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Zhang Xaio

"Life and Death are merely two sides of the same illusion."

0 · 431 views · located in Modern Fantasy

a character in “Branches of Power”, as played by GothBabeAlex

Description

Zhang Xiao
Image
"Life and Death are merely two sides of the same illusion"


Profile

Name:
Zhang Xiao
Nickname:
Xiao
School:
Blood Magic
Race:
Half-Asian
Age:
16
Gender:
Female
Sexual Orientation:
Lesbian
Theme Song:
The Devil's Trill Sonata

Details

Hair:
Black
Facial Hair:
None
Eyes:
Forest Green
Build:
Petite
Skin Tone:
Faintly Tan
Height:
5'0"
Weight:
105 lbs (47.5 kg)
Handed:
Left
Body Markings:
Sleeve Tattoos, and tattoos above her eyebrows. A pierced belly button and lip.
Scar Tissue:
Scars on her wrists from self-inflicted wounds, stress marks around her neck.

Clothes

Head
None

Neck
Zaisu- Red cord wrapped around her neck. A heavy lead necklace of a crescent moon facing upwards.

Chest
None

Back
None

Arm/Shoulder
None

Right Hand
None

Left Hand
Telous-A lead bangle

Right Accessory
None

Left Accessory
Several silver earrings

Waist
A hip hugging Oni-charm that rests above her crotch, functionally useless.

Legs
Black Leather leggings with purple decorations at the hips.

Feet
Geta (wooden sandals)


Weapons

Primary Weapon
Weapon Name:
Zaisu
Weapon Type:
Cords
Material:
Enchanted fibers
Ammo:
Sometimes Arrows or Rocks
Length:
5 meters (furthest reach)
Weight:
7 kg
Weapon Description/Info:
Zaisu is an enchanted length of cord that wraps around her neck and is animated by her will, though it still has a will of its own. It pulls and tugs, using her neck as its bracing point. It is capable of lifting and throwing things and can launch arrows out with the same velocity as a bow.
Secondary Weapon
Weapon Name:
Telous
Weapon Type:
Bangle
Material:
Magically woven lead and a single silver hair woven into the metal.
Ammo:
None
Length:
8 cm
Weight:
.5 kg
Weapon Description/Info:
Telous is an enchanted bangle she wears around her left wrist, it slowly sips at her power, storing the excess that she doesn't use. It holds this as a sort of magical pool, energy she can draw from even if she herself is exhausted. She has no was of removing the bangle however as it has bonded itself to her wrist and is quite possessive of her.


Bio

Marital Status
Single (Never been kissed)

Relatives
Father- Vice Commander Hetaigo Xiao (Deceased)
Mother- Unknown Prostitute (Deceased)

Birthplace
The outpost village of Trillidad, a coastal trading town.

Occupation
Unemployed/Wannabe Mercenary

Bio/History
Zhang Xaio was born to a prostitute, who died during childbirth and was unceremoniously dumped in the ground in an unmarked and unattended grave. Her father however, the war hero Hetaigo Xiao, who at the time was a retired diplomat in his sixties, took care of the girl till she was fifteen. He unfortunately passed away without a will and his wife and children split up his estate with nothing left to the bastard daughter Zhang. She is a bold person, and does not care for lying. She is brass and does not dodge around honesty. Her father raised her to believe that the world was only changed by two things, mutual desire, and military might. She sees the world a little differently, thinking that much of the world is controlled by random circumstance.
.

So begins...

Zhang Xaio's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hanzo Susanoo Character Portrait: Roger Lorry Character Portrait: Jaida Knowls Character Portrait: Rita Saotome Character Portrait: Lily Crishon Character Portrait: David Young
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#, as written by Basta
Branches of Power-The Beginning


This was it. Her first recruit. Lily Crishon attempted to look normal, sipping her tea and casually glancing over the passersby, but inside she was wound up tighter than a rubber band ball. Any one of them could be the government agent, a fact that made her even more nervous. What did this person look like? Were they here with backup? Too many variables were unaccounted for and she didn't like it.

Less than three months ago, Lily had been a part of a crazy, Goddess worshiping cult that wanted to take over the world. When she'd found out, she bailed faster than a sprinter off of the starting line. Of course they tried to track her down, but after losing four agents to her, they just decided to deal with her when the time came, if ever. Bad choice on their part.

As soon as she left, Lily started spreading fliers and job offers, informing any one who would listen that she wanted to train up an elite group of mages to combat an "evil rival faction of bastards", as she called it. Disclosing the true intent of the cult would only cause them to re-locate and go underground, ruining her chances of finding them. Last week she hit pay dirt when she opened a mysterious e-mail from someone she'd never heard of before. The message inside was simple.

"Is the offer still open?" Of course she'd replied in the affirmative. Lily wasn't going to pass up an opportunity to get someone to her cause. The next day, another e-mail arrived, this time stating that a high ranking government official was interested in working for her. They'd asked for a time and place to meet. Being a bit suspicious, Lily told them to meet her in two days at her favorite café in her new hometown, Fagiolo Birrai, at three PM. The name always made her chuckle a bit, but they had the best coffee in town. That, plus home field advantage was always nice to have.

Lily pulled her long-coat closer around her body, trying to hide Holimel's Eye. While most people weren't unfamiliar with magical artifacts, the mundane human being still acted wary around those that possessed them. One never knew when such a device might backfire and explode. She didn't want to scare away this newcomer after all, seeing as to how they would be her first recruit if they met the bill. Just as she looked down to check Holimel's Eye for the time, someone plopped into the chair opposite her which caused Lily to jump and swear loudly.

"My, my...A bit skittish are we?" chuckled the man. "Lorry, Roger Lorry. At your service," he declared, as if he expected her to gasp in surprise and begin to fawn over him. Lily simply raised an eyebrow at her guest, saying nothing. When she finally did open her mouth, she simply muttered something under her breath and looked at the man intensely. After a minute, she frowned and tried again. Lorry smirked at her, as if he knew something painfully obvious that she didn't. After she tried a third time, he made a small amused sound and put his hand on hers. Before she could recoil and smack him, a small trickle of energy seeped into her arm, causing her eyes to widen.

"Satisfied?" he asked with that same cocky grin. "There's not many of us around, Lily Crishon. I think you'd like to have someone with my talents on your side. However, before we go any further, let's talk...Rewards. I don't work for free, after all." Lily frowned at Roger, but still said nothing. She mulled it over in her head for a second, her eyes wandering over his form absentmindedly. Finally, she sighed and pulled out her wallet.

"How much?" Roger regarded her cooly for a moment, then replied with "Two hundred thousand a month." Lily's eyes practically boggled out of her head as her mouth spluttered and grunted, uncomprehending. That was more money than she'd ever seen in her life! How was she gonna pay him such an exorbitant fee? Lorry couldn't keep a straight face any longer, however, and he guffawed at her expression.

"I'm joking! Five thousand a month will more than cover my bill. Your expression was priceless though! When do we start?" Desperately restraining herself from jumping the table and strangling the man, Lily shook her head and exhaled through her nose, trying to calm herself.

"Now. You get your government fingers onto the Internet and find anything you can about other magically gifted people. Come to my place when you get your equipment. It's on Fiore che Sboccia street. The third floor, fifth door on the right. Big stone apartment building, you can't miss it. I'll leave the door unlocked."

Lorry nodded and unfolded himself from his chair, stretching out the kinks in his legs and sauntering away. Lily quickly made her way home, setting up a good area to meditate in her living room. Just as she was about to settle in, Roger budged the door open and dumped a steel suitcase onto the floor, letting out a breath he'd been holding.

"Just set up anywhere, then? Right. I'll be here in the kitchen," he stated, more to himself than anyone else. Lily ignored him and plucked Holimel's Eye out of its socket. Letting out a deep sigh, she allowed herself to tune into the magical device, plugging herself into the Ley Line that ran under the street next to her and let her mind expand itself along the entirety of the system.

Over the next 36 hours, Lily and Roger worked diligently, using their respective talents to compile a decent list of potential candidates. They narrowed the list from hundreds to twenty, and ultimately to the final six.

"So, we've got a Necromancer, one David Young, a Conjurer named Hanzo Susanoo, an Elementalist named Isabel Fayth...pretty name...Two Alchemists, Jaida Knowls and Rita Satome respectively, and a Blood mage named Zhang Xiao. Everyone else was either too far off to make it worth it or not talented enough, huh? I guess it'll have to do. Let's get moving, Lily. We've got a lot of work ahead of us.

First on the list, David Young, wasn't hard to track down once they knew his name. Lily and Roger attended Sunday Mass, waiting until all of his "flock" had left before they approached him. While skeptical of Lily's so called cult, he was more attentive when Roger let slip that he knew David was a Necromancer. Since it wasn't exactly common knowledge, he concluded (correctly) that these two strangers either had a lot of power, or were telling the truth. Since the first option didn't make much sense taking into account Lily's story, he told them that once he'd arranged a replacement Father for the church, he'd accompany them. Lily handed David a plane ticket for the end of the month and told him that she'd come to pick him up from the airport in Italy at the appointed time.

Next, they hunted down Isabel Fayth. Likewise, knowing her name put her up on a registry for a bar. The duo ordered a pitcher each, and a bowl of peanuts. When Izzy brought out their order, she caught a glimpse of a stack of papers that Lorry was leafing through with her name and photo on it. Roger had figured that this girl would be very down to earth, and possibly a bit cynical, so he figured the best way to get her co-operation was to show her that they knew everything about her, but were still willing to ask for her help. Isabel was of course on her guard and more than a little bit confrontational towards Lily and Lorry, as expected. She calmed down a bit when Lily pulled out Holimel's Eye and showed her that she was similarly a mage. Lily explained why they needed her help, with Lorry helpfully interjecting that it was a paying job. He named monthly salary with a four figure sum almost double what she made in her current job. Isabel turned in her two weeks notice on the spot. Lily produced another plane ticket, repeating the instructions that she'd given David.

Jaida Knowls was the next one in their sights. Her shop was harder to find, since it was one of those hole-in-the-wall places, but find it they did. Jaida proved to be one of the more striking individuals that Lily had the fortune to meet up with, what with her pale complexion and white hair. Still, she looked good spirited enough. Jaida didn't seem to be much of a conversationalist, but Lily wasn't surprised since she was asking the other woman to pack up all her things and just go with a complete stranger, on an unknown mission that may or may not cost her her life, so all things considered the Alchemist was quite friendly. Still, it took a bit of negotiating (and some legal background hint-dropping by Lorry) to convince the girl to come with them. While Lily didn't like strong-arming someone into a potentially deadly situation, she needed this woman. Lily planned to make it up to her later...somehow. After it was all said and done, Jaida had decided to accompany them instead of taking the plane route.

Saotome Sundries came up as their following destination. They made quite a name for themselves in the world of potions and poultices, but Lily hoped that Rita wouldn't be one of those types that believed she was too good for adventuring. Roger and Lily had tried to brainstorm a way to get this girl on their side, but their salvation came from a direction they weren't expecting. Jaida started chatting Rita up about various alchemical techniques and methods, warming the other girl for Lily and Roger's approach. Lily appealed to Rita's desire to improve herself, claiming that she'd improve another hundred fold in her time with their group. Lorry touted Lily's imaginary fountain of wealth, claiming that Rita would get paid compensation for having to leave her business and mother behind. In the end, why Rita decided to join were known only to her, but she agreed. Lily gave her the now standard plane ticket and explained what was expected of her.

Zhang Xiao, daugher to the famed Vice Commander Hetaigo Xiao was deceptively hard to track down. After Vice Commander Xiao died, his wife and children fell upon his earthly goods like carrion animals, leaving nothing for his youngest. Luckily she was well known in the city, and the trio traced her to an inn downtown. Zhang, after having lived on her own for a year, had hardened up and was a little belligerent towards them, however when they offered her a chance to gain back the riches she'd had before plus interest, as well as a journey to prove her strength to herself and the world, she changed her tune. Xiao, having very little in the way of worldly possessions, took up travels with Lily's growing crew.

The last man on the list, and certainly the hardest to locate, was the mysterious Conjurer, Hanzo Susanoo. They decided that the most plausible way to find an assassin was to put out a hit request, however, and that's just what they did. Roger Lorry subtly spread a rumor that someone was looking for a man named Haze and wanted to kill him. Lorry left an address at each place he visited, hoping that one of them would do business with the shadow man at some point. Apparently, word didn't take long to travel, as the next night one of the wards that Lily had rigged up in their temporary staying place alerted her of an intruder. Lily got a lucky shot on Haze with Holimel's Eye, catching him off guard and giving her enough time to convince him that he wasn't really wanted dead. Quite the opposite, actually. Lily explained that she wanted someone of his talents to accompany her on her journey to stop a crazy cult from destroying the world. Haze accepted immediately, simply because he had nothing better to do with his time. While surprised, Lily was pleased that she didn't have another person to owe exorbitant amounts of money to.

Finally, the time came to unite everyone and get started. While each of them were gifted in their own way, they still weren't a coherent team and they all had room to grow. Once back in Italy, Lily hijacked a large flatbed truck and picked up the remaining three members of her new group from the airport. The ride to her hidden castle was long, boring and dusty, but the view of the Italian countryside was beautiful. As she pulled into the tunnel that led to the front gates, she explained that she discovered this place during her search for everyone, and that it was ideally located in the center of a square of the Ley Line gridwork. The tunnel went under the hilly environment, occasionally opening up to show the sky or to allow in a small stream.

As Lily parked the truck, she told everyone to find a room in the castle and get settled, but to watch out for bugs or snakes, as the place hadn't been cleared completely yet. The group took the time to stretch and unload all their cargo, filing one by one into the castle.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Roger Lorry Character Portrait: Jaida Knowls Character Portrait: Rita Saotome Character Portrait: Lily Crishon Character Portrait: Zhang Xaio Character Portrait:
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Zhang Xiao was quite surprised to find herself tracked down, she hadn't had much luck with work and was beginning to fear that she would lose herself in the depression of deep poverty. Yet here there was a white woman telling her that she wanted her to go work for her, and it sounded like something that was very dangerous. She tried to refuse the woman, deep inside her she did not want to go and felt she could not trust this woman. Yet as the prospects of money and a place to prove herself came forth, Zaisu began to tighten around her neck. She might have refused if it weren't for that, but she knew better than to refuse her companion. Zaisu settled her indecision, and she knew that she was giving up her fate to the winds of fate. There was only one last thing...

Words are weak, contracts are fallible, yet blood is true, Xiao said these words softly as she reached for a dinner knife, as she slid the blade over her palm she showed no signs of pain, for the caress of a blade was something intimately familiar to her. "By my blood, I serve this contract, and by your word I am your soldier till a time that you prove yourself false or should speak words to release me." She felt that was enough, as long as they paid her in cash and didn't turn out to be the evil cult they claimed they would stop, she would be loyal. It was as things should be.

Xiao, as she favored being called, was truly daunted by the beginnings of their trip and by the sheer resources of her new employer. She had never been hired for any major task like this, and she allowed herself to fall into a childish awe. Silence took her, and she responded only when being spoken to for the remainder of her trip. Her emerald eyes constantly studying Lily Crishon and Roger Lorry, wondering what their motives might be, wondering how many of their words were lies and what few might contain twisted truths.

As they arrived in Italy, Xiao realized just how far away from home she really was. In this beautiful landscape, she though of how truly massive the world really was. The castle looked derelict to her eyes, a worn down relic of another era, but that might simply be the level of care that Europeans gave to their ancestors. The tunnel felt cold and as they came to a stop she had already shifted her legs against her chest for a bit of warmth. She got out of the flatbed last, standing quietly as the others started to head inside. She found it a little difficult to accept that they would be staying in a place like this, but perhaps it was better that they remain in a place hidden from the public view.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zhang Xaio Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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Xiao did not find herself instantly binding to anyone, not that she had any right to expect it, but she felt kind of lost as she stepped away and towards the old castle. This would be her home, at least for the time being, and she felt ashamed that she was already looking poorly upon it.

As she entered within its grand halls she tried desperately to convince herself that she liked it, that the parts that looked ready to crumble were just part of the European decorative style. She had seen their lamps after all, the cracked look, the way that looking dirty became an important feature to proving that something was old. This was just part of that sensibility, that "Old World" feeling. It was a difficult thing to tell herself, and as she ascended the stairway she spotted a spider web tucked into a corner, which immediately drove into her chest the feeling that she needed to leave. Still as she continued, she found her way towards one of towers, towards the south and away from the movements of the others. As she ascended upwards, she worried about this endeavor, and what she could possibly offer to this team.

As she opened up the door to the peak of the tower she gave a quick look around, noticing the hole in the stonework ceiling and the water damage to the wooden floor. It was a good place to hide away, and an even better place to practice magic. That was the way of things though, as she imagined it always had been. Better to keep experiments to oneself or worry about the repercussions of the disapproval of others.

Xiao barred the heavy wooden door behind herself and immediately set to work trying to clean the place up and get rid of all the bugs that had previously made their homes in this place. As she tossed a pile of dust out the window, she looked out to the opposite tower and saw the two Alchemists setting up. She smiled to herself, lowering her head and thinking that she had to have picked one of the best views in the entire compound.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Zhang Xaio Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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Zhang Xiao, satisfied with the temporary cleaning she had achieved, gave a revealed sigh and sat down in the middle of the floor. This spot, she decided, would be where she laid her head down, once she had properly cleaned it. It was at this point she wished she was in possession of a more useful magic, something to conjurer herself up a mattress, or alchemy to give herself warmth, or weaving to enchant the structure to give off heat; Yet she had been imbued by the ancestors with blood magic, power that she had rarely even found to be useful. As she began to give in to her feelings of dispair, Zaisu began to tighten around her neck, its way of punishing her for being mopey. She whined out in pain and ran her fingers gentle over her enchanted companion, enticing its release so that she might be able to breath.

Slowly it released its death grip and Xiao laid down on the floor to recover from the spots in her vision and the weakness in her limbs. After a minute she started to feel well enough to get up, slowly rising to her feet and catching her balance. Zaisu's interference with her thoughts wasn't enough to pull her away from her feelings of loneliness, only direct them to her feelings of worthlessness. "Zaisu... Lets go see if our employer has any orders, or if she simply wishes us to remain tucked away until she needs us."

Zhang Xiao unbarred the door and pulled the door open, stepping out into the stairway that led up to her tower. She closed the door behind her and Zaisu slid under the door to fulfill her desire, shifting the bar back down and sealing the room off from anyone who might casually attempt to enter. It wouldn't hold off any serious mage, but if someone came this way by accident, she wouldn't lose her sleeping space. Or so the thoughts in her head reasoned.

As she came down the stairs and started walking through the halls, she began to examine the structure for integrity and strength. If this was to be attacked, she wanted to know its weak points. She didn't have the strength to pull down one of the pillars, but she could let Zaisu give it a try should the occasion arise. She wandered around by herself, her arms folded inwards to cover her chest, the climate cooler than the tropical coastal town she was used to.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Roger Lorry Character Portrait: Michael Vizi Character Portrait: Lily Crishon Character Portrait: Zhang Xaio Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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Zhang Xiao waited only a short distance away, her wanderings were drawing ever closer towards the room where the siren's whistle came calling from. As she quickly began stepping in that direction, she failed to notice a sudden change in the steps and started to fall, only to be caught by Zaisu, who swung up to catch onto a support beam. To anyone else it might have looked like she had just hung herself but her neck had grown very strong from Zaisu's constant abuses so she was unfazed by his sudden save. "Thank you, I'll try to be more careful, I should not rush so quickly." Xiao placed her feet back down on the ground and continued forward, carefully making the way down towards the room that Lily had summoned her towards.

Xiao saw the new man, someone she did not recognize and quickly began studying the situation. From the way that Lorry and Lily stood, it became clear that this man was something of an intruder, or at least an unwanted guest. Xiao lowered her arms and rested her bracelet against her hips as she came over towards Lily. Her bare chest was cold, but she wanted to keep her hands down and ready in case the man proved to be hostile. Even as she approached, she still didn't understand how to react to the situation. So she came over to the side of Lily and smiled to the older woman pleasantly, "I heard your call. That was the signal for us to gather up, or did I misinterpret this?" She stood up straight in order to try to make up for the fact that she was five feet tall in a group where everyone else had nearly a foot of height on her. "I need to ask for help, when we are done with this gathering."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Hanzo Susanoo Character Portrait: Roger Lorry Character Portrait: Michael Vizi Character Portrait: Lily Crishon Character Portrait: Zhang Xaio Character Portrait:
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The question of proof would have likely been painfully predictable even if Michael had not already heard its ripples through one of his trances. While nothing even remotely like his name was to be found, a family crest engraved above what he assumed to be the courtyard's entrance held his mother's name, Acerbi. It was quite obvious that each and every one of these people were foreigners, except for maybe the dog in the rafters, so such a name may have just failed to register in the squatters minds. Before he would have a chance to point that little fact out, he would have to actually figure out which deviation was going to occur, and as such was perfectly ready to surprise the endlessly confident Magician with the fact that nullification doesn't work on a collapsing building. He located and targeted each of the structural weak points necessary to bring down the entirety of the castle and listened apathetically to the Tower's worthless words.

After such words, Michael would have to stand being haphazardly examined by a thief who still referred to his mother's castle as being her own property. With her seemingly blind eyes finally deciphering what a set of tarot cards looked like, she exclaimed a guess at what type of magic he could be; you don't need to be a Chronomancer to use a tarot deck as a catalyst, and the weaver assumption had seemingly no basis. While still attempting to figure out exactly which way this would all work out, the Tower just continued her rambling and ended her statement with the upward inflection that marks a question.

With the comment from the Magician the scenario was set and it was decided that bringing his property down around him wasn't part of it. But since the cards had already been charged with the historical event of the moment, the raising of Persepolis, they needed an outlet and a nullifier was there to provide storage. The cards each returned to their proper places amongst the deck and fell into the Chronomancer's hands, only to be immediately aimed towards the gun toting Magician. "Tell me, what's the stereotypes you foreigners have for Black Magic?" The Ley line nexus that this castle was built on certainly proved its worth when a torrent of energy burst forth from the deck of cards and impacted their invulnerable target.

As the storm of power struck the Magician, Michael walked after the thieving Tower, even after his pained ears desperately wanted to get as far away from her as possible. He would find himself amongst a group of people, a few of which had already been gathered into the courtyard. The next major concern was the revealing of the deception at play to the Moon, as that would confirm specifically what derivation this was.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Roger Lorry Character Portrait: Michael Vizi Character Portrait: Lily Crishon Character Portrait: David Young Character Portrait: Zhang Xaio Character Portrait: Isabel Fayth
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Isabel nodded along with David's words and then finally shrugged, "You think we could even find our fearless leader in this labyrinth? It was dumb luck I managed to make it out here." Truth be told, she didn't even want to go back within the castle. It was such a pretty day to be spent inside a dead castle. Though, the alchemists probably found a nice large room to concoct their potions and what not. Luckily finding Lily wasn't the issue, though the high pitched magic-aided whistle cutting through the air did cause Isabel to jump a little. She turned looked at their employer, "Looks like we won't be needing to find her at all, huh David?" She said, looking up at the man. Yes, look up. Though she spoke to the man as an equal, he still managed to easily have a foot and a half over her. Truth be told, she was perhaps the shortest there, barring the strange Asian woman who opted to not wear a shirt... She had made up her mind to avoid her until she managed to scrounge a top.

She glanced at David upon the appearance of this such woman, wondering how the pious man would act. Izzy could tell from the way he spoke and what he had said that the man was a religious figure. Strange considering his school of necromancy. Or perhaps because of it. Izzy wasn't a Psychology major, so all of her thoughts were useless conjecture. "You think she even has a shirt?" She whispered to David. The girl was young, younger than Izzy was by a bit. David, again, was looking to be the winner for being the most normal there.

Then, she saw someone else. No one she had saw on the ride, she would have remembered that blond hair. He had followed behind Lily out into the courtyard, and had piqued her curiosity. She looked back at David for the last time and said, "Shall we?" Jerking her head towards the gathering. Barefooted, she stepped out of the stone gazebo and onto the cool grass as she approached her employer. As she spoke, she took her gloves out of her back pocket and began to slip them over her hands. Who knew, maybe Lily would want a demonstration. "Hey boss? You rang?" She said as she approached, her eyes flitted between those that had gathered so far. Lily, Lorry, the naked Asian (who Izzy tried her best to ignore), and the newcomer. Her eyes lingered on the stranger before speaking again, "Hey Lily, who's this guy? I thought there were only eight of us. I don't remember his face from the ride here," she said, giving the man a inquisitive look. Course, she didn't remember many faces from the ride either, but his in particular

As she waited for Lily's response, Izzy kept a suspicious eye on the man. She didn't like something about that man. Perhaps it was the unknown she didn't like. Would explain why she felt suspicious about the man in the rafters too.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Michael Vizi Character Portrait: Lily Crishon Character Portrait: David Young Character Portrait: Zhang Xaio Character Portrait: Isabel Fayth Character Portrait:
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Isabel nodded along with David's words and then finally shrugged, "You think we could even find our fearless leader in this labyrinth? It was dumb luck I managed to make it out here." Now that Isabel mentioned it, David tried to remember how he had reached the outside. Was it left, down, right? Right, left, down? That wasn't a smart move. He'd have find the entrance to the castle and then get back to his room.

Luckily finding Lily wasn't the issue, though the high pitched magic-aided whistle cutting through the air. "Looks like we won't be needing to find her at all, huh David?" Isabel said, looking up at David. David nodded, somewhat in happiness. They would have surely been in trouble if Lily hadn't come along. He turned back towards the railing, looked at the fishes and sighed. Now the truth would be out, and hopefully it would make sense. David would be happier if they were here to protect some Mafia guy. At least that would be realistic. But then again, "Vatican says it is true." David hated quite a few in their brotherhood, but none of them were lunatics. They would never joke around.

Isabel glanced at David and whispered, "You think she even has a shirt?" David wasn't sure how to react. Did Isabel want him to look at a naked woman? He was stumped for a second. Why'd she want him to look at a naked woman? Did she take him as a pervert and was testing him? He didn't look back and carried on staring at the fishes. Also, why was there a naked woman?

"Shall we?" asked Isabel a few moments later and stepped away from the pond and towards Lily. David turned towards Isabel and the others thinking, I'll just ignore this wom-

The very next instant David turned back towards the pond, eyes shut. "Oh God. That's not a woman... that's a kid," he muttered to himself. He wasn't going anywhere near that place. Many in church were taunted as pedophiles, David was too once called a pedophile, and if he was seen with a shirtless girl, that would be end of his life. "Go on ahead," he said to Isabel, who was already a couple of meters away.

Luckily, or unluckily, they were only a few meters away from him so he didn't need to turn around. Not that he would, but still.

"Hey boss? You rang? Hey Lily, who's this guy? I thought there were only eight of us. I don't remember his face from the ride here," Isabel said. David realized that , yes, they were in fact supposed to be only eight people, including the man in the rafters. He had noticed the blond man when he had turned back. Who was this person?

If this guy was going to fight them, David would be of no use. There were no dead bodies and they already had a Blood magician. So, not getting in the way was the best option to take. But more importantly, who was this guy? Lily had said there were eight possible members, including herself and Lorry. And considering Lily or Lorry did not mind the guy in the rafters, this guy was not in that list of eight. Maybe they found this guy in the time between 'recruiting' David and the plane ride. Had Lily researched about this guy? He surely hoped so or they could have a spy in their ranks. Or this was a game show. A reality show organized to fool him. David smiled. This was actually the best explanation he could come up with right now. "Oh God, let this be a game show," he prayed.

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Character Portrait: Hanzo Susanoo Character Portrait: Roger Lorry Character Portrait: Michael Vizi Character Portrait: Jaida Knowls Character Portrait: Rita Saotome Character Portrait: Lily Crishon
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#, as written by Basta
While waiting for everyone to assemble, Lily went over scenarios in her head. She wanted to word things just right, without making things seem too grim, but she also didn't want to sugarcoat anything. They were in this together, for good or for ill. Her reverie was broken as both Isabel and Zhang popped up next to her.

"I heard your call. That was the signal for us to gather up, or did I misinterpret this? I need to ask for help, when we are done with this gathering." piped Xaio. Nodding absentmindedly, the older woman kept scanning the group as they arrived. To Isabel, she held up a finger to ask for a moment. All would be explained once she was sure they were all there. Lily cleared her throat and adjusted her hat.

"I have some news, both good and bad," she stated matter-of-factly. Mentally she winced at the cliché line, but kept going. "You all know that you're here for an important task, but I want to make it doubly clear. We are here to stop the end of our existence. It won't be an easy task...Hell, it'll probably be the hardest thing anyone has ever done, but it's up to us. You all are the cream of the crop, or have the potential to be."

Lily paused for a moment to gather her thoughts. "First, a warning. I would say that if you don't think you can do it, you may leave...But you can't. Not because I'm telling you that you can't, but simply that if you leave now, everyone will die. Second, your best won't be good enough. Not on its own. We all have to be the best. 'Cause you see, our enemy isn't just this cult. It isn't just a group of crazy mages with insane power. It's that, as well as a Goddess! I don't mean the empty deities that people worship in temples, but a real being with real, infinite power. Well, nigh infinite, actually. The cult of Caernavon is researching a way to bind their Goddess into a mortal shell. If that happens, they will have access to all her destructive power and it'll all be over. In case none of you have researched into obscure occult gods, Caernavon happens to be the Big Boss. Her weapons are Pestilence, Plague and Death, and believe me, she will know how to use them."

Her allies shifted uneasily as her speech went on. Lily frowned slightly, realizing that she was painting a bleak and hopeless picture for them. "Don't worry though! The cultists are only humans, and humans make mistakes. Their first one was letting me in and then not hunting me down when I left. We won't let them make a second. However, in order to stop them, we have to train. They won't be as cohesive as we will. The cultists will be a group of individuals, easily divided...easily slaughtered. We will be one unit, a thresher to their wheat. When I'm done with us, we will be the ones that they will fear!"

Her voice rose in pitch as she neared the end of her pep talk, oozing emotion and confidence. Lily fully believed that this group of eight, maybe nine, could become something more, and she made sure they knew of her faith.

"Today, rest and get set up, because we start tomorrow, bright and early. We'll have to fix up the castle, get supplies, set up training areas. It's going to be an involved task, so prepare yourselves.That's all I have for you."

Lily allowed the group to disperse as it pleased, some breaking into pairs, others alone. After a while, she turned to Xaio to see what the girl needed.

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Character Portrait: Lily Crishon Character Portrait: Zhang Xaio Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait: Character Portrait:
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Xiao felt excitement as Lily spoke passionately about their mission. This was just a merc job, something with a really high pay, but something about the way Lily talked, filled with ambition and furor that made her seem attractive. Xiao was also quite aware that Zaisu was feeling amused by the prospects of going up against a goddess. Plague, Pestilence and Death! A triad of destruction that would mean a powerful enemy to crush. Xiao immediately decided that this goddess sounded more like the god of Christianity, bringing death and suffering where ever the followers of the faith went. Disease for natives, sickness and pain for those they met and death for those that opposed them, throw in pedophilia and child sex slavery and the two cults weren't far off. The difference, Xiao thought to herself, is that this goddess is evidently real.

Xiao took a good look at her fellow mages, a random assortment of people from all walks of life, except no blacks. Two asians, a hispanic woman and a room full of white folk. Xiao tuned back in to hear Lily say that they would be starting in the morning, that they would be repairing the castle and beginning to train. Zaisu seemed to perk up at the though of training, roughly scraping across the back of her neck, just enough to leave a mark.

As Lily turned to face Xiao she gave a nod of respect, "I need warmth. The tower I've taken a liking to is going to get cold at night. Could I either get a space heater or could you ask the alchemists to make something I can place on the floor to make it warm up? Italy is much colder than I had anticipated. Xiao gave a half smile to her employer, "Zaisu and I can do some of the heavy lifting if you want, but I'm not a carpenter or a mason. Still, If you need someone killed," Xiao glanced at the man who seemed like an intruder, "then don't hesitate to give me the order."

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Character Portrait: Hanzo Susanoo Character Portrait: Roger Lorry Character Portrait: Michael Vizi Character Portrait: Jaida Knowls Character Portrait: Rita Saotome Character Portrait: Lily Crishon
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#, as written by Basta
After hours of tossing and turning, Lily gave up trying to get any rest for the night. In the two weeks that her group had been 'training', progress was little. There were still pieces of the castle in disrepair, the electricity was faulty, and worst of all, her crew still hadn't improved much! Their abilties may have progressed some, but function as a unit, they did not. Lily had been searching in ever widening circles for a test of some sort for the past couple days, and just the night before, she'd found it. A small hamlet, isolated like the castle, had been taken over by a group of mages. They'd slaughtered most of the inhabitants, using the remaining live ones as playthings and experiments.

Throwing on her traveling coat, Lily strode briskly to the main courtyard and whistled shrilly, once and then again after a few seconds. She didn't much care if she was disturbing their precious night's sleep. If Lily wasn't sleeping tonight, neither was anyone else. She took to pacing and muttering under her breath as the rest started to arrive, making her displeasure known.

"Ok since everyone's here, I'll make this quick. You've not been improving...at least, not in the ways I need you to. So we're gonna take a field trip and get some real life testing done. There's a small town to our southeast that's been taken over by hostile mages. We're gonna take it back. Now, some things to remember while we're there. We are a team, and that means we work like one. Use each other's strengths and cover each other's weaknesses. I don't want to see anyone by themselves, and whatever gods you pray to so help me, if one of us gets hurt because someone else wasn't covering them, I'll make you regret the day of your conception!"

Lily stopped herself for a moment, massaging her temples. The last thing she needed was to get angry and lecture these men and women like they were children, but it was hard.

"In the last two weeks, you've all improved individually quite well, but you're still individuals! The culties are individuals too, but there's more of them then us. In order to counteract that, we have to be one unit. I've said all this before, but you didn't seem to take it to heart. Well here's your chance to prove yourselves to each other. You fight together...or die alone. Suit up and meet me at the flatbed in ten minutes," finished Lily with a growl. The end of the world wasn't going to go easy on anyone, and neither would she. These were grown ass adults, and Lily wasn't about to pussyfoot around to spare their feelings. She couldn't afford to.

As soon as everyone was on-board, Lily slammed the heap into gear and took off. The hamlet was about a seventy miles from the castle, so they had to go pretty quick to make good time. About two miles out, the truck puttered out and died. After a couple minutes trying to revive the beast, Lily gave up and had everyone simply take their gear on the march. It'd be stealthier this way anyways. On the outskirts of the village, Lily stopped them.

"We do this quiet like as for as long as possible. Once the alarm goes up, stick together unless otherwise instructed. Remember, under NO circumstance should anyone get separated. Ok, move out."

The moon shone dimly from behind the cloud cover, providing a decent atmosphere for their work.

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Xiao woke quickly from her rest, she had always been a bit of a light sleeper, ever cautious of what lay ahead in the waking world. With no real personal possessions to grab, everything she would need was either worn or part of her, she was quick to descend down to meet her employer. Half expecting the castle to be under attack, Xiao was on guard as she came to present herself before her still generally mysterious employer. These last couple of weeks had been nothing but frustration, Xiao's skills were far behind most of the group, and even as she tried her hardest, she felt inferior to nearly everyone present. Still Lily hadn't thrown her out yet, so maybe there was some sort of role she still could serve.

"Orders?" were the first words to escape her lips as she ran up to Lily, her eyes briefly scanning around the area. She was ready to try to fight off any danger that might present an immediate threat. As the others came to join them, and Lily explained her disappointment in the failures of the group, Xiao hung her head in shame. Xiao wanted very much to not simply be a glaring weakness that everyone else needed to protect, she would rather they simply allowed her to die. The mission seemed beyond any job that Xiao had ever taken before, and at this point she was wholly devoted to it.

Ten minutes was hardly necessary, Xiao simply walked out to the flatbed, took a seat and waited for everyone else to get ready. Zaisu was always around her throat, the only tool she made any use of. The bangle she wore hadn't seen much use, as she had yet to be pressed into drawing power from it. A pool of blood magic energy and she couldn't figure out anything decent to use that power for. Part of her hoped that the situation would be pushy enough, that she would get cornered and she'd be able to motivate herself to tap into her life force. Supposedly there was power there, though she wasn't sure if that was true.

As they walked along the last two miles, Xiao listened carefully to Lily's orders. They wouldn't be too hard to follow, assuming that the situation didn't go badly. If someone died, she was pretty sure that the team would fall into a panic. "Does this mean we will not be using gunfire, at least until the alarm sounds?" It was a rare opportunity for Xiao to shine, she knew how to be quiet and Zaisu was an excellent tool for killing quietly. "Forgive me for asking, but I want to confirm. We are killing these people, yes?" Xiao would be satified with whatever answer she was given.