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Assassin's Pledge: War of Attrition

Triveila

0 INK

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

Nation of Water

RolePlayGateway holds sovereignty over Triveila, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

1,173 readers have been here.

Heads Up: Completed Storyline!

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

Setting

The people of Triveila make their living off of their fishing and their bond with the sea.
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Triveila

Nation of Water

Minimap

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

2 Characters Here

Mayumi [129] An emotionless archer whom will do anything to accomplish her missions.
The Royal Knights Of Cre' Est [13] They are assigned to retrieve, to protect, and to remove... What fate would they chose for you?

Start Character Here »


Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

In a forest, outside Triveila


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Night Angel’

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

Entering Triveila


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

Small Village, Triveila


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

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

Forest outside Triveila


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

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

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

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

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

Somewhere between Triveila and Cre’Est


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow's meditation took a total of three hours to complete, which was unusually short for him but there were other things on his mind that would not rest. He opened his eyes and stood up from his spot in the center of the small clearing and looked back towards the city as he decided it was time once again to check his body for any signs of deterioration. It was a constant struggle for Shadow to maintain his strength and agility when he did not have access to the facilities of an organization like Tei' Sai, but it was not impossible.

After a jog back to the village he broke into one of the first houses he found and saw a large mirror in one of the bedrooms. It would do nicely for his purposes, so he took off his shirt and jacket and his vambraces and gloves. He stood perfectly erect in front of the mirror, checking his muscle tone and size from the front, both sides, and the back. Shadow's most prominent muscle groups in his torso were his pectoral muscles, the latissimus dorsi, and abdominal muscles. The muscle groups that were slightly less prominent, but none the less noticeable, were the serratus muscles, the obliques, and the trapezius muscles.

Shadow's arms were well defined as well, with the deltoids, triceps, biceps, extensor muscles and radialis muscles all holding a relatively equal tone quality all throughout his arms. He was slightly unsatisfied with his serratus muscles and his obliques not being equal to the rest of his torso, and so he decided that it would not be a bad idea to focus on them for a while. While he always worked every muscle group in his body during training, working certain muscles more than others was common for anyone and everyone due to the difference in size of the group, functionality in their chosen field of work, and other limitations. Shadow saw no limitations and knew that if his muscles weren't all in perfect equality that he would fall out of balance and his body would reach limits sooner rather than later.

That was the main problem with most who used extreme workout routines. They all either focused too heavily on one group at a time, one group, period, tried to balance but didn't pay enough attention to how to do that, or thought they could balance everything with awkward and impractical workout routines. Almost all of these mistakes were all too common in the world today, and Shadow held an extreme distaste for those who claimed to have an "unorthodox workout regime that kept them in peak form". Unorthodox workout routines were dangerous, unstable, and not worth the trouble they caused on the body.

Shadow replaced his clothing and left the house, choosing to study his lower body muscles at a different time and place. His legs were the most powerful muscles in his body, there was no disputing that fact. Shadow could life men twice his weight from an unconscious, dead weight, position on the floor over six feet into the air by kicking them with one leg. He could stop animals in excess of three times his weight from jumping at him by using both legs as a springboard to knock them backwards. It was one of the reasons he'd survived encounters with Devil Wolves in the past. He knew that he didn't need to worry about his legs at the present time, though they would need to be checked soon in the near future.

When he returned to the training grounds he removed his jacket and shirt once again, but left his vambraces and gloves on as he looked around and saw what he was looking for. Two large but still accessible boulders to the side underneath a large tree would serve the purpose of weight training. He picked one of them up with both hands and tested its weight, guessing it was about forty to forty five pounds. The boulder was about a foot wide and eight to ten inches deep with some substantial weight to it for something that small, which led him to believe it was a leftover from one of the quarries in the mountainside that was dumped during a shipment. He took it with him to the center of the clearing and began to lift and turn with the rock in hand, focusing on movements that would target his obliques first as they were larger and easier to target than the serratus muscles. Simple overhead stretch routines served the purpose well, as the obliques moved in sequence with the upper body and could not be moved or rotated on their own.

Working like this for a period of approximately thirty minutes, Shadow was decently satisfied he'd gotten used to the weight as his obliques and even his lats were starting to burn a little bit. He put the smaller rock down and picked up the other, slightly larger rock from the tree and guessed it to be around sixty to sixty five pounds which would work well. He resumed this stretching and rotating routine for another half an hour, and when he found that it was becoming difficult to rotate at all from the strain on his muscles he was satisfied that there was no further need to do so. He put the two boulders away by the tree again and stretched out without them for ten minutes, letting his muscles relax and flex back and forth to get the blood flowing again as he started thinking about what he would do for training himself when his new protege arrived.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

Heading West from the mountains to Triveila


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Haku Yukimura Character Portrait: Leander Silverbroidered Character Portrait: Ren Gekki Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: Kisho Hosokawa Character Portrait: Anaro "Ghost" Takashi Character Portrait: Lydia Ray Frost Character Portrait: Marthel Swiftwind Character Portrait: Mei Character Portrait: Arksas Alexander Character Portrait: Narasin "Nash" Rukota Character Portrait: Dice Leyline Character Portrait: Devin Kailsen Character Portrait: Yamikouio Greave

Earnings

0.00 INK

“You should place this salve on your ankle twice a day until the pain is resolved. Please be reminded not to put much strain on your left ankle. Working hard in the fields is commendable but do remember that your health is your wealth.”

This was spoken with gentleness and warmth and was also accompanied by a sincere smile. It was enough to make the crowd within the small clinic to blush at the sight.

“Th—Thank you very much Dr. Nora.” These were the words of the middle-aged man who was the current patient of the infamous Dr. Nora.

“You are very much welcome, Mr. Clifford.” The middle-aged man stood and shook the Doctor’s hand which he noted to be soft as if it had never been into hard labor at all before leaving.

Another patient was about to enter but a woman with short dark brown hair and brown eyes blocked the entrance with a smile. She had few wrinkles on her face to denote that she is quite age but still had a youthful gait to emphasize that she is not that old yet.

“Well, it is lunch now so come back later.” There were a few protests but they were immediately silenced with a deadly glare.

"Aunt Beatiz, there was no need to glare at them." The said woman looked at her niece and released a sigh.

"If I didn't, they would not have left you alone. For now, have some lunch Sereinia." Kind and bright deep amethyst colored eyes looked at her aunt with a small smile agreeing to the statement that was said.

It had been indeed such a long time since she has returned to Triveila. Most of her travels had made her stay longer in Veilbrand, Shaharan, and Cre’Est.

"It has been a long time since, I heard my name." After all, most people that she met just refer to her as Doctor or Dr. Nora. Beatiz looked at Sereinia and smiled gently as she laid some freshly cooked meals on the table for the two of them to eat.

"So it seems. Are you back here for good?" Sereinia sat on one of the chairs at the table.

"No, I am just passing through." This answer of hers made Beatiz released a sigh.

"So, you're still not done with this journey of yours?" Taking her seat as well, Beatiz looked at her niece.

"Not yet, Aunt. I know you are very worried about me." This had made Beatiz sigh more.

"A beautiful young lady traveling on the road alone with no knowledge of defending herself from thieves or thugs especially with the increase in crime rate today. I am more than worried, child."

These words were said with much sincere concern and at the same time a slight annoyance possibly due to Sereinia's stubbornness about this dangerous journey's of hers. Sereinia understood the concerns of her aunt. After the death of her parents, her Aunt Beatiz had become her surrogate parent. From her opinion, this small town in Triveila had become her new home. She had always hate giving her aunt many worries. However, these travels of her are something she could not stop at the moment. It had become of her way of discovering herself little by little.

“I will be fine Aunt Beatiz. I have returned here safely did I not?” She said with a smile as she took a bite of her salad. Her Aunt released another heavy sigh.

"As long as your safe and send me letters, I believe that would make my nerves at the very least calm while you are up and about." After saying this, Beatiz took a drink of orange juice while Sereinia smiled warmly.

"I will always."

After a pleasant lunch, Sereinia was once more put to work as a doctor. She began receiving patients with all manners of ailments from a simple bruise to infectious diseases. However, she was glad enough that no one needed an operation. Soon enough, she had managed to secure a brief moment of rest for herself before dinner. She had decided to visit her 'secret base' as she called it. It could be found at the outskirts of the town in a nearby forest. Before she had decided to do her travels, she had always come here for some self-reflection and at times to reminisce the days where her family was still complete. This time, she just wanted to see how it looked like now after she had been gone from it for so long. She had forgotten to tell her aunt about it before. So, no one had taken care of it while she was away.

"There you are..." Sereinia's eyes glowed with wonder and nostalgia upon seeing her 'secret base'.

It was actually a made-up tent craftily hidden beneath some rock formations underneath a large tree that had taken its rooting upon it. In her opinion, it was the perfect place as she could feel nature surround her and at the same time feel quite comfortable. She lowered herself to the ground as she has to crawl into a hole to reach inside her tent.

"Well, let see how bad is it inside." But before she could do so, she heard a few rustles from the nearby bushes. She turned around to look behind her.

"Is someone there?" She stood from her current position and looked at the source of the slight noise.

"Do you need help?" This caused her curiosity to peak a little bit as she approached the bushes but as she does, she heard a branch being broken behind her in which she instantly turned around in reflex.

Immediately, Sereinia was grabbed from behind and cloth was placed on her mouth. It prevented her to scream for help and she finally see a group of rather burly looking men that composed of 4. They must be the thieves that she had been hearing around town earlier.

"It seems we have fine catch today boys! We can have lots of fun!" The man that had grabbed her began to touch sensitive areas of her body which she could only close her eyes in shame.

"Someone... please help me..." It was the only thought that entered her mind.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

Red-black orbs looked up to crimson ones.

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

"Good work Sora." He said quietly.

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

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

Shadow looked over at Mayumi for a brief second.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

"After you, miss."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

Shadow stopped mid stride and nodded to her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With that he turned to Sereinia.

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

"Mayumi will not require assistance. She prefers to be alone."

Shadow's response leaded for Sereinia to released a sigh. However, she will not push the issue any further. She knew when to stop on certain occasions. Once the men were put to the table, she nodded to Shadow in gratitude. Taking another look at the men, she found relief that their vitals remained stable. For now, she would leave Shadow and Mayumi to their own silence. But before the treatment, she would need all her medical tools prepared. She head towards a large cabinet and opened it. Inside, all of her equipments were neatly placed and arranged. She took out the necessary ones that she would need and the medicines that she would have to use for treatment and the operation. Upon finishing the preparations, she went to the kitchen and heated the meal that Aunt Beatiz had left for her. Afterwards, she placed them neatly on the tray and served it to Shadow who was now half-naked before her.

"Here have something to eat. My Aunt made some vegetable pottage, roast beef, and a slice of bread. I do not know what you like to drink but I brought you some ale."

Placing it down on the desk, Sereinia was not the kind to stare at anyone's body. However, the scars and various wounds that filled Shadow's body implied how dangerous he is and how fearful his life is as well. She could not even fathom what kind of horrors this man before her had already witnessed. Compared to her, she had yet to fully grasped the world around her or perhaps she was simply hiding behind her naivety as she had been told. Taking herself out of her own observation, she decided to return to the her two patients but not until she saw that Shadow seemed to be hiding something from her. She finally noticed a rather wound across his back. It was bleeding.

"Let me see it."

Her tone was changed into gentle sternness as if it was ordering a little boy. Sereinia looked at the wound closely and did not even allow the man to dissuade her otherwise. It had begun to fester which had impended it from healing properly. She could see that Shadow had applied first aid. But, it was not enough. She could not believe that Shadow had not seen a doctor or healer for such a thing. Opening the drawers, she took out one of her concocted drug and showed it to him.

"Drink this. It would help to prevent further infection. I am impressed you have not yet develop a fever. I would put some salve on it. This would sting but please bear with it."

Sereinia took another drug from the drawer. It was a salve of hers that she had made earlier. She glanced at Shadow momentarily and began gently applying the salve over his wound. She did swiftly and at the same gently to prevent any more pain on Shadow's part. After it was done, she looked at Shadow with concern and released a small sigh.

"What I did was just temporary. I would stitch it up after I am done with the two men. Do not tell me that you would not need assistance. You are in my clinic."

Her tone was with slight tenderness but at the same time a finality. She proceeded towards the two fallen men and tied her long hair with a ribbon so it would not interfere with her eyes and face. Afterwards, she began her treatment on the two men. It was done efficiently and without mistake as well. She certainly knew what she was doing. Her concentration was certainly something to be commended. Although, it took quite a while. She could say the two men would be recovering nicely. Taking a deep breath, she looked at Shadow with a smile.

"Now, it is your turn." Sereinia took a seat beside him and began treating his wound first by cleaning it.

"This will hurt." After doing it, she injected him with a drug that could numb the pain as she would stitch it.

"You should have allowed this to be treated earlier. It could become worse."

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

‘Master?’ she called out to him.

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

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

In a small clearing behind the houses


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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Once Sereinia had finished the treatment of his wound, Shadow stood up and then looked at her with those ruby-colored eyes of his. There was something mystifying about them that she could not look away from him. It was like she was held captive by those eyes of his. She has yet to pinpoint what was it that captivated her. For now, she listened to his words of warning that assassins from the most feared organization known as the Te'i Sai would be coming here and asked questions about Shadow. Well, she should expect as much. He is not dangerous not only of his capabilities but also due to his life. She remained silent as Shadow walked towards the door. It would seem he would be leaving soon than she had initially thought.

Sereinia was quite sad about it however, this was something that was bound to happen. She gathered her tools that were on the desk. It was about time for her to clean up. Standing from her seat, she looked at Shadow who had his back turned to her. Somehow, she has this feeling of nostalgia. She was just not sure what it meant. So, she decided to pay it no heed. There were other things that she would need to focus herself in. There were her patients and if what Shadow said wold come to pass. It would be better if these men were out of sight. They might come to harm if these Te'i Sai people find them as they are witnesses. Her thoughts were only disturbed again by Shadow's words as she looked at him. His eyes affixed on her once more.

His words were filled with genuine concern. It brought a smile to her lips without her even thinking about it. Shadow was truly a gentle person despite him not agreeing about it. He told her that she should be honest however, it was the least of his concerns. She is after all an honest person. She would tell the truth no matter how hard it may be. It may be hypocrisy or selfishness. She just does not want to be surrounded by deceit and lies. Even if it would hurt or be painful, she is willing to endure it. The only thing that did not seat well with her was him talking that only people like her should live. What was supposed to mean?

Soon enough, Shadow ended his words with softness as he opened the door and looked around. Sereinia believed he might be looking out for his companion named Mayumi. He stood there at the doorway and told her to take care of herself. There was sadness in his tone. This much she could tell as he started to walk outside. Somehow, she could understand the nostalgia she was feeling earlier. He seems so alone when he stood before her like that. It was like he keeping all the crushing emotions inside and fighting it alone. It was then instinctively, she found herself reaching for him. Soon, she found her hand clinging tightly onto his jacket like a lifeline.

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

Sereinia looked at Shadow with such desperate eyes as if she would be broken if anything were to happen to him. Her eyes of deep amethyst were getting watery. It was like a beautiful violet gem underneath a flowing clear river. After a few seconds of silence, it seemed that she had managed to sort out her feelings and quickly released Shadow's jacket as if she awoken from a trance. She blushed in embarrassment as her cheeks were now rosy pink as she quickly apologize for her behavior earlier.

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That issue, however, would have to wait.

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Looking at Shadow, Sereinia further blushed upon hearing his laughter. She was not sure what came over her to say such things. Somehow, she had just the need to say it. Moreover, the two of them just met a couple of hours ago. In addition, she has no right to meddle in his life or his affairs. Although, the more she thinks about it. The more she had the need to meddle on it. After Shadow's chuckle, he looked away from her.

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

Upon hearing that, Sereinia cannot help but be more concerned about him and his companion. No reason to exist? That is not possible at all. She tightly clenched her hands into fists and was about to retort about his words of having no use anymore to the world than to kill. However, Shadow's demeanor stopped her. There was something that worried the assassin and it was not something trivial that she was sure of.

"Is there something wrong?"

It was not answered by words but Sereinia noticed how tensed Shadow had become and at the same time, she noticed the rather eerie silence outside the clinic. It was quite unusual because not even a sound of cricket could be heard. There was just complete calm. She knew better than to think that everyone was sleeping so silently or the animals went on a holiday. There was something dangerous coming and fear was the result. She looked at Shadow with worry not because of her safety or the patient's. She was worried because she knew for a fact that he would be facing it head-on.

"Sereinia... find a place to hide."

Shadow's words were filled with seriousness and left no space for refute or argument. Sereinia's idea of danger was fully cemented when she saw him reaching for his blade. It was clear to her that there would be a fight. She had always hated violence whatever it may be. She knew that she had no right to interject and logically speaking, she knew she should follow Shadow's advice. But, she does not want to feel so helpless especially when she has not done anything at all. She held Shadow's arm and moved away from his protection. She came out of the door and finally saw the threat that Shadow had warned her about.

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

‘Wraiths.’

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

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

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

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

‘How peculiar.’ Mayumi thought, frowning slightly.

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

"... Perfect..."

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shadow looked her dead in the eyes.

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

"This was truly an eventful day..."

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Sereinia woke up early as she changed into more appropriate clothes. After doing so, she went downstairs and saw that her patients were already up and about. They were so awake that they had left the clinic on their own accord. This made the female doctor released a small sigh of disappointment. She was worried that they might infect their injuries and may handle it incorrectly. They could have waited for her to wake up and give them some pointers and medicine. She had no intention of turning them in to the authorities. If she had that intention, she would have not bothered taking care of their wounds. In any case, they were probably long gone. Looking at her medicine cabinets, it seemed the two men did not bother taking some and just focused on running away. They might still have been very fearful thinking that Shadow will come back for them.

"He is not that scary, really..." She muttered softly as she cleaned up the beds and the clinic.

When Sereinia was done, she wrote a letter for her Aunt. It made her feel guilty of leaving without saying goodbye to her Aunt in person. After all, she did just returned here the other day. Leaving the letter in the room of her Aunt, she and gathered her things and waited downstairs. She had always been told to travel lightly so, that is what she did. Bringing just a few sets of clothes, her medicine tools, and some salves and medicines she think would be necessary and hard to come by. Taking one last look at her room, she looked at her luggage thoughtfully. She decided to check her things. It would be clumsy of her to leave anything important behind. She must make sure that she has not forgotten anything. Soon enough, she heard a knock on the door. It must be Shadow. She stood and opened the door and her conclusion was right.

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

It would seem that the female doctor had no reservations about her decision coming along with Shadow and Mayumi. Sereinia had slept well last night and not even an ounce of regret filled her mind. She was certain that this was the right decision and her Aunt would understand her actions given enough time. Her only wish is that everyone will be fine once she leaves the town.

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

Four days later


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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

"Please be careful, Ms. Mayumi."

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

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

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

"Excuse me..."

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

"Tell me, Sereinia." He said quietly.

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

However... He suddenly realized something.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

"You know that someday... We have to tell her the truth."

The voice was distantly familiar. There was a certain soothing essence to it that no one can replace. It is the feeling that Sereinia was having. Somehow, this voice was something that she should never forget. Still, the identity of the voice eluded her like a plague. She tried hard to recognize it and yet all she could pull from the deepest recesses of her mind was nothing.

"I love you... Someday, we will meet again, my daughter."

"Mother!" Sereinia unknowingly shouted as her eyes opened with desperation flashing across them without warning. Her breathing was shallow and fast. It was like she had been running away or after something even may be someone.

After a few moments, Sereinia was able to remove herself from the trance. She had deemed it as a dream in which she had no more recollections of what it was in the first place. Feeling a bit dizzy, she opted an instinctual action to hold her head with a hand. She had deduced it was probably from suddenly sitting upright. The blood must have rushed to her head. However, she could not do that simple gesture. It is because her hands were securely bounded behind her. This was then she had come to full realization what had truly happened to her. The events earlier played into her mind like a silent film.

"That man took me..."

Muttering to herself, Sereinia remembered the hooded man who put her to sleep without effort. She looked around her and could see that she was left in a room. It resembles a storeroom in her opinion. Beside her were barrels, boxes, and bags. Taking another note, it was not only her hands that were bound but also her feet. She could not move on her own without difficulty. Although, she did find it quite odd for her mouth to be not covered or even her eyes. This would only mean that her captors did not mind her shouting or seeing them. It also means that she was in a place that no one could help her.

"He must be after Shadow and Mayumi..." Sereinia remembered the man's last words before she fainted. "I can't be burden to them. I have to do something."

Resolution filled her deep amethyst eyes as Sereinia began squirming through her ropes. They were securely tied. Taking another option, she looked around for something that could be used to cut her binds. If this was a storeroom, there should be something useful of that sorts. Seeing something glinting beside the piles of wooden boxes, she made an expression of relief. There was loose nail peeking from wall. It was not that remarkable. But, she can't be picky about it. Making an effort to crawl over there without making much noises was harder than she had thought. Nevertheless, she reached her destination and began to rub her binds against the nail's sharp edge.

"Please work..."

Sereinia was not sure how much time passed but her limbs were getting numb. Yet, she could not feel that her rope was being loosened at all. It was about time she should give hope, but then she heard her ropes slowly being cut. Her eyes widen in hope and happiness. She might be able to free herself after all. However, it was short-lived as the door to the room she was confined open. Horror flashed across her face as the man wearing a hooded cloak understood her intentions. It was not that difficult for her captor to cross the room without delay.

"Here I thought you would be the typical damsel in distress."

The man's words were coated with interest and malice. Sereinia could hear it which made her slightly tremble as she looked away. He noticed this as he instantly grabbed her chin tightly and then forced her to look at him. At first, she could not see the face due to her hood. But soon, she could see his eyes staring down at her with danger and a blood lust.

"Your eyes... It's like..." This comment from Sereinia was enough to make the man smirk. "Like him?"

After saying that, he grabbed her roughly by the shoulder. She expected to have a dislocation but it did not happen. The next she knew the man was carrying her over his shoulder like a sack of rice.

"Let me go! Release me at once!" Sereinia shouted at her captor and began struggling from him. However, it was useless. The man was far stronger than ever she could be.

"Don't worry. You won't die yet. I want to see how Shadow feels seeing you die just like her."

This statement made Sereinia stop as she digested the man's words. What did he meant by her? She did remember hearing Shadow commenting that she was like someone. Although, she did not pry into it.

"I won't let you harm Shadow or Mayumi." Determination sparking in her eyes and voice. Sereinia used all her strength to bite at the man's shoulder. This was enough for him to wince and loosened his hold on her. "You wench!"

Seeing the opportunity, Sereinia used the momentum to deliver a kick to his stomach. But before it could connect, the man grabbed her by the hair and slammed her to the wall with great force. She knew that some of her bones were cracked as she cough some amount of blood.

"You are feisty. I'll give you credit for that. But, I wonder what they will do especially him if I break you apart now in the most scandalous way."

After saying that, Sereinia was grabbed once more but this time she was pinned to the floor. The meaning of his words finally dawned on her as she squirmed underneath him. She even shouted until she could feel that her vocal chords were giving out on her. She continued to fight but she could feel her strength leaving her and the man was still strong and resolute on what he was about to do to her.

"Help me... Shadow..."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow continued to sprint through the streets, but he knew that he was running hopelessly towards a goal that would not come. He finally stopped at he came to within a few hundred yards of the North Gate without ever once spotting either Mayumi or Sereinia. He had started to lose hope when the words of someone very dear to him echoed in his mind like the voice of an angel.

"Close your eyes, Shadow. Look inside yourself, and all will be revealed..."

The voice came softly to his inner ear as he smiled slightly while he took deep and steady breaths. Recalling the locations of Te'i Sai's operations buildings within this city was a challenge since it had been a few years since he was here, but never the less his long term photographic memory marked them all out on the map in his head. He opened his eyes slowly and looked around from left to right, scanning the surrounding buildings.

"Now... Which ones would be used to house a hostage?" He asked himself quietly.

A few people walking through the streets took interest in his activities, but when they saw his eyes they gasped and turned away. Some of them ran, but most took comfort in the fact that he was not moving and so simply walked away.

There were three buildings in the immediate area which Te'i Sai had used in the past, and Shadow was guessing they were relying on his memory having faded since the last time he was here. However, that not being the case, Shadow turned around and started to walk slowly back towards where he had come. Sora had lost the man who took Sereinia in the crowds, but Shadow had a good idea where to find him. From the point where he grabbed her, there was only one location which would suit his needs for housing a hostage. It was a long shot, given how much time had gone by and how much had changed in five years, but it was all he had.

Shadow walked up to the door of the unassuming building in question which was actually disguised on the outside as a private club for scholars. Inside, however, were three layers of dungeons hidden beneath the surface of the city. Sereinia must have been here, because no other building in the city had such a place to store both people and supplies. Shadow didn't like the idea of leaving Mayumi alone in this city when the name Kiiro had crossed the mouths of common citizens, of all people, but he had no choice. If she encountered a Wraith, or worse yet, Kiiro himself, Mayumi knew his orders to run. However, with Kiiro being the man who murdered her master, Shadow was uncertain how long Mayumi would be able to resist the urge to chase him.

That aside, Shadow reached out to open the door when he caught sight of a slight glint. The door was rigged, and he followed the faint line of wire to its source which was a single rifle cleverly hidden behind a sign aimed right at his head level.

"... So they knew to calibrate it for my specific height eh?" He asked himself with a smile.

He took a moment and simply drew one of his daggers. With a single swift motion, the wire fell limp and the gun was now all but useless as Shadow opened the door and walked inside. When he did so, he was greeted by a single figure in a black cloak and a red Te'i Sai logo on the chest. This was another Wraith, and judging by the face, the same one which had eluded him back in the previous encounter.

"So you've found this place after all, eh Shadow?" He asked with a grin.

Shadow didn't bother answering him, and instead turned around and walked outside as he closed the door behind him. This reaction stunned the Wraith, and he inched towards the door to listen.

Shadow had never, never, in his entire life backed away from any challenge before. Why start now?

Then, it became all too clear when a tiny click resonated through the door, and then a single bullet ripped through the man's head as Shadow opened the door again and dropped the rifle. The bullet entry wound was clean and went straight through, killing him before he hit the ground or even heard the sound of the gun being fired. With that nuisance out of the way, Shadow ran forward and broke down the door which led below to the dungeons. Not wanting to waste further time, he made his way straight to the bottom floor. Keeping Sereinia there would ensure that he had to cut himself off from retreat afterwards, but he had no choice in the matter anymore.

Finally he reached the bottom floor but it was empty, just like the rest. He couldn't figure out for the life of him what they were doing. They had nobody guarding Sereinia save for a single member likely watching over her in her chambers. Only one Wraith guarding the door.

"Just what are you after, Kiiro?" Shadow asked himself quietly.

There was a thought which struck him at that moment...

"... Mayumi..." He said softly.

His thoughts were interrupted, however, when the sounds of a struggle came from behind one of the doors in the back of the chamber.

Shadow bolted for it and gave it a single ram with his shoulder, but it was reinforced and Shadow instead ended up reeling back grabbing his shoulder in pain. He took another look at the door and discovered that it was made of a strange metal he'd never seen before. Whatever it was, however, it was no match for his daggers.

He swiftly brought them both out and slashed at the door, shredding it into several pieces as he kicked them in and finally broke the door down. Sereinia was on the ground with the Assassin now standing over her and who charged Shadow the instant he was through the door. Shadow tried to react but since he was holding both his daggers he couldn't grab the man or stop him from slamming him back into the wall behind them outside of Sereinia's chamber. Shadow let out a grunt of pain as a large fist made it's way into his jaw on the right side, sending him reeling several feet.

He quickly composed himself and analyzed his opponent. This one was a hand to hand specialist, and so Shadow obliged his passion by sheathing his daggers and cracking his neck. He shook off the shock of the first few attacks and the two began to fight. One punch, two, a kick, a locking hold. Move after move was traded for several seconds before Shadow's superior speed finally caught up with his opponent and he managed to snap the man's neck with the edge of his elbow, rupturing the arterial wall of his Carotid Artery and also clamping down momentarily on the jugular.

His opponent began to choke and went to his knees, but Shadow was in no such merciful mood and grabbed him by the hair and began to slowly twist his head around in a circle until he felt and heard a loud *SNAP* and the man's body fell limp in his hands. Shadow dropped the corpse and threw his body into a pile of crates just for good measure before letting out a deep breath and walking back to Sereinia's room.

"... Well done Kiiro..." He said quietly on his return trip.

Kiiro had played this out perfectly. By luring Shadow into a false sense of security and letting him have his meeting with Mayumi, he had created an opening to steal Sereinia away and give Shadow a choice: come after the helpless one, or protect his protege. Shadow had made his choice, knowing Mayumi's skills, but if Kiiro himself was there then there would be nothing he could do to protect Mayumi now. Kiiro knew full well the choice Shadow would make, and was likely on his way to find Mayumi if he hadn't already done so. It was for this reason that there was a begrudging respect between the two despite the seething hatred they shared for one another.

Give Shadow and Kiiro one full second to stare at each other from a distance of twenty feet and they'd be closing the gap and fighting by the very next second.

Once he walked inside, he approached her and gently reached around her body to snap the ropes which bound her. First her hands, then her legs, and then he simply stood up in front of her with a sorrowful expression on his face.

"... I'm so sorry Sereinia... This should never have happened. I was so focused on our task elsewhere that I neglected your safety in a city where Assassin presence and intelligence is quite strong. I never should have left you alone..." He said as he looked into her eyes.

"Please, forgive me." He pleaded.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Scared. Confused. Relief. These were the feelings that Sereinia had in just a matter of minutes. When the man on top of her was removed. She immediately backed up in the corner by instinct and began to witness a brawl happening in front of her. She was not really sure what was going on as her mind was in a haze that she could not understand. Closing her eyes tightly, she could hear the noises of the fight. But soon enough, it was quiet and still. This would only mean that the fight was over. She was not sure who won and for a brief moment, she was not sure she wanted to know. For it only meant that someone was dead. But in her heart, she did not want it to be anyone she knew especially Shadow.

Feeling a presence near her, Sereinia felt the ropes around her wrists and legs were removed. Opting to open her eyes, she saw the familiar ruby red eyes that she had seemed to be caught in and the face that instantly removed all the negative emotions she was having. It was Shadow. He came for her. She was not sure but she could feel tears streaming down her face without her trying anything to stop it. His words to her were like a blur. She knew that he was apologizing and it was also clear in his face. But, she just couldn't grasp his exact words. The next thing she did was to suddenly embrace him. Her fears were flowing with her tears while her body trembled. She was a total wreck. It was obvious but, she could not help it but be relieved that Shadow was here. She also felt slightly embarrassed but she was just glad he came here and the strong act she had put up just crumbled.

"I was so scared... So scared..." Her hold on him tightened as Sereinia buried her face on his chest. "I tried to escape... I didn't want to be a burden... I'm sorry..."

Sereinia continued to cry for a few moments as she repeated her apology over and over again. But soon, silence reigned between them. It would seemed that she was able to finally calm down herself. Slowly removing her face from Shadow's chest, she gazed at him with those deep amethyst eyes. She also gently removed her arms around him and made a reasonable distance between them.

"Thank you..."

Averting her eyes from Shadow, Sereinia wiped the tears away and tried to ease her mind. She was out of danger and she should stop acting like fearful child. It was then she suddenly remembered something important. Shadow was here but where was Mayumi.

"Where is Mayumi?"

Asking the question with concern, Sereinia felt a dread entering her body. She was not sure what its cause. However, she has a good reason to believe it was an omen of something terrible to happen. She began standing as they should leave this place but it was then another feeling ran across her body. But this time, it was the sensation of pain. She remembered that her captor had beaten her against a wall earlier. Her body was not that sturdy to begin with. She immediately fell to her knees.

"I'm sorry... I think I took in much beating than I realized..."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow was taken aback by Sereinia suddenly clasping onto his chest and crying, but it was nothing he hadn't experienced before. One individual from his past had been quite an emotional person and had done this numerous times. Shadow felt a bit nostalgic as he gently wrapped his arms around her while she cried, not saying anything further until she had calmed down and backed away.

"Where is Mayumi?" She asked.

Shadow was about to answer, but stopped before any words came forth.

Before he could think of anything further to say Sereinia collapsed to her knees and Shadow almost instinctively came forward to catch her on her way down. He took her shoulders in his hands and leaned in close, examining her from head to toe, checking her for bruises, cuts and any other signs of outer injury that he could see. There wasn't much, though she would be getting a decent bruise on her back soon enough. That much was obvious by the way her body moved in reaction to whatever had happened before his arrival.

He didn't know what else to do, so he helped her to her feet and supported her with one arm around her waist as he walked her out of the room and into the hall. The damage the hallways had taken from the fight were still fresh, as was the body in the now broken crates on the side, but Shadow paid them no mind as he walked Sereinia up three flights of stairs to ground level and into the true building atop them. He stopped for a moment and examined Sereinia one last time before cautiously letting go of her. In truth he was a bit reluctant to since he wasn't sure if he should leave her alone again so soon, but the threat facing Mayumi was not one he could ignore.

"Sereinia..." He began softly.

Suddenly, Shadow realized something.

Kiiro had planned all of this out perfectly thus far, and there was no reason to think he hadn't planned on Shadow leaving Sereinia somewhere "safe" to find Mayumi. That being the case, there was no guarantee Kiiro didn't want Shadow to stay with Sereinia and find Mayumi anyway. With all of the possibilities it was hard to know what Kiiro was planning and even harder still to come up with a solution that wouldn't get someone killed. Shadow's mind raced with thought until he found a solution he was positive Kiiro wouldn't be ready for because it was something he'd never known Shadow to do.

"Sereinia, I need you to go to the North Gate and check on Mayumi. If you find her with anyone, do absolutely nothing. Just wait. There's something I need to do." He said as he opened the door.

He waited for a moment outside to see what Sereinia would do before darting to the southwest. He had a plan in place now, and it would be sure to put a damper on Kiiro's plans. Shadow had to wonder why he hadn't thought of it before and why it was that he was so off lately from his usual self.

Was it Sereinia?

No, surely not. Shadow had dealt with a woman like her before in his company so there was no reason to think that it was her.

Was it Mayumi?

No, that couldn't be it either. Shadow had taught many others in the past in Te'i Sai and one other Assassin privately before her who turned into his most trusted ally during recent years. It was no hardship to him to have a fellow Assassin, even if she was so young.

So then what was it? Shadow was the Red-Eyed Demon. He was known for being calculating and calm, so why had he been so flustered and easily fooled lately? The answers to those and many other questions temporarily eluded him, but he had a feeling if he kept his cool and stopped worrying that the answers would come to him soon enough.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘No… Could it be?’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Is that all?” Kiiro mocked her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Looks like we’ll have to part here for now, but before that…” Kiiro took out a carving knife and Mayumi could only watch on.

A while later, Kiiro stood back and admired his art. Satisfied, he threw her cloak together with her bow and arrows onto the ground beside her.

“Well then, we’ll meet again soon enough young ward of the Red-Eyed Demon.” With those words, he disappeared into the Shadows with ghostly silence.

Soon enough after his leave, the scream of an upset golden eagle filled the skies, seeing its fallen mistress unmoving on the ground. Sora circled the location Mayumi laid knowing Shadow would see her, at the same time watching out for anyone except Shadow who dared to come near her mistress and attacking them. For now, everyone was an enemy in her keen sight.

After a while, Mayumi finally got enough strength to push herself up to lean back against the wall. She reached for her cloak and covered herself with it, trying to hide the shame of her defeat. For the first time in her 14 years of life she was feeling vulnerable.

Her ankle was going numb and every breath she took sent a jolt of pain throughout her whole being. Blood had formed a puddle beneath her but she failed to notice this as her mind started fogging up, her senses dulling with every passing second and her skin paling due to the massive amount of blood she was losing. She briefly wondered if she was going to make it…

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow managed to get his desired work done which was to contact a friend of his in the city and put everyone on their 'team' into the streets and the shadows looking for signs of trouble and reporting them back. Shadow had a small network of spies and informants and he should have tapped into them the moment he set foot in the city. He knew that much, but for whatever reason his mind had been clouded recently and he didn't like it.

As he was on his way back to the Gate he heard Sora scream out into the night. As he drew yet closer he saw her making circles in the sky, making sudden though infrequent dives towards the ground before ascending back into the skies above. He couldn't understand exactly what she was doing. Was Mayumi fighting right now? Was Sora trying to fight along side her? What was going on?

More and more he started to worry about what Sora's now violent intentions were until he finally came into sight of Mayumi as he skidded to a halt in the open street. His mouth dropped as he saw her laying there in a pool of her own blood and his fists clenched so tightly that his nails, small as they were, cut into his skin and tiny drops of blood now fell from his fists to the ground. He approached Mayumi very slowly, knowing exactly who she had come into contact with and from what he was seeing, the extent of the damage was severe.

He knelt down in front of her and placed his right index finger against her throat beneath her jaw, checking her pulse. It was steady, but weak, and he knew he didn't have much time. He instantly scooped her up in his arms and kicked her bow and arrows into the air, catching them as they came down on his left arm before shifting his weight and walking quickly away. Sora was above, flying and guiding overhead as he walked back through the streets. Sereinia had made it there first and done as Shadow asked by standing there silently, but she didn't look to be doing too well upon seeing Mayumi in Shadow's arms like that.

Shadow led them both back to a safe house, if it could be called that now, and walked inside. He set Mayumi down on a table and opened the window for Sora to fly in at her leisure. He removed her cloak and all of her clothing save for her undergarments and took a good long look at the new wounds she carried. Not only did Kiiro claw another wound across her chest, starting under her collar bone and ending just above the bone in her hip to make an "X" with her old scar, but he also carved his name in small letters on her other hip. It almost looked like a tattoo were it not for the blood oozing from it.

He heaved a sigh.

Shadow knew that this was Sereinia's forte, but this was a matter for him and his protege to settle so he turned his head and looked at her, his eyes glassy and empty of emotion.

"Sereinia, I know that you would like to help, but this is my job now. I will tend to my protege. I want you to attend to yourself. Go take care of whatever wounds you carry and get some rest. I will be standing guard here all night so you needn't worry about any further trouble."

With that, Shadow got to work.

The first thing he did was check Mayumi's vitals from her pulse once more for good measure to her breathing and skin tone. He knew that Kiiro had done a number on her, but she was tough enough to live through it without much difficulty though she would be out of action for several days, if not a few weeks.

Shadow quickly began mixing a special blend of herbs from his personal stash from the pouches on his belt. After about two minutes the concoction was ready and he began to apply it to the large gash on her chest and Kiiro's name on her hip. The blood flow stopped almost as soon as the pasty concoction was applied and he was then able to clean and disinfect the wound with several other herbs from his pouches. He'd have to resupply soon, but that was not an issue.

The new and gaping wound on her chest started at just below her collar bone and went all the way down to just above her hip, making an "X" with her old scar. No doubt Kiiro's way of giving himself a target when they next met.

One Shadow finished applying his herbs and cleaning the wounds he sewed them up, starting with the larger of the two. Kiiro's name was small, and sewing it proved to be a bit of a challenge but Shadow managed to sew each tiny letter shut. In the back of his mind for every stitch he applied he counted a number and promised himself that he'd inflict that many non life threatening wounds to Kiiro when they next came into contact with one another so he'd know how it felt. When that was done, Shadow took a step back and examined her once more with his eyes only.

He stepped forward again and felt her bones starting at her neck and skull before moving down to her shoulders and arms. When he got to her wrists, he noticed that one of them was both dislocated and broken just at the base of the Ulna near her wrist. The break was benign and not out of place and it would heal on its own given time, but the dislocation had to be fixed. Luckily Mayumi was out cold, so Shadow simply applied pressure and a small pop echoed through the silent room. Shadow moved on, checking her breast bone on her chest beneath the bloody wounds, her ribs, and her hips and legs. He didn't feel anything wrong with much else, though a few ribs were definitely cracked but not completely broken.

Once he was finished with Mayumi Shadow removed his shirt and tossed it on a nearby char as he picked Mayumi up and set her gently down on the couch. He stepped back and sat down in the chair where his shirt was and leaned his head back as he took in a deep breath and exhaled on a sigh. So much had happened and so much had gone so very wrong in so little time. Was Kiiro really just that far ahead? Did he know what was going on? He had to, and Shadow's fears were confirmed when one of his informants approached the door and let Shadow know that a few of his past "comrades" had now partnered with the Wraiths and leaked what information they had about his plans to Kiiro.

"... Perfect." Shadow said quietly as his informant closed the door and left.

Shadow was exhausted both physically and mentally though he knew he couldn't rest just yet. There was still danger about and if he fell asleep now the girls would be at the mercy of whoever showed up. For their sake, he would stay awake all night long.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

The world started spinning around her and just as she saw a figure sprinting towards her, she fell into a dark abyss with no signs of return…

Three days later…


Pale eyelids slowly opened to reveal unfocused black-red orbs. Sight adjusting they found themselves staring at a ceiling of what they weren’t clear of.

Out of the corner of her eyes, Mayumi caught sight of familiar brownish golden feathers. Slowly turning her head to the side, she found herself staring at Sora who was perched beside her. She reached out a hand to touch her loyal pet and found that her muscles were a little stiff.

Sora understood what its mistress wanted and bent its head toward her hand, snuggling against it. The golden eagle had stood by Mayumi’s side throughout the three days that she was unconscious for fear that someone may attack her again.

Mayumi sat up but immediately regretted the action as pain shot down her front. Recalling the previous events that occurred before she blacked out, fists clenched till knuckles turned white.

‘He will pay for this.’ She wasn’t about to relent. Especially not to someone who killed her master.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow stayed awake through the night for three straight days and rested his eyes during the day. All in all it had been four days since he had gotten any real sleep whatsoever and it was beginning to take its toll on him. His complexion was beginning to pale, his eyes were getting to be slightly bloodshot and he had less energy every day. For Shadow, it was an unusual time with unfavorable circumstances.

One of the traitors in Shadow's mini organization had tipped his targets off about his presence and they had retreated from the city before they could be hunted down. Shadow's top Assassin in this little organization was on their trail and he was confident they'd have taken care of business before the end of the month, but it was no guarantee.

Shadow was now at his wits end with everything playing out against him.

Shadow himself wasn't sure how much longer he could sustain this kind of existence and he was beginning to have second thoughts about his recent course of action. Kiiro had managed to completely bait and trap him the night Mayumi was injured, and that was unacceptable. Kiiro, while very intelligent and capable, had never bested Shadow in such a way before and Shadow was having a hard time dealing with it. Whether it was his pride or if it was just the frustration of having been handed a defeat, he wasn't sure anymore.

Eventually, Mayumi started to awaken and tried to sit up with unfavorable results. During the three days she had been moved from the table to a proper bed and was in the main room of the building they were staying in. It was an abandoned house which Shadow's comrades were keeping off the market, and it provided an excellent shelter since they were also keeping prying eyes away from it. Mayumi laid back down with Sora by her side and Shadow had a feeling he knew what was on her mind. Shadow didn't bother moving from his position at the far end of the room, but never the less decided to speak to his protege.

"So Mayumi... how did it feel to fight with the man who murdered your master?" He asked.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Lacrimosa dies illa
Qua resurget ex favilla
Judicandus homo reus.
Huic ergo parce, Deus,
Pie Jesu Domine...


It was so familiar and so sad however, it was lulling Sereinia to a deep slumber. She found comfort to the rather distant voice that sang the melody. There was this lingering feeling that she had heard this song in a past that should not be forgotten. The only problem there was no concrete memory within her mind that could solidify the existence of the one singing. Her mother and aunt had never sang her such a lullaby. In her earliest recollections, she had never encountered this song even in passing murmurs from other people. If that is so, why is that she was certain that she knew this lullaby and even more so the one singing it. Why does it feel that her heart feels a slight ache? It was like a void that cannot be filled. Questions flooded her and the sense of peace that she had felt dispersed without much effort. She wanted to know the answers. It was so tiring to be left out in the dark. She had it being ignorant especially matters concerning herself.

"Live..."

A hand was gently placed upon Sereinia's forehead. She did not avoid it or even felt anything negative about it. Actually, she had this vague feeling that this hand was from someone very important to her. The touch was like a feather and it emitted a certain degree of warmth and comfort that chased her troubles away. It was like magic that could only exist in fairy tales. However, she cannot deny the fact that she find solace with the hand on her forehead. She only wished that she would come to know who was the owner of that hand. Slowly, she willed her eyes to open and when she did all she could see was the familiar ceiling of a shelter that she had been staying in for the past 3 days. Yet again, the identity of person in her dreams still eluded her. Covering her face with her right arm, she released a rather heavy sigh.

"After all these years, I had that dream again... "

Taking a deep breath, Sereinia decided to discard thoughts about her dream for now. She had other important matters to attend to then to contemplate on such a hazy memory. Removing the arm from her face, she slowly proceeded to a sitting position. The injuries she had sustained such as the cuts and bruises were almost healed. As for the bones that suffered mild fractures, she had managed to put a cast and drink one of her medicine that could induced faster bone regeneration. She was fortunate that her ribs did not splint to puncture any internal organs. It would have been a very difficult situation especially when she remembered how Shadow and her found Mayumi that fateful night. There was no need for anyone to tell her. She was used as a distraction. It was something she was sure of. If she was not here, this could have never happened. Shadow could have been there for Mayumi. Moreover, she was useless. She was not able to help them at all.

"It would be best if I leave... I will be just a burden if this continues on..." Sereinia inwardly thought as her expression revealed definitive resignation.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

Mayumi turned to look at Shadow. She could see that he had not been resting for quite a period of time and knew it was most probably because of her vulnerable state.

After accessing the situation she turned back to stare blankly at the ceiling above her.

"It was interesting, though I failed miserably. For that, I apologize if it has done harm to your reputation, but I will be sure to defeat him one day, even if I have to go to the deepest depths of hell to do so." she spoke in a tone that could lower temperatures to the degree that icicles formed.

'The marks on the ground left over from the battle I had with Kiiro was the same as the ones I found master in. Though Kiiro's fighting style is similar to that of Shadow's there is a slight difference between them.' Mayumi observed from her last glimpse of the battle field before she had blacked out.

She had few doubts about Shadow’s words of her master being killed by Kiiro before, but now she knew it was definitely true. Shadow had just gained a little more of her trust in him. She had never trusted anyone except her previous master so this was particularly new to her and a first time for her.

“Sir, I have a feeling that Sereinia will be doing something unnecessary.” She deadpanned.

Mayumi knew no emotions but her sixth sense was rather strong and would tell her what was right and wrong. Somehow she could gain information just by staring at a person and at times she would even have bits of flashes appear in her mind while she slept and a few days later the bits of flashes would happen. She didn’t know what it was but found it rather useful anyway.

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow listened quietly to Mayumi's words and truly closed his eyes for the first time in over three days.

"Mayumi, your name and mine are not affiliated with one another. The people of this continent know me as the Red-Eyed Demon, and only the underground and the world of Assassins knows me by the name of Shadow. You have nothing to fear for my 'reputation', as I don't care about it one way or the other in the end."

He looked over to her for moment, taking in the last part of what she said and then realizing that Mayumi was probably right. If Sereinia was truly as much like the one from Shadow's past, she would definitely think she was a burden by now if she hadn't thought it before and try to leave. The problem was that it was still too dangerous for them to be apart. A fact that was clearly demonstrated during their recent encounter with Kiiro.

Shadow stood up and placed a hand on Mayumi's shoulder, gently feeling the muscles of her neck and shoulder for a moment before turning away to find Sereinia. When he did, she didn't look very good. She was still in pain, and she had that look of defeat on her face. Shadow himself had experienced this frustrating feeling many times before, so he knew what she was going through.

"Sereinia..." He said quietly as he approached and sat down beside her.

"How are you?" He asked gently.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Sereinia was so focused on her inner thoughts that she did not even noticed Shadow entering her room or even sensed him approaching her bed. If she did, there was a possibility for her to have removed the rather defeated expression on her face. Honestly, she did not want anyone to see her in such a state anymore. It would only add to her feeling of being utterly pathetic. However, she was too late. The sad daze that blanketed her eyes and dulled her senses were awakened by the gentle inquiry of Shadow. It was enough for her to slowly turn her head and face him. There was just brief flash of surprise on her face but it was quickly replaced with obvious concern. In which, the question was ignored as she posed her own.

"How are you keeping up, Shadow?" She asked almost to a whisper with her eyes expressing guilt and worry.

Slowly, Sereinia touched Shadow's face gently as if it was so fragile. The action was slightly painful as her ribs were still not fully recovered. However, it was not comparable to the emotional distress she was feeling from everything that had happened. Seeing his condition now, she could not help think that he was pushing himself to safeguard her and Mayumi. His work would be much easier if he only one to worry. In addition, Mayumi was someone that could protect herself at the very least. Unlike her, she was pushed to a corner and all she could do was cry for a name... His name... She was really pathetic. At that thought, she took back her hand and looked away from him.

"I am truly sorry... Because of me Mayumi got hurt and you are having a hard time as well." Making a fist with her hands, she continued on. "You should leave here without me. I am not that far from my town anyway. This place is familiar to me, so you would not need to worry about me getting lost. I do travel here often."

There was no way telling that the people that are after Shadow and Mayumi would not come after her. But, Sereinia would rather take that chance far away from them. At the very least, they could not be burdened by her shortcomings. They would not have to watch over her constantly and if they do come, she'll just take her life instantly. In that way, no one would be bothered. Shadow and Mayumi would not feel any sort of responsibility or guilt over her safety. After all, it is a decision she had chosen. This was the best solution she could think of at the current circumstances. Closing her eyes, she spoke again.

"I believe I will be fine on my own now. In terms of my condition, I will live." Opening her eyes, Sereinia looked at Shadow with a rather sad yet concerned smile. "More importantly, you should be more concerned about yourself. I told you. You should be a little more selfish when it comes to yourself."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow sat quietly through all of Sereinia's words and didn't move a muscle when she reached out to touch his face. Her hand was small, delicate, and warm. She truly was just like a very special someone from his past and he couldn't help but smile when she slowly removed her hand and looked away from him. The memories were fond ones, and Shadow enjoyed remembering them which was something he realized he should be thanking her for.

He closed his eyes and leaned forward, putting his chin in both hands as he thought about what to say while she continued to speak and try to convince him that her presence was not necessary. Eventually though, he found his opening to speak once again.

"... There is an old saying among us Assassins, Sereinia... One only defeats oneself when despair becomes your only ally."

He was silent for but a moment, giving her a chance to take the words in.

"Right now your mind is clouded by despair, and the only one who sees you leaving as a good idea is you. Mayumi and I have need of your talents, and you still have to show me this Festival of the Gods that is coming up as I am very curious and eager to see it. Going to see it with you would make it a truly enjoyable experience, I'm sure." He said, his smile warm and genuine.

"Sereinia, if you left do you really think you could take yourself off of my conscience? If anything I'd be more worried about you because you'd be far away and neither Mayumi nor myself would be in a position to aid you. As I said when we first met the world would suffer if it lost you, not just Mayumi and I. No, right now the safest place for you to be is here with the two of us. So it shall be unless you think you can defeat me, Sereinia." He nearly chuckled to himself at the last remark, but never the less his smile was still warm and genuine.

"My spies have told me that this city has been cleared of our enemies for the time being, so we are all safe right now while we recover. And please Sereinia, do not think of yourself as a burden. My little sister, Era, thought herself a burden for a long time after we were reunited. Yet despite this it was she who was able to convince me that no matter who or what I became, there were people in this world who would care for me and that is something that has kept me going for many years now. Because of my sister, who had no combat skills whatsoever, I learned to care about others and see their safety as something that is important and worth protecting."

Shadow turned to Sereinia and cupped her cheek gently in his hand.

"So stay with us Sereinia. We need you." He said quietly.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow's gentle gesture surprised Sereinia but after a few moments, she relaxed to his touch. His words gave her a sense of bewilderment and at the same time comfort. Closing her eyes, she leaned to his touch unconsciously. He wished for her to stay with them despite all the trouble she had caused them. His smile was warm and real unlike the others that she had the chance to see. For the first time, she felt contented. She was not sure why but it gave her a sense of fulfillment. He gave her purpose by wanting to see the Festival of the Gods and even comparing her to his sister named Era. This was the first time she had heard of him having a sibling. However, it was not unexpected. After all, he was a mysterious man but still a man. He has familial connections just like everyone else although underneath different circumstances than most. Although, she could not help but feel a bit of pang in her heart. She wondered why she had that feeling.

Slowly, Sereinia touched the hand that Shadow had placed on her cheek. Her eyes of deep amethyst were opened once more as she gazed at him with such melancholy joy. Everything that he had said especially about her mindset and current situation was true. She could not refuse the fact in those words. It would be foolish not to acknowledge it. However, the events of that evening haunted her and always fill her with guilt and regret.

"I... I... I am useless... I will only bring more trouble to you and Mayumi. I am certain of that."

Sereinia spoke with a trembling voice. Her eyes were slowly glistening indicating that her tears were about to fall. Her touch became a death grip on Shadow's hand as if it was a lifeline. She looked so broken and very fragile. It would be inconsiderate and somewhat out of place to say, however, she looked quite enticing and beautiful. Her raven black hair seemed to have caught some light as it reflected a purple hue while it fell around her like a silk blanket.

"Those people would surely come and attack again. Perhaps not right now. Still, it is a fact they would target your weakness. If I am still with you, I will be that person. I will be a burden."

Removing Shadow's hand from her cheek, Sereinia's tears finally fell from her eyes. Her hand remained holding his hand. It would seem that her hold tightened even more as her body seemed to tremble. Her emotions were building up inside like a powder keg waiting to explode at the opportune moment.

"I know this. It is why you should leave me alone. You do not need me even Mayumi. But..."

There was silence between them as Sereinia left her words hanging. She averted her eyes from Shadow and looked down. At the same time, she had released his hand from her grasp. She bit her lower lip in hesitation and with realization that contradicted all of her logical thinking before Shadow had come to talk to her. It is why she did not noticed that due to her own tension that she had pierced the flesh on her lips as a trickle of blood fell.

"I... I want to stay with you and Mayumi... I need you two more than I thought..." Raising her head to look at him, Sereinia appeared like a child. "Can I really stay with you?"

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow felt a certain level of guilt as he watched her tears flow. He was able to keep the smile on his face, but it very slowly became less genuine as she looked away and started cry. Shadow took looked away from her and slowly his smile disappeared. He wanted to say more, but he wasn't the one who always knew what to say. That title belonged to someone dear to him who was not here and who he likely would not see for some time to come.

"I... I want to stay with you and Mayumi... I need you two more than I thought..." Raising her head to look at him, Sereinia appeared like a child. "Can I really stay with you?"

Shadow closed his eyes and smiled, the smile being genuine once again as her desire to stay made him happy.

He looked up at her and nodded his head.

"We wouldn't have it any other way." He said quietly.

With that, Shadow stood up and extended his hand to her.

"We should check on Mayumi now. I haven't changed her wound dressings this morning and I was planning on letting you do that if you don't mind."

Shadow wanted Sereinia to become more involved in their lives so that could stop feeling like a burden. If she had a job to do, even a small one, thoughts like those would stay far from her mind. He wanted her to stop feeling useless, so he decided to be honest with her about himself for a moment.

"I am a halfway decent healer, given that I had to dress my own wounds for so many years. But as you well know I'm better at inflicting wounds than healing them. I am not a professional, and Mayumi's wounds need to be tended to by someone who really knows what they're doing. So will you take care of her for me?" He asked quietly.

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

Sereinia smiled warmly as Shadow affirmed the desire for her to stay. She was very glad to hear that. Her guilt and regret were slowly dissipating within her. It would be safe to assume that her worries and fears were being buried away for now. Wiping her tears away, she saw him stood up and gave his hand for her to hold. She looked at his hand as if it was a foreign object that has never been encountered before. However, it was only for a brief moment as she took a deep breath and held it. She used it as a support for her to stand up as well. There was slight jolt of pain from the sudden movement but it was not that major like the last 3 days. It was more tolerable to say the very least and would not impede her to do light physical work if needed.

After standing up, Sereinia listened to Shadow's suggestion and she agreed completely. She was also very concerned about how Mayumi's condition was now. Although, she did hear that the young girl was still part of the living which was a very good news. Now, all that she was worried about was how Mayumi was faring with her injuries. Hearing the latter part of Shadow's statement, it effectively perked up Sereinia's sense of duty.

"I do not mind at all... I will be happy to do so."

Saying with a very sincere and gentle tone, Sereinia looked at Shadow with her deep amethyst eyes now cleared from her earlier depression. Regardless, there was still something sad about her eyes and she had failed to notice that. Standing beside him, she continued listening to his words about being a halfway decent healer. He had become akin to dressing his wounds as it was a necessity for his lifestyle. She understands this as certain situations would not have him go to a cleric or doctor despite how grave his wounds may be. It was then he asked her to take care of Mayumi.

"Of course. I will do my best to treat her and to make sure she will be fine."

Remembering Shadow's words on that fateful night where he had told Sereinia that it was between him and Mayumi, she chose not to say anything noticing the seriousness and the air that he would not have any argument about the subject. Despite that, she did feel that she was pretty much useless. But as of now, she was concluding that he must be doing this for her sake. For her not to feel insignificant, she could not help but release a small yet fleeting smile on her face. It appeared that he understand her more than she had estimated. Perhaps, it was because of her similarities with his little sister, Era.

"I will take care of Mayumi. It is why you should take this opportunity to rest."

Looking at Shadow, Sereinia's eyes were filled with concern as she had noticed how he seemed to push himself harder than before. With her free hand, she placed it on his forehead to check his temperature. If this continues on, she would not be surprised if he gets a cold or a fever. He did say that they were safe now within the city since those after them had already left. So, he should rest.

"I would want to have you and Mayumi be in good condition for the Festival."

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

When Shadow placed a hand on her shoulder earlier, Mayumi found herself flinching from his touch but had quickly caught herself the second she did and managed to stay still. If it weren’t for her stiff muscles, she was almost sure that she would be half way across the room by then. She shrugged off the weird shivers she was getting, reasoning with herself that it was due to the pain she was feeling at that moment.

Looking around the room, she noticed that it was starting to spin around her and her head was beginning to throb painfully. Her body grew weak forcing her to lie back down and beads of sweat begin to form on her forehead.

'What's going on?'

Eye lids grew heavier by the second, and soon they closed as the small teen passed out.

As time went by, the young girl’s condition grew worse as her body began to tremble and her skin paled.

Sora noticed its mistress’s weird behavior and swiftly flew outside to where Shadow and Sereinia was, pulling on Shadow’s sleeve with its bill while flapping golden-brown wings wildly.

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow was about to speak again when Sora found him an started tugging on his shirt to have him go inside. Shadow knew without ever having to be informed that this was not a good sign. Shadow looked Sereinia, the usual determined and serious expression back on his face as he ran towards the door and walked inside. He went to Mayumi's bedside and felt her forehead, checked her pulse, and lifted her arm to see if she had any control over it when he let it fall to the bed once again.

She did not seem to have any control.

Shadow looked back over his shoulder to Sereinia.

"Give me one second to knock her out and she's all yours." He said calmly, but still with a hint of authority.

Shadow placed his right thumb on Mayumi's forehead just at the peak of her crown where her hair line was and his left index finger behind her at the base of her skull. He pressed firmly but gently enough to do no damage as he applied pressure to small meridian lines which allowed the brain to receive signals back from the body which effectively was like putting it in a choke hold. After but a few seconds Mayumi was out cold, and Shadow felt her pulse and vitals and she was still strong enough for Sereinia to do her job.

Shadow looked at Sora.

"Behave yourself Sora. Sereinia is going to take care of Mayumi now and that is not a request." He said in a calm but still authoritative tone as he had before.

He looked over his shoulder to Sereinia and took a step to the side to give her full access to Mayumi as she lie unconscious on the bed.

"Now it's up to you. That long cut on her chest should probably be dealt with first given its size and condition. I've kept it from getting infected but it's not healing as well as I'd hoped and her temperature is rising. Use anything and everything you need. If you need my assistance at any time I will be in the next room resting my eyes, but I will not hesitate to aid you if you call."

With that Shadow left the room and sat down in a chair to close his eyes. He needed rest if he was to be of any true use to Sereinia. He had gotten used to powering through hazy and dreary mental conditions, but it could only work for so long before the brain shut down from lack of rest and recuperation. Shadow was, right now, in no danger of that happening but he was in danger of collapsing from a lack of sleep. He closed his eyes and let his mind clear, already feeling a slight ease wash over him.

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

Noticing the avian companion of Mayumi, Sereinia could not help but feel the quickening beat of her heart due to concern. Without further ado, Shadow entered where the young girl was in as she followed closely behind him. He checked her vitals which seemed to be stable at the moment but her response was not on par. From her current position, Sereinia could already assessed what Mayumi's condition is at the moment. The girl had undoubtedly received first aid but not the proper treatment. Her eyes narrowed as she hoped that her suspicions were incorrect. She would need a closer inspection to make certain of the girl's health.

Disrupting Sereinia's thoughts, Shadow had looked at her and inform her that he would be knocking out Mayumi. She wanted to object as it seems that the young girl was already passed out. In addition, she could just concoct a sleeping drug and an anesthesia if needed. In that way, she could assessed how much time she needed to fully treat all wounds that Mayumi suffered. But Shadow's tone prevented Sereinia from saying any further as she watched him do his deed.

After doing so, Shadow asked Sora to behave knowing the avian's protectiveness to his mistress. Then, he moved to the side to allow Sereinia access to Mayumi. She nodded and immediately went to Mayumi's bedside. She quickly placed her hand on the young girl's forehead and confirmed what Shadow was saying about her temperature. Not looking at Shadow, she listened to his observations in the background as she checked the scar that was stitched by Shadow and the other wound that seemed to be a carved name. It had sealed but it was not completely free from infection as a result the girl has a fever and judging by Mayumi's skin tone. The child was suffering from blood loss and malnutrition. She did hear that Mayumi had slept 3 days straight and without proper nourishment and replenishment of blood will be very slow to accommodate the loss of blood.

"It will be fine Shadow. Go ahead and rest." Sereinia managed to say as she looked over her shoulder and gave a sincere smile.

Afterwards, Sereinia focused her attention to Mayumi but not before looking at Sora. "I promise. I will help Mayumi with everything I can."

Giving her words of promise to Sora, Sereinia started to take out one of her anesthesia concoction from her medicinal bag. She had took it with her before leaving her room. She used a sterilized syringe and injected on a vein in Mayumi's arm. Passing out was not equivalent for not feeling pain, this would numb Mayumi's sensation. It seemed that she would have to remove the stitches that Shadow had done and re-do it to fully see where the infection was. Thus, there was no need to say how painful that could be. Taking out her surgical equipments, she made sure to sterilized them with the proper methods and even tied her hair and wore gloves.

"Hang on, Mayumi."

With that said, Sereinia began removing the stitches on her large scar first. Soon, it was reopened and at that moment pus spilled out from it. It must have been infected from the tools used or Shadow must have not thoroughly cleaned it before sealing it. She immediately removed it and thoroughly cleaned it with antiseptic that if without anesthesia and being knocked out, Mayumi would feel a painful sting. When that was all done, she took out a special thread of hers. There was no need to remove it once the skin had made a connection as it dissolves without harm to the body. But before that, she applied one of her salves that would aid in regeneration and protect it from infection. After doing so, she closed the large scar that overlapped an old one.

When that was done, Sereinia placed her attention to the carved name. She did the same but this one has more pus than the large one. The weapon that made this must have caused it. Cleansing it, she did the same procedure. Afterwards, she looked at handiwork and one could see the even and seamless stitches. With proper application of her salve, there should be no scar or if there is, it would only be a faint line that would be almost invisible to the eyes. She did checked other parts of her body and noticed bruises that seemed to be healing slowly. It was probably because she lacked the blood that helps in the clotting process. Thus, she applied a salve to prevent from infection for now.

Next, Sereinia checked any broken bones and noticed a previously dislocated wrist. Shadow seemed to have put it back in and released a sigh at that knowledge. She also noticed a few cracked ribs but it should be fine once she asked Mayumi to drink the drug that would in bone regeneration. But as she looked further down, she noticed that Mayumi's ankle seemed to be swelling. This must be the other source of Mayumi's fever. She felt the lump and could see a deformity forming around it.

"This is bad..."

Sereinia could theorized that it could just need realignment but if comes to worst, she would need to do a surgery to connect the bones. For now, all she could do was to ease the pressure by creating a small cut. After a while, the swelling has decreased and she could now properly feel that the bone was dislocated rather than being broken. All she had to do was to realigned it. Injecting a small portion of the anesthesia around the area, she then quickly realigned it without much trouble. It seemed that she had more strength than she is credited for. After doing so, she placed a cooling salve around it and then placed a splint around it which would aid in its recovery.

"This should be fine for now..."

Speaking under her breath, Sereinia checked once more Mayumi's body for any other injuries that she might have overlooked. There was none as she was now worried about how to ensure that Mayumi regain some of the blood she lost and proper nourishment. At the same time, she would need for the young girl to take some medicine to combat further infection, medicine for fever, aid in bone regeneration, and iron supplements. Well, all she could do for now is to inject in directly to the blood stream. The bone regeneration medicine was already in liquid form but the other three medicines were in capsules.

"I would have to dissolve this."

Thus, Sereinia began to make her preparations that took quite some time. She would occasionally feel slight jolt of pain from her cracked ribs but they were bearable. After all, she is much more concerned about Mayumi knowing the young girl's condition is much worse than hers. After turning all the medicine into liquid forms, she injected it with orderly and with specific interval of time and certain dosages. When it was all done, she released a sigh of relief. This should make Mayumi feel a bit better as she wiped some of the sweat that Mayumi had around her face. Then, she looked at Sora with a gentle smile.

"She should be fine now."

After doing that, Sereinia noticed that much time had already passed along with the growling of her stomach. It seemed that her concentration had made her ignore the hunger she was having.

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow allowed himself to drift off into a light sleep, one that would easily have been broken by something as slight as the sound of a small object hitting the floor, but sleep none the less. His consciousness drifted and his body relaxed in the chair as he slowly began to succumb to the power of unconsciousness and began to dream.

He was outdoors somewhere, but it was familiar. Like a memory. He looked around and saw that the sky overhead was partially cloudy, and that the skyline around him was marked by buildings which stood several stories in height. He walked the streets, recognizing it as the "Central Path" of the Capitol City of Cre' Est where he had eliminated so many targets in the past. Slowly he walked the street, looking left and right as the people around him took a single look and fled indoors. It was not unusual, but it still left a pang of guilt and pain within his heart as he continued to walk.

Eventually, as he continued to walk down the central path, he started seeing faces of those familiar to him. Immediately to his left as he continued on his way passed the blacksmith was a face he knew well. A man slightly older and larger than he, but still with an impressive muscular build and a large two handed sword at his back which he could wield with one hand. He smiled at his friend, but received only a cold glare in return. He remained silent and looked away as he continued down the street.

Another face he recognized as his sister, Era. She too, was looking at him with cold eyes and was held in a stand offish body posture as he passed her, almost as if she was expecting him to lash out at her. Shadow's heart began to grow cold as he continued his now solemn path down the street ahead. More and more he saw faces of those he knew and those he had come to see as friends giving him cold and distant glares as he passed them. It became almost unbearable as he neared the end of his journey when the central path came to an end and he stood in front of the palace where the Royal Family dwelt.

He looked at the mighty structure, slightly in awe since he had come to appreciate the strength and majesty of architecture, and then he looked down to just inside the front gate passed two guards. They glared at him, but did not stop him from entering the garden just beyond the gate which led to the two large doors of the palace. Shadow stopped in the center of the garden, looking around and wondering what it meant and why he was here. However, his answers came all too suddenly as the final piece of the puzzle made itself known.

Standing before him, seemingly from out of nowhere, was the face of the most important person in his life. She stood on the opposite side of a small pond with a fountain in the center, not saying a word. Her expression was not one of anger or disappointment, but sadness. He tried to speak, only to find that his voice did not work and his vocal chords produced no sound. She tried to speak to him, but the sky turned red and her body moved in slow motion as a blade was suddenly thrust through her stomach from behind her. Blood exploded forth from her chest as the blade was turned face up and ripped skyward out through the side of her neck, her body collapsing into two distinct halves in front of him as the pond in between them filled with her blood and the fountain began to spout dark crimson red liquid into the air.

Shadow could only watch in horror as he looked up to see a dark figure there, holding the blade exactly where it stopped when it exited her body. Two glowing red eyes peered back at him from the darkness of that was the figure's form, and he knew all too well what that meant. The haze that was the shadows cleared and revealed Shadow himself standing there, holding one of his Twins in the air with blood smeared across his face and covering his hands. His eyes were wide and feral, his pupils dilated so they were almost invisible which gave him a very sinister and primal appearance. His jaw was clenched tight and his muscles tense, his body nearly trembling from the obvious lust for blood which was coursing through his veins. Slowly, as Shadow tried to turn his vision began to change.

He blinked, and suddenly he found himself dressed in the clothing he wore when he first became an Assassin. Black robes with the red crest of Te'i Sai in the center of the chest as he held the dagger in his right hand high in the air, blood smeared across his face and covering his hands. He looked down in front of him and there she was, split in two lying in the fountain at his feet. He looked up and there was nobody where he used to be standing. However, a figure began to appear out of the gloom ahead and finally took a position where he had once been standing. The figure began to become clearer with time until he saw the face of his old master, Grandmaster Takai himself.

Grandmaster Takai's mouth moved, but no sound came out. The message however, was not lost.

"You'll never escape what you have become... What I made you. You are now, and forever will be the Red-Eyed Demon. Roda I'l Lousta is a part of you now and forever more, and you'll never be rid of its beautiful curse so long as you live. Know despair, Red-Eyed Demon, and live your life forever in fear of your own two hands!"

At that moment Shadow awoke with a start and in a cold sweat, his eyes wide in fear and his heart beating much too fast. He looked around and found that he was still inside, sitting in the chair he sat down in earlier to rest his eyes with Sereinia and Mayumi in the next room. He checked his hands and found that they were shaking. For the first time in a long time he had no control over them as they trembled in fear of what he had just witnessed in his dream.

Shadow leaned back in the chair and took in a deep breath to slow his breathing and his heart rate. It took several seconds, but he finally got his heart rate under control and managed to stop the shaking of his hands.

He stood up and removed his now sweat drenched shirt, placing it in a small bin where laundry was done as he walked to the window and opened it. A cool, evening breeze caressed his face and brought the sweet smell of freshly made food from nearby houses to his nose as he closed his eyes and took in another deep breath. He let it out on a sigh and opened his eyes, looking around in the street at the people going about their lives near the end of their day. It was calming to him to watch other people's content states, and Shadow managed to stop the sweat from coming forth as well as his body relaxed. He walked away from the window and fetched himself a towel and dried his body off in the bathroom, coming back and dropping the towel in the laundry bin as he once again found his way to the window. He didn't bother to replace his shirt, since the evening air was cool and sweet and he just looked out the window as he continued to watch people go about their business.

It's been almost one full year without incident... Why now of all times am I suddenly having these dreams of it again? He thought to himself.

"... Roda I'l Lousta..." He said to himself.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

Light engulfed her out of nowhere. Once the light dissipated, her vision was blurry.

Darkness surrounded her. Everywhere she looked was total darkness, not a single light in sight. This would have been rather comforting to Mayumi if it weren't for the gloom that filled what seemed to be a decent sized room.

She caught sight of a small framed silhouette lying unmoving on solid white in the middle of the room.

'Must be a bed.' she guessed.

Senses heightened as the almost inaudible sound of a door opening caught her attention. Turning towards the direction of the sound, she found a tall figure walking towards her. By the broad frame, she could tell it was a man but due to her blurry vision and dark surroundings she couldn't see his face.

Instead of stopping in front of Mayumi, the man walked through her, only stopping when he was by the bed where the small framed person lay.

The man sat down on the bed beside the person which Mayumi thought to be familiar. He reached out a hand to touch what she guessed was the face of the person and then he bent over the bed, but Mayumi could not see what he was doing and had a feeling that it'd be best not to know either. Whatever it was, the person lying on the bed didn't have even the slightest reaction to it.

This scene disturbed Mayumi since she had never been fond of physical contact, much less watching them. She had never came into physical contact with anyone besides when in fighting or training and she would prefer keeping it that way as much as possible.

Just then, the scene faded only to be replaced with a dark void.

This time, the air wasn't gloomy but dark and malicious with a hint of blood lust. Curious, Mayumi moved cautiously towards what she felt was the direction in which the aura was coming from.

She wasn't sure how much time had passed since she started walking. It was like walking on nothing as she walked through the endless void of black, and for some reason the dark presence wasn't getting any stronger than it should have if she was moving closer to it, neither was it growing weaker which would indicate if she was heading the wrong way.

Suddenly, it hit her and she stopped in her tracks. Looking up, she found her goal.

A lone dark figure floated high up above in the center of the dark void. Though the figure’s back was facing her she could tell from the muscular frame that it was clearly a man. Dark aura seeped out of him like a stream and clothed him in his own darkness. He seemed to be asleep, unaware of his current surroundings.

‘This black void… is made of this man’s dark aura?’

Without a second more to think, the scene faded and a blanket of darkness covered her as she was pulled into deep slumber...

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow continued to think quietly to himself as he watched the sun begin to set behind the horizon line that was the rooftops on the edge of the city. As he watched the colors in the sky slowly shift from one to the next he began to reminisce about the times he spent with the others during the early stages of his initial rebellion.

The first person to ever trust him and treat him as a human being was a young woman named Iris Di' Nelma. She was intelligent, kind hearted and sweet tempered and she lived to bring happiness to others. It was one of the reasons she worked as a maid for an important family in Cre' Est's Capitol City. She was the one who first managed to force Shadow to think about his life up until that point when he was seventeen and begin to question his "purpose" in life. As they grew closer Shadow began to lose sight of his paranoia and because of that Grandmaster Takai was able to have Iris poisoned while Shadow was away on another mission. When he went to visit her next she was alive, but only just. She told him of her dreams to live a simple and peaceful life with a family all her own, and that she wished her children could have eyes as "beautiful" as his. Her words caused tears to fall from Shadows eyes for the first time in his life and he was forced to end her misery after she fell asleep by cleaving her heart in two.

After he resolved to make Grandmaster Takai pay for what he had done, Shadow met a young woman who had joined Te'i Sai with dreams of being able to grow strong enough to bring peace and security to her homeland. A naive dream to be sure, but a dream none the less which was brought about by a pure heart and mind. Her name was Taira, and she was a vivacious young woman with a strong heart and an even stronger drive to accomplish her goals. Shadow initially had trouble identifying with her and because of that her training under him was slow to progress and because of that she had suffered wounds similar to those of Mayumi when she was seventeen... However, they were caused by Shadow himself.

Roda I'l Lousta, translated as "Lust for Death" in the ancient language of the Assassins, was the ultimate cause of her near death experience and Shadow had never forgiven himself for inflicting such grievous wounds. During the final battle against the Cre' Est branch of Te'i Sai when Shadow managed to trick the Cre' Itian army into attacking the fortress, Shadow was wounded and blacked out after falling down near a corpse which was lying in a pool of its own blood. When he awoke, Taira was nearly dead at his feet but he had just barely managed to save her. She recovered fully and today worked for him as his most trusted Assassin and scout, gathering information and taking out targets which he could not chase because of other, more important targets or because of time issues.

Shadow turned around and decided to stop thinking about the issue, burying it in his mind as he walked back into the room with Sereinia and Mayumi. He did a quick inspection of Mayumi's wounds and smiled at Sereinia for her work as he sat down next to the table and looked over at Sora. He then remembered something as his eyes widened slightly, and he closed his eyes with a look of pain on his face. He stood up slowly, turning around to face Sereinia with a look of frustration and sorrow in his eyes.

"... I'm sorry for making you see this again..." He said.

He looked down slowly, having only just remembered he wasn't wearing his shirt again. His expression was sour and filled with disgust as he looked at his own body, littered with scars, as it was once again revealed to the world. Shadow was kicking himself mentally for making her see them again. From the base of his neck to the top of his pants with some of them extending below, scars abound. Long, short, wide, thin, new and fading all adorned his body as he slowly started walking away to return to the other room and out of sight of Sereinia.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: The Royal Family of Cre' Est

Earnings

0.00 INK

"You're face does not befit such a sorrowful expression, my beloved."

These words were spoken with a sincere yet gentle concern as the one who spoke gazed at a woman who had the flowers surrounding her enchanted in some manner. However, it was not surprising as the female was truly a beauty to behold in every form. It would not be surprising if the moon or stars grew envy of her. The woman was adorned in a very intricate and form-fitting white gown with detached sleeves. It had beautiful gray embellishments with gold pearls and a very prominent brown rose located at the neckline and golden delicate vambraces with a red gemstone as the centerpiece around the detached sleeves. From this, one could assessed that she was not just an ordinary citizen. There is a great probability that she could be a noble. Upon further inspection, her chosen apparel complemented her straight ankle-length ash-blonde hair left untied but was decorated with an well-crafted headdress perfectly suited for a royalty. The gems that brought brilliance to it was of red and amethyst hued. It enhanced those sad deep purple colored eyes of hers as she looked at the one who had addressed her.

"Then what fits it?"

It was her almost whispered answer as the one who had spoke revealed himself to her. Golden eyes reflected warmth and at the same adoration as its owner approached the female. He was a very attractive male in every angle. His face was of masculine aesthetic but a subtle touch of feminine curves made it alluring and even beautiful. He has golden hoop earrings in both ears but it would be a mistake to think it degrades his masculinity. Actually, it complements him perfectly somehow. It also adds to his sexual charm that his long dark violet hair often mistaken as ebony in color at times would find its way wrapping his well-toned physique. This form would always be craftily showed with his rather choice in loose clothes but complemented with exquisite fabric and jewelry.

"This..."

After that word, he without hesitation kissed the female in front of him. His right hand cradled her cheek while his other hand was placed firmly on her back. She did not reject such a passionate kiss as she simply closed her eyes and placed her arms around his neck. There was no way she could rebuke such an action directed towards her by this male.

"You need not worry too much. We will find our child, safe and sound."

He spoke after the kiss ended and he looked at the female now in his secure embrace. Purple and gold met with an understanding unique only to the two of them. She a small nod to show her acceptance of his words of encouragement. It was just her heart still yearns for her baby that she had only held in her arms only for a few minutes.

"Eonis, is it fine for me to feel this helpless?" She paused briefly before continuing on. "I am the Empress of Cre' Est. I should be... No, I must be strong."

A hand run through her ash-blonde hair and she was pulled into a tight embrace in Eonis' arms. At that gesture, she could not help but feel the burden in her shoulders lighten even just a bit. In his arms, she felt that nothing could harm her in any way. It was unbelievable in her opinion for her to feel such dependency on one person and that person was her lover, her husband, and her emperor.

"Before you are an empress, you are only a woman and above all of that as of now... you are a mother, Regalie." Eonis placed a kiss on top of her head. "It is why it's fine to worry about our child. I also feel the same... I worry but I believe everything will be fine. After all, she is our child."

Regalie gently pulled herself away from Eonis' embrace and smiled with gratefulness. He always knew how to make her feel better with just a few words. She must not give up on the hope that they will be a complete family in the future. Their daughter would be found soon and when that happens. She is certain that it would be her greatest happiness and joy.

"You are absolutely right. We will find her, our precious rose."



Sereinia began to clean up as she wanted to ensure that Mayumi's wounds would not be infected as much as possible. After all, she had had made certain that the younger female's injuries would be healed in the best possible conditions. When it was all done, she could feel her stomach complained once more as she decided to blatantly ignore it once more. There were still some things that she needed to do before leaving Mayumi to her rest. Thus, she checked the young girl's vitals and her wounds once more if she missed out anything. As for the broken ankle, she had concluded that Mayumi would need to be more astute to not put much pressure on it while it is still recovering.

"I only hope she would not be stubborn about getting proper rest..."

Saying it to no one in particular, Sereinia released a small sigh afterwards and then looked at the avian companion, Sora. She offered the bird a small smile. It was very remarkable to see such bond between a human and animal. If she would be bold, she had interpreted that to Mayumi. Sora is family no matter what others might say and she find that thought beautiful. Removing her attention from Sora, she untied her hair as it fell around her like ravishing waterfall. There was a slight pain that tingled at the action but she knew it was normal in the recovery process. It was at that moment that Shadow had made his appearance before her once more.

Without ado, Shadow went to Mayumi's bedside to check on the girl's condition. Sereinia moved away to give him space as she observed him in silent. It seemed that he had managed to retrieve some energy from his sleep. However, it is not enough in her opinion knowing how much he had pushed himself in the past few days. He needed more rest than any of them. She was about to say something when he turned around to look at her with a smile.

"I only did my best. I would still need to look over her to make sure that her recovery would go smoothly."

Sereinia spoke while looking away from Shadow who was already looking at Sora. She did not know what caused such a reaction from her. If she remembered correctly, she had expressed her desire to see him smile more. With that in mind, why is she looking away from it? She truly does not understand herself at the moment. But perhaps, he had mistaken this gesture of hers for something else as she heard his sorrowful tone.

"... I'm sorry for making you see this again..."

This statement was enough to make Sereinia gazed at him as she now understood what he meant. It was then she had noticed that Shadow was half-naked before her. She had truly not noticed at her attention was on other matters. But now looking at it, he had a battle-worn physique as she would described it. Scars littered his body in varying forms, sizes, locations, and origins. It only proved how much violence, pain, and sadness he had gone through up to now. With this knowledge, she felt an ache echoing in her heart as he had began to make his leave.

"Shadow!"

She called out to Shadow instinctively and Sereinia did not noticed that she had closed the distance between them. She had grabbed his arm in a desperate manner. Upon noticing it, she quickly released him and looked away with a slightly flushed face. It was noticeable due to her milky white complexion.

"Do not misunderstand. I am not disgusted or irked seeing your scars." She slowly looked at him.

"These prove the trials you had to face." Her hand touched one of his scars present on his upper right chest.

"The pain you suffered and overcame. Each are undeniable proof that you have live through all of it." Removing her hand from the scar, she looked at him gently.

"I see a man who lives and faces his tribulations with strength." Raising her hand, she removed a few strands of his hair that blocked the sight of one of his red eyes.

"They are beautiful just like your eyes. I have always adored them even now."

It was at that moment that Sereinia's stomach had chosen to interrupt the mood as it grumbled loudly to emphasize that she ignoring its complaint. This made her blushed awfully as she quickly stepped away from Shadow in embarrassment. She was awfully red that even her ears were red as a tomato. Actually, she looked quite adorable with as she covered her face with her hands.

"I apologize... This is so embarrassing..."

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

Sereinia's response to his trying to leave the room was surprising, having grabbed his arm tightly before letting go of it and blushing. Her face turned a light pink in color and Shadow couldn't help but smile again. As she spoke to him and reassured him that his body did not bother her it brought a warm feeling to his heart that he had only felt when in the company of two people before in his life.

One of them was Iris, and she was dead.

However that fact didn't seem to matter at the moment. Sereinia continued to speak to him about about his eyes, referencing them as beautiful and saying that she adored them.

... My eyes... He thought to himself.

His blood red eyes had always been a symbol of fear and death in the world wherever he went. Even the fiercest warriors had grown to be afraid of them and lost all manner of confidence when they were revealed. Shadow had faced many a would be challenger in the past who claimed to know that the Demon was but a man and could be defeated, but upon Shadow looking at them their confidence disintegrated and their speech patterns became scattered and incomplete. The strongest bounty hunters and mercenaries around were afraid of Shadow's eyes.

Yet Sereinia, a doctor and a kind soul to all, was not.

Then, there was a sound from Sereinia's stomach. A small growling noise to which Sereinia turned a deep red in the face and ears as she turned away from him.

"I apologize... This is so embarrassing..." She said quietly.

Shadow was absolutely stunned. There was a strange feeling in his throat as he looked at her, a feeling he was unfamiliar with as he continued to examine her tomato red face.

But suddenly... It didn't matter.

Shadow, for the first time in years, burst out laughing. His laughter was pure, warm and oddly innocent as he put his hands on his knees while trying to keep himself upright. He grabbed his ribs a moment later as his laughter filled the room, stunning even Sora on her perch. Mayumi was drugged and could not hear it nor would she wake from it, but if she had been awake Shadow was certain in his mind that she would look at him with confusion as well. Shadow laughed for a good minute before finally calming down and resting against the wall.

"... I haven't laughed like that in many years..." He said, wiping a tear brought about by his laughter away.

"Thank you Sereinia. That was just what I needed." He said gently as he stood up straight once more.

Shadow heard a knock at the door and was instantly on guard as the simple joy and innocence to be found in his face vanished in an instant and the deadly seriousness for which he was known made its reappearance. He walked slowly to the door and opened it, only to stare into the eyes of a young woman whom he knew very well. He let out a relaxed sigh and stood to the side to let her into the room.

She stood at five feet eight inches in height and had a sleek and athletic body. Carrying womanly curves in all the right places but still having a similar musculature to Shadow's indicating that she was very, very strong and quite a capable fighter. Her face was heart shaped, her locks flowing down just above her eyebrows and elongating on the sides by her ears to frame her face as the rest of her hair flowed elegantly down her back to her hips in straight, dark brown strands. She looked at Sereinia as she walked into the room, and then looked to Mayumi, and then turned around and looked back to Shadow once more with a bow of her head.

Shadow smiled at her, looking then to Sereinia.

"Sereinia, this is Taira. She is my most trusted Assassin and has been with me since the beginning when I turned against Te'i Sai." He said, gesturing to her with his arm.

Taira took a small bow to Sereinia, a courtesy which she didn't often extend to most as she smiled and spoke for herself.

"I am here to watch over Mayumi for the next few days and will be taking her to a safe location elsewhere in the city for her recovery. During this time, myself and several other trusted Assassins who are loyal to Shadow will watch and care for her which will give you and Shadow the time to recuperate for yourselves."

She paused for a moment, looking to Sora.

"Beautiful Sora, I have heard much about you. Of course your presence is required for this as Mayumi will not be pleased if she finds you anywhere but her side."

Taira's voice was young and sounded so very sweet, but was, under the surface, very authoritative. Her confidence oozed through her tone and told in and of itself the battles she had seen and the experience which she held in Shadow's violent life. Her eyes were soft, but could pierce the hardest metal and her upright posture was enough to intimidate most who ever took a stance against her.

Shadow put a hand on Taira's shoulder and smiled as she looked at him. With that, he looked to Sereinia.

"Mayumi will be away from us for three days, Sereinia. But fear not for her safety. Taira is the first person I have ever taken under my wing and is the strongest Assassin in our small force. She is more than a match for most of the Assassins we've seen up until now, and I guarantee that Mayumi will be safe under her watchful eye."

Taira nodded, closing her eyes while doing so before opening them as her head came up once again. She walked over to Mayumi's body and gently picked her up, taking great care in the way she held her and how slowly she stood to not aggravate the wounds which her body was now recovering from. Shadow opened the door for Taira as she walked away and carried Mayumi's unconscious body away into the fading light. On the rooftops around them were other trusted Assassins in Shadow's little mini army who would follow and protect both of the girls with their lives.

Shadow closed the door and walked towards Sereinia once more.

"I think I will go to bed now. It has been a while since I have slept and I have no intention of letting my body fail on me in the coming days. The Festival of the Gods will take place in eight days from now if I'm not mistaken, so that's plenty of time for Mayumi to reunite with and join us when you show us this Festival."

He smiled warmly to her and turned away but stopped at the stairs leading to the second floor.

"Go ahead and find something to eat Sereinia. I have Assassins all over this city watching over you and Mayumi so do not fear for your own safety as you walk the streets... Goodnight." He said gently.

With that, Shadow walked upstairs and laid himself down to rest...

... Finally...

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

Sereinia was caught in the boundaries of many emotions. She felt embarrassment, surprise, disbelief, and admiration. The cause was the sound of laughter that Shadow had released. She had witnessed him smile in a detached manner and at the rare times, sincere. However, she had never heard him laughed before. In their travels from her town to the capital, she had not seen or heard a sound of merriment from him or even from Mayumi. Anyway normally, she had the right to be annoyed as he was unintentionally making fun of her. But, she did not feel any form or irritation emitting within her. Instead, she slowly removed the hands covering her face and gazed at him who was laughing in such a carefree manner. He looked like an adorable child a far cry from being known as feared assassin. Her eyes of amethyst glimmered with enchantment and childish curiosity. She had heard laughter as she grew up from many people who were her friends, acquaintances, patients, and loved ones. Thus, she should not feel such wonder. Despite such logical thinking, she cannot help but to love the sound of his laughter which was quite heartily as he rested himself beside the wall and even had a tear due to the humor at her expense.

Remaining a silent spectator, Shadow soon was able to reclaim his sense of self as time passed by. Afterwards, he thanked Sereinia for making him laugh which had not happened for a very long time. His words brought a small yet warm smile on her lips. She felt very glad to hear those words.

"I am happy to do so."

Like the saying, everything must come to an end at some point. A knock was heard at the door which made Shadow wary. But soon enough, he was able to identify the person and was relieved from what Sereinia could tell. The mystery person entered the room with Shadow's permission and it was a female. This earned a rather curious look from Sereinia. She had heard from Shadow that he had allies and contacts. However, she never knew anyone of his acquaintances or met them except for Mayumi and Sora as his traveling companions. So, she was rather curious especially upon hearing Shadow's introduction about the person now known as Taira.

"It is nice to meet and make your acquaintance, Ms. Taira. My name is Sereinia Lucis Nouralail."

It was spoken with a warm and friendly tone as Sereinia returned Taira's bow with another one as well which was also accompanied with a smile. She was amazed and did not feel even an ounce of wariness or fear upon knowing that Taira was also an assassin. For Sereinia, she admired the combat prowess that Taira possessed. She did not expect another girl much like Mayumi for her to meet.

"Somewhere else?"

Taira's explanation was well-put. In addition, Sereinia did not doubt the strength of Shadow's friends. She knew for a fact that they are surely strong and capable. However, she could not help but still be concerned about Mayumi. The bloody scene of Mayumi on that night flashed within her mind like a haunting specter. She bit her lower lip in reaction. On that note, Shadow must have noticed her uneasiness of being near Mayumi as he spoke.

"...I understand. I truly believe that Ms. Taira and everyone else will do their best to keep Mayumi safe and sound. Please do not be offended by show of concern. It is just that I have been told to be quite the worrier."

Sereinia paused for a moment as she made her way to the bedside table where the medications that Mayumi should take on a certain frequency to ensure her full recovery. She found a piece of paper and wrote down the dosage and even specific instructions regarding Mayumi's broken ankle. Taking them into her hands, she placed them inside a pouch and returned to where Shadow and Taira were.

"Please take this with you. The medications along with instructions on how to use it are inside. It would make certain that Mayumi recover completely and about her broken ankle. Please remind her not to put much pressure on it. She needs adequate rest before she could walk properly again."

There was the tone of an authoritative doctor as Sereinia spoke. It was probably due to her profession as she delivers instructions to her patient which she had demonstrated to Shadow in the not so distant past. However, it was more notable that she had the tone of a very concerned mother or sister more than anything else. Her genuine expression of worry also added to that. As if noticing herself, she immediately apologized.

"I am sorry if I sounded like a motherly hen. I just cannot help it."

After that, the medicine pouch was taken from Sereinia's hand and Mayumi was taken afterwards. Within a few moments, Taira and Mayumi were gone from her sight. There was still the mist of concern clouding her heart. But, she trusts Taira and Shadow's words that Mayumi would be safe. She was only taken away from her self-induced trance when Shadow approached and spoke to her.

"The Festival? Oh! Yes!" Sereinia had completely forgotten about it which made her lightly blush.

"I will look forward to have you and Mayumi with me on the day of the Festival..."

She said with much happiness and a bright smile. Yet again, her stomach made a very unladylike gesture once more. Sereinia held her stomach and looked at it with annoyance and a very red face. But, this time Shadow did not laugh but gentle spoke to her.

"Yes, I will do that. Please do rest well. Good night and sweet dreams, Shadow."

Saying it with such tenderness and a gentle smile, Sereinia watched as Shadow took his leave. When he was now gone from her sight, she opted to follow his suggestion and address the matters of her hunger. Soon enough, she had her money pouch in hand and looking around the city to have something to eat. Unbeknown to her that eyes from Shadow's allies watched her and at the same time another pair of eyes who eluded what kind of intention it may have.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow

Earnings

0.00 INK

For two days Shadow slept and dreamed. For two days he slept silently and peacefully.

At least... on the outside.

Inside, Shadow's dreams haunted him with memories of his early days as an Assassin.

Torture day in and day out... As a child he learned to do two things: walk and fight. Fighting against the other children to the point where they actually died from the beatings they received from their peers everyday. Shadow, the strongest of the children of his generation within the organization, was noticed by Grandmaster Takai and taken under his wing first and later the rest of the Grandmasters.

Training was beyond brutal for Shadow to the point where they had to resort to special herbal concoctions and drugs to keep him alive and on his feet to continue training.

Using his own body as a guide they taught him the muscle groups of the body and their functions, as well as how to both temporarily incapacitate them by demonstrating on Shadow himself. They demonstrated how to permanently incapacitate them on "disposable training dummies", in other words innocent lives taken from surrounding villages outside of the valley. Using his body as a guide they taught him how each of the pathways of the nervous system worked one path at a time, as well as how to both temporarily and permanently shut them down.

Using his body as a guide... They taught him about the major organs of the body and where they were located by cutting him open and showing him his own insides. Carefully cutting open his stomach and avoiding the muscles while slowly parting them so that he could see what lie beneath. Drugs and extreme painkillers could not dull the pain Shadow felt during this portion of training, and as a result Shadow's tolerance to pain only grew yet further given the long hours the Grandmaster spent showing him his own innards.

Weapons, tactics, tracking, reconnaissance, stealth and psychology were among Shadow's main focuses during his training throughout the years. His skill with daggers soared to heights unseen and grew to the point where the Grandmasters saw fit to gift him with a pair made of Orichalcum, the only pair in existence. His ability to disappear and move without sound was second to none and earned him the title of Master Assassin when he was only fifteen years old. At eighteen years old, Shadow was promoted to Grand Assassin with the only title above his being the Grandmasters themselves which made him, effectively, the next in line for the seat of Grandmaster before his rebellion.

Shadow's early missions during his teenage years were "perfection" in the eyes of the Grandmasters. Shadow was cold hearted and ruthless, sparing absolutely nobody. Women, children, elderly, sickly and unarmed people all fell victim to Shadow's wrath during his pre-rebellion stage as an Assassin. He once decapitated a child simply because they got in his way as he was walking down the street towards the alleyways after a mission. He slit a woman's throat while she was sleeping simply because she was the wife of his target though she herself was deemed to be no threat by the Grandmasters. Shadow had killed three elderly men who were speaking amongst themselves in a park simply because they were there and they were "speaking too loud" for Shadow's taste as he was walking by.

Shadow was the epitome of evil in the eyes of the common people and the legends of the Red-Eyed Demon became infamous throughout the continent and soon overseas on other continents. Stories of his deeds were what gave even the most battle hardened warriors of Cre' Est nightmares and was the reason why whenever you saw those red eyes in the darkness, you turned and ran for your life.

Throughout the course of these memories and the details therein of his early years as an Assassin Shadow continued to sleep quietly though his mind was crying from the pain the memories brought. Despite how still he was lying in bed and how peaceful he looked on the outside with a calm and emotionless expression on his face, tears still flowed slowly from his eyes.

Despite the rumors, legends and myths surrounding the Red-Eyed Demon, the fact that remained which almost nobody alive save for a handful of people seemed to know or understand was that he was still a human being. Despite his toughness, he felt pain. Despite the detachment from humanity, he felt emotional pain and heartache. Despite his proficiency with weapons and all things related to being a Master Assassin, he was still a young man who was curious about the world around him and he wanted to be a part of it.

He was tired of being the "Red-Eyed Demon", but the world was not ready for that to happen yet...

... Or... Was Shadow, not ready for that to happen yet?

Shadow did not have the answer to that question yet.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

Mayumi woke up to the silence of her most preferred time of day. Cool temperature, darkness that enveloped her, peaceful air. It all just signifies a perfect night for training in the forests where mysteries and danger lurked around every corner, just like always.

Her senses went on alert the moment she awoke, keen eyes scanning and noting the state of the room she was in. She noticed it was a different room and seemed to be located in an isolated area. Pairs of eyes could be felt watching her every move, but she couldn’t sense any dangerous intentions from them, and since Sora was by her side and not attacking them, she assumed they meant no harm but still, she couldn’t help being on her guard. She absolutely disliked being watched, especially when she was in a vulnerable state.

Testing the pain level of her wounds, she found it was less than before.

‘How long have I been unconscious?’ She wondered.

Slowly, she recalled the dark scenes she saw during the period of her unconsciousness. The young teen knew better than to ignore this dream and could only acknowledge the high possibility of a nearing storm.

'The two people were familiar, but I can’t get a grip on their identities and that man with the dark aura… I have a feeling I felt that aura before.' She pondered.

Pushing her thoughts to the back of her mind to be pondered on later, she got out of bed with little difficulty and stretched her stiff muscles from lack of movement. She had never been one to stay at the same spot for more than a few hours.

Passing by a mirror, she caught sight of the wounds on her torso that was most definitely going to leave a scar. It wasn’t that she minded scars, but the name etched into her flesh over her right hip bone was most disturbing. It was the name of the murderer of her master and this was as good as a punch in the face to Mayumi.

Her previous defeat and the nearing of a dark storm called for more training. Thus, she wasn't going to sit around doing nothing after having rested for what she felt was more than enough. The silver haired teen gathered her things and got herself dressed. Covering herself with her onyx cloak, she headed out onto empty streets and blended into the night as Sora flew overhead, blending with the night sky and scouting the area.

In a forest outside the Capitol City of Triveila...


An hour had passed when she finally found a perfect spot in the forest. Wasting not another second as time was precious, Mayumi sat down in the middle of a circle of trees and closed her eyes starting her meditation. She would have preferred climbing up one of the trees to meditate, but her current state prevented her from doing so.

Many things had happened. She needed to clear her mind of them in preparation for more to come. One little slip could lead to failure and failure wasn’t an option taught to her. Her only options were success or death.

The young archer’s thoughts drift back to her defeat by the person who killed her master. Now that she run through her memories of that battle, she noticed a slip of her emotions causing her to act rashly and thus leading to her defeat. That defeat was a big scar to her though she didn’t show it. There was no space and time for mourning. If she had time and space it would be used for solving the cause of her weakness to improve herself and calculating her next moves.

Thinking through her problem, she realized that it had been because of his taunt that triggered her strong hatred for him. There was only one conclusion that came to mind for solving this problem.

‘Rid myself of this weakness called emotions.’

Unbeknownst to her, she was blindly walking into darkness in her quest for revenge. The innocence that her master took so much careful effort to preserve was beginning to fade.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

It had been two days. The word worried is an understatement for the feeling that Sereinia was having at the moment. She stood in front of Shadow's doors. She had a very concerned look mixed with slight nervousness. After all, she did not want to intrude on his moment of rest knowing that he had pushed himself for three days before. However, she had yet to see him leaving his room to even eat. Rest is all good but too much can also be very dangerous. Taking a deep breath, she knocked on the door.

"Shadow? It is me Sereinia." She paused momentarily to see if there was a response before continuing on.

"I just wanted to make sure if you are fine."

After saying that, there was a long interval of silence. There was no response at all. This only made Sereinia worry even further. Biting her lower lip, she knocked once more as she called out to Shadow. There was still no answer behind the door. Looking at the doorknob, she held and turned it to see if it was locked; although, she was pretty much certain it should be. The result the door slowly opened and her eyes widened at this surprise. She had not expected that knowing that he was a very cautious man despite the circumstances. It probably meant that he was very tired to notice which is her primarily concern. Peeking through the small creek, she saw him still on his bed.

"Shadow? It is Sereinia. May I come in?"

Sereinia declared while still peeking behind the slightly opened door. She did not want to enter and ruined Shadow's privacy just because of her over-reactive concern. However, there was no response on his end. It was then she had noticed something glistening that rolled down from his cheek. As if in a trance, she finally entered the room with the door closing behind her. She immediately went to his bedside and instinctively wiped the tears away.

"Shadow?"

Calling out to him, Sereinia held his hand gently and looked at Shadow with concern and warmth. She had never seen him cried before. It was normal as he was still human who feels and he had proven that many times to her. Although, she did not expect for her to see him in such a state. In addition, he seemed so at peace. It made her wonder what painful or horrible vision he was dreaming about.

"Please wake up..."

Gently speaking those words like a soothing lullaby, Sereinia remained on his side. Although, she was certain that Shadow will be surprised at her presence. After al, she was also rather taken aback by what she had seen and remembered something. The gifts that she had brought for him and Mayumi were in her room. Shadow had picked them on the ground and thankfully, it was not lost in the chaos that ensued in. She had wanted to give them at the Festival. But, she was not certain if Shadow would like it. At the very least, it might serve as something to cheer him up. She would go and retrieve but not before waiting for him to wake up. After all, she wanted to be sure that he is now free from his nightmare at the moment.

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

((Here we goooo!!))

Shadow's mind was a torrent of thought and it showed as Sereinia reached down to make contact with him. His muscles in his face began to twitch as his head tilted slightly to the side. The expression went from peace to pain an less than an instant as he remembered more about his gruesome past.

It was the battle that would ultimately decide his fate in life. Shadow vs the Grandmaster Takai and Korvaiis, the second in command of the mountain fortress in Roda Valley who was also Kiiro's father. Shadow had his Twin daggers on display while both Korvaiis and Takai chose to fight with a sword resembling a Katana but slightly thicker and more meant for fast mauling using the extra weight than simple fast slicing. They all charged into the fray at once as Shadow parried the two blades off to the sides and used his elbows as he rushed passed them to knock their jaws and take their point of balance. At that moment he whirled around and kicked them both across the head and on top of each other on the ground. They quickly rolled and recovered, fighting well as a team as they continued to press their assault.

One slash, two, three, four, five... It was an unusual rhythm, and not one Shadow had encountered before. Typically the body moved unconsciously in even increments of time and movement but this time they were off beat which was strange for Shadow but he caught on right away. Thanks to their on training, Shadow had the advantage of adaptability and knowledge of how to adjust to the rhythm of the enemy. One slash, two, three, four, five... six, seven, eight. Their rhythm was changing, making it difficult for Shadow to counter attack since the instant one blade was parried safely away another was flying directly at him.

Eventually it took a toll on his and his concentration lapsed for a single second, but that was all it took. One of the blades pierced his chest just below the collarbone, but Shadow managed to drop his blade and grab the sword before it penetrated more than one inch. The blade was ripped backwards, slicing Shadow's right hand. He would no longer be holding a blade in his right hand for a time, making the fight even harder. As time wore on, Shadow's superior endurance and stamina outweighed the skill presented by his two opponents and Korvaiis was knocked out halfway through the fight.

It was now Shadow vs Grandmaster Takai.

The fight continued for several minutes, neither truly gaining and upper hand save for Shadow's lack of rapid breathing vs Takai's being that he was in his fifties and not in the same shape he was in as a younger Assassin. Being a Grandmaster he didn't partake in missions and spent most of his time training other high level Assassins, but that was mainly barking orders so his stamina and endurance had diminished over time. Shadow's youth and experience were beginning to pay off and it showed until Takai managed to outmaneuver Shadow at the last minute and stabbed him in the stomach. Shadow grabbed the blade with his left hand, dropping his own in the process as he was forced to guide the blade through his body since he wasn't in a position to stop it. His knowledge of anatomy and the location of the major organs helped him guide the blade safely through and out the other side as he punched Takai with his right hand and knocked him away.

Standing very still, Shadow slowly removed the sword from his stomach as blood trickled from the wound. Since it didn't strike any major organs or arteries Shadow didn't bleed much from it which was good, but the pain was still intense. Takai pulled a hidden blade from his robe sleeves and charged Shadow with it. Picking up his own blade with his left hand Shadow leaned to the side and jammed the blade forward with all his strength. Takai's blade slashed part of the skin on Shadow's left bicep as he came to a stop, but it was only a surface wound and did not strike the muscle layer beneath. Shadow's blade, however, had cleaved Takai's breast bone at the base and was turned blade up, ready to move at a moment's notice. Knowing he was about to die, Takai dropped his blade as Shadow informed him that he pledged to erase what Takai had done to him and find his path to becoming the human being which was denied him his whole life.

Takai spoke his last words at that moment... "Is that... an Assassin's Pledge, Kyero?" He asked.

There was no answer save for Shadow's blade ripping skyward and cleaving his body above the solar plexus into two halves and exiting through the top of his skull. Shadow's blade, being made of Orichalcum, cleaved bone like butter and made the trip through the Grandmaster's body that much easier.

This final question by Takai was part of Shadow's greatest hatred in life. His true name was Kyero, spelled differently but pronounced the same as Kiiro. The meaning of the name in the ancient language of the Assassins was even the same though was spelled differently depending on context of the word, but ultimately the names both mean this: ... Assassin.

Holding a name which marked him as an Assassin from birth, Shadow chose to simply go adopt the moniker Shadow as his true name from now on because he was tired of being what he was. His pledge to Takai was indeed an Assassin's Pledge, and it was the last such pledge Shadow would make as a member of Te'i Sai.

An Assassin's Pledge was a pledge made by one of Te'i Sai which would be fulfilled under two circumstances: death or success. Whether Shadow succeeded in erasing what Takai had done to him both mentally and physically or died trying didn't really matter because the statement was the promise he now lived by. Every day since then, whenever he found the time, he endeavored to understand normal human life and was curious about it as well which aided in his learning process. To date, he has learned very little, but he is trying and that is what counts to him.

As those thoughts slowly faded, Shadow's tears ceased and his eyes slowly opened to see Sereinia sitting by his side holding his hand gently in hers. He was somewhat surprised, but never the less offered her a weak smile. He had not eaten much in the last few days so his body was weak and he couldn't give her the full smile he wanted to. He slowly sat up as best he could, struggling to lift his own weight for the first few inches but managed to finally sit up and apologize for his long slumber.

Over the next several days, Shadow ate his normal healthy meals and his strength slowly returned to him. Before he knew it, Mayumi had returned to them and was well on her way to recovery thanks to Taira's careful watch and instruction. Days passed yet further and it was finally the night of the festival. Shadow and Mayumi were dressed in traditional Triveilan garb ceremonial robes. Maumi's outfit was black with faint grey lines resembling vines (not spider webs) across her arms and stomach. She also had a red sash around her waist which was perfect for some of her smaller armaments which she seemed to refuse leaving without. Shadow's outfit was black as well but had a somewhat more formal appearance as it had some specially designed material which sparkled in dim lighting. Shadow thought he looked ridiculous in such an outfit, but Sereinia was dressed for the occasion as well so he didn't complain outwardly.

The festival itself was held within the city's central expanses where a large open circular area was reserved solely for the occasion. Innumerable stands and stalls for food, drink, fun and games, and other such things were everywhere you looked and at midnight, to celebrate the Gods, the Royal Family would come down and partake in the lighting of fireworks which would explode in the sky with dazzling shapes and colors for all to see.

... Needless to say, Shadow was nervous...

As they all gathered and approached the festival, Shadow became tense. It was the exact kind of environment he disliked down to his core. A lot of people surrounding him, even if they were happy and enjoying their time at the festival, and way too many places to conceal oneself for an attack. Though his informants said that they had not seen anyone suspicious enter the city, Shadow was on his guard. As they walked by a food stand on the edge of the festival the owner walked out and forced his arm in front of Shadow to stop him and ask if he'd like to try a sample of his cuisine. Shadow instinctively grabbed the man's arm and flipped him, his eyes wide with fright as he pinned the man to the ground. The poor man yelled out in pain as Shadow suddenly realized what he had done and released him, bowing his head in apology for his actions as the man rose and rubbed his shoulder in confusion. He said it was alright but went back to his stand in silence, still rubbing his shoulder.

As they continued on, Shadow's instincts continually failed him as he repeated the action to a young man selling wine, pinned an elderly gentleman trying to get him to partake in a small game of chance to the nearby wall face first, shoved a woman selling small portions of fruit away, and spilling her plate on the ground (earning him a quick slap across the face which hurt the woman's hand), and even accidentally nearly attacked a child who ran into him from behind on accident. Shadow was so on edge and so frightened about his surroundings that he actually had to stop and sit down on the edge of the festival grounds to try and calm down. As he sat there, he tried to meditate a little bit to calm himself and remind him that it was a celebratory gathering and that these people weren't there to bring him harm.

Shadow sat on his bench with his eyes closed and took deep breaths in and out.

... Relax Shadow... It's just a festival and it's supposed to be a celebration... You've never been one for the Gods, but you're here with Sereinia and Mayumi... You need to calm down... He told himself mentally.

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

Mayumi did not see what would require of her to wear such clothing that would limit her movements, weigh her down and was even hard to walk in. It was simply ridiculous in her opinion, but since Shadow wasn't taking no for an answer she had no choice but to wear it.

As Mayumi followed Shadow and Sereinia, she grew wary of the crowded area they were approaching that was full of shiny lights and stalls of sorts. She didn't understand why Shadow would even suggest coming here, knowing that he too disliked crowded areas.

Everyone she saw had their mouths in an upturned semi-circle and they were all dressed up in the same long outfits. The emotionally challenged girl was failing in comprehending the current situation.

"Why does everyone do that with their mouths? Why is everyone wearing this ridiculous outfit?" she asked monotonously. She really wanted an answer to her questions for this was rather confusing.

Just then, a man from a stall went up to Shadow placing a hand on his shoulder. Mayumi knowing what would happen next took a step away from Shadow, and sure enough, within the next second the man was pinned to the ground. As they continued walking through the crowded place, Shadow repeated the action to several other people who came up to him.

Mayumi had long retreated to the comfort of the alleyways ever since she caught people staring at her and had been watching Shadow and Sereinia from atop a rooftop while Sora kept a close eye on any signs of danger from above.

After a while, Shadow finally had to stop and rest. Taking this opportunity, Mayumi approached him slowly, sensing his edginess.

"Master, why are we here? There's nothing that would benefit us here." Mayumi inquired, her face was void of emotions.

If possible, she would be in the hideout or training in the forest by now. She really disliked crowded places and she wasn’t planning on staying for long either.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

"Master, why are we here? There's nothing that would benefit us here." Mayumi asked.

Shadow looked up at her for a moment.

"I understand your confusion Mayumi... I know how odd this seems to you but I must ask that you bear with it. If you allow yourself to relax and simply enjoy the cool night air and wait for the fireworks, I think you'll find you enjoy them too. I've seen fireworks once before, but they were very small though still fun to watch. These will light the night sky in various colors and give off loud explosions which is rather entertaining."

He stood up, taking a breath and looking at her with a smile.

"Just try to relax. I know I'm not setting a good example right now, but try to enjoy the night and observe these people as they interact with one another. You may find something in this festival that you enjoy doing such as playing some of the games or competing with others in strength and stamina challenges for money or prizes. Walk around and get a feel for how these people celebrate this special day for themselves."

Though he said it calmly and with a smile, it was still an order and he knew she'd pick up on that. She wouldn't like, most likely, but if she could find even one thing to enjoy in this place it would make the experience worth it. If Shadow was going to preserve and rebuild her connection to humanity, he needed to start small. This was not exactly starting small, but there had to be at least one activity at this festival that Mayumi would enjoy participating in.

Shadow himself waited where he was for Sereinia to arrive. She said she had gifts to give to him and Mayumi, but Shadow wanted Mayumi to explore and observe the people so for the time being he'd accept her gift for her when Sereinia finally arrived.

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

There was not much to say. When Shadow had awoke from his slumber, Sereinia had decided not to pry into his dreams that had caused for him to cry. Instead, she had returned the small smile of his with hers. At the same time, she spoke her concerns about his health which he apologized for. In the end, she cannot fully scold him as the scene of him crying flashed through her mind from time to time. Adding to that, he was not being difficult when she would asked him to eat properly or take a rest when needed. So, there was no further need to pester him with her feelings of worry. It was like that the days passed between them as she would at times ask how Mayumi was doing. Over all, it had been quite peaceful and relatively normal in her opinion.

A few days before the Festival, Mayumi had returned to them in a far better condition than she was in the past days. Sereinia could not help but smile happily. She had almost run towards the young girl and gave her a tight embrace. Fortunately, she was able to refrain herself knowing that Mayumi would be probably be frightened. She did hear from Shadow that the young girl was not much accustomed in such gestures. Thus, she satisfied herself by welcoming Mayumi with a heartfelt smile and with the occasional checking of her injuries to ensure that everything was on the right track to recovery. Soon enough, Mayumi's ankle was good as new. Still, Sereinia would remind the young girl not to put much stress or pressure on it just to be on the safe side.

Time passed by them and they had finally arrived at the focal area where the many events of the festival would take place. Sereinia was really glad that she would be able to share this celebration with Shadow and Mayumi. Adding to that, she had managed to make the two wear Triveila's Traditional Clothing which was very different from their everyday clothes. Well, she did want them to fully enjoy the festival. As such, she also donned a blue ombre-colored kimono with white sweet clover patterns found at its sleeves and lower half. It is also complimented by a green obi with a white obijime and a brown maple leaf brooch which served as its design. She even wore a zōri instead of her usual boots. Her raven black hair was put into a simple loose bun while 2 brown maple leaf pins adorned her bangs. All in all, she was quite a beauty to see with a simplistic elegance.

Walking with Shadow and Mayumi, Sereinia did not expect Shadow's nervousness around the crowd. It resulted into a lot of incidental self-defense maneuvers. He would apologize and she would follow it up in her own way. Although, she was not able to stop the woman who had slapped him. At the very least, she had prevented the female from making much of a scene. Fortunately, Mayumi was more calm in the crowd as the young girl opted to be on the roofs or alleyways. It is then that she had fully understood that her two companions were much ignorant and uncomfortable with the workings of a normal life.

In the moment, Sereinia was apologizing to the person that Shadow had mistakenly attacked. She had caught glance how tensed he was and somehow, she regretted bringing him and Mayumi here. Perhaps, it would be better for them to return to their lodgings. They could still see the fireworks there on the roof. After her profuse apologies, she noticed a short conversation with Mayumi who afterwards went on her own. She wondered what it was about as she approached Shadow who was still seating and taking his time to get comfortable with the crowd.

"Where will Mayumi go?"

Serenia inquired as she looked at Mayumi who soon faded from her sight. Hearing Shadow's answer, she truly wondered if the young girl would be fine on her own. She could show her around at the very least. However, she was more worried about the man before him. For someone so mature in her eyes, he seemed like frightful child. She found it quite adorable in a sense.

"Shadow, will you be fine? We can still watch the fireworks at our lodging. You, Mayumi, and me can watch it from the roof."

Stopping before Shadow, Sereinia lowered herself and looked at him with concern and gentleness. It was already enough for her that Shadow and Mayumi had accompanied her here. There was no need to push the two of them further. It would be better for them to take just one step at a time.

"I am already happy that you and Mayumi came with me here and even wore the clothes I asked you both to do so. I cannot wish for more."

Taking out something from the hidden pocket in her kimono, Sereinia handed Shadow a small pouch with a bright smile on her face. She was even more beautiful. She had told Shadow earlier that she wanted to give him and Mayumi something. It seemed to be the perfect time to do that.

"I found it while I was shopping around the market. I was not sure if you would like it. But at the very least, I wish it would cheer you up."

After saying that, Sereinia gestured for Shadow to open the pouch to look at its contents. When he did, he would see a small silver chain with 3-leaf clover behind its were the engravings of their name. It could be used as a pendant, bracelet, or could be tied on his belt, daggers, or anything.

"It would be a good luck charm to keep you safe and even if you find yourself around. Just look at it and Mayumi and I are always with you."

Sereinia said with the most sincerest feelings as her deep amethyst eyes glowed with radiant warmth as she looked at the charm and then to Shadow with a slight blush on her face.

"Do you like it? If not, I could get you another just tell me what you like. I am going to give Mayumi the same gift too... It would be just for the three of us."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow accepted the gift from Sereinia and looked at it with a smile. He had never been given a gift of this nature before, and although it was not really meant for it, he saw combat related potential in it if nothing else. He didn't understand these gifts very much, but he did appreciate the gesture and welcomed the gift from her by putting it around his wrist.

"Thank you Sereinia." He said with a smile.

As he was saying it there was an announcement being made a short distance away about the fireworks starting in approximately half an hour and that this was the time to prepare and find a good spot to watch. Shadow thought about it for a moment and looked up and around him towards the rooftops, trying to find the best spot for such an event and he found what he was looking for in a rooftop which was slightly slanted with wooden shingles instead of clay ones. He looked back to Sereinia for a moment.

"How about we play some of these games for a few minutes and then get settled on the rooftop to watch the fireworks? I'll send Sora to fetch Mayumi when it's time, but for now will you show me these games? I don't understand the meaning of some of them at all."

Shadow looked over her shoulder.

"Like that one for instance. He's having people catch fish with a small... net? They try and it breaks on contact with the water most of the time. Is there a reason for such a game or is it just a con to make money?" Shadow asked.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

A childlike smile was present in Sereinia's lips upon hearing Shadow's words of thanks and seeing that he placed it around his wrist. She was really nervous if it would suit his tastes or even Mayumi's. Thinking about it now, she had not spend much time trying to get to know them; however, she is conflicted in doing so. It is possible they might think of her a nuisance if she insists on getting to know them in a vulgar manner. So, she decided to take a slow and subtle approach. She believed it would be the best to do so.

"I am glad you like it."

After saying that, Sereinia stood from her crouched position and straightened the slight crumples on her kimono. It was then that the announcement for the Firework Show played through the air. It would commence within half an hour. She looked around and noticed the people beginning to moving in excitement to look for a good spot. Everyone was looking forward to it. She had also noticed that the guards of the Triveila were now more alert than ever. It is possible that the Royal Family was on their way. Her attention was taken when she heard Shadow suggested to play some of the games before going to their spot and then have Sora fetch Mayumi when it is time. She will just give Mayumi's gift while they watched the fireworks.

"All right. Let us enjoy ourselves for the meantime. I will love to be of help to you."

Sereinia answered as she followed Shadow's eyesight and saw the game of fish. It was a traditional game in Triveila. Upon hearing his latter conclusion, she cannot help but smile and lightly giggle. She was finding this side of him quite adorable. Directing her eyes to the stall, she began to explain.

"It is a traditional game called goldfish scooping. You will use a special catcher called a Poi. It is quite tricky and you can catch a lot of fishes until your Poi breaks. It might seem like a con because one needs to be swift and light to catch the fish and at the same time not to break the Poi."

Looking at Shadow, Sereinia took his hand and lead him to the stall. There were a lot of children and adults watching and even laughing at times.

"Shall we try? I never get a goldfish. I always break my poi even how many times I try. You might have a better luck than me,"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow was a bit surprised when Sereinia took his hand and led him to the fish game, but let her do so since the numerous torches around the area hid his eye color from most people who saw him. As they approached, the man running the game looked at him with a smirk and extended his hand, offering Shadow a poi.

"Wanna give 'er a try there boy?" He asked.

Shadow took the poi and inspected it, turning it in his hand for a moment before looking to Sereinia with a slightly confused look. He leaned in close to her, whispering in her ear.

"It isn't even a good weapon..." He said quietly before straightening out and kneeling down in front of the tank.

Shadow looked at them and accepted a bowl filled with water from the man as he gave it to him.

"Good luck there young man." He said, smirking again as if he knew Shadow would fail.

Shadow's poi was tampered with slightly, with no lock or anything keeping the "net" in place. Shadow noticed this and frowned slightly but never the less looked back to the tank with a determined expression. He looked up to the man and gave a smirk of his own.

"So all I need to do is not break the poi and I win right?" He asked.

The man laughed confidently.

"That's funny boy. You don't win the game, you just win a fish. If ya manage to catch one without breakin' the poi, then you can go again until it's broken if you want. However, not many people have managed to get any of my fish. Only like one or two people in the past year have done so and they only got one fish before the poi broke. Good luck to ya boy." He said.

Shadow looked back down to the tank and smiled mischievously as he closed his eyes and took a deep breath in through his nose and let it out through his mouth. He raised the poi slightly and off to his right side. He was dead still, to the point where anyone watching could confirm he was just a statue on display. He opened his eyes slowly and his eyes began to track a very specific fish in the tank. It was the largest of the group and the heaviest, which Shadow knew would be the hardest to catch given the poi's delicate nature. However, Shadow continued to track it for a good minute, with the man in charge growing impatient.

"C'mon boy! If ya aren't gonna try then git outta here. I got more customers in line you know." He ordered.

Shadow looked up at him, but didn't say anything. He looked back down to the tank and saw a pattern emerge from the chosen fish's path. He lowered the poi slightly, lining up the angle and then suddenly lashed out with great speed, slicing the water and throwing the fish into the air. The fish landed in Shadow's bowl with the poi still in tact and cocked at Shadow's left shoulder. Shadow sliced back the other way, once again sending a fish into the air and into his bowl as he cocked the poi again and sliced back the other way once more. When he caught his fifth fish, Shadow stood up slowly, his poi still in tact as he handed it back to the owner who's mouth was wide open in shock with a look of horror on his face.

"Thank you very much. That was quite enjoyable." Shadow said with a hint of mockery.

He turned to Sereinia with a smile.

"I guess I win then, right?" He asked, holding the bowl forward for her to look at with five new fish swimming around inside.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

The owner of the stall immediately gave Shadow a chance to play the game. Upon him receiving the poi, he softly whispered to Sereinia about the poi not It being fit to be a weapon. If it would possible to sweatdrop, she would have done so. Thus, all she could do at the moment was to stifle her laughter while he proceeded to do the game. There was silence from Shadow as he stood there. It was like he was stalking a prey. At that sight, she could not help but smile. She did not expect him to be so focused on such a simple game of fun. At the same time, she could sense that Shadow had every intention to prove the man's words completely wrong. Somehow, she was looking forward to it.

Moments passed by as Shadow remained still in his position. Sereinia did not find this odd but, the man was getting impatient and why wouldn't he. A lot of people were waiting for their turn along with the curious spectators. She remained silent in all of it knowing that Shadow knew what he was doing probably. It was then at that moment he lowered his poi. The next events were very remarkable in every sense. She had witnessed Shadow fighting and defeating people as if they did not matter at all. However, she never truly admired his skills until now. Probably, it is because there was no one getting hurt or killed in the process. In her excitement, she clapped her hands happily at every fish that Shadow caught. After placing the fifth fish inside the bowl, he had decided that it was the end of the game even with his poi remaining intact.

"I guess I win then, right?"

Sereinia looked at the bowl that was shown to her. She leaned to look at the five fishes swimming inside with much energy. Her eyes of dark purple glowed with childish admiration. It was rather interesting to see her in such a state. She then looked at Shadow with a bright smile and a thumbs up.

"That was amazing! You were wonderful! I want to show this to Mayumi. I wonder if she could also to do this!"

It was then Sereinia's attention was taken to another game stall. It was a ring-throwing one. The prize to be won were displayed. A person that wants to play would have to give a fee and then be given a limited amount of rings to be thrown. Any object that the ring will catch shall be the prize of the player. She pointed at the said stall.

"Do you want to try that one?"

Asking with very curious eyes, Sereinia looked at Shadow.waiting for his answer. They still have some time left before the Firework Show will start. She also wanted for Shadow to have at the very least an enjoyable time. After all, he was trying hard despite feeling awkward and uncomfortable with such a large crowd. She held his free hand and smiled warmly.

"If you do not want to, it is okay. Where do you want to go next?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow smiled with Sereinia when she told him how well he did and looked down at his new fish. He didn't yet know what he was going to do with them, but he'd probably just dump them into a stream outside of town after the fireworks were over. That or hand them off to somebody who would want them.

"That was amazing! You were wonderful! I want to show this to Mayumi. I wonder if she could also to do this!"

Shadow looked at Sereinia with an almost indignant expression.

"I've taught Mayumi a great deal many things, and this would be child's play for her. In fact, I'd be willing to bet she could empty that tank of fish without much difficulty." Shadow said with obvious confidence in Mayumi and a hint of pride.

Shadow looked over at the other game Sereinia wanted him to play. He walked over to it, Sereinia still holding his free hand, as he looked at the rings and the prizes. They all looked rather strange to him, so he looked to Sereinia.

"Which prize would you want?" He asked.

But before she could answer Shadow was handed five rings to throw and was asked to pay for the round. Shadow shrugged his shoulders and paid for it and then took up his designated position to begin throwing. Shadow looked at the rings and weighed them in his hands for a moment, getting a feel for them before setting his eyes on the prize in the far back of the range. It was small, and whatever it was it was shiny. Shadow focused on it for a minute and discovered it was a small metallic music box, and he thought that maybe Sereinia would like that. The box itself wasn't really a box, but was shaped as one might expect on this Festival in Triveila like the Goddess Auxureilla, the Goddess of the Sea.

Shadow narrowed his stance and set his sights on the music box before cocking his arm back and gently letting fly with the first ring. It was almost dead on target, but given the imperfect shape of the rings he was provided, it flew slightly off target to the left. Had it been a perfect circle, Shadow would have gotten it on the first try. Shadow readjusted his aim a little and let fly with the second ring, this time landing it around the Goddesses neck and winning the prize. The music box was brought over and Shadow was allowed to finish his last three tosses, each one landing on a different random prize. One was a fake sword modeled after an ancient weapon used by a great hero of Triveilan history, one was a simple child's toy figure, and the last one was a dream catcher, likely imported from Cre' Est a good many years ago given its age and design.

Shadow gave the toy away to a child nearby who stared at it as Shadow was handed his prize, and the dream catcher he held onto. The sword he gave away to a man with an obvious military history and even though it was fake he gladly took the replica sword to keep at home. Shadow smiled at his prize that was the dream catcher, knowing that if it worked the way tales said it would, his nightmares would no longer haunt his dreams. Shadow took the music box and held it out to Sereinia.

"I'm not sure what the value of a music box is, but I hope you like it." He said sincerely, a warm smile on his face.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Sereinia had a small smile upon hearing how Shadow showed much pride in Mayumi's skills. He appeared to be a proud brother or father. She cannot help but be happy upon hearing his words. It would have been nice if Mayumi had heard it personally. In any case, they went towards the ring-toss game stall. It was clear in Shadow's face that he was slightly confused with the game before them. Still, he asked her what would she want. However, she was not able to answer as the owner of the stall had already given him the rings and he began to play the game. In addition, she does not have any particular prize that she wanted while looking at the prizes. Thus, she could not provide him an answer in the end. But somehow, she was quite flattered that Shadow wanted to win her a prize.

"Oh..."

It left Sereinia's mouth with slight dejection as Shadow missed his first shot. Regardless, she was certain that he would redeem himself with the second shot. As a result, she waited in silence and anticipation and as she had suspected, the second shot attained its target. The same goes with the other remaining rings. Somehow, the one managing the stall was also impressed and with slight disappointment. It was probably because most of the items that were taken were not that cheap. Over all, Shadow did not leave empty-handed. But two of his prizes were given away to a child and a male stranger. She smiled at this gesture of his and noticed that he seemed happy about winning the dream catcher.

"His dreams..."

The thought that passed in her mind as Sereinia remembered the day she found him crying in his sleep. She truly hopes that the dream catcher does what it had been said to do. It would be a great help for Shadow to have a pleasant sleep than be constantly haunted by nightmares she had no idea of. While in deep thought, it was then Shadow presented her with the music box. Her eyes of purple gazed at the said object in a deep trance. Silence reigned between them as his voice seemed to take her out from her reverie.

"Thank you..."

Taking the music box, Sereinia stopped herself from thinking on that memory and focused on what was happening now. She looked at the whimsical music box and then saw Shadow's smile. She cannot help but be very grateful that she had accompanied him and Mayumi despite the trials they had faced and surely would face in the near future. Honestly, she does not feel fear or worry about it at the moment. Holding the music box closed to her, she gave him a very heartfelt smile that only enhanced her natural beauty as some of the passersby blushed at her sight.

"I really like it." After saying that, she gave Shadow a light kiss on the cheek to show her appreciation.

"Shall we watch the fireworks now?" Sereinia quickly said while walking ahead of Shadow with her back turned to him. She did not want him to see her flushed face.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow was happy that Sereinia liked his gift and when she leaned in close he had a feeling he knew what it meant. Sure enough, Shadow received a light kiss on the cheek. Out of instinct Shadow looked left and right out of the corners of his eyes, hoping to the Gods that she wasn't around to see that. Even though he knew she was a long ways away, Shadow couldn't help but be nervous when that happened as there was an unpleasant confrontation which took place the last time a girl kissed Shadow and she was there to see it.

Never the less, when Sereinia turned around and asked to go watch the fireworks Shadow followed her. He walked ahead a little and guided her to the building he had chosen, walking inside with her and leading her up to the top floor. There was no roof access, so Shadow had Sereinia hold onto his neck as he held her up in his arms. His left arm supported her legs underneath the knee while her arms held her body upright against him so his right hand was free to climb the outer wall of the building. Shadow took them up in a matter of seconds and gently set her down on the slanted roof, sitting quietly next to her.

The building they were on was approximately four stories tall and overlooked the entirety of the Festival grounds. Shadow gave a whistle up to Sora, who dove down and landed in front of him. He told her to find Mayumi and guide her here, to which Sora immediately set off to find her.

Shadow leaned back and laid himself down, hands behind his head as he closed his eyes to wait for the big event which would take place in just a few short minutes.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Fortunately, Shadow did not pay too much attention to the color of her face. Sereinia was not sure why she bothered hiding her expressions. It was not like he had not seen her flushed face before. Thinking about it, she was acting a bit odd in her opinion. It was probably due to the rather fun atmosphere here at the festival. She was getting carried away with the flow. It was not really a concrete reason but, she had decided on it. Noticing that he had taken the lead, she followed the man and took noticed of his features from behind. Oddly enough, it was then she had noticed that he was quite tall. She was not paying attention to that even way before they arrived at the Capital. He has broad shoulders. Under the fleeting lights of the festival, ruby red eyes seemed to lightly glow from time to time. They were like beautiful crystals shining. It was very beautiful. She followed him like that and was only snapped from her observations when he asked her to hold onto him.

"Oh... okay..." She answered with an almost light whisper.

In an instant, Shadow carried Sereinia without much difficult. She wrapped her arms around his neck to support her upper body. Soon enough, they were on the roof with a wonderful view of the festival grounds. She could already spot some of the staff working on the fireworks that were going to be used. It was then that Sora was called to fetch Mayumi. After he had given Sora the order, it flew towards a certain direction as she watched until it disappeared in the horizon. It was then she felt Shadow shifting from his sitting position and looked over her shoulders. He had made herself comfortable by lying down on the roof. His eyes were closed as he relaxed for a little bit before the show began. She looked at the sky and she could feel that she was excited as well. After all, the fireworks were going to be set off together with the other countries. It was like the whole world was celebrating.

"It is a nice thought. Even if someone is far from you, just look up. Because the two of you are viewing the same sky..."

Sereinia softly spoke while looking at the sky with a warm smile. She had remembered telling that to her little brother before. According to her brother, it cheered him up when he misses her sister's presence. She did not get to tell her that it was also the same with her. But for now, her brother was looking down on her from the heavens. Releasing a soft sigh, she lowered her head and embraced her knees closed to her chest as she placed her chin on top of her knees. Her eyes reflected a certain sadness in them.

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

Mayumi had been deep in thought when Sora landed in front of her with Shadow’s message.

Following her most trusted ally, she found Sereinia and Shadow sitting on a slanted roof. As she got nearer, she sensed a certain aura between the two young adults. Relying on her insight, she had a feeling that it was wrong to interfere at this point, but what was she to do?

Looking on at the two adults, Mayumi felt a strong sense of emptiness in her chest seeing Sereinia being this close to Shadow. If she had seen correctly earlier, they had even held hands.

‘What was the meaning of that?’

Instead of settling down behind them, Mayumi decided to head down and stand in the alley way.

Seeing its mistress head down, Sora followed suit and landed on her shoulder.

“Everything is becoming confusing. Ever since we met Shadow, a whole new world has been opened to us. Is this right? Is this what my previous master wants?” Mayumi questioned only receiving a cock of the head back from Sora.

Mayumi still had many things to learn from this world. Her memories only consisted of constant training and never-ending battles there was never a second where she wasn’t doing nothing but relaxing. Even now, Mayumi was on guard.

Suddenly, Mayumi heard Sereinia’s voice

"It is a nice thought. Even if someone is far from you, just look up. Because the two of you are viewing the same sky..."

Looking up, she sees Sereinia doing what everyone at the festival had done. The corners of her mouth were lifted and her eyes were shining with… something she had yet know of.

Within seconds, Mayumi was on the slanted rooftop staring at Sereinia.

“What are you doing?” she questions curiously.

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow listened to Sereinia's words and smiled.

The night air was cool and relaxed, and his senses, though on high alert at all times, were very much relaxed as well. He could not sense anything in the immediate area and it made little difference since Taira was present in the city to help out as well. Being his most trusted friend and pupil, Taira was easily capable of taking care of any problems without Shadow having to get his hands dirty.

Suddenly, Shadow could sense movement and when he opened his left eye Mayumi was on the roof staring at Sereinia.

“What are you doing?” She asked.

Shadow closed his eyes and his smile grew just a tiny bit.

Mayumi was growing more and more curious about the world around her and that was a fantastic first sign that her link to humanity was beginning to form roots. If this were to keep up for even just one year Mayumi would find herself continuing to ask questions and experimenting with what she saw as Shadow had done tonight. With any luck, this would continue unhindered. However, Shadow was prepared to keep his guard up no matter the circumstances so that she would indeed have her chance. If Kiiro dared show his face to her again, Shadow was prepared to kill him.

When the thought of Kiiro entered his mind, Shadow's insides began to boil and his smile slowly changed to a frown and his eyebrows furrowed a little bit as the muscles in his face tightened.

The history of the two was long, bloody and beyond a simple hate for one another. Though they held a silent respect as opponents, they both held a raw and seething hatred that went far beyond the intensity of what most mortals could feel for each other. When Shadow and Kiiro were in the same area and were within a line of sight, the air between them would literally grow thicker and warmer because of the amount of energy their bodies were beginning to produce as their temperatures rose and their focused energies began to gather. The heat of their bodies would rise to the point where their bodies would both begin to release steam in lower temperature environments, even when they weren't yet fighting. When they were fighting the air around them would steam as well, not just their bodies.

From the perspective of onlookers in the past their confrontations were viewed as a battle between two Demigods due to how violent and destructive they were despite how easily they were able to get back up and continue on. The two of them had actually destroyed half of a small village on the outskirts of Cre' Est a number of years ago during one of their earlier confrontations when they were both younger and less in control of their hatred for each other. While Mayumi and Sereinia had seen how destructive a fight between Shadow and other members of Te'i Sai such as the Wraiths could be, it was nothing compared to how destructive he and Kiiro were when they squared off.

This extreme hatred ensured that every encounter drew greater and greater levels of blood and damage for each subsequent confrontation. Their first encounter saw no blood drawn except for a bloody lip on Shadow's part and a bloody nose on Kiiro's while their second saw both receive a one inch gash to their upper torso. Such a consistent increase in blood drawn would ensure that one of their next few encounters would see one of them die. However, neither combatant had any intention of dying anytime soon. They both had goals to fulfill and plans for the future, and the only real question was which of them would see theirs fulfilled first.

Since their first encounter Shadow and Kiiro had traded the upper hand in both combat and tactics. Typically Shadow emerged victorious, though he payed a heavy price for it each time. The main difference between Shadow and Kiiro's tactics was that Kiiro didn't hold the morals which Shadow had since picked up. Shadow wouldn't bring innocent lives into a fight, but Kiiro would and often did. His recent attack on Mayumi was a clear example in Shadow's eyes. Mayumi, though Shadow's new pupil, was not a part of their confrontation and he had no right to bring her into it with such violence. The thought made Shadow's blood boil even further and his eyes began to glow brighter as his anger rose.

It was an odd "mutation", as the Grandmasters had labeled it, that Shadow's eyes would glow and change the intensity of their coloration depending on his mood. The angrier he got the brighter his eyes glowed and the more red they became, especially at night. The calmer he was, the more relaxed and stable and lighter in coloration they seemed to become. During Roda I'l Lousta, however, his pupils nearly vanished and his eyes would be at their brightest and their most deep blood red coloration to the point where you could see them beneath closed eyelids, even during the day. They were almost like two red candles inside behind his eyelids with how brightly they shone during Roda I'l Lousta.

Right now Shadow's eyes were indeed glowing but not to the point where the difference was all that noticeable and they didn't shine through his currently closed eyelids. However it didn't take long for Shadow to open them and looked to the sky, wondering where Kiiro was right now and what he was planning.

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

Slightly Surprising Sereinia, she looked to Mayumi who had arrived. Her deep amethyst eyes showed her light surprise but soon it was replaced with warmth. She was glad that Mayumi had come to join them. Removing her arms around her legs, she gave the younger girl a small smile.

"Hello Mayumi... "

Then, she thought of what Mayumi had asked her. There was a moment of silence before Sereinia comprehend what the young girl was pertaining to. As a safe measure, she pointed at the sky and then looked at it.

"Admiring the sky... Oh, I have something to give you."

With that said, Sereinia took out another small pouch and gave it to Mayumi. Its contents were similar to the one she gave to Shadow earlier. As Mayumi took it, she gave the girl a warm smile. She was not really sure how Mayumi would react to the gift; however, she was willing to explain anything that she asks about. There was nothing wrong with being curious. It means that one is willing to learn and to know.

"I hope you would like it."

At the end of her words, the sky had its first fireworks fired into the sky. It lit the night sky with brilliant colors while Sereinia looked at with glee and wonder. They were like flowers blooming in the dark sky for a moment of beauty and then become a wonderful memory. The fireworks show had began as continuous launches of fireworks filled the evening skies. The people in their respective spots looked at it with awe and the Royal Family of Triveila was also present in their special place along with a lot of Royal Guards to ensure their safety. However, position, rank, status, career, morality, and all of that does not matter at the moment. Everyone was mesmerized It by the sight of fleeting flowers of the sky.

"So beautiful..."

Sereinia softly whispered as the lights of the fireworks reflected on her form as a small smile was present on her lips. The thought that everyone else in the continent were sharing this same sight. Everyone was seeing and sharing this patronage for the Gods and Goddesses who gave us the gift called life. It made her smile even wider and somehow she filled contented more than ever. She had attended this Festival in the past years. However, she was not that satisfied. Perhaps, it is because of the presence of the two people with her. Her eyes looked at Shadow and then Mayumi.

"I am happy to have this memory with you two. I am. Thank you very much."

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

"I am happy to have this memory with you two. I am. Thank you very much."

Shadow instantly was brought out of his thoughts about Kiiro and the Wraiths when Sereinia's voice rang through his ears. He looked over to her and smiled to her.

"I think we should be thanking you Sereinia." Shadow said.

He looked over towards Mayumi and gave her a smile as well.

"How about you sit down with us Mayumi?" He asked, gesturing with his left hand for her to sit down next to Sereinia.

As he retracted his hand he looked up at the sky just in time to catch the next wave of fireworks going off. The sounds of the explosions in the air and the feeling of power they brought with them was almost entrancing. Shadow's smile changed from one of closed lips and contention to one showing a little bit of his beautiful white teeth and an expression of admiration and excitement. Shadow continued to silently watch until the wave was over and there was a temporary pause in the fireworks.

"I've never seen anything like this..." He said quietly to himself, still smiling.

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

"Admiring the sky... Oh, I have something to give you."

‘Admiring skies will make the corners of your mouth lift? But I’ve done that countless of times and it has never happened.’ Mayumi was perplexed.

Sereinia held out a small gift and Mayumi looked at it for a few seconds before taking it, wondering what could possibly be inside something that tiny.

"I hope you would like it." Sereinia said.

Suddenly, the faint sound of something screeching caught her attention. Turning around, Mayumi saw colourful bouts of lights shoot into the sky where they exploded into shimmering lights. The explosion startled Mayumi quite a bit causing her to move behind Shadow within a splitting second. Sora seemed to be staring weirdly at its mistress’ odd behaviour.

"I am happy to have this memory with you two. I am. Thank you very much." Sereinia spoke.

"I think we should be thanking you Sereinia." Shadow said.
Shadow looked over towards Mayumi and gave her a smile as well.
"How about you sit down with us Mayumi?" He asked, gesturing with his left hand for her to sit down next to Sereinia.


"I've never seen anything like this..." Shadow said quietly.

“Master what is that? Should I eliminate the cause of it?” Mayumi asked while staying behind Shadow.

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

“Master what is that? Should I eliminate the cause of it?”

At that question Shadow burst out into laughter, holding his sides as he rolled to his left side. Not of his own conscious decision he tilted his head forward in his laughter and his forehead touched Sereinia's thigh before he straightened his neck and tried to sit up as he brought his laughter under control, not realizing what had just happened in the slightest as he was too focused on what Mayumi had said and trying to stop laughing.

"... Mayumi, those are the fireworks we were talking about this whole time. They are meant to be festive and something to be enjoyed... I think." He looked to Sereinia with a half confused look before looking back to Mayumi.

"Just sit down with us and watch the lights in the sky Mayumi. Don't mind the explosions or the screeching they cause before they explode."

With that Shadow sat back in his spot and laid back down with his head cupped in his hands which were behind his head. He looked up at the sky again and just sat quietly as he watched the skies, waiting for the next wave of fireworks.

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

Mayumi stared at Shadow, her eyes wide. Shadow just did what all the people at the festival were doing.

‘Is that contagious?’ Mayumi wondered.

Deciding she had enough surprising events Mayumi settled in between Sereinia and Shadow. When she did, Mayumi felt a feeling of warmness fill her. Something she had never felt before. It felt so right, yet so foreign, but…

‘It’s nice.’ Mayumi thought.

Slowly, Mayumi started to relax as she watched the thing called fireworks. Between the two adults, she felt a weird sense of security, something she had never really felt before. All she had ever felt before being the coldness of the night and the endless cold battles she fought.

Eyes begin to drift close and soon Mayumi was asleep between the two. For the first time in Mayumi’s life, a peaceful look graced her young face. A single tear leaks from between her eye lids and down her cheek.

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

Sereinia blinked at the rather odd question of Mayumi. At the same time, she find it very adorable in every sense. She would have laugh; however, she was distracted by the sudden sound of mirth that came from Shadow. It would seemed that he also find Mayumi's innocent question quite humorous. But more that, Sereinia felt her cheeks beginning to have the shade of red as Shadow unconsciously contacted with her thigh. There was no damage done and she knew very well that there was no perverted meaning to it. After all, it was just pure coincidence. The one thing she does not understand was why she was blushing at that meaningless gesture. She must be getting too giddy from all of the festive mood. Although, she knew for a fact that the real reason for her reactions were far from that thought. In any case, Shadow took her out from her inner monologue as Shadow explained what the fireworks were for. Asking for her input, Shadow gazed at Sereinia which she obliged with a warm smile towards Mayumi.

"They are a colorful spectacle for people to watch and admire from the skies. They are created for the pure purpose of wonder and enjoyment..."

After Sereinia's explanation, Mayumi followed Shadow's suggestion and settled in a position between them. When that was done, Sereinia proceeded to watch the next wave of fireworks and they were getting more elaborate than the previous ones. It was really a beautiful spectacle. Glancing to her side, she noticed that Shadow was also enjoying the fireworks and if she might be bold to point out, she had never seen him so calm and relaxed. It was a good idea to have them watch the fireworks show. It was then she looked at Mayumi and noticed that the girl had fallen asleep. This was also a first for Sereinia as she never seen the young girl sleep. Well, it was because she had always been the first to sleep and the last to wake up when it comes to Mayumi. But now looking at her, Sereinia cannot help but smile warmly. The young girl looked so at peace.

"Happy Festival Mayumi..."

It was spoken lightly above whisper as Sereinia was about to inform Shadow about Mayumi when she caught sight of a lone tear falling. Instinctively, she gently wiped it away and looked at the young girl with concern. Similar to what she had done to Shadow before, Sereinia took Mayumi's hand gently as a show of comfort if the girl was having a nightmare.

"Shadow... Mayumi is fast asleep..."

Speaking in a hush tone, Sereinia looked at Shadow with concern as she alerted him about the situation. Moreover, she seemed to be like a doting mother or sister in any case when it comes to Mayumi.

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

Mayumi sat in between Shadow and Sereinia and he couldn't help but smile to himself as he watched the fireworks continue. Eventually, Sereinia spoke quietly to him as the fireworks broke for a moment.

"Shadow... Mayumi is fast asleep..." She said.

Shadow turned in time to see Sereinia dry a tear from Mayumi's cheek, and Shadow's smile faded when he thought about what the tear could mean. Her face was content and there were no signs of any kind of problems on her end so Shadow thought that perhaps it was just a tear of unrecognized inner joy at being here with two people who cared and slowly being accepted into someone else's life. That's how it was for Shadow when it happened to him, so he guessed that Mayumi was having the same experience as he was when he started to learn what it meant to care like this.

"Poor thing must be exhausted what with all that's happened." He said quietly as he leaned over to double check that he wasn't missing anything.

He leaned back and laid down once more, cupping his head in his hands and looking at the sky as the finale to the firework display started to go off. Burst after burst of light and sound cascaded forth through the night sky and Shadow's senses began to sharpen. While it wasn't particularly in response to the fireworks themselves, whenever loud noises began to sound off Shadow's instinct was to become more alert. His adrenaline took a slight jump, nothing like in a fight, but a jump none the less and time slowed for a few seconds until he was able to suppress the urge to enter combat mode and relax once again as the final firework exploded in the sky.

Shadow smiled and closed his eyes, laying his head back and letting a breath out on a sigh through his nose.

It had been a strange evening, but this firework show had made it all worth it. Mayumi's emotions were beginning to resurface which meant that Shadow was on the right track to bringing her back from the mentality that she "was a weapon" and beginning to help her realize that she was a human. It would still take time, possibly even years, but eventually she would realize it and when that happened she truly would become a weapon.

The biggest mistake "warriors" make when they think they are weapons is that they forget their own mortality and they begin to think that since they were trained as a weapon and trained to fight and kill that they should no longer pay heed to their own human limits. That manner of thinking was a quick and short trip to the end of your life, and the less Mayumi though she was a weapon and the more she thought she was a human, the longer her life expectancy would be. Even for Shadow if he though he was a weapon he would have died a long time ago.

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

"Poor thing must be exhausted what with all that's happened."

Sereinia looked at Mayumi gently as she tucked away a stray hair of the young girl behind the ears. It seemed that Shadow was not that much entirely concerned as he returned to his relaxed position and watched the final showcase of the fireworks. Thus, it must meant that the young girl was in no danger physically or mentally at the moment. Knowing this, she released a sigh of relief and moved closer to Mayumi. The hold she had on the younger girl's hand remained. When she was young, it was one of her fondest memory asking her mother to hold her hand until she falls asleep. It was comforting to know that someone was beside you and even more so when you wake up.

"Haru ni saku hana
Natsu hirogaru sora yo
Kokoro no naka ni
Kizamarete kirameku

Asa ni furu ame
Mado o tozasu hi ni mo
Mune ni afureru hikari wa
Kumo no ue

Yorokobi kanashimi
Subete idaite aruite iru
Watashi no te to
Kimi no te o
Tsuyoku tsunagu mono

Aki wa mizube ni
Fuyu kozue ni hisomu
Sekai no oku no
Kagirinai yasashisa

Yoru ga kuru tabi
Inori o sasageyou
Ashita kuru hi o
Shizuka ni mukaeyou

Watashi o michibiku
Tooi tooi yobigoe yo
Hohoemu you ni
Utau you ni
Hibiku kaze no oto

Yorokobi kanashimi
Subete idaite aruite iru
Watashi no te to
Kimi no te o
Tsuyoku tsunagu mono"


It was a lullaby that Sereinia had often sang to her little brother before. She had been told that it brought pleasant dreams; so, she hoped it would do the same for Mayumi. Her eyes were closed as her voice was light and whimsical. When the song ended, she proceeded to watch the fireworks that once more filled the evening sky. She felt a sense that this moment here was perfect which was awkward in more ways than one. Shadow and Mayumi grew and lived in a world far different from hers. However, the more time she spent with them, the more she understands about them. People tend to discriminate and hate others just because of reputation or allegations that at times are baseless. Well, she could not completely say that the stories about Shadow and even for Mayumi were lies. She knew well what they are capable of from their travels. But at the same time, she knew that they have hearts and feelings just like everyone else. This thought brought a smile on her face as her eyes remained on the wondrous lights of the fireworks.

"I forgot to tell you and Mayumi. Forgive me, about that. There is this legend about the fireworks."

Her eyes remained on the dancing lights in the dark stage of the sky. Sereinia had a very solemn look on her face as her eyes reflected a gentle warmth. A small smile was present on her lips as she continued on.

"The last firework that would explode in the sky is the brightest and the most beautiful; however, it quickly dissipates faster than the others. Before that happens, you must make your wish. If you make it in time, it will be granted by the Gods and Goddesses."

Placing her free hand near to her chest, Sereinia waited for the last firework to make its show. She had already a wish ready unlike before. Whenever the last firework would appear, she had nothing she wanted to wish even just for humor. It did not bother her before but as of now, she regretted not making at least a childish wish even if it would be a whim. With that, the last firework was fired as it filled the night sky with its unique brilliance and shape. It took the form of the Main Deity of Triveila along with floating lights that resembled water droplets falling all over the town.

"I wish to watch the fireworks together with Shadow and Mayumi next year."

Closing her eyes, Sereinia made her wish silently. One of the raindrop light fell on the tip of her nose which alerted her. It did not hurt but felt much like a warm tap. Opening her eyes, she saw it. A rather childish admiration was present on her face as she looked at Shadow.

"Look Shadow, it is beautiful."

The light slowly fades into nothing and this made Sereinia sad for a bit. However, it soon was replaced with a warm smile as she looked at Shadow and then to Mayumi. It was time for them to go back. The festivity for the evening was over at the moment.

"Shall I tuck you and Mayumi to bed now?"

Sereinia's tone was warped with light humor but at the same time with endearing affection. She was very contented with the events of this night. It was definitely one of the best memories she will ever have.

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

"Shall I tuck you and Mayumi to bed now?"

Shadow laughed a little to himself, quietly, and looked down at Mayumi. Her contented expression as she slept was a silent comfort to Shadow that he was doing something right and that gave him greater hope and confidence than ever before. He decided it was time to head back, so he gently picked up Mayumi in his arms and carefully brought her back inside from the roof. When he was done he came back to the roof for Sereinia, picking her up as before but taking her all the way down to street level using the outside wall of the building instead of going in through someone else's window as he did with Mayumi. He didn't mind it if people thought that he and Mayumi were strange, but he didn't want Sereinia to have that issue. She was an innocent who was not truly a part of the battle that he and Mayumi were fighting in and so he was trying to preserve her innocence and separation from them as long as he could.

He had already failed in that regard to an extent when they first met. By saving her from those thugs he ensured that they would forever associate her with the Red-Eyed Demon even if they never came back to see her. At the very least, they would spread word about "Dr. Nora" being associated with the Demon of people's nightmares and that could be a problem for her if she ever returned to that clinic. Shadow would forever fear for her safety in the back of his mind when this was over and they went their separate ways, but there was really no avoiding that now. The only thing that could save her from that was her own actions. If she went back, she would just behave the way she always did and that would hopefully be enough to protect her from people's gullible beliefs.

Shadow hit the ground and stepped off the wall, still holding Sereinia in his arms for a moment longer while looking down at the ground.

"Sereinia... I don't want to put a note of sadness on this night but I hope that you will be able to continue to enjoy yourself like this... At least in small doses... I can make no guarantees of that, but I can guarantee that the longer you stay with us the more likely you are to see violence on a scale you never have before and it will test your resolve more than you know... Are you sure you're alright with that?" He asked, finally looking over at her.

Shadow's greatest concern was Roda I'l Lousta and although it had been over a year and a half since it was last activated Shadow was on edge that it would happen now that he was finding some semblance of peace and comfort with Sereinia and Mayumi. It was the same as before when he first rebelled against Te'i Sai. Taira fell victim to Roda I'l Lousta during the end of that phase when they, along with a few other companions, destroyed the branch of Te'i Sai in Roda Valley in Cre' Est. Though she survived thanks to Shadow and one other's quick emergency surgery, she carried a massive scar down the front of her chest to the base of her stomach from the surgery as a reminder for the rest of her life how Shadow almost killed her.

The last thing Shadow wanted was for Sereinia to experience the same thing, or worse.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: The Royal Knights Of Cre' Est

Earnings

0.00 INK

Sereinia caught a tidbit of entertainment in Shadow's expression based on her inquiry. This brought a small smile to her lips as that was the intended purpose. In any case, she watched him carry Mayumi into his arms without reprimand. But before that, she noticed warmth and a sense of comfort in those red eyes of his. This invited her to gaze at the younger girl once more. She seemed so content and at peace. Mayumi appeared so carefree which truly made Sereinia overjoyed. In the days that she had traveled with the two assassins, she had never seen Mayumi relaxing or even being remotely unaware. The girl had always been wary, cautious, stern, and unyielding. It is no wonder that Shadow always finds these comforting which Sereinia had concluded in her opinion. After all, seeing Mayumi like this was truly an amazing thing. She tucked another loose strand of hair behind Mayumi's ear and then gave her a gentle good night kiss on the forehead.

"Sweet dreams... Mayumi."

It was spoken in such a melodic whisper as Shadow whisked Mayumi away. Sereinia waited at her spot as Shadow had assured her that he will be back for her and she knew better than to doubt the man. She saw him entering a window to gain entrance. Honestly, she was slightly bothered about as people might recognize them as robbers. Even if, their intentions was just passing through. Hopefully, no one would care as all of the townspeople seemed to be drunk with the remaining festivities of the night. Taking a deep breath, she simply remained sitting while looking at the dark horizon. Her mind riddled with worry and the thoughts of what would occur at the future. However, it was more of curiosity than of anxiety. She was not certain if the events that had happened a few days ago had brought a sense of change in her. Perhaps, it did. She now only wonders if it was for the better or not. That was the exact moment, Shadow had returned to help her down from the roof.

"Welcome back..."

Smiling at Shadow, Sereinia was rewarded by being carried into his arms similar to what he had done before. She wrapped his arms around his neck for support and nuzzled her face at the crook of his neck. At this distance, she could breathe in his scent. It was not like the smell of flowers, herbs, or perfumes, but she liked it very much. It brought her a sense of comfort as she slowly closed her eyes. She did not notice that Shadow had taken a different route than the one he took earlier with Mayumi. If she did, the good doctor would have voiced her question about this choice. She liked the place where she was at the moment. It was something she was certain. Feeling that Shadow had stopped from moving, she took this as a sign that they were now on solid ground.

"Thank you..."

Giving her thanks, Sereinia opened her eyes and noticed that Shadow seemed preoccupied with something. She was still being held by him which earned her confusion. He was not looking at him but at the ground as if there was something very interesting there. She followed his line of sight and saw nothing spectacular or out of ordinary. It would not be good for her to move out of his arms on her own as the bystanders might think that she was being abducted or something. So, she remained still and asked.

"Is there something the matter?"

Eyes of amethyst looked at Shadow with concern as she removed her face from the crook of his neck to have a good look at him. This question was soon answered by him who still avoided looking at her.

"Sereinia... I don't want to put a note of sadness on this night but I hope that you will be able to continue to enjoy yourself like this... At least in small doses... I can make no guarantees of that, but I can guarantee that the longer you stay with us the more likely you are to see violence on a scale you never have before and it will test your resolve more than you know... Are you sure you're alright with that?"


At the end of his statement, Shadow finally looked at Sereinia. She could see the concern, guilt, but if she would be bold to speak, there was also fear in those ruby red eyes that she had find solace in amidst the fearful stories that entailed it. There was a moment of silence as she simply gazed at him as if he had said something truly peculiar. Soon, this odd silence was broken by her voice as her answer rolled out her lips like soft waves.

"I am very aware the intentions and goals you have. I completely do not agree with them no matter what reasons the two of you might have. I am also certain that the event on that night will happen once more and it would probably be more worse. I truly understand the danger and the trials that would come before me. It would be hard or difficult than I could ever anticipate. I know this and despite that I can never be prepared for it."

Pausing for a moment, Sereinia had her hand gently touch Shadow's cheek.

"But right now at this moment, I truly want to be here with you and Mayumi. It is what I feel. I do not feel fearful of what horrendous thing that would come after me if I stand by your side. I am completely fine here with you. I do not regret anything."

After saying that, Sereinia warmly smiled at Shadow and then suddenly pinched his right cheek with all the strength she could muster and brightly smiled.

"So, do allow this troublesome doctor to be by your side a bit more? If not, I will pinch both of your cheeks next time."

Sereinia said with a cheerful tone while showing her hands to Shadow. "What do you say? Will you let me go or not?"




"Are you certain it would be a good idea to mingle with bounty hunters in this?"

It was asked by a man with silver-white hair and matching silver eyes similar to the pale moon's light. This was even more noticeable as his sun-kissed complexion bring out it more. He had an athletic physique that was not overdone but showed that he had gone proper, rigorous, and daily training. Another thing to notice is that he had a beautiful face. All in all, he was quite the handsome man. He was leaning on a nearby stone column in the hallways in one of the most oldest and important structures of Cre' Est. His current apparel has the Royal Insignia of Cre' Est which was reserved specifically for the Knights.

"You worry too much Solomon. They don't have loyalty but, they have principles in terms of money."

The one who answered was also a man who was just slightly taller than Solomon. He was also very attractive and appealing to the eyes. Long brown with black tips for his hair, a feminine face with the touch of masculinity, an athletic body, white complexion, and the most notable trait was his eyes. They were of a unique shade of pink that dabbles with red and carnation under certain lighting. At times, he had been identified as the Red-Eyed Demon due to this. But, he vehemently denies this as he does not want to associate himself with a good-for-nothing criminal.

"You're too carefree about this Yarun. This is a mission entrusted to us by the Empress and the Emperor."

A huff was the first answer as Yarun turned his back at Solomon and walked ahead. He did not need to be reminded consistently the importance of the mission assigned to them. It is why they were given the directive to do whatever means necessary to achieve the completion and the success of their mission. With that, he was willing to do anything or get his hands dirty to deliver good news and bring honor to his nation.

Solomon released a sigh at this reaction. He removed himself from the column and followed his partner. This mission was very difficult in every sense; however, he has complete confidence that it can accomplished. At the same time, he is the type that never loses and he does not intend to do so anytime soon. Although, he was not certain where to start as the clues they had in the first place were not exactly helpful. As he was in deep thought, he had finally exited the magnificent palace of Cre' Est, the home of the Empress and her family. But the thing that snapped him out was the explosion and splendor of the fireworks upon the sky.

"The Festival... I forgot about that."

"You always forget such mundane things." Yarun noted as he looked at Solomon with an impatient look. It seemed he had been waiting for him.

"There are times... Any case, do you have any hunters in mind?"

At this question, Yarun had a rather sinister smile on his lips and closed his eyes momentarily. "Oh, I have."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow smiled at Sereinia as she reassured him that she was alright with the idea of continuing on with him and Mayumi.

Suddenly, Shadow's right cheek was being pinched and pulled a little bit, but Sereinia was still smiling at him so he didn't think it was punishment or anything but he had been wrong before. Maybe it was her way of admonishing him for suggesting that she should rethink her decision?

Shadow grunted a little bit more from surprise than pain as he looked at Sereinia, his right eye half closed with a look of confusion on his face.

"So, do allow this troublesome doctor to be by your side a bit more? If not, I will pinch both of your cheeks next time."

Shadow chuckled slightly as she let go of his cheeks..

"What do you say? Will you let me go or not?"

Shadow finally was able to smile at her as he gently set her down on the ground to stand. He took in a breath and looked up into the now calm and quiet sky at the stars overhead. He looked around and felt a new sensation on the wind as it gently blew passed, caressing his face as his eyes closed and his hair gently blew in the new breeze like grass on the plains.

Tomorrow, Shadow would take Sereinia and Mayumi with him to Cre' Est. Things were too hot in Triveila now that Kiiro had interfered and Shadow's targets had fled. He needed to give them time to resettle so that he could come back for them another time. For now though, he would enjoy the night with Sereinia until she too retired to bed herself. Shadow was a little too awake to go to sleep just yet and he wanted to continue admiring the sky for a bit before turning in later. He looked at Sereinia with a smile as he opened his eyes.

"Perhaps you should turn in Sereinia. Tomorrow will be a big day after all as I will be taking us back to Cre' Est. I have a... "base camp" so to speak a few miles outside the Capitol City which is well hidden amongst nature and Mayumi and I will continue our training there, though it is more for her sake than mine. So if you will stay with us we will gladly have you by our side." He said calmly.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow had gently put Sereinia down to the ground as she waited for his answer. The man had yet to tell her if he would let her stay or pursue the matter that she was not safe with him. There a moment of silence between them but it was not filled with tension or anything. Rather, it was comforting in a way as she followed his gaze and looked at the sky above. She had always been fascinated by the shimmering lights in the dark sky. They were like sparkling diamonds creating such a beautiful canvass. She remembered her childhood days where she would lay on the grass fields near their home at Gweynura and just stare at the evening sky. At times, she would even fall asleep and find out the next day that her father had carried her to bed. It was now one of her cherished memories.

"Perhaps you should turn in Sereinia. Tomorrow will be a big day after all as I will be taking us back to Cre' Est."

The sound of Shadow's voice made Sereinia looked at him. Her eyes of amethyst gazed at him as she listened to their itinerary for tomorrow. They will be going to Cre' Est. She had a thoughtful upon hearing the place they will be visiting next. It had been a long time since she had come there. The last time she was there was to help one of her colleagues at the University of Gweynura in his clinic. She was a good friend of hers and a good doctor as well. It would be nice seeing him again after such a long time. Her last visit was about 3 years ago; although, the two of them would exchange letters from time to time.

"I have a... "base camp" so to speak a few miles outside the Capitol City which is well hidden amongst nature and Mayumi and I will continue our training there, though it is more for her sake than mine. So if you will stay with us we will gladly have you by our side."

Sereinia's attention perked up as she heard the word base camp. It was odd but it reminded her of the secret hideout that kids used to do back then. At the same time, she had a lingering thought about her secret base as well. In any case, she was certain that her base definition is different from what Shadow meant. Adding to that, him and Mayumi would be training there. Well, she had no qualms about that knowing the possibility that the one who had hurt Mayumi gravely will most likely strike again. This would give the young girl a better fighting chance; although, the thought of fighting still irks her. Regardless, Shadow had finally given her an answer in which she smiled brightly at it.

"I will be accompanying you and Mayumi."

It was Sereinia's answer with a very definitive tone despite her smile. Then, she looked at the evening sky and felt the light and cool breeze that passed through them. The few loose strands of her hair played with the wind and remembered Shadow's suggestion of going to bed. It was a good one; however, she wanted to look at the sky just a little bit more.

"About turning in, I want to look at the sky a bit longer. It would appear that the festive mood had released me from the hold of slumber."

With that said, Sereinia glanced at Shadow momentarily and then returned her eyes to the sky above. Eyes of amethyst reflected the night glow making it appear as if her eyes were sparkling. The lights from the lanterns and the moon made her skin glow in a rather ethereal manner. She was not bothered if Shadow would join her or not, she would just stay out for a bit and then returned to their lodging for a good night sleep. Although, it would be nice if he would be with her.

"May I?"

Sereinia returned her eyes on Shadow once more as she had an adorable expression similar to a child asking her parents for permission to go alone to a party or something. Her hands was placed behind her back and she had bitten her lower lip as well accompanied by her pleading eyes.

Setting

Characters Present

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

Earnings

0.00 INK

Sereinia Lucis Nouralail
"Superstitious belief is a farce, but is that true with you?"



Image
"Why did Feye die mommy? Why!?"

A very young Sereinia spoke with much sorrow evident in her voice. Tears rolled down her face like endless waterfalls. It was also accompanied by a saddening wail. All of these were because of her puppy's unfortunate demise. She had never known the concept of death. At that age, she had no knowledge of such a depressing event which was normal for all living things to receive at some point. It is why she was caught in a shock when Feye would not move anymore or greet her as the puppy would do every time for her. The puppy just lay there with its tongue sticking out of its mouth and body so stiff and cold to touch. For the very first time, she felt fear like never before.

"Sweetie, Feye had to leave now... But, it does not mean you can't see her again. Its just another way of saying goodbye... So, you can greet her welcome home someday..."

Coal mauve eyes were slowly revealed behind fluttering eyelids. A dream of the past woke Sereinia. She wondered what was the reason she had such a vision. Any way, it would seem that she had fallen asleep while watching over the still slumbering Mayumi. The young girl was still in her comatose state that had been interpreted to her by Shadow as something necessary due to a special gift bestowed on the younger girl. In her opinion, the so-called gift is a complicated one. To see the future is like dangling food in front of caged yet hungry beast. It is dangerous, depressing, and yet the sense of hope makes it bearable. Releasing a soft sigh, she checked the young girl's vitals to make sure that everything was indeed fine in terms of health. After doing so, she stood from her seat and went towards one of the opened windows in the room as she looked at the capitol city of her current location.

"Triveila... I am back..."

It made Sereinia wonder if it is possible for her to visit her town. She wanted to provide a peace of mind to her Aunt Beatiz. After all, she did leave without a word and even if she was sending her letters that was hardly enough. This was something she was certain. Although, she was not really related to her Aunt at all. The thought made her curious whether Beatiz knew about her being adopted. It would be nice if she could have such a discussion with her Aunt about her origins. However, the current events prevented her to do so. She cannot leave Mayumi behind in such a state. Although, the twins would be relied on protection. There was still something that bothered her. It was Shadow who had become distant as time passes by.

"Shadow... Would you not let me in?"

Sereinia's whisper and wish was carried by the light breeze that passed through. Sadness reflected clearly behind those amethyst eyes. As a result, they seem to sparkle with hazy light. Releasing a deep sigh, she knew that something was bothering Shadow. It was subtle and she had initially thought that it was something that would pass. Yet, her conclusion was apparently wrong. The small thing was growing in a stable phase. Now, it was engulfing the man in a dark void that she had no idea what it contains. How she wanted to reach out her hand to him. She will do so without even a hesitation. But how could she when he is not there at all. Furthermore, she was greatly concern as he had yet to return since morning. Night has already come and he was nowhere to be seen.

"Do not do something you would regret, Shadow... Please..."

The silent plea disappeared into the evening as she closed the windows to prevent the cold air from entering any further. Sereinia did not want Mayumi to suffer a chill when it could be avoided. But before fully closing the door, she noticed a black cat on a nearby roof directly in front of the window she was in. Its large eyes looked at her with much intensity. She has this vague feeling that it wanted to tell her something as such she remembered the superstition about surrounding such a feline. The dread that was simply lightly tugging behind her mind was now holding her captive. There was only one person on her mind at that very moment. As if knowing this, the black cat jumped down from the roof as it vanishes from her line of sight while her lips spilled just one name.

"Shadow..."



Addar ver Alotois : Royal Knight
"The enemy I fear the most is not a demon but a man."



Image
Carnage. Corpses were on the ground which resembled to be of the Te'i Sai according to the descriptions. There was no doubt in the Old Knight's mind that this was the right location. The reports that were given seemed to be completely accurate. Addar would need to report to the Emperor about this. For now, he must ascertain that the Red-Eyed Demon was still in the vicinity or not. It was no secret to him the legends that had spawned due to the heinous deeds that infamous assassin had done through the years. Moreover, it was understandable why the public had attributed the hell-spawn assassin as some sort of boogeyman. He would also be a liar not to admit to himself the fear tingling his senses ever so delicately. After all, the possibility of such a person existing is something he can believe. One proof was the Emperor.

"Scout the perimeter! Give me a search line but do keep it close."

Afterwards, the soldiers under his command followed the order to a tee. As for Addar, he also began his search. In his youth, there were a lot of terrifying stories about hoodlums, thugs, killers, and so forth. All of them in the end were just stories that had been exaggerated. However as times passed by, new ones will be sprouted. It is why he also wondered what kind of person the Red-Eyed Demon is. The Bloody New Year tragedy was truly beyond forgiveness in many ways. No amount of repentance could be done to erase that crime. Furthermore, he was also interested in the infamous assassin's capabilities in combat. After all, he is known as a war veteran. It further fueled his curiosity when the news of having Yarun defeated in combat spread.

Keeping his senses alert, Addar continued his search and soon he was rewarded with an encounter that will change everything starting now. Although at the moment, he has no idea what was in store for him or what. There before him stood the Red-Eyed Demon. It was without a doubt that the man had a certain presence of dread that he had only felt with the Emperor. Nevertheless, he has his orders to finish and he will do so in the end.

"Red-Eyed Demon. I'm Addar ver Alotois of the Cre' Est Royal Knights. Under the orders of Emperor Eonis, I am here to apprehend you for your crimes. Resistance would not be tolerated."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow


Image


"For what is a Demon but a figment of the darkest corners of the human consciousness? Can it be controlled or banished? Can it be saved? Will you be the one to cleanse me of this pain? Will you love me? Will you save me? Or will you scorn me like the others and deliver me unto eternal darkness and damnation?"

"Red-Eyed Demon. I'm Addar ver Alotois of the Cre' Est Royal Knights. Under the orders of Emperor Eonis, I am here to apprehend you for your crimes. Resistance would not be tolerated."

As these words were spoken, Shadow was drawn out of a somewhat weak trance he had placed himself in to try and keep himself under control. As the other members of the Royal Guards surrounded him after finding him and Addar facing off, Shadow's excitement began to build, and he had a feeling that this encounter would prove most entertaining.

Addar drew his weapon and inched closer to Shadow.

"I will warn you once more and one more time only, resistance will not be tolerated. Keep your hands where I can see them and submit to your capture. We have you surrounded and outmanned. You cannot hope to walk away from this fight against this many Royal Knights." He warned.

Shadow simply scoffed at him for a moment, smiling his wicked smile as Addar slowly began to close the gap between them. However, Shadow was in the mood for games, so he kept both hands in front of him as if to be tied and taken away as Addar came within arms reach. Slowly, Addar brought out bindings and prepared to apprehend Shadow when suddenly he was hit with an impact in the chest which he could only describe as being akin to being kicked by a horse. The impact was fast and hazy, and Addar had not seen what happened. The rest of the Royal Knights instantly drew their weapons and pointed them at Shadow as they too started closing the gap.

Once Addar recovered, he looked at Shadow with both anger and fear in his eyes.

"As I told you, resistance will not be tolerated. For striking out at me like that, you will now be punished by losing the hand you truck me with."

He readied his weapon, but Shadow's next move shocked and horrified him.

Shadow's eyes went wide, much wider than they had been in a long time and his pupils disappeared revealing nothing but pure red spheres surrounded by white. As Shadow spoke, it was almost as if there were two voices speaking at once. A dark, lower pitched voice and a much higher and sharper pitched voice.

"You think to place bindings on me?" Shadow asked in this evil, dual toned voice.

"You cannot hope to do such a thing if you allow me to see that fear in your eyes... It is a fear I feed on, a fear I covet and embrace. It is my greatest weapon against you and yours, and now that I've seen your fear you have no chance of following through with your threats."

Shadow walked forward, gently pushing Addar's weapon out of his way as he did so until his face was right in front of Addar's.

"Come and get me... puny human." He said, a third, middle pitched tone entering his voice.

"Very well Demon! Attack!!" Addar yelled.

What followed what a blinding and very gruesome display.

Eight Royal Guards, including Addar himself, all began to attack Shadow with spears and swords. Shadow pulled something of a vanishing act on them as he threw a small black ball towards the ground, which exploded instantly and spread black smoke into the air for a good twenty feet out. Shadow disappeared into the darkness, and the Royal Knights had to regroup and find each other as they prepared for the Demon's attack.

They didn't have to wait long.

The Royal Knight on the end of the line looked to his right side and saw a very brief flash of those heinous red eyes cut through the smoke before he was suddenly grabbed and pulled away from the group. A quick scream, and a rather large splatter of blood later, and his head rolled to his comrade's feet. The smoke began to clear, and a horrible realization befell the Royal Guards as the last of it faded into the night. Their comrade had been cut to ribbons, almost literally. His arms were both cut into upwards of four pieces, his legs into six. His torso was carved like a pumpkin, with the insides torn out and spread all over the street. His head was open on the top of the skull, revealing what was still there of his brain. The sight was enough to induce vomiting from all of the Royal Guards, including Addar. Though he was a battle hardened veteran, he'd never seen carnage like this.

How could any one person have so much evil and hatred within them that they could actually bring themselves to do something like this? Addar thought to himself as he straightened out and prepared himself as best he could for the Demon's reappearance.

As the Royal Guard on the other end of the line stood up straight, a pair of arms reached out from the darkness of a nearby alley and pulled him into the shadows. His screams did not last long, and when two of his comrades went to help him, the same kind of carnage from before made them urp a second time, but this time they held themselves together as they retreated back into their line.

It wasn't long before Shadow made his reappearance to them all, walking slowly out of the darkness, his eyes pure red over a white background and that same, wicked smile still on his face. However, for a brief instant, his head twitched to the side, and Addar saw his pupils return, along with a slight hesitation to move forward. Whatever was going on in the Demon's mind must have been a powerful struggle, for the host to lose control to the parasite that was the true Red-Eyed Demon, he almost felt sorry for him. This was further cemented in his mind as he heard the words come from Shadow's mouth, his voice crackling and going back and forth between a normal tone and that multi-timbral tone of the Demon.

"You think to defeat me and bring me to his royal highness the Emperor?... Y-You... You cannot hope to accomplish such a thing, not on your own you can't." He said, against his voice crackling and his eyes going back and forth between normal and pure red.

Addar did feel sorry for the poor soul the Demon was now taking over, but never the less his mission was clear. The Demon had to die, so he ordered his men to form up around him and strike him down however they could. The men complied, gathering their courage and will power to form a tight nit circle around him with their weapons pointed at him. Shadow looked at them in a circle, and then back over to Addar, giving him a scoff as he jumped into the air. As he did so, his body turned upside down and his legs went out into a perfect split as he basically became a human spinning top and kicked all of the men in the face around the circle, sending them to the ground. To right himself, Shadow placed his own hands on the ground and flipped his feet down to the ground and stood up, admiring his handiwork before locking eyes with Addar again.

Addar simply shook his head.

"You have many talents, Red-Eyed Demon... You have much skill... It's almost a shame that we must bring your life to an end. Had you chosen to use these skills for the benefit of your fellow man, we might not be here at this crossroads."

Shadow slowly walked forward and closed the gap between them, staring Addar in the eyes as his smile slowly withered.

"You speak to me as if there is a soul to reach out to..." Shadow started, with his head twitching once again and his eyes flashing between normal and insane.

"It is hopeless... Before long I will control this vessel in full, and when I do... This world will b...... This world will burn..." He hissed, after finally fighting back Shadow's consciousness once again.

Addar sheathed his weapon, staring the Demon in the eyes.

"As powerful as you are, Demon... You cannot defeat our Emperor. You should just give up now, and all will be forgiven once your life is over and you may find peace in the arms of the Goddess."

Shadow's smile came back in force and he leaned his head back and laughed. The laugh was hollow, evil, and completely devoid of true joy or entertainment. It was again that multi-timbral tone, with numerous voices occupying it, making it sound even more wretched and impure than his voice had been before. As the Demon regained control once again, he brought his face to within inches of Addar's.

"You amuse me, Addar ver Alotois of the Cre' Est Royal Knights... You really do... For that, I will grant you a single courtesy... The courtesy of a clean death." He said.

His arm whipped around in front of Addar's face, and Addar's consciousness slowly faded to nothing as his head rolled off his shoulders to the ground. The Demon pushed his body to the earth, but did not defile it as he had the others. As the rest of the Royal Guards began to mourn the loss of Addar and yell in fury to attack, Shadow regained control of his mind and body long enough to escape from the scene.

The next day, Shadow was outside of Triveila, sitting on a rock in the countryside staring up at the sky.

"... Is that... the true power of the Demon inside me?" He asked quietly to the heavens.

Shadow had never in his life lost control like that. Even during Roda I'l Lousta, his influence on the subconscious was strong. This time, however, he had been completely cast out of his own mind to a corner to watch everything unfold. It was almost like watching someone else through his own eyes moving his body and killing those men. The fact that he was able to fight and regain control at the end was something of a miracle, and right now he gave thanks to the Goddess for helping him spare the lives of those last few Royal Guards.

"... Goddess... What do I do now?" He asked.

Shadow had never been one for the Gods before, but as the Demon slowly tightened its grip, he was willing to try anything.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: The Moonlit Twins

Earnings

0.00 INK

#, as written by Sil
The Moonlit Twins ~ Linos & Calandra

"You owe him nothing...nothing but, perhaps, a sweet, gentle lullaby..."

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*


Image "That is a beautiful name. Persephone. I like it."

The voice of the woman had startled Linos from his banter, and he had looked over at her with a sheepish smile as the mare had raised her head to be patted. Turning to watch her, Linos had cocked his head almost curiously to one side, even as she had provided that friendly smile, beautiful amethyst eyes twinkling with pure innocence...the innocence he had remembered to once twinkle in Calandra's eyes.

The innocence that has been driven from a pure soul.

"Good day, Mr. Linos. Thank you for everything you have done."

Once more, Linos had been startled from inner banter, his eyes once more fixating on the woman before him. This time, though, he had bowed his head, providing a gentle, encouraging smile, speaking gently in his sultry tenor voice.

"My dear doctor, you've nothing to thank me for. And please, Linos will do just fine. I am pleased to know that you enjoy the sound of Persephone. It is a very special, dear name; that of my late mother."

Watching her move from the horse, becoming almost agitated and lost in thought, realizing the absenses of all those they have been travelling with, Linos had given a small sigh, patting the grand black mare one more time before turning in the direction Shadow and Calandra had disappeared to.

"If I may ask, where is everyone?"

Linos had not managed to speak before Shadow had returned, an unconscious Mayumi in his arms. Were it not for his worry over his dear sister, Linos would have rushed to Shadow and taken Mayumi to help. The poor child had looked paler than usual, and from the look on Shadow's face, it had looked worse than it truly was.

But Linos had only taken that brief look at Shadow and Mayumi before leaving them in the care of the sweet doctor, racing into the shadows of the trees to find his silenced sister. Perhaps Linos could never imagine, truly, what Calandra was going through. But he did know that it was up to him to keep her safe. In a state like that, Calandra could easily lose herself...leaving Linos alone - truly alone - for the first time in his life. He couldn't bear it.

But finding her had been easy. Up in a tree as usual, Calandra had climbed for refuge, her desire to return to the cart non-existstent. Her voice was frozen, but here tears flowed and streamed like ribbons of acid down her fair cheeks. As if to catch the sound of her heartbeat, Linos had known exactly where she was. Their link suddenly connected once more, and a surge of warmth filtered between them as he had climbed the branches of the tall old birch.

ImageShe lay there silently, eyes closed, face reddened and swollen as her tails caught every small gust of wind three feet from her branch. The silvery strands of hair, colored with vibrance, had shimmered in the shadows as she began to relax from her brother's presence. Her hand had been taken into his as another wave of tears had flown down her cheeks, streams growing into rivers.

Finally, her voice had melted, and she spoke, softly.

"I do not want to be here..."

"Liar..."

Calandra had sat up, staring at her brother in disbelief as he had stared at her with an unwavering gaze. Her brows had furrowed, her thoughts jumbling once more into a hot mess, uncontrollable and undesireable.

"I am not a liar, Linos! How dare you say that!"

But her words had been unsure, her eyes flicking away from his, wavering every time their gazes caught again. His eyes never turned from her. The only thing that moved had been his lungs, for once sounding on their own instead of syncing with his sister's. After another brief moment, he had spoken again, his voice hard and determined.

"You want to stay with this group, get your revenge, and steal Shadow's heart, as he has stolen yours. You want to be his comfort and refuge as you had hoped he was for you. You want him to drop Sereinia and take you into his arms and call you his beloved. Isn't that right?"

His hand tightened around hers, drawing her attention back to his face. Her lip quivered, her eyes growing silver, showing simple pain and confusion. Linos had spoken truth, but how could it be fixed? Finally, he had given her a small, gentle smile.

"Sweet sister, you are truly Mother's daughter. And I hate to be the one to tell you, but it is the doctor that he wishes to hold. Something that can be told just by speaking to the woman. She is innocence, purely so, and that is what he needs. It is not that you are bad for him...it is that he is bad for you. Dear Calandra...do not cry so. He had, indeed, saved us...but we are returning the favor by helping him. You owe him nothing...nothing but, perhaps, a sweet, gentle lullaby. But perhaps that is what you owe me."

She had given a small laugh, even as the tears continued to fall down her cheeks. But she wasn't sure if she was willing to accept it all. Sereinia was innocent...Linos had been right about that. And Calandra, sadly, had lost her innocence the first time she killed...only a month after her family was murdered. She had relished that moment, the feeling of another's Life's Blood spraying across her still sensitive scars as she crouched in her landing, daggers still dripping crimson. It had been that moment that innocence was truly torn from Calandra.

And then, her song was ripped away. And the Mocking Bird no longer sang.

Linos had cupped her cheek, bringing her back to that moment, his eyes now filled with glistening tears. It was then that she had, like a small child, launched herself into the comforting arms of her strong brother, burying her face in the nape of his neck as he pet her hair, letting her finally rid herself of all her sorrows. This only took mere moments, but they were the shortest moments Linos would remember. He had held her close to him, not wishing to let her go, knowing that he had to. And when she had pulled back, providing a small, determined smile, he let her do so and nodded, turning and pulling her onto his back with little effort before leaping back to the ground.

While resting against him as Linos carried her, Calandra allowed herself to fall asleep, her face, for the first time in a long time, showing serenity.

Perhaps that had come too soon....

Every night had been long during the six day trip. Upon their return, Linos spoke nothing, his face almost melencholy as he took his orders and followed beside the cart, his sister in his arms, still sleeping soundly. Little action was to occur, and Linos had nothing to worry about. But he had still kept his senses on full alert, waiting for the moment he would be able to strike. The first night, Calandra had continued to sleep soundly, so Linos had taken her watch as well as his own, grasping at an hour or two here and there. Every moment, though, was filled with nightmares of fire, hatred, and death.

It hadn't helped that Shadow was growing increasingly distant.

Upon the morning of the second day, Calandra woke and cried for her brother. Every tear was silent, and every moment was hard. When they had begun to move again, she walked on the other side of the cart, her steps in time with his, her face covered with increasing concern as she threw more and more glances his way. But even with how tired Linos had been, he never faultered, his steps and breaths still in time with his sister's, his senses on the highest alert.

But as the nights had passed, his time for sleep only lessened, until by the sixth night, he had gone nearly 36 hours without sleep at all. His face was blanched, his eyes filled with fear and worry. An omen was crossing his path. He could smell it. He could taste it. And every fiber in his being screamed his sister's name. Something was going to go wrong.

Doing as instructed by a hollow Shadow, the twins hid the horses and cart and proceeded to guard the inn in which Sereinia and Mayumi rested. That night, neither had slept.

But Calandra would sing....

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

After Shadow disappears, and the Twins have secured the area efficiently, they sit atop the roof of the inn, resting just over the window where Mayumi lies. Together, they watch the moon rise, their hands keeping them grounded to each other, allowing the bond only they could have to strengthen and keep them sane.

The sense of foreboding is thick in the air. Tensions are high. Worries increase as Shadow continues to remain absent. But not all is lost. Calandra looks to her brother, smiling gently.

"Do you remember what Mother used to sing to us? The Nightingale's Lullaby?"

"I could never forget it..."

His words are soft, choking on tears. But before he can say anything else, Calandra's voice drifts over the roof like a thousand angels.

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"Sleep, my darlings, and peace attend thee,
All through the night,
The Nightingale's song will protect thee,
From any true blight;
The night's soft hours are creeping,
Beneath soft wings, my loved ones are sleeping,
As the Nightingale sings a lullaby,
All through the night.

Nightingale mother waiting, always around thee,
All through the night,
Comfort and love everlastingly surround thee,
Giving true height;
The night's soft hours are creeping,
Beneath soft wings, my loved ones are sleeping,
As the Nightingale sings a lullaby,
All through the night.

As the Nightingale sings a lullaby,
All through the night...
"


Linos gives a wavering sigh, closing his eyes. This has been the first time she has truly sung in years. The fact that she remembers all of the words astounds him. Perhaps it imprinted on her mind a little better. After all, Linos was never the singer. It was always Calandra. The Mockingbird, truly taking after her mother.

Ah, what a sound...

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

With the apearance of the sun, the twins climb from their perch to make sure Sereinia and Mayumi are safe. Linos gives the kind doctor a smile he usually reserves for his sister, gentle and warm, and Calandra checks Mayumi for any signs of change, refusing to speak to anyone. Both are exhausted, though still refusing to sleep.

"Shadow still hasn't returned," Linos says, looking around the room a moment, "If he doesn't return by sundown tonight, Calandra will remain here while I go search for him."

Recieving a rather nasty look from his sister, Linos bows his head, providing Sereinia with one last encouraging smile before looking to Calandra, who now gives a small sigh, and departing, his sister right on his heels.

Unsure of how else to make their next move, the twins wait until sundown, still with no sign of Shadow. So, as promised, Linos departs in search of his old friend. Calandra had managed a few hours of rest that day, giving her the energy for a lonely night. After saying her goodbyes to her brother, she takes to the rooftops and guards the inn.

And like the falcon, Linos begins to search for his prey. Though this prey he does not aim to kill, he still stalks through the shadows, acknowledging the dangers with every scene he passes. He follows the trail of blood and gore only to come upon the horrific scene of what remains of the Royal Knights by sunrise the next morning. Unsure if he should continue on or not, Linos inches around the area, truly horrified, knowing the signs of the Red Eyed Demon. Shadow may be lost.

But Linos cannot protect three women on his own.

So, he trudges on, only hoping that he will live to see another sunrise. He begins to call for Shadow, praying fiercly to the Goddess that he can reach out to the good that still remains within the body of a human. But deep inside, he knows he will only find Shadow if Shadow wants to be found.

But the Falcon searches on...

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Aftermath
"There will always be consequences and it will continue to do so in death..."



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"I leave everything to you... Eo-nis..."

The sound of crows could be heard echoing through the area. Footsteps and occasional gasps could be heard as well. At times, there would be also the accompanying sound of vomit and string of curses. Scent of death clung to the air like a wrapped cloak. This was the wake of the arrest turned into massacre designed by the Red-Eyed Demon. The remaining soldiers that had survived the ferocity of the event felt relief and at the same time fear with the tinge of anger. They were glad that they were not killed that day. Fear, for they now know what the infamous assassin is truly capable of. Then, anger for the transgressions done to their comrades in battle.

"Report this to the Emperor."

A man in armor ordered with noticeable shaken anger in his voice. He gazed at the severed head of Addar who was a member of the Royal Knights. Crouching down, he closed the wide-opened eyes of the well-known war veteran. Retribution is no longer a mere voice of justice. This just turned into a personal matter without doubt. The Red-Eyed Demon was no longer in terms of being saved. This felon must be killed on sight.

"Lieutenant. A messenger bird has already been sent ahead."

One of the soldiers approached the crouched man. Standing to his feet, the Lieutenant looked at his subordinate and gave a curt nod. There was much to be done. It was without doubt in his mind that the Emperor will take measures in this. The news of the Highness annihilating one of the bases of Roda Ah K'mht was spreading across the continent like wildfire. At the same time, a storm was brewing within the Capital City of Cre' Est. Steps were now being taken and it made him wonder what his role in this entire thing.

"Take care of our comrades. They deserved a proper burial especially, Lord Addar. As for the survivors, I want them to be debriefed and treated for injuries. I want to know everything that happened here. I have a feeling that this is just the beginning of an end."

The men that gathered around him gave a salute and began picking up the pieces while the others tended to the survivors of Addar's Unit. As for him, he gently picked the decapitated head of Addar and gave few words of prayers for the fallen warrior that served Cre' Est and its people for such a long time. He would probably be the one to deliver the saddening news to Addar's family. This was truly the hardest thing to do. He dislikes being the bearer of bad news even more so towards a family that had been somewhat his as well.

"Being left behind is not really a nice feeling at all.."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dietrich "Leer" Faust

Earnings

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Xiel Ahu, Veilbrand

Dietrich had awoken inside one of the emergency hospitals set up inside of Xiel Ahu to care for the wounded. A nurse saw him sit up on his cot and immediately examined him. Though he had lost a great deal of blood, and had suffered multiple lacerations across his arms and legs, he was otherwise fine. No serious long-term damage seemed to have been dealt upon him during his encounter with the two assassins. The nurse, a young girl, probably no older than seventeen, did not know who had brought Dietrich to the hospital or where they had gone. The only choice he had was to gather up his things and make room for the wounded and dying that were still being brought in.

The amount of devastation that had been inflicted upon on the city was massive. Almost unimaginable when one considered that the aggressors hadn't really been warriors at all. No siege engines, no disciplined battle line or barbaric horde. The city had been brought to its knees in a single night, by what was estimated to be little more than a few handfuls of men. If Dietrich had not encountered two of them first hand, and almost died as a result, he would not have believed it. Something was seriously wrong here. Nothing had been stolen, no kidnappings or rapes, or any motive of any kind was obvious. It seemed that they had simply felt like sacking a city, for no other reason than the pure sport of it. Dietrich felt sickened.

What kind of heathens find fulfillment and joy in the slaughter of unworthy foes?

His fists clenched in rage as he belted Gewalt to his back tightly. Nurses and patients shot him nervous looks as he murmured ancient curses under his breath and shoved his shortsword into its sheath. His body hurt, the wounds on his arms and thighs still burned. The pain only added coal to the fire that was his rising feeling of hate and fervor. These dishonorable swine did not deserve a noble death. While Dietrich knew they would all eventually freeze in the Coward's Pool; he felt as if he was being called to speed their passing by Uirlin.
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Six days later, Dietrich stalked through the wilderness along a woodland path. The brightness of his burning soul had not yet diminished, and his eyes burned with a cold inner light. He had no idea where he was, or if he was even in Veilbrand anymore. He had simply decided on a direction and begun walking. He trusted that Uirlin would lead him towards more of the cowardly swine, so that he might do the righteous work of the War-God. He sneered darkly as he imagined the great storm that resided within him being unleashed on the fools. They believed no man who fought like a real warrior could compare with their finesse and dance-steps? Well... He would just have to show them different.

"Heheheheh... Ahehahahaahahaaaaa!!!" He cackled as he hacked branches out of his way with his shortsword.

Presently, he came across an interesting scene. A group of Imperial Soldiers surrounded what was unmistakeably a bloody battle-scene. He began to approach them, and was quickly surrounded by soldiers with grief hardened faces. His grin twisted wider uncontrollably. The analytical part of his mind told him that grinning like a maniac while approaching men who had quite likely just had comrades killed was not smart. At that moment, though, he could not feel sympathy for them. It wasn't that he didn't understand their pain, but at the moment he was engrossed in the fact that the bodies he saw before him reminded him an awful lot of the last time he had come across bodies in the woods.

"Well, well... What in the name of Uirlin happened here? I was just taking a stroll when I smelled blood. Have more enemies of the Empire met their rightful fate? Or has another glorious martyr joined the righteous host?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: The Royal Knights Of Cre' Est Character Portrait: The Royal Family of Cre' Est

Earnings

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Shadow


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"And so my life continues on, but death still trails in my wake... What am I to do?"

It was amazing to Shadow just how wrong things had gone in so short a time. In the course of one week he had lost most of his control of the Demon within his heart and soul, and it was already beginning to take him over.

"... Mayumi... Sereinia... Linos... Calandra... None of you are safe anymore..."

Shadow sat quietly on his boulder and watched the skies.

There was truly nothing left in the world for him now. With the Demon taking control, nobody was safe in this world, least of all those he kept close. If Shadow couldn't protect those dear to him from himself, he had no business being around them or claiming that he could keep them safe from others. The skies were beginning to darken with storm clouds beginning to gather overhead. Shadow could feel the chill in the air as the clouds moved in closer.

However...

Mixed in with the scent of the cool, moist air before the storm was another scent.

Shadow could smell the unmistakable scent of metal, and it was getting stronger with each passing moment. He knew that there was a battle headed his way, and there was almost no time to prepare for it either as a small ball rolled nearby, with the scent of powder filling his nose as he suddenly realized the specific nature of the powder in that ball. Shadow stood up and jumped away from the rock as a loud explosion rang out from the ball and a shockwave threw him farther than he had intended to go. When he landed, he looked up and saw another of those strange balls rolling ahead of him, and as he tried to stand and jump away it blew up less than twenty feet from him and threw him off his feet and to the ground.

Staggering to his feet once again, Shadow looked around as more of them surrounded him and all exploded at once. Luckily, instead of standing up, he dropped to the ground and lessened the impact of the explosions against his body. However, he could not protect his ears at the same time, which began to ring and throb inside his skull as he stood up and tried to get his bearings. As he stood up and looked around, his vision finally coming back into focus, he was greeted by several dozen black robed figures wearing the symbol of Roda Ah K'mht.

Looking to his left, he could see a large machine being wheeled towards him with a metal ball being dropped down into it. Given his somewhat weakened state, he could only just make out that it was a cannon before they set it off in his direction. Shadow just barely got out of the way of the ball as it smashed into the boulder he had been laying on earlier. The boulder exploded and Shadow was pelted by debris and shrapnel from the explosion, knocking him to the ground once again. Further staggered and weakened by that explosion, Shadow was barely able to get to his feet as the cannon was primed again.

Apparently, Roda Ah K'mht had taken his threats seriously enough to employ the force of several weapons which Assassins were not known to use. A cannon for one, and rifles for another beginning to gather in the near distance in preparation for a firing line against him. However, they hadn't counted on his recovery time being as quick as it was, and Shadow made it to his feet and turned around to run from the group of enemies before him. He could hear them chanting behind him that he was a coward for running away and not facing down his defeat with honor, but they obviously didn't understand the value of a tactical retreat. Getting away from enemies with projectile weaponry, especially a damn cannon, was nothing for Shadow to be ashamed or embarrassed of.

Roda Ah K'mht followed Shadow back to the city, firing the cannon and their rifles at his back the entire way as he finally got back inside the gate. The city guards assembled to face them, but were cut down as they chased Shadow through the gates. Shadow slowed his pace enough for them to slowly start catching up with him, as he didn't want too many people getting caught up in the fight. Already, the number of guards slaughtered by Roda Ah K'mht was getting too high. The fools should have stayed away from the chase through their city, but there really wasn't anything that Shadow could do about that anymore.

The first of them caught up to him and Shadow managed to dodge their attack mid stride and flip in the air to catch their arm, turning himself at the last moment to slash their throat as he continued through the streets at a break neck pace. Several more caught up to him, but he cut them down mid stride as he had done to the first, the others never seeming to learn from their comrade's mistakes.

Shadow led them through the city from one end to another, taking them over rooftops, through the alleys, through the now empty market as they smashed ninety percent of the stalls and stands on their way through, until finally they left the city through the southern gate. Outside, on the road which led to Cre' Est, Shadow stopped and finally turned to face them. All of those with guns had since ditched the weapons in favor of fighting him the old fashioned way. All of them gathered, circling him in droves until he was surrounded by a miniature sea of enemies. Shadow drew the Twin Daggers from behind his back and took a stance as they all drew their weapons and prepared for a real fight. Shadow took a deep breath as they gathered around him, and as he did so he could feel the Demon beginning to take over again. It wasn't long before Shadow was pushed out, and the Demon was set free.




Shadow regained consciousness and looked around, not sure whether to admire or fear the scene which the Demon had left for him. All around him the members of Roda Ah K'mht were shredded and in pieces, Shadow standing tall, lightly winded, but otherwise completely unharmed.

Shadow looked around in a circle around him, surveying the damage, and then looked down at his feet. He was standing in a puddle of blood over two inches deep, and all around him the scent of blood and death overwhelmed his senses to the point which he didn't see, hear, or smell the approach of a very dangerous group of individuals who were on the road from Cre' Est heading his way in answer to Addar's death.

Shadow didn't move...

He only stared blankly at the ground as if he didn't have a soul as the blood gathered around him in a puddle that was over thirty feet wide in all directions and two inches deep around his feet. Shadow took a moment to look up at the sky, his eyes empty and devoid of life as he spoke to the Gods.

"... Why?..." He asked quietly.

Is it a punishment that I must bring so much death to this world?... Or is it something more? He thought to himself.

As he stared at the sky, two familiar figures appeared on the horizon, though he did not know it yet. Both Solomon and Yarun, as well as a horde of Royal Guards, appeared out of the haze as the storm began to open up. The rain fell lightly, just enough to coat the land in a glistening sheen, but not enough to soak clothing or or impede movement. It was a calm, gentle cascade of water which now fell upon the land, and it washed away the scent of blood enough to clear Shadow's senses and the stupor which he let himself fall into. He looked over to the side and saw them all approaching, but did not move or change his expression. His gaze was still empty and devoid of life as they all drew closer. Then, another form appeared out of the haze... The Emperor of Cre' Est himself, Eonis.

Shadow looked up towards the skies once more, smiling softly though he couldn't bring himself to make it genuine.

"... You seem determined to end my suffering without my consent... But perhaps it is best that it is so..." He whispered to himself and the Gods above.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: The Royal Knights Of Cre' Est Character Portrait: The Royal Family of Cre' Est Character Portrait: The Moonlit Twins Character Portrait: Dietrich "Leer" Faust

Earnings

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Lieutenant's Favor
"There is no god here today..."



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"Well, well... What in the name of Uirlin happened here? I was just taking a stroll when I smelled blood. Have more enemies of the Empire met their rightful fate? Or has another glorious martyr joined the righteous host?"

The Lieutenant looked at his subordinates who had already surrounded the seemingly rogue warrior given his current appearance. He has no time for some mercenary who wanted to have his weapon taste fresh blood. At the same time, he was not in the mood to start any unnecessary arguments or fight. There was a bigger problem to be dealt with than some stranger who had a thirst for the thrill of the battle. All of these opinions of his came from the few moments he observed the burly man.

"Stand down."

The soldiers that surrounded the mercenary followed their orders although some were reluctant especially as they could still see the twisted smile on the unknown man's face. Nevertheless, they did as they were told. As for the Lieutenant, he stepped forward and faced the man in relative distance. He knew without a doubt that the man had been filled with battle experiences just by seeing the stranger's gait and demeanor. There was also the manner of clothing that pertained that he was a wanderer and a warrior more often than not. Thus, it was an easy conclusion to identify the man as a mercenary as there was no allegiance that can be seen on the stranger's form.

"There is nothing here for you. Please leave."

With that said, the Lieutenant left the mercenary alone as his men also did the same as they continued with their previous orders of retrieving the pieces of their fallen comrades from the work of the Red-Eyed Demon. He went towards his horse that had been prepared for him. It was imperative for him to return to Cre' Est. There was no doubt that the messenger bird that had been sent will eventually find its way to the Emperor's hand. However, the corpses that they carry needed to be properly tended and given a proper burial as the member of the Cre' Est Imperial Army. This is after all what they could do. Regarding the apprehension of the Criminal known as the Red-Eyed Demon. He has no orders that had prompted him to do that.

Honestly, the Lieutenant did not want to jeopardize the safety of his men. It is clear to everyone that the Red-Eyed Demon was not a mere myth or just a figment of the imagination to scare the children to go to sleep. It was a true existence that is now in a guise of a human with the innards of Demon. This was something he was certain as the carnage the infamous assassin had done was beyond words. In any case, he was certain that the Emperor would not see his decision as a breech of the Code of Honor. He cares for the life of his men and his at the moment. Adding to that, he has a vague feeling that the Emperor would want to deal with this in a more personal manner. With that in mind, he gently nudged his steed with his foot to move forward. As it would, he passed the mercenary on his way. In which, he stopped for a few seconds and addressed the man.

"From the way you spoke, I would guess you are what they call a Chosen of Uirlin. If that is so, I will ask you for a favor as a warrior to another warrior. Call the Gods for the soldiers that had died in the hands of the Demon."

After saying that, the Lieutenant left without turning back or speaking anything else further. Some of them followed behind him as their direction had already been set. It was time to return to the Capitol of Cre' Est. The delivery of the bad news to the people who have been left behind was about to come. As such, no amount of reverence to the Gods will ever return that lives that had been taken. Trudging on the dirt road, he looked at the sky which was slowly darkening somewhat. It would seem that a change of weather will be upon them soon. During this time, he softly whispered to himself which was not enough for anyone else to hear.

"When you need them, the gods abandon us. It makes me wonder if they really do exist..."



Triune : Yarun, Eonis ,and Solomon
"In this desolate world only the strongest survives, so which are you?"



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"A report from the reinforcements from Triveila, Your Highness."

Taking the parcel of letter being given, Eonis read its contents without even a hint of emotions behind those golden eyes of his. Nevertheless, it seems to bear a terrible news as the Emperor quickly tore the said paper into little bits within seconds. His presence became even more domineering than ever. Without a word, he strode to his steed and climbed on top of it without much fuss. The men were bewildered by the sudden action of their Supreme Commander as their previous orders were to stay here for the night and then continue deeper into the Shaharan territory to completely exterminate the presence of the Roda Ah K'mht in this nation. As if noticing the confusion of his men, Eonis gazed at the men who were rather curious about his actions. There was no time to waste as the fire inside the Emperor was further ignited by the contents of the torn letter.

"We ride to Triveila now. I will kill the Red-Eyed Demon."

Those eyes of gold seemed to be burning brightly that even the sun would grow envious of it. Unlike the big ball of fire in the sky, there was no warmth within his piercing gaze as it delivered cold shivers to anyone who would meet such a stare. Its intensity was of something dark and without a doubt brewing deep inside Eonis. A cold rage was about to be unleashed and the one at its receiving end was the Red-Eyed Demon. The men were petrified in their positions for a few moments due to their Emperor's declaration but mostly due to those eyes that seemed to put the legendary eyes of the infamous assassin to shame. They recalled the words of the Emperor once more and the coldness of that statement did not only singe but burned them furiously like wild fire. It is a certainty that if this battle truly comes to pass, it will be written in the panels of history. They could only imagine one winner and that was their Emperor. After all, who would root for a bloodthirsty criminal who had only brought devastation and suffering?

On another area, the Prodigies of the Cre' Est Emperor were also starting their journey to track down the location of the Princess. They had been ordered to protect the Heiress at all costs and those were the last messages from Frigga. Loyal as they are, it was a mission they would do even if moral issues should come to pass. The information they had received last time was that Addar had located the Red-Eyed Demon at the Capitol City of Triveila. According to their orders, the apprehension of the wanted assassin was Addar's priority. As for them, they are to remain covert in their objectives without intervening. Although, the White Knight seem to be brooding about a particular matter that it was no longer something the Sword Dancer could ignore.

"What is eating the Grim Reaper that you are about to hit a tree?"

The rather sarcastic quip from Yarun jolted Solomon from his stupor. With that, he was able to nudge his horse to another direction to avoid a frontal collision with an already dead tree by the side of the dirt road. He was so busy with his own internal debate that he was beginning to not notice his surroundings. This was unacceptable as he is a Knight that should always be prepared for anything. Shaking himself out of his reverie, he cast his silver white eyes to his companion and decided to give an answer. Despite, the occasional useless remarks that Yarun would speak. The Captain of the Royal Knights was truly a sensible person to talk with when the man was in the mood to do so.

"Master Eonis and The Red-Eyed Demon."

Upon hearing this, Yarun released an exasperated sigh and had his rogue pink eyes focused on the road ahead. It is true that he was also plagued by many questions ever since they had come in direct contact with the infamous assassin back at Cre' Est. However, he did not want to think about such matters that were unattainable at the moment. Instead, he focused on one thing that he was certain that will have an answer. It was to defeat the Red-Eyed Demon once and for all. As for Solomon, he was on a different mindset. This was something that Yarun understood through the years they had been together under the tutelage of the Emperor Eonis. Solomon was the kind of person that minds every little detail even if he appears not to care about it outwardly. The very fact that he still searches for the remnants of his family on the side proves the silver-haired guy's inner attachments.

"You should only dwell on the questions you can have answers now. There is no use concluding anything when all the variables are floating out there. Take your time and then act when it is right."

Listening to Yarun's words, Solomon can see the truth within in it. He still has no concrete evidences and he had already decided since a long time ago that his loyalty and life were to be given to the Emperor and his family. It was a promise he had done from the moment he took that hand. As such, it was something he has no intentions of ever breaking at all. Even if everything around him changes and breaks, his promise to serve will never break against anyone or anything. Directing his eyes to the road once more, the haze in his mind was slightly lifted. It would be nice if Yarun was always this sensible. Perhaps, the Red-Eyed Demon and Yarun could understand each other more in this kind of manner. Since in his opinion, the two men have certain similarities with each other and it does not simply end with their eye colors.

"It would be good if you are like this all the time."

Yarun scoffed at Solomon's comment. "I'm always like this."

Shaking his head, Solomon did not bother to look at Yarun as he answered. "You could have fooled me with you running after the Red-Eyed Demon like some scorned lover."

This statement made Yarun stopped from his tracks as he put his mount to a halt. Then, he glared at Solomon who continued on. "I am not! I'll kill that bastard you call the Red-Eyed Demon! I'll show you!"

Releasing a sigh, Solomon knew that Yarun could be overly childish and at times overly mature when dealing with matters no matter how complex or delicate it might be. This may be the man's biggest asset. "Before that, how are your swords?"

Inquiring about Yarun's swords, the Sword Dancer's annoyance was successfully averted as he began moving once more catching to Solomon's pace. The last duel Yarun had with Shadow had caused quite the nicks on the swords he wielded. It was a surprise as his swords were the type to sustain incredible force whether it was from its wielder or from another. He could only conclude that the composition of the 'toothpicks' that the Red-Eyed Demon owned probably had the same metal that their Master's primary weapon possessed. He came to that conclusion as in the past the only time his swords received such damage was with a spar against the Emperor. In that case, he would have to be more wary in his next fight with the infamous assassin. Moving one of his hand to the Dark Judgment's hilt, he answered Solomon with a certain calmness that was a very rare change.

"I have already have them fixed while you went with your secret meeting with that felon. As for the Sin Eater, it was hard finding the bones that could be used. But I managed it in the end."

It was not in Solomon's nature to dislike anything regarding death. To him, it was a common thing to have in this world they lived in. Despite that, it was also something that everyone wants to run away from even when it is already in front of you with no hope to escape from its clutches. In any case, he had never liked the Sin Eater which was one of Yarun's primary weapons. Its creation consisted of a bloody and twisted history. There was also the composition of the said blade that could make even the veterans of war and slaughter feel goosebumps. Sometimes, Solomon wondered if Yarun felt any guilt for the death he had caused especially to his own family. Perhaps, there was or possibly even none. This was the only thing he could never tell about the Sword Dancer.

"I see. Good to hear. Well, we have our orders. It is to protect her from the shadows. The Red-Eyed Demon had expressed his resolve to protect so, I don't see any problems from that in the future. There is also that matter..."

"Please... stop... I am not a princess! I am Sereinia Lucis Nouralail! I am a doctor! That is who I am! I cannot be anyone else.. My past is not a lie... Please take back your words, Mr. Solomon... Take it back... Please... My place is here..."

Sereinia's words echoed within Solomon's mind as his eyes of silver white showed a certain sad understanding. There was no doubt in his mind that matters would only be more dangerous and difficult for everyone involved in this web that everyone seems to call as fate. Regardless, they have their orders. Adding to that, he could not simply set aside the Princess' feelings especially when he had witnessed it firsthand. His orders were to protect and he would do so. He will protect the Heiress both in body and soul. There was no room for exceptions. This was the task handed to him and Yarun by the Emperor and the Empress. To protect the most precious treasure of the their Master and his Wife, their sole child.

"This is reckless talk. But, do you intend to let the Red-Eyed Demon escape Addar's clutches by chance, Solomon?"

The question provided by Yarun cut through Solomon's inner monologue. It is true that their orders were not to intervene in Addar's mission. As such, he had planned to do just that exactly. After all, Solomon knew well enough that the war veteran was no match for the wanted assassin. It was not a matter of experience or training. This was a matter of skill and talent. Unfortunately, Addar does not have that. So, Yarun's inquiry had some truth in it. As an answer, he simply offered a ghost of a smile before going ahead on the road. Seeing this, Yarun simply shrugged and knew that every fiber in his body was opposed to simply standby while Addar has fun with the Red-Eyed Demon. But, they have their orders. Then, so be it.

It was then at that specific moment, the Master and his Pupils have their paths transected but now with different objectives. Yarun and Solomon stopped from their tracks and so did Eonis who stopped before them. The Royal Army that were behind the Emperor was also pleasantly surprised by the chanced meeting. They had been told that the top two Knights had been given a mission. The details of such an order were highly confidential which was given directly by the Emperor. Although, there were rumors that this was the punishment due to the stunt that the Captain Yarun had pulled of at the Bloody New Year. All in all, this was indeed really a rather interesting event to have occurred.

"Your Highness, we are humbled by your presence. How may we be of service to you?"

Yarun and Solomon immediately got off their horses as they greeted simultaneously and knelt in front of Eonis who simply looked at them with those rather cold golden eyes. Those eyes they had only seen once in their life. It was when their conversation came close to a rather distasteful event in their master's past. Solomon immediately noticed this and wondered what had caused such a reaction. They did hear that the Emperor had decided to wipe out the Roda Ah K'mht. This was likely more or so in response to the injury the assassin group had caused on Sereinia previously. However, the intense feelings had something more to it than a simple punishment. It was more like a boiling rage of losing someone. This earned his curiosity as he met those golden eyes with his silver white ones.

"If I may be so bold, where are you headed my Emperor?"

There was a rather tense silence between the two and Yarun was not dumb to not notice the atmosphere around them. His eyes of rogue pink looked at Solomon and then to the Emperor in anticipation. This was also shared by the soldiers that accompanied Eonis. Soon enough, the answer was heard and the actions that came after was completely unexpected from both sides.

"To kill The Red-Eyed Demon."

Yarun looked at Eonis with great confusion. It was not because of the fact the Emperor wanted the Demon Assassin dead. He did not understand what had pushed the Emperor into the point of using his sword once more to kill. When he was the one who wished to use it for protection. This was truly a great surprise along the numbing cold tone that their Master had used to deliver his words. Eonis surely meant business and anyone who would obstruct his way would be removed without much of a hesitation. What had caused such a clear thirst for blood? After all, the Emperor had always been supportive of the Empress' pacifistic ways and dealt with aggression with negotiations instead of the usual beat them up first.

"If the time comes, Eonis is called to the battlefield. Please watch over him for me. Don't let him lose sight of what truly matters. He would certainly do things to ensure my protection and our child even if they are heinous. This is my only order to you my Royal Knights. Don't make him regret. Don't let him become a monster."


Signed by,
Regalie Abessa Del Crest
Empress of Cre' Est


The White Grim Reaper slowly stood which was followed by Yarun. Their eyes had a rather serious and determined look behind it. The letter which they had been given played within their heads. This caused Eonis to be oddly curious. He had expected for them to be overjoyed by this decision especially Yarun who had wanted for the Red-Eyed Demon to disappear. Yet, they looked at him with such defiance that if he was not on an urgent matter would find this very amusing. Unfortunately, he was not and found such looks distasteful to his person. Climbing down from his steed, Eonis faced his two students. They seemed to expect some explanation for his sudden decision to eliminate the infamous assassin. Perhaps, he did owe them a degree of reason to this choice.

"Addar has failed at the cost of his life."

This simple statement shock the entire army as now they came to understand the contents of the paper that had been torn by the Emperor earlier. As for Solomon and Yarun, they narrowed their eyes at this information. Addar was a man worthy of respect and an adviser to the Emperor in terms of military ambitions. At the same time, Addar was also the kind that had always treated Solomon and Yarun as eager young ones which they sorely needed many times. It is no wonder that the Emperor was so intent on delivering his personal form of retribution. However, the words of the Empress echoed within the heads of the two Royal Knights. Their was no need for their Master to change into something unrecognizable when they are capable of handling it.

"The Red-Eyed Demon is a wanted criminal and deserves a punishment by death. However, your eyes are hazed my Emperor. It is not of justice and righteousness but with hatred and anguish. As such..."

Solomon stood in a fighting stance. As for Yarun, he removed the locks on the sheaths of his dual swords and continued Solomon's words as he also placed himself in a combative position. His eyes flickered colors into a deeper shade of pink that made it appear almost crimson.

"We will stop you here, our Emperor."

Eonis eyes narrowed with annoyance at this declaration while the soldiers were shocked by the turn of events. Some of them yelled traitors towards Solomon and Yarun but they were immediately silenced as Eonis raised his hand for them to not speak any further, He did not made any move to welcome his students' determination to fight him. They were the best among the soldiers of Cre' Est, among the continent and even perhaps in the world if possible. However, there was no way they could hope to defeat him at their current state. They were still evolving and had yet to reach their true potential. He on the other hand was a different matter.

"You will bare your fangs at me? I order you to stand down. This is a direct order from your Emperor."

Yarun fully unsheathed his swords and pointed them both at Eonis. It was his way of not only delivering how serious he was but also as a form of a challenge while Solomon remained indifferent through all of this. This altercation was inevitable in more ways than one. Eonis could see that his Students were not going to turn back which makes him think what prompted such a transgression towards him. However, he has no time for such probing or a series of interrogations. His time was quite valuable at the moment.

"This is a direct order from the Empress, your Highness."

At the mention of the Empress, the soldiers began to have doubts and hesitations about this event. What was the meaning of this? It is well-known that the Emperor and Empress always stood by each other. Does this mean that things were not what it seemed? However for Eonis, he completely understood why this was happening. It seemed that his wife would not simply let him be. This was a trait of hers that he had fallen in love with over and over again. However, this time he was not going to relent easily. The Red-Eyed Demon had taken his daughter and now a dear friend. There was no way that the felon would come out of this scot-free. He would deliver his wrath even if he has to get through his own students to do that.

"So be it. No one shall interfere. This is between me, Yarun, and Solomon."

With that said, the soldiers immediately gave enough space for the three combatants to do as they pleased in their battle. They have never imagined such a thing to happen. After all, Yarun and Solomon were most loyal to the Emperor in every way. At the same time, the Emperor who had personally trained them had always trusted the two Knights in return. However, this was a clash that clearly do not understand the reason for suddenly happening. They had no idea what would be determined in this fight. It was truly something which they do not understand. Regardless of their assumptions, the only thing that matter was the decisions of Eonis, Yarun, and Solomon.

"Come. Yarun. Solomon."

In an instant, Yarun lunged forward delivering a quick backslash with his Dark Judgment which Eonis avoided by sidestepping. As a response, Solomon took this to deliver a high kick which was blocked by Eonis with his hand and pushed it away in an effort to outbalanced Solomon. Following it up, Yarun made a quick cross slash meant to decapitate the head. This was once again dodge by Eonis who ducked and Solomon who had stopped himself from falling on the ground by the support of his hand. He then did a sideswept kick in an effort to disrupt Eonis' footwork. However, it was futile as Eonis did a rather acrobatic backflip while using their heads as support. Afterwards, the Emperor landed on a safe distance from them while the two knights seemed displeased by Eonis' actions.

"Are you two worthy enough to make me draw my sword?"

Solomon and Yarun straightened themselves. Silver white and rogue pink eyes remained defiant as they looked at Eonis. However, the only difference from before is that their eyes were now glazed by a certain tint of excitement. Eonis looked at his students calmly as he reached out his hand to them. There was no need for words as once more the two Knights launched their attacks once more.



Sereinia Lucis Nouralail
"I will always go to you..."



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Linos was now in search of Shadow who had yet to return. The feeling of dread continued to creep within Sereinia as she continued to watch over Mayumi. Even how much trouble Shadow would have, he would always return to them within that day. It made her wonder if the Roda Ah K'mht had managed to pin him down. Shadow was indeed a powerful fighter without a doubt in her mind. However, there are times that certain incidents can shift the favors of battle. More importantly, the looming scene of that New Year unfolded in her head. Could it be possible that he entered such a state again that even Taira had hid her from Shadow's sight. Biting her lower lip, she decided to get some fresh air for now. She was not going to stray away from the inn. After all, she did not want to cause too much trouble on Calandra who still was wary of her presence.

"Ms. Calandra?" Sereinia called out to the woman who was currently on the roof. "I'll be leaving the inn for some fresh air. I will not stray too far,"

With that said, Sereinia waited for a response and when she received it, The good doctor had assured Calandra that she will not cause unnecessary trouble. However before she left, Sereinia made sure of Mayumi's condition. The younger girl has yet to wake from her stupor but her vitals were still normal. How she wished that Mayumi would wake up now. It would be much of a relief to know that one of her precious people was out of the woods. In any case when she was done, she took her leave and decided to walk around the streets were Calandra would have a good visual of her. She was not certain about this yet but Calandra seemed unwilling to like her which was not the same with Linos. She wondered why but those were simple fleeting thoughts as Sereinia's focus returned to Shadow's welfare.

"Where are you Shadow?"

At the exact moment, explosion rattled the city in which Sereinia was greatly alerted. Was it possible that the Roda Ah K'mht was targeting to destroy this place as well like they did at Xiel Ahu. This was horrible. Instead of returning to the inn, she allowed her senses to help people reigned over her as she ran to the source of the massive riot. It did not bother her even once the knowledge being harmed. All she know that people were possibly hurt and she must helped them at all costs especially when she is a doctor by profession. She had also completely forgotten that she did not want to cause additional trouble for Calandra but helping people was more important to her at that time. Also, she knew that Calandra would not leave Mayumi alone. As such, she soon reached the market place where evidence of cannons were used. Blood littered the streets and wails of the innocents filled the air. Her heart broke at such a scene and quickly tended to the wounded that she could save from death's grip.



To the Shadowy Depths...
"I have always wondered why do the Gods cry? When they take everything away?"



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The pattering sounds of the hooves and footsteps slowly overcome the falling rain. Triveila was just a few meters in front of Cre' Est Royal Army when the rain had fallen. It would have been preferable to have stopped until the rain had ceased. However, the current events before their arrival here had prevented them to ask their Supreme Commander for a refuge. Even more, the atmosphere of the entire army was rather on the borderline of gloom and determination. At the same time, they were also not in the mood to stop from their tracks especially when the objective they had been given was now standing in front of them. The most heinous existence to have come into this world, the Red-Eyed Demon.

Solomon and Yarun were currently not in the best of condition as their fight with Eonis had lead them to defeat. It would appear that the Emperor was still stronger for them even with combined efforts. As of now, their hands were currently placed into bindings as orders by the Emperor and were actually forced to be pulled by the horses as they walked through the remainder of the journey to Triveila. But what welcomed them was indeed much like a painting of an apocalypse. Silver white eyes recognized within seconds through the haze of the raid Shadow's figure. The man stood in the middle of the blood that was being slowly washed away by the falling rain with pieces of body parts scattered much like jigsaw puzzle. Could it be possible the demon that Shadow was discussing with him was coming out?

As for Yarun, Rogue pink eyes glowed in apprehension of the scenery bestowed upon them. The rain may have started to wash away the travesty which had occurred here. However, there was no doubt in his mind that the Red-Eyed Demon was truly an existence not needed in this world. Even if Solomon had told him about the man's desire to protect the princess. To him, it was all lies from beginning to end. He knows very well a person who enjoys battle and carnage. It is because he has that same thirst burning within him that he had always kept in check. This man who appeared to be lifeless corpse was no exception. This person does not know to protect. This sad-excuse for an assassin only knows how to kill. Narrowing his eyes, he was having the urge to fight the wanted felon to snap him out of his useless daze. However, he was prevented otherwise.

"This is my business."

The one who said that was Eonis who climbed down from his horse and began to walk towards the infamous Red-Eyed Demon. The boy that had dared to commit outrageous crimes inside his palace and to his people. At the same time, this boy had even made his presence known to him through brief encounter. Golden eyes that seemed to resemble glowing embers gazed at the form of the zombie-like apparition of the wanted criminal. This was the boy that Takai had once told him about having the same pair of eyes. The boy that Takai had wanted for him to take under his wing if he has ever joined the leagues of Te'i Sai. However, Eonis had chosen a different path. Ironically, the past does have its way to rear its ugly head from time to time. This time it was in the form of the Demon which Te'i Sai had nourished and had set loose on the lands of Cre' Est. Soon enough, he was in front of the Red-Eyed Demon and began to spoke in a rather calm manner much like resembling teh falling rain.

"Red-Eyed Demon. I believe you know who I am already. We meet once again."

Somewhere else, Sereinia was following the visible trails of destruction that seemed to have lead away from the city. She has a feeling that the possibility of Shadow being involved was high. With that in mind, she did not have any second thoughts as made her way through the debris. In the process, she also tended to the wounded people she would come across. Her instinct to care and to help will not allow her to abandon the citizens that could use her aid. After doing so, she continued on her way despite having the rain fall on her. It did not matter to her if she gets wet due to it. All that matters is that she wanted to be assured that Shadow was safe on the other end of this trail of violence.

Her walk was slowly turning into a jog, and soon it turned into a sprint as she ran across the city. Sereinia's efforts were soon rewarded as she had reached the gates that were leading to Cre' Est. There she saw a scene which she did not want to see ever. Shadow stood there in the middle where blood seemed to have pooled under his feet which was now being taken away by the rain ever so slowly. Body parts of humans were all over the ground as if discarded there without much purpose. The only conclusion she had was the same circumstances that had been unleashed in the New Year Event. This time there now Linde that could stop Shadow from his rampage. Furthermore before Shadow, an incredible amount of the Royal Army of Cre' Est which she had identified through the insignia of their banners were present. They were probably here to take Shadow away for his crimes. Somehow, she could not let that happen.

"Shadow!" Sereinia called out for him through the falling of the rain. She ran towards Shadows not noticing that the Gods seemed to have other plans for all of them.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: The Royal Family of Cre' Est Character Portrait: Dietrich "Leer" Faust

Earnings

0.00 INK

"From the way you spoke, I would guess you are what they call a Chosen of Uirlin. If that is so, I will ask you for a favor as a warrior to another warrior. Call the Gods for the soldiers that had died in the hands of the Demon."

Dietrich managed to bow his head in a gesture of solemn respect as the soldier continued on his way. He forced himself to feel the pain of the men around him, momentarily dousing the heat of his passion. As the mangled bodies were being carefully tended too and carried away, he muttered the Right of Passing under his breath. Some of the men shot him glances, but he ignored them. He did not expect them to understand the old ways. He did not know these men, and they were not from Veilbrand most likely; but that did not matter to Uirlin.

It doesn't matter if they were good or evil in the sight of men, what matters is that they fought and died for what they believed in. That is all that matters to you Powerful One. If no other gods will take their souls, then you will gladly welcome them warm themselves at your fire with open arms. They will find true paradise in the presence of Your glory.

Dietrich would have preferred to build funeral pyres for them, so that their souls could not be tied to the earth; but he knew that the other soldiers from Cre'Est would see this as blasphemous. Still, he believed they would have no trouble in reaching their gods or Uirlin.

The Demon.... huh... Strange, why would the dagger-man kill Imperial soldiers? He claimed to be fighting a great threat to the Empire. Strange, very strange.

If the Demon had done this, than more than likely he was still in the city somewhere. Dietrich bid his condolences to the remaining men, then made his way into the city. He followed no certain path, but instead let the hand of Uirlin guide his steps. He could not help but feel that it was no accident he had been led here. He had some part to play in this story, the story of the Demon. What that part was, though, as either an adversary or ally, he did not know. It seemed Fate had decided to get Dietrich wrapped up in a story much larger and darker than his own. His thread was being knitted into an already large quilt.

He felt like he was in a dream, walking aimlessly through a city whose name he did not even know. In fact, where was he? Was he still in Veilbrand? He wasn't sure, but he didn't think so. The air smelled different here. For a moment, he wondered if he was on a Spirit Journey. Stranger things were known to happen to Uirlin's chosen. Suddenly though, he found what he was sure Uirlin had guided him to.

There stood the Demon himself, plastered with gore and crimson. In a pool of ichor he stood, like a harbinger angel of the end-times. Instantly, the hair on the back of Dietrich's neck stood on end, a snarl escaped his lips. Something was not right here. He could feel something, something cruel and thick and twisted. And ugly thing that slithered through the air and corrupted, burned, and slew. Truly, was this the Demon himself? This presence of truly evil proportions?

For a moment, his entire being focused on the Demon. Presently though, his senses were bombarded from all directions. He realized it was raining, and that there was an army in front of the Demon. The Imperial Army. Dietrich could not truly believe what he was seeing. It was unmistakable, the emperor himself stood before the Demon. There was no one else on earth who the man could be, Dietrich was sure.

Uirlin, your crones have weaved the thread of my fate, they have tied it to a truly Great Doom. I thank you Uirlin, if you mean to give me a glorious death this day. Though I ask, who am I to fight for?

"Shadow!"

He watched as the woman whom he had seen from afar, what seemed like months ago, race through the rain towards the Demon. Her feet splashed through the ichor as she flung herself towards the Demon.

What does this mean? Am I to stand with the Demon? Is this your Doom for me Uirlin? To stand with a Demon against an army? Even though he radiates such an evil presence? Give me a sign, Powerful One! Anything! Show me what your will for me is!

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

Mayumi
"How much longer will this take? What's the point in showing me this if you won't allow me to leave and make the needed changes? You're wasting my time."




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Suddenly, she was falling, her head had spun causing her to lose balance and fall to the ground. Her pale blue hair flowing after her before landing in messy waves around her.

The figure of a man loomed over her. Crouching beside her fallen frame, he cupped her chin in his hand.

"Xei t'os va mihndru ca's sim va ohk. Votrem kimeh, aas votrem kimoh." The man spoke darkly in an ancient language.

"You would do well to commit those words to memory, otherwise you'll never see the truth." The man told the barely conscious girl.

The last thing she saw was an upwards semi-circle that looked almost sincere gracing his lips as darkness claimed her.

Mayumi had only understood bits and pieces of the ancient language he had spoken in, but had forgotten to ask Shadow about it later on as she had been badly injured.

“Why are you showing me this? Hasn’t that event passed already?” Mayumi questioned the dark void that surrounded her.

Understanding what she wanted, the scene faded into another before her…

The scene was blurry, but Mayumi could make out a group of assassins surrounding a woman whom she found very familiar. Soon enough, the woman went limp and was lifted onto one of the assassin’s shoulder and carried away into the dark. Mayumi wondered where they were taking her, and as if answering her, the scene disappeared and showed her a middle aged man sitting upon a throne like chair as the woman was thrown onto the floor before him.

Catching a glimpse of the woman’s face, Mayumi immediately recognised the features of the woman even though the scene was blurry and rushed forward wanting to help her, but darkness held her back, dark wispy tendrils wrapped themselves around her limbs preventing her from making any movements.

“Let me go!” Mayumi exclaimed in frustration.

She hated this, she hated feeling helpless. When were they going to release her from here?

Suddenly, questions filled her mind. Were these scenes going to happen while she was stuck in this dark void? Was everyone going to disappear from the face of the earth like her master while she was stuck here? Was she going to wake up to the corpses of her… companions? Wait, when did she care this much about others? If they were dead, it would just mean that she was back to square one towards her goal of vengeance… right?

‘Master, where are you?’ With her limbs still immobilized by the dark wispy tendrils, Mayumi’s gaze fell to the never ending void below, her bangs covering her eyes that held confusion and a new emotion she had yet to discover.

Present time outside her mind…

A tear leaks out from between pale eye lids as the mental battle continues on without end.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: The Royal Knights Of Cre' Est Character Portrait: The Royal Family of Cre' Est Character Portrait: The Moonlit Twins Character Portrait: Dietrich "Leer" Faust

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow


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"... Time is cruel and just, as fate is both wise and ignorant... To see with my own eyes my own destruction... There can be no greater salvation than that."

"Shadow!" Sereinia cried, running towards him through the rain.

Shadow's lifeless eyes wandered over towards her, showing absolutely no emotion whatsoever as his head cocked lightly to the side.

As she made her way to him through the gore surrounding him, blood beginning to stain her clothing, Shadow's eyes slowly slid back towards Eonis who had just announced himself to Shadow.

"Red-Eyed Demon. I believe you know who I am already. We meet once again." Eonis stated.

Shadow merely shrugged to Eonis, his eyes closing slightly as he did so until they opened as his shrug came to an end. It was a sign of pure indifference to the situation, and Shadow's body language told the entire story... He was empty of all things.

Once Sereinia reached him, Shadow looked at her and gave her a slight frown.

"You should not be here." He said in a low voice.

Sereinia obviously didn't care for the comment as she shook her head at him and tried to speak, only to have Shadow knock her out by using pressure points at the back of her skull. Slowly, she slumped downward, but Shadow mustered what care and willpower he had left to pick her up and carry her out of the blood soaked field and set her down gently by one of the buildings at the edge of the city. Eonis followed Shadow’s movements more specifically to the young lady he held in his arms. Those golden eyes that were crystal cold had softened to a certain degree even if it was just for a brief moment.

Sereinia would not be out for more than a few minutes, but by then this issue would likely be solved... for better or worse.

Shadow turned around and walked all the way over to Eonis. Strictly speaking, Eonis was not too pleased on how the young lady was handled. There could have been other ways but more importantly, that was his daughter. He could easily tell as she resembled her mother, Regalie. It might have been the easiest way to keep her away however, it does not mean he agrees. In any case, he would let this slip by as there are other matters to be taken care of for now. When Sereinia was put away to a safe distance, Eonis reclaimed his stone-faced demeanor and did not drop down his guard even when Shadow’s posture was loose and devoid of aggression. Eonis wasn't buying it as his own body language tensed slightly and his eyes narrowed while the Demon approached him.

And then their eyes met.

Eonis's seething hatred and subdued wrath met Shadow's calm indifference and clashed in a very subtle way which most others would not be able to see. Shadow himself smirked slightly as Eonis's frown darkened.

"My business with you is your death. It is the only way you could atone for all of your transgressions." Eonis voice did not have any warmth or its usual amicable quality in it. Instead, it was much like the creeping voice that haunts people in their nightmares.

Shadow looked at him, that smirk still on his face as his eyes began to glow brighter and brighter with each passing second.

"It's a shame, Eonis, that a warrior of your caliber will meet his end at the hands of a Demon whom his own previous master created to take his place."

Eonis' eyes narrowed even more and his hands were now clenched tightly into fists as the glow of Shadow's eyes began to darken. The rain began to pour down harder, and Eonis made the first move against the Demon.

Lashing out with his right fist towards Shadow's head, Shadow effortlessly dodged the blow and countered it by striking Eonis's inner arm at the elbow, temporarily cutting off the signals of the nerves within the inner arm and forcing his hand to lock up. Eonis took a few steps back and tried to flex his hand, but it was no use. As Eonis came in and attacked with his left hand, Shadow applied a similar but still differing tactic, and instead attacked Eonis's shoulder. He avoided the brachial artery, but still struck a nerve center in the shoulder under the arm which caused his entire arm to go limp. Eonis was shocked as this feral man whom was just an understudy of Grandmaster Takai, had been able to do this to him. At the same time, he was also quite thrilled at this turn of events. It seems that this "Demon" was not an over exaggerated legend. The rush of the battle had ignited a dark force which slowly makes its way to clutch the fragile and subdued humanity of the Emperor.

Shadow scoffed at Eonis for a moment, shaking his finger at the Emperor in a mocking fashion.

"Tsk, tsk. A warrior of your caliber should never enter a battle and underestimate your opponent, Eonis. Whether you believe in the rumors surrounding me or not, I'm a cut above your two apprentices over there and am much more dangerous than they could hope to be... But if you'd like, I can undo the damage I just dealt." He offered.

Yarun's teeth clenched and his obvious hatred of the Demon was reaching a breaking point. Not only did Shadow just insult him, but he mocked his lethality in front of the Emperor, in front of his master. There would be no forgiveness or sympathy from Yarun towards Shadow this day once he got free of the bindings his hands were now in. Solomon was not a statue to not feel that sardonic remark about his strength. However, he met that jab with logic as there was an amount of truth in those words. They were not strongest for now. Moreover, he was viewing this Demonic Persona as an overgrown spoiled child like the one he had been babysitting for the past years. It was now easier to simply ignore such comments. Had Shadow been in his normal state, he would not be able to back up those words so easily. For now, he should focus on an immediate obstacle which was their captivity. He elbowed Yarun for a moment, catching his attention and focusing it on loosening the bindings just in case things went wrong and they had to rescue the Emperor.

Shadow clearly held the psychological advantage over Eonis right now. Adding to that the influence of the True Red-Eyed Demon slowly beginning to creep into his system, and the outcome tipped more and more into Shadow's favor.

Eonis, however, was unimpressed. He stood up straight and used his right hand to strike a nerve point in his left shoulder and slowly got the feeling back into his arm. Once his left arm was free, he struck another nerve point in his right arm to counter Shadow's earlier efforts, and regained the use of his hand. Taking a moment to breath in and out slowly, Eonis gathered his calm and focused his mind on the task at hand, no longer allowing himself to be angered. He could feel the trickling clutches of that desire opening the lock he had placed on it himself. It was something he would not allow. Furthermore, he has no intention of stooping down at the level of the Demon before him.

"It is good to know that there would be no warrior’s covenant between us. For there are no deals between man and demon." Eonis commented as he stretched his arms to ensure everything was fine with their functions.

The two warriors faced off again, Shadow's eyes glowing brightly again as Eonis came forward.



Shadow and Eonis both exploded at each other through the pouring rain, the water around them being sent flying away as their bodies moved at blinding speeds.

Eonis threw both fists at Shadow's head, to which Shadow ducked and attacked Eonis's stomach with his own fists. Eonis twisted his body and twirled around, sending a backhand strike to Shadow's head which Shadow caught in his hand and pulled towards him. Eonis used the momentum of being carried towards him to try and head butt Shadow, but the Assassin moved his head out of the way and instead managed to get his right elbow around to strike the Emperor in the forehead. The blow hurt both of them, Shadow slightly more so, but the retaliation afterwards was something all together its own. Shadow managed to bring his knee up seemingly from nowhere to strike Enois directly upwards into the base of his breastbone. The impact, along with the pinching of skin, nerves, muscles and veins, was almost crippling for a few brief seconds until Eonis managed to get a hold on his pain and block it from his mind.

The two of them continued their fight, each punching and kicking at the other so hard that the very rain almost seemed to divert away from their bodies on its course towards the earth below. Strike after strike, blow after blow, the two warriors engaged in a battle which had all of the Royal Guards, save Yarun and Solomon, severely concerned for the Emperor's well being. Yarun didn't really seem to care, as in his mind the "Demon" was already defeated going against the Emperor, but Solomon was a different story.

In Solomon's keen eyes, the battle unfolded almost in slow motion, and his fears for the Emperor transcended those of all his comrades put together. The Emperor was able to fight both him and Yarun and defeat them, but he was fighting Shadow evenly... This did not bode well for the Emperor, as Solomon had already gauged that he was using a minimum of eighty five percent of his strength and speed. Shadow, on the other hand, was far too relaxed and composed to be expending that much energy. In fact, it looked to Solomon as if Shadow wasn't trying very hard at all, maybe expending thirty percent of his energy to fight. If the Emperor did not go all out and defeat him soon, Shadow would make good on his threats and kill the Emperor before long.

As Solomon regained his composure, hiding his fears for the Emperor away, Shadow and Eonis faced each other once more.

Eonis drew his sword and Shadow drew his Twin Daggers. After a moment of silence, the two warriors engaged in battle again. Eonis slashed at Shadow's head, which the Assassin ducked and slashed at Eonis's ribs in return. Eonis was able to jerk his body out of the way, but his clothing was caught in the crossfire a few times as they traded blows. The sound of their Orichalcum weapons clashing in the rain was both deafening and surreal, with sparks and strange forms of energy seeming to radiate from both weapons. It was almost as if the weapons truly had souls of their own, and they were now competing for dominance as their wielders continued their intense battle.

This engagement lasted for several minutes, neither side gaining any headway as it became more and more clear that Eonis was having problems keeping up with Shadow. Despite all his prowess as a warrior, Shadow was outlasting him with his stamina and increased strength thanks to the Demon's influence. Eonis had no choice but to sheath his weapon and try to continue the match in close ranged combat, as it used far less energy than wielding a blade. Shadow followed suit, and the two warriors faced each other once more for what seemed an even fight.

... At least... That was what everyone thought until Shadow began to speak again.

"... Such a pity... Enois..." He said, his voice sounding like there were three to four people talking at once.

Eonis straightened himself and had an expression of disbelief and a sense of familiarity which was immediately squashed by the next events. Shadow's pupils disappeared and his eyes went wide despite the rain falling down upon them. His mouth twisted into a horrific smile, and his body language now screamed that he was in the mood for fresh blood. Shadow's arms flared out to the sides as his shoulder blades came together and he let out an absolutely primeval and guttural howl that did not sound human in any way. The sound pierced the air and the rain, and echoed forth for miles in all directions.

The true Demon had finally shown its face… and Shadow was gone.

"Such a pity that you shall meet your end at the hands of the one whom you could have saved so very long ago... Do you not remember, Eonis?"

Eonis's face contorted into subtle confusion as he listened, with everyone else around them wondering what the hell Shadow was talking about.

"Twenty seven years ago, to the very day in fact... you left Roda Valley, never again to show your face to Te'i Sai. On your way towards the Villa of Winds, just north of the valley, you saw a child being rushed through the woods by a figure you knew to be among Te'i Sai's members... That child was none other than the boy who's body you see standing before you. Had you rescued that child, the Demon would never have been born..."

“I will not become your monster, Takai.” Eonis declared.

“Very well, Eonis.. But hear this and remember it well: I will make you regret these words of yours, someday.”


Before the voices of the past could evaporate from within Eonis’ subconscious mind, the Demon came forward at amazing speeds, closing the gap between himself and Eonis before even the mighty Emperor could understand what had just happened.

"All of this, the suffering you blame him for... is your fault... You could have saved that child so very long ago, and you could have prevented this from ever happening... It's your fault!" The Demon yelled as he smashed Eonis in the stomach with both fists, sending him flying back onto the ground while the Demon leaped up onto his chest and slammed his knees into the soft tissue of his abdomen.

The Emperor coughed, gasping for breath as the Demon brought his elbow down into the base of the Emperor's throat, breaking his collar bone on the left side, and then smashing the side of the Emperor's face with his left elbow. At that point, the Demon stood up on his chest and leaped backwards, cocking his head to one side as his eyes finally glowed their brightest and illuminated the area around his head in an eerie, crimson light. As he let out a breath, the sheer heat his body was producing from all the energy expended created a cloud of mist extending forth from his throat. It was almost the pure picture of what a Demon should look like according to the old legends and stories.

Sereinia finally started to stir from her unconsciousness, and awoke just in time to see the Emperor fall. Time seemed to slow down before her. The sound of the falling rain seemed to be distant to her as of now. It was probably due to the loud sounds of her heart beating so loudly. It made her wonder if anyone else could hear it. She was not sure of what to think. Should she be glad that Shadow was able to defeat him, or should she be terrified at what it was that allowed Shadow to do so. As she looked at him, her tears began to fall and despite the cover of the rain it could still be singled out. Is this the looming darkness that Shadow had told her about? Is there no turning back now? Shadow had become what he had always feared he would become.

“I will always be here to fix what you break…” She recalled herself saying to him once before.

Biting her lower lip, Sereinia stood from her position. There was no doubt in her mind that what she was about to do is what people describe as purely suicidal. However, she made a promise with all her heart. It is a promise that she will keep no matter what. Taking a deep breath, she knew that Shadow would not simply be satisfied with his opponent unconscious. As much as possible, she would not allow him to do that anymore. Throwing away her inhibition and common sense out of the window, she ran towards the two combatants.

“Please stop it!!!”

Eonis began to stand up, clutching his throat and chest from what the Demon had done to him. There seemed to be a relative amount of internal bleeding as his vision was getting blurry and the rain was not to be blamed. However, his hearing was not affected as he heard a girl’s voice in the distance. Directing his vision to the source, he eyes widened in horror. His daughter was about to enter a very dangerous situation. Mustering much of his strength, Eonis managed to slip passed Shadow and went towards Sereinia as he pushed the girl to safety, but it was then that the once proud Emperor of Cre’ Est had fallen to the depths.

Without warning, a bullet came flying out of the distance and pierced the Emperor's chest. The bullet hit him almost dead center, narrowly avoiding his heart and lungs by fractions of an inch, and by some divine miracle missing all of his other internal organs. However, the damage was done as the Emperor fell back to the ground once more. The impact knocked the wind from him, and this was not helped by the fact that he was already having trouble breathing from the Demon's earlier attacks.

Amethyst eyes widened in great horror and shock. Sereinia felt giant hands on her shoulder and within a few seconds it was removed. It was then replaced by a stinging sensation at the right side of her face where a cut could be seen. The only probable cause was the bullet that hit the Emperor went through the body and grazed her face on the way out. She reached for the cut on her face while looking at the fallen Emperor before her. The desire to scream, to shout, and to cry was eating away at her. However, they were all sealed away by something inside her. Even her voice would not follow her will to come out. As such, she stood there in complete shock.

At this sight, both Yarun and Solomon snapped the bindings holding them and rushed to the Emperor's side. After assessing the damage, they both helped carry him and the now frozen Sereinia off the battlefield as the Demon started to laugh uncontrollably. This laugh, however, was full of sadistic malice and contempt for what had happened. As he looked over his shoulder, the Demon spied in the distance an Assassin of Te'i Sai on the rooftops of the city. Quite the shot to be able to hit the Emperor from that far away, he had to admit, but that was all the credit he was ever going to give to the little worm if he didn't get down and fight the way he was meant to.

Yarun watched as Solomon did his best to stabilize the Emperor, and grabbed both of his swords from one of the other Guards who'd bee assigned to hold them until Eonis had dealt with the Demon. Since that was no longer possible, Yarun had little difficulty taking them without any sort of rebound or aggression from his fellow knights as he turned towards the Demon and yelled at the top of his lungs at him. He put both swords up and ran full speed at the Demon, prepping an attack he'd been working on in training which he planned on using to defeat Shadow during their next encounter. However, this Demon would do just fine.

As he came forward and attacked, Yarun jumped into the air and twisted his body in tight circles, opening his arms and unleashing a wide volley of slashes in a circle at the Demon. This attack was designed to mimic the actions of a bladed fan rotating in a circle, cutting and slicing anything and everything in its path. However, Yarun was suddenly interrupted when his body was brought to a very abrupt and unforeseen halt. His feet hit the floor, and he felt the hand of the Demon on his head as his arms were out to the sides, frozen in place after his attack was interrupted. He forced his head up against the Demon's grip, and glared into those burning, crimson red eyes.

"Such a waste you are, Yarun. Never able to back up your mouth, and always saying that you'll be the one to defeat me. You couldn't even defeat my weaker half, and yet you think to challenge ME?!" He yelled at the end of his statement.

The Demon then slid his lower body forward and kicked Yarun back several feet, but the Royal Knight regained his footing and his stance and came after the Demon once again. The Demon drew his Twin Daggers and met Yarun's attacks head on. At first it almost seemed as if Yarun was fighting evenly with the Demon, but Solomon was able to see passed that false image and see that the Demon was only teasing and testing Yarun's abilities, matching him blow for blow but pushing him one step further and further, tiring him out as Shadow had done in their first fight. Yarun was now too angry and overcome by false pride to notice the fact that the Demon was deliberately wasting Yarun's energy, and started to mock the Demon.

"You call this being a challenge? Ha! I'm only warming up here! Come on "Demon." Show me what you've got!" He yelled.

The Demon only smiled at him at first, but then seemed to suddenly change his way of thinking and responded to Yarun's statement in kind.

"If I actually tried, it would be over far too quickly. Even my weaker half could beat you right now if I hadn't erased his mind from existence! You are truly the most pathetic excuse of a "Royal Knight" we've ever seen. Even Solomon is a more powerful warrior than you and he couldn't beat my weaker half either! Such a waste you are, Yarun. Such a waste!"

At this, Yarun's anger clearly overwhelmed him and he stopped thinking like a warrior and more like an upset child who just wanted to kill the source of his frustration. His attacks became wild and uncoordinated, and the Demon had absolutely no trouble blocking his attacks. One slash, two slashed, three slashed, four... One after another the Demon blocked his attacks for several minutes until Yarun's energy finally gave out and he dropped to one knee in exhaustion. It didn't help that the air was becoming thicker as the rain continued to pour down around them, and that the Demon was exuding so much heat and energy up close that it was nearly suffocating. Yarun tried to catch his breath, but the instant his eyes left the Demon his swords were kicked away from him and sent flying towards Solomon and the Emperor in the distance. Yarun tried to open his eyes and retaliate, but it was too late.

The Demon kicked Yarun's stomach, knocking the wind from his lungs and lifting him off the ground as well and sending him flying back over ten feet before he hit the ground again. The Demon came forward, pinning Yarun's arms to the ground by stepping down on them, and unleashed a flurry of attacks to his face, chest and abdomen. When he was finished, he picked Yarun up and tossed him aside like a rag doll. Yarun's face was beaten and bloody, and all the major organs in his chest and stomach felt like they had just been put through a meat grinder. He was out of the fight, and would be so for some time to come if the outer damage was anything to go by. Had Solomon not had control of his anger, he very well may have attempted to fight as well, but he knew that if both Yarun and the Emperor could not defeat the Demon, then neither could he.

As the Demon stood there, smiling and laughing at what he had just done, Solomon began to notice that the surrounding environment began to darken.

The sun was beginning to set in the west behind the mountains, but what was more unsettling was that the environment began to darken around them, but only them. Then, the reason why made itself known. Grey robes flying the red mark of Te'i Sai appeared all around them in droves. The Imperial Army, Shadow, Yarun and Solomon, and all the others were now surrounded by close to two hundred members of Te'i Sai. The Demon's laughter filled the air and intensified as he processed the information his eyes sent his brain, and he turned his back towards Solomon and the others to look around and assess the threat.

Two hundred members of Te'i Sai, armed to the teeth, some sporting guns, and a few catapults and cannons as well on the hills nearby in the distance. The Demon's laughter reached a peak and then cut short as the Assassins closed in around him, bypassing the Imperial Guard and everyone else, as they were obviously intent on fighting with only the Demon before them.

The one in question turned around in a circle several times to survey his surroundings, and when he was satisfied, he drew the Twin Daggers and slashed them across one another sending sparks into the air in numerous directions as he prepared himself for a grand battle which he would relish for all its worth. And it didn't take long for the battle to start, as a small horde of the Assassins poured in around him and began to rush in to attack.

This is where the true horror of the Red-Eyed Demon came to light.

Despite the fact that he was beset upon by almost a dozen Te'i Sai Assassins at once, the Demon was moving fast enough to keep pace with all of them. Parrying attacks from all sides and angles, his eyes and mind somehow keeping pace with the frenzy of attacks, and returning them in kind and knocking the Assassins back so that more could take their place. One after another the Assassins came in and were thrown away, not being killed yet for the Demon was having too much fun to kill them off now. One by one they came and were swept away, only to return and be swept away again. The Demon obviously enjoyed this immensely, and as the fight continued, Solomon walked over to Yarun after ensuring that the Emperor was being tended to by the doctor they'd brought with them who's purpose was originally to confirm the death of the Red-Eyed Demon. As for Sereinia, he had asked some of the soldiers to keep a close eye on her. He did not want the Princess to reckless endanger herself again while putting others in harm’s way as well.

"Yarun, listen to me…" He said quietly.

Yarun's eyes opened and he looked up at Solomon weakly, anger and frustration clear on his features despite the bruises and blood covering his face.

"This is our best chance. While the Demon fights, use this time to recover and we will take him down together. No matter what strange powers he may be granted in this state, he has to get tired if he fights all of these Assassins. I know you wanted to take him down on your own, but your current state proves that is never going to happen. So get up and grab your swords… You'll need them very soon." He said quietly.

Yarun cursed him under his breath for his remarks, but managed to stagger to his feet and grab his swords. It took all of his willpower to do as Solomon ordered and wait for an opening, as he wanted nothing more than to rush in and just kill that worthless "Demon" already.

Then, the cannons were activated. A loud "BANG" erupted and destroyed the already chaotic energy of the fight, and the cannonball hit the ground, causing it to explode about fifteen feet away from the demon. Since there was rain, there wasn't much dust to be seen, but the debris and concussion from the blast had everyone look away for a moment. As they all looked back, however, the Demon was standing tall and unhindered, no marks or blood on him whatsoever from the blast which occurred just five yards away. The strength to stand against that blast was beyond any mortal's capability, and so it was now firmly set in the minds of all who were present that they stood before some kind of being that was neither mortal nor immortal.

The other cannons followed suit, causing the other Assassins to scatter to avoid the blasts as the Demon dodged and jumped out of harms way time after time. The frustration of the Assassins began to mount with each failed attempt as the Demon continued to evade them, and so the others around him began to get back into the fight and try to pin him down so that at least one of those blasts could strike him. Even if they went down with him, they were not going to just let him keep avoiding harm. Any injuries caused would be injuries well worth having caused, especially if they could slow him down and possibly kill him.

Despite these efforts, however, the Demon was still unhindered. He fought the Assassins away as if they weren't even there, and slowly moved towards the cannons in the distance as he worked his way in between blasts fired at him until he finally reached them and destroyed the cannons by forcing them to fire at one another. One by one, the cannons were destroyed and the explosions ringing out into the fading daylight were halted once and for all. The Demon was far from finished, however, as he also attacked the catapult before it could even fire a single shot at him. With the destruction of their heavy artillery, the Assassins had no choice but to continue the fight the way they started it: hand to hand.

As the fight dragged on, and the Demon showed no signs of losing steam against the onslaught of Assassins headed his way, Solomon turned his head towards one of the men in the Royal Guards ranks who carried a rifle and ordered him to approach. Solomon took the gun and looked it over, and then handed it back to the rifleman.

"Can you hit him from here?" Solomon asked.

The Guard nodded, but was wary of Solomon's request.

"Then do it." He ordered.

The rifleman nodded once again and turned towards the Demon who was still fighting against the Assassins about fifty meters away. He put the rifle into his shoulder, took aim down the sights, and slowed his heart rate with slow and even breaths. He took his time lining up the shot, and the instant he had a clear view he eased his finger back against the trigger, sending a loud "crack" out into the air, which was followed by the Demon's body twisting and contorting very suddenly and falling to the ground. The other Assassins stopped their advance, watching him quietly as they then looked to the man with the rifle. Looking back towards the Demon, they inched closer, analyzing his body from head to toe to try and find the entry and exit wounds.

But they got too close.

The Demon's body rose up very quickly and delivered a powerful spinning attack with both blades extended straight out, decapitating a large number of the Assassins surrounding him as the others jumped back to avoid the attack. The Demon smiled at them and laughed out loud, mocking them and then the shooter for having missed his target. And it was true, as the Demon did a full circle turn to prove there were no wounds inflicted as he then reengaged the Assassins who started pouring in to attack him again.

Meanwhile, Solomon narrowed his eyes at this. It seemed his idea failed, however, there are other things he could still try. He whispered a few words to the rifleman, who then looked at Solomon like he was crazy, but those silver white eyes were serious that the rifleman did not hesitate to comply. The rifleman ran up to a hill nearby and took careful aim once again at the Demon, but this time, he aimed differently. Instead of pointing the gun at the Demon, he pointed it a few feet to the side away from the Demon. According to Solomon, his reaction time was nearly instantaneous in this state, so he would jump the instant the sound came forth from the gun, and that was the opportunity that he needed to land the shot. If the Demon could jump back into the bullet's true course, then he would be struck by it and that could be all they others needed to kill him.

The rifleman took careful aim once again, breathing steadily, and firing off another round.

Surely enough, the Demon jumped away from his original spot, but in the wrong direction. The rifleman had four shots left, so he had to make them count. He reloaded the gun and took aim, firing again. Miss. He reloaded and fired again. Miss. He took a few breaths, and reminded himself that if he did not pull this off his wife and children back home would be in great danger, and so he reloaded the gun once more and took aim and pulled the trigger.

… Miss.

Down to his last bullet, the rifleman prayed to the Gods to guide his bullet straight and true to its intended target, and that his family be saved by their divine graces. He loaded the gun, and took aim. The Assassins of Te'i Sai weren't big on letting someone else take their kill, but they seemed willing enough to lend a hand as they all gathered around the Demon and jumped him at once. They pinned him down and held him firmly against the ground for a few moments, and so the rifleman took aim and fired as quickly as he could. The Demon stood up and threw all of the Assassins off of his back and into the air before letting them fall to the ground around him.

… But something was different…

The Demon looked puzzled for a moment, and then looked down. He swept his hand across his chest just below the collar bone, and when his hand came back up, blood trickled down from it and fell to the ground. His face showed no concern, fear, or worry. He only smiled, and laughed out loud once more. He turned and looked at the rifleman, his smile widening as he cracked his neck to one side and then straightened out once more to speak.

"Fool!" He yelled out.

"With that shot, you have sealed the fate of all…" He said.

Within seconds, the red coloration of the Demon's eyes began to darken, but the red glow began to intensify yet again. The Demon's body twitched a few times, and then his head was thrown back as a vicious, animalistic, primeval howl erupted from his lungs and rang out through the lands. The first howl had been horrific, but this one put that first howl to shame in all respects. The Demon's gaze came forward, and all traces of what little sanity and control he had left evaporated into nothingness as the eyes became completely soulless and filled with a single purpose: to kill everything around him.

The Demon's daggers became but an illusion in the fading light of day, as he cut through the Assassins surrounding him with such speed and ease that the blood shooting forth from their bodies looked almost like it was paint being thrown into the wind. The rain did nothing to stop or hide the blood from shining its crimson color for the world to see, and Solomon instantly regretted this course of action. The Demon was a force to be reckoned with normally, but with this new state, he was all but invincible. Solomon observed the Bloody Demon on the side with an unusual sadness in those silver white eyes of his. The subtle anger appeared to have been washed away by the rain. In the mind of the White Knight, Shadow’s words echoed in his mind.

... I will trust you to do what needs to be done when that time comes..."

Those were Shadow's exact words to him.


There was no turning back anymore. Focusing his eyes on the current battle, with only about thirty Assassins left out of the original two hundred which had appeared, Solomon came to a conclusion after carefully observing the Demon's behavior. He called Yarun over to him, and offered him a sad smile which somehow unnerved Yarun, but he had chosen to ignore it.

"You ready to kill the Demon?" He asked.

Yarun scoffed at him.

"Do you really have to ask me that question?” Yarun replied sarcastically.

"Good to know you still have the spirit. Watch him closely."

Yarun groaned, but turned to watch the Demon. As he watched, it escaped him at first, but then it was made all too clear what Solomon meant. In this state, whatever it was, the Demon was so focused on the enemies in front of him, that he was no longer paying attention to the others surrounding him. Had they realized that, they could have all rushed him and been able to kill him already, but they too were so focused on their enemy that they neglected to see the smaller details that meant the difference between life and death.

Yarun looked back to Solomon and brought his swords up, giving him a nod. Solomon nodded in response, and the two of them waited for only a small handful of Assassins to remain before charging down the battlefield as silently as they could to rush the Demon. As they did so, the Demon cleared the way for them by throwing one of the Assassins back towards them, and after jumping over his body, something amazing happened.



The Demon froze in place as a gasp escaped his lungs, and as he looked down he was greeted by the sight of two blades protruding from his chest on either side. Looking over his shoulder, he saw that Solomon had attacked his lower spine with his knee and broken it, and the only thing holding the Demon up on his feet right now were the two Royal Knights. As they backed away, and Yarun retracted his weapons from the Demon's body, they watched the Demon's reaction and noted that his eyes regained their pupils, and that the persona of the Demon was now fading from existence as Shadow returned to the world, but not in time to defend himself.

Down to the earth, the Demon fell. The once proud, confident, and unyielding body of the Red-Eyed Demon struck the earth, his muscles no longer able to support his weight without his spine in tact to provide proper base. As he hit the ground, the earth around his body slowly turned red.

As the Demon lie there, the rain ceased and the clouds began to part, giving way to the fading twilight as they moved on from this horrific scene outside of Triveila. The remaining Assassins were quickly dispatched by Yarun and Solomon, who then turned their attention to Sereinia, knowing that the Emperor would have their heads if they did not retrieve her and bring her back. They were going to save her, and they were going to save their Emperor from all of this no matter the cost. Whatever happened to Shadow now was of no concern to them.

Yarun had pierced both of his lungs, and his life would soon be extinguished from this world no matter how quickly or efficiently anyone worked to save him.

Finally, after all the years of fear, torment and death… The Red-Eyed Demon was no more.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: The Royal Knights Of Cre' Est

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Crossroad of Tears
Sereinia, Yarun, and Solomon


"When the rain stops, the tears fall..."

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Everything was much of a blur to Sereinia who was still under the spell of paralyzing shock. As such, all that transpired before her were nothing more but the hazy passage of time as she stood there with an empty gaze. The only thing that brought her out from that kind of reverie was the rather loud cheer of the soldiers around her. They seemed to be overly glad about something and the sense of consciousness began to bring her back to reality. It was then at the exact moment she witnessed how the Royal Knight Yarun withdrew his swords from Shadow's body which fell to the ground without any kind of resistance as if there was no life to it anymore.

As the cheers of victory continued to echo at the death of the notorious Red-Eyed Demon, Sereinia began to approach the now still battlefield. Her stride resembled that of a child who was learning to walk for the first time. The soldiers that were assigned to watch her were preoccupied with the jubilant knowledge that the Demonic Assassin was no more. It also appeared that the Gods welcomed such a demise as the dark clouds parted to slowly reveal the descending twilight. Thus, it was not much of a hassle for her to go towards the seemingly still body of Shadow. It was also a pleasant thing that Solomon and Yarun did nothing to stop her advancement. However at that moment, she was not in the right set of mind to be grateful for such a thing. The only thing in her head was how unreal the events unfolding around her.

Stopping before Shadow, Sereinia could see the fatality of his injuries without even performing a thorough check-up. Despite her skills, experience, and knowledge, there was still only a meager one percent chance for him to live. Crumbling like distorted glass, she fell to her knees beside him. The tears that had stopped flowing began anew with the just one tear trailing down her cheek. Shaking her head to dismiss her negativity, she felt the desperation to save the man before her. There was no way she would lose someone important to her again. She had enough of that already. What was the use of her becoming a doctor when the ones that mattered to her will be taken away? She could not live with that knowledge anymore.

"Shadow.. Shadow... Please..."

It was spoken with such distress, the sense of helplessness, and a fragile hope. The voice that had been locked up within her had finally come out once more. It held a desperate plea. But one would wonder to who it was meant. Sereinia tore a large portion of her skirt and sleeve as she decided to stop the bleeding first. She also did her best to minimize the pain that he was feeling from his injuries. As words of comfort spilled forth from her lips, it seemed rather odd. For it appeared that she was speaking it to assure Shadow, it was said to console her more than anyone else.

"It will be all right... You will be fine... I told you, I will always fix what you break... I will always be by your side. So, please... Shadow... "

The more Sereinia spoke, the more the tears flow like an endless cycle. Her words were beginning to sound much like whisper while her hands were frantic to save Shadow from his certain doom. Sadness was overwhelming her at such an astounding rate while the cheerful sounds of the soldiers served as a painful reminder that this was supposed to be a momentous event. When she came to a realization that she could not do anything else anymore, she clutched tightly onto his shirt and then buried her face onto his chest. The sound of his slowly beating heart was not soothing at all. It was like the trickling sands in an hourglass that was coming to an end. She did not want that at all.

"Shadow, please do not leave me! I need you! Shadow!"

Sereinia's form trembled as her tears flow even more strongly and her wails were so desperate as the cheers drown it much like the falling of the rain earlier. Pain, sadness, realization, hopelessness, anguish, and fear filled her like a broken floodgate without stop. Everything poured out as she cried. It was such a heart-wrenching scene to be witness as the two knights that had decided to end the Red-Eyed Demon's existence watched the fallen princess who shed her tears relentlessly. Her whole body was shaking from the horrifying grief that was suffocating her. There seemed to be no end to her despair as she lamented for the fallen Demon which caused a lot of curious questions.

"Sadness and loneliness are things I do not possess, but..."

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Sheathing the swords, Yarun turned his back from the fallen Red-Eyed Demon, Princess, and Solomon. His eyes of rogue pink seemed to have a rather darker shade but not of its usual glowing crimson. Instead, it has a tint that seemed to resemble that of an empty gaze. However, this was only for a very brief moment as he walked towards the army who welcomed his presence with much pride and joy. After all, he had defeated the menacing Demonic Assassin. Ignoring the praises that was directed at him, he could only feel how hollow they truly were. There was nothing to be proud of.

Approaching the gravely injured Eonis, Yarun listened to the doctor who they had in their company as the older man reported the situation of the Emperor. It seemed that Eonis had been stabilized but it does not mean that the he would not need surgery and a great amount of recovery treatments. At the same time, it was imperative for the Emperor to be delivered into a medical facility immediately. The doctor even commented that Yarun also needed medical assistance. With that being said, Yarun quickly snapped at the men who were still foolishly glad about the defeat of the Red-Eyed Demon.

"Stop your infernal noises! Hurry and prepare to leave! We need to take the Emperor back for immediate treatment! We are leaving now!"

The soldiers were quickly silenced by Yarun's angry outburst. They were also brought back to reality that their Emperor was not in the best of conditions. As such, they all hurriedly tended to their Ruler's needs. Others voiced their irrelevant complaints which earned a deathly glare from Yarun. The Royal Knight Captain was certainly not in the best of mood despite the victory he had earned this day. On the other hand, some of the soldiers had now noticed Sereinia's cries looming over the fallen Red-Eyed Demon. They cannot help but view this as very odd. After all, why weep for a Demon? In all the tales, the death of Demon meant peace, happiness, and prosperity to all. So, why bother to shed tear? This question was asked outloud which was heard by Yarun who was passing by.

"Why is she crying for Demon like him? He is a criminal! A menace!"

Unknown to the conversing men, Yarun had stopped from his tracks. His hands were now turned into fists. The wails of Sereinia was now slowly gaining intensity for the cheers had come to an end. They were like a haunting melody for the fallen. He knew for a fact that he should be ecstatic about what he had done today. However, he was not satisfied about the result. The strength he had was not enough in the end to defeat the Demon. Solomon still had to help him. At the same time, why does this victory had such a bitter taste to it? He was still angry that he could feel the tremors shaking his existence. Yet, there was this lingering feeling of vagueness. Closing his eyes briefly, he answered the unwitting man.

"Because he can't cry, someone else has to do it."

After saying those words, Yarun continued on his way. There was nothing glorious about this battle. It was just carnage and the accumulation of things that will never be retrieved again. In his opinion, no one won today. There was also the fact that a memory of his distant past was now being played within his mind like a broken record. This only further irritated the Royal Knight Captain. He hated such sentimentality in battle. Perhaps, it is one of the reason he wants to fight. Because in the heat of a battle, nothing else matters. Everything just melts away and the only thing that matters is the fight.

"If you wanted to die, do it on your own. Stupid demon..."

"Cry all you want until the only thing that remains is nothing."

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It was truly ironic that the sense of accomplishment or honor in defeating the horrifying Red-Eyed Demon was completely lost to those who have personally earned it. The sounds of cheers and victory shouts were nothing more but noise. This was true for Solomon and he could also say the same about Yarun who was quite in rotten mood. Somehow, Solomon cannot see anything wrong about feeling such a thing. It was completely within reason. For, he was also feeling the same thing. Adding to that, he was not pleased on how the Princess wept. It was so heartbreaking that he felt an undefinable amount of regret.

As such, Solomon allowed Sereinia to approach. It was the very least he could do even if it was not much in the long run. Hearing Yarun's outburst, Solomon released a small sigh and knew that they should leave now. The Emperor's condition was stable but not at the very least favorable. He needed proper medical treatment. Furthermore, he could not allow the Princess to be in such a dangerous place any longer. This place was not suited for the likes of her. Certainly, this is something that Shadow would agree upon.

"We must leave now. I can't allow you and the Emperor to linger here anymore."

There was no response as Sereinia continued her cries. Solomon knelt beside her and gently grabbed her by the shoulders. He understood the feeling of being helpless and simply watching someone you care about be taken away from you by the hands of death. It was such a terrible feeling that living seems to be too painful for him to continue. Yet, no matter what happens since we are the ones left behind in the wake. It is our duty to move forward that is what he had came to conclude as the time passed by. As for the pain, it was still there. It never disappeared but now only the dull ache still remains.

"Let him go. He is dead."

Slowly raising her head, Sereinia looked at Solomon with those tearful eyes that were somewhat swollen now. There were no words needed to be said at that point. She was not ready to let Shadow go at any cost. However, there was no time for peaceful negotiations with her. They must now go and leave the Red-Eyed Demon here to die. This was the fate Shadow had chosen. Somehow, he had this vague feeling that when Shadow completed whatever goal he had concocted. The man was the kind that would die.

"Forgive me."

With that said, Solomon immediately carried Sereinia over his right shoulder. As an immediate response, she wildly rejected such a gesture. Flailing her arms to the point that the notion of hurting someone flew out of her concern. She wanted to stay where Shadow was. There was no way she was just going to leave Shadow alone. As a result, her tears continue to flow more than before while shouting for Shadow at the top of her lungs with all the strength she could muster. The occasional stinging on her grazed cheek did not bother her at all.

"Shadow! Shadow! Shadow!"

Sereinia's voice was filled with much desperation while doing so, she continued to fight her way out of Solomon's hold. However, it was an impossible feat to be done. For the White Grim Reaper has no intentions of releasing her at all. Soon, they reached a carriage that had been prepped. Unceremoniously, Solomon threw her inside and ordered it to be locked. He knew that the Princess would hate him for what he had done. Yet, this was the easiest method he could do to remove her from Shadow's side. Behind the locked doors, he could still the screams of rebellion from Sereinia. She was pounding on the door with all her frail might.

"Let me out! Let me out now! Please! Please! Shadow! Take me to Shadow! Please... Help him... Please... I do not want to lose anyone anymore... Please... Mayumi.... now... Shadow... Do not take anything away from me anymore..."

Solomon closed his eyes as he took a deep breath and began to walk away from the carriage. He had ordered for it to move already as he still had some unfinished business to attend to. He walked towards Shadow and knelt beside the dying man. There was no other alternative to stop the Demon's Rampage. Somehow, Solomon was not completely certain about that at the back of his mind. Regardless, he did not let it falter his decisions for now.

"I will hold your responsibility of protecting your charges now."

This was what Solomon declared as he stood and looked at a certain direction where the balcony was in sight. There he saw white hair being softly blown by the cold breeze. It was Shadow's companion and likely prodigy. Although, the girl was asleep or perhaps unconscious. In any case, he has a feeling that something terrible happened to the girl as Sereinia seemed had thought that the young girl was lost as well. Regardless, he would take the girl to ease the Princess broken soul. But before taking his leave, he looked at Shadow one last time and spoke.

"Until we meet again in whatever world it might be."

After saying that, Solomon made his way to the balcony and sensed the presence of another. However, he had chosen to ignore it. For now, it was not something he should be concerned about. Finally reaching the balcony, he looked at the unconscious young girl. A quick check on her vitals had informed him that the girl was fine. Yet, the girl was sleeping much like the dead. This was indeed a curious case. Well, all he could do for now is to take the girl which he did. It would be quite a while before they returned to Cre' Est. Still, they walked through the encroaching darkness of the night as the only light they have was the moon above.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: The Royal Knights Of Cre' Est Character Portrait: The Royal Family of Cre' Est Character Portrait: Dietrich "Leer" Faust

Earnings

0.00 INK

Dietrich's heavy footfalls echoed through the empty street as he approached the crumpled form of the Demon. For the first time in his entire adult life, he had watched a battle from the sidelines. He had watched from inside the darkened window of a nearby building. He felt no shame, strangely. As he had watched the final stand of the Demon he had realized that, no matter how deeply he yearned to, it was not his place to intervene. Whether this revelation was given to him by Uirlin or not, he was not sure. This glorious end was for the Demon alone; that was all he was sure of. For some reason, he felt that if he had entered the fray, he would have only stolen glory that rightfully belonged to the Demon. The Demon had earned his Mighty Doom, and Uirlin had given him the right to have it all to himself. So, he had simply watched and waited. He waited until the street was completely empty, and the soldiers had moved on with their wounded emperor. He had breathed a sigh of relief when the weeping woman had been carried off; he had almost been spotted when the white-haired knight returned again though. He had come and retrieved another young girl, the neck-breaker, who seemed to be unconscious. Finally though, he had been left alone with the Demon.

With his honor secure, Dietrich knelt by the still form that the Demon had resided in. For the first time, he touched the Demon, placing his open palm reverently on his torso. As he knelt, he prayed to Uirlin, that he might grant him a Doom just as honorable. After a few moments, he stood once more.

"You would have been a mighty foe, Demon. Go to the home of whatever god you serve, and if you are barred entrance, look for the Golden Hearth. You will assuredly be welcomed there. Rest assured, I will continue your quest. I will hunt the vermin wherever they hide. I can only hope that I die as well as you."

With that, Dietrich once again muttered the last rites of the Powerful One. As he did so, he adjusted the Demon's corpse into a more honorable position. He rolled him onto his back, crossed his limp arms over his chest, and closed his eyes. Then he moved about the open street and gathered up every lost weapon he could find. Most of the bodies of the assassins had also been left in the street. Dietrich stepped over them with relative disdain. He piled the Demon's war-trophies around his body, quickly creating a series of trophy mounds.

With this final act, Dietrich turned and melted into the city once more. The rain had stopped. The sky was darkening. It was unearthly quiet.

I suppose that's the end of that little adventure. At least I can assuredly say that I was a witness to the death-throes of the Red-Eyed Demon.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

0.00 INK

Mayumi
"Will I ever escape from this darkness?"




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In this scene, a tall broad framed figure with white hair appears before her. The person was obviously a male and seemed to be older than her by quite a bit. Darkness surrounded the man like a concrete wall, isolating him from the rest of the world, but a thick chain made out of flowing red liquid looking suspiciously like blood, had made a hole through the wall as if it was nobody’s business and connected his hand... to hers???

Suddenly, a complicated puzzle appeared out of thin air in front of her, expecting to be solved. Not knowing what she should do…

Stare... Continues staring... Insert triple blinks here*

Mayumi shook her head and kicked the puzzle away from her to be solved somewhere in the future.

Returning her attention to the unfinished scene, Mayumi felt a hint of familiarity nudge the back of her mind even though she could not see the man’s face. The dark chain-like tendrils that held her arms tightly in place loosened upon sensing her curiosity, allowing her to move towards the scene. Cautiously, she took a few steps forward and reached out with her chained hand to meet the cold wall of darkness surrounding him. At first, it seemed to refuse budging, but slowly, she could feel it steadily growing warmer. Just like that, the wall melted around her hand and the mysterious man turned to meet her as if he had just noticed her presence. Fair skin was revealed as the man turned more towards her… and then, the scene blacked out.

"..."

At that very moment, Mayumi was sure she was more than ready to murder someone right then, but as that thought crossed her mind, the dark tendrils tightened once more, forcing her back to her original place.

Glaring at the wispy tendrils, she tried biting at them, only to have her canines sink into thin air as she felt herself weaken.

Present time...

The young teen's body temperature was rising from the mental exhaustion the visions were causing her. At the rate the temperature was going up, the girl was bound to have a high fever within a day’s time.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Shadow Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: The Royal Knights Of Cre' Est Character Portrait: Dietrich "Leer" Faust

Earnings

0.00 INK

Shadow


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"The rain has ceased... The land is calm... I can only hope that they will continue to fight and persevere through the darkness of Te'i Sai and Roda Ah K'mht."


Shadow's body hit the ground, the sting of the wounds caused by Yarun's swords extending out from his chest to the rest of his body as the feeling of his broken back also struck home. The instantaneousness of it all was staggering, and the fact that it was delayed until he fell was something of a mystery. Why it was that pain worked in such ways, Shadow never knew, and now it seemed, would never know. He lay there for a moment or two, his eyes wide from pain and shock as the Demon's presence had suddenly vanished and thrown his own back into the forefront.

Likely this was its way of retreating and cheating death while making Shadow suffer the consequences of it fallacies.

Regardless, at that moment, Shadow was still as stone. Since his lower spine was now broken, he could no longer move his legs due to the pinching of specific nerves along his back. He could tell they weren't severed but without his spine in proper alignment, there was no chance of moving his legs. His arms wanted to work, but they would not, and so he simply let out a sigh as he waited for the inevitable to come. The pain of taking in that breath was almost excruciating with the two punctured lungs he had to work with, but it was all made too clear his fate when he felt Sereinia's approach. Through the rain, his right eye wandered tot he corner and saw her on her knees beside him. Her tears were falling like the rain which had just passed, and though the rest of the world seemed to revel in his last moments, there was one now who mourned the loss and proved to Shadow that his existence meant more than just death and suffering.

However, even in death, Shadow could not stop causing pain to others.

Sereinia was then taken away by Solomon as Shadow's consciousness began to fade. For too long he'd imagined what death felt like, having forced it upon countless thousands throughout his lifetime. The feeling was miserable, but Shadow was able to take some small comfort in the fact that the deaths of his victims, most of the time, were quick and painless. They died before they even knew what had happened. For those who Shadow killed slowly, he had a new appreciation for as his eyes slowly lost their light, and everything faded in his mind to white.

Shadow's mind soul left the world, his body remaining behind on the ground where it fell.

Along the way, there was one who would grant him the honor of a warrior's death by adjusting his body to one of pride and send-off to the next world.

But Shadow would never know.

Throughout the following days, cheers could be heard across the continent about the fall of the demon and the death of one who had caused so much suffering to others. The day of his death was marked as an official holiday titled the "Demon's Demise", and it would be celebrated all across the continent each and every year until the end of time some would say. It was clear to see that Shadow's passing had a big impact on the world, but there were still those out there who would not accept this as truth. Others still thought it was a trick. Thought that the Demon can never be killed, only silenced temporarily.

And then... The smallest exception of all... There were those determined to change the Demon's fate.




Three days passed, and the world rejoiced at the Demon's parting. However, something that was never known was that the Demon's body had disappeared from the battlefield several hours after the night had fallen. The bodies of his victims still littered the outskirts of the city despite attempts by city guards and workmen to clean them up. There were so many that they decided it would be easier to make a graveyard outside the city instead, and so they did. One by one the bodies slowly vanished over the course of time, until the final head stone was erected in memory of the glorious day that was the end of the Demon, as well as so many other Assassins of Te'i Sai and Roda Ah K'mht.

But where was the Demon's body?

One by one the guards and workmen checked the eyes of all those they buried, but none had the signature red eyes of the Demon. This truth was kept quiet, and the common logic was that someone who hated him must have taken his body away and either mutilated it and hidden the remains where nobody would find them, thrown the body to the wolves and other forest predators, or somehow disposed of it in a manner best left unsaid. That was the common "truth" that was held within the hearts and minds of those who buried all of the Assassins during those three days. It was also a truth which escaped from their lips when they visited the pubs and bars, and so it became a passing rumor across the land that the Demon's body had vanished in the night.

But what did that mean?

It was anyone's guess, but it was also once again the cause of nightmares and paranoia as the return of the Demon became a thought in the back of everyone's mind.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: The Royal Knights Of Cre' Est Character Portrait: Dietrich "Leer" Faust

Earnings

0.00 INK

Dietrich Faust
"The Demon is dead. Why does it feel like this story isn't over yet?"




Dietrich spied the caravan on the horizon. The glow of campfires betrayed its location in the gathering dark of night. For three days he had followed what remained of the Emperor's own personal retinue through the country-side. For the first two days he had hung back, wary of approaching armed men who were undoubtedly edgy while protecting their wounded emperor. Now though, he had made up his mind. He knew what he was about to try to do was most likely folly, but it was his only chance.

By Uirlin, a horse would be nice right about now...

His goal now was to find more of the rotten curs that the Demon had referred to as assassins. The only problem was that he didn't have the slightest clue as to where they could be found. He needed information, and the only people he could think of that might have that information were currently being held as, more or less, prisoners of the emperor. The irony of the situation brought a ghost of a smile to Dietrich's face.

He pressed on down the road in a leisurely fashion, he didn't want to spook the soldiers before he could speak to them. Getting shot like a dog in the street would certainly not be an honorable doom. The air was cool, and brought to Dietrich's nose the smells of cook-fires and meat. He felt his stomach rumble. As he came closer he saw that the Imperials had made camp a little ways off of the main road in the trees. As he expected he was quickly spotted, and a squad of soldiers approached him. They carried halberds, but appeared to be more interested in getting back to their supper than getting into a fight.

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"This is an Imperial Army camp, what's your business here?" An older man with a mustache asked.

"No business, just a tired wanderer who would much rather sleep in the company of men than with the wolves." Dietrich said in a cordial manner. "I don't ask for food or drink, only a place by your fire for the night."

The older man eyed him for a moment, his experienced eyes scanning Dietrich's face for deceit. He didn't seem to find any, but still seemed unsure, or reluctant. Normally, Imperial detachments had a kind of "open door" policy within its own borders. If you didn't seem like the type that would murder soldiers in their sleep and steal their things, you could normally expect to be allowed safety within the camp for the night. However, escorting the emperor himself most likely altered that mentality.

The man scratched his unshaven face for a moment. Dietrich could not really blame him for his uncertainty. A brute with a sword the size of a tall man slung across his back deserved a bit more scrutiny than your average pilgrim.

"Aaahhh... Its not really my place to decide this." He turned and gestured to one of the other soldiers. "Kyras, go and seek out Sir Kreigg. He will know what to do."

Kreigg? I've heard that name before, a Veilbrandian name.

Dietrich wracked his brain, he knew that name... Somehow...

Setting

Characters Present

No characters tagged in this post!

Earnings

0.00 INK

The Demon froze in place as a gasp escaped his lungs, and as he looked down he was greeted by the sight of two blades protruding from his chest on either side. Looking over his shoulder, he saw that Solomon had attacked his lower spine with his knee and broken it, and the only thing holding the Demon up on his feet right now were the two Royal Knights. As they backed away, and Yarun retracted his weapons from the Demon's body, they watched the Demon's reaction and noted that his eyes regained their pupils, and that the persona of the Demon was now fading from existence as Shadow returned to the world, but not in time to defend himself.

Down to the earth, the Demon fell. The once proud, confident, and unyielding body of the Red-Eyed Demon struck the earth, his muscles no longer able to support his weight without his spine in tact to provide proper base. As he hit the ground, the earth around his body slowly turned red.

As the Demon lie there, the rain ceased and the clouds began to part, giving way to the fading twilight as they moved on from this horrific scene outside of Triveila. The remaining Assassins were quickly dispatched by Yarun and Solomon, who then turned their attention to Sereinia, knowing that the Emperor would have their heads if they did not retrieve her and bring her back. They were going to save her, and they were going to save their Emperor from all of this no matter the cost. Whatever happened to Shadow now was of no concern to them.

Yarun had pierced both of his lungs, and his life would soon be extinguished from this world no matter how quickly or efficiently anyone worked to save him.

Finally, after all the years of fear, torment and death… The Red-Eyed Demon was no more.





Two figures watched the scene unfold from a distance in the forest just out of sight. They both watched as Shadow's form crumpled to the ground, and the dark aura surrounding his body evaporated into nothingness. Over time, several people approached his body, but the two figures waited until everyone had left the scene and were beyond their range of vision before exiting the forest.

One of them was a tall and well muscled young man in his mid-late twenties with dirty blonde hair and deep ocean blue eyes. The other was a familiar form to anyone who had been there during the bloody New Year in Cre' Est with her long, flowing brown hair and chocolate brown eyes as she sadly examined Shadow's body. The man examined Shadow as well, and looked over at her for a moment. Her eyes told the whole story, and so he nodded to her as he picked up Shadow's lifeless form. The two of them walked away into the darkness, the body of the Red-Eyed Demon safely secured, and disappeared.




The following day, the bodies of the dead were buried and disposed of by the city guards and other civilian volunteers. Each and every single man was checked for red eyes, but none of them had the infamous red spheres the Demon was known for.

If was from this that the whispers of the Demon's disappearance was born.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi Character Portrait: Sereinia Lucis Nouralail Character Portrait: The Royal Knights Of Cre' Est Character Portrait: Dietrich "Leer" Faust

Earnings

0.00 INK

Solomon Kreigg : The White Grim Reaper
"I am more worried of the silence for It is the unspoken words that cut the deepest."



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It had been a few days since the Emperor's Caravan had departed from the battlefield where the Demon had been laid to rest for eternity. The morale of the troops were both a mixture of pride and worry. The latter part was due to the condition of the Fallen Emperor who had yet to wake from his unconscious daze. It was becoming a growing concern but the Royal Knights which were Yarun and Solomon made sure that such news would not jolt the men into despair especially the Empress waiting back at the Capitol. Furthermore, the two heroes as they are now known did not want the vipers back at the Palace to know the situation of the Emperor. In addition, it was better to have men who are joyous than in despair.

As such, the retinue stopped for a much needed rest. They set up a camp where everyone shared hearty stories, concerns, and eagerness about the death of the Red-Eyed Demon. Unknown to all of those in the camp, a pair of orange-gold eyes gazed from the distant towards the people with such mysterious intent. Protected by the cloak of darkness, the fur of black mingled with it perfectly. If one would take look closely or perhaps a certain doctor would take notice, this was the same feline who had crossed paths with Sereinia back in Triveila. The one who had brought subtlety the news of bad malice.

Without much concern, the activities within the camp continued on. As for Solomon, he had went to check on the Emperor's condition. The Imperial Doctor discussed with him the probable reasons for such a deathlike slumber. It is why he is more concern to return back to the Capitol so the Emperor could get proper treatment. However, he was a reasonable man and would not deprive the men their needed rest. After all, they had been pushing on without much stop. Bidding his goodbye to the doctor and taking one last look at the sleeping Emperor, he left the carriage to cater next to the needs of the other guests he had brought in their company.

"I will hold your responsibility of protecting your charges now."

His last words to the fallen Demon echoed inside Solomon's mind. During that time, it was the most natural thing to say. A way to bring some relief to the man he had decided to kill with the aid of his fellow Knight. But as of now, he seemed to have troubles about that especially towards the recently found Princess who refused to eat any of her meals. Sereinia had demanded to return where Shadow was however, he could not allow that. As such, the Princess created conditions that until she was taken there she would not eat anything at all. If he remembered, her exact words were,

"Take me where Shadow is right now. If not, I will rather chose to starve myself to death than remain here with you."

Rubbing the bridge of his nose, Solomon could feel an onset of headache coming. It was not also helpful when Yarun had completely chosen to leave all of this in his 'capable' hands as the Sword Dancer had described. Due to that, he had done something complete lacking of a gentleman's refinement. There was no doubt in his mind that once the Emperor finds out would have his head one way or another. Stopping at the carriage where two soldiers were assigned to keep watch, he glanced at the men who saluted back. Knocking on the door, he alerted Sereinia of his presence.

"This is Solomon. I am here to check if you have eaten your meal."

A few minutes of silence went by and still no answer behind the door. As such, Solomon opened the door and saw Sereinia sleeping on the side with fresh tracks of tears on her face. It was without doubt that the Princess was still grieving about the Red-Eyed Demon. He could not say anything to make that go away. The only one capable of that is herself and if by a miracle Shadow, himself. But for now, all he could do was to ensure her health during this period of lamentation. Looking at the side, the tray that contained her meal had finally been touched. It was not much but some of the portion were eaten. This made him release a small sigh of relief. Reaching for his right side cheek, he could still feel the warmth of the Princess' hand connecting with it.

"I demand you eat. There is no way I would allow you to be taken back to where Shadow is. He is dead. Accept that."

Solomon argued back to Sereinia who was completely firm on her decision to return where Shadow was. In such a state, she has little concern about other things. Moreover, she has no concern about herself in general. This was something unacceptable as The Emperor, Empress, and even Shadow had left the task to protect her at his hands whether it was by order or a request. As such, he cannot simply choose to give it up or throw that away on the side. Still, the Princess was proving herself being difficult.

"I will not eat! He is not dead! Take me back to him!"

Something snapped within Solomon as he grabbed Sereinia's food tray and bite into the bread which was part of her meal. Afterwards, he pulled her to him by grabbing her arm. In one swift and full motion, his lips was on hers. Due to the surprise, she had her lips parted enough for him to literally spoon-feed her the bread he had taken piece of in his mouth. The next action was a loud slap on his cheek which was the done by the Princess in shock and great disbelief.


In truth, Solomon had wanted to apologize for that. However, he did the opposite as he used that gesture as a warning. In any case, it seemed to work as Sereinia had taken heed of it by eating even just a little of her meal. Approaching the sleeping Princess, he wiped a fresh tear that fell from her eye. She must be dreaming of something incredibly sad and it does not take a genius to figure what it could be, Tucking a loose strand hair behind her ear, he gazed at the forlorn Princess who was swept away into very complicated matters. Now, she was being placed in another twisted life.

"It's frustrating and painful isn't it? Always being left behind with the vague reasons of being protected..."

Solomon whispered softly before he decided to leave Sereinia to her rest. There was another person that he needed to check up on. Taking his leave, the door to the carriage was once more locked and guarded. It was then those eyes of amethyst revealed itself. Glimmering with sadness, it seems she was awake just in time to hear what the White Knight had said. She rolled to the other side of her bed making her back face the door instead. The toll of what happened had yet to leave her at all. It continued to linger on her and Solomon's words even further cemented one of the reasons why all of these were painful to her. She was so helpless when it truly mattered.

"It is... It is.."

On Solomon's next agenda, it was to visit Shadow's acquaintance or student if his conclusion was correct. At the same time, if he remembered correctly, Sereinia called out to a Mayumi. There is a great possibility that the silver-haired girl that he had taken was this Mayumi person. Well, he hoped that he is correct. There is this lingering hope that this young girl would be the key to have the Princess at the very least moved on from Shadow's Demise. Entering the carriage which was also protected by two guards, he was somewhat disappointed. The girl was still asleep and this was not because of any noticeable injuries or a means of rest. There was something odd about her condition which ails him. As such, he had asked the doctor of their retinue to check on her from time to time. But even then, there was no explanation for such a state.

"What has happened to you...?"

Approaching Mayumi's bedside, Solomon's concern could be seen dancing within those pale silver eyes. He proceeded to touch the girl's forehead and with that he felt she was hot than the normal. It seemed she had developed a fever. He quickly ordered one of the guards to call for the doctor. After doing so, he stayed beside her while making sure that there would be no more health hazards to her. There was also this feeling of familiarity once again tingling at the back of his mind. He had never acted upon it and had chosen to ignore it which he would do once more. When the doctor arrived, he left the girl to the man's care as a guard had called him about a matter.

"I will leave her to your care, doctor."

With that said, Solomon left Mayumi even though there was this resentment that he disliked what he had done. Shaking such feelings as nonsensical. He focused his mind at the matter that was thrown at his way. There seemed to be a rogue mercenary that had chanced upon their camp and wanted to stay in their midst. Normally, this would be fine if the Emperor and the Princess was not with them. As such, he could not allow for any of them to have their defenses lowered at this point. After all, the perfect chance to wreck havoc more than anything is right now. They were most vulnerable now despite what the other soldiers might think or conclude.

Arriving at the scene, Solomon gestured for the guards to lower their weapons. He did not want to cause a scene at this time and even more so to start a fight when it could be averted. The soldiers heeded his instructions as he faced the man who expressed his wish to join their company for the night. His eyes of silver white resembled the moon that hanged above them. However, there was no gentleness within. It was more like an empty mirror that nothing was reflected no matter how much one wished to be so. At the same time, the White Knight's expression was completely indifferent and nothing can be read upon it.

Image "Excuse my men for being too wary of soldiers. I have heard that you wish to join us for the night of rest."

Ending his words at that, Solomon scrutinized the man before him in his own subtle way. Somehow, he doubts that this man had just simply chanced upon them. There was this lingering instinct that this rogue mercenary had been following them. If that is so, this man was a potential threat. It would be better to reject his desire to stay with them. However, there is a saying that one should keep his enemies closer. At the same time, he highly doubted that Yarun would object to his decision. Speaking of which, he had yet to see the Captain of the Royal Knights. Hopefully, Yarun was not making trouble that was out of his range. In any case, he could also get the chance to conclude whether his notions about this man were simply baseless or truth.

"I'll allow it. But, I would like you not to remove your presence from the eyes of these soldiers. I am Solomon Kreigg, Vice Captain of the Royal Knights. If you would need anything, do come to me, Sir? Your name would be?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mayumi

Earnings

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Mayumi
"That will never happen, now that I know of it.”





Men clad in black robes filled the scene as they surround a single man obscuring her view of him. Catching movement out of the corner of her eyes, she turned to find herself staring straight into dark brown orbs. Eyes widened for a split second before they narrowed into slits.

"Kiiro." She stated dryly.

The scene shifted letting her watch on in third person’s view.

Kiiro’s sight was locked onto something across the other side of the scene. Slowly he walked forward, his eyes never leaving his supposed prey. Soon, a small figure appeared on the other side of the scene, identity concealed by the hood of an onyx cloak. Judging by the small athlete frame, she could tell it was a young girl. Kiiro slowly drew closer to the girl, but she did not move seemingly glued to her spot by something she wasn’t seeing. It was then she noticed Kiiro's mouth moving. What was he saying? Suddenly, the aura became tense around the young girl as she charged forward recklessly. Her recklessness was rewarded with a blow to her head sending her reeling across the clearing before landing unconscious many feet away. Kiiro made his way towards the still figure and gathered her into his arms. With that, he walked away with the figure. Before he left the scene, Mayumi caught a glimpse of the girl’s face which caused her to stiffen. Shaking herself out Mayumi glared at the retreating back as the scene faded.

‘I will never succumb to such.' She told herself determinedly.

Though she said that, she knew the more time she spent in this void her physical body would weaken.

In real time…

The doctor who