Drawn Asunder

Introduction

One on one rp with Kai

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The GM of this roleplay hasn't created any rules! You can do whatever you like!

The Story So Far... Write a Post » as written by 2 authors

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Samara  DeVries Character Portrait: Cyrus

0.00 INK

#, as written by Kai
Many centuries ago it was not uncommon for a village to be found in its own smoldering ashes along the vast stretch of the southern King's road. In fact, it had earned its nickname "Ash Road" for a reason. The forest that towered around it was dark and full of unknown creatures, and the valleys that surrounded the rest of the pass as empty as they were quiet. The local villagers and settlers alive today had never seen a village burst into flames, nor its inhabitants be slaughtered by beasts of the night. Yet old folk lore carried with it the echoes of the past. Stories of demons and angels that dwelt within the dense canopy of the forests, luring unsuspecting travelers into their depths. Of elves that scurried in the bushes and stole naughty children away at night. And of the most unnatural of beings, able to raise a whole settlement to the ground with merely a word spoken on the wind.

It had been one thousand, three hundred, and twenty seven years since the last attacks. Over a millennium of peace, life, and growing recklessness of humans venturing deeper and deeper into the wilderness. They've cut down trees, shrinking the forests. And was it their imagination or did the trees grow back faster and taller within the following years? It didn't seem to matter as the settlers simply built more, expanding their villages and growing their populations.

Then one day it happened. An earthquake shook the villages surrounding the forest, toppling both man-made structure and natural growth alike.

That was two weeks ago.

Tonight, as the last sunset darkened the skies, they came. First it was the winged creatures in the sky, swooping down to set fire to every roof within sight. So much fire, driving men, women, and children out of their homes, away from everything they held dear to them. Yet the creatures did not attack, did not kill, did not harm anyone who could move quickly enough from the flames.

But this was not all. From the depth of the forest there came armies of dark-clad creatures that could only be described as armored men with horns growing from their brows and glowing eyes that could send a chill down the bravest warrior's spine. It was them that blocked off routes of escape, that herded the people into their place of submission between the flames and the demons, with nowhere to turn to for safety.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Samara  DeVries Character Portrait: Cyrus

0.00 INK

Despite the earthquake two weeks prior, the brunette had found herself unable and unwilling to stay inside the old estate her family was currently occupying. She wasn't in the least bit disturbed by the village gossip concerning the tales of old, dismissing such notions as simply the chatter of frightened old folk who had recently begun to recount old bedtime stories of ages past. Just because things had been a little...off lately meant nothing. The earthquake itself had been terrifying, yes, but her family was ok, just temporarily relocated to an older estate.

The previous Count of this more isolated region of Vallea had put at least one home in every village in his county, and it had proven to be of incredible good fortune now. This particular village was one of the few the previous governance liked enough to build two estates upon. One inside, and one more private on a hill just by the forest. Thus, despite the quake everyone was still shaken by, she was going to be fine.

While its existence meant safe, intact shelter for her family while their home proper had to be repaired, it wasn't enough to keep her inside its walls, no matter how she was cautioned of danger. Danger be damned, she was not going to suffer another audience with her latest suitor!

Thus, she wasn't exactly surprised upon returning home to be immediately berated for slipping out in these 'trying times' as her mother put it.

"Samara! Where have you been?! You were supposed to meet with the Duke Baldarich this evening!" her father began angrily, brows furrowed at his child. "Thanks to your absence, I had to send his grace on his way and say you were otherwise occupied! He came all this way despite the quake, and you aren't even here to recieve him! Explain yourself."

Feeling her body stiffen, Samara glanced up just as her mother made her way into the foyer to stand beside her father- the Count. Two firm gazes were sent her way, and the young woman clenched her jaw to prevent her mouth from running away with her. She rarely had any issues with her family or status, but there was a major source of contention between them.

She was more than old enough to marry, and as far as her parents were concerned, she had put it off long enough. The latest (and most desireable) suitor to show interest in her was high in rank, wealthy, and by most standards a truly ideal match.
But Samara hated him.

Sure, he wasn't ugly. He had money. He had status. He could provide for her, and he wasn't more than twice her age.
But he was as dull as could be. And besides, Samara loathed the idea of having a husband picked for her. She wasn't some pawn!

"Forgive me father, I merely forgot. I was out for a walk and lost track of the hour..." she said, poised and proper in spite of her steadily growing urge to shout. She didn't even bother to point out that the meeting would have been cancelled due to the circumstances, had the Duke lived any closer and recieved the news on time. Her parents didn't look convinced, and she saw a vein throbbing in her father's temple.

"How convenient of you to forget a dinner you have been preparing for for the last three weeks! And especially now!" snapped the noble, earning a frown from his daughter. Samara stomped her foot, shaking her head furiously as the tension in the room escalated.

"I can forget too! And besides- it's no more dangerous out there than before-"
"Do you honestly think this is the time to be out and about? People are trying to rebuild their homes, and as leaders we are the ones they will look to for answers. Not only do you go and potter around like nothing's wrong amidst prying eyes, you're plenty overdue to be wed and out of this village! Are you intending to live out your days like a commoner and achieve no better for yourself or us?"
"M-maybe I am!" Samara blurted out without thinking, frustrated tears burning at the corners of her eyes.
"Samara, you are a fool to pass up such a promising match, and to not even meet with him further is an embarrassment I will not tolerate! You aren't picking, so I'm picking for you. Now you'll go to bed without argument, and tomorrow you will greet your suitor properly and apologize for the insult of today."

"Fine! I'll meet the Duke, but I won't marry him!" Samara shouted back, running to her quarters and slamming the door before her father's angry retort could reach her ears.

‐---------------

Stubbornly refusing her dinner and remaining locked in her room, Samara pouted, hoping that her parents would give in and spoil her as when she was a child, though she knew it was in vain. Though her parents had high expectations, she seldom failed to meet or surpass them, thus being a fine young lady they could be proud to call their own. A daughter they could reward and show off.
But it meant little if they couldn't find her a proper suitor. If another noble- a more important noble- didn't want her, then what else was she aiming for? Advancement was the name of the game...but still.

Despite the hour, sleep evaded the woman, and restlessness began to settle in. Usually she and her family would 'talk' after an argument, and she'd promise to be good in order to appease her parents and be able to do as she pleased (within reason, of course!). But no one had made any attempt to apologize, and the stalemate was wearing at her nerves.

No longer able to deal with her irritability, the young woman got changed into her simplest dress and some of her walking shoes, fully intent on getting some fresh air.

It took about twenty minutes for Samara to sneak out (narrowly missing a serving maid in doing so), and start down the hill towards the village. Perhaps she'd sit at the fountain in the village square. Maybe see if any gypsy folk had travelled by. Or she might find a passing stray in an alley. If she was lucky, the inn would have someone playing a jaunty tune to lift the spirits of its patrons.

The village certainly did seem less lively than usual, and she saw shops closing up for the evening slightly sooner than they normally did. Soon, only the inn remained open, far emptier than usual and no jaunty tune. Muted conversations and the ramblings of an old crone in one corner reached her ears as she passed. Everywhere in the village, people were trying to live and go about their day even while simultaneously working to fix broken bits of property, some needing to rely on the kindness of neighbors for a proper roof to sleep under.

Samara had finally begun to relax from her walk, contemplating going back home to her warm bed when the first scream echoed into the night, mixed with the flapping of wings and the sounds of something large and alive.

Many things large and alive.

Flames seemed to leap forth from every structure in rapid succession, followed immediately by terrified screams as people fled into the streets. Smoke filled the air and a growing cacophony of screams, splintering wood, roaring flames, frantic footfalls, and some primal, viscious sounds assaulted the nobles' ears.

Eyes wide at the horrors unfolding before her, Samara finally broke into a run of her own, arm up to try and keep from breathing in smoke.

Heart hammering in her chest, she headed towards the direction of the hill, knowing she needed to get out of the village now. She'd tell her father, he'd know what to do! Panting, she came within 15 feet of the edge of the village before coming to a halt, gasping in horror.

There were people, no, monsters blocking the way, marching towards the village.

On trembling legs, Samara turned and took off running once more, ready to find any escape out of the villlage. Her ideal route had been cut off, but surely she would find a way out and towards the hillside? She'd go around from the opposite side of the village if she had to! Panting with the effort, she tried several directions, but no matter where she went, those things were approaching. Were they just surroundint the village? Or had the attack spread out to the pastures along the southern stretch of land? Had it spread to the eastern hillside where her family had taken shelter? Fear began to grow exponentially with each passing moment, the young woman feeling tears burn in her eyes as she frantically sought to get home.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Samara  DeVries Character Portrait: Cyrus

0.00 INK

#, as written by Kai
The steady, dull beat of large wings overhead could barely be heard over the screams of the humans running about. If any one of them took the time to look up and around, they would see him. Silhouetted almost against the rising full moon. Dark, demonic wings stretched out from his shoulder blades, spanning six feet in either direction, a span that made the imps around him seem almost manically small. Yet there was something else in those wings. Light feathers, almost shimmering in the moonlight that ran the length of the bones. Not quite distinguishable at a distance yet caught by the light when he turned to descend on the chaos bellow him.

It had almost been too easy, but such is the lesson in the wild. Animals that grow without any natural predators are bound to have a false sense of security about them. And the demon world has not bothered them much in many a century.

By the time Cyrus's leather-clad feet touched down on the ground, most of the work was complete. The village had several routes of escape so the task of shepherding the people to a single one fell on two strategies. Setting calculated fires to control the flow and using the ground army to simply intimidate the humans enough so they would not see a way of escape. The strange thing was... the army did not attack. Their march stopped as soon as the villagers were herded outside the gates and into a single oddly-formed clump. There they stood, about a hundred in all, simply watching.

For a while there was silence and the burning fires as the skies cleared of all but a handful of the imps. It seemed that the worst had passed. As quickly as the attack started, it halted and the demons that now stood still seemed to almost be waiting for something.

Folding his wings almost the moment his feet touched the ground, Cyrus surveyed the scene before him before walking forward. The demon army parted, allowing a single path for the tall male to approach the gathered villagers. His heavy footfall was wiped away behind him by the dragging feathered wings, leaving two light trails in the dirt, dark eyes lifting to study the crowd before him. It wasn't until he stepped into closer light of the burning flames that one could see the casual smirk on his pale face. The slightly quirked eyebrow as if somewhat amused. To the casual observer he might very well look like a dog, let off its leash for the first time in his life. Perhaps he was.

"Oh, don't be so terrified," Cyrus's smirk suddenly broke into a light grin and he gave a soft chuckle when the front row of the villagers pushed back away from him at his voice. His voice. It was soft, not at all what one would expect from the towering figure standing before them. And good humored on top of it. "None of you surely believe in the superstitions and demons, do you?"

Another chuckle and Cyrus turned to start slowly pacing along between the army at his back and the villagers that faced him. Some looked mortified. Others ready to defend those around them. Some were looking around wildly, looking for any gap to escape into. In the silence that enveloped them, Cyrus took a moment to unfurl his wings just a little, just to lift them from the ground, his shoulders rolling back in a stretch.

"I have a proposition for your..." he considered the crowd in front of him, "... community. You will send ten of your strongest and brightest back with me and the rest of you can live out the rest of your short lives in peace."

Cyrus turned, now pacing the other way, his gaze drifting lazily to the fire that was rising overhead. Of course peace would not come until the morning. Until the burning cinders of the village would have to be cleared away before rebuilding could begin in earnest. If the village was even wealthy enough.

"Or... I can pick ten of you I'd like, and my companions," he motioned to the army who, very clearly, were not simply companions, "will ensure that no peace is restored on this spot."

Cyrus's footsteps slowed. Stopped. And he turned to face his prey. "Make your choice now."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Samara  DeVries Character Portrait: Cyrus

0.00 INK

The crowds of people flinched at the sight of the leader, a few whimpers and sniffles interrupting the hushed murmurs. Anxious glances shifted from the troop surrounding them like dogs around a well corralled flock to the imposing figure pacing before them. Few dared to so much as shift their weight for fear of retaliation.

As the leader addressed their village, the slight amusement and soft voice somehow made the situation far more real and frightening than the expected gruff aggression. His proposal was met with mortified expressions, and a clearly shaken public. Ten individuals had to either go willingly and spare the village, or ten would be taken at this creatures' choosing and condemn all the rest. The most promising choice was obvious, but no one so much as moved. Someone let out a low moan of despair. Several more began to cry. Still others began to pressure some of their peers to go up and sacrifice themselves for the greater good.

Samara trembled, torn between saying something, anything to stall or somehow figure out a solution and looking in vain for escape. Would she hold any sway as the count's daughter? Doubtful, but she did at least respect the idea that as the family governing the county, they needed to try and do something. She took a deep breath to try some pathetic attempt at gaining courage to speak up when a blessedly familiar voice called out.

"So, you want ten able bodied individuals? You'll take your leave if we agree?" The Count began, stepping forward on shaking legs. Face pale with dread, he nevertheless continued, even as he gave the few soldiers stationed in this village a slight nod to start picking suitable offerings. "Might I be allowed to ask what you need of them? Farrock Village is fairly small in comparison to...other villages. And other Counties beside mine might also have a better...selection." he continued, not noticing his only (legitimate) child approaching him until she was five feet away.

"F-father!" Samara gasped in relief, reaching her parents just as one of Farrock's inhabitants was chosen as a possible offering.

"N-no! Please, I don't want to die! No! Somebody...Help me!" Cried a pretty young woman not even half a year Samaras junior. And one the only people she fully trusted as a real friend. Mirela.

"Please don't send her!" Pleaded the brunette, tugging his sleeve as fresh tears began to form. "She's a good girl, she doesn't deserve this!"
"Quiet. Better her than you." Her father whispered firmly, avoiding eye contact as a mother and her children tried calling for the Count to intervene and call the soldiers alloted to him off of their father and husband.

"Father! Wait, don't do this! What if...how do we know he'll keep his word and spare everyone else?" Samara tried, feeling torn as she saw loved ones being led aside as possible choices.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Samara  DeVries Character Portrait: Cyrus

0.00 INK

#, as written by Kai
The tension hung heavy in the air, cut apart by the few lone imps left in flight as they circled overhead, almost as if celebrating among themselves for a job well done. It was about a minute before anyone spoke up. And who could really blame them? Cyrus's steps drew to a halt, his wings folding to allow him to clasp his hands casually behind his back. It wasn't until the first voice spoke up that he bothered to look back at the crowd, picking out a terrified looking man who looked to be of better means than most of the villagers. He must be their spokesperson or some sort of leader, Cyrus surmised, sizing him up briefly. Even humans had the need to appoint someone to lead their communities, otherwise how would they ever get anything done?

"And never bother you again," Cyrus replied to the question easily, sinking into a very formal bow to this leader. Was he mocking them? Trying to play nice? The latter was doubtful as the flickering light of flames dancing across his form would remind everyone that his kin had just set an entire village on fire.

Even as Cyrus was straightening up, he saw the gesture the man gave. The movement of the guards who proceeded to sift through the crowd for those they deemed worthy enough offerings. And ensuing sobs, screams, and begging from those unlucky enough to have themselves or their families be found to be suitable. Yet through this, the leader continued to talk, and was he trying to be helpful? No, he was simply trying to talk this village out of losses while offering others up for slaughter. The notion made Cyrus actually laugh. It wasn't the soft chuckling of amusement from seeing the terrified flock of folks in front of him. It was a genuine laugh as if the man had told a good-natured joke.

"I like this village," Cyrus finally replied, spreading his arms out toward its packed inhabitants. "Why would I travel farther than needed to look for suitable humans?" That smirk was back. Of course he wouldn't be goaded to go looking for better settlements with stronger or more able-bodied folk. It wasn't strength that mattered, and that was something Cyrus sadly knew the humans would never fully understand.

Almost as soon as he spoke, however, there appeared another at the man's side. A pretty young woman. And immediately she revealed herself as the leader's daughter. Though even as she began to plead her case to her father, more pickings were being lined up to the side. In fact, every time a person would be plucked by the crowd by a human soldier, a demon would move forward to grab them, leaving the soldiers free to pick out more. It proved for an oddly cooperative sight for the casual observer.

For a moment, Cyrus's attention wandered from the father and daughter to observe those who were being picked out. Most so far were of the able-bodied variety. Young and grown folk who could either do hard labor or likely run circles around a tired demon. Yet there was one that caught his attention. An older woman with graying hair and a slight limp in her step was being handed over by a guard that seemed to be doing his utter best to not look at any of the demons. The woman almost seemed as if she had quietly volunteered to take one of the places, moving forward on her own more than with the guard's help.

Cyrus's eyes narrowed slightly.

"She won't do," he gestured lightly toward her and the demon that was about to take her stepped back almost as if electrocuted.

The older woman looked wildly around at that, almost as if coming to her senses. "Please, I want to go," she murmured. The sobs behind her gave a good indication of who her family was.

In the two steps it took Cyrus to reach her, she had stumbled back, fear breaking through her resolve. Yet all Cyrus did was place a hand on her shoulder. It almost looked as if he was comforting her for a moment, but then he dropped his hand again and her legs gave out from underneath her. "You will not," Cyrus concluded. A teenage boy ran to her aid almost as soon as Cyrus turned away from her.

Now, how many had been picked? Ah, yes. seven so far. And an eighth joined the ranks just as the tail end of the conversation behind Cyrus reached his ears and peaked his interest. How would they know that he would keep his word? The simple answer was that they wouldn't. Not until it was too late to know.

"Do I hear of a possible volunteer?" Cyrus turned on the father and daughter, amusement dancing behind his dark eyes. In truth, this young woman had so far been the only one to voice any real opposition to what he asked. Aside from the mewling cries of others who could do very little in protest.

Almost as if on cue, one of the demons moved toward the girl, only to be immediately waved back down by Cyrus. He didn't need her grabbed to be put with the others. "What is your name?" he asked her instead. It was difficult to tell if he was merely humoring her or if he was genuinely curious.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Samara  DeVries Character Portrait: Cyrus

0.00 INK

For a moment, the look of amusement on the demon's face eased the Count's concerns, wondering if there was a chance his suggestions had any merit to this being. However, all the invader did was laugh delightedly, causing a horrible chill to go down every spine, including the Count's.

The cries of despair and protest went ignored by the Count, fists clenched at his sides as the loathsome beast ignored his suggestions. Dammit all! He didn't respond to his wife or daughter, and made certain to not look down at whichever villager was begging at his feet. Godfrey's now widow he'd wager to guess.

An elderly man hobbled forward as the older woman did for her family, his own mindset similar. The few guards ignored him, not keen on picking someone who'd be rejected and worse- - seen as an insult offerring. A young man just recently maturing to full adult status was drawn away from his blushing bride. Yet another family began to wail.

Samara continued to try and persuade her father to release Mirela, looking between him and her childhood friend. Suddenly, the dark eyes and voice were directed once more towards her family, and Samara finally looked up with a gasp as the tall leader made his way towards them. She froze, eyes unable to tear away from his as he approached. She could swear she saw him wave off a demon soldier out of the corner of her eye, but the dark haired noble decided she was imagining it.

The Count's face turned the color of sour milk, shaking as he noticed the sudden interest with mounting horror. "No! She is just a silly girl with foolish fancies." he argued even as the countess gripped his hand from behind, shaking her head frantically.

Samara's fists were tight balls at her sides. Her face paled as she was directly addressed, voice caught in her throat. Was this being... taunting her? Belittling her? Why was he suddenly so curious? She was rooted to the spot, trembling in fear even as she managed to continue looking at those dark eyes.

"...S-Samara." She finally choked out hoarsley, before properly finding her voice. "I'm Samara DeVries..." she repeated, heart racing. "Why...?" She began, thoughts bubbling up and begging for release.

"Why do you do this? Is there...no other agreement that would work for you?" Her voice was soft, but she was legitimately asking all the same despite her fear.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Samara  DeVries Character Portrait: Cyrus

0.00 INK

#, as written by Kai
Of course the father spoke up for his daughter. Cyrus couldn't feign surprise at that even if he wanted to. Yet he pointedly ignored him.

Instead he studied the young woman before him. Dark hair, frightened eyes, and features that, as he drew closer, almost paused him in his tracks. Why did she look so strangely familiar? Even for a demon of his stature, he couldn't help but pause for a moment, his gaze narrowing slightly. It felt almost as if he was attempting to remember a quickly fading dream. A memory that was just barely out of reach.

It was probably a moment too long since she asked her question. Too silent of a pause. Yet Cyrus regained himself just as quickly, his wings flexing and unfurling slightly as if shaking off the oddity standing before him. "Why do humans keep animals?" he replied softly. The answer would never settle fears and really... it was not his intention to set anyone at ease. He, in fact, enjoyed the tense energy surrounding him. It felt like a strung-up web where a single movement could ripple the atmosphere, alerting the predator to its prey. It smelled like the dense fog in moments before a lighting strike.

A ninth villager was handed over, a mother of two children who clung to her skirts and had to be whisked away by the guards as she was brought to the demons. That left one more offering, yet Cyrus was no longer looking around them to deem their worthiness. In truth, he didn't have to. His gaze was still fixed on this woman, Samara. There was something to that name, but what was it?

"I've changed my mind," Cyrus spoke, as if coming to a sudden decision that hadn't crossed his mind up until that very moment. As he tore his gaze away from the female, a faint motion of his hand brought the demon guard back from the ranks and he seized Samara, pulling her back and toward the other offered humans. This action seemed to elicit the most vocal reaction out of the villagers and of course why not? She was the daughter of a leader. The leader that Cyrus now turned to. "I will be picking one of you after all."

Ten humans in hand, the demon army began to retreat almost instantly back into the forest, leading the unfortunate villagers away to their fates. One of the imps overhead gave a loud jeer and a small explosion went off just behind the main gate. A fireball went up, evidently setting something else on fire thought it was hard to tell what it was exactly at that point. And with that final send-off the flying creatures also cleared the area.

"You have been most helpful," Cyrus offered one last bow to the count and the one who must have been his wife. "Let us call this... a peace offering."

With one final smile, Cyrus spread his wings, sending wind blowing as he touched off the ground. One, two, three beats of his wings, and he was turning in mid-air. Disappearing over the trees and as his army marched on foot into the dark depth of the forest.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Samara  DeVries Character Portrait: Cyrus

0.00 INK

Samara was like a taut wire almost at a snapping point, trembling on the edge between fury and fear. His pause was disconcerting to both her and her family, those dark eyes seeming to be looking for something. She was afraid of what this creature could be seeking- -or seeing, in her. She vaguely registered her mother's pathetic attempts at salvaging the situation.

"Y-y-you can have f...five others in place of her!" The Countess implored weakly, hovering by her husband's side. Motherly instinct had taken full hold, and she didn't even consider if anyone else in the village hearing her or not. She probably wouldn't have cared at this moment.

Samara swallowed hard and felt a chill go down her spine at the eventual answer from the winged man in front of her. Animals were kept for all sorts of reasons. Most of the reasons she could think of made feel as if she'd swallowed lead.

Samara realized what was decided a second too late, the demon soldier grabbing her even as she thought to resist. Her eyes went wider along with her family's, struggling in the hold as others had done.

"No!"
"You can't!"

"L-let me go! Leave us be and LET ME GO!" Samara cried out, resisting as best she could, though it was proving to be futile. She felt tears of frustration as well as fear prickle in the corners of her eyes, trying in in vain to rid herself of this situation.

The Count and Countess had to be held back, along with the rest of the devastated families who watched as their loved ones were marched away. Wails and shouts echoed out into the night.

Samara was quickly over exerting herself, her mind warring with the idea of continuing to struggle versus saving her strength. Fear and dread were clouding her judgement.

"Let me go! Let us all go, you vile creatures!" Samara managed another shout, soon simply shaking with nerves as her body couldn't keep up with her emotions.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Samara  DeVries Character Portrait: Cyrus

0.00 INK

#, as written by Kai
Samara was far from the only one that was struggling against her captor, whether she realized it or not. While a select few of the victims were too frightened to voice any real objections, the rest were just as vocal about being released. One man even attempted to use some form of fighting skill he must have picked up in bar brawls, attempting to both crush his captor's foot and, when that didn't work, break the demon's nose with the back of his skull. Still, the only thing that rewarded him with was a tighter grip and a couple of low-hanging branches in the face as the demon silently steered him into them as a form of silent punishment.

If one were to think of it logically, the army had yet to really hurt anyone which only stood to reason that they were given orders not to harm. But a tree at the edge of a forest scraping against someone's face? That seemed fair game.

Cyrus seemed to almost vanish over the trees the moment the procession stepped into the forest. As for those on the ground, the moment the rear of the army entered the shaded expanse of trees, the ground began to shake, opening up into a chasm that the demons marched their captors into. It was almost like crossing over from one world to the next, yet whatever horrors they may have thought would manifest on the other side did not present themselves.

Instead, they found themselves in underground tunnels that seemed to span underneath the forest floor, tall stone walls rising up around them and the occasional torch mounted on the wall lighting the way forward.

This was where most of the army broke off down a passage that lead further underground. The rest, that were half-leading and half-carrying captives continued further onward through the main corridors. It seemed as if on the outskirts of this maze of tunnels, they were poorly lit and difficult to navigate. Yet the further they went, it was easy to tell that they were drawing closer to the heart of it all by the increased presence of lit torches. The taller ceilings, and the increased numbers of doors that now lined the walls. Cells of some kind.

How much time had passed was difficult to tell. The demons seemed to know exactly which turns to take, which stairs to climb, and how much farther they had left to walk. And then, just as the maze of tunnels began it ended as suddenly with a spiral ascending staircase. And above it, a blindingly bright light of the rising sun.

It seemed that this was as far as the demons would go. They deposited their assigned humans at the foot of the stairs, the leader of the pack simply lifting a hand to point for them to go up. All were exhausted, but there was some odd promise hanging in the air. Whatever awaited above-ground was better than the damp, dark underground tunnels that they would sooner get lost and die in than find their way back out of.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Samara  DeVries Character Portrait: Cyrus

0.00 INK

A few yelps caught Samara's ears as one of the captive men was coincidentally whacked with several low hanging branches as he was dragged along through the forest. It eventually resulting in him being too preoccupied with nursing his sore and scratched nose and cheek to worry about struggling. It seemed as though one of the other villagers got a thwack to the head by unfortunate circumstance, though their protesting ended much quicker.

Samara glared at their captors, distrustful and uncomfortable around them despite their noted lack of interest (or perhaps ability) to harm her and her fellow humans. She let out a few very un ladylike curses if she was dragged without ceremony over gnarled roots that nearly tripped her, or in any way further distressed. The demons didn't seem to care, nor did they give any indication of answering. The young woman didn't particularly like not being able to read or figure out her captors.

The abrupt shifting and opening of the ground elicited panicked cries and gasps from Samara and the villagers, many freezing and balking at the newly opened chasm before being dragged in. One young woman in particular began to verbally protest, eyes widening anew with fear and choked whimpers meeting Samara's ears.

Mirela was pale and shaking like a leaf, her fear of dark places and anything cave-like freezing her in her tracks. She began to cry at the realization of where they were headed.

"Please! I'll be good, but please don't make me go down there!" She begged to no avail, her captors tightening their grip and ushering the panicking female forward.

Samara began to struggle again, straining to try and reach her best friend who was three demons ahead. "Stop it! Can't you see she's terrified? Let her go you monsters!" She tried in vain, being dragged right along without comment. Damn them all!

Seeing her attempts at reasoning with and gaining any modicum of sympathy from their captors fail, Samara tried for a different approach, attempting to get closer to her crying friend. "Mirela! Mirela, behind you! It's me." Samara called out, hoping to gain her friend's attention.

Mirela turned, still able to make out her friend through a thin curtain of dirty blonde hair that had gotten in her face during her struggles and head shakes. A mixture of relief and despair filled her at seeing the noble. "Samara...!" She answered, trying to smile at her friend, but failing. "I...I know you were trying to help me earlier. I'm sorry if I got you caught too!" She mewled pitifully, looking like a guilty child after a sound spanking.

Samara met her friend's eyes, shaking her head in dismissal. "You didn't Mirela, don't you dare think that! Now look at me. We...we will get out of here. But stay with me ok? Look at me, and we're gonna go sneak off to the lake, yeah?" She tried to distract the panicked female, using their usual sanctuary. The two would frequently try to find time just to enjoy themselves- time outside of chores ( Mirela) and lessons (Samara) to be free of their expectations. Mirela was by far the more disciplined of the two, but even she would sneak out with Samara when the noble had had enough.
"So, what snacks do you want me to bring?" Samara slipped into their old preparations, forcing herself to smile and act as casual as possible. It was obviously still terrifying for her fairer friend, but Samara was relieved to see Mirela relax ever so slightly as she thought of what pastries she liked best.


Finally, the group reached what seemed to be the end, a spiral staircase with light streaming from above. Mirela let out a sob of relief, collapsing to her knees as soon as she was released.
Samara barely spared her captor a glare before rushing over to Mirela's side, helping her companion up. She was also relieved, having run out of ways to distract Mirela from her fears.

The humans looked up, some hopeful, others anxious, and two full on doubtful. One was the unfortunate man who tried picking a fight, and now his ire was back, arms folded over his chest.

"How the hell do we know they aren't just gonna gobble us up at the top? This could be some elaborate trap."

"But why go through the trouble? It doesn't make sense..."

" You say that, but I bet we're piggies led to a pen right about now."

"Stop it." Samara commanded, noting Mirela looking incredibly fearful despite her desire to get out from the underground as soon as possible. "No point in staying here. And outside we can try to figure this out." Taking her friend by the hand, Samara looked up at the staircase, nervous despite her words. However, it looked like sunlight shining down, and she could faintly smell the outdoors. "I'm pretty sure that is earth and sun up there..." she murmured to Mirela, earning a nod.

Wasting no more time, they began to ascend the stairs, Mirela first in her haste to be free of her underground terror, followed by Samara. Everyone else began to follow in earnest, happy to be free of their demon captors.

Whatever Samara was expecting at the top, what she saw wasn't it. She echoed her friend's soft gasp of surprise, eyes scanning her surroundings. They emerged onto a long, columned pavillian that seemed to surround a large garden. The garden itself appeared to be enclosed within incredibly tall walls- akin to the castles her parents had visited on rare occasion when attending a royal function. Despite the varying paths through the garden and visible doors along the walls, Samara was still somewhat wary, not yet trusting any of them. She kept on the corridor, slowly making her way around and only half listening to Mirela. Her thoughts were spinning, trying to figure out just where they were and what the hell was going on.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Samara  DeVries Character Portrait: Cyrus

0.00 INK

#, as written by Kai
If pressed to describe a demonic dwelling, a beautiful expanse of gardens would never be someone's first thought. There were seven sections in all, each planted with its own array of blooming flowers and bushes. It almost looked surreal given that many of the flowers would not be in bloom this time of year. Yet there they were and as fragrant as the wildest of flowers. Every once in a while one would coming upon a tree for shade and an elaborate bench underneath. Some sections held water features such as a small pond or a fountain. A lone stone tower marked the center point of the gardens in the sprawling expanse, casting a long shadow toward the north west almost like a particularly elaborate clock.

For a while there was silence, almost as if the new guests' presence was of no concern to anything or anyone within the gardens nor the surrounding mansion. One of the women in the group, Edith, gave a low whistle as she looked about almost in wonder at where they found themselves. She was the daughter of a poor farmer and had never seen anything so beautiful and rich in her entire life.

"What are you whistling at?" the same irate man, Nicholas, huffed, looking around. He would be damned if he was fooled by pretty things shown to him by a demon. Quite literally, perhaps.

"No birds," Edith noted softly. She was a quiet spoken thing, but surprisingly smart for her sheltered upbringing.

"What?" Nicholas finally looked at her, irritated.

"Listen. There are no birds."

As they drew to a stop and listened, it dawned on the others that she was right. Despite the light trickling of water over the fountains, rustling of leaves, and the smell of fresh flowers, there were no birds chirping about in the trees and bushes. It was uncharacteristically silent, almost as if life itself was a mere fabrication.

Just then, the doors ahead of them opened, admitting a small procession into the gardens lead by Cyrus, yet he looked somewhat different in the daylight than he did at night. Was it a trick of the light itself or something else entirely?

Those large spanning wings were gone, making him look almost human in this much more calming setting. His dark eyes had turned a pale blue color under the sunlight and he looked to be well-dressed as a noble would present himself in the best circumstance.

Following behind him were two others, a young man and a woman, both dressed neatly in what appeared to be servant uniforms of black and white varieties. Their hands folded in front of them, they silently walked along.

The last member of the small group was not very noticeable at first. It was only when Cyrus reached the unfortunate group before him, drawing a stop, that a shorter shape wandered out from behind the servants. It was a white wolf, unchained, and curiously sniffing the air as it picked up the scents of the newcomers. What it thought of them was difficult to tell, yet Cyrus didn't seem too concerned with paying attention should it chose to attack anyone. For the moment, the most the animal did was walk over and sit down beside Cyrus, eyes trained on everyone in front of it.

"Well that was fun, wasn't it?" Cyrus's features broke out into a smile and strangely enough it was that smile that made him look more like himself. None of this made any sense. Where was the inferno? The deaths? The torture?

"No, where is the fun when you don't get the choice to affect your short-lived futures? None of you volunteered for this, your guards chose. The ones whose jobs are to protect you."

Cyrus shook his head almost sadly, but he was chuckling at the amusement of it all. Humans... were an interesting species. Was he attempting to understand them or simply mocking them? Again, his intention was difficult to read.

"Let's fix that, shall we?" he asked. Turning on his heel, he wandered to the edge of the garden path next to him, motioning out toward the open view. "This mansion is my home in which you are now a guest. You all have been brought here to assist me in an important task and we there is a lot of work ahead of us."

Folding his hands behind him, Cyrus turned back to the group. "Now..." he continued, looking at each of them in turn. His gaze lingered on Samara a little longer than the rest. In the daylight her familiarity seemed to grow but this time he was more prepared for it and the nagging question did not translate to his gaze. "You have a choice. Remain as a guest. You will be given rooms, clothes, and meals in return for your easy cooperation and attentive service. Or, refuse and become a prisoner underground." Almost as if on cue, the wolf at Cyrus's side, that otherwise could be forgotten momentarily, gave a low growl. "I will still acquire what I need from you," Cyrus finished, lowering a hand to rest it on the wolf's head, causing its ears to perk up slightly at the touch.

"The choice is now yours."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Samara  DeVries Character Portrait: Cyrus

0.00 INK

Samara pointedly tried to ignore Nicholas and his grumblings, his mistrust only making her more stressed. He had every right to be upset, and he was likely correct, but why on earth was he venting to his fellow humans? Stupid git. She regarded Edith curiously before going silent to listen. After a moment, the farm girls observation proved correct, causing a chill to travel down Samara's spine. Despite the beauty of the gardens, something seemed...off. Samara also found herself glancing at the tall tower at the gardens center, keeping close to Mirela as she daintily sniffed a bright flower beside one of the fountains. The trickle of water was pleasant, but the serene atmosphere was ruined for the noble upon the revelation recieved from Edith's words. No birds in a garden was just wrong.

She and the others didn't have long to ponder, the man who'd taken them prisonor arriving to spoil the mood. Despite his differences, he was clearly the same being who had attacked their village. The smile confirmed it, even if he otherwise appeared a quality nobleman. Samara spared him a glare, though she found his blue eyes just as impossible to look away from as the dark ones she had seen hours prior.

The sight of the wolf only mildly concerned her, though a terrified whimper came from Godfrey. The man was probably the oldest amongst the group, but certainly no less sturdy. For all his strength though, the blacksmith had always harbored an unnaturally strong fear of anything canine. He'd been frightened of dogs since his childhood, and a wolf was far more intimidating. He hovered towards the back of the group, also trying to ignore the taunting sneer of Nicholas. As the wolf snarled in warning, poor Godfrey nearly wet himself in terror, shrinking back with a muffled cry of fear. Edith, unlike Nicholas, was sympathetic towards the blacksmith and attempted to reassure him.

Several of Farrock's residents relaxed during the man's speech, one even looking fully relieved. Clearly they had forgotten the circumstances that led them here. It was pretty, but a pretty cage is still a cage. Samara was all too aware of that. Her fists clenched at her side, eyes never leaving the mansion's owner.

"What's the point in askin anyways? You drag us all out here, show off yer fancy home, and suddenly want us to work for ya? Ya think we're a couple of idiots or something? Listen asshole, I ain't above being bribed and bought to work for better, but I sure as hell don't deal with shady nonsense like this. If all you wanted was some workers, why'd ya burn our homes?" Nicholas retorted, his anger clouding both his judgement and tongue. As a result, he subconsciously alternated between his casual banter and what his momma called 'proper' speak.
Samara was struck by the realization that part of his ire was based on fear as well as suspicion. That made two of them.

But being stupid about it was going to land him in trouble as it always had when his mouth and temper got the better of him.

The villagers of Farrock glanced around, most discussing amongst themselves. While a few of the villagers nodded their compliance, Samara sought for her words while Mirela nudged her gently. "M-maybe if we're good this won't be so bad..." she murmured, willing to do just about anything to avoid an underground cell. The mere thought made her weak in the knees.

"Might we be allowed back when we finish assisting you?"
"Is there a way to send word to my family that I'm ok?"
Several people spoke openly now, though most just nodded in assent.

Finally, Samara's voice chimed in, taking considerable effort to calm her nerves and appear collected. It was one of the perks of being brought up among nobles; she was educated and knew how to engage strangers properly with decorum- no matter how she felt. She could only hope her false calm was as good with him as it was with obnoxious suitors.

"If you simply wanted individuals to work for you, did you not think to simply ask us? You may have gotten more than ten of us if you had simply explained you had an important task that we were to help with in exchange for shelter, food, and clothes." She started, careful not to show her ire like Nicholas.
"Am I allowed to inquire what type of work warranted such drastic and violent measures?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Samara  DeVries Character Portrait: Cyrus

0.00 INK

#, as written by Kai
Nicholas's initial outburst coaxed a smirk out onto Cyrus's features. Any human daft enough to try and face off with a lesser demon, let alone him, must have a death wish. And a wish like that could be granted just as easily as a room in the mansion. Yet the rant went largely ignored by the rest, who had themselves to think about. Cyrus noted the two that shuffled slightly farther away as if to put physical distance between themselves and the one that could be getting put back underground. It seemed that minus some quiet questions, the others largely agreed that a safe room and freedom was better than forced labor.

The couple of hopeful questions that were voiced were met with a simple small sigh. It was like talking to children, really. And as far as Cyrus was concerned, such matters would either be discussed later or they were so trivial that he wouldn't ever bother addressing them. And then there was Samara, coming forward to speak, carefully picking her way through her words as eloquently as any noble he's ever met. Her parents must have been proud.

Cyrus took a step toward her, then another, evidently ignoring the rest of the questions for the time being. He was silent for a long moment, almost as if debating whether or not to answer her inquiry. Finally, he gave the slightest shake of his head, causing a strand of well-place hair to fall forward over his shoulder.

"No," was all he said. It seemed odd that he would answer her while the rest of the questions fell on deaf ears, though he also hadn't provided much in terms of new information. "You may, however, accompany me," he added. He would start with her. It was as good a place to begin as any.

Silently, Cyrus moved back, motioning behind him to the two servants he brought. They had been waiting just close enough to take in scene around them and their purpose became clear when the young woman proceeded to round up all of the ladies of the group and the young man did the same for the males.

There was one exception. No one seemed to have noticed another demon almost materializing in their midst. Had he walked up silently behind them or did he pop up out of the ground? It was difficult to tell, but just then Nicholas gave a yelp as he was grabbed from the back, his hands wrenched behind him. And despite his protest to be let go, he was dragged off the way they had come, back toward the staircase.

"I'll take the bloody room!" was his finally attempt at freedom but it was too late. Perhaps he would simply serve as an example. Perhaps there were other plans.

As the servants quickly began to usher the rest of the group inside, it turned out that they were a little more chatty than their boss. "He will allow it, just give it some time," the young woman was whispering quietly to Edith who had wanted to know about sending word back to her family. Then she waved on her small part of the party. "This way, we'll be going to the second floor of the east wing first," she seemed to go into tour-guide mode. By the end of the hour the new arrivals would be shown their rooms, be given a tour of the first floor of the mansion, and be given some ground rules.

No one steps into the library without express permission. Meals are served promptly at sunrise, 2 o'clock, and sunset. Kitchens are off-limits unless you work there. The grand piano is not to be touched and neither are the wolves if you like having both hands in tact. When you are called on, arrive promptly and ready to work.

The list only grew from there.

Cyrus, in the meantime, motioned Samara in the opposite direction of the two groups. While they headed straight inside, he lead the woman outside and into the gardens themselves, choosing a path almost at random. His step was slow and casual, almost as if they were going on a stroll.

"You are a count's daughter," he spoke after a moment. It wasn't a question, but a matter-of-fact statement. An observation. "Tell me, do you feel the need to protect the others here?" An odd way to begin a discussion, but Cyrus was nothing if not curious.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Samara  DeVries Character Portrait: Cyrus

0.00 INK

Samara stood rooted to the spot as their 'host' approached her with steady, deliberate steps. She only partially noticed Mirela take an anxious step away from her to avoid the intimidating presence. Mirela, for her part, looked almost immediately apologetic at how such a gesture would be percieved- as if she would flee at the first sight of trouble coming towards her closest friend. Samara didn't hold it against her, and wished she could convey as such.

Samara followed the man's every movement, his eyes eerily hard to avoid. In fact, she found his face damn near impossible to ignore even as she fought against a glare or a furrowed brow. His close proximity alone was making her nerves go into high alert. For a moment, he was silent, but his eventual answer was not exactly worth the brief wait. Such a small word, 'no', but it could carry a lot of weight. It also happened to be the young woman's least favorite word. She hated being told no, especially without explanation. A slight twitch by her left eye was the only visible indicater of her frustration.
Despite his next words being one of offering, Samara knew what such a suggestion meant. This was not a request by any means; such a phrase was an order, disguised to most as an open invitation. It wasn't her first time being none so subtly dragged into a meeting, a chat, or other such interactions. Thankfully, he didn't seem to yet require her verbal assent before be took his leave.

Mirela was ushered along with Edith and two other girls, though Samara managed to clasp her friend's hands in her own in the brief commotion of Nicholas (that buffoon) being dragged to the cells.
"Don't worry, you'll...we'll be fine" the aristocrat emphasized quickly, giving what she hoped was a reassuring squeeze of the hands.

All too soon, Mirela was led off with the girls, glancing back to watch her friend follow after the dark stranger. She hoped Samara would be ok, and that they'd soon be reunited.
The inside was just as gorgeous as the gardens, earning awed looks and 'ooh's as they passed. The chores and rules thusfar made sense, though the young woman hoped the servant wouldn't mind repeating one or two again. Her main concern was how on earth she'd know where everything is! What if she stepped into the wrong room by accident? Or missed a meal after getting lost? This mansion was even bigger tha Samara's!



Samara followed wordlessly behind the man, fighting to maintain quiet and some form of control. His leisurely pace was a stark contrast to the turmoil he had caused, and her rising agitation. Why was he speaking to her away from the other villagers? What did he want from her, or any of them? The questions stayed inside for now, waiting to see what his next move would be.

Samara said nothing in reply to his correctly deducing her status. She was quite often reminded of her position, and of the need to raise herself to achieve even more. Or at the very least, maintain her status and not marry below a Count herself.

The chocolate haired girl paused at his question, considering it. Did she feel a certain obligation to look after the villagers overseen by her father? Was she responsible for those who inhabited the counties governed by him? She had mixed feelings on the matter.

On the one hand, she did feel like it would be neglectful for those in charge to ignore those beneath them. The kingdom had many subjects, as well as many varying racks of nobility to govern respective regions or aspects of the populace. After all, the king couldn't do every little thing. So yes, Farrock village (along with all the other villages and cities under her father) was part of her responsibility.

But it wasn't just that. Samara was proper and usually an ideal example of a noblewoman. However, she suffered an extremely stubborn nature, and a disdain of having to give up some of her liberties in the name of success and propriety.

"In a sense, I suppose I might..." she finally answered, glancing at the man to try and judge his reactions. Hands clenched at her sides, Samara waited with baited breath to see if he'd continue.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Samara  DeVries Character Portrait: Cyrus

0.00 INK

#, as written by Kai
Cyrus had folded his hands behind him once more as he lead the young woman through the garden, his steps choosing the paths they walked as they wove deeper in through the flowering bushes. The further they got from the walls of the mansion, the more distinct the sound of trickling water around them became. And if it wasn't evident before, the soft footfall and breath behind them was a constant reminder of the wolf that trudged a few steps back. Cyrus only glanced back at the animal once as he was waiting for Samara's answer, a dull glimmer flashing through his gaze.

Then the woman spoke and Cyrus's attention flickered back to her. Short and rather curt. He made a mental note of this as he gave a light chuckle in turn.

"In a sense, suppose their survival in this mansion depended on your continued cooperation," he mused. "Or perhaps, just the one underground. How far would you go to ensure his survival?"

Was this some sort of a game to him? It certainly seemed like it. Cyrus's tone was conversational enough, almost as if he was merely talking about a simple philosophical riddle that only Samara could solve for him.

And perhaps that's what this was, his way of getting to know these humans that had stepped into his web. Though while he was the vision of calm and poise on his own home turf, the others were simply busy trying to contend with their fortunes. Were their families going to be alright? Would they worry? Now they will have to rebuild their homes, their livelihoods as everything had turned to ash in front of them.

Short term pain, long term gain. Those words would follow Cyrus until his very last days.

"Please, sit." They had reached a tree with a small bench underneath and a small pond before it. The site was quite sudden even with the slow pace they were moving at and the proper wording Cyrus used as odd as his questions.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Samara  DeVries Character Portrait: Cyrus

0.00 INK

Despite the tranquil surroundings of the lavish garden, Samara was unable to truly relax and enjoy it. Between the situation, her current company, and her silent frustrations, it left little room for any feelings of comfort. In addition, she had now noticed the white wolf from before was following them, causing her to glance at it from her periphery. She liked dogs, but it was still uncanny to see a wolf so close. She was simply glad it seemed thusfar uninterested in her.

Her captor seemed to find her answer amusing, a slight chuckle gracing her ears. For such a cruel and cold introduction to him and his minions, she did have to admit his voice was not unpleasant. And even more vexing, his face and general appearance were admittedly on the very attractive side. The thought immediately struck her as foolish, causing her to frown slightly. What an utterly stupid thing to notice! It didn't matter how becoming his face was or how beautifully his hair moved, he still stole her and the others! She had half a mind to slap her cheeks to properly banish the idle thought from her head at all costs. Damn this accursed man!

A chill went down her spine and swiftly washed away her brief moment of idle musings, eyes narrowing slightly at the implications of his words. Her cooperation? Why on earth did he care one way or another? And she wasn't particularly keen on the idea of other's survival resting on her shoulders. Particularly if it was based on her fullfilling certain conditions or whims. Lips pursed into a thin line as she all but glared at the man, Samara fought to control her words and temper.

"I suppose that would depend on what it is you asked of me...how far you would need me to go. I am just one woman, and how can I know for sure if my cooperation would mean anything without first being certain I can do what you desire of me?" She replied, heart thudding ever so slightly faster in her chest as she worried over his intentions. But could he be taunting her? The idea that he might be toying with her left a bitter taste in her mouth.

Upon reaching a resting spot in the garden, Samara was bid to sit down on the bench as if this were some normal visit. A pleasant afternoon spent entertaining a guest. It was so similar, but so wrong.
The young woman finally tore her gaze away from the face of her captor to regard the bench in only somewhat suppressed suspicion. She went over possible replies in her mind, eventually opting to play along for now.

"If you insist." She said, seating herself at the furthest edge of the bench. Almost half of her bottom was hanging off the edge as she attempted to occupy as little of the surface possible.

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"If you know me, it's already too late for you"


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