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Assassin's Pledge

Cre' Est

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a part of Assassin's Pledge, by KumoriRyuu.

Cre' Est (Empire)

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

1,161 readers have been here.

Heads Up: Completed Storyline!

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

Setting

The Central Empire named after the continent on which it was founded many thousands of years ago. The Apostle Eraina sits at the center of power in this Empire, and struggles against corrupt and scheming vassals who seek to end her time on the throne and instill one of their own into power.
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Cre' Est

Cre' Est (Empire)

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Cre' Est is a part of Cre' Est (Continent).

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Shadow [0] An Assassin's skill, a warrior's pride, a wise man's knowledge, and no mercy - Shadow

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Of course it would be today. No, no, it's alright. It just makes me a little mad that the day I decide to rob the port theres a FREAKING WAR!!!
Matt jumped through the crowd with cat-like speed and reflexes. He jumped around the crowd, ignoreing the rivers of blood, ignoreing the bloodcurtling screams that rang through the air. His only concern was getting out alive. Hundreds of people could see him now. A first during work. This sucked. This would have gone perfectly had this not happened. He'd be halfway to the next town by now, looking for a merchant. Matt's cloak wooshed behind him as he jumped in the air, literally hopping off of peoples head to escape. He jumped off one solders head and up the side of a building, stabbing his black dagger into the wood to help himself. He looked back down at the surely confused guard.
No, wait, that guard was dead now. Sucks for him. Er... sucked, rather.
Matt crouched on the roof, catching his breath. Was it worth it? He pulled a large bad of sparkling pearls out of his cloak.
Nope. But it was close.

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Mark sat up and rubbed his eyes sleepily. Was there an earthquake going on? No, cannons. Oh, okay then. He plopped back down onto his sofa. Wait. Cannons?! Shooting back up, Mark jolted wide awake from his nap. Zooming to look out the window, he moved his long hair out from his face just to be sure he wasn't dreaming. Her, no his, beloved port was besieged by friggin' pirates!?

Mark tugged to his clothes as fast as he could, then hauled on his armor. Unfortunately he had to go with the lighter kind due to the lack of time. Finally to top it off, Mark folded up his hair under a cap using pins. The ending result was that the last 3 or 4 inches still could be seen, so Mark looked exactly like a boy; only thinner. Adding his helmet and sword, Mark headed out into the battle.

Right before he began fighting, Mark telepathically asked the sword this: Are you going to cooperate today Hildebrand? After a few seconds, the blade hummed back in reply. Yes! Thank you Hildebrand! Then Mark stepped out the door. The chaos outside was worse than it seemed at first. Almost immediately after he stepped outside, a pirate lunged for his chest with a battered knife.

Mark parried the blow easily, then hit the ruffian in the temple with the blunt end Hildebrand. As the pirate fell unconscious, Mark continued defeating more invaders in the same manner, heading towards anybody who needed help. Eventually, he ended up gathering children into one spot and asking people to protect them. By now, Mark's mind was overloaded with thoughts. How could they kill so many people?! Why would anybody do something like that?! Gold? Money? Treasure? What!?

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Shadow saw the gunshot flash out of the corner of his eye and that gave him a split second pause.

As he looked on, time seemed to slow down in his field of view as the sight of his target's skull bursting on impact with the bullet of the fired weapon caused him to hesitate.

No, not one bullet... Three bullets

He recognized the sound of the gun as well.

Could it be him?

There was a maniacal laughter which he also recognized as the air filled with a reddish haze from the bursting skull, and Shadow took in the scent as it filled the air.

Blood. It had a very distinctive smell, and it was one that Shadow quickly welcomed.

Shadow then realized that he was still on target and quickly adjusted his position to land without attacking as the figure who had fired the gun stepped out into his path and then promptly retreated to give him room to land.

Shadow landed with a light thud, and went down to one knee to steady himself before standing up straight. He let out a breath and looked to the figure standing just at arms reach.

"... Kain..." He said under his breath.

He let slip a small smile as he stared into the deep and piercing blue eyes of his old friend.

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Mark whirled around when he heard the gunshot. An, of course, he just HAD to turn around fast enough so that the blood splattered over the part of his face that wasn't armored. A millisecond later, a guy fell fell from apparently the roof. Meanwhile, the gunshot's target appeared to be a pirate, who was about to stab Mark himself in the back. Lovely. These pirates have such a wonderful honor system./ Mark thought sarcasticly. Also, the two strange guys seemed to know each other. Before long, the shadow-like one left. The other one however, had taken it upon himself to say something... Fledgling!? What the-?! NO WAY!, Mark thought, horrified at the guy's rude warning.

Mark decided to shake it it off though, and resumed knocking out pirates. Although some may call him foolhardy for not killing them, there was a reason. There was something about Hildebrand when he decides to cooperate; the blade seemed to go through flesh as easily as a hot knife through butter. And of course it wasn't the most pleasant thing to watch. On the other hand, if Hildebrand refused, which happened more often, the blade would turn blunt and wouldn't cut through anything. But most of the time he wouldn't respond and simply be a normal sword.

A group of pirates had noticed Mark's refusal to go and die, so naturally they decided to gang up. And naturally he won. After a few comments and jeers from the pirates were ignored, the fight began. Whirling around, Mark easily parried the clumsy slashes of the ruffians. Then he launched himself forward, slicing right through three of the men that stood in his path. Despite himself, Mark flinched at the easiness of Hildebrand through enemy torsos. Before long, the group was dismembered.

So much for 'fledgling'.

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Matt peaked over the roof back down at the fighting. One... two... three... five. Five people caught his eye. Not in a good way though. Aside from the girl healing a few inoccents as she fought, the others... those dudes were demonic! Especially the red eyed one and his friend. Ripping out that dudes jaw... yuck. Matt cringed. Maybe it was best to just leave. Get out of town and never come back. Yeah, that sounded like a good plan.
So why wouldn't his legs move?
Something was holding him back from leaving. Something glued him to the spot. He didn't know what it was, but this wasn't the first time it had happened. And what he had learned was not to fight it. If he was glued to the spot, than experiance had told him that moving was a bad idea. Oh well. Back to hideing.
Matt hid behind the roof again, counting his new pearls.

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Yep. The red eyed one is the worst.
Matt made some weird cross between a grimace and a smile. This fight was starting to die down a little. Half of him wanted to jump in and fight for himself. But the sweet and metalic smell of blood kept him back. He could smell it from here. If was way worse down there. But he wanted to fi-i-i-i-ight!! He bounced up and down with each extended syllable. Maybe I could just go get Circean. ... just in case. Right.
Matt hopped down from his roof, his legs unfrozen. He bounded across the rooftops and into the window of his room that he rented. He could even here fighting downstairs. Imbeciles... He grabbed his black bladed sword and slipped his dagger into the bottom of the handel, uniting the blade once again.
"Miss me, girl?" He mumbled as he unsheathed it. Then he heard screaming dowstairs. Matt sighed.
"Curse me and my soft heart." He whispered. He bounded dowstairs and punted the nearest pirates head into the wall. He didn't even see what he was doing. He heard some shout of thank you but whatever. He cut the next pirate in the chest, leaving him to bleed. He swung behind himself without even looking and bocked an axe. He turned around and faced that pirate. Damn he was ugly.
"You guys are this close to making me mad." Matt said calmly, holding the fingers on his free hand close together.
"Awfly cocky for a runt!"
"Shut up." Matt frowned as he swung the axe around with his blade and planted it in the pirates shoulder. Another pirate swung at him, but Matt jumped. But it was a little late. As his luck would have it, the blade cut open the pouch that held his new pearls. The white beads fell out and scattered on the floor.
Matt landed on a table, and glared. Every pirate could feel the pure malice comeing from him. A few civilians fled upstairs, scared.
"... and that." Matt slipped his dagger out and held it in his left hand, his sword in his right. His voice was monotone, emotionless. "Is the straw that broke the camels back."

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Kain frowned when he noticed Shadow was once again making a spectacle of himself. Oh well, in the art of killing, there was no one better than Shadow... though Kain hoped to be a close second. Looking toward the docks, Kain noticed the remaining pirates seemed to regroup toward their ship. Kain estimated between fifty to sixty left. Shadow was much better at counting out large groups of people. No matter. Kain took to the rooftops to survey the scene. TO his immense pleasure, Kain noticed that there were several kegs of gun powder unloaded and near the ships. This was going to be fun.

Kain jumped from the rooftop, landing lightly and taking off into a hard sprint. Kain made it to the kegs, and began flipping them. Several pirates noticed him, and the group was now after him. Kain started laughing until he noticed they were pulling their pistols out. And Kain was standing near several kegs of explosives. Kain began rolling the kegs as hard as he could towards the oncoming horde. The pirates began tripping over each other, but soon learned to jump. Kain heard the crack of a pistol, and dropped to a low crouch as quick as he could. Not quick enough unfortunately. The bullet managed to nick Kain's shoulder. In anger, Kain pulled out his own gun, aimed, and fired. He smiled as the bullets struck one of the rolling barrels, setting off a delightful explosion. Fire and debris blossomed out, and struck the other barrels, which proceeded to bloom in similar fashion. Kain stood laughing while the screams of pirates filled the sky. Bodies were torn apart by the impact and the fire. Men screamed as shrapnel from the kegs tore them apart. Perhaps fifteen men had died instantly, and another ten were wounded to varying degrees.

Then, another gunshot sounded. Kain's eyes widened as he realized the pirates were trying to use his own trick against him. Clever bastards. Kain dove forward, but did not fully avoid the explosion that erupted behind him. The shock-wave knocked the wind out of Kain and sent him painfully to the ground. before he started moving, Kain used his senses to assess the environment. Pirates near him. He would have to recover before moving, or else they would surely kill him. Then, a loud cawing was heard overhead.

"Back away boys! Death is here for him." Pirates are a superstitious lot. Raven landed next to Kain's head and pecked his ear. Kain smiled, knowing how he could turn this to his advantage. Kain launched himself into the air, landing into a crouch. Raven landed on his shoulder, giving out an ominous caw. Kain looked at them from behind the smiling mask.

"Well, it seems like not even death can stop me." Kain said as he reached behind his back. Even through the leather gloves, Kain could feel the chill of the strange sword he carried. He quickly unsheathed the blade, letting the pirates have a good look at the serpentine blade and the detailed skulls. "Your souls are mine!" Kain shouted as he jumped toward the group.

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(Ral Shie)

Shadow had only just finished decorating the wall of the building behind him with the blood of the the last pirate in the group that attacked him when he noticed the rest retreating onto their ships.

The last pirate fell to the ground, and Shadow saw Kain approaching his position, so he sheathed the Twins and walked towards the ships, but then stopped, and looked at Kain.

Why is he not pursuing them? He wondered.

Shadow looked at the pirates on board the ships and saw that they were genuinely afraid and at the brink of sheer panic themselves after Kain and Shadow's display of ruthless killer intent.

Shadow decided to follow suit, and simply walked over to greet Kain before watching the pirates begin to turn their ships around and leave the town be. He smiled at their cowardice and lack of warrior's pride, but none the less was thankful for the lack of further bloodshed.

He had done enough of that today.

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Mark slowly walked down the desolate streets, taking in the carnage. The cobbled stones were a rusty red, and small rivers of crimson liquid flowed from the piles of dead bodies that were the work of the soldiers and pirates. Most everybody had either retreated into a building or ship, depending who you were. Except for a few people, apparently. There were the two guys from before, but now there was a girl with them.

Glancing around, Mark wondered what he should do now. Go and see them? Go home? Might as well see what's up with the weird people. So Mark walked casually over, and asked," Hey, what's up?", suprisingly normal, considering the chaos a few minutes ago.

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((Okay...any way for me to jump back into this at all? I'm completely lost...))

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(I don't mean to be pushy everybody, but to twiliXdragon and dionkar, this kind of chatting is meant to be done in the OOC section, not here in the posting section. So from now on, if you have a question, ask there please, as asking here can be distracting to the others. Thanks.

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"Well, one could argue that I am, in actuality, quite the fool, but that causes people to make a false assumption that, just because I am a fool, I am not dangerous. And, as you know, assuming I am not dangerous is very dangerous indeed." Kain smirked and said, "So, who is your target this time? I need to fulfill a contract as well. A family was robbed by a common thug. However, the elder son tried to fight off the man and was murdered in the process. Seeking vengeance, the family sought out my services. Their reward as well as mine shall be justice done. Unfortunately, I am still not as high-minded as to turn the other cheek as the young monk back there would have obviously done."

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(Ral Shie)

Shadow's smile faded.

"... So you seek a target as well? Interesting."

Shadow returned his gaze to the road ahead.

"I am seeking a man who used to be one of Takai's puppets back during my time in Teisei. As soon as word reached him that Takai was dead, he disappeared. I had meant to find him much earlier, but circumstances changed my focus shortly after I met you and Kaiden. He is an evil man, one who has corrupted his role in the Empire's hierarchy in order to gain himself personal wealth and run good people off their land and out onto the streets."

Shadow took out a folded piece of paper from his jacket pocket and tossed it back to Kain.

"That's his portrait, and I know he was in this town. After all the commotion back there, he'd obviously have fled, because his lodging was on the opposite edge of town. I know he survived. He's so paranoid that he'd be the first to run at the slightest sign of trouble... Such a coward, he deserves to die."

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Shadow turned his head, this time far enough for his eyes to become visible.

The look in his eyes was murderous.

"... Days... He knew I was coming that long ago?" He demanded.

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"Indeed. You are, after all, the fabled 'Red-Eyed Demon.' Unfortunately for you, your assassin persona cannot simply come off." To illustrate his point, Kain slipped off his mask, giving it a theatrical twirl before slipping it on his belt. "However, I may have something that will help you. You remember my fascination with herbs, yes? I may have discovered a blend that can change the color of a person's eyes."

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Shadow blinked.

"... Interesting to say the least..." He said, a look of suspicion in his eyes.

"I'm not sure if I'll need it yet, but I will keep your offer in mind. In the mean time, I need to keep moving. You're welcome to come along if you wish since you seem to have nothing else to do." He said.

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Aww... it was already over. He knew he shouldn't have left. But there were other people left... only a few. Two were the red eyed one and his buddy. He walked them talk then they went there separate ways. Aww... thats no fun. Matt reached into his posket and brought out some of the now red pearls. They had saoked up the blood of those pirates that had held him up when they were on the ground. Now the were stained red forever.
Cool. That ought to fetch a good price.
The watched the pair of assasins go down the road and decided to follow them. He had nothing better to do. He walked along the rooftops, listening in on there conversation. They seemed to be a rather interesting pair.

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Mark stood and waited as the people around him said there peices, and left. The same thing always happened when he tried to be friendly. It was always something to do with 'childish boy' or 'inexperianced squire' or 'are you sure he's a boy?' Something along those lines. Oh well. Mark trotted back home, keeping all the gruesome images of death the were splattered all over the streets.

When he got their, Mark tugged off his armor and placed it in his pack. Then Mark brought out Hildebrand. "Thanks", he whispered to the blade. Mark brought out a rag and clean his sword, top to bottom. Sticking his money and a few rations inn the pack as well, Mark where he would head next.

Jogging briskly down the cobbled way, Mark hurried to the road which would lead him from the bloody town.

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Mark looked up a happily when Myr asked if he could join her. Nodding vigorously, Mark hurried up to meet up with her. Mark followed her as they entered the town.

"My name is Mark, what's yours?", he asked cheerfully. "Where are you going?", Mark added.

It was always fun to goto new places. Especaily if you wanted to forget the one you were just in. Rummaging through his bag, Mark then pulled out a couple of coins.

"Want to drink some tea? My treat?", Mark asked temptingly.

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Ugh. Boreing. They were only talking. Matt decided to ditch the two assasins. He had better things to do. What about those other two that were there? Maybe they were doing something.
But wait... they left... riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. Matt shook his head as he bounded off. He'd wished hed had known that before he came after these too. Now he had no one. He needed a drink. He jumped from roof to roof, heading for the nearest tea shop. Tea sounded good right now. Matt was cold, and a hot drink could really hit the spot.

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Matt jumped off a rooftop and landed in the street, in front of two other people who were talking. He glanced at them for a second. Had he seem them before? Oh yeah, they were the two talking with the assasins! Cool. Matt smiled and made a quick nod and ran down the street to his favorite tea shop.

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Matt so desperatly wanted to make conversation. He was kind of lonely at the moment. But they seemed perfectly fine talking with each other. He didn't want to disrupt that. Strange... this place seemed so calm seeing as there was just a FREAKING PIRATE ATTACK. But whatever. A different waiter walked up to him, holding a menu.
"Surprise me. I got money." Matt waved him off. The waiter nodded and walked off. That was his usual order. He was never dissapointed by what shops brought him. And he actually liked playing this game. If they brought him anything other than the most expensive thing on the list, he would pay it. Otherwise, he would take it and leave. Matt sighed, taking in the wonderful scent of the shop. He put his feet up on the table, leaning back. It was a mistake though, seeing as his pearls fell out of his pockets and scattered all over the floor.
"Those things are causeing me more trouble than they're worth." He said to himself as the blood red beads rolled around. He sighed and stood up, begining to pick the infernal things up.

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"Oh! Thanks." Matt smiled brightly at her, accepting the rest of the pearls. Why was a knight helping him? Did she not know he was Moonlight, a well known theif? Cool. Matt put the pearls in his pocket and turned back to her.
"You wouldn't happen to have a... bag of some sort, would you? They keep falling out." He rubbed the back of his head nervously, his fingers running through his white hair.

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Mark raised an eyebrow. Those 'marbles' looked pretty suspicious to him. Slowly he rose form his chair moved swiftly towards the guy. Hmm... that was the same guy who jumped from the roof. Bending down, Mark picked up a single marble and held it between his fingers.

"I am Sir Mark. What's your name?", he asked, not taking his eyes off the small ball. Something about that guy was familiar...

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"Matt Somer at your servi- Oh thats wonderful!" Matt exclaimed as a bag was held out to him. "Thank you so much!" He took the bag from the girl and slipped the red pearls into it.
Wait... Matt peeked inside the bag and counted. There should be twenty three exactly... there were only twenty two in here. Where was the last one.
Oh. In that mans fingers.
"Anyway, Matt Somer at your service." Matt bowed low at both of them. He looked at the man, then at his pearl between his fingers. "Um... may I have that back now?" He asked politely.

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Ther was something fishy about the marbel, but Mark couldn't put his finger on it... That's it! The round ball resembled a pearl greatly, except for the strange red color. Mark looked at Matt while giving it back.

"So, what's your bussiness here Matt?", he asked curiously.

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"Eh, I wander." Matt snatched his tea off of the passing waiters tray without looking. The waiter was surprised, but didn't say anything and walked off. "I go where the wind takes me." He dropped the last pearl into his new bag and strung it to his hip. He took a sip of his tea and nodded. Not bad, he supposed. After a thought or two, he untied his bag and displayed it in front of them. "Hey, either of you two interested in these pearls? I'm looking to sell them."

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Matt sighed slightly as Myr declined his offer. He turned to Mark next. "How bout you? You interested?" He downed the rest of his drink and picked up a nearby menu. Yep. They gave him the most expensive thing here. Almost made him sad. This was a nice shop. Felt a little wrong to rob it.
Oh well. After this conversation, he was gone. He had better things to do. But still, he wanted to keep this conversation going as long as possible. It got lonely as a thief, and Matt was thrilled to have company.

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Shadow smirked.

"I guess you're right. I haven't been in serious combat like that since we hunted down my brother Asasirihito six months ago... I guess the lack of battle has made me... dull."

He looked back towards the streets of town as he scanned for the location of the tea shop.

"... You think?"

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Mark looked a the bag of 'marbles'.

"Umm... no. Say, would you mind if we sat here for tea? I haven't ordered anything yet...". On the dot, a waitress appeared behind him," What would you like sir?

"Ah.. how about some herbal tea then?", Mark replied. Then the maid hurried off and the knight sat down in a chair.

"I hope you don't mind?.", he asked cautiosly.

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"Nah, It's fine." Matt smiled. Why stand when you can sit?" He pulled up a chair and sat down, leaning back slightly. This was a misake though, cause he fell back and hit his head. He groaned, his arms sprawled out on the ground.

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Shadow smiled at Raven's antics and gave a small chuckle.

"You're right, disguises really aren't my thing... I guess I'll just go in as is, and if people give me a hard time about it, I'll just silence them."

He gave a wave of his arm towards the town.

"After you maestro" He said with a slight bow of his head.

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Shadow waited until the hostess had left earshot before speaking.

"I didn't mean I'd kill them, merely silence them, as in knock them out or intimidate them into shutting up. Less of a mess that way."

He kicked his feet up on a spare chair from a table next to them and closed his eyes, leaning his head back to rest his eyes after the long and frustrating day he'd just gone through.

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Mark glanced at the new customers, then double-glanced when he thought he saw the ones from the fight. They were! It was the stealthy one and the annoying one who saved his life! Mark smiled the biggest of grins and waved at the pair. Even though one of them was wearing a disguise, he could still tell who it was.

Leaning over, Mark pointed the pair out to his comrades before receiving his drink from a waiter. Oh, he knew there was a possibility of him being annoying, but he still hadn't forgotten the other guy's rude comment and the fact that the same guy saved Mark's life. So might as well go and thank him.

Mark looked closer at their table and surveyed the pair. It was them all right.

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Matt rubbed his head with one hand as he accepted Myr's offer to help him up. "Thank you. And nah, I'm not going anywhere in particular." And the Mark started pointing out the other two guys. Wow that disguise was pathetic. That was almost TO easy to see through. Wait... yeah, they were! The boring ones. Meh... Maybe they were interested? Matt was concerned with just getting these pearls away from him. He took a napkin and balled it up, throwing it. It bounced off the disguised ones head and landed on the floor.
"You two! Over here!" He waved, taking another sip of his tea.

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Shadow's eyes came open slowly, and he leaned over to pick up the napkin that fell to the floor after bouncing off of Kain's almost ridiculous circus disguise. He held it loosely in his hand and smacked it against his pants, cleaning a bit of dust off of it, and folding it neatly before placing it on the spare table next to him as he glanced at the three travelers from earlier sitting at another table just across the room.

He didn't know whether to smile or shake his head.

All of them were younger than he was, which in the past had led to annoying consequences with previous companions, but to be polite he smiled and gave a light wave back anyway.

"It seems we were beaten to the idea of brief relaxation after all that excitement by our new acquaintances my friend." He said to Kain under his breath.

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<<<<<<<Quick note. Kain's pants are cotton. not silk. was confused, didnt want to edit because roleplaygateway reposts as opposed to simply editing. so there :p>>>>>>>


Kain sighed. "They threw wadded up paper at my head. Who knows where that's been?!?! It could be disgustingly dirty for all we know! And you are holding it!" Kain stopped his rant and slowly turned to where the wad had come from. The knight from before. And the healer. And some whelp. Wonderful. Kain put on a fake smile and waved back at the overenthusiastic knight. His eye twitched in mild annoyance. Thanks to Shadow not bothering to keep a low profile, they were found out. and now something stupid would be bound to happen, as has always been the case in the past. Kain opened the window, and saw Raven perched nearby. "Well Shadow, we have been spotted. Go make friends while I order. I am in no mood to deal with buffoons. The monk, perhaps, the knight, maybe after the lass has wizened up a bit. The thief... well, I've dealt with too many of them in my life." Kain leaned casually back in his chair, carefully shifting the balance so he wouldn't fall over, like some amateurs might.

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Myr laid claim to no no particular level of social intelligence. On the contrary, there were still many things about the world that she was coming to understand. She was, however, aware that throwing things at people was generally considered rude, and winced slightly as the napkin made contact with the pirate's head. At least, she supposed he was a pirate, when he wasn't bus being an assassin or... whatever it was he chose to resemble now. Rather than assume his disguise was off, she believed it more a function of her own lack of understanding. The look she gave Matt, therefore, was slightly reproachful.

At any rate, the two seemed to have noticed them, and she wondered for a moment what they were doing here. When they'd left the battlefield, they'd seemed to do so with purpose, but now they had just casually strolled into a tea shop, nonchalant as you please, and she was a tad confused. Moreso because only the one with the bird seemed to have disguised himself, whereas she personally thought his friend was a tad more distinctive, given the eye color.

Ah well, at any rate their business was none of hers, and she would not bother them, especially since the one appeared to be quite irritated. Rather, she finished her cup of tea and set it delicately on the table in front of her. The waiter was immediately back and asking if she wanted another, but Myr shook her head politely. If she was here on Mark's coin, she did not wish to inconvenience him. Actually, she was thinking it might be better to pay for herself, but then the rules of courtesy were confusing and she was not sure if this would be a slight in some sense.

She met the eyes of the pirate and the assassin in turn, seeming to apologize a bit for the rather untoward manner of her present company, but there was little more she could do. Whatever the situation might be, she simply hoped it did not become hostile; such things would be a burden both on the parties involved and the owner of the tea shop, who had nothing to do with any of it.

So Myr simply sat straight in her chair, hands folded in her lap, with the air of someone with almost inexhaustible reserves of patience but the eyes of a wary soul, both of which were in fact quite true. It could be said that she was not terribly good at masking her personality, though perhaps this would be a mistake. Nobody around here would know her well enough to say, least of all herself.

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Shadow scoffed at Kain before standing up and stretching his arms out. His elbows made a loud crack above his head, and he let them fall to his sides before approaching the table with the knight, monk, and thief.

"Greetings. We met earlier but never became truly acquainted. My name is Shadow, and the annoyingly overdressed man over there is my... acquaintance, Kain. I would say it's a pleasure to meet you, but given the circumstances of how we met I cannot make such a claim."

Shadow pulled a spare chair over, sat down, and appraised the group before him one member at a time.

The knight was obviously not what she pretended to be. Despite the height, armor, and hair hidden beneath the helm, it was obvious to Shadow by her scent that she was a young woman. Men and women smelled differently, even when dressed in similar clothing, and Shadow had years of experience telling them apart, but it was obvious the the young knight wished to be seen as a boy, so Shadow made no comments.

The monk was a strange one, having eyes with a color fairly similar to his own, but being more of a purple-ish hue as opposed to the blood red coloration of his. They held the same mysterious and knowing qualities that his did, and he found he took more of a liking to this one for her maturity and the air of intelligence that she exuded. She would make an interesting companion for sure.

The thief was... well, a thief. There were no special skills that Shadow could see on the outside, given his appearance, but never the less, if he was still alive today after what happened earlier, then there was something to be said of his survival skills, and Shadow had to admire that.

"Do I have the pleasure of learning your names?" He asked casually.

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Matt smirked as the napkin bounced off Kains head. That worked far batter than he thought it would. That and it was hilarious. Still he seemed mad... oh who cared. It was a napkin for gods sake! Get over it... god... Then he blatently stated that he was a theif.
NOT cool.
He had a cover too! Even if it was kind of crappy... but still! Matt considered shouting that he was no such thing, but that would probably make people suspisious. So instead he just scoffed at the accusation. He hoped that would cover it up. But even if it didn't, he cold still just run. He hadn't met a person yet that was faster than him. But Mark was in the way of the nearest window... hmm... Matt ajusted his chair so he had a clear jump for an escape. He just hoped he wouldn't have to use it. Then the red eyed one came over.
Matt visibly flinched. That guy was bad news. But he calmed as he asked for there names. At least his sight wasnt on killing them. That was good.
"Ehehehe... Names Matt." He smirked, faking the unbelievable confidence that he usually had. "May I ask yours?"

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Shadow saw the flinch but made no comment. It was quite obvious to Shadow after a moment of analysis that the thief was uncomfortable around him, undoubtedly due to what he witnessed from earlier.

He looked to the monk and knight, awaiting their answer to his question, and for another chance to learn about the people sitting in front of him.

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Myr watched the interaction between the thief (if that was indeed Matt's profession) and the assassin with what appeared to be a mild interest, perhaps with traces of amusement. Matt seemed to be slightly taken aback or intimidated by something, most likely the red-eyed man in front of them.

She might have been, once, but such was hardly the case now. It had taken her some time to come to the understanding that not all people were as mild as the monks that had raised her, but once she had, it was a simple matter to accept such things as a matter of course.

The assassin asked for names, and she felt no reluctance to give hers, but... "I believe you already have mine," she replied with a twinge of wryness coloring her tone, "but I am called Myr, or Myrna, whichever you prefer. I do not believe I caught yours, however." A small smile quirked the corners of her mouth. She knew not if the man would give his own moniker in return, but it could not hurt to ask, just in case, and she indicated both the standing man and the sitting one with her glance at the inquiry.

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Shadow smiled at Myr for a moment.

"Indeed, I did have your name, but a proper introduction is always nice when speaking informally off the battle field. As I stated when I approached the table, I am Shadow, and my friend over there is called Kain Ravenscar."

Shadow's gaze slid to the knight in the other chair.

"And you... sir knight?" He asked, with a hint of sarcasm in his voice.

Shadow knew what Myr obviously did as well, that the knight who looked a boy was in fact a woman. The eyes and the skin, as well as the tell tale scent women exude, gave her away, though most were not so observant as their lives demanded focus on other things.

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Mark gritted his teeth when Shadow used sarcasm to address him. Thankfully, it would not be visible.

Trudging up a smile, Mark answered," I am officially known as Sir Mark, but I dislike titles." Then the young knight gave Shadow a genuine grin, deciding to forget his insult for the moment. Shadow... something about him... assassin? If you out all the pieces together, yes. Myr, monk? Of course. Kain, pirate? Most likely. Matt; thief? That would explain a lot. However, Mark did not mind it as long the guy didn't do it in front of him.

Mark could not shake off the feeling the sarcasm in Shadow's voice had a meaning. The guy could probably see through Mark's mask. Didn't that guy know the title of 'sir' went to females as well as males? Or, at least, they did a long time ago when girls could legally be knighted. But, unfortunately, those times were over.

Looking down sadly, Mark gulped down the last of his tea. The boy set two copper pennies in the waiting hand of the serving girl, paying for both Myr's and his own drink. Then Mark shoved his money bag back into his pack. He watched as other servers swept in, clearing away empty cups. When one asked if he wanted another drink, Mark nodded, asking for the same type of tea he had before.

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The young knight's reaction to his comment told Shadow that she was adamant about remaining known as a boy, so Shadow decided to respect her wishes.

"I see. So, what drew you all to this town, especially with tensions among the citizens and Royal Guards so high these days? What with all the new trade and the pirate attacks which follow them?" He asked.

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Kain listened while Shadow made new friends. Fairly uninteresting lot they were... or perhaps they were all simply terrified of Shadow. No, that wasn't true. The monk had no problems, the knight was simply timid, and the thief was antsy. Best watch that one, it would not do to let them steal while Kain was around. During this time, Kain ordered a sampler plate offering a variety of small foods, and a tea which was an extremely bitter tea that few could drink. Those that could stomach it would enjoy a tremendous rush of energy for several hours afterward. Kain enjoyed the effect. The waiter brought a small bread basket, and Kain wasted no time in cutting up a few pieces and throwing them out the window for his hungry raven. She swooped down and gratefully began eating. feeling no inclination to join the conversation, Kain sat in silence, enjoying the natural scenery outside the window and occasionally throwing more scraps to Raven. Kain was stunned by the density of the three people's skulls. Shadow walked up to them and introduced himself straight away, yet these dunces had to ask again for his name! Perhaps his presence is more stunning than Kain realized. Of course, Shadow never had quite the same affect on Kain as he had on others. Hearing Shadow's latest statement, Kain decided to enter the conversation.

"I'd say we were more than just acquaintances Shadow." Kain said, walking over. Good day miss Myrna, Sir Mark, and... Matt. In case you didn't catch it before, my name is Kain." Kain gave a bow to the three, pausing to give Matt a deadly look. Addressing the thief, Kain said, "When you have a moment, I would like to talk to you in private about those pearls of yours." To the entire group, Kain said, "I am also interested in what brings you all out here, so kindly continue with the conversation you were having before I rudely decided to barge in, though my rudeness isn't quite as bad as throwing dirty paper at a stranger's head, which is far ruder than parading around as the opposite gender for Chaos knows what reason.... Anyway, continue." Kain smirked, interested in how this group would handle his behavior.

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Shadow listened in silent horror and embarrassment to Kain's interruption.

He put his hand over his face when Kain mentioned 'parading around as the opposite gender', as Shadow had respect for people's wishes to remain anonymous, no matter how they did it.

Kain clearly had not changed, and it proved to spell trouble for them and their new 'friends'.

If Kain didn't lighten up, the three traveler's might have more than words for them soon.

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Myr nodded sagely. She had been a bit curious as to the one called Shadow's actual name, but perhaps that really was it. Either that, or he did not wish it to be known. Fair enough, she supposed.

Mark seemed to be taking on something of a melancholy, staring down into nothing with a contemplativeness that she had thought reserved for herself. Not that she minded, of course, but from the little she knew of him, it seemed uncharacteristic. Perhaps he was troubled by something Shadow had said? Myr might have missed the implications of sarcasm, or perhaps she had simply been mentally elsewhere, as she was wont to be on occasion.

Introductions completed, then, the pirate Kain, who hitherto had been sitting in relative silence and solitude at another table, sauntered over to the group. Whatever she had been expecting him to say, it had not been something quite so... belligerent. She could not fault him for being upset at finding himself Matt's target, but the comment about Mark was simply unnecessary, and Myr glanced quickly at the knight.

Nevertheless, when she spoke it was with a mild disposition and no trace of offense. "My presence here on this day was a complete coincidence; I wander about the countryside at will, and I am afraid there is naught more to it than this." A blond eyebrow arched ever so slightly, almost as though she were waiting for some form of challenge, refutation, or biting comment. In truth, she had dealt with people like this on before... all sarcasm eventually fell before the stone wall that was patient honesty, or at least it had for her.

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Shadow let his hand down from his face after hearing Myr's story.

He gave her a genuine and pleasant smile, and bowed his head lightly.

"I see." He said pleasantly.

"Let me try to clear up Kain's less than pleasant entrance. That's his way of saying 'Hello, my name is Kain, and I'd appreciate it if you'd stay out of my way. If you do, we won't have problems, if you don't...', and I think you can fill in the rest for yourselves."

Shadow shot Kain a warning glare, which he had used before when silently telling Kain to back down and let him do the talking.

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"I don't like you." Matt said bluntly as he glared at Kain back. "You're mean. No wonder the patient one is your only friend."
Matt took out a single blood red pearl and flicked it at Kains forehead. It bounced off and Matt caught it in the air. That dude was VERY rude. First off, the napkin was clean. And second, if Mark was indeed a girl, then why the crap would you blatently say it out loud? She obviously wanted to keep it a secret. Matt stood up, pushing his chair back with his legs. He could already tell he would have problems with this one. Maybe he should just leave. He turned to a passing waiter. "Surprise me again. And this time, dont bring me the most expensive thing." Matt glared at him. The waiter ran away with his metaphorical tail in between his legs.
Matt then turned to Kain, slamming his hands on the table loudly. "Have you ever heard of such a thing as cover? Ya know, wanting to keep an identidy secret? Ever heard of that? I understand breaking mine. Yeah. But Sir Mark over here has done nothing to you." Matt pointed to the boy... girl... person. "I dont care how powerful you are. There is no excuse for that behavior. And I have pretty low standerds for what is good behavior. Now straighten up your act, of I'M going to straighten it FOR you."

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Shadow pulled one of his daggers from behind his back, leapt from his chair, and hiding the blade against his forearm, held it up to Matt's throat, whispering menacingly to him as he leaned down close to his ear.

"You'd best calm yourself. Thanks to your outburst, we now have all eyes in this miserable excuse of a tea shop on us. I would advise against drawing further attention."

Shadow slowly removed his blade from its position and placed it behind his back without making a sound.

"Besides," he said quietly, "You wouldn't last more than about two seconds in a fight with Kain. Although he may not look it, he can be just as lethal as I am."

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Kain gave a smile and a slight bow to Shadow. "Well, I must say it is a great honor to be considered an equal by the Red-Eyed Demon himself." Straightening, Kain walked around the table, putting a hand on Mark's shoulder and saying, "I am terribly sorry if I offended you. Allow me to buy you another drink, or perhaps dessert! They serve wonderful pastries here!" Leaning in and whispering so only Mark could hear, Kain said, "I will be honest with you. All of us, with the exception perhaps of the pompous little thief, know what you are. Your disguise is decent for a novice, but you forget details, which people like me and Shadow pay very close attention to. Things like your skin tone and texture, your scent, and your profound lack of facial hair all give you away. If you like, I can give you some tips in private on how to improve your disguise." Kain stood and quickly turned, bumping into the thief. "Terribly sorry master thief, I fear my brain may have been damaged from various objects thrown at it. My mistake." Kain then flipped over the small table, landing next to Shadow with his usual feline grace. When Kain straightened, he noticed Shadow was looking at him with an eyebrow raised. Kain only smirked in response. To those who didn't know better, this seemed like an innocent enough exchange. However, Kain and Shadow learned the little nuances in each others' behavior, and Shadow knew Kain was too aware of situations to simply "bump" into someone. Shadow also knew under normal circumstances, Kain would not apologize afterward. The flip and the smirk sealed the deal; Kain was up to his old games. Kain clapped Shadow on the shoulder, and when he was pulling his hand away, Shadow noticed a glint of red. Kain, being extremely nimble, had stolen the thief's pearls. the thief wouldn't even realize some were gone until much later, as Kain was bound to have put in a replacement object, so the thief could only know they were gone if he actually checked on the pearls. Kain casually strolled over and sipped his tea, handing some of his food to Raven.

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Myr flinched a bit at the obviously overwrought exchange between Matt and the pirate. Shadow had been right about one thing; the waiting staff had all paused in their activity to observe what was going on. She couldn't say she approved of the method by which this was conveyed to the seeming thief, but nonetheless she understood the need to go unnoticed. She, too, maintained a low profile whenever possible, preferring to observe rather than be observed.

Kain attempted to cover it up with a slightly too-loud offer moments later, but it appeared to have served their purposes well, for the eyes in the room tended to blink a few times in confusion, then go back to whatever task had been at hand. Still, it would behoove all of them not to do too much more to make nuisances of themselves.

She was brought back to the present and away from her ruminations when Kain bumped into Matt before flipping over the table they were sitting at. That was odd... she could have sworn something else had happened there, but she had not been paying enough attention to notice exactly what. The look that passed between Kain and Shadow was enough to confirm this, and Myr's eyebrows furrowed. She hoped it was nothing that would overly hassle the young man. Though apparently somewhat brash, she did not believe him deserving of any misfortune.

Then again, she doubted very much that her opinions would carry very much weight with the two standing around the table. Speaking of which... that did look a little conspicuous. Kain appeared to have wandered back to his table and was now tossing food out the window for a purpose she could not presently discern, but Shadow simply stood.

"The two of you are welcome to sit, if you like." In truth, she was actually not certain whether or not her companions would have been willing to make the same offer, but Myr figured that remaining beneath notice was advantageous enough to all involved that it was worth the risk of some slight discomfort or awkwardness.

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Matt barely flinched as Shadow put a knife to his throat. His glare at Kain softened a bit before he sat down again. But his eyes never left the body of the pirate. He watched as the cocky prick suddenly had a change of attitude and offered to get something for Mark over there. His ears twitched as he then heard him whisper. "Pompous little thief indeed..." Matt smirked, whispering. They were obviously underestimating him... BIG mistake. Teisei hadn't picked him to steal stuff for nothing, you know. In fact... Matt glanced at Shadow. Red eyes... Hadn't he seen him before? He had worked for him too, didn't he-
Kain bumped into Matt as he walked past, knocking him out of his thought. Kain played it off easily enough, but Matt knew better. He reached for his bag of pearls under his cloak, feeling or them under the fabric... They were there. He let out a small sigh. But he'd still have to check them closer later. Until then, he resolved not to let the bastard out of his sight. He was surprised Shadow didn't recognize him. Not like he'd never seen him before. Everyone who used to work for Teisei knew of Shadow at least. Oh well. No fame for poor old Moonlight, he supposed. But who was Kain? A cocky, arrogent, sarcastic prick. THAT'S what he was... Matt growled under his breath. These thoughts were getting him nowhere. Best to pay attention to the situation at hand. Matt closed his eyes, trying to find his mask again. As he opened them, that innocent twinkle returned. His mask was back in place. He was surprised it had fallen in the first place. Totally uncool.
Wait... THAT WAS A GLINT OF RED IN HIS HAND!! HE HAD TAKEN THEM!! Ugh... calm, Matthew, He reminded himself. Remember your mask. He took a second to respond. He had to think.How would an arrogent youth act?
Oh wait. Duh.
"GIVE THOSE BACK YOU BASTARD!!!" Matt stood up again, this time knocking over his chair with the backs of his legs.

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Shadow had no choice now.

Too much attention was being drawn, and so there was no point in being cautious any longer.

He drew both daggers from behind his back, flipped them forward so the blades were away from him, and let them form an 'x' in front of his chest as he stepped between Kain and Matt.

The whole restaurant erupted into chaos at the sight of his weapons, and all the people inside were now scrambling for the exits. As soon as the last panicked souls departed, Shadow spoke.

"I gave you a warning, and you have chosen not to obey. Your skills are great young thief, but not great enough to get you anywhere against the either one of us. You would do well to calm yourself, and leave Kain to his antics. He will return your pearls in due time, as he has no interest in bloodstained jewelry. If you persist with this behavior, I will be forced to kill you, as I cannot afford to have an overeager and loudmouthed thief giving away our presence here over something so petty as a few missing pearls, which you could easily re-attain and bolster, I might add, by visiting the local Lord's mansion. He has plenty to spare. Now... for the last time, sit down!"

Shadow scraped the metal of the daggers against each other as he separated them, letting the sound of ringing metal echo throughout the room as they came to rest at his sides in an open, but none the less aggressive stance.

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Damn it... Matt wasnt used to this. To steal from him so EASILY. It made him mad. VERY mad. But still... better to lose the pearls than his life. Maybe yelling hadn't been the best things to do. Matt glanced at Shadows daggers and then at Kain. Kain really had gotten on his bad side, but Matt had respect for Shadow. He thought about it for a minute, choosing his words carefully.
"... Im am sorry to have caused such a disturbince." He said slowly, his words conveying wisdom beyond his years. "I just went through a lot of trouble getting those, is all. However, I can see now that yelling was not the proper course of action for me to take. I apologize to you for my rash behavior. I regret it very much." Matt took a step back towards the door. The waiter from before nervously came up and held out Matts tea. Matt took the glass calmly, but then smashed the cup in his hand.
"However, I still am very wound up. And I fear I may have another outburst. So I think I should just go now, before my mouth gets the better of me. I will return for my pearls in due time." Matt turned to walk to the door. The waiter spoke up, fear obviously in his voice.
"S-s-sir... y-your b-b-bill-l..." He said quietly. Matt silently took out his money. He grabbed a few coins and dropped them on the ground. There were probably a few extra, more than enough to pay for his tea and the broken glass, but he didn't care at the moment. "Take em."
Matt walked outside and drew his black bladed sword, swinging it at the nearest building. The blade cut deeply into the brick, leaving a deep scar in the house. He sheathed it silently and jumped on the roof, walkig away.

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Shadow relaxed as Matt spoke and exited the building, and then shot Kain another glance, this time, more of a reproachful one than anything else.

"Your antics WILL get someone killed one of these days Kain. I'd suggest against any further action until you have given everyone reason to put up with you as I do."

Shadow sheathed his daggers and sat down opposite the knight.

"You have said very little through all of this. Have you anything to say Sir Mark?" He asked as gently as possible.

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Mark froze when Kain rudely pointed out he was a girl. Sure some people had noticed before, but never had said anything. Mark sat there, in total shock wonderinng what the heck he should do. Such was his suprise that the young knight ignored the chaos the surrounded him. Finally, drawing a deep breath, Mark spoke.

"Well that was rude.", he said bluntly, and very loudly. "Hey, Matt. Come back here. It's not a good thing to leave agruements festering. Kain, Shadow? All three of you should only use violance as a last resort."

Mark got up and walked over to Kain. "I would prefer to keep my gender unknown, if you don't mind.", he said, slightly awkward. "And i think that we all should help in the clean up of the restraunt. At least, I will." The knight walked over to Matt's broken glass, knelt down and began to gently pick up the pieces.

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Myr closed her eyes and sighed softly, the mere fact that the events had drawn the gusty exhalation from her in the first place something of a wonder. She was curious as to how all these fellows had ever managed to survive.

Well, okay, the answer to that was obvious enough. Shadow and Kain could kill anything that really took issue with them, and Matt... well he could probably manage to sneak or fight. It was obvious that none of them were accustomed to talking their way out of trouble.

When Mark at last chose to speak, Myr nodded at the suggestion of helping with the clean-up. Without looking at either of the two who still accompanied them, she made her way over to the nearest waiter, still shaking a little bit and constantly casting glances in Shadow's direction. "Excuse me," she requested softly, waiting patiently when the man jumped, flicking his gaze back to her. Projecting calm assurance and peace, she continued. "Would you be so kind as to let me borrow that towel?" She gave a small smile to indicate that she was as nonthreatening as she appeared.

There; a hesitant nod, and a smile to mirror her own. Ducking her head politely, she accepted the cloth and knelt beside Mark, mopping up the excess tea, before piling her companion's collected shards of cup inside and folding it carefully. The waiter appeared to have regained enough confidence to move, and accepted the bundle from her as soon as she stood. "Many thanks, miss, sir," he managed, nodding to Mark as well before making his retreat.

"Well," Myr said, turning to the others, "I do not think the staff will report this incident, but I cannot say if that applies for any of the people who just ran out. I think we have perhaps stayed long enough here, do you not?"

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Shadow pitched in a little bit to help with the clean up as well by sorting the tables and chairs the panicked people had scattered throughout the room. He finished his task and walked to the open doorway, looking outside, and seeing that there was a person waving down a Royal Guard, he knew he hadn't much time before more trouble found him and Kain.

Shadow also saw something he rather wished he hadn't seen.

A single grey piece of fabric waved in the wind before disappearing behind a building nearby, and the tone of the coloration was unmistakeable.

He shot Kain a glance that was both a warning and informative, letting him know that trouble was on its way, but it was to be avoided.

He approached Myr and Sir Mark, extending a hand to them.

"Well Myr and Sir Mark, despite the atrocious first impressions, I enjoyed our time together and look forward to more travels with you and our new friend the thief. Kain and I must leave now, or else we'll be dealing with the Royal Guards outside upon our exit, which is more trouble than it's worth. We shall depart and await you and sir mark outside the south Gate of the town."

Shadow walked to the window in the back of the room and opened it, looking back over his shoulder to make sure Kain would follow.

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Kain was rather enjoying all the chaos he had caused. It was fun to rile up little children like that Matt character. Kain couldn't help but laugh through the whole ordeal, but finally sobered up some when he noticed Shadow wanted to leave. Sighing, Kain said to Mark and Myr, "Sorry about all the excitement, I generally try to be on my best behavior around beautiful young women and authority figures, but some people just really get me in mischievous moods. I would love to stay and help, but I must get going. Good day Lady Myr, and May we meet again Sir Mark." Kain gave a slight bow, and then walked over to the waiter. "Sir, how much is my bill? and how much do you usually make in an evening?" The waiter seemed terrified, but managed to stammer out, "No charge! and we usually manage about forty to fifty gold pieces in a day." Kain nodded, and pulled out the bag of bloodstained pearls. He briefly inspected one, and noticed that the blood was already drying. They were fairly useless now, unless Kain found a necromancer interested in the pearls for their dark rituals. The poor fools believed the most ludicrous things that Kain could only laugh. Kain pulled out a sack and counted out seventy six gold pieces. He handed them to the waiter and said, "If anyone, be it guard or any others, come in here asking about me or the Red-Eyed Demon, you will report only that there were some rough looking men here earlier, none matching the description of the Demon, and that they had a minor altercation and left. Understood?" The waiter nodded and Kain gave him a warm smile. "Good! I am terribly sorry about all this. Take some of the extra gold as a tip and buy yourself a nice drink. Maybe a rum or a whiskey. Whatever you enjoy. Oh, you don't mind if I take what's left, do you?" The waiter shook his head and thanked Kain. Kain picked up several meat pies before finishing his drink and jumping out the window with a final smile to the remaining people in the shop.


Catching up to Shadow, Kain said, "I know, a bit over the top, even for me. But that thief was obnoxious. Besides, you overreacted as well, pulling your knives out. Either you or me could have handled the whelp with our bare hands, the Twins were just too much. Subtlety my friend, that is the key! Anyway, I paid for damages, reimbursed them for a day's worth of profits, and snagged some meat pies. Enjoy, as we will be traveling a bit." Kain handed Shadow a pie before taking a bite out of one himself. "Marvelous, very flavorful. By the way, the pearls are entirely useless. Foolish child let the blood dry."

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<<<<<<<<<<Ok, I apologize in advance for posting this in the actual activity area, but I get the feeling people don't check the ooc chat, and a minor issue that is starting to bug me is that people don't seem to read all the activity from their last post. I say this because I noticed people seemed to not know exactly what was going on, just kind of a general feel. So please, read all new posts before posting your own reply! It makes everything flow more smoothly. And, Since I'm posting this anyway, I might as well also add to check your spelling and grammar before posting. it isn't a flawless post if it has spelling and grammar issues. I am a freelance Grammar Nazi outside of my regular job of being a drugged out rock 'n' roll clown... so yea. CHECK YOUR POSTS! That is all. I do cocaine.>>>>>>>>>>>>

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Shadow turned his back to Kain, looked at the pie in his hand, and let it drop to the ground, splattering it face down in the dirt.

"We have much bigger problems now Kain than worrying about subtlety. Had I not drawn the Twins, that tea shop would have become another bloodbath."

He turned around and met Kain's gaze.

"... They are following me again Kain..." He said in a low voice.

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Matt hopped across buildings all the way to the other side of town. Eventually he found far enough house and he sat down. Silently he began to go over what he knew about Shadow and Kain. Shadow was the legendary Red Eyed Demon, and Kain... Kain was Kain. Simple enough. Shadow had extraordenary senses, smeel was especially adapt. That would serve as a problem. He couldn't hide his own smell... or could he? He told himself to look into the matter later. Kain was bigger, stronger... all around just better than Matt. Although he silently guessed he was faster. There wasnt a thing alive faster than him. It was his best attribute, honed through years of survival. Shadows weapons were obviously those daggers. And Kain... hmm. Matt struggled to remember the weapons he used during the pirate attack. A sword... and some weird projectile weapon. The weapon seemed to shoot tiny peices of metal in a straight line. Okay, easy to deal with. Move fast enough that he cant shoot accuratly. The bladed weapons for both of them could easily be dodged if need be. And in the need of a getaway... dang.
He didnt know Kains tracking abilities. He might easily be able to find him. Now how to-
"Hello Moonlight."
Matt turned around to see a tall man in dark robes looking straight at him. "Can I... help you?" He asked hesitantly.
The mans gaze did not faulter. "As you know, Takai has been dead for a while now."
Matt blinked several times. "Who?" The man nearly fell over.
"Takai? Leader of the Assasins of Tensei? Remember?"
"What?" Matts eyebrow raised, "I thought his name was Tensei!"
"No, it's Takai."
"No way!" Matt stood up. "When did this happen!?"
The man smirked. Moonlight was just a child. This would be easier than he thought. "When he was bor-" The man was cut off suddenly by a dagger to the back. That kid was fast.
"You... you..." The man fell over, and Matt pulled out the black bladed dagger. "You... tricked... me..." were his last words.
"No." Matt smirked as he slid his dagger back into the handle of his sword. "I really didn't know his name was Takai." He sighed, begining to walk away. These assassins were dumb... distracted by idle conversation. If youre going to strike, strike. Dumbasses... Matt hopped onto another building.

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Kain sighed. " I don't suppose you know how many are on you this time?"

Kain paused for a moment to stash a two more pies, and then put the rest in a tree for Raven. "Track us from far away. act like a normal raven, we don't want the assassins to get to you. We will meet again soon." The raven cawed in frustration, but Kain interrupted her. "This isn't open to negotiations Raven. Now, go." The bird looked sadly at Kain and Shadow, and then nuzzled up against Kain's face momentarily before flying over to Shadow, rubbing up against him briefly before taking off. Kain frowned, watching the bird disappear. Kain pulled out his gun, unlocking all three barrels and checking to make sure it was fully loaded.

"Alright Shadow, how do you want to deal with them? And why are they still operating? I thought we obliterated the remnants. Perhaps the most crucial bit of information is knowing if they are aware of me or not. Shadow, I need to know if they know I am your ally. If not, perhaps we can trap them. Also, would this group personally know you, or do they only know to hunt down the Red-Eyed Demon? Knowledge is power... but it seems like we will have to capture one to find out the appropriate information." Kain heard a faint rustle and turned lightning quick to the source of the noise. Only a squirrel. Damn, he was getting jumpy.

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Shadow looked to the top of the tea shop and ran to it. Using a small box as a platform, he leapt to the edge of the roof and flung himself up, scanning the rooftops until he saw what he was looking for.

He jumped off the roof, back to where Kain stood waiting, and gave him a nod of approval.

"It seems there's a three man tracking squad based on the northern end of town. I can tell by the mud on the prints they left behind. The north end is the only place in town which has any mud left after small drizzle of rain that came through a few days ago. I'd guess they are here to keep an eye on me, nothing more, or they would have made a move already."

He began walking in the direction of the South Gate.

"I suspect that Konjou is still alive, as he is now the head of the Assassins of Teisei with Takai dead. My brother is vanquished, but Konjou lives on, and this scouting party tells me that his forces are still building and not yet ready to deal with me. I don't know if they are prepared for you, nor do I know if they know about you, but either way, I think we'd best play it safe and assume that they do so that we are prepared for the worst."

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Myr watched the two leave, somewhat perplexed at the directions she'd been left with. Meet at the South Gate... she was not the sort to mind traveling with company, per se, but it was more the expectation that she would do so without question, or perhaps the fact that this was at all desired. She had to admit, it was a bit odd. Would two assassins not wish to travel alone? Groups generally moved more slowly and conspicuously than individuals, and if they were on a mission...

And what was all this business about beautiful young women and authority figures? Were they not all past calling out Mark's gender publicly? Unless... no, that makes even less sense. Shaking her head to herself, Myr turned to the one remaining person in the room. "Well, Sir Mark, what say you? I certainly have no qualms acquiescing to their request, but your opinion is of at least as much merit as my own..."

Her eyes moved once more to the now-closed door, and she found herself wondering what she'd done, to end up in a situation like this one.

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Kain followed Shadow in silence for a moment before saying, "Why don't we just go kill them? If you already know where the three are, and you know their number, then they aren't very skilled, are they? End them now, and we wont have to worry." Kain thought a moment... "Or, better yet, we stage your death, and then follow them back to Teisei. With you gone, they will return to their master. Perfect chance to see what we are truly up against..." Kain contemplated this plan further, figuring exactly how to convincingly pull it off.

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Shadow thought to himself for a moment, but then continued on until they were standing just outside the entrance into the town.

"I don't think we're going to do that... yet. Capture one if he gets too close, maybe, but I see no reason to go to such lengths against Teisei yet, as they obviously haven't the forces or the training to keep up with me at this point now that their team of Wraiths has been wiped out. We need not fear them now."

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Kain frowned at Shadow's statement. "I must say I'm disappointed Shadow. The old blood lust is fading. And this would be the perfect time to strike Teisei! They are weak and vulnerable! But... You know better than I. If you wish to wait, then we shall wait. However, I caution you against waiting too long. If we give them the opportunity to train more of their elite warriors, that only complicates things for us. The enemy will not leave you alone for long." The two friends continued walking in silence for a time.

"Here we are, the South Gate. Now we have to wait for the others. I do hope they hurry, you know I was never good at waiting too long." Kain sat down by a tree, closing his eyes and entering a meditative state of extreme alertness. He would be ready for any new arrivals.

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Shadow remained silent throughout Kain's declaration, and nodded to him before he left to sit against the tree.

Indeed...

Kain was right.

If Shadow left Teisei alone for too long, they would bolster their forces and become a real threat once again. This he couldn't allow, but there were more important matters to attend to first, so Teisei would have to wait.

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Ugh. Nothing. Matt shut his book and set it down, glanceing around the scholars house. The man had been kind enough to let him see his book on herbs. But not a single herb, nor combination, had the effect he wanted. Getting rid of smell. There were many herbs that covered up one smell with another, but none were odorless... was there not enough research on the subject? Matt sighed again.
"Find what you wanted?" The man came in. Matt shook his head.
"But thanks anyway." He stood up. He pulled out a coin and held it out to the kind man. "For your trouble."
The man accepted it with a word of thanks.
"Ill see you then." Matt jumped out the window instead of taking the door. The man blinked. Had that youth just- never mind... he didnt want to know for once.
Matt was barly paying attintion while he walked down the street for once. How could he find a substance that made himself odorless? There had to be one...
Well, maybe disguising his own would work for now. It would help him test Shadows abilities. Matt looked up and found himself in the market square. Conveniant. He walked over to a stand and found what he was looking for. Oils and perfumes. He smelled each one, trying to find one that wasnt to strong.
"And whats a boy doin searching for perfumes?" The man at the counter glared at him. Matt glanced upward at him. He didn't like this man right off the bat. He could tell he was mean. Disgruntled. Matt payed no mind to the comment.
"Ill take this one." Matt set a jar down in front of him.
The man only smirked. Matts eyes widened as he was charged a whole gold coin for it.
"I have a better idea." Matt drew his dagger. "How bout I pay a reasonable price, and I dont cut your throat."
The man suddenly became a lot meeker. "Ill call the guards..."
"Wont change the fact that youre dead."
The man was silent. Matt put down a peice of silver and walked off. He hopped on a building, looking at his new perfume. Then he spotted Shadow and Kain walking towards the south gate. Matt stayed on the roof, absolutly silent. He creeped up on them slowly, trying to see what they were up to. Then a squirel ran up onto him. Matt made a small spasm, but made a rustleing noise in the process. Kain turned around lightning fast towards him, but he only saw the squirrel. Matt was gone. As they kept walking, matt stayed behind, slowly covering himself with the light perfume. Lets see what the legendary Red eyes could do. He crept along behind them, still on the roofs. They stopped right by the gate, apparently waiting for someone. Matt hid behind a chimney, only a fraction of a eye visible to them. Lets see how long it took for them to notice he was there.

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Shadow laughed quietly to himself when Kain reacted to the squirrel.

"It seems we've been followed my friend." He said casually to Kain.

Shadow turned back to face the town from just outside the gate, scanning the rooftops.

There was a new scent in the air. The scent was pleasant enough, but still, the direction of the smell came from the roof of a building nearby, and Shadow was dead certain he heard a small shuffling of feet on the roof as the squirrel departed when Kain turned to see it, but they were human feet, and there was only one other person who dared use the rooftops as a means of travel besides Kain and himself.

"You can come out now Matt. The smell of perfume was a nice touch, and it may have fooled me if there were a crowd nearby with other perfumes mixed in to mask your own, but here, near the Gate where only Kain and I stand, it is meaningless to try and hide your scent from us because the disguise itself gives you away." He said out loud.

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"Well maybe I'm comfortable up here!" Matt shouted back down to Shadow. Dang that was fast. Well, maybe not. He had stayed hidden up until the gate... or was Shadow just toying with him? Oh well. Shadow wasn't easy to fool. KAIN however... Matt smirked. He was easy to fool. Idiot didn't even see him when the squirrel made him jump. Matt was simply to fast to be seen. He sat there, enjoying his thoughts, but then snapped back into reality. Now was no time to get cocky. That's how people messed up. Namly himself.
Matt peeked over the chimney, knowing hiding was useless now. "Hello Shadow." He smiled at him. The smile turned to a grimace just as fast. "Kain." Matt simply greeted. He turned back to Shadow, his smile back. "Hey, question. Have the assassin dudes come after you guys too? Or was it just little old me they were after?"

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Shadow's smile faded.

"What color were the robes? Grey or white?" He called up.

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Matt frowned, sensing Shadow's distress. Still, he wanted something first. "Ah... my memory fails me... maybe-"
Wait a minute... Shadow might not appreciate the sarcasm. Despite wanting his pearls back, that wasn't the way to do it.
"I think..." Matt frowned, trying to play the begining of his joke off, "Dark Grey. Yep. Dark. Can I have my stuff back now?"

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Shadow's smile returned as his eyes disappeared under his bangs when he tilted his head down.

"..."

Shadow couldn't help but laugh, though he did so quietly to himself.

"I must admit to you Matt... I was setting you up with that question..."

His laughter died away, but his head stayed down.

"You think you actually killed an Assassin?" He asked quite angrily.

His eyes came back into view as he raised his head, and the look in his eyes was menacing to most, and even Kain took a step back. His voice was low, but audible as he slowly began approaching the building Matt was on.

"You killed a scout my dear thief. Assassins of Teisei don't waste their time on thieves like you, as they are too busy training or performing tasks of importance, and killing a common thief is not his on the priority list of Assassins. I should know. Do you think you honestly received the training of an Assassin while you were in Teisei? Little fool! Takai told me about you not long before I eliminated him, and I know for a fact that he trained you to do nothing more than what you do best, pick pockets. His plan for you was to use you to steal documents that I am now in possession of, but now that he's dead, you needn't worry about them unless you think you have what it takes to relieve me of them. Your training in Teisei was overseen by an average instructor who taught you the basics of our ways, but nothing that would put you on the level of an Elite."

His smile faded once more.

"You are a fool to think that an Assassin would waste his time on you boy. You're lucky that you aren't worth anything to Konjou, the man in charge of Teisei right now, otherwise, I'd have killed you already. You're what we call a fledgeling, in other words, a raw recruit. Elite Assassins, which are only called upon in cases of emergency or extreme importance, bear light grey cloaks with the Teisei insignia on both the chest and center of the back, with a visible brown belt around their waste, also bearing the mark of the Teisei Assassins. Scouts wear dark grey hooded robes, and are nothing more than fledglings looking to prove their survival skills in the field. Wraiths, all of which were killed off by Kain and myself about six months ago, wear white cloaks with no hood, as they have no need to hide their faces from view. Anyone unlucky enough to see them will be dad before they can even scream a single syllable."

Shadow smiled once again.

"It's nice of you to think so highly of yourself, as your confidence could be a boon to you in life if used properly..."

Shadow's smile turned impish.

"I noticed that you pride yourself on your speed, as you seemed quite happy about not being found out until the squirrel blew your cover on the roof back there by ducking before Kain could see you. Again, your confidence in your speed might indeed save your life someday... However... Your speed is impressive, but unremarkable."

Shadow's smile dropped into a scowl.

"Consider this a warning Matt: This belief that you are a match or a threat for a true Elite Assassin of Teisei is ridiculous and childish. Even Kain is uneasy around Elite Assassins, as one nearly took his life shortly after we first met. In fact, against a large enough group, even I would be overwhelmed by true Elites, and I have been trained all my life to be what I am today: a Master Assassin. If I had so chosen, after I killed Takai, I would now be in command of Teisei. I chose otherwise, and am now hunted as a traitor, but I must admit that I relish in the hunt. Scouts are the only ones who leave Teisei's walls unless the Master Assassin, in this case Konjou, has plans that have need for a different rank, and you, my troublesome little thief, are no cause for alarm to an Elite Assassin. So don't get any ideas that the Assassins view you as a threat by boy. That scout thought you'd be an easy kill, and it proved to be his undoing."

Shadow walked back over to where Kain stood.

"You would do well, my dear young thief, to take things like this more seriously. Looking at the world through arrogant and overconfident eyes is going to get you killed. If not by Teisei, than by someone close when you least expect it... As I had to experience the hard way. Learn from my mistakes Matt. Look at the world through calm and even eyes, not eyes that see only yourself and what you possess, as that will lead to your undoing."

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Kain roused himself from his position near a tree and said, Well, it would be very difficult indeed to bruise your already swollen ego much more than that. In fact, I don't think I can properly insult you anymore. SO, if you would like your pearls back, come get them." Kain held out the bag of pearls. "Oh, one more thing." He flicked a pearl at Matt's head. "You stole these." He threw another pearl, hard. "You let them get stained with blood." Another pearl. "Like a child, you thought the bright red pearl was very pretty, and so let the blood dry on them." Kain mixed it up this time by throwing two pearls. "Unfortunately, when blood dries, it is crusty and dark." Kain flicked a couple more pearls at the pompous fool. Kain held out the last pearl, inspecting its disgusting exterior. "If you knew the first thing about jewelry, you would know pearls are porous, and so absorb liquids to a certain extent. When they do, if the liquid is a solution, then the solute will stay in the pearl, ruining its value. Congratulations, these aren't worth the bag that held them." Kain flicked the last pearl right into Matt's eye. This elicited a wolfish grin from Kain. "That must have hurt."

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((To Dionkar and Zutechugan (all really, but you two most of all): I realize that there are certain reactions that you wish to take place due to the actions your characters take, but I will only warn you both this one time. Read the rules. No acting for someone without permission, no matter how small the action may be. Notice that I did not have Matt react in any way to Shadow's comment. That was left up for Zutechugan to do when he next posts. Please don't act for anyone further, as if I have to warn you again, it will be the last time. After that, if I see it a third time, you're out of the rp.

So for example. When you write that you threw something at each other, it is no longer up to you whether the projectile hits its target. It is up to the one it's aimed at. If you write that they just got hit, then you are essentially acting for them, and that is not allowed. Always ask if it's okay to do something like that and receive approval, or I will assume you have none and will give you a warning.

Thanks))

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"You... dare..."
Matt was silent. Did they really assume Takai... he TRAINED him...? Really? Oh... Matts mask was getting quite the workout. It took every bit of his self control not to lunge at them. Well, self control and the fact that he would be killed. Takai taught him a few things, yes... but that man knew nothing of him. The reason he took interest in him was because he once snuck in and out without once getting caught. At least while he was there. Matt knew in the back of his mind that he was no fighter. He wasnt THAT dumb to think he was that good. For gods sake he ws only nineteen! But that they would treat him with such... such ARROGENCE... it made Matt sick. Sick to his very stomach. He began to remember his time with Takai... he remembered sneaking into Tensei, takeing a paper, and getting out. No one had known he was there. Not until later, anyway. But instead of killing him when they found him, they offered him a job. Odd, Matt had thought, but he had his life. Pretty good.
But it proved to be boreing. He learned nothing good there. Granted, maybe a trick or two, but nothing great.
And these... these... Matt couldn't of a word. They thought Takai had TRAINED him!? They knew nothing... NOTHING.
Mattwas trembling now. He was very tempted to just attack out of blind rage, but that would only get him killed faster.
I shouldn't say anything... Matt ran through hundreds of times in his head. I should just leave now. Would they let me walk away? If not... Matt silently wondered what to do. Pure fury was keeping him from thinking straight. He couldn't move. It took conscious effort to breathe. What to do? What should he DO!?

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Kain's grin turned vicious. "Of course I dare! Why? Because I can get away with it with impunity. Hm..." Kain looked to Shadow. "Oh dear, the fledgling is getting rather angry." Kain raised his hands in a non-threatening gesture and said, "Look, I sense a lot of anger in you, whelp. Either that, or you are holding back a violent defecation. Your whole body is tense and trembling, your heart is racing, and the rage shows clearly in your eyes. Believe it or not, I was once like you, full of uncontrollable rage. I learned, as you should, how to control the rage. If you learn to control and focus your anger, it may one day be your greatest weapon." Kain walked slowly forward, and then paused as a thought struck him. "Say, how did you get trained by Teisei anyway? If you were recruited, then you would be a brainwashed scout or an assassin by now. Shadow, shed some light on this situation. What is this whelp's story?"



<<<<<To avoid future confusion. TEISEI, spelled T-E-I-S-E-I, is a place, the organization of assassins. Takai was their old leader before he was murdered by Shadow, who is the supreme assassin, stolen at birth and raised in Teisei to be the best. Also, Shadow clearly said that he is aware Matt was only taught by a very low ranking member of Teisei. Takai has no connection to Matt, except to use him. And, for anyone wondering why I included this note, I have permission from the gamemaster to post this note. So, no one else post chat notes like this unless you have permission first.>>>>>>>>

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Shadow smiled.

"I know that Takai saw promise in the boys skills, and was planning to force him into Teisei's ranks soon, but he died before he could finish the job. Little Matt here proved to be quite stealthy on his own by sneaking into Takai's room and stealing a document he had there, but he was inevitably caught before he could make a clean escape."

He closed his eyes and sat on the ground.

"He's lucky that Takai died when he did, otherwise, whether he wanted to or not, he would have become a member of Teisei."

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"Really? Well, congratulations boy, you aren't as pathetic as I thought you were, if Takai was in fact considering you for membership." Turning to Shadow, Kain said, in a low whisper so only Shadow could hear, "Come on Shadow, there must be more to his story. Something about him doesn't ring true. I doubt he managed to get anywhere near Teisei without them being acutely aware of his presence. So, what is the rest of the story?"

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Matts fists clenched tighter. He HAD made a clean escape... well... he had made it to the next town, at least. Still, Matt considered it a feat in itself that he had made it out of Teisei in the first place. Shadow had it a little off... but there was no point in telling him that. Matt instead just glanced around, trying to think of what to do. They thought he was weak... maybe he was, but not as weak as they said. Matt heard two workers loading barrels into a cart. He heard one of them say something about oil... Matt's gaze shifted to the sword at his hip. Slowly he drew the dagger out of the handle, examining the black blade. Hejumped down onthe ground, and took the blade, scratching it on the brick next to him. A nice spark mad Matt smirk. He could use an explosion to get away... but then he would get nothing out of this meeting.
Matt's eyes widened as he had an idea. Crazy... could get him killed... but if it didnt kill him...
Matt put the dagger back in the sword, then stared at Shadow, wondering what to say. But even if he knew what to say, he couldnt at the moment, at Kain was whispering to Shadow. Matt patintly waited till they were done.
The glint in his eyes had returned.

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Shadow opened his eyes and looked, rather indignantly, at Kain.

He brought his hand up to cover his mouth, whispering so only Kain could hear.

"Of course he didn't get in on his own. Teisei, at the time, had nearly twenty scouts throughout the forest and on the mountain side each at all times. Nobody, even me, could get in without being detected by someone. The boy was a known thief who went by the alias 'Moonlight', and Takai was interested in him and his skills. When he wandered into the forest and came across Teisei in the mountain side, he was allowed passage, and the Assassins were all commanded to disappear from the main rooms and hallways to allow him inside. The only people inside Teisei at that time were those who were training, so that it looked like something was going on. Other than that, it was only myself, tracking him and making sure he wandered in the right direction, and Takai, who was hiding in another room just a short distance away from his main office. Once Matt had the document, Takai ordered me to signal the others to block his retreat from the town nearby and make it look like an accident. Do you really think that ANYONE can approach Teisei without them knowing? Come on Kain, give us some credit. We aren't as self centered as that to not have watches making sure nobody intrudes or surprises us from out of the blue."

He brought his hand down and closed his eyes again, meditating as he awaited the others to arrive.

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Kain nodded. "I see... Unfortunately, this news is hardly helpful, as it makes my plan of raiding Teisei nigh impossible. I was optimistic that the brat managed, because if he could do it, we could..." Kain paused as Matt scraped a blade on a rock. Whispering, Kain continued, "Alright, I know you heard that. This person seems completely unbalanced. Even less trustworthy than you around too much blood. I think it would be in our best interest to kill him now..." Kain stealthily readied his pistol, but did not act. He would wait either for Shadow's orders, or for an overt act of hostility from the thief. Acting insane in itself was hardly a heinous enough crime to merit death. If it was, Kain would have been killed a hundred times over already. But the thief seemed to be going through some sort of mental breakdown, and so should be watched carefully.

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Shadow opened his eyes and looked at Matt.

He whispered to Kain, once more covering his mouth with his hand so his lips couldn't be read.

"... He's becoming a bit frantic to get away from us. That's my guess. He won't get far if he tries anything. He might be fast, but moving either through the street or on rooftops gives us more than enough time to run him down if he gives us reason to. If it comes to that, his legs are the target, understood?"

Shadow stood up slowly, keeping his eyes locked on Matt.

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Noticing the silence between the two, Matt chose now to speak. Or... he would have, had Kain not looked quite as threatening. Matt, as a sign that he was not about to attack them both, unstrapped his sword and throwing knives and layed them on the ground at his feet. "May I speak with Shadow? Alone? I dont think I can keep a civil tongue aroud Kain."
Matt jumped on the roof, leaving his weapons on the ground. "Please?" Matt added with a smile.

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Kain turned to look at Matt, giving him a look that a cat would give to a mouse it was toying with right before the kill. "I cannot speak for Shadow, but I have no objections to you too speaking privately for a moment." As Kain went to sit down, he put his hand on Shadow's shoulder, and, making sure Matt could not hear or understand at all what Kain was saying, Kain whispered, "If it comes to that, I will gladly give him three barrels in each leg." Kain then sat down by the tree, the feline grin still plastered to his face as he looked fiercely at the thief.

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Shadow walked forward, approaching the building Matt was on and leapt to the rooftop to join the young thief.

"What is it?" He asked flatly.

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Matt paused for a moment, looking Shadow up and down. He was powerfull. He could crush Matt with both hands behind his back, most likely. If he said no, this was going to be a huge let down. If he said yes, then this would prove to be difficult. Taking a deep breath, he said it as plainly as possible.
"I want you to train me. I want to be strong like you and Kain." He paused, glancing back at Kain on the ground. Any compliment to him was poison in Matt's mouth.
"Please. I want to travel with you two, I want to learn to be an assassin like you. I want to strong." Matt stepped down on one knee, bowing to the elite assassin in front of him. "Please. Take me on as your apprentice."

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Shadow was quite shocked to hear those words come from the young man's mouth.

"... I wasn't expecting that one Matt..."

He closed his eyes and thought to himself for a long time before finally opening them.

"Before I agree to this, I must ask you a very serious question." He said.

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Matt looked up at Shadow, then nodded. "Yes?" His heart was pounding in his chest.

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Shadow grabbed him by the lapel with one hand, lifting him off the ground and into the air, causing him to hover about six inches off the ground.

"Why do you want to become an Assassin? Do you understand at all the life you are asking to become a part of? If I train you to become an Assassin, I am going to tell you to kill people! Do you understand what kind of mental consequences will befall you should you prove not to be ready for that?"

Shadow looked into his eyes.

"Have you ever looked into the eyes of a man who's throat you slashed and watched the life drain from them? Have you ever listened to the sounds of blood filling their lungs as they struggle for breath after you have stabbed through their chest? And what do you plan to do with the knowledge that I have to offer? Do you intend to become an Assassin? Do you intend to use the skills I have to teach to further your career as a thief? Or will you use what I have given you to kill indiscriminately and as you so choose?"

Shadow's grip tightened and he lifted him slightly higher into the air.

"So Matt... What is your answer?" He asked in a low voice.

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Mark set the rest of the glass peices into a waiting cloth bag. The South Gate huh? He might as well go. After all, it was much better to travel in a group. But... Mark needed some time to think.

The knight turned to Myr. "Hey... I'll meet you there. I need to think about some stuff by myself. I'm still going, but I'll go alone for now. See ya in a bit!", he explained. Heading outside, Mark turned left and began walking down the streets, thought's already churning in the youth's head.

What should I do? I could lie and say I'm a boy, or admit to being a girl. But if I say i'm a boy, I'll have to lie the whole time I travel... Reaching up, Mark brushed his hand against his red/blonde bangs. Of course, my long hair would make that difficult. Should I cut it off? No... I made a promise, after all. Even if she is dead, mother never wanted me to cut it. She always wanted me to keep my hair long.

Desisions, desisions. What was a girl to do? Mark needed to make a choice. He stopped on the road, almost to the destination.

Myra. Mark told himself. These are your choices. You've never been able to have close friends because of the secret, and your fed up with it. If you want to befriend these people, let your hair down. If not, keep it up. Looking around, he sighed. Huh? Why were Shadow and Matt on the roof? Where was Kain? Oh well. He had not noticed the threating moves Shadow was doing to Matt.

Backing up a bit, Mark took a running jump and landed on the roof of the building. "Hey guys!", he said happily. The youth decided to choose later, at the right moment. Blinking a few times, Mark backed up a bit. "Shadow! What are you doing to Matt?!", he exclaimed.

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"Stay out of this Sir Mark. It does not concern you." He said harshly.

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"Of course it does! What do you want me to do, walk away? Let him go Shadow! Or at least tell me what's going on if I'm missing something here!", he retorted. "I'm probably missing something here, but it seems to me like your bullying Matt.", Mark added, equally as harsh as Shadow's last tone. The knight clenched his fists and took a stubborn stance.

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Shadow looked away from Matt and over to Sir Mark and smiled.

"As you wish."

He set Matt down slowly and gently.

"My young friend asked me to train him to become an Assassin, and I agreed on the condition that he answer my question. I was questioning his reasoning behind the request before you so rudely interrupted. I may have been a bit rough, to pick him up like that, but does he look injured to you? He looks okay to me. Now, if you don't mind, he still hasn't answered my question."

His eyes slid back to Matt, awaiting a response.

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Mark sighed in relief. "I was hoping there was a good reason. Sorry about interrupting, but you seriously need to stop being so violent." Mark looked down. So Shadow was an Assassin. So those red eyes were legitimate after all.

Mark then turned to Matt. "Good luck." Then she walked past the pair of boys and hopped off the roof. Once in the cover of a few trees, the knight sat down and leaned against them. Slowly she reached up and took off her hat. As she undid each pin her long hair slid down her neck. After sticking the pins into her backpack, Myra put the hat back on. Suprisingly, the pins had kept her hair from becoming ratty so it was still in good form.

Myra, what are you getting yourself into?

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Myr sighed as Mark left. Ah, well, everyone grew weary of her company eventually. It was not as though she was unaccustomed to traveling alone, either. Though he had indicated that the two were still to meet at the Southern gate, Myr was honestly a bit unsure now that she got to truly considering it. Worrying her lower lip with her teeth, she nearly started when the waiter from earlier came up behind her.

"Ah... Miss? Are you all right?" he asked speculatively. "That is, if you need a bit longer before you leave..." he wasn't going to say it, but she wasn't disruptive, and customers were already beginning to filter in, so he wasn't concerned about her staying.

Myr shook her head slightly as clarity returned to far-off eyes. "I shall be fine, but thank you anyway. I'll not trouble you and yours any longer." Smiling softly, the blond woman inclined her torso after the manner of bow she had been taught, and took her leave silently from the small tea shop.

The path to the gate was largely clear, though there did seem to be some residual stir from whatever had happened earlier. Myr took her time, trying to make a decision about her next course of action. Her goal, insofar as she had one at all, was and always had been to help those who required her assistance. She was frankly uncertain that following two assassins and a knight was the best way to go about doing this, but... it was not as though she had any particular direction to take or anything.

So what do you do then, Myrna? Follow those who might kill you, or continue to wander alone, as you have since you began this journey of yours? The choice was not as straightforward as it seemed; though she did occasionally get to do some good simply wandering about as she had, more often she was simply a solitary soul without an end. It had never been in her nature to enjoy purposelessness; it was one of the reasons she'd left the temple at Kur in the first place. At the very least, if she joined these folk, she was likely to learn something.

It seemed that even while her mind had been fluttering, her feet had made the decision for her, and she came to the gate with a feeling she couldn't quite place in the pit of her stomach. There was clearly some kind of confrontation happening between Shadow and Matt, or at least a very animated discussion; it appeared that the thief had not left the group for long, after all. A decidedly more feminine-looking Mark was sitting beneath a canopy of trees a short distance off, Kain also against a tree.

Since Mark had indicated a wish to be without company, she padded over to Kain. "Would it be beyond polite conduct to inquire as to exactly what is going on?" she asked, taking a seat a few feet from him.

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Shadow asked question after question. Matt scowled. Shadow was serious about this... just as serious as Matt himself was. Matt was silent for a moment. Why? Why did he want to learn from Shadow? It had just felt right... but why? Why?
Matt stared into Shadow's red eyes. Slowly Matt's eyes became glazed over, deep in thought. He saw his mom and dad, crushed under barrels. Matt watched as the light in his fathers eyes faded and was gone. He watched as his mother slowly said her last words. "I... love..." But the last word never came. Instead, she managed to tap Matt on the face, unable to speak due to her crushed chest. Matt had to look away. He could bear to see his mother die. Matt watched as the unintended killer lept away, having used the barrels to jump on the roof, escapeing. Guards ran past Matt himself on the streets, but none helped him.
It was at this point that Mark had shown up, and Shadow had set him down. But he wasn't paying attention. He was still in thought.
Matt ran. Not from Shadow, but only in his mind. Himself at age seven. He ran faster than he knew he could. Hours turned into days. Days into weeks, weeks into years. Matt was forced to steal to survive. He was an orphan. No one would take him in, either.
Matt, as he grew older, began to travel. He saw the pain in the world, but he couldn't do a thing about it. He even found kids that were like himself. Orphans with no one to care for them, no where to go. Matt did his best to help those children, but sometimes it wasn't enough. People died. And Matt saw that it was usually becuase they were taken advantage of. He watched as the powerful played with the weak, so to speak. The rich took advantage of the poor. It was horrifying. Matt took from those rich, trying to make them pay for being corrupt. But it didn't help. It only made them mad. He remembered the people in the house he had saved not two hours ago.
This was the first time Matt had actually thought of a purpose for his life. And he found an answer he was proud of. It might be a little childish, but he WAS a child still. Matt smiled softly and looked up at Shadow.
"I don't intend inthing ill with the skills you have to teach me. I want to defend those who can't defend themselves. This might sound weird comeing from a theif, but I want to do good. I've seen death. I know what it is. And I'm tired of the cause usually steming from the powerfull. In this world, the strong play with the weak as there slaves. Their playthings. I wont like that. I want to help those who need it. I know I can't fix the whole world, but I want to do what I can. I want to defend those people, but I'm powerless to do so now."
Matt wasn't going to bullshit him, though.
"Yeah, I'll probably still steal a little. I'm not perfect. It's a habit. But I dont steal from those who cant afford it. I steal from those who have too much. And I dont kill those who dont deserve it. Not that I haven't threatened people with it before, ehehe..." Matt remembered the perfume salesman.
"The scout was the closest thing to an innocent I've ever killed. If you tell me to kill an innocent... I'll do it. But not because I want to. If those are the skills I need to help those that need help, then its for the greater good."
Matt let his mask fall for a second. His eyes showed the truama and sadness within him.
"I'm tired of watching the defenseless attacked. I want to keep things fair for them. THOSE are my motives, childish as they might be."

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Shadow smiled at the young thief.

"... I see..." He said quietly.

He turned to look at Kain for a moment, who was silent, but obviously amused at what Shadow had just put the boy through.

He looked back to Matt.

"... Very well then. I shall train you, but not the way you were hoping. What you hope to accomplish in life cannot be achieved by becoming an Assassin. Instead, I will give you the tools you need to survive on a higher level, and by doing so, I will give you the strength you need to achieve your goals." He said.

"Now gather your resolve boy, and let's get off this roof already. It's not wise to remain on rooftops as there isn't as much cover as on ground."

Shadow turned and leapt off the building, landing silently on a patch of dirt. He looked back to the building and waited for the young thief to join him.

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Kain gave Myr a genuine smile and said, "Curiosity killed the cat you know... But the cat also has nine lives, so losing one in the pursuit of knowledge is hardly bothersome to the little kitty, eh? Our little thief, in his eternal arrogance and complete lack of knowledge about the world, has dared to ask Shadow to train him to be an assassin. He does not understand what he is asking of Shadow, he doesn't realize the life he is asking for." Kain lost all traces of mirth as he continued, "To kill is a horrible pain on one's soul, even for the good of others. And those who have the power are bound by responsibility to our fellow humans to use that power for the good of many. Before this, Matt could have said 'I cannot help these people, I do not have the skills.' If he is officially trained, he will have the skills, but perhaps not the wisdom to use said skills." Kain paused for a moment before saying, "Not to mention his life will forever be in danger from those who seek fame or those who think he poses a threat to their plans. The greater the power, the more your life is in peril." A grim smile came to Kain. "Fortunately for me, the whelp does not possess this understanding, and so, even if he is trained by the best, I predict a violent, short career." Kain turned fully to Myr and said, "I take it you are considering traveling with us? I hope you realize the consequences of coming with us."

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Myr shook her head good-naturedly. "Nobody ever remembers the second half of that saying. Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back." Her lips quirked into a small smile, but her expression eventually grew somber as he told the rest of the story. It was troubling to her that someone would actively seek to become an assassin. Granted, she did not think that made Matt or Shadow or Kain a bad person, but... the ability to use lethal force was the part of herself which she was most wary of, and it would be no mistake to guess that sometimes she wished she were without it.

Another part of her, though, knew full well that without the knowledge and training she possessed, she would not be half the doctor she was. To transcend violence and to treat it, you must understand it. This was the central doctrine of her people, and she truly believed it. However, it was not an error to say that most people never got to the 'transcendence' part, and stopped at being able to dispense death at will.

"I take it you are considering traveling with us? I hope you realize the consequences of coming with us." Myr considered for a moment, tilting her head to the side a bit even as she observed that Shadow and Matt must have finished the discussion that occupied them. On body language alone, she would say that the red-eyed assassin had agreed to pass on at least some measure of his knowledge. Did she fully understand the repercussions? Maybe, at least insofar as she had the requisite information.

"I understand what I have been allowed to understand," she replied neutrally. "There is much more to your story than I am aware of, certainly, but I do realize that my life is at risk as much as yours. Perhaps moreso, as I imagine that unlike the rest of you, I am easily mistaken for a soft target." The slightest hint of mirth crept into her eyes. "If you are under the same impression, I assure you I am not the sort to allow myself to become a liability." She knew that if it came to that point, she would simply remove herself from the situation. She had no desire to be an inconvenience, after all.

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Kain nodded, and said, "women could be easily as dangerous as men, so your lethality in battle is not really what concerns me. The fact is, while we are out to fix this land, there will be killing on the way. And you will have to be able to fight, or run. If Shadow is training the thief, then I could show you a thing or two, if you'd like. As a monk, you will probably be more interested in evading and fleeing the battle. Back when I was a pirate, I had to do my share of sneaking and fleeing. I can teach you some basic fighting and countering, as well as evasive actions. If you are interested. Of course, when there is a fight, you can simply hang back and tend to the wounded afterward. Much simpler option." Kain smiled and waited to see what would happen. he then realized the knight had not said anything, so he said, "Hey, Sir Mark, any comment on the situation? You in as well then?"

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Matt smiled as Shadow gave his response. This was awesome. Matt jumped off the building after Shadow and stood next to him. He glanced at Myr and he fell.
"Oh. Hello Myr." Matt bowed. "When did you get here?" Matt then noticed Mark. "Oh, and Mark is here too! Hello there."

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"Agh!" Shadow angrily exclaimed as he turned swiftly towards Matt.

"Okay, first lesson!" He said in a low but firm voice.

"Never announce your presence in the field! I don't care that you are generally familiar with these people, you never just let everyone know you're here! What if you had enemies nearby? Or worse still, what if your friends had enemies nearby? Did you ever once wonder why it is that I'm so quiet all the time? It's to protect both myself and those around me from being noticed by anyone unfriendly who might be in the area! To be strong does not always have to coincide with physicality. Brute force can only do so much. Being smart enough to silently protect those near and dear to you by guarding their anonymity from those that seek to bring them harm is a form of strength as well, and is infinitely more valuable than being able to overpower opponents in combat! If you truly do wish to be able to protect those who cannot defend themselves from harm as you told me earlier, then you would do well to learn this lesson as quickly as possible!"

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Matt nearly jumped a foot in the air when Shadow spoke. His hand instinctively reached for his sword, but only for a second. Good thing his sword was over there on the ground... if he had drawn it here, that would have been... counter productive.
Geez, bite my freaking head off why dont you... but Matt made no outward sign of anger or even annoyance. What Shadow had told him was true, but even now, in the middle of the day? At night, when you're sneaking around, he followed that then no problem. But now? Dang. Harsh... maybe this would be tougher than he thought. And he thought it would be tough in the first place! Matt slowly walked over to pickup his sword and knives. He strapped the knives to his right thiegh, and pulled out the sword, examining it. He loved his sword, so he had to make sure it was okay. Even after only four minutes of leaving it alone. He held it up in the air, and the sunlight glinted off of it brightly. Satisfied no one had messed with it, he sheathed it and put it back on his hip. He walked back over to Shadow.
"I'm sorry... I didnt know..." Matt rubbed his arm unconsiously. "I'll do better next time."

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"That was only a basic warning Matt, to make sure you think more of safety when being hunted as you are now. You might not have realized it, but the fact that the scout went after you suggests that you are now marked as a target along with me and the others. You haven't seen me angry yet, nor have you seen me give punishment to anyone, but believe me, you will in time..." He said quietly.

Shadow turned and walked over to Kain and Myr.

"I will assume that you are clued into what's going on then Myr, as you don't seem to be confused as to what's been going on in any way. With that in mind, Kain, are we good to leave? Or is Sir Mark still dozing off over there in the brush?" He asked.

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Matt only looked at Shadow as he talked to him. That... that was creepy. He certainly didnt want to get Shadow mad. Wait, had he said ready to go? Matt shifted uncomfortably. He wasn't aware they would leave a such short notice. And Mark and Myr were comeing too? When did this happen? Had he left to soon?
Matt just stood there with a blank stare, thinking.

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"I would be wiling to learn anything you are willing to teach, and I thank you for the offer," Myr replied with a dip of her head. While she was not nearly defenseless and had no plans to kill anyone, there was no inherent harm in knowledge, especially with a judicious mind behind it, and this she had learned early and well. "There may be a thing or two even one such as yourself could learn from a humble monk as well, should you wish it."

At that point, Shadow and Matt approached, though when Matt greeted her, she nodded but silently, aware of what Shadow chose to lecture him on even in that moment. Drawing attention to oneself was a risky proposition, hence her rather plain manner of dress and proclivity for silence. Still, she couldn't help but feel a bit of sympathy for the hapless thief. Myr wondered if he knew fully what he was getting into. She probably didn't, but then that little piece of information was valuable in itself and would keep her on her guard at all times if nothing else.

Shadow spoke to her, and she replied with assent. "Yes, thank you. Kain has kindly filled me in on all the necessary details, I am sure." She threw a glance over to Mark, who still had not moved to join the rest. Though... perhaps Mark was no longer the name the young knight would prefer. Myr gave a small wave, just in case their voices had not drifted quite far enough for their final companion to catch.

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Kain stood up, arching his back and twisting his neck. a series of loud pops followed this, and Kain finally answered Shadow. "Well, I think we are all set. Sir Mark seems to be in some strange fantasy land, and so I haven't the slightest idea whether he is joining us. Other than the loose end, we are good to go." Frowning toward the knight, Kain walked over, and grabbed Mark's shoulder. Shaking him slightly, Kain said, "Hey! You coming with us, or not?!"

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Mark blinked a few times when Kain shook his arm. "Ah... sorry. I must have dozed off." The knight stood up, and brushed off some of the dirt that stuck to him. "Yes, I am coming with you. But to avoid any confusion, I am a girl. Normally I would prefer to go around as a boy, however it would be difficult to maintain that disguise since it appears we will be traveling together for a while.", he clarified.

Reaching over, Mark tucked one of his red/blonde bangs behind an ear. His long hair that reached the small of his back felt considerably different when you compared it to balancing it all on his head. "I hope I won't hinder any of you. My style of fighting is a bit different from assassins, monks, and whatnot. However, I'm ready to go when you are."

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Shadow nodded his head when Mark stated that she was ready to move.

"If we're all in agreement, I'd like to get moving then. I don't know what the rest of you have in mind, but my destination is the Kingdom of Shaharan, as I have a contact there who will be able to point me in the direction of the mark that eluded me while I was busy with the pirates here. I haven't the faintest idea where that weasel wriggled off to, so I need fresh intel. If you don't desire to get tangled up in my mission, then tell me now, or else you will inevitably get dragged into the silent war that I have been involved in my whole life."

He walked over to the beginning of a dirt road that led to the southwest towards Shaharan.

"If you have no objections, kindly follow. If you do, then go wherever the wind takes you and do as you please. I won't stop you either way."

Shadow began to walk down the path, not really bothering to wait for those who would follow or not. He was intent on his mission regardless of who actually accompanied him.

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Matt snapped himself out of his thoughts and ran up to walk alongside his new teacher. He considered asking him to share a little more about his mission, but the chances of him actually saying so were slim to none. Matt chose to stay silent. He looked around at the scenery at he took a few steps out of town. It was all beautiful. He resisted the urge to start singing, as he usually did when walking from town to town, but he couldn't help but hum almost inaudibly under his breath.

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Kain was happy that they were on their way again. Shaharan... a very interesting place, if memory served. "So is this friend of yours that we are visiting anyone I know? If I remember correctly, you had quite the band of heroes with you before. Shame I didn't get to really meet them." Kain spoke of when he parted ways with Shadow before. During their old journey, Shadow talked of a group he had brought together to fight Teisei. He wondered how those people had fared all this time. "Ah, almost forgot!" Kain let out a high-pitched whistle, and a few moments later, Raven swooped down and landed on his shoulder. "Well girl, we seem to be just fine for the time being." Kain smiled at being reunited with his bird.

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Mark trotted after Shadow, happy to have a destination. When she caught up, the knight asked," Hey Kain? You said that you could teach me how to improve my disguise. How 'bout a few pointers while we walk?". Noticing the bird, Mark grinned. "She's beutiful! You two must have been through a lot together to be able to call her with a whistle. What's her name?"

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Kain gave Mark a crooked grin. "My amazing intellect and wit has allowed me to name this beauty... Raven yes, not the greatest name, but I like it, and she likes it. And for your first pointer, but some dirt on your face and under your nails to mask your scent, and to make you look like a rough young lad. Second bit of advice is wear padded clothing to make you seem more muscular than you actually are... oh, and either learn how to grow facial hair, or apply a very convincing fake. Small amount though, you don't want to look like you are wearing a fake beard. Just enough to look as though you haven't shaved in several days. There should be a mint species that grows around these parts that could help you with that. It grows little hairs that rub off easily and stick to skin. they are uncomfortable, but they will work to make you look unkempt. When we find some, we can collect a bunch for when we enter towns." Kain walked on, calmly stroking his pet.

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Shadow listened to the conversations taking place behind him and smiled when Kain mentioned his contact.

He waited until Kain had finished advising young Mark before speaking.

"Kain. The contact I am speaking of is a young woman who you actually met, but do not remember because you were unconscious through your meeting. She tended your wounds shortly after the battle with my brother Asasirihito, a woman named Taira. She has been shadowing me for a while now, keeping at a distance and traveling to my destinations a few days ahead to make plans and to provide me with intel. She will undoubtedly know which way my little worm has slithered off to, and then, once he's out of the picture, I can focus on my real work once more, as he is the last of my targets."

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Matt only listened as he walked, not feeling right to enter the conversation. He didn't have anything to say, actually. But still, the company was pretty nice... despite it being an assassin, a pirate, a monk, and a knight. Aside from the monk, no one was exactly the best company for a theif, but they would have to do. Better than being alone. Although if Matt had been alone, he would probably be a good distance away from the port town now. But on the other hand, if he was alone, he wouldn't have a destination in the first place. Whatever.
He had a question, but was silent for a moment. Should he ask? Would it be intruding? Oh well. What could go wrong? ... Matt cursed himself for possibly jinxing the very act.
"Why is he your target in the first place? May I know?" Matt asked Shadow, looking up at him.

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Shadow turned his head and looked at Matt, but his expression was blank.

"This man took it upon himself to 'rid the streets of vermin and to return profit of the venture to the common people'. The problem was that it was the common people who were the vermin, and the profit was pocketed by our little friend and used to fund a private and almost under the hat campaign to put himself in a good position to become the next ruler of Triveila, as it's status as a nation is yet to be permanently solidified being that it's only fifty years old. It doesn't matter how new a nation might be. If a man like that takes power, it can only suffer. I'm going to put a stop to it before it can come to a conclusion."

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Matt blinked several times, then turned back to the road. "Well that's not very nice of him..." He thought out loud. But Matt was thinking, his eyes going blank again. The man is greedy and had made people suffer, so he dies. Simple. THOSE were the kind of thinks Matt wanted to do. Before, Matt would only steal from this man. he might keep a little, but the most of it... what would happen to most of it? To the people, he supposed. But Shadow had worded that sentence weird... were the people the bad guys? Or did he mean the man saw the people as vermin, even though they weren't? Matt guessed the ladder. It made more sense. What would happen to the kingdom after that man was dead? Probably someone else would take charge. But whos to say that other person would be any better? How did Shadow know the alternitive? He never got a chance to try and answer his own question though, and Matt, not paying attintion to where he was going, tripped and landed face first in the dirt.

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Shadow looked back at Matt, who was still in the process of mentally recovering from landing in the dirt and shook his head.

What have I just gotten myself into?...

He then looked to Myr to answer her question.

"After this man dies, I intend to continue my original mission. The assassinations that I've been performing as of the last few months have been side quests, so to speak. It was during the time of Rada'l Mei, or Vengeful Purge as it's known in the modern tongue, that I chose to prioritize my targets, and the ones I've been hunting recently have been the ones I left behind from back then."

With that, he looked ahead once more, watching the path ahead as the sun began to set over the mountains in the distance to the left in his peripheral vision.

He took one last glance back at Matt, then to Myr, then to Mark, then to Kain, and then returned his gaze forward.

... This will be a long trip...

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"Ugh...." Matt pulled himself up, wipeing the dirt off of him. "Fuck." He reached into his pocket and readjusted a pencil he had in it. That thing had stabbed him when he fell. He rubbed his head as he turned back to Shadow. "Whats- ow... whats your original mission?"

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Shadow stopped dead in his tracks and looked back at Matt, the blank expression back on his face.

"... That is something you need not know at this time..." He said in a low voice.

He turned around and continued down his selected path.

(Pencils and what we call swear or cuss words didn't exist in times like this. Remember, though this is a fantasy world, it is similar to our world during the 1400's to the 1500's. Writing was done with ink and pens, and the language wasn't full of such words. So a little note to all that certain phrases such as 'bullshit' and 'god damn' don't work from here on out. Keep the language a bit more primitive in that regard please.)

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Shadow didn't stop his stride, but never the less looked over his shoulder at Myr.

"... The kingdom of Shaharan, the capital city itself."

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Kain was quietly thinking this whole time, listening too the others and watching their minute behaviors. The monk and the knight seemed lost in thought, and the thief... Well, Kain had to suppress a laugh when he tripped over his own feet into the dirt. And the little thing wanted to be an assassin... Shadow was really lowering his standards of admission into his little brotherhood on this one. Shadow of course was being Shadow. After Shadow made his announcement, Kain waited for a moment before asking the group, "Does this world not seem to be in a constant state of change? It never seems set in its ways. What say you all?"

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Shadow only huffed a small chuckle, but never kept walking as the sun finally descended below the mountain peaks bringing night to the world in lush blue and purple coloration in the sky and clouds as the first stars began to shine overhead.

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Kain looked over to Myr with a mischievous gleam in his eyes. "Aye good madam, that is very true. But then, what structures the world? For though we may grow older, or an acorn may one day become a great oak, there is always some kind of structure to the change. In our constantly shifting world, what is the unchanging pattern that allows all things to retain a central unity?" Kain smirked, rather enjoying exploring these ideas.

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Matt blinked as he walked. Shadow didn't want to say, huh? Sure. If he didn't want to say, he could understand that. Id did little to satisfy his curiousity though... and now Myr and Kain were talking about how the world keeps changing. He could have answered the first question easily (Although with a much simpler sentence), if Myr hadn't said it first. But Matt only frowned. What in the world was she talking about?
Maybe I AM immature...
Or maybe Myr is overly mature. Or a combination of both. Yeah, that sounded right... Wait, what was Kain babbling about now? Something about a universal law that keeps things together... Matt forced himself not to start thinking about that question. If he got in too deep of thought, he would stop paying attention to the road. And he whould trip again. Matt spat a piece of dirt out of his mouth onto the ground. Don't answer the question. Dont even think about it. Let Myr answer it. Or Mark. Or Shadow, if he feels like it.
Matt just kept walking, silent.

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Shadow stopped mid-stride and froze in the center of the road, slightly widening his stance and grounding his left heel into the dirt to increase his stability.

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Matt slowed to a stop, and looked at Shadow. He considered asking if anything was wrong but the answer was a blinding yes. Was something comeing this way? Matt glanced around, but he couldn't see anything. Although Shadow could sense better than he could, so he wasn't at ease yet. So what was happening. Matts hand twitched under his cloak, toward his sword. He waited for Shadow to say something.

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Mark nearly bumped into Shadow when he stopped, but avaded the outstreched foot at the last second. Then he senced something around them. Hildebrande? No responce. That meant this would be a normal sword fight. Mark straighted himself up, and rested his hand lazily on Hildebrande's hilt. Whatever was out there, he was confident they would be taken care of easily enough by his new companions ans himself.

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Shadow cocked his head slightly to the right, listening for something as he stood motionless in the middle of the path.

He turned his head and looked at Myr, beckoning with his left hand very slowly as a gesture for her to come forward as quietly as possible.

In the back of his mind, he wasn't sure how she and the others would react to such subtle gestures. Kain was the only one who he knew for certain was used to them, though he usually avoided using them in favor of artful and inventive ways to simply stoke the fire, so to speak.

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Shadow waited until she came to a stop behind him and moved his jacket to the side, exposing the Twins in their sheaths behind the small of his back.

His eyes locked onto hers and he mimed the words 'Take them' without letting sound escape his lips.

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Shadow looked at everyone else and put his hand out in a gesture to stay put.

He gave Kain a look which spawned from one of their previous battles together which told him to ready his gun and to get Raven into the air. It was one that only Kain would understand.

Shadow turned his gaze forward and began to slowly stalk ahead, one step at a time, making no sound despite the boots he wore treading across the dirt.

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Kain's brow furrowed. He was so hoping to continue a bit of intelligent conversation with the monk. Oh well, after the immediate crisis had passed. Kain Pulled out his gun and very carefully readied the hammers, making sure no noise was made. He then made a small gesture with his shoulder, indicating Raven should leave for the time being. The bird, which Kain had raised from a hatchling, was very well trained, and understood Kain's subtle commands. She departed silently, a shadow of death flying over the land. Now kain gave a savage smile, like a wolf anticipating a big meal, or a panther playing with its food before the kill. Kain silently moved towards the left of the group, so that his line of fire wouldn't be blocked by his comrades.

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As Shadow walked about twenty feet ahead of the group and stopped.

He knelt down and touched his left hand fingertips to the ground.

Every other second or so he felt a very low but powerful vibration, and he knew that they were close by if he could feel them this clearly.

He looked over his shoulder and very carefully turned his head this way and that. His eyes had a reflective quality that he guessed had something to do with their coloration, and so he used them to flash a bit of a warning back to his companions. He also used his left pointer finger to pull his mouth to the side, revealing his teeth, which was a universal sign for 'predatory beast' throughout the continent.

In this region, there was only one kind of predatory beast large enough to attack humans, but it rarely left the deep forests where humans were loath to tread. The beast was known as Ni'len Va Shadaucus, Wolf of Shadows, which stood approximately four to five feet tall and eight to ten feet long. Their coat's natural absorption of light due to the dark color and dull surface made them near invisible at night, even if the moon was out in full. They were extremely strong and agile despite their size, and were considered by many to be the kings of the forest, though it was debatable due to one other creature that lurked in the forest being just as fierce if not more so.

Shadow stood slowly, making sure to arouse no reaction from the beasts he knew were nearby, and turned towards the group.

He looked to the left of the group and held out three fingers, then to the right and held out four fingers.

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Kain's eyes widened. They were in a spot of trouble if Shadow's gestures were correct. Which they always were. Kain looked at Shadow, made the predatory beast sign, then drew his finger across his throat, and then shook his head. If possible, Kain did not want to kill these creatures. He liked animals, and it was not their fault that they were hungry. But defending the group was more important than a pack of wolves, even if they were rare and majestic beasts. Oh well. Perhaps they would simply pass them by. That was ridiculously optimistic thinking however, and Kain realized it. if it was only two people, the wolves may ignore them, as they wouldn't offer enough meat for the effort. But their group was just large enough to make the hunt worth it. Kain closed his eyes and focused on hearing. These wolves were hard to spot, and were notorious tricksters. Hearing was the best sense to detect them with. Kain heard the soft padding of their feet, the cracking of twigs and the rustling of leaves that didn't fit with the rest of the sounds of the forest. Even these noises were so soft, Kain had to strain to his fullest to hear them. Years of living in these harsh woods had crafted a perfect, silent killer, and Kain briefly wondered if Teisei hadn't modeled their organization after the wolves. Kain would have to ask Shadow in time.

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Shadow acknowledged Kain's request by opening his hands, apparently thinking of such a thing before hand by handing his weapons off to Myr.

Shadow too had no desire to kill these creatures, and so he decided to come unarmed out ahead of the group to show the Ni'len Va Shadaucus that he was the Alpha of the group and that if there was a target, it was him and not his pack, and that the leader of the Ni'len was being challenged to a private match to decide the fate of both sides. Such a primal way of thinking was not likely to be understood by most of the members of the group, as most were raised in a civilized manner away from the forest and the nature around them.

Shadow only expected Kain to be aware of such a manner of thinking.

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Matt blinked, then blinked again. He stood completely still as the others moved, silent. He could feel vibrations in the ground, through his shoes. If they were that large, then it had to be the wolf things... ouch. Matt had run into a few of those before. And got quite a workout running away from those huge monsters. Were... were they after them? Five people... that could attract their attention. But why had Shadow gave his weapons to Myr? It made no sense... was he trying to tell these wolves that they meant no harm? Would they respond to that? Matt silently doubted it. He had tried the same tactic before, but they had still attacked. But maybe something was different this time. Still, he could hear them. They were getting closer... and closer still. Oh... this was going to be troublesome. Matt looked ahead at Shadow, standing alone. No, there was no way they wouldn't attack. So why was Shadow separating himself? What, was he going to take them all on? That was difficult to believe. Nevertheless, he kept a finger on the hidden dagger in his sword. If something was happening, he wasn't going to die. Shadow was thinking of something, that was for sure. But still, plans didn't always work out like they're supposed to.

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Shadow twitched head to one side as six large black wolves slowly emerged from the darkness of the forest. The dirt path they walked on was about fifty feet from the tree line, but that was no great distance, as the six wolves encircled everyone slowly, taking up calculated positions around the group about fifteen feet away.

Their eyes glowed a bright yellow in the moon's light, and their breath was visible despite the moderately warm temperature of the coming night. Each one gave off a low growl as they stood silently watching the group. Their teeth were stained with the blood of a recent kill, and their fur told a similar story, being slightly matted in spots close to and around the mouth.

Then, out of the forest line, came the Alpha Shadow had been waiting for.

The monster Ni'len was obviously very old, but none the less lethal as it had been in its prime.

Standing even with Shadow at six feet tall at the top of its head and shoulders, and nearly thirteen feet long, it was the largest Ni'len Shadow had ever seen, and even Shadow's usually unbreakable confidence faltered. The Alpha's fur on his back was longer than that of his pack members' fur, standing on end making him seem even larger by another six to eight inches.

Shadow watched the mammoth beast approach, and found renewed confidence after immediately spotting certain things about the way it walked that would work to his advantage.

The Alpha walked with a very subtle limp in his left hind leg, and Shadow made a mental note of it. Another mental note was that his front right paw was recently scarred from battle, most likely with another Ni'len's jaws judging by the way the scar crossed its paw. These weaknesses were slight when compared to the large wolf that stood before him, but they were none the less important, as he now had a plan to bring it down without much of a fight... But never the less, Shadow's respect for the creature was at an all time high as its paws made light thuds against the ground now that it was no longer stealthily stalking its prey.

The Alpha circled Shadow, sizing him up, and as he circled, Shadow too rotated his body in a circle so that he was always facing the mighty Alpha Ni'len and to make sure that it was always in his line of sight.

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"Magnificent..." Kain muttered under his breath as the giant beasts continued to circle. He then thought of a very strange thing. Food. He had some on him. Unfortunately, it was meat pies from before. Kain resisted the urge to hit himself in the face with his palm. He just silently prayed that the wolves wouldn't smell the meat and go after him. Kain needed to alert the leader. As the big wolf circled past, Kain mouthed to Shadow, "I have meat in my pack." Shadow needed to know this, because the smell may cause the beasts to react. With their keen senses, there was no doubt they had smelled the food.

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Shadow caught Kain's message but shook his head.

By the body language of the wolves alone Shadow knew that they weren't here for food, they were here to protect and or gain territory, which spelled trouble for the locals.

Shadow's stance became more aggressive as he clenched his right fist and bent his knees, ready to move at a moment's notice as the Alpha's circling began to slow and come to an end as it prepared to fight.

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Mark had noted the arrival of the wolves, and understood Shadow was having an Alpha fight due to the circumstances. And the fact that he was a fairly good hunter. Mark had been warned about these beasts numerous times, and knew how dangerous they could be. Although he was worried about Shadow, Mark had enough faith in him to allow him to fight one of these monsters. Not like Mark could stop him anyways.

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Kain relaxed when the wolves left. "Good thing that bunch had already filled their giant bellies, or else they would not have stopped so easily. You know..." Kain paused thoughtfully. "Those wolves remind me of Teisei. The assassin organization's structure wouldn't happen to be based on these wolves, is it? I mean, the harsh environments, always fighting to survive, killing in the shadows despite being powerful enough to openly slaughter their prey... In any case, You should find a pup and raise it like I raised Raven. How would you like that Shadow? A nice fluffy puppy companion for you?" Kain gave Shadow a mischievous grin, showing the assassin he was only playing games again.

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Shadow returned the smile that Kain gave him and chuckled to himself, and stepped forward to accept his daggers back from Myr.

"I think I will take you up on that offer to look at my arm Myr. We won't make much headway tonight with the temperature beginning to drop as it is. I almost didn't notice the drop due to the wolves, but never the less, it is rather prevalent. Anyway, we'll get a camp set up first and then you can take a look at the scratch."

Shadow looked around for a moment, choosing the best place to begin the setup.

"I think that those trees sitting in a semi-circle will provide the best spot for us just ahead. If I may suggest that Kain and I gather fire wood while you all set up whatever shelters you would, then that will be all for the time being."

Shadow walked towards the tree line and began to inspect the trees surrounding the area where the wolves left, and started gathering the largest samples he could find.

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Kain followed behind, searching for dry pieces, rather than the largest. Large would burn longer, but if not thoroughly dry inside, the fire would not take. so a few smaller dry pieces would help keep the flame going till the larger pieces dried in the heat. As Kain was searching, he found a small group of plants. Upon closer inspection, he found them to be a rare herb. "Somnus sepulchrum.... The sleeper mint. This may come in handy." Kain quickly harvested a large amount, and then put it in a pouch for later use. After making absolutely certain there was no one within earshot, Kain said, "So, what do you think of this group? Slow us down, or can they be useful?"

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Shadow looked over at Kain with a vacant expression on his face.

"... They will all prove useful eventually. At the moment, without the kind of training and conditioning that the body needs to keep up with the pace that the two of us will set, they will no doubt seem a hindrance at first. You remember how hard it was to keep up with me when we first met, and you were used to long distances and fast travel. Myr is the only one I believe will hold up at a decent clip, but only for a time, as even she will find it difficult to move at the pace that I will set after a time..."

He looked back at the group and smiled as he watched them work.

"... They do grow on you though. I don't believe that I could think of the journey ahead without them as company at this point."

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Matt had said nothing for a while now. He had taken to silence after his latest question, and kept it since. He had let a sigh of relief slip after the wolves had left, but hadn't said a word. He was about to when Myr began working with the trees, but decided against it. It wasn't hard to see what she was doing after a few minutes. Matt didn't know what to do in the meantime, however. Myr seemed to have shelter under control. What was he to do? The other two were getting firewood... what else did they need? Food? Water? Did some of them already have some? Either way, it wouldn't hurt to try and find a source or water nearby. Matt, who had jumped into a branch while Myr had been working, jumped off, in search or water. He took a much faster path than most would have prefered, but Matt liked the high ground. So he jumped from branch to branch instead of walking. It wasn't like he hadn't done it before. It was usually how he traveled anyway.
After a few minutes he heard the steady pound of a waterfall. Matt smirked as he jumped off the trees and landed in front of the pool of water. The roar was loud, but not so loud as to be uncomfortable. He leaned down and cupped some water in his hands. Looked clean enough. Matt took a sip. Tasted clean enough. He guessed it was safe. He then smiled. He would come back tonight, while they were all asleep, as not to disturb them. It had been to long since he last had some quiet. Matt took note of where he was, and began to travel back to the campsite. He got there within a short enough time. But Myr had already finshed building the shelters... wait, why was there only room for four? There was no way Myr knew he usualy slept in trees, what gived?
"Uh, Myr..." He walked up to the woman. "You wouln't happen to be psychic, would you? Or do you sleep in trees too?"

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Kain smirked at Shadow's response. "Aye, you be a tough traveling companion... As far as company, the only one interesting enough for me to be excited about is the monk. The thief just seems so... Naive. Foolish, as though he lived a sheltered life. And the knight seems to be in a fantasy world half the time. Ah well, we shall see how they work in the upcoming assassination. If I am not mistaken, you will be using all of us in different ways to finish this target?" Kain checked their firewood amount and then said, "We have enough, let us return it to the campsite, and then if you wouldn't mind joining me, I need to look for some more ingredients for a particularly vicious poison I want to concoct."

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Shadow nodded with a light smile.

"You're right that you'll all have a use, but I doubt that many of them will enjoy it... especially my new apprentice."

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Kain grinned savagely. "This should prove to be fun. I trust you aren't sticking me with anything overly foolish, yes?" Kain smiled at the rest of the group as he dropped his load of firewood. "Wonderful work on the shelters Myr, I could use one for a bit of an experiment," Kain said as he began to quickly dig a fire pit. The dirt was soft, so digging was easy. He then lined it with stones and stacked several large pieces of wood on top of smaller kindling. Kain took out his gun, pulled out some bullets, and carefully sliced the bullets open, pouring the powder in a small pile by the wood. He threw dried grasses over this small pile, and then he lit the whole thing with his gun's flint. The powder sparked and lit quickly, lighting the grasses, which in turn lit the dry wood. The fire was slowly growing, and he trusted the others to maintain it. Walking back toward the woods, Kain motioned for Shadow to follow.

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Shadow didn't really answer anything that Kain had to say, but took off his jacket and threw it into one of the shelters that Myr made, more or less marking it as his own for the time being. The jacket landed with a rather loud thud as it hit the ground, sending a small plume of dust into the air. The jacket was weighted, with very small and thin sheets of metal inside the fabric around the chest and back areas to make it heavier and more durable when in confrontation, but also for training purposes.

Being that it had been a warm day, Shadow wore no under shirt beneath the jacket and so the upper half of his torso was now bare, with a small clean scar across his left pectoral muscle and a rather long and jagged scar across his back just to the right of his spinal column from the bottom of his shoulder blade to just above his pants was now visible as well. He had long ago stopped caring whether people saw them or not, but never the less became a bit self conscious about it around these new companions.

The Twins were now on full display in their sheaths behind the small of his back, as well as the hidden sleeves around his hips which held over fifty small but weighted darts, which anyone with half an understanding of Assassins knew would be poison tipped.

Shadow stretched his arms up over his head, and his elbows made aloud crack before he let them drop to his sides. He tensed for a moment and rotated his neck in a circle.

He silently followed Kain to the tree line.

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"Good... I will be needing a few supplies. I already collected a large amount of sleeper mint, which by itself is a wonderful way to fall asleep. However, combined with a few other ingredients, it becomes a powerful poison." Kain said as Shadow met up with him. "The only ingredients I need now are oleander leaves, Nightshade blossoms, and Thanatoculis caps. They all grow in this region. Do you need help identifying these plants?" Kain continued. Already, he spotted the extremely hardy and fast growing oleander. The Nightshade would also be fairly common, but the Thanatoculis will have to be found in a cave. Kain hoped there was one nearby.

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Matt sat down and watched curiously as Myr grinded the plant into a paste. he smiled as the smell filled the air around them. That smelled nice. Certainly nicer than the perfume he had bought, which was starting to get on his nerves. It smelled nice enough but after a while, it just gave him a headache.
"And what are you doing now, may I ask?" Matt looked at the paste, he head tilted to the side slightly. Kain walked over and started the fire, but Matt payed no attention to him. "Would that be for the cut on Shadow's arm?"

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Shadow shook his head at Kain's question.

"I need no help identifying such herbs, as I carry a generous supply of all the aforementioned in my own pouch here at my waist, among other such herbs as as well."

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"Very well then." Kain and Shadow went off into the woods searching. After about an hour, Kain had all the material he needed to make several vials of one of the most potent poisons on earth. He smirked, and let out three sharp whistles, indicating Shadow should return. Back at the camp, Kain collected what Shadow brought, and eagerly went into one of the shelters. Before beginning, he said to the entire group, "Do not disturb me until I have finished my little experiment. This is a very sensitive task that requires utmost care, so do not bother me." Before retreating to the shelter, Kain grabbed a bunch of extra wood, and his gear. He then ducked into the shelter, and covered the exit with a thick blanket.

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Shadow casually walked back to the shelter where his jacket lay and sat down next to it. The fire was close enough to maintain a temperature of his liking, and so he closed his eyes and let out a sigh to relax himself.

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The monk watched Kain slice his bullets open with an undisguised curiosity. "So it works on a principle of combustion, then..." she murmured, more to herself than anything else. She had seen (and heard) the gun in use earlier, and suspected that it must be something of this sort, but seeing the combustible powder confirmed it.

As Shadow did not move into her line of vision, she did not see him before he departed again, though his passage did not go unmarked. Very little did, when it concerned her.

Myr nodded at Matt's question. "'Tis indeed. Sometimes, when the wounds are much worse, I have to use a little Thanatoculis," she explained, patting one of the other small pouches at her belt. "Herblore is quite interesting, once you know something of it. Thanatoculis, and a number of other fungi or herbs for that matter, can be used equally well in the manufacture of both poison and medicine, though I do not deal overmuch in toxins."

The fire was building merrily, and she paused a moment to toss another dried stick on it. "This particular salve is fairly simple, as I'm sure you saw, but it dulls pain and prevents infection, as well as speeding the healing process of small wounds. As Shadow did not receive anything worse than a cut, it should be more than adequate." She paused for a moment. "But I do imagine I have spoken rather too much on the subject; forgive me." She smiled again, this time a little sheepishly. It was easy to forget that not everyone found plants as interesting as she did.

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Mark, who had noticed the others didn't need his help, decided to look around for some edible plants once he was done setting up. The knight walked over to a shelter, and it had Kain's jacket inside. Shrugging, Mark walked over to a small shelter next to it and set his pack down on the dirt. He pulled off his light armor, revealing a simple tunic and breaches. Then Mark tugged a string from his pack and used it to tie his long hair into a ponytail. Mark glanced over to the group, asking," Hey guys, do we need food? If so, can I get it for us?"

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Myr looked up as Shadow and Kain reentered the camp; it appeared that whatever the two of them had done had not required too much time. As nobody else seemed inclined to answer Mark's question, she chose to. "I do not know if the others carry food; I myself do not have any presently, and would very much appreciate any edible plants you might find."

In accordance with the way of life of her people, Myr did not consume meat, though products such as milk and cheese were not out of the question, and she was quite good at making even simple fare palatable. All skills she'd thought it meet to earn before she'd have to take care of herself, and all ones she was glad of.

Deciding that the herb mixture had set adequately, she stood noiselessly and approached Shadow, sure to make a little sound in the walking just to be absolutely sure he would know she was coming. His senses were quite acute, she figured, so it was not as though she needed to snap a twig with her foot, but a little courtesy was nice.

Dropping down so that she was kneeling beside where he sat, Myr offered a smile, though his eyes were closed. "May I?" she inquired of his arm, trusting him to know what she was referring to.

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Shadow nodded his head once and extended his arm out slightly, giving her access to the full scratch. He hadn't noticed due to his attention being diverted elsewhere but he was actually bleeding, which gave a tiny and recognizable twinge when his arm extended. He knew then that the Ni'len had in fact broken the skin with its claws, though he thought it hadn't at first.

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Kain was busy preparing his ingredients. He started a small fire pit, and briefly exited his shelter to light a small stick, rather than waste precious bullets starting a new fire. Having heard Myr talking about Thanatoculis, Kain took a moment to educate the young monk. "Myr, I hope there isn't any Thanatoculis in that salve? For the medical benefits you are referring to do not exist in the Thanatoculis mushroom. You see," Kain paused to pull out one of the dangerous mushrooms, using thick gloves to handle the deadly fungus. "Thanatoculis is a name from an ancient language that literally translates to 'eye of death' for one symptom of Thanatoculis poisoning is a vivid hallucination of the God of Death, as well as an understanding of when those you see will die, and how they will die. However, this information is useless, because by that point, you only have seconds of life left yourself. You are most likely confusing Thanatoculis with its close relative, the Addonexus. Which translates to 'bringer of death' as opposed to 'eye of death.' Oh, and in case you were wondering where the name came from..." Kain tilted the mushroom, revealing its black cap. In a perfect ring, there was blood red, like the iris of a great eye. In the center, the mushroom burned a lightning blue, looking like a vicious retina. The bright mushroom would have been quite pretty, if not for the haunting effect the coloration gave it, looking truly like a blazing eye. This mushroom was so toxic, inhaling the spores could cause painful sickness, ingestion could lead to coma and paralysis. Kain continued back to the tent.

Inside his shelter, Kain started a good fire. The air temperature raised instantly. "Myr did an excellent job insulating this place..." Kain mumbled to himself as he took off his shirt and scavenged through his gear for a mortar and pestle. When he found it, he began grinding the various herbs and fungi, making sure the mortar and pestle were clean after each batch. When all his material were ground into fine powders, he measured careful amounts of each an tossed them into a small black cauldron. He ran outside and grabbed some water, which he threw into the pot after filtering it through one of his clean shirts. He allowed the mixture to sit in the fire and boil for a time. To extract the toxins, Kain would have to add some chemicals to bring out what he needed. Taking a small vial out of his pack, Kain carefully measured out some crystalline powder. This was one of many crucial steps that would need to be performed with utmost care. Kain slowly began sprinkling in the powder, stirring as he did so. He prayed no one would disturb him, as he asked.

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Shadow's left eye slid open at Kain's small lecture, but promptly closed again as he continued to relax his eyes.

Much had happened, and after Myr was finished treating his arm, he intended get a full nights sleep after what seemed like an eternity since his last.

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Myr listened intently to Kain. She had to admit, she had not known the original etymology of the name. She did, however, know that she was not referring to the cap itself, but the stalk, which when boiled down to reduce the poison in it made for a very concentrated local anesthetic. There were not many such agents available in the mountains, and it was only by a very careful process of experimentation (with no trifling amount of accidents) that this usage had been discerned. It wasn't practical, being something like trying to correctly slice those spiny, poisonous fish that the people on the sea prized so highly, but if you knew how to do it, it could be done... unless the fungi were simply named differently down here.

"Perhaps I do have them mistaken," she agreed amiably, deciding to resolve the matter later, when they were both less preoccupied. In the meantime, she had a patient to treat.

"Just relax your arm, please," she requested of Shadow, in low enough tones that she would hopefully not disturb Kain, who had disappeared into one of the shelters. Adjusting so as to be sitting cross-legged, she balanced her simple pestle and mortar on one knee and examined the wound. Not bad; no sign of infection yet, but the medicine would be absolutely certain.

Removing a clean piece of cloth and the half-spent roll of bandages from earlier in the day, Myr dabbed off the excess blood by dampening the cloth with her waterskin. "This will sting, just a little." Of the fact that he could handle it, she harbored no doubt, but more than once she had seen the hardiest of people caught off-balance by the bite of an antiseptic where the bite of a sword might be shrugged off heedlessly. The paste she applied liberally; it was not as though she had anything to store it in once she was done. Deft hands worked a layer of bandages over the injury; loose enough to allow movement, but firmly enough in place that they would not slip at an inopportune moment.

"There. Has anyone ever told you you're an excellent patient?" she quipped, a tinge of humor to her tone. Gathering her things, she stood. "I'll be back shortly." She needed to clean her equipment, and unless she was very much mistaken, there was running water nearby.

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Shadow felt the sting, but was so used to such pains that he didn't flinch. He did however remind himself that being able to feel and recognize pain again was a sign that he was alive and well, as when he was younger, he didn't even feel pain because his body was so used to being in a constant state of it.

Before Myr left, Shadow's mouth curved into a smile when she mentioned the phrase 'you're a good patient', as someone very near and dear to him in the past had said he was a terrible patient.

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"No no! Its quite alright... I've actually found herblore interesting. I was actually looking for a certain herb back in town. And while I found no such thing, what I did see was pretty cool. I wouldn't mind learning a few things, especially anything a friend has to say." Matt smiled at the girl in front of him. It was at this point that Shadow and Kain walked back into camp. Matt glanced at them, then at Myr's newly made paste. "You should go take care of Shadow." Matt said. Myr seemed to do so without a word.
Matt meanwhile looked at the fire. His hand found the pouch he still had on his hip and he pulled out a single pearl. The only one he had bothered to pick up after Kain had threw the things at him. He rubbed the surface a bit, but the brown didn't come off. Flakes of dried blood fell, but it retained the color. Oh well, at least it was smooth now. He winked his left eye. That last pearl had hurt... Kain was going to get his. He considered bothering him after he specificly told him not to, but dissmissed the idea. He could hear the grinding of stone in his hut. Plants could be dangerous... if Kain was making a poison (As there was no doubt in Matt's mind he was.), then he shouldn't disturb him. He didn't want to KILL him... much. No, he was going to humiliate him. And he already had a plan. But that plan wouldn't be put into action for a long, LONG time. But still, he needed something for his plan to work. He'd have to get it later.
For the time being, Matt simply dropped lone brown pearl into the bag again.

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After the Chemicals were added and the mixture boiled for a time, Kain set up another apparatus. He put his wet shirt over the mouth of the new container and slowly poured the contents of his small cauldron. The shirt acted as a filter, catching the now used plant parts. After the liquid was completely strained into the new apparatus, Kain added a top with a strange funnel. This would vaporize the water and concentrate the toxin. The vaporized water would travel out of the funnel, but the toxins would remain in the apparatus. This entire contraption was set on the fire, and Kain watched closely as pure water vapor exited the funnel. As the water exited the solution, the color changed to a deeper black. The solution would be perfect when the color suddenly shifted to a luminescent blue.

Several hours passed before the solution was finally done. Kain watched as the color suddenly shifted. The glowing blue color was very attractive. Kain set the solution to the side to cool. This poison was highly toxic. a single drop inhaled or dropped on the skin was more than enough to kill any human in a most painful manner. This nasty poison was considered a torture method as much as an execution tool. Applied to metal, such as weapons, the poison granted a faint glow, but when applied to cloth, lost all color and all odor, allowing for easily poisoning someone's clothes or even a blanket. Kain grinned in satisfaction. "Ignus Alma... Soul Fire. Nasty little liquid ye are." Kain Pulled out several vials and carefully poured in the destructive liquid. He took absolute caution. One drop spilled on himself would mean death. When he was finished, he capped the last bottle, and brought his shirt and all the equipment out for a thorough washing.

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Myr let her ears guide her to the bank of a river, and she smiled upon seeing it. She could almost feel the purity of the water, as certainly as she could discern the smooth stones beneath what must have been at least four feet of transparent fluid. The roar of a waterfall could be heard a ways upstream, but this far down, it was mostly the quiet trickling that reached her ears.

Kneeling upon the grassy bank, then, the monk dipped her small bits of stoneware in the flow, scrubbing with her thumb so that all trace of the salve was carried away in the current. She had no reservations about returning the stuff of the earth to its source; her medicine would no more poison the river than a leaf would. Setting these beside her to dry, she bent over the water and cupped some in her hands, sipping of it with the relish only simple things could provide. Filling her waterskin once more to the brim, she contemplated returning to the camp immediately, but discarded the thought as unnecessary. Were she truly needed, she had not gone to the trouble of making herself difficult to find.

Instead, she moved back a bit from the bank itself and crossed her legs into the lotus position. It may be beneficial to run through her sequence of slow stretches later, but for now, her mind sought the quiet of meditation. Lids fluttered closed over violet eyes, and Myr's breathing became measured and regular. So much had happened today; it seemed in retrospect like it had passed with alarming speed, but all days were the same, in the end. Perspective was what changed.

Or perhaps circumstance. She had to admit, if someone had told her yesterday that she would find herself in the company of a disguised female knight, a rather outspoken thief who would know of herbs, a most philosophical pirate and an assassin with the Dark God's own eyes, she would probably have politely suggested that perhaps it was not meet for them to imbibe quite so heavily if they wished to keep their health about them. And yet, here she was. The world could be quite the odd place sometimes.

Each thought, she allowed to slip away, instead opening herself to the pure sensory information of the world around her, the gentle music of the running water, the rustle of the leaves through trees, the fresh scents of herbs and clean water, the solidity of the ground beneath her, the steady cadence of her own heartbeat... slowly these things ceased to be individual pieces of information and became cohesive, a whole.

We are not apart from what lies around us. When you have come to understand this, you will know peace. For what could trouble the very fabric of the world itself? The individual is but subservience to a privileged set of experiences. Forgo the privilege of what you think is your own and instead embrace everything about you. Do not choose to be this or do that. Rather simply be. This was a lesson that as a child, she had struggled to grasp, as most of them did. In the end, though, it had come to make a certain kind of sense to her, and the idea was most comforting, she had found.

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Marl nodded to Myr before setting off into the woods. He figured monks were vegitarians, so he would only gather a few herbs and make a broth of sort. Luckily, the forest was rich in all sorts of herbs. Although he hated normal cooking, outdoors cooking was the best. The trick was to get the right ones... Mark knelt down next to patch of mushrooms. Plucking a bit of the largest one, the knight sniffed it. No good. This type of mushroom would provide a sour, almost unbearible taste when boiled. Mark repeated the pluck-and-sniff process quite a few times until he ended up with two handfuls of all sorts of different plants. The ending result should be a nice, light broth. If somebody had meat at hand, and if Myr didn't mind, the broth would turn to a thick, creamy meaty taste. Smiling happily, Mark trotted towards camp.

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Shadow sat watching everyone as they went about their tasks before finally leaning against a tree just outside the shelter where his ruined jacket lay and closed his eyes.

A few thoughts crossed his mind as to what should happen next, but in the end, Taira was at least two days away in Shaharan and he was in no rush to continue, exhausted as he was.

Shadow heard the feint sound of birds flapping their wings overhead, the sounds of insects in the trees, the sounds of feet shuffling and moving about as everyone went about their tasks, and he heard the hum of the wind around his ears, and slowly drifted off into sleep for the first time truly in what seemed an eternity.

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Matt stood up and stretched as Shadow fell asleep. It was late, and he wanted to get a little sleep before tomorrow morning, but first, he needed to do something. He walked off, back in the direction of the waterfall. He arrived shortly enough, and stared at the marvel in front of him. "Beautiful..." Matt walked around the pool and carefuly stepped on the rocks that were scattered in the pool. He stood right in the middle, on a rock, and crossed his legs, sitting down. He silently looked around, then down, closeing his eyes. He would stay like this for a few hours. This was a thinking time of sorts, and Matt usually had one every few nights. He would think about the past few days and after that, he either thought of nothing or just let them wander to whatever. He smiled, looking at the situation overall. This was certainly... odd. Hios thoughts drifted from person to person, but eventually they just settled around Myr. Why Myr? He didn't know, but they did. Shadow was obviously an assassin, Kain a pirate, and Mark a knight. But wasn't Myr a monk? Why then had she used a martial atrs kick to drive that stick into the ground? Monks didn't fight... right? Something about Myr interested Matt. he didn't know what, but there was something about her... hmm. Oh well. Thinking of these things would do nothing but confuse him now. He could tell. Matt instead shoce to think of nothing and just listen. He stayed like this for a while. It must have been a few hours. The sound of a fish jumping out of the water snapped him back to attention. He looked up. The moon had shifted positions. He had been here for a while. He smiled. He loved the night. The moon especially.
Matt stood up, his joints popping. After a moment of extra thought, he started to take his cloths off, down to his underwear. He set the clothes down on the rock and stepped into the water of the pool. he shivered, but smiled. It had been a while since he had a good swim.

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Kain walked down to the river. He quickly dumped the solid plant bits, and then put his shirt in the stream to clean off. He scraped all his equipment and then set that away from the water. Using a bowl, Kain scooped out some water and went to rinse his equipment off. If he washed the tools directly in the stream, the water would be poisoned for several miles, and many would die. Kain was not so heartless that he would do that. As he returned for more water, Kain heard faint noises. He followed and he saw the thief swimming in a pristine little clearing. Kain briefly considered throwing some poison n the water, but left to continue his cleaning. "Damnation and Hellfire, that would have rid me of a very annoying little tick." Now that the most volatile poisons were removed, Kain went and washed the equipment directly in the river. After everything was clean, Kain hung up his shirt to dry, and set his equipment near the fire. He then went into his shelter, cleaned out the remains of his fire, and then prepared for sleep. He brought in all his supplies, packed them, and then set up several traps in the entrance of his shelter. Kain didn't trust the thief at all. Setting his gun close by, Kain allowed himself to drift off to sleep.

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After setting his herbs down in his shelter, Mark grabbed an iron pot pot and walked towards a nearby river to collect water. After scooping up some water he noticed some splashing downstream. Mark had gone uphill, could it be possible some other people were down there? Peering behind some bushes, Mark looked down and saw Matt in his underwear, swimming.

Of course... An annoyed knight was about to turn away when he glansed at something else! It was Myr! Why would she be nearby why Matt was swimming in his underwear!? Those two didn't seem to have known each other beforehand, so romantic reasons were out of the question. Then it must be a coincidence of sorts. If that was the case, Mark would avoid the awkward situation that was sure to come any second now.

Turning around, the youth picked up his now-much-heaver pot and began luging it towards the camp. As he walked, Mark wondered if he should have told Matt about how close he was swimming to Myr. No, Mark hated getting in to awkward situations such as those. Much like indoor chores, he wouldn't touch them with a ten-foot long pole.

Arriving at the camp, Mark went to his shelter and grabbed the herbs and a wooden stirring spoon. After setting up the pot with some stirdy sticks, the knight added the plants. Of course, he made sure to prepare the herbs first. Seeing nothing better to do, Mark plopped down and lazily stirred the broth with his spoon. Nearby, the sleeping Shadow was resting against a tree.

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Myr felt Mark come and go, just as she felt Kain downstream, then leaving, and Matt apparently in the water itself upstream. It was interesting, what the right state of mind could do to your perception of the world. Breathing deeply one last time, the monk allowed her eyes to crack open slowly, the immediate world coming back into focus over what lay beyond, though to say she had lost all awareness of everything else would not be entirely correct.

Standing, she noted that the decrease in temperature with the advent of evening had caused her to stiffen a bit, so she maneuvered smoothly through several complicated stretches, a few of which she was sure made her more rubber than human, or maybe one of those twisted pastries bakers made from leftover dough. She couldn't recall what they were named presently.

Straightening at last, she padded back to camp, waving at Mark as she passed. "Smells nice," she put in softly, trying not to disturb the sleeping figure any more than was necessary. She noted also that Kain appeared to have taken up residence in one of the shelters, and was glad that at least someone was making use of them. "I'm not sure how many of us will be eating," she continued with a hint of amusement, gesturing to the two assassins. "But perhaps it would make sense to do so in the morning?"

Leaving it to Mark's discretion, then, she appraised the nearby trees, selecting a a deciduous one with broad branches. None of them were quite low enough to reach from the ground, so she selected one and jumped, catching hold of the branch in her hands and pulling herself up gracefully enough. It was a good thing she had enjoyed such activities as a child.

Settling herself against the trunk, then, Myr crossed her legs in front of her, making sure she was well-placed so as not to fall at an inopportune time. It must have been the residual memories of childhood that made this situation so comfortable; she recalled the time she'd found a nest of birds this way, and had sat stock-still for several hours at once, simply watching as the mother bird went about teaching the young to fly. At the time, she had thought it the most wonderful thing in the world.

The faintest of smiles curved her mouth as she allowed her eyes to drop until the world was seen through a half-lidded stare; falling asleep was always a gradual process for her, one that she did not try to rush, though she could be awake at the slightest provocation. With any luck, it would not be too long before she as well drifted off for the night.

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Matt walked out of the water slowly, and smiled. The water had been colder than the air after all, so it was fairly warm to him. He was glad. If it had been colder than would have certainly made him a bit cross for the rest of the night. He jumped back to the rock his cloths were on and, after a quick shake, pulled his cloths back on. He ran his fingers through his white hair a few times, getting rid of the excess water. He Looked around a few times. He had could have heard Mark nearly a mile away, her armor made noise when he - or she, Matt supposed - walked. He had sensed something in the bushes nearby, but it was well concealed. The only ones around who could do that were Shadow and Kain, so it had to be ne of them. Matt couldn't think of which, but he shivered at the thought of it being Kain. He had been defenseless while swimming, and if he wanted to do something... Ouch. but Kain wouldn't do anything to him, right? Well, maybe by himself. But Shadow was probably keeping him from it. Matt felt a wave of relief run through himself. But his true surprise was that Myr seemed to be getting up to walk back to camp. The act itself was innocent enough, but the fact that Matt hadn't sensed her in the first place... she must have been petrified to be that still. Matt hopped back to camp and looked around. After a quick 'Hi' to Mark, he looked at Kains hut. Now was the perfect time to get the- ...oh dang it. Matt could see the glint of a trap just outside his hut. Smart... The trap wasn't that complicated, so Mat guessed there were others hidden even better. And even smarter still, they were positioned just right. Matt could have slipped by easily, but they're wasn't enough room because of the hut. Matt resisted the urge to clap. that dude was smart... Oh well, he had plently of time to get it. Time for sleep... And Myr had taken one of the good branches. Dang... Matt looked around elsewhere and saw another one. Awesome. He jumped up and landed on the branch gracefully, and proceded to climb upwards. He looked down after a few seconds. Hehe... they were so tiny.
He layed back and drew his sword, taking the dagger out of it too. He stabbed the sword to the right of him, in the branch, and the dagger to his left. He did this so he wouldn't fall. The blades acting as fences, Matt rested his head on the trunk, shutting his eyes. Goodnight world, and all who inhabit it... exept for Kain. Kain didn't get a goodnight. Matt was asleep in seconds.

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Shadow's thoughts drifted too and fro as he lay asleep in the night under his tree.

Much had happened during this day.

First he lost his mark due to an anonymous tip off that he was coming.

Next the town is attacked by pirates.

He is reunited with Kain and find a few new companions along the way.

Such a strange life he led, but he didn't really mind it.


Shadow stretched out his arms over his head as the sun began to slowly creep over the horizon.

The light barely touched his eyes before they snapped open and the first few rays finally broke through, dilating his pupils as he turned his head to shield himself from the bright light shining down on their camp.

Shadow stood silently and slowly, making sure not to disturb any of his new companions, as they were all still fast asleep.

Ahead lay a new day, and one which would prove most peaceful if the bright clear sky was any indication of things to come.

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Shadow was silent for a long while before answering.

Although he would never admit to it, this kind of force appealed to his latent violent nature, and he was absolutely elated at the prospect of being throw in into a battle such as this.

He lived for it.

"... I don't want any of you getting anywhere near me in this battle..." He said, as he looked at Kain out of the corner of his eye.

Shadow and Kain both knew of a way to end the battle with no losses to their own group, but it was dangerous and extremely risky, as they were also both aware of the consequences should it fail.

"... If I can avoid using it, I wish to do so. Understand Kain?" He asked, his tone low and serious.

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((((((SHAHARAN. IGNORE THE CRE'EST))))))

Kain's grin faltered. "Shadow, men like us live for this! We are hunters! As the falcon hunts the fish and mice, and as the wolves hunt deer and livestock, so too do we hunt men. If they are protecting the weasel, then they are evil. But fine, if you wish me to have some restraint, then I shall. I suppose a warning is in order..." Raising his voice, Kain shouted, "STAND DOWN, AND WE WILL ALLOW YOU TO LIVE! WE ONLY NEED TO KILL ONE MAN THIS DAY!" A man stepped forward. Kain's powerful eyes could see the amusement on the man's face, as well as the other militia men. "Bold words for only five people! I think my men can finish this without breaking a sweat!" Kain looked to Shadow.

"Well, I tried to warn them." From this distance, no arrow nor crossbow would be able to hit them. The primitive guns they had also were not suitable for this range. Kain lifted his gun, sighted down the barrel, and pulled the trigger. a massive explosion echoed across the battlefield, and the head of the man next to the captain exploded, spraying blood, brains, and skull bits all over the other men. Kain relished the horrified looks of shock and terror that appeared. Looking through the group, Kain only saw twenty archers, and ten more who wielded crossbows. So, thirty long range weapons altogether. Not wanting to waste the initial shocking effect of his attack, Kain began running forward, hoping to kill the long distance fighters and be able to draw his weapon by the time the he reaches the close range fighters. He let out a scream of pure rage as he charged a group of skilled fighter that numbered in the hundreds.

Kain briefly realized just how completely insane he must be to have done that. No time to think now though. Time to kill.

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(Dammit! See, this is what happens when you slack off guys. Don't make my mistakes... Post in Shaharan, not Cre' Est please... *palm face*)

Shadow rolled his eyes and shook his head before taking off after Kain.

He tossed his ruined jacket off and sprinted to Kain's side, drawing the Twins from their sheaths and raising them into an X formation in front of him before swiping them sideways and out, ready for combat.

Shadow had to wonder if it would be possible to avoid it against numbers this large.

Myr was a monk and preferred not to fight if the battle didn't concern her, and Matt didn't seem the type to confront this kind of force either.

Shadow had been wrong about people before, and he hoped he was wrong now.

He glanced over his shoulder, checking the others as he continued his sprint towards a now oncoming force of soldiers.

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(Shaharan)

Shadow zigged and zagged, drawing upon every ounce of knowledge, speed, agility and skill he had acquired since birth to avoid the attacks aimed at him, but despite his best efforts, for every man that fell, two more took his place.

Shadow's first kill was a pikeman, whose weapon had been promptly disarmed and disposed of before the man himself went down via a blade through his mouth and out the back of his skull.

Shadow used the Twins with deadly precision, striking at organs and arteries. Every slash had a target, and every target was decimated.

Shadow saw the intestines, stomachs, and rivers of blood from each target around him.

Times were beginning to grow desperate however, as Shadow's stamina was quickly draining, and it would not be too much longer before his body lost its ability to keep up with his eyes.

By the time he realized that Kain was injured a short distance away, Shadow was swamped in the blood of his victims, and the scent filled his nose as he continued his onslaught.

He had to have killed at least twenty men by now, but the onrushing force was beginning to wear him down mentally as his targets were never clear until they were too close for comfort.

This was a losing battle, Shadow knew it.

Every attack that came weakened him slightly more, even with the aid of his trademark black smoke bombs, the battle was not going well, and every minute that ticked by was an eternity.

It really didn't matter what happened at this point...

... This battle wouldn't last much longer...

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Shadow growled as he sliced another man's jugular and kicked his body back at another man, knocking him over.

"... Just be sure to keep them off of me until it has taken full effect!!" He shouted while dodging another man's thrown spear.

Shadow hated the idea, but there was no choice.

As he kicked another man into a throng of attackers, knocking them all off their feet and giving himself a few precious seconds, he wasted none of them.

Shadow promptly used the Twin in his right hand to give himself a large cut on his left forearm and brought it up to his face, inhaling the scent of his own blood as it mixed with the scent of blood from so many others around him.

The effect was almost immediate.

Shadow's vision blurred and he stumbled a step or two as he entered the Dace Va Bae'st, or Daze of Death.

Roda I'l Lousta had begun.

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Drawing on what little sense he had left, Shadow shot his arm back the direction they had come to the top of the hill.

It was the last thing he could do to warn him to get the others to safety, and then...


... All went blank as his eyes widened, his pupils dilated, and a low, guttural and feral growl escaped his mouth.

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"Shit!" Kain yelled as he sprinted away from Shadow as fast as he could. He looked around for the others, and noticed Mark and Matt fighting some distance away. Kain ran up to Mark, a look of pure terror on his face, and before the knight had a chance to react, Kain grabbed her arm and continued running.

"We need to get out of the battlefield if we want to survive!" Kain shouted to the knight. Hoping she got the message, Kain let her go as he continued sprinting toward the hill. "Hey! Thief! RETREAT NOW IF YOU WANT TO LIVE! I personally wouldn't mind you staying and dying though!" Kain shouted. When he finally reached Myr, Kain lifted her up onto his shoulder, shouting, "I will explain when we are a good distance away from Shadow. Right now, we are in exceptionally great danger." Kain continued his mad dash, and when he was finally over the hill, he set Myr down and doubled over, panting heavily. He soon recovered and said, "We should wait for the others." Kain winced as he heard the screams and clashing of steel. The battle sounded like a torture chamber more than anything else, and Kain felt a crashing wave of relief flood him as he realized they managed to get to safety.

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... Restraint...

... Reason...

... Right and wrong...

... Friend and foe...

None of these things were present within Shadow's conscious mind any longer.

He knew neither danger, nor fatigue. Pain and pleasure were absent to his mind and body, and the value of life had since evaporated from his being.

Shadow flipped the Twins in his hands so the blades were no longer against his forearms... They now extended outwards.

Few people knew that Shadow fought with the blades tucked against his forearms to symbolize control and restraint, though most wouldn't recognize it as restraint due to his violent fighting style. Shadow now had a wicked grin on his face as his eyes were almost completely red with almost no black pupil to be seen in them.

There was a reason this was called 'Blood Lust'. Shadow now needed blood. To see it. To smell it. To observe it leaving the bodies of those around him. Shadow would not stop killing now until every living thing around him was dead, no matter who or what it was.

Shadow had always said that the mind controls the body, and now that Shadow's mind only understood the need for blood, his stamina was now unlimited.

The first thing that Shadow did was squat down and flare his arms out to the sides while arching his back and letting off a primal and horrendous shriek that echoed through the ears of everyone within earshot. All the soldiers upon hearing the sound of his now primal and feral voice began to shake, and they had forgotten the weapons they carried.

Shadow smiled at them and began to literally tear them apart bit by bit.

He chopped off fingers, feet, hands, and struck for the soft spot in the cartilage between the joints so that a clean and full cut was made. Men lost their arms from the elbows down and their legs from the knees down. All this was merely the beginning of a long and torturous ritual that Shadow always performed when in this horrible state, and now, the ritual period was over.

All the men around him were now paralyzed with fear and Shadow began, unopposed, to skin the victims around him who were no longer able to run away due to limb loss. Making long cuts along the spine and across the front of their bodies and tearing their skin off almost like a bed sheet while they were still alive and breathing. Muscles, veins, tendons, bones and everything in between became visible wherever the skin came off, which was never the whole body due to the clothing and whatnot. Instead, they lost the skin on sections of their upper torsos, or if they were unlucky, even farther down to the groin.

Shadow put the Twins away and began to literally rip off the limbs of the men he'd skinned, sending their cries of agony throughout the land. He ripped off legs from the knee down on the men who still had legs, and arms from the shoulder down.

What he did next broke the morale of all the troops around him, and was what now won the battle for him.

Shadow took a handful of blood from one of the men he'd skinned and held it up to his face. He sniffed the small pool and smiled at it. He dipped his tongue into the small pool and spit it out on the now still body of the man it had come from. He looked at the men ahead of him, smiled, and he let loose another primal cry to the heavens as he set his sights on another man in front of him.

All around the battlefield, there were cries that the Dark Goddess herself had possessed the Red-Eyed Demon and was here to take their souls and destroy them. The fear and confusion sent all the men, including the seasoned veterans, scrambling for the city gates, intent on getting away from the now possessed Demon before them.

One of them didn't make it very far however, as he was run down, and the ritual began all over again...

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Kain knew enough to remain unseen while Shadow was in this state, but keeping tabs on the fully unleashed assassin was a necessity. So Kain made a barrier of brush and mud, and poke a hole through so that he could see Shadow from a distance. The sight was grisly, but Kain needed to watch Shadow at all times. If he lost sight for a second, Shadow could disappear, only to show up undetected from behind. And that would be the end of Kain. As Kain watched, he pulled out his mortar and pestle, and some more of the sleeper mint. He ground it into a very fine powder, and then added oil distilled from the flowers of the Corpse vine, a strange plant that would grow in dead bodies and use them as nutrient rich soil. The flower oils had extremely sedating properties, which when blended with sleeper mint, create a potent drug to induce deep sleep and pleasurable sensations, as well as peaceful dreams. The last ingredient, resin from the Dragon tree, would help the effects, as well as force the concoction to spread through the nervous system of any creature affected by the solution. The resin, a pleasant smelling, deep red nugget, also had the ability to drastically affect movement speed and strength, essentially rendering hostile creatures completely useless. Mashing everything together, Kain pulled a metal contraption from within his pack. The contraption was a short needle, hollowed out, and a plate to shoot whatever was in the needle out. Kain filled his device with the remedy, and lightly pressed the plate to force out any air. From past experiences, Kain had found that if air was injected into the body, that could lead to a very painful death. Kain gripped the needle tightly, preparing himself to use it, should the situation come to that outcome.

Shadow continued his unrestrained, unrepentant violence, and Kain almost felt sorry for the dying men. Almost, but not quite. After all, he had warned them.

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Shadow continued his task at hand, ripping pieces of the helpless man before him off one by one as his cries of pain echoed across the land.

Once he had his fill he skinned the man and tossed the sheet of flesh off to the side as he dug one of his hands through the muscles of the man's abdomen and slowly pulled the intestines out a few feet at a time until they were all laying out next to his body.

The poor fool had a few more seconds of life left within him before his cries finally faded, and Shadow's work was now done.

He looked around, but all the soldiers had fled the battlefield, and Shadow now stood alone among a pile of corpses.

Shadow began to scan his environment... searching for new prey.

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Shadow's eyes scanned left, then right.

Eventually, they found a bush, or what seemed like a bush near a hill.

He watched it for a moment, and decided for himself that it was a little odd, and began to approach it.

As he approached, he noticed what appeared to be a young woman sitting on the ground with her legs pulled in and her head tucked away. The closer he got, the more his suspicions were confirmed.

Shadow lined the young monk up in his sights and began to make a dash for her, bringing the Twins out and crossing them in front of himself before flaring them out to the sides.

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After a quick glance around, Matt could see the others were getting tired. Seriously? This fight hadn't been going on for thirty minutes, and they were tired? Matt had known he had great stamina, but seeing this... it filled him with a bit of pride. Pride that was soon extinguished as Matt ducked to avoid a sword reading for his face. Matt kicked the sword out of his hand, and followed through to try for someone’s head. The head was replaced by a sword, however, and came down for him. Matt dodged by falling to the ground and rolling in between a soldiers legs. This was how the fight was going for him. While Matt didn't have a single injury, (Well one, if you count a rip in his cloak) he wasn't doing any damage. He managed a swing of his sword here and there, but nothing was working. Still, the fact that he hadn't been injured was a feat in itself. This was a losing battle. He had to get out of here fast... he was only delaying his inevitable death by staying here.

Matt didn’t have time to jump however as the second he came up four swords came for him at all angles. Matt was forced to adopt a pose that would have made those freaks at the circus, the ones that coulh bent into any shape, jealous. He kicked to sword out of their hands and jumped up, landing on a third gracefully. He used the soldiers head to jump off into a different direction, but within moments found himself in the same situation. Matt leaned back limbo style to avoid another sword.

“Hey theif!” He could over in his ear. Matt twisted his head to look, but that was a big mistake. He heard a distinct crack and a lot of pain when he did so. The soldiers took advantage of his new injury to attack. In seconds he was pinned, twon soldiers holding his arms and another two holding his legs. One stood in front of him with a smug look on his face.

Matt spat in his direction.

The soldier only laughed. “You’re pretty good, but not good enough. You’re still just a weak kid!”

This hit Matt hard. Harder even than the punches to his face and gut that followed the statement.
“You… son of a whore…” Matt smirked up, weak, his mask still intact.

“Oh shut up.” The soldier raised his sword. Suddenly the man in front and the man holding Matt’s left arm were run over by a group of other soldiers. Matt used this opportunity to grab his sword and stab the man to his right. Those soldiers were scared of something. They had been running away.

And then he saw the eyes. The dark red eyes that held more bloodlust and rage than anything Matt had ever seen before. It was mixed with the air. It was sickening. That enough was enough to make most of the soldiers think twice about attacking Shadow, even though some rushed forward anyway, blind to the stench of fury. Matt was afraid. For once he was actually afraid. Fear was creeping through him like ants in his veins. It physically hurt. Matt bent his legs to run away, wincing in pain from his neck, which he still couldn’t move right. And then Shadow yelled. No – Howl was more like it. It was evil. Pure evil. Death and destruction on an unimaginable scale lied in wait. Matt froze in his tracks, unable to block out the yell. Matt watched as the first soldiers fell to the beast that was his teacher.

And he ran. He ran faster than he ever had before. His stomach pain was ignored, his neck a minor inconvenience. All that was going through Matt’s head was the instinct of survival. Nothing more. He could see the others far away, and that’s where he went. He stopped suddenly when he reached them, and held his injured neck. And he fell to the ground, next to the monk, who’s name he couldn’t remember… he couldn’t remember anything like that. He didn’t notice when Kain put up a wall, he didn’t notice when Myr started to cry, and he didn't notice when Shadow dashed for them. He would welcome death, if only to get away from the horrors that he was hearing. He just couldn’t find himself to let it occupy space in his mind. All he could hear was that scream, and the screams of the soldiers below. Matt closed his eyes, only barely conscious as Shadow rushed for them.

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(Sigh... Shaharan...)

Shadow slowed his jog and walked calmly up to the girl balled up on the floor, and also took notice of the little thief that was huddled nearby.

He glanced back at the strange lump of fauna, but quickly lost interest in it.

He turned back to the girl on the ground and examined her, wondering why she didn't try to flee. It was more fun when they tried to run, as it was more satisfying to run down his prey.

Shadow raised his right hand and readied the Twin held in it to slice down her back...

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Mark whirled around, confused why Kain had suddenly grabbed a hold of him and ran. Before he could get a hold of himself, one of the soldiers had taken advantage of Mark and aimed a slash at his neck, but thankfully missed but sliced through his upper arm. It would have been worse if Mark had not dodged as well. Dang... He covered the wound as he started to run off the field. So Kain wanted him to run? Moments before Mark found a suitable place to hide in the forest, he heard the shriek. Hildebrande sent the signal which would turn the ordinary sword into blade of death, if used properly. Why would Hildebrande suddenly..

Mark got his answer. He watched in horror as the first few people were cut down mercilessly. Hildebrande must've sensed Shadow was about to go in a rampage of some kind. Wait. Why was Shadow killing people like a lunatic!? What happened to him!? The second Mark saw Shadow, he bolted through the forest towards them. Until he remembered the cut in his arm and that Shadow was currently a crazed person and might see him. Skidding to a halt, the knight slowly lifted his hand to look at the wound. Not good. Not good at all. Mark quickly replaced his bloody hand on his wounded left arm. Mark wasn't sure what to do. Should he walk towards them? Run? Stay here? Sit down? He had no idea what was best for the wound. The soldier's sword had swung down through a gap in Mark's light armor. It was the light kind, after all. Nothing like the impressive, heavy war armor back home. Why was he thinking about this?!

Acting on instinct, Mark sat down against a tree. He was terrified. Terrified of Shadow's rampage voice. Terrified of blood loss, and most of all failing to return to his father if he died. No Mark, don't go thinking those thoughts now... His skin was a tiny bit clammy and pale, and Mark knew that this was one of the first signs of blood loss. Pretty soon his pulse would increase, and his now-developing weakness and confusion would increase along with it. Mark's thought's blew everywhere, starting with his sword on the ground. Hey... I hope nobody tries to touch it, Hildebrande does some pretty bad things to people who do that. Other than me of course.

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Mark staggered up, still clutching his arm. Looking at Myr with a pale face, he nodded. "If you don't mind I would like to get my arm looked at. But sense Matt's seems more grave than mine, I think you should wait until your done with him first." Swiftly as possible, he grabbed Myr's bandages and salve and applied them. Feeling a bit better, Mark walked faster, catching up to Kain.

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Matt could only blink as Myr wrapped him up. In all honesty, he wasn't in that bad of shape. The only three things that hurt were his neck, his face, and his stomach. His neck because he twisted it badly, and his face and stomach because he had been punched there. Still, he didn't have the energy to object when Myr wrapped up his arm. It wasn't like that hurt. Well, it might have been a little sore... swords were heavy after all. But if it was, he didn't notice. Unable to use his arms because of Myr holding the one not wrapped up, Matt only brushed his face against her shoulder to check the damage. It was a little puffy, but that would heal in time. It hurt to even THINK about his neck. THAT was the thing that needed a splint. His stomach hurt, but that was easily delt with.
He could walk easily enough. It just hurt like hell... but still, it was a little degrading to have to be helped. No, the only thing that kept Matt from jerking himself away was... well, he just liked the contact. Matt had lived alone for years, and the fact that this contact was caring and not weapon related comforted him.
It was nice.
"Thank... you..." Matt mumbled to Myr as they walked. Although he wasn't sure if he was thanking her for the help, or the contact. He dug his feet in, senseing her leg was limp. Her foot seemed to be injured. He pushed up and took the pressure off her leg. It was easy enough as he was just a little taller than her. "You shouldn't... have to carry me." He said, his breath short due to his stomach.

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"Somethin' with my neck..." Matt pulled away from her a little. "Pain... pain is painful..." Matt chuckled at his own joke. He tugged a little at his sling and it came off easily. He moved his wrist around, the movement helping it, even though it wasn't really hurting much anyway. He looked at Myr and smiled back. But he looked away as he felt his face heat up. Damn it. It was what he thought after all... Crap. Matt shook his head, but that only hurt. "DAMN IT ALL TO HELL!!" He yelled, holding his neck, putting pressure on it.

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Shadow stirred in his apparently blissful sleep, and his eyes slid slowly open.

He looked around and saw that his hands and legs were tied, and he grumbled to himself.

He shook his head, shaking off the effects of the drug Kain had used on him.

Over the years, his body had grown accustomed and resistant to many types of drugs and herbs, which was both a blessing and a curse since anything that could potentially heal any wounds he acquired had to be significantly higher dosage than normal to have an effect.

Shadow took in a breath and exhaled slowly, expanding his hands and legs out as far as he could.

He took in another breath, and exhaled, this time with a growl at the end as he snapped the cords that bound him.

He took them off of his wrists and ankles and stood up slowly, trying not to topple over, as the effect of the drug was not yet completely gone.

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Matt grumbled to himself as he took the leaf Myr handed to him. Out of sheer force of habit, he only bit off a small part of it to see if it was safe.
And immediatly spit it out.
"This tastes horrible..." He mumbled. He took the leaf in his pocket for now and felt around his neck. There was a hard nub where the pain was worst. It was hard enough... could be bone. Or maybe a pulled muscle. He wasn't a doctor he didn't know. If this were any other time, at any other place, he would accept Myr's offer greatfully. But this was still a battlefield. There was no time for a proper healing. So Matt resorted to doing what he did whenever something on his body was sprained or such.
Matt drew his sword and plunged t into the ground. He then unstrapped his sheath and held it like he would a sword. With only a second of hesitation, he swung his arm around and landed a solid whack on his neck. Pain was immediate and overwhelming, but Matt shut his mouth. He had been prepared for this pain - it hadn't taken him by surprise. So he didn't yell. Matt felt on his knees, quivering, but got back up after a few seconds, moving his head in all sorts of directions to see if his neck still hurt. The sheath had hurt even worse, but it was fading fast. Matt twisted his head to the left, then the right. Back, forth, all directions. His neck still hurt, but he could deal with it.
This definatly wasn't good for his neck, Matt knew this. But it helped in times where he needed to get it over with then and there. He couldn't explain it, but it helped. He guessed that the body got used to the extra pain, so when the extra pain went away, it felt better than it did before. That sounded like a bunch of crap, but that was the way Matt explained it. Again, he wasn't a doctor.
He took out the leaf from Myr again and put it in his mouth, chewing it. Still tasted horrible, but he would manage.
Matt sat down and rubbed his supposed less hurt neck. He ran his fingers over it, massasing it. And then he smiled. That felt really good. Kain was dealing with something else obviously, so Matt was going to use this time to relax.
"Mark is suffering from blood loss, Myr." He said, still rubbing his neck, "You should get to him fast. Id just use some bandages to hold the wound closed, but you probably know better."
He hadn't noticed Shadow.

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Shadow shook his head and turned to look at Kain, and saw the arrow notched and aimed between his eyes.

"You want to put that thing away now? My eyes are strange enough without an arrow sticking through them..." He said with a bit of a groan as he straightened himself and stretched his back.

"I have been under the influence of a few strange effects before Kain, but I don't think any of them have ever knocked me off my feet quite like the one you used... What in the name of the Goddess was that?" He asked as he turned to his friend with a smile.

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Shadow took the cup and gulped down the contents without hesitation, and handed the cup back to Kain.

He took a few steps towards the city and peeked at the patrols he saw around the gate nearby, and thought to himself for a few minutes before turning around and examining his companions.

"... First we fix the damage that's been done. I'll help Myr take care of Mark, who seems to be in a pretty bad way right now. In the meantime, you continue to patrol the area and cause a little bit more ruckus the Eastern gate up ahead. That should draw a goodly amount of the men away from the Southern and Northern gates, allowing easier passage for us once we're done here."

Shadow walked over to Mark and looked at his arm. He walked a circle around the young knight, assessing the damage, and then dug into his pouch for a small needle with a small vile attached to the end of it.

"Take this and press the needle into the skin around the wound. Squeeze the vial for two seconds straight, and then remove the needle. This will numb your arm for a while, but give it everything it needs to begin its healing process right away."

He placed the vial with the needle at the knights feet and walked over to his young apprentice Matt.

Again, he walked a circle, assessing the damage.

He walked forward and placed his hands on the base of Matt's neck just above his shoulders and applied pressure in four specific zones around his neck. The first was at the ridge of muscle between the neck and shoulder, the second just around his spinal column behind the base of his skull. The third zone was a few inches below the second, and the fourth and right in between his shoulder blades.

To finish the task, he used both hands to grip the young thief's head and gave it a sharp turn to both the left and right, causing a crack to echo forth from each turn.

"This will cause a moment or two of discomfort, but you'll feel better by tomorrow." He said casually.

Again, he approached the tree line, checking what was there to see.

They were a short distance away from the West Gate, with the South Gate ahead and around the corner of the wall around the city. He estimated about twenty guards at each Gate, which normally wouldn't be a problem, but with the entire group suffering from injuries and Shadow himself still fighting the effects of the drug Kain used on him, it wouldn't be wise to attack head on.

Instead, Shadow found another, rather simple solution.

"Kain... your job now is to find the patrols on the South Gate just around the corner of the perimeter of the city up ahead. Cause a bit of a stir by using some of these darts to kill about two or three guards without letting them know where you are."

He held out his hand after reaching behind his back and held out six small darts, each about five inches long, but weighted and tipped in poison.

"This will cause an alarm to sound at the South Gate, and everyone will rush to give aid against an unseen enemy. Of course, you will have rejoined these three by the time they get their act together. In the meantime, I will sneak over the wall and meet up with Taira. Once I have my information, I'll send her ahead once more, and then I'll find the rest of you just inside the West Gate here."

He looked to the group.

"Did everyone catch that?" He asked.

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"What are you-" Matt was cut short as Shadow cracked his neck. "Thats... ow..." Matt rubbed his neck. He sat down and listened afterwards. West gate, west gate, west gate... he ran over it a hundred times in his head. He sat in silence as Kain and Shadow darted off, and looked at the ground. Something was bugging him. And it was Myr.
Myr was mysterious. More so than Shadow, even. If she was a monk, how did she know how to fight like that? And how could she be at such peace, even in a battlefield? Something was up with that girl. That pretty, pretty girl...

Matt nearly slapped himself.

He instead looked at the ground, begining to think of the others. And Mark... he began to go through his knowledge of Mark, which wasn't much. Mark was dazing half the time. Or at least not paying attention. Mark was a firl that pretended to be a guy. Why? Wasn't like girls couldn't be knights... could they? Matt had no idea. He'd never been taught the ways of a knight.

Shadow... was scary. Matt didn't even want to think of him right now.

And Kain. Kain- Speak of the devil... Matt thought as he showed up again. Time to go. No time to think at the moment. West gate west gate west gate west gate west gate west gate west gate- Matt thought over and over as he followed Kain and Myr. But he looked back for a second before continuing on.
"Mark, dude. We're going." Matt waved at him... her... person. Matt shook his head in confusion, and turned back to follow.

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After following Shadow's instructions, Mark looked at the others. It was his left arm that was hit, so he could still fight. The wound would be fine for now, but it would be wise to ask Myr to check it once they set up camp or something similar. Thankfully, everybody else's injuries seemed to have been treated as well. Back at home, Mark would have been treated with carefull hands then cruelly sent to clean the house. The worst punishment he had ever been given was... No Mark don't go daydreaming again! Mark, not seeming to have anything else to do, followed after Matt.

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"Don't do anything stupid..." Matt mocked under his breath. "You're the one with a hole in your shoulder... idiot..."
Matt didn't do anything as Myr played her part (rather well) and Kain took them out. He followed behind everyone silently and stood still, his cloak covering his whole body.
"So what now? We sit?" Matt asked the group. Not waiting for an answer, he started to lean back. "I'm cool with that." Matt let himself fall backwards into a pile of hay, the pile swallowing him whole. His cloak protected him from the poking that the pile so graciously provided, so it was actually quite comfortable. He stuck a hand out of the top, waving at whoever was paying attention. "Wake me whenever." And he drew his hand back in. He wasn't actually going to sleep, but he would lay down none the less. He felt his side for the pouch and it's one brown pearl. He still needed to get that thing from Kain... he had plenty of time, but it was probably best to get it out of the way. Oh well... he couold think of that later. Now was rest time.

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Matt barely had a moments rest before something big and heavy fell on him. Well... maybe fell wasn't the best word.Jumped was more like it. Matt couldn't help let out a small groan of pain. His neck was still a little sore. Just a little. Immediatly thoughts ran through his head. This was too heavy to be Myr, so that left Kain and Mark. Matt was sure Mark wouldn't do something so childish, so that left-

Duh. It was Kain. Of course. But what a lucky break! Now was the perfect time to get what he needed to start his plan. All these thoughts ran through his head in less than half a second. But Kain was already getting up, trying to get away. Matt's hands moved like lightning towards the pirate, and in a second, he found what he needed. Kain lept away none the wiser. Imbecile.

Matt, after a second or seven, stood up slowly to face his semi-attacker. He was just standing there, watching him. Obviously he want Matt to react somehow. To insult him, or rush him... something. But Matt wasn't going to do either. Rushing him would only get him hurt, and how would words hurt Kain?
So Matt went with his third option. A simple question.

"And why..." Matt asked slowly, slipping Kain's gun into his pocket, "Would you do that?"

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Mark gave kain a confused look. Slaves? Masters? Surely there was some in-between. Personally, that made no sence what-so-ever to the young knight. Although many things often confused him when people talked about this sort of thing. "Hey Kain... What you say doesn't make sense. It seems to me that you are not a master, and Matt is no slave. It seems to me like it would be a sad fate to be either master or slave.", he said cautiously. Mark had a million questions and reasons for saying that. Honestly, he wondered if his own logic was correct and not some fools fantasy.

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Matt glanced around as Kain spoke. Indeed he was right... there wasn't anywhere to run at all. He looked back into Kains eyes. Eh, he'd seen colder, Matt was sad to say. And not just Shadow either. But he frowned at Kain's words of slaves and masters. He never really liked those 'there are two kinds of people in the world' kinds of statements. No matter how many he heard, he never seemed to like or believe any of them. Matt smiled softly as he reached into his pocket for the gun, drawing it slowly so Kain wouldn't think he was attacking.
"I guess if what you say is true, then a really am a slave. Actually, I don't recall saying I aspired to be anything more."
He handed the weapon to Kain. What now? Would he hit him or something? Sounds like somthing Kain would do. "I dont care what you say about it. I'm having fun."
He looked down at the gun in his hand. This was going to well. Still, he only need a look. And a bullet, But he hadn't gotten that. The gun had been hard enough to get.
"Here's your gun, meanie." Matt only smiled.

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Matt considered asking what in the Goddesses names those things were, but he couldn't find the words. So his eye twitched instead.
"What?" He said in responce to Kain quietly. He didn't really want him to explain everything again, but he just wanted to show his confusion. Maybe herblore was a little much for now... wait, what was that about Shadow? He looked up and saw the black figure against the sun. Oh... There he was. Why was there hair in the wind? Matt couldn't se the color, but it was a little long to be Shadow's... huh. Matt said nothing and waited patiently for him to come down.

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Shadow nodded, and whispered back to him.

"Indeed... He is rash, but that is partially because he is so young. I cannot blame him for being somewhat vengeful towards you after the pranks you've pulled, but he does need to be trained to deal with such things without thoughts of response. Things like that could get him killed..."

Shadow turned to face forward and was silent for a moment.

"... Kain... From now on I want you to pull more pranks and be as annoying to him as you possibly can... The only way for him to learn to deal with this is to be exposed to it on a regular basis, and I will let the two of you sort it out as you may, though if things begin to go too far, I will step in... I don't want any bloodshed between you two, but you must not go easy on him never the less."

He turned his head and shot Kain one of those glances.

"Understood?" He asked with a slight smile.

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Matt's eyes dulled. "I never stole from the innocent..." He mummbled under his breath. Even that gem dealer he had gotten his pearls from had been a little corrupt. He had been paying the gaurds off so that he could do something in secret. Matt wasn't exactly sure what... but he had gathered enough information that he knew it wasn't good. So Matt had just taken some stuff from him so he wouldn't be able to pay them off for whatever he was doing. He would have taken more had a cannonball not come crashing into the room. The rest was history. He was silent in his head for a few seconds, then frowned. Okay, maybe he had stolen from the innocent a few times. But it had never been anything big. Big things he let them keep. In fact, the biggest thing Matt had stolen from an innocent was... what? He couldn't remember... maybe a few knives. Or a notebook to write something down... something small like that. But other than that...!

Matt sighed.

He was silently regreting his choice of words eariler, not knowing what Kain had meant by slave. But from this description, Matt didn't think he was a slave at all! Although he could see how Kain had come to that conclusion... Oh forget it. Matt scoffed and looked away. Let Kain think whatever he wants. Didn't matter...
Ugh. Frusteration was taking it's toll... it had- scratch that, it was stressful to deal with this whole group. He was used to being alone. He needed an out. Guess it's back to the usual, huh?

He glanced around for a merchant stand. He needed a blank book. Spying one a few yards away, he broke from the group and walked to it. He knew he'd be scolded if he stole it, so he payed for it like a 'good little boy'. He also got a bottle of ink for the pen in his pocket. He was out.

He walked back to the group and slowed his pace, walking in time with the rest of them. His head was already cloudly, busy thinking of what to write later. Shadow and Kain were talking a little, but he didn't care. Unless someone called his name, he wasn't paying attention.

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(... I did it again... Shaharan)

Shadow blinked to himself a bit, clearing the sensation of that strange liquid from his eyes.

"It feels... odd." He said to himself as he continued walking.

It took a few more minutes, and the silence of the group was somewhat distracting. Somehow, Shadow had gotten used to chatter from his comrades over the years, and the sudden silence was quite disturbing.

They finally reached the market, and Shadow turned towards the group.

"I have to do a bit of shopping for a new outfit. The rest of you need to get your rest early, so head down that street over there by the blacksmith and you'll find an inn that reads 'Bo's Pub and Inn'. Go inside and pay for a single nights stay, as that's all we'll be needing. Tomorrow we act, and tomorrow it will be over, and the time for me to get back to my real mission will be at hand. Go on ahead everyone. I'll get to the inn later."

With that, Shadow turned and walked off, inspecting the stalls with dark clothing for something suitable to wear that would be both fashionable, comfortable, and combat worthy.

... This could take a while... He thought to himself.

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Mark was rolling Kain's words around in his head. Sure, he could tell why people could think of things in that perspective, but that perspective was... warped? The thought's were snatched from his mind when Kain said rooms for two girls and two boys. Damn, I should have seen this coming. Mark glanced around. The innkeeper had not noticed, but a woman who seemed to be his wife was looking at the group questioningly. She had noticed. Uh oh... hopefully she won't say anything... Mark wished he had come in as a girl, and not a boy. Kain must have forgotten Mark was a boy to the rest of the world.

The woman looked at Matt and asked," Um sir, I know I shouldn't be offering my advice, but don't you think that..." The woman then gestured at Myr and Mark. "Your fiance shouldn't be sleeping in the same room as a boy? Even if they are friends?" The woman was brave. It seemed as if she really didn't want to upset these rich customers, but her good merits wouldn't let them go on without saying anything. "I-i don't know the situation, sir, but is your fiance okay with that arrangement?"

Mark silently cursed Kain for putting him, Matt, and Myr in this predicament. He didn't know if the others cared, actually, but Mark knew he did. Spend your life as a boy, and you get stuck in all sorts of situations. Not being able to have an appropriate inn room, for example. Swimming, courtship, and having real friends topped the list. You can't have friends if you want to have a secret of that size.

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Shadow walked casually through the market, making sure to avoid eye contact with everyone around him. He was receiving more than a few strange looks from people, which was to be expected seeing as how he didn't have anything covering his upper body. Though his physique was excellent and got a few compliments, the scars on his back and chest worried a few people.

Finally, Shadow found what he was looking for. He approached the stall and bowed to the man behind it.

"Good day sir! I am interested in that fine outfit sitting behind you. The black hooded jacket, the gloves and leather greaves there, the black pants and the laced boots as well if you please." He said with a smile.

The man at the stall looked at him sideways for a moment, but dismissed whatever thoughts were going through his head and returned the smile.

"Certainly young man... Been through a bit of a beating I see. Are you a soldier?" He asked.

Shadow laughed.

"No sir, I am not a soldier. I am just a traveler who has been in more than a few glorious battles that happened to take place in certain cities I've visited over the years. Anyway, how much for the clothing?" He asked politely.

"Ah, the jacket is a mere five gold pieces. The greaves and gloves are eight gold pieces. The pants and boots are sold together for ten. All in all, it comes to twenty three gold pieces! Quite the bargain considering how well made they are. Here, feel it!" He said proudly.

Shadow took the jacket and inspected it. Sure enough, it was a light, but very tough material, which was perfect for his line of work. The pants were made of the same fabric, with the boots being very strong leather. The greaves were excellent as well, with a sheet of metal inside the leather covering to further shield their owner from harm should it come to close quarters combat.

"Very well! I'll take them." Shadow said happily.

He pulled his pouch from his waist and counted twenty five gold pieces, instructing the man to keep the extra two as a tip of sorts. He happily complied as Shadow went behind the stall and entered a small changing booth.

Within the matter of a minute, Shadow had completely changed in appearance. He walked out from behind the stall fully clothed, and received a few frightened looks. Shadow was confused, and looked at himself for a second. He though he looked rather nice... Which was a big thing for him... Until he looked in a mirror nearby.

Ironically, he looked even more like an Assassin with this clothing on than he had before.

A long black jacket which extended down to the center of his shins in the back and on the sides, with a hood that hid his eyes from view was perfect for his purposes as an Assassin, but it made him stand out a little bit. A black pair of gloves and brown leather greaves, coupled with the black pants and long brown leather boots made him look very much like the warrior he was.

"... Great..." He said quietly to himself.

Shadow looked around and saw what appeared to be a fortune telling tent on the eastern edge of the market.

"... She did ask me to find out..." He whispered to himself.

Shadow straightened the jacket a bit and walked towards the tent, stopping outside to read the advertisement sign about how just about any kind of fortune could be told.

... I don't know why she wants our future looked at by a fortune teller... Why not just let it be a mystery? He thought to himself.

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(( Dang it. I keep forgeting. Shaara... however you spell it))

Myr needed money. ...Uhh... hmm... Matt took out his bag of coins. He wasn't exactly the wealthiest person, but he could pay for a room if she needed. But Kain was quick on the draw and pulled out a... rather heafty bag of coins. Matt smirked. No, no... he couldn't. Kain would surely notice. It wasn't exactly the best policy to steal from those who you are traveling with, a concept that was unfamilier to himself. For now, he just stayed silent. He wanted to say something as Kain ordered the rooms though. The way he spoke implied that someone wouldn't be joining them. Or maybe Shadow would and he just wasnt saying. But as the arrangements were made, his eyes widened. All the boys in one room...

There was no way-! Wait, no. This was to be said out loud. But he didn't want to cause a scene down here. He waited until Kain was upstairs before he followed and told him.

"I am not sleeping with you in the same room. I don't trust you."

With that, he just walked off. Matt wasn't an idiot. Kain would take something. Or at least pull another one of his stupid pranks... He would sleep OUTSIDE before he slept near Kain. Jerk. So he just walked outside. Were to go from here...? Matt scratched his chin. He couldn't cause a scene, so what then. Walk around?
Matt looked next door to the blacksmith. The blacksmith was always fun. Usually something interesting in there. So that was where he decided to go. He walked inside and looked around.

"Can I help you?" The old-ish man hammering a peice of metal looked up at Matt.

Matt just shook his head. "Just looking around."

"Well don't cause any trouble." He looked back down.
Matt sat down and watched the man work. It was better than being in that cramped inn.

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((Shaharan... sorry))
Mark sighed, and followed after Kain. Hold it! Did he say I was going to sleep in the guys room?! Oh well, Kain was probably lying to get through the situation. Not that Mark cared; he had gone through worse. It wasn't like they had to sleep in a pile together. Although sleeping piles where warm, they were the farthest thing from comfortable when you happen to be the only girl in one. Matt had wandered off again, Mark couldn't blame him. He would run off too if Kain had it out for him.

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Mark smiled brightly at Myr. "Thank you!", he said, not loudly, but not unenthusiastic. Mark opened the door that was to be her temporary room. It was simple, with two twin bed with white linen sheets, and woolen blankets. A sturdy dining table, and a fireplace finished off the look. Oh wait... There was a paper screen and Mark trotted over to see what was behind it. A medium-sized bathtub. I'm definitely going to use this... After inspecting the beds, Mark called out," Hey Myr! The beds don't have any bugs!" Mark set his pack n the bed that was closer to the window. "Can I have this one?"

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Shadow looked to the side, and smiled to himself at the woman's remark.

"..."

He flipped his hood back, and let shook his head to let his hair return to it's normal state. Spiky once again, he entered the tent slowly, checking around to make sure it was safe, as was a habit of his when entering new environments.

"Good evening ma'am." He said pleasantly.

"If it's not too much trouble, I'd like a reading of my future. My..." He froze.

All this time, even though he knew his feelings, he wasn't sure what to say to people about them.

"... Um... a female acquaintance of mine wants our future to be read." He said, rather embarrassed that he didn't have a better way to explain.

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Luminitsa smiled softly and replied with a simple, "Good evening." Before letting him speak.

Her face grew solemn, matters of the heart where serious things. And while everything she said was nonsense completely fabricated by her, she knew she had to be careful with what she said.

"Your female friend? Yes, I see. I get many of those requests."

She then turned to sit down in one of the chairs, gesturing for the man to do the same before continuing to say, "Now, what kind of reading would you like, hmm?"

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Mark rolled his eyes in annoyance when Kain asked him to move his stuff to the other room. Sure, Mark knew it was the logical thing to do, but that didn't mean he had to like it. The boy's room was similar to the girl's, so Mark thanked Kain for the food and sat down at the room table after putting his stuff in a corner. Realizing how hungry he was, Mark gobbled down his food. All of a sudden, the knight was feeling slightly mischievous. He grabbed his now empty bowl, and trudged downstairs. He handed it to a waiting waitress and yawned dramatically, making sure the suspicious innkeeper's wife noticed. After announcing to himself that he would head for bed, he trudged back upstairs. Once there, he raced into the boy's room, grabbed his pack and raced out. He ran to the empty girls room and stepped behind the dressing screen.

After changing, Mark looked down. He was wearing an worn white dress. His mother had worn it when she was young, so it was a bit out of style, but it was still acceptable. The dress had bits of lace here and there, thankfully not enough to arouse any suspicion that Mark was rich. Not that I am rich, but it's better to stay out of the way of thieves. Only one thing left to do... Mark carefully removed his hat and pins. He felt his hair slide down his back, and quickly combed it out. The knight grinned to himself. Now, only his friends could recognize him. Not even that eagle-eye innkeeper's wife could see any remarkable difference; Mark had unbound his feminine parts. Time to get that cloak...

Mark swept downstairs, into the crowded room. He had brought his pack and walked swiftly outside. With a small smile, he began walking towards a cloths shop.

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"So I chuck a chair at the one on the left-" Matt continued on as he popped another nail out of the hole in the anvil with his hammer. He caught the new nail in his gloved hand and set it in the pile with the others. He grabbed the skinny rod of iron and walked over to the fire again. "And he flies into another one trying to pick up my pearls!"
"Theivin' pirates..." The man smriked in amusement as he continued on with his sword.
"Yeah! Family heirloom... belonged to my mom. And their trying to take the things!" Matt frowned, satisfied the rod was heated. He walked back over to his anvil and began to hammer the sides into a square.
"And then what?" The man laughed, thoroughly entertained by this young boy making nails for him.
"Another one comes over with a sword, and I duck just in time." Matt cut a notch in the rod and stuck the sharpened end of the rod into a hole in his anvil, snapping the short nail off. "And I kick him in the shin. He goes down and I kick the bilge rat in the head for good measure. And another one comes, but he slips on the pearls and falls over into a table!"
"Lucky you."
"You're telling me!" Matt's eyebrows rose. "Say, I need another rod."
The man looked up in surprise. "Done already? You're almost as fast as I am!"
"Ain't my first time makin' 'um." Matt smirked. "I lived with my friend Lance at the lake for a while. He always wanted to be a big time blacksmith, and I worked with him for a year or two. Haven't seen him since."
The man frowned as he handed Matt another rod of iron. "Lance? Lance Nocturn?"
"... Yeah." Matt looked up, freezing mid swing of his hammer. You know him?"
"Know him? He worked under me for a year and a half!"
"Really!?" Matt smiled and went back to his nail making. "So he made it to town... he still live here?"
"Yeah. He's up in the north side of town. He's got his own place now, I hear."
"I just might pay him a visit later. Thanks!" Matt dropped another nail into the bin.
"Tell him I said 'Hi' if ya do."
"Sure thing." Matt walked over to heat up the rod again.

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Shadow complied and sat down in the chair opposite the woman in the tent.

"... She wants to have our future read, though... she seems to know what she wants. She said that once I was finished with my mission that I was hers, and she mentioned... um... something that started with the letter 'm', but I can't remember what it was and I have no idea what she's talking about. She wants our future together read. I'm not sure what kind of specific reading she wants, but still, any futuristic reading you have, I'll take."

Shadow set his hands down on the table and waited.

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Matt froze. Kain had burst in acting like his father. He was about to shrug and ignore him, but then Myr walked in, playing the same game. It wasn't the fact that she was playing along that made Matt almost have a heart attack. It was that Myr sounded dangerously close to his actual mom when she had still been alive. Matt was surprised that he could remember her voice, the last time he had heard it being when he was seven. He slowly looked up and Myr and Kain, and for a split second, he saw parents. Somewhere in his mind, he knew they were still just playing a joke... but for that second, he didn't care. He saw the parents he could have had.

It brought him to the edge of tears.

"Um... are you this boys parents?" The old blacksmith was confused. He looked over at Matt. "I thought you said you were traveling by yourself? What gives?"

Matt didn't answer. He couldn't. His voice was frozen in his throat. That's... that's not... fun... ny... He could hear himself think. Kain had pranked him before, sure. They had traveled together for a few days now, and it wasn't like he was a stranger to it. But this... this was too far. A parent joke to an orphan was poison. It was horrible. Worse than death. At least in Matt's mind...

He set his hammer down, his eyes still on the verge of letting his tears fall. He slowly walked over to a table by the door, and looked at the money sitting there. He had been working for it, seeing as his money bag was nearing emptiness. The whole city was on lockdown, guards everywhere. Matt would have just found something to steal normally, but it was too guarded. So he had agreed to make nails for the man. He hadn't finished, seeing as Kain had burst in. Matt had only managed almost half. So Matt took almost half the money and walked out, ignoring Kain and Myr.

"That's not funny..." He managed to breathe out as he passed them. His voice was weak. He passed Mark too, but he didn't even get a glance. Matt's eyes were dark. He wasn't in the mood. He walked right into the inn and slammed fifteen gold peices onto the counter.
"Oi, didn't you already get-"
Matt growled softly. This man was annoying. He glared at him, willing the annoyance to be quiet. The man saw his eyes and after a moment or two, scooped up the gold. "Long as I get payed... do with ya' will..."
Matt grabbed the key of the counter and walked into his room. In was at the end of the hallway. He slammed the door and shoved his dagger into the wood behind it, effectivly bolting it in place. Matt was sure Kain could pick a lock. He then walked over to the window and wedged his sword into the frame, like a wooden board. Satisfied, he sat on his bed. The blades would hold. Those rocks of blades were harder than steel.

Matt looked down at his feet, silent. And for the first time in a long time, he let tears fall. He didn't make any noise, but they fell all the same.

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Matt looked up at the other annoyence. Despite the discontent Matt had for Kain, he knew he was right. The past was past. Thats why it was called the past. He wiped his tears a stood up, stretching. How could he have been so weak!? Jeez... he had thought he was over this.
Ugh... pointless. This was pointless. Crying over something twelve years ago wouldn't do him any good. It was only going to hinder him. Him and the group. And while hindering Kain might cause some satisfaction, the others didn't deserve that.

Matt sat down again, taking out his blank book and writing supplies.

I've decided to write about my adventures from now on, seeing as I am traveling with a very interesting group, and we no doubt have a big journey ahead of us. I'm traveling with a monk, and knight, a pirate, and a assassin. I miyself am a thief. I had always thought I was doing pretty well for myself, until I met the last two in my above list. They are on a whole different level of strength, and not just physically either.

He sat there and wrote breifly about there jouney from the port town till now.

I still don't know how I can be so weak! After all of this... I'm only holding the group back. And that's not good. Anyway, I wish Shadow would take some time to directly teach me. He's told me some things when I've done something 'wrong', but they are short, and I sometimes don't fully understand what he's talking about. Ugh... I'm weak. I'm just a child, no matter how hard I pretend otherwise. I need to learn. Maybe it's best to just hang back for now... don't do anything big. Observe the group.

Matt yawned, wondering what to write next.

There isn't much I can do at the moment, seeing as we are supposed to just be hanging at the inn right now. Guess I'll just sit for a bit. Oh well, thats what my... orders are. He struggled to write down the word. This is going to be a long trip.

He wiped his drying face again before he got up, and picked up the ruined down. "I'm gonna have to pay for that..." He mumbled to himself as he stood it up in the frame as best he could. Damn pirate. He picked up his dagger and examined the blade. Good, it wasn't damaged... still, he was surprised Kain had gotten through the door. The dagger must have been yanked out of the floor when the door had been kicked... that was powerful! He took his sword out of the window and slid the dagger back into the handel, then setting the combined weapons, on the table. He layed back in his bed and sighed, closeing his eyes. He wasn't going to sleep, but he would lay there until he was needed.

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Mark froze. He had absent-mindedly followed Kain up to Matt's room, and was shocked at his action's and speech. Listening to the first part, he knew it had applied to him as well. He had forgotten Shadow's orders, and went out into the city. The knight looked down, dissapointed by his own actions. Slowly he trudged into the girls room, and plopped onto his bed without bothering to take the cloak or the dress off. Mark layed there limply, not doing anything except gaze at the wooden celing.

Slowly, his mind began to work properly. However, a few thoughts in particular nagged at him. Did he really make a good choice when deciding to travel with these people? With the exeption of Myr, he wasn't exactly traveling with the best of people. Normaly it was best to avoid thieves, pirates, and assasins. Especaily when your mother was killed by one of the above. Also, if he did, was he stong enough to keep up with them?

First, I should go over what I know about the others. Myr. She was wise, beyond a doubt. Her healing knowledge was extreamly useful, and she was a great actor to boot. Only Mark didn't know much about her past. Only that she was a monk. Myr was also a great fist-fighter, he could never make it up to her level. Kain. Also a great actor, and obviosly has amazing fighting skills with the knife, sword, and the weird machine that fires things at people. Wasn't it called a gun? You can't forget that tactical mind. The pirate had a horrifying past, Mark really didn't want to think about that right now. Matt. He was probably the nicest of the group, yet was the most picked on by Kain. Mark wasn't sure how skilled the thief was, but knew he wasn't very disciplined. Neither was Mark. Now Shadow. The assasin was the leader, yet Mark knew absolutely nothing about his personality. On top of that, hardly anything about his fighting skills or his past. There was that crazy blood-rage thing, but that was different. Mark only knew that Shadow was supposed to be very,very strong.

The question comes up yet again; could he keep up with them? Already the knight was wounded four times, disobeyed orders, his secret already has proven to be a nuisance, and had seriously lacking skills. Fist fighting; okay, but nothing special. Knife; iffy, at best. Tactics; basic training. Again, nothing special. Mark also had basic survival skills, and was a good hunter with a bow. His knighthood training extended farther though. Much farther. From running to rope-knotting. However, those were basic commonly known skills and Mark was only average in most of them. He had specail training that none of the others probably had. As a nobel, he was trained from a very young a age to run an estate, and maybe some vilages to go along with it. Not very useful though. It was the sword he excelled at. A protege, he was able to beat squires and most knights when he was a mere page. I am definately not going into that story. Yet Mark wasn't sure he could beat Kain. They would have to spar later...

Lost in all this thinking, Mark had fallen aleep.

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Matt opened his eyes, hearing a knock on Mark and Myr's wall. He shut his eyes again, listening to the words. So Kain had something to say, huh? Well that was too bad, because Matt had no intention of doing anything that jerk said. But still... he thought for a moment. Best not to aggrivate the situation any more. No need for that, now was there?

Another few seconds of eavsdropping had him standing up. Mark was coming to get him, but he was already opening the door. Matt walked briskly into the hallway, passing Mark with a quick 'Come on' and a smile. He walked over and stood next to Myr... and her words flashed through his head again. He turned to her.

"It's alright, I'm not mad at you. You didn't know, and it was just a harmless joke. It just touched a nerve, but I'm fine now. There is no need to apologize." He smiled at her brightly. "But if it makes you feel any better, then apology accepted."

He patted Myr once on the shoulder and smiled. But his smile faded just as fast as he turned back to the door, his sour mood returning at will. He grabbed the handle and turned it sharply, opening the door. He walked in a sat on the bed, a frown plastered onto his face and his legs crossed. Just because Myr was fine didn't mean Kain was too. Mark didn't seem to have gotten a scolding like that, so why was HE the one that got in trouble? SHE went off into the city while he himself had only gone next door! What a jerk...

It was this moment that Shadow flew into the room. He looked... distraught, to say the least. Something was up. And that something wasn't good, he was certain. Matt folded his hands and rested his chin on them, waiting for someone to speak.

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The silence enveloping the group was strange to Shadow as he heard a knock outside the room.

... Good, she made it...

Shadow opened his eyes and walked to the door, opening it and looking outside as he saw the young fortune teller listening to the door in the room next to them.

"The meeting is in here. Come in." He said gently with a smile.

He left the door open and walked back to his spot near the wall while he waited for Mark and Matt to respond to Kain's rather interesting punishment.

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Mark stared at Kain for a second before looking at the knifes. Wonderful. What a perfect time to wear a dress. He was wondering who could be at the door, but since he wasn't allowed to talk, Mark would just have to wait and see. Cautiosly, Mark obeyed Kian's order's, after sneeking a glace at Matt. How would the theif react to this? Mark's father made him do all sorts of wierd things during training, and this couldn't be that bad. Could it?

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"Go to hell..." Matt mumbled to Kain as he finished his explanation of the punishment. Nevertheless, he stood up and walked over to the knives. He stepped on one with a foot, testing it. The handle was to short, so he would have to stand with his feet twisted. Dang... Kain had probably anticipated that too. Damn it...

He stepped up on the one on the left, and in his split second of balance he put his foot on the right one too. Ouch... this was a little painful. He shot Kain a glance before he looked back at the wall, relaxing all his muscles. Really, the hardest part was just getting up here. Standing wasn't to hard if you were doing it right, but then again... Matt was pretty good at things like this. He was a thief, after all. Being acrobatic was a necessity for him. But Mark... Matt silently wondered how he would do with this. Wait, no, he seemed to already be on them. Nice job! Matt didn't want to say anything though, so he just smiled at Mark instead.

His concentration was nearly broken when there was a knock on the door. There was someone else joining them? ... Cool, he supposed. Matt leaned back as far as he could without falling to see the new arrival. "Hello." He said simply before returning to his... standing, he supposed.

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Mark gritted his teeth, focusing. His muscles and tendons were starting to ache, and he was impatient for the meeting to be over with. Hadn't he gotten enough punishment from being attacked by a thug? But they didn't know that, and probably wouldn't care anyways. Jeez. A volunteer shouldn't be treated so roughly, but Mark understood the reasons. He, as a knight, had joined a group. So, as a knight, he had forgotten the rules of chivalry and was careless with the orders. As simple as that. Mark's father probably would have also dished out punishment, but it would have been quite different. By the Goddess! Hurry up with the stupid meeting!

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I really hope everyone had a chance to read that, it was funny!

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Matt only groaned as he resumed his position, now with a sword to carry. This... this was MUCH more difficult. This thing was heavy. How in the world did he lug this thing around all the time? Such strength was beyond his comprehension. He shut his eyes tight, forcing himself to remain calm and collected on the outside. Although if you looked closely you could see a tiny amount of strain that was forcing itself through.
HURRY UP!

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"Oh thank the goddess..." Matt fell back onto the floor, not bothering to stand up. Kain's sword fell next to him. His whole lower half was numb. He curled up into a little ball, contracting the mustles that had been pulled during that experiance. Now that he could concentrate, he went over what Shadow had said. ... was it worth the risk? Stay with them, or just run away... he wasn't exactly on Tensei's 'nice list' anyway. They had sent people after him before. Nothing big, just scouts like back in Ral'Shie. But still, if they found out he had been in contact with Shadow, they would probably focus on him a little more if he was alone. A little more focus that Matt didn't want on him. Either way, he was screwed.
"I'll stay." He said simply. But then he remembered what Kain had said. While Matt sort of wanted to go with Shadow to wherever, he had already wanted to do something that night.
"If you think I should go, that's fine, but I had something I wanted to do." He mumbled. He lifted one of his boots and tapped it on the ground. "Not too important, but still."
Not waiting for someone to respond, he looked up from the floor, still curled up. He looked at Myr, the Mark, then finally at that new girl that seemed to have joined them. "Now that I can talk, may I ask who you are?" He asked her.

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Mark stepped back onto the floor, slowly, trying to ignore the numbness and tingles. "Ah... of course I'm in Shadow. I wouldn't want to seperate from my friends so quickly! And in any case, it's my job to stop bad people." After saying that, Mark copied Matt and flopped gratefully onto the floor, with her knees folded underneath her legs. "Oh jeez, that was hard. Where id you come up with something like that anyways Kain?". It was more of a statement, rather than a question, and the knight rested his head against the wall.

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Hmm? Monks? Really? Neat. Mark didn't really know much about them. "Ahh, well. I think I'm going to go take bath.", he said, but then shooting a glance at Kain. "That is, if I can. But seriously. I need to take off this dress, and get back into normal cloths." After walking to the girl's room, Mark stripped himself of the dress, and replaced it with his common white tunic and brown pants. Carefully, he pinned up his hair, then placing the cap on top. Once Mark had put the dress back into his pack, he looked at his wounds. The knight decided to bandage his new arm wound, and rebandage his old one until Myr came back.

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"... Is he implying something?" Matt whispered to Mark when Kain complained about not being able to have an intellegent conversation. Mark didn't answer, only going to take a bath. "Don't leave me in the room with that psycho!" Matt called after him, getting up and leaving the room. He couldn't exactly follow Mark into her room though, so he just walked down the hall back to his room. On the way back, he heard a soft music comeing from the room next to his. He stuck his ear on the door and listened with a smile on his face. This guy... or girl, Matt supposed, was good at playing the guitar. Instead of choosing to go back to his room to work on his boots as he had intended, Matt sat by this unknown persons door. The music made Matt a little nostalgic. He was begining to want to play a violin again. He had played a little when he was younger, traveling around by himself. He was never that good. Maybe better than average, but he still wasn't great.

After a few minutes, he got up. He needed to work on his boots, not sit around and do nothing. He walked back into his room and grabbed his bag, taking out a few pieces of metal he had aquired in Ral'Shie. He took off his boots and grabbed his dagger, begining to carve out small chunks of the thick leather on the bottom, wedging and glueing in the metal into the holes. Midway through this Matt wondered if this was a good idea, but dismissed it. If it didn't work then he had another pair. No risk, right?

He heard Myr knock on Kain's door after a while, and stuck his head out of his broken door to see. "Hey Myr." He said simply before walking back in and sitting down, continuing his work.

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Matt stepped into the doorway and looked around for a second. He heard the newly introduced Luminitsa through the wall and spared a glance at the door. These walls were really thin... you could hear almost anything someone said in the next room. He walked into Myr room slowly as she sat down, almost testing to see if it was okay to enter. It was a little silly, seeing as Myr had invited them in the first place, but you could never be to careful with woman. Something he had learned the hard way.

He sat down a few feet from Myr, faceing her quietly and waiting for anyone else to show up. He crossed his legs and put his elbows on his knees, his hands folding under his chin. The silence was actually a little comforting to him, after all that had happened. Just because Matt was loud didn't mean he didn't like silence. He actually liked when things were calm, despite how he acted.

Matt smiled softly at Myr, wordlessly thanking her for this. He began to feel his face heat up, but he looked down, shutting his eyes before it could progress any further. He unfastened his own cloak and folded it up nicely, setting it a few feet away from him, before taking off his boots and setting them on the cloak. After putting his dagger with his clothes, he shut his eyes again and focused on listening to the rest of the group come. He was ready when they were.

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Matt raised an eyebrow as Mark left the room. What exactly did she mean by that? He never said he wanted to be alone with Myr. He couldn't recall even thinking it, actually. Myr left to look at Mark's arm, and Matt continued to sit quietly. He silently wondered what this was going to entail. This wasn't going to be combat training, he guessed, so what would she say? Seeing as she was a monk... hmm. He took a deep breath as he wondered what this was going to be like. He didn't have to wonder for long though, as Myr was soon back in the room and explaining the training about mastery of ones self.

It actually sounded like a mindset more than training. Well, no. A mindset was the goal, and you had to train to get there. Myr explained about becoming one, and Matt could grasp the concept, but it was when Myr gave an example that he nodded, understanding her. He got that the mind needed to be one, but the part where she said about not being able to be torn between two things... there were always choices. And two choices could easily be viewed as equal. You needed to balance the pros and cons, and decide from there. Was she saying you needed to be able to instinctively know which to pick? No, that didn't sound right... maybe it was more like being able to see the whole picture? Matt didn't think that was the whole consept, but it was the closest he got. His thoughts were difficult right now, and if he had to write them down (as he just might later, seeing as he had his new journal) he couldn't think of the words to accuratly describe his thoughts. Maybe his vocabulary wasn't big enough.

But Matt mentaly shook himself. That probably wasn't the best example Myr had given. She did sound a bit nervous, so maybe she wasn't so good at explaining. He had a hinting feeling that if it were explained in a slightly different way, it would make perfect sense. He people did learn in different ways, after all. While he himself was a 'type four', as he had dubbed, Myr probably wasn't. She was either a type one or a type two... type two sounded a little better. Rational, logical, analytical. These fit Myr well, Matt thought. Although she wasn't a perfect fit into the catagory. Maybe a cross between them. Her description probably made perfect sense to her, but not to Matt. He was intuitive, a risk taker. He always saw multiple solutions to the same task. So the concept of being whole rattled him a bit. Her people were probably dominate type one or two. Solid, practical, calm, orderly. From what he had gathered, this sounded right. Although he could be wrong. Very wrong.

Oh well. If he was, he was. Trail and error.

"I get the concept..." Matt looked up from the floor he hadn't known he had been staring at. It must have been a minute or two since she had asked if he understood. "Although I'm a little shaky on the details... Feel free to go on, however." He blinked once and looked to his right, feeling the small spider on his shoulder now that was was out of his thinking mode. He lifted a finger up to the small creature, and it crawled on. He carried the spider to the floor on his finger slowly, and it scurried off in the opposite direction, not having bit him once.

He looked into the eyes of the girl ahead of him and waited for her to continue.

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Spontainious. Type three. Matt sighed as Kain put in his own view of the point Myr had made. Even though he would never admit it, Kain HAD just explained it in a better way now, to the point were he thought he understood completly. Still, it made sense. Three and four were closely related, as were one and two. But he'd never admit that.

He glanced at Kain for a second, but didn't say anything. Instead, he turned back to Myr after a second or two, letting her continue.

*blink blink*

Okay, so flexibility was what this was about. Matt actually wondered why he hadn't thought of this earlier, as Myr seemed to move like water. His first impression was that this would be easy, but as he watched Myr go from a arch into a handstand he had second thoughts. Maybe not as easy as he had thought after all.

Matt said nothing as he stood up, going through the position she had described in his head. He lifted his left leg to start, but paused, foot hanging in mid air. He glanced over at his boot, the one he had just been working on (it was his right) and slowly put his left foot down, instead lifting the right one and placing it on the inside of his theigh as she had said. His hands were extended at his sides for a few seconds to steady himself, then slowly they came to the center of his chest and he closed his eyes. He trembled for a moment, but relaxed and steadied himself.

It went on like this, slowly getting harder and harder as she had said. One even reminded him he had a sore neck. But he did them all, a few with a bit of difficulty... an a few with a bump on the head. But even though his mustles were sore, and his head and neck hurt, he was proud of himself for keeping up with her. Even if he was a bit slow.

Myr finished up soon enough, and Matt stood, doing what he now considered a simple stretch of simply extending your arms upward as far as you could. It seemed to help with the soreness. He put his cloak and boots back on, and slid his dagger back into place, then walked so he stood in front of Myr. He smiled warmly and copied the movements of the monk, followed by his own bow, with his right hand over his stomach and his left arm extened backwards behind him.

"Thank you for instructing me." He said simply. "You're a great teacher."

He turned and walked out of the room, smiling. While not exatly the most exciting training he had ever had, that was certainly interesting! Very eye opening. He walked back into his room, pulling out his notebook again, and (after a quick rub of his neck) began to write again.

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Mark watched in horror as Kain started to set up traps; he had obviously forgotten the knight was cleaning Hildebrande there. The info about Kain's sword was interesting, though. Mark quickly left the room before Kain could get to far, thankfully. Those traps looked deadly, or something along those lines. Creaking open the door, Mark hurried into his bed and snuggled down. Removing his pins and cap, the knight wondered how Shadow was doing, and how he would fair against Kain's deathtrap. Within a few seconds, Mark fell fast asleep.

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Matt closed his book with a sigh. It was getting late. He blew on the ink so it would dry faster, then shut his book, setting it down on a table by his bed. he slid his dagger back into his sword and slid the sword out, admiring it.
"What should I do, girl? Stay with then? Or go?" He asked softly. He honestly didn't think the sword would answer him or anything. He wasn't crazy after all. But when he turned the blade, the glint off of the candle shined off of it right into his eyes. He shut them tightly, then opened then after a second or two. "I'll take that as a yes, I suppose..." He raised an eyebrow as he said it. Was talking to a sword weird? ... Yes. Yes it was.
And he was cool with that.
"Goodnight, Circean." He said after a moment, setting the sword under the bed, back in it's sheath. "Oh, and you too, Cimmerian." He said to the dagger. It felt a little weird to say goodnight to a couple of inanimate objects, but whatever. Not like it mattered...
He blew out the candle and layed back, closeing his eyes. In the back of his mind he wondered how Shadow was going to get back, seeing as Kain had no doubt put traps in his room, just as he did back at the campsite. And what about that Luminitsa girl? Where was she? Well wherever she was, she should get to sleep soon. She could probably bunk with Myr and Mark, he supposed. Or even in here if she felt like trusting him. Oh well... it wasn't his problem. She would manage, he was sure.
He took a deep breath and ceased his thoughts, letting himself enjoy the quite around him, and slowly falling asleep.

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Eyes half closed, Mark slowly rose from his bed. He expertly put up his hair, and thankfully he had slept in his clothes. All that was needed to do was to equipt Hildebrande and put on his cloak. The knight made his way downstairs, becoming more awake with each step. Mark yawned and leaned against the downstairs wall. How long would it take for Matt to get ready? Anyways, what happened? Mark stiffened when he overheard the news. Luminitsa. So that was her name? He didn't even know it, and yet... How could people do this? Why would they wan't to do this?

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Matt snapped awake as Kain yelled. While he was awake for the most part, instinct was driving him more than anything. Run. Survive. He grabbed his stuff in one swift movment (He didn't have that much) and simple jumped out the window, swinging upward and sticking his landing on the roof. They were being attacked by an unknown enemy. Most likely Tensei, but that wasn't the only possiblity he was sure. Keep your mind open to new possibilities. He reminded himself.

Wait... Matt silently wondered for a split second. THEY. He was part of a group now! Damndamndamndamndamndamn-

Nope. Too late. They had left. Matt had bounded to the back to check. All he found was Luminitsa's dead body... His mouth dropped open slightly. Why? Why would- NO. Now was NOT the time to be weak. The city was being emptied. If he didn't move, he would be in serious trouble. He hopped down into an ally, and took a deep breath, shoving his emotions aside for the time being. Now was the time to be cool. He opened his eyes slowly, having succesfully changed his mindset. This was usually reserved for a big heist, seeing as you couldn't very well be loud and obnoxious while sneaking, but it was needed. He saw a shadow pass the ally and he ducked behind a crate. He only seen a little of the last two people, but he could see the edge of golden hair slide away, followed by armor and what appeared to be a sword. Myr and Mark, possibly? Matt did nothing.

He pulled the perfume he had gotten earlier out of his bag and put some on. He pulled up his hood and slid out of the ally gracefully. He glanced around for his companions, but they were gone. Unfortunate, but not catastrophic. He worked better alone anyway. He blended into the crowd with practiced ease, and found himself ouside the city, alone. With no one to help him. He looked around for his friends... and Kain. He could have sworn he saw someone enter the forest, but he didn't know who. Damn... if only it was night. He could see and work better at night. Even with his perfect vision it was only a glimpse.

He walked over to the spot where he had seen something, and looked into the forest... he couldn't even tell which way they were going. Kain was good. ... If this was indeed Kain. He scanned the area without moving before he saw something. A patch of bent grass. (Why it was singular Matt could only fathom.)

There was no point. Kain was too good at this to be caught. Even if by some miracle he did find a trail, it would take forever. They would be gone by then, surely... Now. Before he had said it almost instantly, but now was the time to think about it for real.

Stay? Or go? Follow? Or leave?

... He honestly couldn't deside. Tensei would be after him anyway, seeing as they probably knew he had been with Shadow, and there was safty in numbers. But... he still wasn't sure. Something told his instinct that it wasn't the best move. And it had never been wrong before... maybe once or twice at most. Logic or instinct? Which to follow... what to decide.

Matt shook his head. Standing here indecisively wasn't going to get him anywhere. Assassin's would be on him in no time, and here he was, standing like an idiot in the open. No time to think, only act. Even if he could find the group or not, the forest was the best choice to lose pursurers, and Matt knew the forests well. he looked up... the forests varied slightly from place to place. The branches here were high... to high to jump. But he couldn't take land. He reached ihnto his back on brought out some steel wire, then brought out his dagger and tried it to the small loop at the end. He held the dagger in his left hand, and backed up a few feet. He looked behind himself for a split second, then tore off, up the tree trunk a good six feet before he pushed off, and sank the dagger into the trunk of another. He pulled himself up and stabbed the sword next to it, and brought himself up with them both. He hopped off the sword and onto a branched only a few feet up, and leaned far over, just enough to grab the edge of the handle, and pulled it back to him.

He wrapped up his hand in his shirt, then wrapped the wire around that, and pulled sharply. He wire pulled tight, but the dagger was yanked out of the trunk and into his hands. He slid the sword onto his hip, and kept the dagger in his hands, attached to himself via the wire. He sat for a few seconds before he stood up. Silently wishing he had a map and compass, and an emotionless looked on his face, Matt bounded off. Direction? Didn't know. Destination? Didn't care.

Five minutes had him glace back for a second. He could have sworn he saw something... He stopped and jumped back to the previous branches, looking them over. He wasn't leaving any marks on them... was someone following his scent? He looked around. There didn't seem to be anything around... and he was pretty good at finding things. Being a thief required it. He stood up slowly, not making a sound, still glancing around. Still seeing nothing, he switched his dagger to his left hand, emptying his right in case he needed a throwing knife. He bounded off again, ears open.

There. A small rustle. Matt glanced back mid jump, tossing a knife back at the sound. He ran faster.

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As Matt continued ahead he could now hear his pursurers quite clearly. Seems they had given up on being sneaky. But seeing as they hadn't actually caught up with him yet, Matt could infer that these weren't elites. No, they were too slow... either that, or maybe he really WAS as fast as he had though before, and Kain and Shadow were simply special. The former was certainly more believable.

Matt could see the begining of a clearing ahead. The trees were getting father apart... Matt turned sharply to the right. There was no need to go in the clearing. He was faster going from tree to tree anyway. He was moving faster than them, so after a few minutes he couldn't hear them anymore. But there was no way that they weren't still following him, so he stopped for a moment. He needed to know who his pursurers were. A small pair of dark gray dots appeared in the distance. Matt slid his dagger into the handle of his sword as he spoke.

"Oh... just more scouts." He mumbled, willing his cocky attitude to stay down. Now wasn't the time. "I thought we were being chased by someone compitant." The scouts were getting closer. Matt was sure they had heard him. In fact, they actually attacked once they got close enough. At least these scouts weren't distracted like the last one. Matt jumped out of the the way, on to another tree. The two scouts stopped and looked at him silently. Probably planning a form of attack.

Matt studdied them both. There weapons were swords, and he could see the glint of more metal under on of there cloaks. Throwing knives, most likely. It didn't make sense... why were they running from mear scouts? ... Unless they were underestimating him! The actual assassins were probably concentrating on finding the others.
While Matt never liked to be underestimated, he did sigh with relief. He couldn't take an Elite on his own. And Matt was scared to meet the thing higher than the elites... what were they called? Shadow had only mentioned it once... crap, he couldn't remember.

Matt threw a throwing knife at one of the scouts, who only stepped to the side to avoid it. After a smirk, the same scout threw a throwing knife of his own. Matt's eyes widened and he jumped to a different tree, faking a small panic at the foreseen attack. The first scout glared at the second out of the corner of his eyes. Made sense. Not only had the scout revealed a hidden weapon, he also had shown his reflex skills by simply stepping out of the way of the first knife. In Matts mind, this was valuble knowledge. And he himself had acted like he had less skills than he actually did. Well, maybe it wouldn't fool them. Maybe it would. Who knew?

They both lunged at the same time, swords at the ready. Matt ducked and held his own sword up to block one while he twisted out of the way to avoid another. He kicked at ones shoulder , but it was blocked by the scouts free hand. Said hand twisted Matt's foot around by the ankle, and Matt spun around, his other foot lifting off the ground, to kick at his head this time. He jerked his head back but Matt stopped mid swing to replace the movement with a straight kick to the face. The scout was send back a few feet before Matt fell on the branch that served as the ground, which he did. Hard.

The second scout kicked at his shoulder, taking advantage of the thieves momentary opening. Matt tensed his shoulder to minimize the pain. Didn't help much. Even still, Matt arched his back and swung his legs backward to grab the blade of the scouts sword and pull hard. The scouts didn't relinquish his blade as hoped, but Matt still used the momentum to roll forward. This roll was a bad move however, as the branch wasn't THAT wide. Matt slipped and fell, falling down to the ground fifty feet below him.

He stabbed his sword into a tree trunk and hoped it would slow his fall. It did, but he was still falling rapidly. The sword was yanked out of the tree with the last ten feet, and he fell into a bush. He rolled out and shook up shakily, holding his right arm, which was limp. He picked up his sword and held it in his left hand, and faced the two scouts who had already come down onto the ground with him...

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Matt blocked the swing easily with his left hand, but had to jumped back as he second scout swung for his right, where his arm was not moving. He was swung at from both sides again, this time blocking the right with his sword, and actually holding back the second blade with the bottom of his right boot, the sword clashing with the latch he had only recently put in. Hope I don't damage it... Matt thought as he twisted around, jumping away again.

Damn... I can't take them both... Not with only one arm. But they're covering each other when they open up. Its a pretty good defense. Matt ducked under another blade as it sailed over his head, and actually jump and lean back at the same time to avoid one for his feet. He kicked upward and hit one in the jaw, but his leg was grabbed and Matt was yanked upward, into a sword. Matt slapped the blade with his hand to stop it and twist around (Fingers parallel to the sharp side) to yank it out of the scouts hand. He spun it around and hit the other scout in the head, who stummbled back. The scout that was still standing pulled out a throwing knife and and began to use it like a dagger.

He swung the dagger at Matt, who blocked it with the scouts own sword, his own falling to the ground due to using his hand to grab the scouts former weapon. Despite his life being in mortal peril... and he was on the run... Matt was actually excited! These two were about an even match for him, and Matt hadn't felt like he had had a good fight in a while.

Matt jumped back instead of attacking. He threw the scouts weapon into a tree and picked up his own black bladed sword. The scout who had been knocked back jumped over to his partners side, and they were still. They other stared at Matt, waiting for him to make a move. Matt only kicked the scouts sword harshly, and it bent under the pressure. It was useless now. Although just to make sure, he stomped on it a few more times, the blade looking like an 'L' when he was done.

Two enemies. One has a sword, the other has a dagger-throwing knife. Psychology...? Matt frowned. He shook his right shoulder to show his arms discomfort, and stared silently at the two scouts. Then, without warning, he did a very childish taunt. The one that consisted of putting a fingertip under your eye, and pulling down, sticking your tongue out at the same time.

The one on the left was still silent, his face emotionless. But the one on the right... he looked mad. He was the one with his sword still in good shape. He threw a throwing knife at Matt, who only sidesteppedit, smirking. The scout only got madder. He threw another one and Matt, who only sidestepped it again, his smile plastered on his face. The scout with the sword was about to lunge forward, but the other grabbed his cloak, preventing him from it. "He's taunting you you idiot!"

"Good thing you have your mommy to look after you, huh?" Matt grinned almost ear to ear. The sword scout was about ready to burst. Either three or four... Matt thought. He reacts to taunts and insults. I can use this. Matt held his sword out with his left hand, the right still at his side. "I don't even have both arms to use right now, and you can't even bring down poor little Moonlight?"

"THAT'S IT!!" The scout jumped forward. Damn. He's even less patient that me in a normal mood. "You idiot!" The calmer scout rushed forward as well to contain his partner. The scout was swinging erraticaly, desperate to hit the child that had so easily annoyed him.

Thats it... Just a little longer... Matt could only smirk as he was being pushed back. The scout kept swinging and swinging, each one harder than the last. Matt used his anger and blindness to slid his dagger out of the sword, and hide his inside his cloak. Luckily they both hadn't seen it. It was actually kind of hard with one hand.

One of his final blows knocked Matt's sword out of his hand, it flying over to a tree and landing in the dirt. Matt scowled as the second scout, the calm one, grabbed his left wrist and held it behind his back , his other hand held Matt's right shoulder. Matt scowled more as the easily angered scout walked up to him, his sword in hand, a cocky smirk on his face, like Matt had had before.

"Not so tough now, huh?" He glared. "How's it feel to lose?"
"You tell me." The thief spat.
"I don't think so." The scout said simply. The one holding Matt's arms growled. "Shut up and strike. The others are getting away. We need to find them before they get to far."
"Fine, fine." The first scout frowned, raising his sword. He swung.

Matt slapped the sword away with his right hand. The scout was stunned, and Matt used his distraction to focuse on his captor. He elbowed him in the head, and he was released in half a second. Matt reached for his dagger, then shoved the handle into the metal latch in his boot, then swept his foot upward, and stabbed the scout in the chest with it.

He scout didn't move. He couldn't. "SUCKER!!" Matt screamed. He couldn't help it. He pulled his foot back and with another sweeping kick, cut his enemies neck open. The dead man fell to the ground a mear two seconds after his last words. Matt unclipped his dagger and held it in his left hand.

He turned back to the first scout, the level headed one. "You... you tricked us..." He managed to mumble, stunned while he was oon the ground. "Your arm wasn't really hurt..."

"Hell of a lot of good that does you now." Matt smirked. Now this was one on one. He had this in the bag... the scout stood up shakily, holding his head. Matt walked over and picked up his sword, turning to face his opponent. The once brave scout actually started to run away! A throwing knife to the leg took care of that. Matt walked over to his opponent and stepped on his back. Hard. "Running away? Tisk tisk..." He smiled. "I wish I didn't have to kill you, but I can't let you run back to Tensei..."

The man twisted his head up to Matt, a quiet and solom look on his face. He looked back down to the dirt, awaiting his blow. Matt starred at the back of the broken spirits head. It shouldn't be like this... he didn't want to kill him. But Matt just blinked, forcing himself back to his calm and serious state. He drove the sword into the man's head, and stepped away. With a quick wipe of his sword and dagger, he sheathed his weapons.

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Mark whirled around, in responce to a massive amount of birds flying away and a yell from the distance. Sucker...? Matt! But Mark knew that Shadow and Kain would simply see it as a givaway to their position. Now Mark was shaken, and very badly. It had to be Matt! And judging by the yell, he had won a battle! By the Godess, what should he do! Mark could run off in Matt's direction, along with any other enimies in hearing distance, and leave the group behaind. There was a small chance the others would follow, but the knight doubted it. If Mark went now, he might die if anybody too powerful came. And Shadow had said Elites... If Mark didn't go, Matt would probably die. If he did go, they might have a small chance of running. On the other hand... the knight might slow Matt down. Stopping completly, Mark gave a pleading, yet serious gaze to the others. Don't be heartless...

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Matt picked up a couple of throwing knives that weren't lost in the trees and put them back in his leg pouch. He silent ran over the fight in his head as he did. He had won the fight, yet he had taken a great chance. If that plan had failed, he would be dead at the moment. And the other thing that he frowned at has yelling. That had been a huge mistake, as no doubt someone - anyone - was heading for this position. Perhaps one of the group would come for him? No. No, they couldn't. Matt wasn't entirely sure if he wanted back in yet, and on top of that, the only ones that wouldn't slow him down were Shadow and Kain. And if one of them DID show up, Matt would only slow them down. The one good thing was that there would probably be some relief for the group, as he had no doubt attracted attention. But still, even that was a double edged sword, so to speak.

Matt picked up the dead scouts sword. Leave nothing the enemy could use, no matter how small. Matt drew his own sword, and laid the scout sword on the ground. Matt paused from a moment, raising his own weapon, then brought it down, cleaving the other sword in two. Matt silently thanked his good fortune to have a weapon tougher than any steel, and sheathed it. He picked up as many throwing knives as he could carry, and broke the rest. Now it was time to go.

But where to? Anywhere was better than here, but a destination was favorable. He looked up to see the sun, and then looked back down. It was early in the morning, so the sun was east. So that meant... north was this way. Matt pointed to keep track. If north was that way, that meant he had been traveling south... He was still roughly close to Shaharan, so... Matt calculated in his head the rought locations of a few towns and cities. Two places stuck out to Matt was a good destination. The Lake of Prosperity, or Cre' Est. The Lake was always a favorite place for Matt. He loved water, but to meet up with the group, a big city would have better odds. What were the chances of Shadow going to the lake? Maybe a little, but Cre' Est was far more likely... even though the chances were slim anyway.

But there were equaly as likely places for them to go. As Matt ran over all the major places he knew, his hope faultered. The chances of finding the group were slim to none. However, Cre' Est was the capital. And the chances of the group going to the capital eventually? High. He could wait a while to meet up with them. So it was settled.

To Cre' Est. Matt climbed up into the trees again. People would be here any moment, and he needed to move. And assuming that assassin's could all follow by smell like Shadow did, he needed to move fast. He didn't know everything about how smell worked, but he assumed that if he moved fast, there were be less to follow. If he stayed in one place, smell would naturally be stronger. And Matt wasn't sure what higher altitudes would do, but it couldn't be good for it. So Matt climbed and climbed, until the air was thin and it was cold. While Matt used this paths often (Training while you travel, in his mind) that did not mean it was comfortable.

He sighed, and took a few deeps breaths of the cold, thin air. He checked his weapons, made sure his cloak was tied tightly, and ran off, jumping from tree to tree again.

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Mark gazed long and hard into forest before turning and replying to Myr. "Ya. I know. I was... just hoping it could work out. I am a traveler to learn new things, help people, and make friends. I wouldn't help Matt if I went, but I hope I will help people if I go with you guys." Mark gave a forced, yet half-real smile to the others. "From here on out, I'll follow you guys, and any orders that accompany you. I promise. Just lead the way." In truth, Mark had two other reasons to follow them, deep down inside himself. And for those reasons, he promised to be stronger. For them, his family, and his new friends.

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Kain thought about what their next move would be. If they had better data available, Kain would suggest killing their pursuers. as they were now though, Kain felt it would be wiser to simply run. Back in Cre'Est, they could figure out a way to deal with their pursuers.

"Alright, we have to get out of Shaharan. A high profile assassination like this will have suspicions raised for quite some time. it is best if we simply vanish. We will head to the Great Mountain Range, and hopefully lose our pursuers in the process. Raven!" At his call, the large black bird swooped down, landing on Kain's arm. "You need to fly ahead and let us know if it is safe or not, ok? Now go." The bird took to the skies, using her powerful vision to detect anything unusual.

"Raven will be our sentry at night. Animals have much Keener senses than humans, and the assassins will not be able to sneak up on us with Raven as a guard. We will still sleep in shifts. Hopefully, we can reach the mountains quickly. We will now run. Stay in formation, Shadow will cover the rear, Myr and Mark, you two stay in the middle, and I will run ahead. Me and Raven will detect any ambushes or traps in front, Shadow will know if they are behind us, and you two can help if there is a problem. Any questions? If not, we should begin immediately, and keep a hard pace."

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Mark flopped onto the ground, closing his eyes and masking his unease with humor. "Ahhhh...! Sitting down at last!", he joked. Opening one of them, the knight looked up at Shadow. "But hey... Where are you taking us at sundown? Or am I not allowed to know?", he asked casually, yet slightly cautios. Mark quielty sat himself up, and used his legs to propel himself towards a nearby tree. Leaning against it, Mark rummaged through his pack. The knight was searching for something to take his mind off of things. It was childish, but he preffered to play with a small wooden ball he had carved with his father. Mark seriously doubted that any of the other group members would play catch with him, so he took out the ball and tossed it from on hand to the other.

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Teisei. They were... a terrible organization. Mark definately didn't like it. Not one bit. He clenched the wooden ball tightly in his hand. But no. The knight could not bring himself to hold a grudge, or seek revenge. It was foolish, and just plain wrong to have a fixed worldly vision or judgement. Shadow had proven, that even a person who grew up among the ranks of killers, can change for the better. Mark wondered if he himself needed to change. Was he strong enough? True, he young mind was childish and idolic when looking about himself. Mark always saw the person, without judgements and ignoring no part of them. After that, he would usually only focus on the better side of people, but still keeping the lesser side in mind. That was just the way his mind worked. His idolic, childish mind. Could that same mind handle killing people? He didn't know.

Looking around, Mark nodded up to Shadow. "Yup. Will do.", he cheerfully responded. But... How am I going to help? Kain has his smarts, Myr has her sleeping powder, and Shadow has his... Shadowness? Mark then turned his gaze to his side, looking down upon Hildebrande. My sword. That's mostly all I have. Kain has a sword. Matt had a sword. And Shadow might too, but for that Mark was unsure. Were his skills with a sword skillfull enough to be useful? They should be, after all, he had trained ever since he could walk, and understand what his instructors said. Mark could feel Hildebrande blunt itself. Jerk. you always love to do that to me, don't you? Sighing and shaking his head, Mark resumed playing with his ball.

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Mark jumped and looked around, so lost in though was he. The knight stuffed the wooden ball into his now messy pack, and stood up. Stretching ifirst, he trotted after Myr. What would Shadow be teaching them? Survival? Plans to get into the assasin's fortress? Or perhaps his own skills? If so, Mark was curious. Time to see how his skills would fare with whatever Shadow had planned for them. Once he had reached Shadow, Mark asked," So what excactly are we going to do at one of your favorite training spots?"

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Kain could not help it. At the mention of sugar cane, he burst into fits of laughter. No person before Amie has dared have the audacity to refer to Kain in such a manner. Usually, his intimidating presence was enough to command complete respect. But this bold woman decided to poke fun, and Kain was impressed.

"Sugarcane. I suppose so, as I am by nature rather sweet. As for my companions, there is no need to worry about them. One is worse than I am, but the other two are very nice, if occasionally too quiet. And they should return soon... I do not know what they have been up to."

Kain paused to swipe his hand slowly through the fire, watching as the flames played over his calloused hands.

"So, Amie, what brings you out to these dangerous woods? Not many travelers come here, unless they are trying to hide from something, or are up to no good."

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Listening to his views on destiny, the thief simply smiled and continued to sip her tea. She could count on one hand the number of times she had actually had a cup of tea. "Fate is a interesting thing. You never know what it has in store of us. And even if we fought to change it, how could one be sure it wasn't simply Fate that made us fight it? And all the while defying your destiny was precisely what your fate was all along?" Giving a soft laugh, she returned the cup to her lips. "Me? I just go with it. This could be fate," she gestured between them and continued in a singsong voice, "You just never know Sugar."

With the last few sips, she closed her eyes and savored the taste. Kain asked what she could do and the answer bounced around her thoughts. Reopening her eyes, she looked down inside the tea cup and frowned as she swirled the little bit of liquid that was left. Grinning she mused, "Well, one thing is for certain. I won't be telling anyone's future."

"What I can offer would depend on the task at hand I suppose. I regretfully admit that I am not well educated or formally trained in fighting. However, I will assure you that I am not entirely worthless. My talents surprise even me at times." She glanced at Kain, trying to read his feelings about what she just confessed, not many she encounter were privy to that bit of information. It was a chance telling him, she hoped she wouldn't regret. "I may not be talented in hand-to-hand combat and I may not be as intelligent as you Sir, but when the time comes, I guarantee that I will be useful."

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Ameriah laughed out loud, "I'm sorry to disappoint you. All I see are leaves." She shrugged, "Wild card? I like the sound of that." Finished with her tea, she gave the cup back to Kain. "And if Fate allows, I will definitely save your life. If for no other reason than to see the shocked expression on your mysterious face afterward."

"I wish I had more to offer. Most of my food is not that great of quality. A bit of dried meat and stale bread. Oh, and blackberries. They make for an excellent breakfast." She rambled for a bit as he prepared a stew. "I am not picky when it comes to food. I've found that you eat what your lucky enough to get and be thankful." Shutting her mouth then, she hoped he didn't question that. Giving up that she was a child of the street for the majority of her life wasn't something she really wanted to reveal just yet.

"Actually...," she thought for a moment. "How about some fish? Not too far back is a brook. When I refilled my water-skin, I noticed some good sized trout."

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Hopping up, she turned to get her bearings from where Kain had originally drug her from. Hesitating, she turned back to Kain, nearly bumping into him, "It's not far, you shouldn't get into any trouble. And how could anyone be mad when they are eating delicious fried trout?" Smiling, she turned and went into the woods. It was darker and she had to squint for a while before her eyes grew accustomed.

Not being able to remain quiet for more than a few breaths, she started again, "I've never been much of a hunter. It's just... And don't laugh!", she warned. "I don't like killing cute animals. I don't mind so much if they aren't cute. Like a snake, I could kill them all day but a cute little bunny? I just can't do it. Not saying that I wouldn't eat it, I just do not want to murder it and then have to look into it's eyes as I strip it and think about how it could have little bunny children waiting for it to return to their little burrow." She laughed, "OK, you can laugh. It does sound crazy."

A few moments later, they arrived at the bank of a brook. She studied their surrounds for a moment, gave Kain a grin and plopped down on her stomach right by the water's edge. Rolling up her sleeves, she asked, "Ever caught fish by hand?"

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((please ignore))

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(((The Villa of Winds is about two days walk northeast of Roda Valley where Trai' Koussa is. It lies just outside the mountain pass between Cre' Est and Shaharan. We are to the west in Cre' Est right now and will be on our way through the pass very soon.)))

Shadow nodded to Drake's response and returned his attention forward.

As they exited the gate Shadow kept a close eye on the guards stationed there, as he didn't like something about them. But he kept his observation to himself as he continued on since they were obviously too weak to be a threat.

These last few months, Shadow had decided to personally train with everyone in the group in pure ground and pound combat, something to which Drake had taken to with great excitement, and Amie had taken to with dread. Two solid minutes of sparring with Shadow, even while he was holding back, was the equivalent of taking on a about ten average soldiers such as the ones he saw at the gate. Drake and Amie had progressed substantially in their combat prowess, Drake so much so that Shadow wondered if he needed to hold back any longer.

I'll try not holding back next time and see how well he does He thought to himself as they continued on.

Myr's time with Shadow was spent more on deflection and avoidance which was something she was already very good at, but Shadow's recent change gave her a slightly new method of training to work with.

Keeping the sensitivity of her nature in mind, he worked with her on timing close and long range deflection attacks with openings that the others gave her so that they could take care of the actual combat while she flowed swiftly and smoothly through attacks. These maneuvers focused on using opponents as weapons themselves such as throwing them into each other, or shoving them in the direction of her comrades so they could bring them down. This training was nothing new to her and was not designed to forbid her from using knockout blows if she felt them necessary or found the opening, but rather they were designed so that she would not even have to go that far if she didn't have to. She had grown much through the past few months, and was now one of the fastest in the group in terms of pure speed.

Ameriah hadn't liked the training at first, but as she grew stronger and faster, and her techniques began to improve, she began to enjoy the time spent with everyone in the ring. Shadow, being her older brother, was quite fond of pushing her limits more than the others did. He had more than once received a scolding for it, but it was nothing he wasn't used to. In fact, he almost enjoyed listening to her yell at him. It gave him the feeling that she really was his sister and that helped to make the fact that his family was a little larger then he originally thought sink in. It was a nice feeling to know that he still had family aside from Era in this world.

Linde was the only one who Shadow never held back on, and she neither did with him. Their sparring sessions were dirty, brutal, and savage, often ending in light bloodshed from either one or both of them. On one occasion, Shadow had cracked one of her ribs and she had broken one of his fingers before the sparring had come to a close. Despite their injuries, they had continued fighting until time was up, and even then they sometimes loathed to end the session.

Shadow continued to keep an eye on the soldiers as they finally broke free of the town and entered the forest beyond it. Once in the forest, Shadow was able to finally calm down a bit and let out a sigh as he took in the forest air. The sun was still high in the sky, but it was about time that he and the others stopped for a break. They had been walking all day so far and had journeyed quite the distance in the ten hours they had spent wandering. Shadow looked to the others over his shoulder, and none of them seemed to be tired or really in need of rest, which made him quite proud. Their stamina and their leg strength had increased so much over the last few months that they didn't notice the length of the journey.

"I think we'll take a breather here. We've done enough walking for now." He said as he sat down on a boulder nearby and dropped his pack to the ground.

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Myr had spent most of the morning in conversation with Drake and Amie, though generally this meant trying very hard to avoid answering too many of the former's questions. Why he had taken an interest in the life she'd led before she'd taken to helping Shadow (insofar as what she was doing could be considered helping, anyway), she could not say. She was not bothered by it, exactly, but... even so, there were still things that she did not have any particular eagerness to share.

Still, if she decided to, by this point, he'd probably be the first to know. Despite her very rationalized decision to try not to get too much closer to anyone than was absolutely necessary, his persistence, Amie's cheerfulness, and Kain's humor particularly were wearing her down in this respect. Linde was kind, and truthfully Myr could relate to Shadow best of the lot of them, but the two of them often seemed a self-contained universe, and she had no desire to intrude upon it. Add this to the fact that she was the sort of person for whom others had to make the initial overtures, and though she trained often with Shadow, it was the other three to whom she was closest.

She like the rest of them missed Kain rather a lot, and was glad to be going to see him. When Shadow called a halt, though, she did not protest. Though her endurance was such that she did not need to rest now, she could appreciate the consideration. not everyone had spent a year of their lives doing nothing but walking for days or weeks on end, after all. So she selected a suitable spot on the ground and sat, breathing deeply of the fresh air. The Villa of Winds was not a place she had visited before, so she was somewhat curious to see what sort of structure it might be, if indeed it were a structure at all.

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When Shadow decided they stopped, they stopped. Drake didn't much mind this; it was one less decision he had to make, and though endurance was certainly a trait that most of them shared, he wouldn't say no to the opportunity for a rest. Plating himself on the ground beside Myr, he patted a third spot beside himself in invitation to Amie.

Reaching into his pack, the tall man removed a loaf of bread, a wheel of cheese and a knife, offering decent helpings of each to anyone in his vicinity. Travel food wasn't always the best, and the bread was a little hard, but he doubted they had time for a fully-cooked meal, and he was all about making the most of the break in terms of recovery. Who knew how much of the next two days would be spent without the opportunity to do the same again?

Weirdly, Drake was kind of the mother hen of the group, at least in that he was the one who tended to insist that everyone eat enough and sleep when given the opportunity. Not even Shadow was safe from his slightly-overbearing but fundamentally good nature. It wasn't his fault that he cared. Well, okay, perhaps it was, but that didn't mean he was going to stop anytime soon.

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Ameriah was actually a little surprised at the break. She usually had to resort to throat clearing or some other form of dramatics to get him to stop for a bit. Not that she needed a rest at the moment, but rather she welcomed the delay.

Maybe it was just her, but it felt odd going to meet Kain. As a group they had not seen him in months. There had been contact, yes, but it was not the same. The others seemed to be excited, for he was missed, but for whatever reasons of the gods, Amie felt leery. It could just be the fact that she was not used to people coming and going from her life. Usually once she parted ways with someone, it was the last time she would ever see them again.

Taking the offered seat, she sat with a sigh and toyed with her bag, straightened her shirt and checked her water-skin. The sitting position lasted until Drake offered food, to which she brushed off with a small shake of head and a wave of her hand. With that, the girl was up again and pacing about the area with only the occasional hair tugging.

Myr was always the quiet one who limited her questions and comments and Drake was more of the go-with-the-flow sort, so that left Amie to ask most of the annoying travel questions. “How much further to this Village of the Wounds, or whatever?” she asked between pacing about. “Is it like ruins or some spiritual place of sorts or is it an actual village with people and shops and inns?” Her questions rattled off in a way that seemed she was thinking aloud, but mostly the were directed to Shadow, who was usually the only one who could or would answer her.

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Shadow looked up at Amie.

"The Villa of Winds used to be in the possession of the Kaissen family, one of Cre' Est's most wealthy and respected families until their sudden demise four years ago. The Villa is simple, and is more of a small town enclosed within a large stone fence about nine fee high. It has all the normal shops and whatnot, inns and even a safe house during natural disasters and raids. Nothing unusual that you should be aware of, but there is a lot of security these days since the Villa is coming under new ownership at the beginning of the new year in about three months."

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Amie thought it slightly amusing that Shadow immediately thought her suspicious of their destination. Was she really that worrisome with each town they came to? One would think she would not continue to be so apprehensive while surrounded with friends and family in one case. It was something that she needed to work on. That list was getting longer each day, Amie sighed in thought.

Glancing over to Shadow, she whirled around and leaned on a tree near where Drake and Myr were sitting. “Villa of the Winds. Sorry”, she corrected as she crossed her arms at her mid-section. Curiosity peaked, for the moment she halted her pacing and fidgeting, “What happened to the Kaissen family?”, she asked slowly, not sure she really wanted to know the answer. Then with more angst, “And who is moving in? How did someone become so lucky to get a little town to call their own?” With a small tap of her foot, she added to her brother, “And you still did not answer how much further…”

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Shadow blinked when she tapped her foot at him, but said nothing for a few seconds.

"Hhh... Lord Kaissen, master of the house fell deathly ill four years ago. That illness was thankfully isolated and died with him, but the rest of his family fell victim to looters and pillagers when the Villa experienced a short time of anarchy with the loss of their Lord. This period lasted about two full weeks before it was finally dealt with by the Royal Guard of Cre' Est when a small battalion arrived to quell the situation. The family that is moving in is another wealthy and respectable family with whom I have no quarrel with. The family name is Sirenta, translated as Serenity. And to answer how much farther, we're about two days walk from the Villa if we continue at the pace we had set before."

Linde walked over to Shadow and sat down about a pace away, smiling as she watched the two of them talking. It was nice that they were bonding so well, even if on the outside it appeared more as quarreling. Lately Linde had been a little reclusive, staying to herself and speaking very little as time had progressed.

Shadow leaned back against a tree behind the boulder he sat on and closed his eyes. Even though his body was not tired, his mind was from everything they had been doing lately. Plotting their course, coming up with the execution of the assassinations and coordinated efforts to make them clean and quiet, helping Drake keep track of supplies, watching everyone's health and energy levels as they traveled, keeping in contact with Kain every step of the way and trying his best to train everyone in various forms of combat and tactics had Shadow's mental stamina at its limit.

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Amie opened her mouth to ask more questions but hesitated when Linde came over and sat beside Shadow, who seemed to be settling down for a moments rest. Which probably meant she should quiet down for now. With another sigh, she pushed herself from the tree and plopped down beside Drake once again. Plucking at some grass, she figured she should take advantage of the break and try to calm herself down for a moment.

Grinning, she reached over and took a piece of bread from Drake's hand right as he was about to pop it in his mouth. The bread quickly found it's way into her mouth, which was followed by a playful smile from Amie. "Thanks, "she said after chewing. With that she laid back on the grassy surface to stare up at the sky. It seemed to be a clear day with no threats of dark, rain pregnant clouds, which meant they were likely to make their traveling goal of two days.

Two days that would go by fast and slow at the same time. The kind that once you thought back on would seem like nothing but at the time seemed like a whole month. The thought had her crossed feet bouncing. Frowning at the sky, she rolled over to lay on her stomach and looked over Drake to see Myr. Amie wondered if Myr would have anything in that pouch of hers to ease a case of nerves. Likely if she did, the rest of the crew would have already been shoving it down the girls throat months ago. Smiling at that thought, she propped her chin up with her palm.

"Have anything sweet?" she asked Drake. Sugar was likely the last thing she needed, but she suddenly had an unusual craving for it.

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Myr wondered why they were meeting Kain at the Villa of Winds of all places, but she certainly wasn't going to protest if that did indeed turn out to be the case. She watched as Drake sliced himself some bread and cheese, and laughed when Amie swiped it from him. They were so much like siblings it never ceased to amaze her. Much more so than Shadow and Amie, actually, though they had been making some progress, it seemed.

Amie asked for something sweet, and Myr pulled the bag of provisions over in her direction, rummaging through it until she came upon what appeared to be cinnamon rolls. "I think so," she replied, even though the question had not been directed at her. Though... when had Drake had time to buy cinnamon rolls? there was that time he had slipped off at the last village they had passed through. That must have been it.

Ordinarily, Myr would have felt uncomfortable in the extreme giving Amie something that was not hers, but it was Drake's and honestly he was freer with his generosity than any of the rest of them, at least from what she could tell. Unsticking one of the rolls from the others, she handed it over to Amie. "Excuse my fingers, if you would," she apologized. They were a bit low on utensils at the moment. She offered the other to Drake, assuming that since it was his, he'd probably want it before it went stale. "You seem a bit anxious," she observed of Amie, and though she did not say it, she could guess why.

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Drake grumbled something about 'too skinny' when both Myr and Amie initially refused his offer of food, but was surprised (in a sense) a few minutes later when the thief plucked the bread right out of his hand. He'd known it was coming a few seconds beforehand, but hey, if it meant she was going to eat something...

He made a minor show of huffing his irritation, but then she asked if he had anything sweet, and his mind returned to the cinnamon- wait, was Myr? Ah, yes, it seemed the monk had found them, and he crossed his arms with false petulance as she handed one to Amie. She offered the other to himself, however, and he broke the act and grinned, splitting it in half before handing one of them back to her.

"You guys want some?" he asked of Shadow and Linde, knowing full well that they would probably refuse anyway but not seeing that as an excuse not to ask in the first place. Contrary to how he might seem to an outsider, her had not been raised without manners. Nor did he mind his friends' flagrant pilfering of his foodstuffs. What was his was theirs as far as Drake was concerned.

Myr pointed out that Amie seemed anxious, and he immediately saw his chance for payback. "Oh, that's just because she wants to see Kain again, obviously. Right, Amie?" He quirked an eyebrow, adopting an expression innocent as the summer sky, as though he had not just asked a question laden with teasing implications or something.

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Linde smiled to Drake's offer and gladly accepted, taking a single roll from him and splitting it in two. She looked over to Shadow, who still had his eyes closed and his arms now crossed in front of his chest. Her smile withered slightly at seeing what was obviously a refusal to accept the food, and so she set his half down on a small piece of cloth next to her.

Shadow listened to everything that went on around him and smiled at Drake's little accusation that Amie was just anxious to see Kain. He used his boot to tug the cloth that his half of the cinnamon roll was on, and as it flew over towards his other boot, he kicked it into the air towards himself and caught in his left hand. He took a bite out of it without saying a word, but did open his eyes and looked over at Linde, who was a bit shocked at his sudden antic. He winked at her, the smile still on his face and closed his eyes to continue eating.

Linde had to take that in for a second, because Shadow was acting contrary to his own state of mind. She knew he was exhausted, yet still he found a way to behave in a comical manner by doing something that Kain was likely to do. She couldn't help but smile after that, as she let out a small laugh at his little display and leaned closer to him as they both enjoyed the cinnamon roll that Drake had so graciously offered.

Her eyes turned to Amie, as she knew that the girl was likely to throw some kind of retort back at Drake for what he just said, and she had a feeling Shadow was waiting for the same thing.

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“We can’t all be as healthy as your barmaid, Drake,” she replied teasingly at the ‘too skinny’ mumble. She was of course referring to an incident that happened about a month or so back when a portly barkeep had taken a slightly obsessive infatuation with Drake. Amie was quick to come to his rescue by explaining to the lady in great detail of an unfortunate hunting accident that prevented him permanently from having children. The maiden all but avoided him after that and the group, expect for perhaps Drake, had a pretty good laugh. Amie, of course, has been anticipating his revenge with slight fear ever since.

“Mmm. Perfect.” She took that roll from Myr with a thank you and brought it to her nose to breath in the deliriously, wonderful smell of baked bread and cinnamon that promised to be perfectly delicious. Slowly she tore the roll apart admiring the baker’s handiwork. Before she could take a bit, Myr made an observation of Amie’s behavior causing the girl to hesitate in the action. She knew Myr was rarely the type to press, so perhaps it would be best to simply shrug it off. However, Drake was quick to seize the opportunity to rebirth an old topic of teasing.

Rather than resort to the usual dramatics that were signature of Amie (and perhaps what made her so fun to rile), she simply shrugged and kept her eyes downward. “Something like that…” Drake’s accusation was a likely explanation and it was surprisingly the lesser of the two evils that was worrying her, so that is what she let him assume. Finally, she savored the cinnamon roll, eating with dainty slowness.

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(Double post; please ignore)

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"I thought we all agreed never to mention that again," Drake grumbled pointedly, though when she willingly admitted to the second of his accusations, he blinked in surprise. Okay, now he knew there was something wrong with her, because there was no way Amie would admit to something like that unless it was to hide something else.

He shot a sidelong glance at Myr and shrugged. Well, he supposed he wouldn't press her for it just yet. It was probably better to let her tell them on her own terms, since chances were it had something to do with her past. So instead, he turned to teasing the woman on his other side. "So, Myr, when are we all going to get to see this infamous temple of yours?" He found it odd that thought it was on a mountain somewhat close to Trai'Koussa, she had never expressed the slightest interest in visiting it.

This form of question was one he asked often and never really received a straight answer to, but he was nothing if not persistent.

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Myr nibbled at the cinnamon roll; though she generally enjoyed sweet things, this one was very rich, and as a vegetarian who ate little more than plant life most days, she'd have to be careful lest it make her sick.

When the topic turned to her (again; that man was stubborn in his insistence that she speak almost as much as the rest of them), she sighed. "Trust me when I say that none of you would particularly wish to visit. It is a marvel of architecture, but your reception would be... less than warm." Because you would be with me.

Her relationship with her childhood home and the people in it was complicated, to say the least. Some of them would treat her with chilly indifference for leaving as she had. Others... well, it would be worse, or at least worse to her mind. Coldness she could deal with, as it was certainly better than the alternative. Shaking her head, she indicated that she did not wish to speak further of it.

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Shadow's eyes opened part way and his gaze slid to each member of the group in turn as he listened to the conversation that ensued. The idea of visiting Myr's temple was not that appealing to him as he'd had more than enough to that environment to last him a lifetime, but either way the others seemed to enjoy the thought. However, Myr's behavior suggested she didn't favor the idea herself, but Shadow couldn't be certain since the little monk was so hard to read effectively.

He finished his cinnamon roll and closed his eyes again. He began to listen very closely to the surroundings, and he heard an incredibly faint sound off in the distance that he didn't like. It was something that he'd been conditioned to listen for since he was a boy, and was not something that most others would understand if they'd heard it. Linde however had been taught by Shadow to listen for the sign and had apparently heard the sound through their friends conversation as well, and she regarded him with a knowing look as they nodded to each other.

"... That will slow us down if we don't get moving soon..." He whispered to her.

She nodded her head and looked briefly in the direction of the sound they'd heard, a blank and emotionless expression on her face. Shadow's face told a similar story as the two of them continued to listen to the noises in the distance. As he continued to listen he began calculating how much time they had left, and was satisfied with the amount.

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Myr's eyes narrowed slightly as she picked up on a noise that didn't quite belong, but she had no idea what it meant or even if it was important. She figured there was no way Shadow could have missed it, though, and f he wasn't doing anything about it, then she wasn't going to worry. Instead, she finished her repast quietly, washing the cinnamon roll down with some vaguely herb-scented water from her waterskin.

Standing, she shook the leaves and other accumulated matter from her cloak, looking over to the leader of their little group. "Are you yet ready to depart, or should we wait a bit longer?" Her eyes almost-unconsciously flicked in the direction the sound had come from. It made her vaguely uneasy that she didn't really know what it was. It seemed like the kind of sound a person might make, but... it was too indistinct to say for sure, and even then there was no way of telling whether such a person would be hostile or not.

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#, as written by