcohol that made her trust the Wolf Pack thief so much.

"So... do you wish to continue?"

Siren beamed, setting her glass down on the side table next to her and taking Jude's wineglass from his hand. She drank his wine and set it down next to her empty glass. Climbing back onto his lap, Siren shoved him down by his chest. She looked down into his eyes as she unravelled a red ribbon she'd had around her wrist, Siren held it in her mouth, pulling her flowing hair into a high pony tail and securing it with the ribbon. A mischievous gleam lit her silver eyes - Jude was up for the time of his life. Layla hadn't been nicknamed Siren for nothing.

"Hell, yeah."

Morning

Light was annoying. She didn't know which idiot told the sun to shine extra brightly that day but if she ever found him, he'd wish he was dead. Siren groaned. Sleep, Layla. Sleep, she commanded herself. The silky sheets were comfy and irresistible on her naked skin, hugging her back in a way no other blanket had hugged her before. Her white-blonde hair did nothing to help block out the sunlight. Still, for such an annoying morning, she felt at peace. Perhaps it was the scent of rose, sweat and musk or the large, callused hand her small fingers rested in.

Wait. What?

Siren slowly opened her eyes, squinting at the vicious sunlight as her breasts rested on the mattress. Not wanting to alarm whoever was next to her, Siren turned her head slowly - to find a handsome, sleeping man.

Oh.

Shuffling quietly to lie on her side and quickly changing hands with the one that rested in Jude's, Siren's fingers trailed down the length of him from his scarred chest to...

Yep, last night definitely happened.

Half shocked to death, half smiling like a fool, Siren mentally smacked herself in the head. She had one rule when it came to sleeping with random people: Get done, get gone. Failing that - though she never did - 3 other rules would apply.

1. Do not leave without their valuables
2. Do not hold their hand in your sleep
3. Leave before they wake up

Wonderful. She'd managed to betray her ultimate, unbreakable rule and she appeared to be failing at her other three. Get done, get gone. How hard is it, Layla? Sitting up, she tucked her hair - now fallen from its ribbon - behind her ear and gave Jude a lingering peck on his lips. She slid off the bed and picked her clothes off of the floor. After she'd slipped her garments over her skin and taken Keito's sword from a corner, she moved away from the man on the bed. Her movements were as elegant as always - but somehow mechanic. As if she were forcing herself to walk away.

"Bye, Jude," she whispered, unlocking the door.

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Morning, Drunken Mare

The men had found the room and had called in some friends so their group now totaled twelve. Lee was surrounded by a group of middle aged ugly men, who seemed quite capable of handling themselves. They had a man on the door quietly listening and Lee was on his own waiting at the stairs leading down to the buildings entrance while another group waited by the emergency exit. There were three men waiting there.

Two men were outside monitoring the window

Lee was not happy about the amount of men nor about fighting against a woman but before he could think too much about it was morning and the man in the hall gave the signal about movement inside. He went into the room across the way where another group of men were waiting to pour out. Lee wanted this down as quick as possible. His body was tingling as he became aware of his surroundings, his muscles tensed and relaxed.

The click of the door was his signal and he began to walk down the hall way he held a key in his hand to feign that he was going to enter another room. He wondered if it was going to be the female or the male but he got into his stance regarded [drunken boxing] he started to sway back and forward acting as if he was drunk. He bumped off the walls as he continued to move his feet along the floor covering it in apparently random ways too fool any unknown individual. He kept his eyes unfocused as he approached.

'It is time,' he thought.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Lee Hart

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Layla
Siren paused. She could hear the thuds of a body against a wall and the messy shuffling of drunken feet. Siren knew better, though. This was an inn of primarily couples and it was unusual for a lone man to walk through the hallways alone and drunk so early in the morning. She kept her hand on the door, choosing not to lock it back in case the person outside heard the click. Siren didn't need them realising she knew.

Leaning her ear against the slither of light on the side of the door, Siren shut her eyes and quietly clucked her tongue against the roof of her mouth. There were about a dozen men - all large, from the echoes of sound against their bodies. She couldn't be sure, though, because she was so far away with a wall between her and them. Siren cursed silently - Evi wasn't out there. Mick might be, though. The hunters adored her, she might be able to find a way out without encountering much conflict. She wasn't very useful without a weapon. Siren was small and light - her deceiving appearance and her skill with weaponry were the main things she had going for her. The other hunters couldn't be deceived, of course. They knew her, who she was and of her perfect record. They wouldn't underestimate her. Siren clutched Keito's sword - she favoured twin swords but it would have to do.

Siren clucked her tongue again - the sound barely audible as she listened closely. The man shuffling towards Jude and her sounded strange. She didn't recognise this hunter. He sounded about 6 feet - not very big, by the way the sound waves bounced off his flesh. She squeezed her eyes, frustrated - his constant shuffling was making it difficult to pinpoint where he was, what weapons he was holding and who he was. She prayed he didn't have a gun.

Pricking her finger on an inconspicuous edge of her circular ruby pendant, Siren pressed a drop of her blood to the maroon gemstone and it clicked open. She took a small, dried and rather unusual looking pink leaf from it and after crumbling it between her fingers, smudged it on her lips. She shut the red gem back in its place.

With one foot pressed against the door, Siren leaned over to tug on the nearest window - it didn't budge. She tried again. Siren considered breaking and climbing out when she saw a gleam of an arrow pulled tightly backwards on a string. She narrowed her eyes and jerked her head 'no.' Evi, tall and crouched, lowered her bow and arrow slightly. She was on the rooftop of the opposite building and Siren could tell Evi was confused. 'Why are you protecting him?' Siren could almost feel Evi asking.

She wasn't sure why.

Siren considered waking Jude but decided against it - they would hear her and know she was with him. Looking back up at Evi, Siren tapped her heart - hunters - and pointed downwards - below? Evi nodded, a small movement no one but Siren, who'd lived with Evi for a year, would notice. Siren didn't understand why they would go through all the trouble to capture Jude. The bounty on his head was massive but divided amongst so many people? It simply wasn't worth it.

Unless what they wanted was information.

They were going to torture the locations of all the other Wolf Pack thieves out of him.

The hunters wouldn't harm Siren - that she was quite sure of. She could easily excuse herself. Siren almost always got what she wanted by charming her way through. Goddess knew how many of her targets she'd slept with and killed or drugged in their sleep. They would think Jude to be no different. They'd be angry but they'd get over it. Siren worried for Jude, though. It was utterly strange for her to care about anyone but herself but she did. The thought of them torturing him to death didn't sit well with her. In fact, it made her want to gag and take his place. What's gotten over you, Layla? she chastised.

Siren put the sword down on the floor and slid it towards Jude, still keeping a foot on the door in case the people outside tried to open it. Keito's sword was too big to hide. Armed with her lips and a single dagger on the leather sheath around her thigh -

Siren opened the door.

She raised a brow at the brown man who was almost 6 feet tall as she locked the door behind her. "Drunk so early in the morning? Or is it late at night for you?" she asked casually, giving him a soft smile.

"Are you here with anyone?" Siren asked with a tilt of her head, her snowy blonde hair cascading across her spine. "I'm quite lonely, you see. The woman I was with left before dawn," she sighed, stepping closer towards the green-eyed man. He wasn't a bounty hunter Siren had met before, which meant he most likely wasn't one at all. Reaching up to touch his cheek, she looked up at him with her sad silver-grey eyes.

"Will you fill the hole she left behind?"

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Lee's perceptions were peaked. He thought he heard a click of sorts coming from up ahead, but didn't make anything until he heard it again. He pondered it for only a few moments when the door opened

The sight of the woman was more than Lee had anticipated but luckily shock was something he could use.

"Whoa! Y-you are a lot pre *hic* prettier than the woman that invited me up here, but maybe you and i coul-" He feigned a kiss, and waiting for the distance to close, and suddenly side-stepped to her side. He reached out with his left to feign a grab for her face, but it was a distraction as he went for her left arm with his right hand. He learned to use all things in his surroundings as a tool to victory but he couldn't bring himself to grab her hair. He didn't want to hit her either, he would have to go for a grapple and either pin her or put her in a choke hold and make her lose consciousness. He might get told off if she was innocent but I guess it is better than them taking their frustration on the old woman from before.

Her skill would determine how far he would have to go.

Time would tell which way this 'dance' ended.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Lee Hart

Earnings

0.00 INK

The Drunken Mare - Morning

Scenes of the night before still danced around the consciousness of Jude's mind. The sensations, the smells, everything of that night seemed to live forever within his mind as he slept. These pleasant memories of the night before were abruptly ended when the sunlight streaming from the window shined upon Jude's eyes. Sunlight... the bane of my existence. Why can't the night last longer? Slowly but surely Jude had awoken, removing the red and black silk sheets from his body, revealing his masculinity in whole. Looking around he couldn't see Layla immediately, which he found odd. Jude then continued to put his clothes back on, including his blood stained white shirt.

It seemed as if the night before was just a dream but he knew that it wasn't, that everything that they had experienced was real, that the feelings they shared was real. Loading his pistols up Jude looked outside the window, finding that a women from the night before from the Lion's Den was sitting on the next building, bow and arrow in hand. Instinctively Jude raised his pistol towards her but was confused when she didn't ready herself. Did she want me to shoot her? She obviously saw me... why isn't she doing anything. The woman instead pointed down towards the ground. Questioning his own instincts to attack her Jude complied to her request, looking down at the ground bellow. The Drunken Mare was surrounded by bounty hunters. Now aware of the danger he was in Jude became aware of the scene outside the room, bounty hunters ready to capture him and Layla. Layla... crap.

Before turning towards the entrance of the room Jude motioned the woman to approach the Drunken Mare, hoping that she would comply to his own request. Cocking his pistols Jude slowly approached the entrance, only to find Layla being chocked by one of the men they were being followed by. Swiftly Jude struck the man's arm, making him release her. Pulling her away Jude ran back into the room with Layla close to him. While holding Layla he aimed one of his pistols at her head, slowly making his way back to the window.

"Sorry gents... Don't want to die today and I'm sure you wouldn't want your Princess to die either... So back away before I blow her head to pieces." The majority of the men seemed to back off but the man who had held Layla by the throat seemed to be edging closer. Not wanting for either of them to be captured Jude thought of the possible ways to escape the situation. Finding only one option viable to him. I've got to protect her...

Jumping backwards holding Layla in his arms, Jude smashed through the bedside window to the ground bellow, falling on to a merchant stall on the street bellow. Rolling off and standing himself up Jude looked around the vicinity, noting the many bounty hunters attempting to follow them. Jude looked around for help but there was no one there. I guess this is the decision of the pack... I will become the scapegoat. The woman bounty hunter who was on top of the building was now on the ground approaching the two of them. Seeing this chance Jude pushed Layla towards her.

"Protect her with your life... I will be unable to do so..." The bounty hunters which were inside the Drunken Mare were now approaching Jude, with speed. Turning back towards Layla and her friend Jude pointed his pistols at them.

"... Sorry love... I won't be back for a while... You'll have to live without me until then." Not waiting for them to comply to his statement Jude shot at the ground behind the two, forcing them to run away. Before they left Jude threw his pistols and Keito's sword at Layla, for her to keep safe. As Layla and her friend escaped Jude in turn looked towards the men who were pursuing him. Swords in hand and weapons at the ready they all were prepared to capture him. Now without a weapon Jude prepared himself for the battle which was soon to commence. Blood running down his right shoulder from the wounds from the previous night he knew he wouldn't be able to take them on for long, but he not going to go down without a fight. The first few bounty hunters Jude dispatched with relative ease, with critical attacks. He continued until he was face to face with the man who was chocking Layla earlier. His wounds burning and his breath shallow Jude stood up to stare the man in the face.

"Let's get this over with then shall we..."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf Character Portrait: Layla "Siren" Luciel Character Portrait: Lee Hart

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Layla
Hand reaching for the dagger in her thigh sheath, Siren stared at the ceiling. She quite admired this green-eyed boy's choking skills. Very classy. Fingers on her dagger, Siren was just about to pull it out to stab her assailant in the neck when a familiar figure struck him in the arm and ripped him off of her. "You di-" The words were snipped off as Jude pulled her up -

and pointed a gun to her head.

Yoouuu sonofabitch.

"Sorry gents... Don't want to die today and I'm sure you wouldn't want your Princess to die either... So back away before I blow her head to pieces."

The large men looked at one another uncertainly and gradually backed off - they were practically Siren's multiple fathers. Giving them a stern look that said blow the sucker's head to pieces, Siren pulled her hand forward, preparing to elbow Jude in the gut and duck in case he fired the gun. Before she could act as planned, Jude wrapped a strong arm around her waist and another under her knees. They crashed backwards into glass.

It was an ordinary day, filled with ordinary happenings.

Siren was the unwilling participant of a suicide pact.

They crashed through air, endless, never-ending air and Siren thought dying in a handsome man's arms wasn't too bad of a way to go. They crashed. Well, Jude crashed, Siren had the comfort of two very nice arms - very nice arms, indeed.

"What the h-" Siren began, only to be shoved into the arms of her over 6 feet tall, dark-skinned friend. Jude mumbled something to her but Siren was too busy dodging a dagger that had just been thrown through where her face was. She glared at the tall man with his arm raised from the throw. The man shrugged, giving her quirky smile. 'Miss,' he mouthed.

"... Sorry love... I won't be back for a while... You'll have to live without me until then." Siren turned around to the click of a gun. She stared into the barrel, then into the black and gold eyes of the man she'd slept with. The man she'd believed was special enough to stay with. The thief from the Wolf Pack she'd trusted. She stared until she felt like crying - something Siren the bounty huntress with the perfect record never did. Her silver eyes pierced his and it'd be the last time she'd ever look into those eyes again.

"I won't be waiting."

Jude shot the ground just as Evi ripped Siren away, her grip tight and persistent. Siren's feet stumbled for a bit and then they moved on their own, smacking the debris on the ground. Soon enough, she was running faster than even Evi. Siren the Huntress was back, not weepy, stupid, gullible little Layla. Siren didn't turn back, didn't check to see if Jude was injured, if he'd been captured. With each step she took, a new layer of ice formed over her. Crystallised - until she was just a figure of frozen water.

It reminded her of song she'd sang with the women in Gweynura. The song of the Snow Maiden.

In a dried land, namely, at the ends of a red scorching hell

There was a mansion made from ice.

And I strongly wish to tell you an ancient story about it.


That mansion was cursed because of the ice.

There was an strong seal put over it.

And in one room of that mansion, a girl of ice was locked up.

The girl was completely alone.



Until a day, by pure chance, she was surprised when a boy that lived traveling opened the doors of the ice mansion.
The eyes of the boy reflected the sad expression that the ice girl had,

so the boy decided that he had to help the girl.



The girl thought, "I am very glad that you have talked to me..."

But her icy face couldn't speak.


The girl rejoiced, "I am so glad that you are here with me..."

However, her icy face couldn't smile.


Once the icy girl felt the warmth of the boy, she melted into water.

Then, the water soared as if it had wings, and returned to the heavens.



In a dried land, namely, at the ends of a red scorching hell

The voices of joy resounded.

And I strongly wish to tell you an ancient story about it.


The girl that returned to the heavens became rain, and fell over the land.

It was a great, great blessing.

And in the middle of that rain of joy, the boy left that village.



Once he realized that the body of the girl had become that rain, the boy became greatly saddened.

And then, he departed on a journey to find the heart of his lost girl.

Completely alone.



The girl thought, "I am very glad that you have talked to me..."

But her watery face couldn't speak.


For the sake of her boy, the girl was glad to become the rain, and downpour over the land.

However, her watery face couldn't smile.



Once the icy girl felt the warmth of the boy, she melted into water.


Then, the water soared as if it had wings, and returned to the heavens.


"Thank you for loving me so much."

The girl was very glad to have become a blessing for the boy,

and she smiled for the first time.



The frozen heart of the girl turned into water when she felt warmth.



And maybe that was because the tears the boy shed for her were very warm.


It was a stupid song and though she'd loved it before, she hated it now. If she were made of ice, she'd rather stay that way than turn into water. Surely, the boy didn't care for the cursed girl - he was merely curious and his curiosity destroyed the girl. The song was idiotic and so was she.

When Siren and Evi arrived in Lion's Den, no one approached her. They knew an angry Siren when they saw one. Stepping on the stage, she sang the song of the Snow Maiden. Her voice was haunting and though it was as beautiful as anything could possibly be, it was filled with sadness and regret -

For the man she vowed to hate.

Setting

Characters Present

No characters tagged in this post!

Earnings

0.00 INK

Lee was amazed by the two of them. Not only had he almost lost the use of his arm from the woman's dagger but the man had been able to sneak up on him without alerting him. Lee told himself that he had gotten to into the fight with the woman, but that was just an excuse. This guy was good. It made sense that the short man called for so many guys.

Lee had just opened the door, in hot pursuit when he heard the crashing of the window. Lee couldn't help but smile at this man's guts and talent. He got to the windowsill to see girl walking away from the man who was going in the other direction. He made a mental note of both girls.

They seem to be going back to my original destination he thought. Lee looked down at the men that had been defeated by the jumper. He chased the man over the roof for over fifteen blocks before he lost track of him. He waited on the roof for a few moments before heading back.
------------------------
Lion's Den

Lee heard before he saw. He glanced through the window and saw both girls. He opened the door slightly to hear properly, but in hearing how she felt through the song, Lee closed the door and walked away down the street. He knew where she spent her time now. Lee was sure they would meet again at some point. Skilled people always end up crossing paths. He thought about the "wolf" guy and smiled.

'One win, to you,' he thought.

"Well seeing as how my, 'employers' are all unconscious I figure I did my best and the person was just better." he said to himself as he looked around the streets. "Interesting festival, too bad I missed it."

Lee looked at the time, he was going to have to find some place to stay.

"Maybe I could find the old lady again and if I act as protection, maybe I could rent a room for the time being, until I get a job" he said enthusiastically and he started running down the street, only to stop and realize he didn't really know where he was. He spent a few moments going back into his memory to learn of the direction and he slowly and carefully navigated his way back towards the old ladies place.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

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: Layla "Siren" Luciel

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Layla
The streets were bright - lanterns dotted the scenery and painted swirls of colourful cloths with warmth. Children ran about, their small feet stumbling through the crowds of people with contagious laughter. It was New Year's.

Someone was about to die.

Silent feet floated over rooftops to land gently in an alley, falling into a crouch. A dark haired man dashed through the crowd to reach a dead end covered in grime with nowhere left to turn. He looked back and saw his huntress. Chuckling lightly, for he thought he was being chased by a vicious hunter, the man threw a sudden punch. The woman swivelled and struck the man's thigh in a back kick. He stumbled into the wet ground.

Holding two long daggers resembling nails in each hand, she clicked the single jewels on the handles open and with a slashing movement, long chains slipped from the handles. It was as if the chains had been made of ten sharpened blades moulded together and chopped into parts to allow it to bend. On the end of the chain, a long nail-like dagger similar to the handle rested. The huntress shot both chains at the man - and impaled his hands to the floor. A tortured scream spiked the air but the loud festival drowned the sounds.

"Who the hell are you?" the man wept.

Roughly ripping the chains from her prey's hands, the young woman sliced the end of the dagger through his throat. Lips tainted red with eyes of Winter, the huntress smiled.

"Siren."

After

A large crowd gathered in a circle around a raised platform, their excitement drawing more people in. The beauties of Gweynura, dressed in white, encircled a snow-haired girl. Their Layla had returned to them in the past months and as it was a rule in the House of Sirens to allow any of sisters who'd left to return, Layla was welcomed. Besides, their 'Mother' very much adored Layla and she did have a voice enchanting enough to draw the love of every man - almost every man.

Whilst in Gweynura, she'd become quite nocturnal, slumbering in daylight and working at night. Work was entertainment - including but not limited to selling her body. It was a good deal - the-man-who-shall-not-be-named slaughtered her mind daily so she kept herself busy with other men and women. She earned an income from doing what she would have done, anyhow. She continued bounty hunting, of course. Much more viciously than she did before, choosing to hunt her prey to the death and favouring thieves and young men.

After 'The Incident,' Siren grew rather volatile and violent, thus creating a rift between her and the other hunters. Evi had not spoken to her since The Incident and Siren couldn't quite bring herself to care. As always, when Siren was met with a conflict, she grew restless and left. Whilst in Gweynura, she worked alongside a merciless bounty hunter named Lachlan - well, they worked most of the time.

Strangely enough, Siren had kept Keito's sword.

Dressed in an extravagant Kimono with detail and allure to rival that of a Goddess', Siren stood out amongst the masses of people.

As the music began to play, the colourful doll in the centre stood in sharp movements. Siren sang softly, twirling in a kaleidoscope of light until she froze, silent. The women in white rose from the ground and began to dance - spinning around the girl born of colour. They spun in a circle, growing in intensity until they swirled like a white blizzard, until the canvas of colour in the heart of their dance spun along with them to create a blooming flower. Their voices sang - pouring over the festival in a blanket of light. The women in white froze - and Siren's voice of pure honey was left. A haunting, sad melody that echoed above the silence surrounding her.

The women unfroze and danced. Their voices growing louder and louder along with the instrumentalists until the people in the audience began dancing, too. Some even sang along. It was a popular song of Cre' Est - the bittersweet tale of a doomed world that was redeemed in sacrifice.

Men and women formed two separate lines and in a traditional dance, each couple was passed along until they reached the end, dancing with each person of the opposite gender along the way. The beauties of Gweynura and Siren danced in their midst. All the people sang the song as one, in a loud choir that spread throughout the capital of Cre' Est - divisions were no longer apparent.

Cre' Est was united.

Setting

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Earnings

0.00 INK

Much time had passed since Lee had last seen the girl from months ago. Honestly he had avoided that area of the city as much he could. Lee felt the load on his back shifting slightly. Lee re-positioned his right foot on the roof. He watched the dance and heard the sad tones once more.

'So you haven't healed yet, miss?' he thought to himself. He waited but a moment longer before running along the roof tops once more. For the past months Lee had joined a courier service to help pay for his rent. He still visited the old lady making sure she was ok, but for the most part he casually asked about assassins and any rumours flying around. He did not act on them. He had heard the skill of those assassins and remembered his failure to capture the singing huntress or the silent wolf.

The courier was another form of training that he partook in. He learned the shape of the city and more about the people walking down below. He had learned the buildings and all the locations nearby. He was one of the favored couriers due to his excellent balance and tendency to run on the roofs. He by passed most obstacles with little problem which allowed him to deliver his packages on time, sometimes even earlier than expected.

Lee had been practicing his parkour techniques allowing him to maneuver among crowds and shift between low and high ground. There was no way he would let the wolf escape him again. The Lee had nothing against him, it was more like a one-sided rivalry as well as another step in his training so he could take on assassins on even footing.

Lee stopped as he reminded himself where his destination was. He clenched his fist.

"I'll see you again, wolf." he stated. "And when that day comes I'll," he paused as he pictured the wolf's face.

.........

-_- "..... "-_-
Lee got frustrated. He had not actually seen the man's face in the first place.

He ran hard trying to forget that fact.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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Earnings

0.00 INK

Lee had just finished a delivery when the client asked for something to be delivered to another destination. It was a small box, which was a welcomed item opposed to the statue he had just delivered. He gently placed the box with his back pack. He fiddled with the ropes, tightening them for the smaller load so that it wouldn't bounce around much.

Lee found a vacant alley way and with a couple jumps, few shifts of weight and some wall running he got quickly on the roof. He oriented himself to where his new delivery was going to be. He secured his payment and ran once more along the roof tops. He kept to the center when needed and simply leaped over the street when it was needed. Luckily his legs had rested enough from the last run, so he felt quite at ease with this pace.

-_- [thought of the Wolf].

Lee gritted his teeth and sped up. He created a longer stride as was well as picking up the pace. He was ever careful with his footing but he started to use make harder jumps, to test his limits.

He was pleased with the time he was making. He had to pass by a fairly populated area but most people wouldn't really be looking at roof tops during a festival. Lee felt himself frown which caused him to almost lose his footing, he rolled and regained it. He had wanted to go the festival this time around. But once again he was asked to help with special deliveries. He felt stupid for feeling so smug about being called 'reliable'. He had taken the jobs before he had time to think about it.

Now he is missing out and pretty young women in kimonos.

"What a day!" he shouted as he jumped over the street filled with music and people talking. Most likely no had noticed, but he ran regardless.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jude Vanderwolf

Earnings

0.00 INK

Underground Cre' Est - Present

Complete Darkness. Total and never ending darkness. That is my life now... My life to be shackled and chained, treated like an animal... There was no escape from this... No escape at all. Nothing could save me now... No one will save me... Underneath the ground beneath the land of Cre' Est a group hold captive Omega of the Wolf Pack, Jude Vanderwolf. The room he was in could not be called a room at all, it was a prison, a cell in which he was the captive. No prison could keep Omega, at least that was what was commonly believed. Omega's ability to escape prisons and other situations was well known in Triveila, his ability had become legend. But no technique, no inch of brilliant skill and intelligence would be able to help him now. For as long as he was alone, without the help he would be unable to escape ...And no one will come to save me... Not even my "brothers".

Cre' Est - Flashback

It was a few months ago when Jude had been captured, it was the same day he had escaped the Drunken Mare with Layla. After having escaped the Drunken Mare and the bounty hunters chasing him Jude had tried to hide from all the others who were planning to capture him. With the whole bounty hunter community having gained knowledge that Omega the Wolf was in fact still alive and in Cre' Est would bring the attention of many individuals and groups. It was because of this Jude sought escape from Cre' Est, to become hidden from society long enough to become a phantom just as he did before. He didn't wish to do it but it was necessary, especially with the last group who had been chasing him and his brethren, Te'i Sai.

Te'i Sai is greatest assassin group in known history, no single man could match the ability and skill each of these assassin's had. When the Wolf Pack's infamy had reached incredibly heights within the land of Cre' Est and the nation's thereof they had peaked the interest of Te'i Sai, reasons of which were unknown to the Wolf Pack. For whatever reason the Te'i Sai had did not matter for within the few months they had begun hunting down the Wolf Pack the brethren had been reduced to a quarter of their full strength. In some nations all members of the Wolf Pack were killed, only in Triveila did they seem to be untouchable. But that still did not last, members were left dead in the streets while others were found tortured beyond belief. The Te'i Sai hunted down the Wolf Pack mercilessly until they murdered Edgar Vanderwolf, the subsequent leader and father of the Wolf Pack. It was then that the remaining members had gone underground, including Jude. But now with his identity revealed his life and the lives of his brethren were now going to be hunted again, as it was believed the Wolf Pack no longer existed.

In fear of Te'i Sai and heeding to the last word's of his father, Jude would once again hide from them, hoping to become a ghost. Jude had prepared within a week to leave Cre' Est, having avoided the eyes of countless bounty hunters within that time. He didn't wish to leave, having just been reunited with some of his old brethren and having to leave Layla. But Jude knew for their own good he would need to leave, to disappear. His presence endangered all the lives of his "brothers" within Cre' Est and Layla would be unable to return to her old life if he were to remain there. No, he had decided he would leave.

Having journeyed a few miles from the main capital of Cre' Est Jude had decided to sleep in an abandoned barn he had come across. This was when he was attacked, countless men had entered the building. He fought valiantly against the group but without his trademark pistols and any other form of weaponry Jude had fallen into their grasps. He was chained and drugged, being dragged from the barn by his unknown assailants, to where he is now imprisoned.

Underground Cre' Est - Present

The past few months within the underground "prison" Jude had been tortured countless times. He had been drowned, cut, stabbed, anything and everything possible which left his body in tact. His unknown assailants kept asking him the same questions; "Where is the Wolf Pack?", "Who are your "brothers"?", and "Where is the invention?". But no matter what they did, no matter how much food and water they deprived from him, no matter what form of torture they used Jude would not utter a word. No matter what pain he felt Jude would never scream, never would he show weakness to them. But as time passed his strength began to wane, without hope and without companionship Jude had been broken.

Now he lays on the ground of his own personal cell, listening to the music and festivities of the land above, believing them to just be a hallucination of his mind trying to remember the good times before becoming captive. Unknown to him though the yearly festival in Cre' Est was happening on the ground above.

"... Why am I alone brothers? ...Why have you forsaken me?..."

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Lee made a sudden stop. There was someone sitting on the roof. The light and shadows distorted Lee's perception of the figure. He couldn't determine how big or small th