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Ventaro Sartagus

"Ven Sartagus, roving inventor extraordinaire, at your service."

0 · 222 views · located in Elenia

a character in “Elenia: Dark Age”, as played by Aufeis

Description

Name: Ventaro Isaac Sartagus
Age: 23
Gender: Male
Race: Sorian

Appearance: http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/28/ventaro.png/

Personality

Ventaro, or Ven, is a very optimistic young man, always ready to meet a new challenge or do something previously unheard of. He is a traveling inventor of sorts, inventing all sorts of things from weapons to armors to crazy contraptions. He often has mixed results, but he enjoys building and correcting as much as he enjoys the success. He’s a little geeky and awkward, but when he finds a common ground with someone, he’s actually really friendly. While he prefers non-lethal combat, he is not afraid to kill if someone threatens his life or his friend’s lives. He tends to have a peacekeeper or referee attitude. Despite his being the oldest of his siblings, he also has a very young attitude and outlook on life.

Equipment

Power: N/A

Skills: Gliding, inventing, and basic metalworking, as well as an extensive understanding of mechanics, chemistry, and mathematics.

Weapon:

Twin Kamas

A set of homemade flask grenades. http://warrelics.eu/forum/military_phot ... 0_1390.jpg

History

Ven grew up in a middle class household. His father was part of the ministry and his mother an herbalist, so his choice of career wasn’t exactly greeted with great enthusiasm, but he wasn’t necessarily met with too much confrontation either. He has three sisters and a brother, with himself being the oldest. He left home when he was sixteen and has only been back once a year for routine visits on his travels. His fighting style is a mismatched combination of various styles he learned on the road. He is not necessarily a trained fighter, but he is not entirely defenseless either.

So begins...

Ventaro Sartagus's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ventaro Sartagus
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#, as written by Aufeis
_-Ventaro-_

Clear air. A nice breeze to the beat of his wings. Freedom. That’s what Ventaro thought about when he flew. Aside from the occasional clinking of the hookshot on his wrist, it was quiet. He loved flying, almost as much as he loved inventing. The only part about flying he didn’t like was…trees. More specifically, crashing into them. Almost as if on cue, Ven opened and realized just how low he was flying. The resulting thud could be heard for quite a way away. Once again came the ever familiar feeling of tumbling through tree branches as he fell, painful sensations shooting through his body as each body part caught on its own branch as he feel. Finally hitting the ground, he felt the wind get knocked from him as he laughed a little and clambered back to his feet, he brushed himself off and looked around. Trees. Oh how he hated trees. He knew that being of the Sorian race, he was supposed to love trees. But have you ever flown into a tree? It wasn’t fun. He couldn’t understand how all the others loved trees so much. What was he supposed to be doing again? Oh right. Traveling mechanic. He stretched his neck as he began walking, something he didn’t like nearly as much as flying, but something that sometimes had to be done.

He didn’t hate walking, he just preferred flying. Of course, with all the tree cover, he couldn’t properly get lift off without having to go through the painful experience of falling through the trees in reverse. Instead, he’d just have to find clearing. Right, clearing in a forest; because those were easy to find. He sighed as he hopped over a fallen log. Or, he meant to hop over the fallen log. He hadn’t expected the drop to be as far as it was. Or, technically speaking, the drop shouldn’t have been as far as it was. When he was able to open his eyes, his surroundings were vastly different. A cave. Okay, so there was one thing he hated more than trees. Caves. He absolutely despised caves. You couldn’t fly in a cave. Caves were damp, dank, and dark, with very little room. Although this cave was okay, he supposed. It didn’t seem too damp or dank, although the darkness could use some work. Maybe a torch or two.

"Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. In all races, and from every kingdom. You will be put through a trial, and only by passing said trial can you hope to save your life, and protect those that can save this world. Complete your task, but beware. Things may not always be what they seem. Pass and you will join your future comrades, fail and the cave will claim you as it's own forever."

A voice rang out in his head, making him cringe a little, "Hey, personal space, jeez." he muttered. What was this place anyway? Future comrades? Well, one thing he did know was that he didn't want to be wandering around in these caves forever, that was for sure, "Alright. I'm sure I can take on anything you've got for me."

Ven continued to look around the chamber bewildered as the voice seemed to ignore him. Suddenly he found that he was not alone. Upon a rock-like table, appeared an elderly man who looked to be quite old indeed. Ven quickly crossed the room and stood at the man’s side. The man appeared to be Sorian, though his wings had molted off long ago, and his face was set with many wrinkles. Ven couldn’t tell if the man was alive or dead, so when his voice finally came to him, it came out sort of stuttered, “Uh…Sir, are you uh…alright?” He asked tentatively and the man’s eyes cracked slightly, “Kill me.” The man said weakly. Ven’s eyes shot wide as he was sure he had heard the man wrong, “Uh…I’m sorry, what?”

“Kill me. Please. My wings have fallen off and my body has aged terribly. I am in unimaginable pain. Please. Kill me.” The man rasped horribly.

Ven could only look at the man with surprise in his eyes, “I…uh, I can’t just…uh…kill you.” He replied, looking down at his kama’s attached to his belt. Had he ever even used them before? He had training with them to be sure, but had he ever killed with them before. In his six years of traveling, had he ever actually had to use them? He couldn’t remember, but he knew he’d never had to kill a person before. Maybe he’d killed an animal or something, but he’d never had to fight before. Mostly because of the flying and all, and he supposed the hookshot looked intimidating enough for one who didn’t know what it was.

The man simply scoffed, “So you are content to simply stand here and watch me suffer, is that it?” He asked, coughing a little, “If I could do it myself, I would. So I ask you again to end my miserable life.”

Ven began to sift around in his bag, “I’m sure I have something in here to help you. A salve or something. Maybe a pill of some kind.” He said, looking furiously through his rucksack.

The old man coughed again before he grabbed onto Ven’s arm with a surprisingly strong hand, “Son, I’ve lived more than my fair amount. No salve, or pill, or any confounded potion will heal my age. You have a pair of weapons, perfectly sharp and killtastic. All you have to do, is use them.”

Ven simply shook his head and the old man grabbed his arm again, “Doooo it.” Despite his reluctance, Ven actually found himself drawing his Kama, “Please…is there no other way?” He asked pleadingly. The man shook his head and Ven grit his teeth. The old man smiled at him, “Thank you. I’ve suffered for so long. A few more seconds won’t matter to me. Just strike me anywhere.”

Ven was looking down at the man with wide eyes, and when he cranked his arm back, he had managed to clamp them shut. Finally, he swung, screaming as his voice filled the cavern, as if to drown out the sound of what he had just done. Panting slightly, he looked down. The man’s body was gone. The Kama was floating where his head had been just moments ago, but there was no blood. He looked around unsurely, not quite sure what had happened. Finally, a light so bright he had to close his eyes to it as a voice rang out:

“You have learned that not all situations can be resolved without death. You must remember this lesson as you progress, not only in your journey, but in life as well.”

Ven tried to look around, but the light was still so blinding. Eventually it died down, and he found himself in a room that was not all that dissimilar to the room he had just been in, save for the lack of someone asking for him to kill them. Still, he didn't know what the hell was going on. Part of him said to explore and find out, but the self-preserving part of him said to stay put. Self-preservation won.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Arienna Intuneric Character Portrait: Ventaro Sartagus Character Portrait: Kassidy Anasiti
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#, as written by Aufeis
Arienna became aware of more people around her. She finished the bandaging on her leg, pulling it tight and grunting a little as she pulled her grieve back on. It hurt like hell to stand up, but she wasn’t going to show her pain here. She leaned back against the wall, taking a casual posture, but she was just pulling weight off her injured leg. She let her eyes sweep the room. She almost leaned down to grab her helmet, when suddenly shouts entered the room as two men were locked in some sort of scuffle. And then just like that it was over, and the two men were looking around in bewilderment. Well, that was probably a good indication that these people were probably as lost as she was. Her eyes scanned the cave again. Two Pyrians, an Aquarian, one surefire Sorian, two in what looked like Sorian armor, but she couldn’t be sure, a Terran, and two Lethalians. The corners of her lips became a smirk for all of two seconds. No other Shadelians. She didn’t know if she should be pleased or frightened. She didn’t really feel frightened. She wasn’t quite sure why, she just didn’t. The two Lethalians, the armored Sorians, and possibly the tribal idiot were the only ones she pegged as visible threats. The others just looked scared or exhausted. At least she could relate to the exhaustion. Her eyes swept back over the room, this time ignoring its inhabitants and concentrating on the architecture. Man-made by the look of it, with a somewhat un-Terran feel to it. Odd. There were no visible exits or entrances in any direction, and the room was lit by crude torches. How was it that they were still alive? With no source of air, shouldn’t they all be dead? Not that she would dispute the fact they were still alive, she liked being alive.

Now people began to talk, ask questions. She stayed silent, listening to everything. Body language and verbal signals suggested nobody knew where ‘here’ was, exactly. None of these people were their captors, by the look of it, but she couldn’t be one hundred percent sure. Best not to trust anyone at this point.

---------------------------------

Ventaro looked around the room. It was a great room and all, but it was a cave. A dank, wet, nasty cave. Sorians weren’t meant for caves. He shuddered a little. He hated caves more than he hated forests. At least he wasn’t alone this time. He was pretty certain he’d been alone in the last cave; that guy probably wasn’t real…probably. He listened and heard a girl ask about a baby. A baby, down here? How does one lose track of something like that? He didn’t know. However, he wouldn’t let something like that go unresolved. A child’s life was at stake…maybe. Still, he couldn’t help but notice another Pyrian girl, who pretty much was passed out on the floor. After a moment’s consideration, he took the water pouch from his jacket and set it next to her. It had the Sartagus name and crest burned into the skin, he could always get it back later…or just get a new water skin. He flapped his wings a little, causing a small breeze to blow over the unconscious woman. He didn’t know how much he actually helped, but she didn’t appear wounded…just very heavily fatigued. Maybe not everything could be solved with science, but he had a nutrient salve that could restore the energy of people. The bags under this girl’s eyes told a story of either insomnia or something. He felt bad for waking her, but this wasn’t exactly the best place to be sleeping. He crouched down beside her and reached into his pack, pulling out the correct salve. After a moment’s consideration, he took her wrist gently and pulled the sleeve up a little, rubbing the salve into the inside of her wrist. He then moved and did the same to her other wrist. For good measure, he dabbed a little on her throat as well. After that, he took a little bit of spirit of hartshorn and wafted it into the girl’s face. That would wake her up. Gently, he whispered, “Please don’t be cross, but I don’t think this is the proper place to rest.”

He stuffed the spirit of hartshorn back into his pack, just standing there for a moment. With a small nod, he made his way over to the first Pyrian girl, “Excuse me, did you say that a child is missing? What happened before he went missing?” He had a suspicion that this child was another illusion, but he couldn’t be certain. Once he heard what this girl had to say, he could be sure. She said ‘a baby’ not ‘her baby’, which lead Ven to believe that the baby was not hers, but instead, found inside the caves, like the old man he had found. Did that mean they all had similar experiences? He didn’t know.

---------------------------------

Kassidy hadn’t calmed down in the time she had taken to sit against the wall. In fact, she’d gotten more frantic. Where was she? Who were these people? How far from home was she? When her parents had said her curiosity would be the death of her, this is totally not what she thought they had meant. This place didn’t even make sense. There was no air flow in here, yet they were all breathing just fine. That was impossible, wasn’t it? Maybe there were mushrooms or something in here that could filter the air. She didn’t know. And then there were people that looked as though they had come from the reports from the east; big men in armor, and even a scary Shadelian woman who just sort of glared at everything. Was she going to die? Had she escaped the bear just to be killed here? People were talking. She listened intently, trying to pick up something useful, but everyone just seemed to be as lost as she was. So maybe she wasn’t going to die…yet, anyway. If nobody in the cavern was responsible for them all being here, what was? She didn’t realize how huge her eyes were. She probably looked the most pathetic in the entire room, and the shivering probably didn’t help.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Arienna Intuneric Character Portrait: Ventaro Sartagus Character Portrait: Kassidy Anasiti
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#, as written by Aufeis
Ari just scoffed. Great, so they were locked in a chamber made of pure earth in who knew where, with a crazy little girl, a panther, and a traitorous killer. Lovely. That was great. She just shook her head, "I can't believe after everything, this is how I'm going to die. Really, I'm speechless with joy." She muttered; Whiskers looked up at her with curious eyes, meowing once and then looking at Shadowmere from across the room. He meowed once more, as if to ask permission to go investigate. Ari reached down and picked the small animal up, "No, stay here, Whiskers. No sense getting lost in here just yet. Wouldn't want someone to mistaken you for a snack." Whiskers was entirely oblivious to the 'danger' that Ari was so wholly trying to portray to him. She just sighed, letting the small feline climb to her shoulders. She wasn't exactly ready to go about and aggravating her wound. She especially didn't want to be limping around on it either. So she stood, her casual pose not faltering as she surveyed the room, as though expecting someone to do something.

--------------

Ven put his hand to his face, rubbing a little at the stubble there, "You say a large wave pushed you here, from a beach?" He asked, giving her shoulder a cursory poke. He nodded at his assessment, next kneeling down near her and examining near her feet. Just as he suspected, "Miss, I believe what you experienced was the result of some kind of magic. I would also wager that everyone here experienced something similar. I myself am victim to an illusion such as what you experienced. I do not believe there ever was a baby, nor do I think there was a beach or ocean. Your clothes aren't even remotely damp, and you don't smell like the sea. Trust me, I know what the sea smells like. Not only that, but lift your boots. There's no sand anywhere. It's only logical to assume whatever force brought us here is responsible for what you saw as well. I would still be willing to assist you in looking, if for no other reason but to ease your mind." He nodded a little to himself before he snapped and extending his hand to her, "Oh! Of course, where are my manners. I am Ventaro Sartagus, traveling inventor extraordinaire, at your service."

--------------

Kass was just watching the things that were going on around her with wide eyes. What caught her eye first was the panther. She'd never seen an animal like that before. Slowly, carefully, she got up and crept closer to the animal and its apparent master, "Uhm...Excuse me, sir...What kind of animal is that? I mean, I know it's a cat, of course, but like...what kind of cat? I've never seen one like it." No, the only cats she'd ever seen that were that size were tigers, and that definitely wasn't a tiger. Still, she wanted to know. She also heard the name Krovi. She hadn't heard that name mentioned since school. Interesting. She could gather all sorts of new information here! Next thing to do would be to interview that man, but for now, she was fascinated by Shadowmere, "It doesn't bite, does it?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Arienna Intuneric Character Portrait: Ventaro Sartagus Character Portrait: Kassidy Anasiti
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#, as written by Aufeis
Ari wasn't expecting to be woken so suddenly, nor had she expected it to be so soon. What the hell had caused that noise? She opened her eyes and sat up stock straight. Then someone was talking. A man. Rubbing the sleep from her eyes hastily, she stood up. Tch. Men, telling her what to do. Of course. Why not? She needed another man to order her around. That stupid gem host...ghost...thing...had ordered her around too,“I do not need your advice, old man, nor do I want it.” She responded haughtily, grabbing up her bag and taking a few unsteady steps (or limps, really) away from Monroe, towards the forest. When she was sure of herself, her strides became less labored as she stomped off into the trees.

Monroe sat there and took a more meditating position. “As you wish.” Was all he said in response to the young woman who was hurrying off. Scarlet however, who was watching Ari since she had re-opened her eyes, didn’t think she handled that well at all. Scar struggled to her feet, and clumsily ran after her, almost falling more then she’d like to admit. After some time, she finally caught up with Arienna, who seemed to have just as hard a time to move.

"Hey" she called out, either being ignored or Arienna not hearing her the first time. "Hey", or the second time for that matter. As she got a little closer, and felt almost like she was going to pass out, she spoke up, sure Arienna could hear her. After all she was almost right next to her now. "Hey. I'm talking to you, ya know."

She coughed a bit, feeling like she was about to cough up blood, but thankfully nothing came out of it. "It wasn't very nice what you did back there. It was quite rude. He was only trying to help. That’s what old people do! You could have at least said thank you and decline him more appropriately. I think you owe him an apology." Scarlet worked on catching her breath after letting all that out. She kept walking, trying to keep up with Ari and trying to keep herself from collapsing into the dirt.


Ari was still thinking when a voice piped up almost right beside her. She turned clumsily and drew her blade, aiming it at Scarlet’s throat, “Do not sneak up on me, or it will kill you.” She said angrily, though the way Scarlet looked, she knew that sounded stupid. Scarlet looked about as capable as sneaking up on someone as a semi-retarded chimpanzee. This stupid gem thing, it was clouding her head. She heard Scarlet out the rest of the way and crossed her arms, “I do not need yours, his, or anyone's help. I would have asked for it if I did, but I didn't. That's a good indication I don't need it. I'm fine.” She said, though she immediately turned her head and puked, losing the celebratory meal she’d ‘earned’ by getting into the Shadelian army. It tasted almost as bad coming up as it had going down, “Disgusting rubbish they called food...”

Scarlet didn't even flinch when Ari turned around, although she did stop moving as to not impale herself on Ari's blade. "Sneak up on you? I called out to you a few times. Not my fault if you weren't listening." Scarlet scoffed as Ari finished saying she didn't need any help. "No, I think it's a good indication that you're too stubborn and pig headed to ask for help yourself. We'll see how fine you'd get around with a wounded leg. Of course, I bet with a hurt wrist like you have, it would be pretty difficult to wield that weapon right now too." Scarlet didn't fear Ari at all, nor did she fear Ari's threats. Ari wouldn't kill her, that much..... Well, that much she'd make a gamble on. Hopefully she was as good at reading the girl as she had thought.

Ari wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and flicked her wrist, once again forgetting that it was wounded and cringing as pain shot up her arm, “Don’t you condescend to me, girl, or I shall rip your tongue out and stuff it in backwards.” She threatened, hefting her weight more off her wounded leg before simply dropping her pack, “You don’t know what I’m capable of; surviving on such wounds is one of them. I assure you that I’ve had much worse, and still had to fight. So lest you know of which you speak, do not flaunt about your words as if you were preaching to your servants.” She growled as she wiped her hand on her pants, running her other hand through her hair again absentmindedly.

Scarlet stared at Ari, blissfully ignoring any feeling that she should be afraid here. "I'll speak however I want too. I don't care if you don't like it. Don't threaten me, ‘cause while I may look like the scared little girl, I'm not. I won't let you intimidate me!" Scarlet crossed her arms across her chest, although the feeling of passing out or puking was still very much there. "Just because you can survive that way doesn't mean you should. You don't have to be.... such a... a.... a bitch." Scarlet said adamantly. "Oh and don't assume you know how I lived either. I never preached to any servants, they simply did things for my family."

Ari scoffed, “I didn’t ask you to follow me out here and lecture me about my manners, or lack thereof. If you don’t like how I act, tough. You and all the others can deal with it. And they aren’t threats. I assure you I have no problem inflicting bodily harm to you, or anyone else who incurs it.” She said, leaning against a tree. She was trying to look nonchalant, but she really just needed the support. Her legs felt like lead, “Is there some specific reason you have chosen to attach yourself to me like a shadow? I’m sure there are others amongst our group whom you could lecture. I’m sure your time would be much better spent on lecturing them instead of a so-called bitch like myself.”

Scarlet just looked at Arienna with a completely unamused look, not that Arienna was trying to be amusing. "If you want to hurt me go ahead, it's not like I could fight a trained soldier like yourself off." As Arienna leaned on a tree, Scarlet just continued to look at her. "I'm going to help you be nicer, and more lady like. That's why I've attached myself to you, as you put it. No other bitch or fool would do. I've already invested my time into helping you. Whether you like it or not."

Ari tried to cover up a laugh, but it came out despite herself, “Oh really? You are going to teach me to be a lady? Indeed? You shall be more than hard-pressed to overcome my prior teachings. But it shall definitely be amusing to watch you attempt such a thing. Let me ask you this, though, why would one such as myself wish to become more lady-like? It is not required of my job, and I assure you I am looking no farther for company than a traveling companion or fellow warrior, so what could I possibly require of your teachings? More importantly, why should you care how I act? It is not so hard to simply disassociate yourself with me socially and instead simply act as we are; companions on a suicide mission.”

Scarlet smiled a bit as Arienna started to laugh. "Yes really. Yes, I am going to teach you to be a lady. You'd be harder-pressed to think I'm giving up at all. I don't care if you want to be more lady-like, I will make you more lady-like anyway. Why? Because I can. I think you need it, but of course raised as a Shadelian soldier, you wouldn't agree. Your mind isn't programmed to be anything but a barbarian. It won't kill you to be more feminine, you're probably not man-ish when you take off your armor, you know. Oh and I don't see it as a suicide mission. I intend to survive this, and I'd like to have some friends after it. I'd rather not go back home. I'd just end up running away again anyway."

Ari laughed again, “Indeed. You’re more than welcome to try, girl. I am not a barbarian, as you put it, I am a knight. There is a stark difference.” When Scarlet mentioned her not being too “man-ish”, she raised an eyebrow, “And what, pray tell, is that supposed to mean? Just because I wear armor instead of a dress, or carry a sword instead of basket of flowers does not make me ‘man-ish’, thank you very little. I simply choose to be different from your ilk, and actually make myself useful. I would have thought a Pyrian such as yourself would know of women’s rights to bear arms, instead of being married off for status.” What originally seemed like a joke to her was now irritating her severely. How dare this…this noble little girl, this mere child of a woman, call her ‘man-ish’. An angry frown crossed her face, “You have no right to criticize me or my hardships. What know you of hardship? What know you of pain? You and your ilk, always passing judgment, always trying to change others for your own amusement; I like who I am, so I will kindly ask you to fuck off.”

"It's a very barbaric way of life. To always think of fighting and your job, as you put it, first? I can't imagine anything being considered more barbaric." Scarlet was taken aback a bit by the way Arienna took the man-ish comment. It was clear that she wasn't used to people talking about how she looked alone. "Hey hey, look. Stop taking things so much to heart; otherwise you'll be living a life filled with much more pain then usual. In your armor, it hides your feminine features, and makes you look like a man. I was just saying outside your armor you don't look like a man, so it wouldn't kill you to act a little more feminine. Saying thank you for someone doing something is just common decency."

Scarlet stared at Ari as she told her to fuck off, but Scar wasn't going anywhere. "So I don't know of pain and hardship like you do, it doesn't mean I don't know how to act like a decent person. Those are skills you seem to lack. Oh, and I don't try to change people for my amusement. I could think of another way to amuse myself with you, but changing you isn't one. I'm sticking around you and I'm not going to fuck off, as you so crudely put it. So buck up and enjoy the company and the fact that someone cares enough to want to help you, and if you ever talk to me like that again I'll... I'll.... I'll slap you." She said clearly frustrated with her arms over her chest.

“Oh yeah, I’m sure a noble like you could find plenty of pleasure out of me, huh? ‘Look at the little Shadelian girl, the little tom-boy, the freak. Let’s see if we can make Everen’s little freak cry. She never cries, let’s see how far we can push her! Maybe if we hit her, maybe if we call her names, she’ll cry! Oh, what a fucking wonderful time it will be! And we’ll all just laugh and laugh at the freak! She can’t do anything, ‘cause if she hits back, she’ll be strung up like her mother!’ I don’t need your pity, I don’t need your kinship, and I don’t need you!” Ari was yelling now, quite angrily. She even went so far as to shove Scarlet with both hands, planting them squarely on her shoulders, “I’ll act however I want, to whoever I want, whenever I want! You stay the fuck away from me; you stuck up, pigheaded, noble piece of shit! And if you so much as touch me, I will make you more than regret it!”

Tears glistened at the edges of her eyes, though she quickly brushed them away and turned away from Scarlet, hoping the girl hadn’t seen them. What was going on with her? She’d never let comments like this get to her before, but now she was practically crying with anger over them. It had to be that gem, and whatever the hell it was doing to her. This dark cloud she couldn’t seem to get out of.

Scar stared at Arienna as she started to freak out. She didn't understand what the hell Ari was saying at first. Was she yelling at her? Was this Everen her father? What did her mother have to do with anything? Any normal person would have run away by now, but Scar was quite stubborn herself. After being shoved to the ground Scarlet got up and looked at Ari. "I don't pity you and I don't think that you need me. I just.... I just thought that we could be friends. You clearly didn't know anyone here, and I didn't obviously. Most of the others seemed to either be talking to other people, or more anti-social then you are. I just took a chance on you, and I still hope it wasn't the wrong one...."

Scarlet walked closer to Arienna, and walked in front of her, now staring her straight in her tear filled eyes. "I said; don't ever talk to me like that again. I suppose if you really wanted no friends, then you got your wish." She said as she raised her hand and slapped Ari right across the left side of her face. Scarlet without saying another word began walking away from her, done with trying to make friends with someone so clearly fine with living a life alone.

Ari was surprised by Scarlet’s fulfilling her word; she definitely hadn’t expected the girl to actually slap her. As she started to walk off, Ari stood there dumbstruck, until the stinging pain in her face brought her back. With balled up hands, she shouted. Though her voice might have been within earshot of those at the temple, but her words would be nothing but garbled noise, “You nobles are all the same! You know that!? So entitled to do whatever you want. Like I’ve never heard that line before! ‘Just wanted to be your friend.’ Nobody wants to be my friend. Nobody…” Her voice went from angry shouting to simply talking, her voice more than likely just on the edges of Scarlet’s hearing. Before she could stop herself, she began to cry. It had been a long time since she had actually cried, especially in front of someone else. It felt good, though, to let all of her negative emotions out like this. But to do it in front of this girl, this noble…she was just broadcasting that she was weak.

‘Do you want them to think you’re weak, Arienna? Cease your tears this instant! A soldier does not cry! A weapon does not cry!’ Everen shouted in her head, and Ari actually cringed back a little, as if he were standing right beside her instead of inside her head, ‘I did not raise my child to be a sniveling worthless sack of shit. You get up, and you make that girl pay!’

Ari just shook her head against her knees, which she’d brought up against her chest to rest her head against as she cried, letting the darkness her body created sooth her and hide her eyes. She would have said more, but the girl already thought her a chew toy. No sense for her to think she was an insane chew toy.

Scarlet stopped as she heard Arienna yell at her. As she turned around to look upon the girl crying on the ground, she just sighed. "Damn it...." She walked over to Ari and placed a handkerchief on Ari's knees. "I'm not like all the rest of them. They'd pretend to be your friend just to insult or hurt you. I really wanted to be your friend. I figured you may not be one to hurt me. I'm not one that would hurt you. Don't worry though; maybe your lack of friends is a better thing. People who act like your friends, or maybe more.... They can hurt you. Empty is better then pain in some cases."
    
After she spoke she turned around and started walking away, before pausing once more. "I may not know your pain, and I may never know what it's like to be you. However, I have my own pain. Pain I hope that you never have to face. Just because I'm a noble, doesn't mean my life is perfect; far from it in fact."

As she felt the handkerchief spread across her knees, Ari looked up. What did she want now? Just to watch her cry? But no, it didn’t seem like that at all. As Scarlet started to walk away again, she began to regret her actions. When Scarlet spoke again, she listened, “I…I’ve never had a friend before…” She whispered, just loud enough to have Scar hear her, “Not a real, human friend. I’ve never even had someone care about me before. Why would you? Even my own father didn’t want me.” She whispered ruefully. Whiskers, who had once again escaped the bag, had by now trotted over to Scarlet and was looking up at her with big, curious eyes. He meowed once before rubbing against Scarlet’s legs.

Scarlet thought about how to answer Arienna's questions. They were rather sad, thinking that's how she felt about herself. She thought so low of herself, Scarlet felt bad for her. She didn't pity her, she could almost relate in a way. Scarlet had been in her shoes, not too long ago. She felt worthless, why else would anyone have hurt her so many times like they did? She came to grips that it wasn't her fault though. Maybe that was part of the reason she wanted to leave so badly, so she could find someplace where the people were better.
    
"Why wouldn't I want to be? Despite you acting like a bitch on the outside, I can tell you're not. You're just not used to not being a soldier. I've seen it before. People change when they're raised as a warrior, but that doesn't make them cold, heartless people. It just makes them misunderstood. I wanted to make you feel like you were among friends. I wanted to be your friend." Scarlet took note of the cat and picked it up. Petting its head she walked over and sat down across from Arienna. It felt good to sit actually.

"The way you talk, you sound broken. I know how that feels, and I can help you fix it. No matter who did what to you, it's not your fault. Don't let people ruin your life. There has to be someone out there that won't treat you like shit, otherwise no one would ever be happy at all."

Ari shook her head, “I’m not broken. I’m fine.” She whispered, turning away from Scarlet, “What does happiness gain me? It won’t help me out on the battlefield. Friendship begets pain and hazes the mind. If you have concern for anything aside from your objective, even your life, then you will die in combat. You have to be willing to give away everything to survive.” She said, though the words didn’t sound like her own.

Scarlet stared at Arienna, while holding Whiskers in her arms. "If all that really is true, then maybe it's best we don't become friends for I will die soon. I won't give up any hope for friendship, or give up anything for survival. If you have nothing but yourself to fight for, then why bother fighting at all? What's surviving if you have nothing and no one more then yourself? I suppose I should say goodbye to you Arienna." Scarlet placed Whiskers on the ground, pushing him more towards Arienna.

Ari simply nestled her head into her knees again and felt the sobs wrack her again, “What do you want from me? Huh? What do you want?” She asked, sobbing.

Scarlet stared at Ari for a moment as she cried. "Nothing. I wanted to be your friend is all. I think the question you should ask yourself here though is what do you want? I mean really you, not how you were taught to think or anything. Look deep inside yourself and find out what you want. Until you know, I don't think you can ever allow yourself to be happy."

Ari didn’t bother looking up, “I don’t know what I want.” Was all she could say before she started sobbing again, “I don’t know what I want or what I’m supposed to do. You don’t understand…you can’t understand.”

‘Nobody will ever understand, Arienna.’

“I feel like a puppet who’s strings have been cut. So what am I supposed to do? What am I supposed to do?” She asked, putting her hands to her head again, as if it were going to explode spontaneously, and she was just trying to keep herself together. “A puppet without its strings is worthless.” She heard herself, as well as Everen, say.

Scarlet didn't know what to say as Ari said she didn't know what she wanted. It was clear this whole friendship thing was going to be harder than she thought. "You're.... You're completely right. A puppet without its strings is worthless. Good thing you aren't one. You're a puppet without a puppeteer. You're free to do whatever you want to do. To feel however you want to feel. To pull your own strings, no matter how wrong other people think you are in doing so. Taking your life into your own hands is the ultimate form of survival."

Ari listened as Scarlet talked, at first confused by what she was saying, “I don’t…I don’t know how.” She whispered, for the first time sounding afraid.

‘She’s trying to trick you, Arienna. You can only trust yourself, and by that extension, me.’

Ari paused for a moment, thinking, “How…how does one go about making a friend? I’ve never had one before.” She said quietly, and she could feel Everen’s rage receding from her mind, until there was nothing there. She waited for him to shout at her, but the shouting never came. It was only her, in her own mind. Her hands fell away from her head, slowly, as that sick feeling receded a little.

"How does one make a friend?" Scarlet was surprised to hear the question. It was human nature, wasn't it? Basic instinct that just made them know how to? This Arienna.... She was a strange girl indeed. "Umm.... Well, for starters you have to want to be someone's friend. Then if you both want to be friends you just kind of be friends. Talk to each other, and just be there for each other and stuff. Maybe play a game or something. I used to play some Pyrian games with my younger friends when I was a young one." Scarlet moved a bit closer and placed her hand on Arienna's knee. "Of course, not being a bitch always helps too." She said in a more joking tone trying to maybe light the mood a bit.

Ari looked at Scarlet as she talked. Did she want to have friends? She didn’t want to be alone, that was for sure. She’d been alone almost her entire life, it felt like. She felt stupid as Scarlet talked. She didn’t know what she could say that anyone would want to listen to, nor did she know of any games. When Scarlet mentioned not being a bitch, Ari’s eyes fell and she wrapped her own arms around her knees, “I…I am sorry.” She sat silently for a moment before her eyes tentatively came up again, though they would flick off in a different direction, as if she expected something that wasn’t going to come, “I…I don’t know any games. And training to be a knight is all I really know about…You wouldn’t find it interesting, I’m sure…”

Scarlet watched how Ari reacted to what she had said and frowned a little. "It's alright. Wait 'till you get to know me a bit better. I'm kind of known as one stubborn bitch at times." She smiled a little as Arienna explained about what she knew and what she didn't. "Don't worry; games are a bit young for us anyway. I don't know much about being a knight, but I can listen. Maybe when I feel be.... Maybe when I get used to the Gem a bit, you can even teach me some moves. I'd rather not die on the battlefield, even if I do have friends."

Ari listened to Scar speak, but fell silent as she mentioned teaching her how to fight. Her eyes fell and she simply sat like that for a few minutes. She honestly didn’t know if she could teach someone else how to fight. The only manner of teaching she knew was her father’s, but she absolutely refused to teach anyone like that. Her eyes came back up slowly and she spoke softly, “The Gem…is it doing weird things to you ?”

As a silence fell through the area, Scarlet listened to the whisperings of the wind as it blew through her hair. It was a bit awkward, but peaceful at the same time. However when Arienna finally spoke and asked about the gem, Scarlet only turned her head away from Arienna. "It's nothing to worry about. Really, I feel fine with it, just need to adjust to its power a bit. Nothing to worry about at all."

Ari wanted to pursue the subject of the gem, but let it fall away as Scarlet made it out to be nothing, “Right…yeah, just an adjustment.” She murmured, more to herself than to Scarlet. Was she the only one who was experiencing this? She refused to ask; she wasn’t going to look weak in front of the others. Again the silence fell between them as Ari kept her head turned away. Whiskers meowed quite loudly, actually, as if wondering why the two ‘friends’ were acting this way.

Scarlet stared into the woods as the silence continued. "Maybe I should go... Let you think for a bit..." She said as she stood up. However from the excitement, she hardly made it 3 steps before unloading her stomach into the nearest bush. She fell over to the ground on her knees, shaking from the force of the puking. "I... I'm sorry...." Scarlet said timidly, apologizing for Arienna having to see her throw up.

Ari watched as Scarlet got up as made to leave before puking. At least she had aimed for the bushes. Ari had pretty much just puked into the middle of the clearing. She stood up as well, picking up her pack and putting Whiskers into it before walking over to Scarlet. Now that Everen’s voice had receded, taking with him a bit of her ill feelings, she felt a little stronger. Not nearly up to full strength, unfortunately, but maybe a good night’s sleep would help with that. She held her hand out to help Scarlet back to her feet and with a tentative smile, she said, “Perhaps we should leave before our respective lunches begin to smell. Besides, I believe I have some…apologies to extend.”

Scarlet looked up as she heard someone walk over. It was Arienna, and she was extending her hand to help her up. Maybe Scar really had changed her, just a bit. At least let her know that not everyone was an asshole. She accepted Arienna's hand and got to her feet, although dropping her bag when she did so. It fell to the ground with a clang. "Thank you." She said as she leaned over and picked up the bag. As she slung it over her shoulder though, she became off balance and fell right into Arienna. After staying there for a moment, leaning on her, she finally backed off. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean too."

Ari was taken aback by Scarlet falling into her, but she just sort of stood there as the girl leaned on her, “It’s uh…it’s alright. Just…be more careful, alright?” She didn’t say it pointedly, but with a tentative smile which quickly faded, “Are you sure the Gem is only a slight adjustment?” She asked, trying to get back to that. She really did want to know if there were other adverse effects on Scarlet, but she wouldn’t press the girl. Not that she would reveal anything herself.

Scarlet stood still as Arienna asked her if everything really was okay with the Gem. She knew she couldn't hide it from everyone forever. Maybe a friend could help her keep it hidden from the others. "You can't tell anyone else, Arienna... Ever since I got the gem.... I think it's making me sick. Its magic is so... different from what I'm used too.... So much more dense. It's harder to breathe, to walk, it's hard to keep anything down despite me not having eaten anything. I don't want everyone else to know. I've seen the way they all look at me. Like I'm a little girl that isn't capable of taking care of myself... I've seen the look so many times before.... I just... I just wanna prove that I'm not a weak little girl. Ya know?"

Ari nodded slightly. So it wasn’t just her that was having an adverse side effect to the gems. This both comforted her and worried her. How long would that last? “I see. I will keep your secret if you will keep mine. The gem has called something up in me I cannot seem to shake; a depression that clouds my every thought.” She replied, feeling the clamminess she had felt earlier going away. Perhaps all she needed was to puke, to let it all out.

Scarlet smiled a bit as Arienna agreed to keep her secret and even opened up a bit herself. "Don't worry, with me around you won't be able to be depressed and have your thoughts clouded. At least not from your depression. We'll find some other ways to keep your thoughts occupied. Like looking at the clouds. I've always found that very calming." She said with a smile as she started walking back towards the others. "Come on, you have an apology to make right, or at the very least, a thank you."

-------------

As Zet finished up with his impromptu leadership speech, Kass took her chance. As quickly as she could, without tripping over anything or shivering her way into anyone, she made her way over to the cloaked man, “’Scuse me. Sir? Mr. Krovi?” She asked, her teeth chattering a little both with excitement and the cold that radiated from her core as she gently tugged on the hem of his cloak.

    As Zet stood there, letting everyone else decide how to react, he just stared into the woods. He didn't normally care about being in this area. Bandits don't exactly care to fight a Krovi, or care enough to attack him for his family. However, a large group with several inexperienced fighters moving through their turf, that made for a much different situation. They were ripe for mugging. As he was thinking things over he heard a small voice. He turned to see the young Aquarian host talking to him. "It's Zet. Call me Zet." He noticed her teeth chattering, and couldn't help but think she was cold. While she wasn't exactly dressed the warmest, there wasn't any way she should be as cold as she seemed. "Is something wrong? You look like you're freezing cold."

Kass shifted a little as Zet mentioned her shivering, “I don’t know. I can’t get warm no matter what I do. I think it’s that gem those ghost things gave us. Ever since I got it I’ve felt like this.” She said, before shaking her head, “But that’s not what I wanted to talk about. You’re really a Krovi? Like, the infamous ones?” She didn’t really realize how callous that had sounded, even after it left her mouth.

Zet laughed a bit and shook his head. Infamous? Is that what they had become? It's a shame really, they used to have such a good name. "Yes, I'm really a Krovi. Go ahead and get all your comments out now. I'm sure I've heard them all before countless times. Say what you wish and go back and talk to the others." To say Zet was a bit sore on the subject was an understatement. The stories however defined his life so much, it was almost impossible not to be sore about it.

Kass just kinda stared up at him for a minute with nothing but the sound of shivering coming from her before she said, “That is so cool. I have so many questions!” She said with a giddy smile. She was looking at Zet more like a book that needed reading than a person, “What’s it like, when you do that blood thing your people do? Is it true your ancestor slaughtered his allies with ease? Is it true that the Krovian Durability hasn’t been seen since the traitor?” She asked all in one breath, panting a little once she had finished, but looking up at him with huge eyes.

Questions? She had Questions? Zet didn't know whether to be pissed off, offended, or wonder who this girl really was. "Your people? We're not some kind of diseased rodents waiting to be dissected, we're people with an ability. Our own set of magic that no one else can do. You're not so far off of being considered one just like us you know. The only difference is how people will look at you. Heroes instead of murderous traitors. You wanna know how it feels when I use my blood ability? Anger. Pain. It starts out as both and by the time it's done I feel nothing. The wounds that open up go numb, the people that witness it stare in fear, and the few similar to you wonder how I do it. You wanna know how it feels? Words can't possibly describe how it feels."
    
Zet paused a minute before answering the next question. He needed to take a deep breath and cool down a bit first. "Are those stories true? Does it really matter what I say.? The stories have been told so often that even some of my clan start to believe them. Sometimes, I don't even know what I believe anymore. Whether it's true or not doesn't matter to me anymore though. I've decided to prove that the past of a family, doesn't create a person. We're all individuals, we're all different. I'm the only person that can do it. I'm the only person that can show we're not traitors, even if my ancestor did do what they blame him for. If you want my opinion though, no. The stories are not true." Zet didn't answer the last question, instead he just moved away from her, jumping down onto lower ground closer to the woods. Would she take the hint?

It was only then that Kass realized what she had done, as his words became angry, he took deep breaths to calm himself, and then walked off. She let out a small whimper as her eyes went to the ground. She hadn’t meant to offend, she was just excited. This was a huge learning experience for her, and she just couldn’t pass it up, but now she’d gone and made him mad. She stayed where she was for a minute trying to get the tears to go away. When they wouldn’t, she decided that it wasn’t worth waiting for. She walked over to him again, albeit much more quietly and a lot less excitedly, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you mad, I just was excited to get a chance to talk to someone who would know about it is all. When I first read about your family, your heritage, I was fascinated. So the opportunity to talk to someone who actually knew the answers to my questions was just exciting. But…when I get excited, I don’t say the smartest things some times.”

She paused, glancing up from the ground at him for a minute before she looked away again guiltily, “I apologize for acting like you were some kind of animal to be picked apart. That wasn’t nice. Because you’re right, you’re not just your heritage, you’re your own person, just like I am my own person from my family.” She mulled over what he had said, before looking up at him, “And…it does matter what you have to say. I mean…doesn’t it matter what everyone has to say? Who better to ask if the stories are true if not his own descendants. I mean…I’ve only heard of the one incident. It wasn’t fair that the whole family was punished for one person’s mistakes. That would be like my whole family getting grounded because I skipped school again.” This time, she realized what she said as she said it, “Not that…being grounded is similar to…” she looked away guiltily again, sure she would upset him.

Zet could hear her start crying, and while making her cry wasn't what he wanted to do, she did ask. As she came over, tears still flowing from her eyes, he just sighed to himself a bit. She was apologizing like she should, but he still couldn't shake the guilty feeling of making the girl cry. "It's alright, it's just after a lifetime of being criticized, mocked, and looked down upon for my name, it's a bit of a sore spot. Not that I can expect anyone to really understand why. The sad part of this all is, it doesn't really matter what everyone has to say. No one usually listens to the side of a Krovi, and if they do it's not because they want to hear it. It goes in one ear and out the other. The only thing they see us as good for anymore is a mercenary group. Nothing but a hired sword. We helped create and shape Yarevon into what it is today and we're nothing more then an above average sellsword to anyone anymore." Trying to ignore the comparison she made, he just shook his head. "Just forget it. Is there anything else you wanted to know?"

Kass was surprised when he didn’t get upset again, but she looked at him for a few minutes, “Why were your people, the Lethalians as a whole, I mean, so quick to dismantle the family because of one incident? That’s what I don’t understand.” She was being sincere, not trying to bring about the anger again. She honestly couldn’t understand why an entire family should be made to suffer for the actions of a single person, “I mean…was the man the head of the family, or someone really important on the hierarchy of knighthood? The books never really said who he was, and nobody really knows a lot about far away incidents like this when it comes to scholars back home.”

Zet listened to the question and stayed silent for a minute or so. "My ancestor was a Holy Knight. One of the highest ranks you could achieve in Yarevon. He led his own hand picked squad of elite fighters. He was blessed, at least people thought, with the ability that most call Krovian Durability. When he was covered in the blood of another, or himself, he would gain an increase in strength and agility. The stories are told that to gain superhuman strength he slaughtered his own squad without mercy or a second thought. All to cover himself in their blood. The Krovi clan always have been taught the same way, and the same virtues instilled. Lethlians decided to take that as we must all be murdering traitors. Deep down I know that story is false. A Krovi would never do that to anyone else. My ancestor accepted the punishment never saying a word after the incident, and with his Squad slaughtered and him put to death I fear that what really happened will be lost to everyone forever. Krovian Durability and Blood Rage. A combination of abilities thought to make one of the strongest warriors, a true hero. In truth, that combination is nothing more then a curse. It's no blessing."

Kass frowned, “But…surely someone survived that saw something. How did they come to the conclusion that he slaughtered his squad?” She asked, nibbling on her lower lip. It was all so curious, and yet, so exciting. It was a real life mystery, and she was curious as ever to see how it all turned out. Before she could let herself get to excited, though, she remembered to consider his feelings on it all, “Magic is a blessing, not a curse. I mean, maybe it does bad things sometimes, but it’s only a tool to be wielded…like this gem, right? Sure, it’s making me super cold right now, but as soon as I get the hang of it, I’ll be the best healer ever.” She said, trying to smile a little, but her shivering had actually gotten worse. She pulled her clothes tighter around her, trying to get warm, “I mean…sure, some tools you can put down. But the ones that you carry with you are the special ones. Take me, for example. If I hear something, I remember it forever. I used to think it was bad, because when people would say things that made me feel bad, I remembered them, and the feelings kept coming back. But I learned how to use it, how to kinda control it. Now I remember the good things, instead of the bad. I can’t ever stop remembering things…I just have to remember that it’s a tool that I control, not the other way around.”

Zet didn't answer her at first. Even he had to admit, the reason they knew it was him, didn't make him seem any less guilty. "Every member of his Squad.... was sliced in half. I'm not talking just light cloth armor either, I'm talking full battle armor of a Holy Knight. More armor then Arienna currently has on. Every single one of them cut in two, with a clear single blow. There are not many that have the strength to do that. Blood Rage can only bring on destruction. It's grants superhuman strength alone, in return for dealing physical trauma to your body. There's no good that can come from that. Only Death. Only Destruction."
    
Zet pulled a dagger from seemingly nowhere and tossed it at a tree. Instead of making contact with the tree it seemed to just pass through it and disappear. As it did, a cut appeared across Zet's cheek and blood runs down from it. As droplets fell from his chin, starting to form a small pool on the ground, he just stared at her. "That ability is not good for anything. It destroys something, destroys myself, or both. It's no blessing no matter how you look at it." As he finished his statement, the tree began to tip over, and finally fell onto another tree, the knife having made a cut clear through it.
    
"Some magic is a blessing, others a curse." He sighed and stopped for a moment. Taking off the back part of his clothes, he placed it around Kassidy's shoulders. "Here, this should help warm you up a bit. Now where were we. Oh right, Magic is a tool. Magic is all well and good, even if you consider it a blessing, but when it comes down to it you can only trust in your own strength. If your magic was to fail, only your own strength could save you. I've trained myself my whole life, only relying on my curse as a last resort. I don't regret that decision."

As Zet demonstrated his magic, Kass watched in amazement. The knife seemed to disappear completely. She was fascinated. That’s when she noticed the blood running down his cheek. She tried to make her magic work, but nothing happened. It just made her all the colder. Instead, she took a cloth from her pocket and licked it, dabbing at the cut and looking at the blood that stained it. That’s when the tree fell over. She let out a squeal at the sudden noise, quickly putting Zet between herself and the fallen object as it caused a racket. When she finally peered out from behind him, she was both amazed and frightened by the destruction he had caused, with but a simply flick of a knife. She didn’t hide that fear well as she glanced at Zet, then back at the destruction. But then he put something around her shoulders, and spoke kindly to her. She wasn’t so much afraid of him as what he was capable of. She pulled the cloth around herself tightly, but it didn’t help. This only reaffirmed her suspicions that it was the gem that was making her cold. She continued to shiver, but she tried to make it less so, so that she could at least be polite and lie.

When he spoke again of magic, she looked down at her hands, clasping one slightly as she looked back at him, “Oh…” she whispered, more out of not knowing really what to say than anything else. She had never really heard of someone referring to their magic as a curse. After a few minutes of awkward silence, she gave him a smile and put out a hand, “I’m Kassidy, by the way. Kass, if you prefer. I probably shoulda done that first, huh?”

Zet smiled a bit as she changed the subject so quickly. He took her hand gently and shook it a bit. "I'd introduce myself, but you already know who I am. Let me ask you a question though Kassidy, do I scare you? You have fear in your eyes, fear I've seen so many times before. I'm a Krovi with the power to destroy so much. Do I scare you?" The fear he saw in her eyes was undeniable. It was the same fear people had that he'd kill, just a split second before the life left their eyes. It was unmistakable, undeniable, and unforgettable.

Kass looked away when Zet brought up the fear she had. She shook her head a little, “Not…of you, I guess. But…” She looked over at the tree again, her eyes hanging there for a minute before they flitted back to him, “I guess I’m glad you’re on our side. That’s all.” She absolutely never wanted to be on the receiving end of any attacks from him or his family. If he could do that to a tree, then imagine what a person would be like? She cringed at the image and gave a small squeal, trying to shake it off.

"I think that's the first time I've ever heard someone wanting the Krovi's around." He shook his head as she let out a small squeal at the tree. "Don't worry, my attacks won't ever turn on you or anyone else here. I'll help stop this war, and protect those of you that can't protect yourselves. Not to sound mean but you don't exactly look like you could hold your own in a fight, even before the gem made you freezing cold. By the way, don't think I didn't notice you hide behind me when the tree fell. Just another reason I think you and some others here will need protecting."

Kass gave him an indignant look, “I can fight just fine! I just…scare easy.” She muttered, blushing a little as he mentioned her hiding, “Yeah, well, I’m not used to trees just…falling over. I wasn’t expecting it. I don’t need your dumb protection. I’ve been in a bunch of fights and…” she bit her lip. Okay, so she did need someone to make sure she didn’t wind up dead by bandits or whatever it was he had been warning them about ten minutes ago, but she didn’t want him to know that. She crossed her arms indignantly and let out a ‘hmph’ before muttering, “Meanie,” under her breath.
    
Zet couldn't help but laugh a bit as she explained how she could fight, ending with calling him a "meanie" under her breath which definitely could have been hidden better. "So you've been in a bunch of fights before? Alright, maybe your looks are deceiving. Hit me. Hit me right in the gut, as hard as you possibly can. Let's see how good of a fighter you are. That is, if you don't think I'm too much of a meanie to talk to."

Kass didn’t mind a good scrap now and then despite the fact that she always lost. She grit her teeth, though, at Zet’s challenge. She couldn’t turn down a challenge. She cranked her fist back and punched him as hard as she could in the gut. It wasn’t likely to do much damage, but she did put all her power behind the one punch. Could she muster that in a fight, probably not. That’s not the point though. She looked at him hopefully, wondering how he would appraise her hit.

Zet felt the hit, but it wasn't very hard at all. When you're used to being stabbed and wounding yourself to use an ability, a punch from a teenage girl just doesn't really have much impact anymore. Not even flinching as he was hit, he just laughed a bit. "Was that it, or was that just a joke? If that wasn't a joke, you won't last an hour in these woods alone."

Kass scowled as Zet laughed at her, “You’re wearing armor, you jerk!” She shook her hand lightly, letting the soreness leave it before she crossed her arms and turned away from him. Sure, she wasn’t strong, but normally she didn’t need to be. Nobody had ever tried to kill her before. The fact that the fate of the world rested on her shoulders came back to her in dizzying realness. It scared her. She shivered a little more as the thought went through her mind again. Barely audible, she whispered, “I don’t want to die…”

Zet rolled his eyes, not that anyone could see it. "It's hardly real armor. If you hurt your hand punching leather, how are you gonna feel after hitting someone in the face?" Zet let out a sigh as he walked over near the half fallen tree. Most people would be more reserved around it, but he could tell for the moment it was solidly held up. Walking to the tree behind it, he pulled the knife from it before walking back over to Kassidy. She mumbled something, but he couldn't even hear her make a sound. "What was that?"

Kass glanced up at him, a few tears decorating her eyes, “I don’t…I don’t want to die.” She whispered, shaking her head, “I don’t want to hurt people. I didn’t ask for this, you know? I just went exploring, I didn’t think I’d be given some epic quest. I should have just listened to my parents and-” her eyes widened as she continued to shiver, “Oh my god…my parents are going to kill me if your bandits don’t.” She said hopelessly.

Zet stood still and just looked at her. "If the bandits don't? I'm a guardian for the whole group. I won't let them kill anyone, trust me. After all, you do have me on your side, remember? No one asked for any of this, but what happened, happened. Use that new power you have to learn to heal. You can heal me after I kick everyone's ass. Just don't... Just don't cry. Oh and I'm sure your parents will be fine. After all, being a gem host is a big important deal. It's not like they can ground you for it." Zet didn't feel comfortable around a girl crying. He was an assassin, he wasn't used to dealing with emotions.

Despite his words, Kass still cried, and when she looked at him, she whispered, “They can ground me for anything.” She said, giving him huge, tearful eyes. Whether she was more afraid of the bandits or her parents was a mystery. After a moment, she considered what he said about her healing, and she shook her hand, as if expecting it to do something, “I can’t make it work, and I don’t know how. I’ve never had magic before. All this stupid gem does is make me cold.”

Clearly, she wasn't going to stop crying. They can ground her for anything? Was she serious? Then doubting the magic of the gems. Oh God this was going to be some trip. "Don't worry, you'll get it eventually. When I first discovered my magic I nearly cut off my arm. It's just a matter of practice. Start with getting over the cold thing. Until then, I'll try not to get cut up too bad. You'll definitely learn though. If you don't, you won't have to worry about your parents. We'll likely all be killed way before that if you all don't get better eventually." Zet tried to make the last part sound as a joke. Probably not the best idea to joke like that with a young and scared girl.

Zet’s ‘joke’ only made Kass cry harder. Now not only was she going to die, he was going to die and everyone else was going to die if she didn’t get better. She felt guilty for deaths she hadn’t even caused yet, though she felt sure she was going to cause them. She pulled the cloth around herself tightly, sobbing harder before her hands went to her face, “I don’t want to be the one that gets everyone killed!” She cried, sobbing harder. As she did, she put her hands out in front of her and though she had no idea what she was doing. Both of her arms shook violently, both because of the shivered and because of whatever it was she was attempting to accomplish. Her face went blue as she strained, before finally letting out air and falling on her butt.

As Kassidy began to cry harder, Zet knew that he shouldn't have made that joke. He really wasn't a people person, and this was a good indicator of that. "What? You're not going to... I was just kid.... God Dammit... Kass, it was just a joke. You're not going to cause everyone to die." As she stuck her hands out, Zet had no idea whatsoever what she was trying to do. Maybe it was just a girl thing? Well needless to say that thought didn't last long. "Kassidy, what are you doing?" He asked as she began to shake, finally stopping and falling to the ground. Just what the hell did he get himself into here?

Kass was crying and she was angry at the same time, “The…the stupid thing doesn’t work!” She shouted through her tears. She had no idea how to channel magical energy, and now she was colder than ever. Her lips were actually a little blue as her breath came out in small puffs, “I can feel it inside, but I can’t make it do what I want to do! I want it to do…something! Something magical, like it’s supposed to do.” She shivered, before looking down at her shivering hands. She looked like she was going to shiver herself apart.

Zet didn't really know how to respond. It's not every day that you become a guardian for someone who gets a magical gem of power, and can't figure out how to use it properly. "Look... Maybe it doesn't work because it doesn't need to right now. When the time comes that it's a life or death situation, I'm sure it'll work. Right now, just work on taking care of yourself. Don't let me fail my mission because you don't wanna take care of yourself."

Kass shivered furiously on the ground, pulling her knees up to her chest, pulling the cloth around herself, and trying to get warm, “I-I’m c-cold…” she whispered, looking up at him as if this was the first time she had realized this, instead of the fifth or sixth, “Stupid gem. Makes me cold and doesn’t even be magical when I want it to.”

Zet wasn't sure what else to say to her. She was right, the gem wasn't doing any good for her at this point, he couldn't lie and say it was. Although sitting didn't seem like a good idea. "Don't sit down for long. You should stand up, and keep moving. Right now I really don't know how else to keep you warm." Zet paused for a while before sighing and sitting on the ground next to her. "You can still walk right? Once we make it through these woods to the nearest town, we can look for a way to get you warmer. These woods are dangerous though, we can't camp in them with such a large group at night."

Kass actually didn’t know whether she could actually get to her feet or not. She tried once, but her shivering made her legs unsteady, and she ended up felling down again. She rubbed her butt and looked at him somewhat guiltily, before giving an indignant, “I-I n-need h-help.” She breathed, each syllable punctuated by another cloud of breath forming in front of her. She held out a hand, but it was shivering terribly, “A f-fire w-would b-be n-nice.”

Zet sighed for a moment; things were off to a wonderful start. She couldn't get up on her own, the fire host Scarlet looked like she was about to pass out, the Dark host Arienna was hurt, and god only knows what all the other hosts were feeling from the effects of the Gems. Why the hell did this cave have to be right on the damn outskirts of fucking bandit central anyway? "When we get to town we'll get a fire going. For now, let's get you up." Getting to his feet and then leaning down wrapping his arm around her back and the other under her legs, he lifted her up. Just holding onto her for a moment before saying anything, he stood still. To him, she didn't feel all that cold. God magic was weird. Clearing his throat after he realized he was still just standing there holding her, he spoke quickly. "Ready to try to stand on your own?"

Kass wasn’t expecting Zet to pick her up like he did. Maybe a lift to her feet, but he was just cradling her now. She just sat quietly in his arms for a minute, both surprised and stunned silent. She didn’t really know what to do. She felt heat on her cheeks though. Of all the…she was blushing, and it was the warmest part of her body now! His body’s warmth felt nice, though too. When he posed his question, she shook her head to shake her thoughts away, “Uhm…I guess…Just don’t drop me.” She whispered shyly. God she was so embarrassed. She probably looked like a weak little child now, needing his help like this and everything. She almost felt like crying again, but that would just make things worse.

Zet laughed a bit, although it was a bit shaky clearly signifying that this was awkward. "Drop you? I think I can handle it, just hold on while I let your feet go, okay?" After she was all ready he let go of her feet, grabbing onto her waist, just to make sure he didn't drop her. Letting go of her waist almost as quick as her feet touched the ground, he steadied her with the arm around her back still. "I... umm... won't let go until you have your balance back. So just say when."

She wondered if he was feeling as awkward as she was. By his laugh, she would assume that, yes, this was just as awkward for him as it was her. Probably more. When her feet touched the ground and he held on to her, she just blushed again. Once she was sure she had her balance back, she said, “I th-think I have it. Th-thank you,” though it was a near whisper. God, this was embarrassing. Still, he was a lot nicer than she would have thought by the stories. She nibbled her lip a little and whispered, even quieter than before, “And…thank you for…being nice to me.”

Zet smiled a bit as he let her go. If she could stand on her own there was no need to help her anymore. She didn't need it. Clearly she was a bit embarrassed by all this as well, seeing as her cheeks were suddenly bright red. It was actually kind of cute, in a kid kind of way. "You're welcome for the help, there's no need to thank me for being nice though. I should apologize for yelling at you earlier. You only asked a question, I shouldn't have taken that frustration out on you."

Kass stared up at him for a minute, “R-Right…I guess that’s sorta your job, right? To be nice to us, I mean.” She asked with a small smile, but she was still blushing. Why did she feel like she had butterflies in her stomach right now? Must be the stupid gem, “You’re not the first to yell at me for my questions, so don’t worry about it. I used to drive my teachers and parents crazy, you shoulda seen it…” she laughed, but it died out rather quickly, “I guess…Maybe I shouldn’t have asked so many questions.”

"Yeah, that's my job. Of... of course I would help. I have to, right?" Of course that's why he helped her, it was his job. He didn't know how to react to her talking about the questions. "How about we start things over and never mention the question thing again. We have bigger things to worry about ahead." Zet smiled a bit and held his hand out to Kass. "I'm Zetisuke Krovi, or Zet for short. It's nice to meet you."

Kass just looked at him for a minute before taking his hand, though it was still shivering, “Kassidy…Kassidy Anasiti.” She said, though she said it differently than the original host had said it. She instead pronounced it like it should rhyme. She giggled a little and then pronounced as it should be pronounced, “Well, I hope I don’t cause too much trouble for you, Zet.”

Zet smiled as she giggled a bit. The way she acted really had a way of making things better. He wasn't sure why. "Trouble? Miss Kassidy Anasiti, how much trouble could you possibly get into?"

Kass laughed a little despite herself, but it died relatively quickly once again, “Oh, please don’t make me answer that. You really don’t want to know.” She said solemnly. People often told her that trouble was her middle name, thanks to her curiosity.

-------------

Ven just watched everyone go off and do their own thing. Okay, so this was great, right? Getting to know each other and....shouting. The Shadelian was angry at the elder Terran man, the apparent self-appointed leader (which Ven had no problems with, he'd rather follow than lead) was yelling at the youngest member of their group, the guy with the panther was walking around like a blind man, the wind host was covering his ears as though millions of voices were screaming next to him, and the only apparently normal person, the medic he'd helped earlier, was wandering off to go sit by a tree by herself. What....was he supposed to do, exactly? He fluttered his wings twice, just sort of standing there. Before he could say anything, a tree fell over as if by itself, and the little Aquarian girl shrieked. What...the hell. He gave up. He wasn't a leader, he was barely a follower. He decided he'd just go sit off to the side, out of everyone's way, until they were evidently ready to go. If the Pyrian woman was going to sleep, she would need someone to rouse her if they decided to move, yes? Yes. That seemed acceptable. And hopefully not creepy. He sighed as he walked over, giving her a wide birth, and plopping down somewhat close, but not creepily close, "Feels like I'm losing my mind..." he muttered, more to himself than her, but she would no doubt hear it.

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Character Portrait: Arienna Intuneric Character Portrait: Ventaro Sartagus Character Portrait: Kassidy Anasiti
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#, as written by Aufeis
Ari just kept walking. She thought about nothing but keeping her aching body moving. She was tired, she was cold, she was hungry, and she still couldn't shake this depressed feeling about her. She wanted to lay down and sleep, in all honesty, though concentrating on keeping herself, and by extension Scarlet, moving forward, she was able to momentarily forget everything that was plaguing her. Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot, left, right, left, right, march, march, march...She made sure to, when she thought about it, give Scarlet water. While she needed some as well, she had extra water skins in her pack, as well as some dried sticks of jerked beef. She gave one to Scarlet, making sure that the girl ate it to keep her own energy up. Grudgingly, she also shared what she could with the group after Scarlet insisted on it. She would have rather kept it to her self and Scarlet, but she supposed she didn't want to be responsible for dragging someone else along too. It wasn't much, but it was a bit of strength at least. It helped morale a little too, she supposed. By the half-way mark, Ari was leaning on Scarlet almost as much as Scarlet was leaning on her.

Ven was doing well enough. His legs were a little sore from all the walking, but he dared not complain. When Arienna passed out her jerky sticks, he decided he should contribute as well, giving everyone a small dose of the nutrient salve. It helped as well, though he made sure to give more to the gem hosts than those who looked to be relatively alright. Jet didn't seem to have trouble keeping up with him, which was good, and after a while, Ven began to daydream, forgetting Jet or Nadanna or Shadowmere were even there. He would mumble something about a calculation or a piece of equipment every so often, though he did seem somewhat interested in the wind gem host. The guy kept putting his hands to his ears, as though they were bothering him. Ears operated on the movement of particles, which could be amplified by the direction of wind. It made sense that he could be having problems with sound, in which case, Ven could make something to assist the man, but only once he had enough supplies to build something.

Kass was quiet the entire time they walked, eating silently by simply nibbling at the jerky, and accepting the salve without complaint. Zet's words, though she knew they were supposed to be comforting, were not. They would have to kill...it was the nature of the world. To protect people...Could she take another life? Even if it was someone she knew was evil? Did she really have that kind of...of brutality in her? She had to. Zet said so, the ghost things that had given them the gems said she had to...but why? She didn't want to. But if she didn't, hundreds of people would die. Millions. If she didn't kill the people who would kill everyone, she might as well be killing the people their enemies were killing herself. She cried at various intervals of the trip, and nothing Zet said made it better. She just wanted to wake up in her own room, away from this crazy war and this stupid adventure. She just wanted things to be normal. At least when things were normal, she didn't have to worry about killing anyone.

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Character Portrait: Ventaro Sartagus Character Portrait: Zetisuke Krovi
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#, as written by Magix
Ven sat with his back to the wall, his shoulders hunched and his head staring down at a piece of paper and a few components of random stuff. The tavern was basically empty at this point in time, giving him the perfect work space. He wondered why more people didn’t get up this early…oh well. He hadn’t seen anyone else that morning, though he supposed he could have just missed them. He wasn’t exactly at his most attentive.

    Zet had been awake for an hour or so, after all he always did wake up at the crack of dawn, providing he slept at all of course. There were things in his past that haunted him sometimes, things that he rarely ever talked about. Things that would sometimes keep him awake, though his training made up for the lack of sleep. The past hour or so, Zet was walking around the town. He’d been here once before, but the Krovi’s came here much more often. They weren’t seen of as a threat here, being a very well guarded town, as well as many years of dealings with the Krovi’s and seeing no ill will towards the town. Zet felt like he could belong here, which was odd for him. Rarely did he feel that way; however how he felt it was of little importance looking at the grand scheme of things.

    Zet entered the Tavern, after all it was where they’d agreed to meet the next day. When he entered and saw the nearly empty place, he noticed the Sorian Guardian doing… something. Surprised to see anyone up at this hour, he walked over to him. Better then sitting alone, right? “Umm… Ven, right? You’re up earlier then I would have expected. What is it you’re working on, if you don’t mind me asking?”

Ven didn’t notice Zet walk into the tavern until he spoke, and even then he didn’t attract Ven’s attention until called by name. He looked up, puzzled, wondering who could be up this early and who would be talking to him by name. Ah, yes, the hooded man. What was his name…Zet? Yes, that sounded right, “It’s quiet early in the morning. Easier to work. As for what I am working on, the wind host is sensitive to sound. I agreed to attempt at making something to help him cope with this side effect.” This was a bit of a lie; he hadn’t necessarily asked him to do it. He pretty much volunteered to do it after he realized he was sound sensitive. After all, those wads of paper he’d given him were primitive and worked, but they didn’t do a great job, “What about you? Why are you up so early, Mr. Zet?”

Zet listened to Ven, just crossing his arms as he did so. Sometimes this helped Zet think. It’s more of a natural reflex that he just did, then actually helping him think though obviously. “I see. Well I suppose a more quiet and uncrowded work place would be more efficient. Sounds like you are pretty handy with these kind of things. I’m more geared for battle myself. Trained for survival in the most harsh of conditions, yet ask me to do something like that and I’m not sure I could do much more then cotton or some kind of cloth earplug. I suppose the old gem hosts knew what they were doing when they picked us.” Zet sat down at Ven’s table, invited or not. Cracking his neck, while still keeping up his hood of course he just laughed a bit. “Mr. Zet? Just Zet is fine, really. I’m always up at this time. I’ve just been walking around town though. Gotta admire such a self sufficient place.”

Ven nodded, his concentration split between what he was doing and Zet, “Indeed. While it lacks the grandeur of the Sorian cities, it’s mere front gates are probably more practical.” It was more than obvious in Ven’s tone that he had no love for the Sorian cities, but he didn’t continue, “As for this, it’s just something I’m good at. Been doing it since I was a kid, never really stopped. My father wanted me to join the priesthood, and to squelch my talent. No thanks. I’d rather roam and tinker than stand at the front of a church and talk to a crowd. Never was good at that. Never really tried. Didn’t like it.”

    Zet listened and smiled a bit. “Well seems to me you made the right choice. After all, I don’t see a man of the church among us do you? Can’t see how much use a preacher would be on the battlefield; while we’re in all out war. Helpful things though, well those will be umm, helpful. Of course we are up against the power of a full scale army, and we don’t even have the power of the gems to back us up personally, so if we all end up dead on the battlefield then maybe you did make the wrong choice after all. Either way though, it’s the adventure of a lifetime, and if I die fighting, so be it.”

“You’re a bit of a pessimist, aren’t you?” Ven replied simply, holding a component up to the light before fitting it into its place, “Ha! Finished. This’ll help him no matter what stage of his gem sickness he’s at.” He’d coined the term as they realized that the gem’s side effects wore off over time, “It has an adjustable knob here, that uh…well, you know what, you probably don’t care.” Ven pulled back his coat, showing a collection of glass bottles, one of which was missing. It was the bottle he had thrown the previous day in the fight that had caused the explosion. He pushed the earplugs into one of his many pockets and reminded himself to give it to Edwards later.

    Zet just snickered as Ven spoke. It wasn’t that he was funny, it was just different from what Zet was used to. “Pessimist? I’d more say I’m a realist. No use calling your shit green on the off chance you ate too many vegetables, or whatever it is that makes your shit green. My point is, no use on painting this situation great, with the odds so highly stacked against us. Do we stand a chance, depends on if the Gem hosts live up to the legend. If we do die though, we’ll have one hell of a time doing it.” Zet did frown a bit as Ven said he probably didn’t care. “Hey now, don’t go assuming I don’t care just because I can’t make it myself. I’m interested in what you can do, and wondering how it can be applied to my own personal talents.”

It was Ven’s turn to laugh a little, “I’m just surprised that you’d want to know the technical aspect of my work. Most people just want to know that it does work, not how it works.” He said, pointing to the drawing, “That knob controls the amount of air that can get into the ear. The more air, the more sound, obviously. It’s a fairly simply design, it was just finding the pieces that was difficult.” He said, crumpling the paper up before burning it in a nearby candle, “It’s always such a shame to have to do that…but some people will steal anything that isn’t nailed down, right? As for us winning this fight, I figure spooky ghosty gem soul things wouldn’t send us on a quest like this if they didn’t think we would win. I mean, sure, the odds are a little stacked, but it isn’t like we’re supposed to take on the entire army by ourselves, at once.”

    Zet listened to what Ven had to say, and it was interesting.  Zet thought that he got the jist of it at least, although if anyone asked him to replicate even something similar, they’d get cotton or cloth to shove in their ears.  “I usually like to know how things I’m around work, at least somewhat.  After all , I’d like to know if something has the chance to blow up, or the capabilities to bring harm to anything or anyone. Not that I think your gadget would fall into either of those categories…  It’s more a force of habit. My apologies if I offended.”

Zet watched on as Ven burned the designs of the gadget he made. It was a shame as he said, especially because without it written down, he can’t even pass the knowledge down to an apprentice in the future, or even have the basic drawing to make enhancements too. It was Ven’s business though, and Zet wasn’t about to try and talk him out of doing what he thought was correct. “Hmm… Taking on the whole army by ourselves or not, it’s still a tough mission. The Gem Spirits may have picked us well, and may even have picked the most capable of wielding their power, but no matter what anyone does, the will and drive of each individual just can’t be foreseen.  If even one of the hosts don’t live up to expectations, or we fail and let them fall in combat, I fear that the mission is lost and we won’t stand a chance.”

Ven nodded, putting his hand to his chin before shrugging, “Then we don’t. I don’t see much margin for choice, really. It’s as simple as we don’t let them fall in battle.” He said, before sitting back a little, putting his boots up on the table, “As for interest, hell, I’d be happy to share or talk about anything I make with just about anyone. Usually people simply aren’t interested. I find it interesting that someone in your line of work specifically would take interest in it. No offense intended, of course, I just don’t see a lot of assassins or mercenaries interested in machines…then again, I don’t see a lot of assassins, period, so I suppose that could be part of the problem…” he put his hand to his chin for a moment, as if to think, but then shook his head, “But I digress.”

Zet began to laugh a bit. “Well if you did see many assassins, then they wouldn’t be very good assassins, would they? I guess it’s as simple as not letting them fall, eh? I suppose I can’t argue with that.” He thought for a few minutes on why he was so interested. “I’m not a typical assassin. I only kill the wicked, requiring proof before each job. However, I’m very good at what I do. Part of that is because of my abilities and training but another part is because I’m quick to think on my feet. I guess I’m just interested in this stuff so it can benefit us in the future. Also, you never know when the smallest detail about something can be applicable to something else. It’s good for determining strengths, weaknesses, stuff like that... Guess my mind is a bit weird...”

Ven shrugged, “No, it makes perfect sense to me. But then again, I've always been called weird too.” He paused for a minute, shrugging again, “What do you think of our little rag tag group? If you look at strengths and weaknesses and all that, what do you see in our little team?” Ven asked, genuinely interested. Zet hadn't gotten to see them all in the bandit fight yesterday, but initial impressions could be important. He didn't know, but if he could be of any help, he'd make sure he knew about it before he was truly needed.

Zet sighed. In truth he wasn’t all that sure how his impressions on everyone was. “Scarlet and Kassidy don’t seem to be much of an asset on the battlefield yet. I have no doubt after some training, both physically and mentally, that they can be the legendary warriors they’re supposed to be, but they need work. A few of the Gem hosts seem competent and quite skilled, such as Jet and Arienna, but with how volatile the gems have been already, I don’t think we can afford to rely on those fighters yet. Then there’s others that are a complete mystery, like Edwards. While it’s rough to gauge his competence in battle, being a gem host it’s still difficult to rely on them either. That leaves us Guardians. I’m a trained killer, but Stealth is more my specialty. Not that I can’t hold my own in a group fight, it’s just not what I’m used too. Nadanna I’ve yet to see fight, but a Combat Medic for the Pyrian has to be able to hold her own out there. After all, they’re the ones holding the Shadelians back at this point. Not to seem rude to you, but I’m not really sure how or if you can hold your own well enough in a fight either. Inventors usually stray away from combat training and such, don’t they? Then again, I’ve never met many inventors either.”

Ven laughed a little at Zet's closing statements, “Don't underestimate me yet, my friend. Let me show you something.” Ven reached into his duster and pulled out a little glass bottle, roughly the size of an ink well, with glass just as thick, “These are concoctions of my own inventing. Come on, I'll show you what they do.” He said, getting up and stretching, before looking to the door, “The bottles are harder to come by than the chemicals in them, funny enough, but they aren't much of a hassle. Your simple apothecary generally carries everything I need. Sometimes I need to hit up an alchemist, but other than that, I can mostly home brew this stuff.” Once they were out of the town and a little ways into the forest, Ven bounced the little bottle in his hand. After a moment of contemplation, he cranked back and threw the bottle at a rock. The glass shattered and a shimmer green liquid splashed on a rock, dribbling down the sides and making hissing noises as the acid ate away at the rock, “That's just one of my little toys.”

Zet followed Ven out to the woods. He listened to what he said, and watched what he did. While the strategy seemed viable, it wasn’t very practical. The bottles were thick, there’s a chance it wouldn’t break if hitting flesh. Then even if it melted armor, without some kind of weapon, he wouldn’t be that much use either. “Your toys as you put it, are interesting. I still think we should train you with some kind of weapon though. It can’t hurt to have a bit of a backup, in case your toys don’t work too well for some reason. Not that I doubt the abilities of them, I just like to have a backup.”

Ven frowned a little. Zet was right, he knew he was right, but he still didn't like the thought. Sorians weren't exactly famous close quarters fighters, and it wasn't because they weren't strong enough. Even the slightest injury to the wing was excruciating. He sighed a bit, “I really would like to stay away from my enemies. I've tried something like a bow before, but...I just don't have the dexterity for it. Not in a stressful situation, anyway.” Truth was the best policy, wasn't it? He hoped so. After a moment, he smiled at Zet again, “Anyway, that's all I really had to show you. The other ones are a quick freeze solution, a extremely flammable one, and one that causes more of eh...you know...boom. Unfortunately, the ingredients for those are slightly harder to come by, and I couldn't find enough to distill anything worth using.”

Zet shrugged a bit. He didn’t really get all these chemical mixtures and stuff, although they sounded effective. “Sounds like you need to try something like a crossbow, or maybe throwing knives. Of course you could always invent something that could allow you to fight as well. I mean, a weapon doesn’t need to be conventional to be effective, and we are far from conventional. Who knows, maybe you’ll turn the tides of future warfare.” Zet smiled a little and started to walk back towards town. “Come on, I’m sure we’ll find some way for you to have a backup strategy.”

“Crossbow sounds good, I guess. That's basically just point and pull the trigger, right?” Egh...arrows. The bane of pretty much anything with wings. You could never put too much distance between yourself and an arrow, “Alright. So, hey, I have to ask. What exactly is our plan here? I mean, where do we even head? We can't just waltz into Zevlya, we'd need a huge army, right? So...what?”

“More or less. I’ve never been too good at crossbows or bows, but I’m sure we can find someone somewhere to show you the ropes.” Zet sighed as Ven asked what the plan was. To be honest, he only really had one general plan, and it was quite flawed. After all, they were a mix-match of misfits, and they needed an army. Things wouldn’t be easy at all. “Honestly, it only seems like one plan to me. The Gem hosts are supposed to be the group that all races can rally behind, to defeat this evil. So the plan, travel to each kingdom, visit their respective rulers, and do what we can to get their military support. They can provide us an army that we can lead to victory. Without them though, I don’t see a way we can win.”

Ven nodded a little, “Huh...I guess it makes as much sense as anything else. It's not much, but at least it's a plan. So we're heading for this capitol first then. You ever been there before? I mean, you're a Lethalian and all, right? Plus, I imagine you get around with your kind of job.” He was wondering if their little rag tag batch of heroes could even pull something like this off. After all, they'd barely managed to fight off a few bandits only yesterday. What chance did they have against trained soldiers? He sighed and ran his hand through his hair, “Even with an army, do you really think we can do this? I mean...no offense at all to them or anything, but some of the hosts...they don't exactly seem like mythical warrior material or anything, you get what I mean?”

Zet stopped, sighed, and leaned on the nearest tree. “Krovi’s aren’t exactly welcome at the capitol. A clan that’s said to be made of murderous traitors, I guess using that logic I can’t blame them for not wanting one near their king. I’ll be lucky if I make it through the gate with you all. I’ll probably be attacked, locked up, just plain thrown out if I’m lucky. I don’t see much of a better plan though.” Zet wished that he was exaggerating, but unfortunately he wasn’t. Especially in the Lethlian kingdom, Krovi’s were quite hated. Even as a child, they are branded as traitors, as if just having Krovi blood made you willing to kill anyone in sight to fulfill one task. “Honestly, I don’t know. If they can harness their power, and become the heroes of legend, it’s possible. Unfortunately there’s always that chance that no matter how hard we try, we’ll be annihilated. If we do get an army, and no matter how hard we fight, we all die, then Elenia as we know it dies. It’s on us, or we’ll all die. Unfortunately, that’s the cold, hard, truth. Doesn’t really matter if they seem like it now or not. If they don’t live up to the standards set by legend, we’re all dead.”

“Yeah...I guess so...kinda dismal when you really think about it, huh?” He asked, crossing his arms and shaking his head. Everything and everyone depended on them. Finally, he stood straight up and sighed, “Alright, so that's the long term plan. Traipsing through the hills and forests like a merry band of heroes. But what about now. What's our plan for now? You're the only one who seems to know this area by any means, when do you think we ought to leave? Soon as possible, or wait a few days? We don't have nearly the money to buy horses, so we're on foot. How much money do we even have, pooled together?”

“Dismal perhaps, but at least it’s a chance. Better then rolling over.” Zet thought to himself for a few moments. He hadn’t much time to think about things, but Ven raised some good points. “After getting everyone settled in last night I returned to the sites where we killed the bandits to take what they had. Their corpses had no more use for money. They had a decent amount on them, and coupled with what I normally carry it should last us for a week or so in this town. However, that leaves nothing for supplies. We can afford to stay here for about five days, with enough money for supplies to get to our next destination."

Zet cleared his throat and sat on a nearby rock. “About a three day walk away from here, we’ll come across the home of a wealthy noble that owes me a favor. I was about 13, out on a mission with my father and cousin, when I came across some bandits attacking a young woman. I killed the 2 eldest, which left the rest too young to fight back. Ironically, the Roland family, whom I had to finish off last night. Anyway, I returned the young lady home, who just happened to be the daughter of this noble. I guess she was about seven at the time, turns out she was kidnapped from her home. I came upon her trying to escape, naturally failing, and them teaching her a lesson for it so to speak. Long story short, they owe me a favor. They are honorable people, and I believe they will help us financially, being reimbursed by the Krovi’s once I send word. It should hopefully take care of things until we reach the capitol, in which hopefully the King will help us out. If things don’t go that way, we’ll have to improvise. Luckily the land here has streams and animals, allowing us to survive on the land if need be.”

Ven nodded, thinking himself. If they were going to be calling in favors and such, he knew a few people in the area around the capitol. Most only through mail, but he knew a few, “I have a few contacts all over the place. Some in Pyranous, some in Terramoure, some even in Yarevon. All over the place. I have clients everywhere, you wouldn't believe it, and suppliers. I think I can help with calling in favors if we ever need to. Gotta say, Zet, and maybe you aren't used to hearing it, but I'm actually glad we have you with us. We'd all kinda be lost as shit otherwise. Okay, so you can get us through Yarevon, I imagine Monroe can do Terramoure, Kassidy can get Aquaria, Nadanna or Scarlet can get Pyranous, I have Tyfonas, and Arienna can get Zevlya. Sounds easy enough.” He stopped a moment, thinking about something crucial, something that had been bothering him for a little while now, “How long do you think it's going to be before we start seeing other people aside from bandits and shit attacking us? You know...Rune's followers?”

Zet laughed a bit. Glad he was along? That was something he never got, but when you figure the only other Lethlian is currently blind from the Gem, it would make sense. Plus a traveling mercenary knew his way around pretty well. “I guess the Gems do know what they’re doing if they chose everyone to fit a current role. Still, a few more guardians wouldn’t have hurt, although then we’d have to shell out more money I guess. Keep all your contacts in mind, never know when we’re gonna need em.” When Ven asked how long until other people started attacking them, Zet just sighed. “I’d imagine we have until the capitol. After that, rumors will probably spread like wildfires, and we may start seeing enemies before we even make it to Terramoure.”

“Sounds like loads of fun, and I absolutely can't wait.” Ven replied sarcastically, shrugging a little. At least they had a rough plan. Something else was nagging at him too, but it wasn't quite as important. The question made him smile a little, “So, speaking of rumors spreading like wildfires...you ran off pretty quick after Kassidy yesterday. Anything going on there? You two were near inseparable the entire walk.” He asked, snickering a bit as he looked at Zet.

Zet looked at Ven and just shook his head. “She was curious about my family, and I got a bit harsh with her. I felt bad, we started talking, and I said I would protect her. After all, we can’t have a host die already, right? I knew we were being followed, I just didn’t want to cause a panic, not that it helped at all. There’s nothing more then a friendship there. There’s no time to even contemplate anything more. After all, I’m still far too young to think about binding myself down.”

“Binding yourself down, huh? Hey, I don't really think we're in any position to talk about being too young for anything. After all, we could die any day now if we fail. Anyway, I was just curious. I won't pry if you don't wanna talk. I'm not much of a pep-talker or anything, but if you ever just need to talk, I'm a great listener. Just so you know it's out there. After all, we're all friends here, right? Now come on, I don't like being out in these woods when we know bandits are lurking around. Besides, it's been about an hour or so since I woke up, the others are probably waking up too.”

“In Krovi culture, we generally don’t even start looking for a significant other, until at least 30, when we’ve proved ourselves as a serious mercenary or made a name for ourselves. I’ve not made a name for myself, nor am I near old enough to even start thinking of someone in that kind of capacity. I will keep in mind that you are a good listener however.” Zet got up and continued on the way back. “Don’t worry, most bandits aren’t bold enough to attack in the light, and those that are I could handle easily.”

Ven shrugged. As excited as he was to get more blood on his hands, he'd rather just head back to town. Once they reached the town's gates, Ven stopped and looked at Zet, “Alright. Well, I'm going to go and find some books, maybe a map or something and read up on things edible and not edible in the wild. After all, don't want anyone choking on poisonous berries or something stupid like that. It was good to talk to you, Zet, and I hope we can do it again in the future.”

As they reached the gate Zet just nodded to Ven. “That sounds like a plan. Oh and it was good to talk to you too. I may not socialize much, but if you need anything... well don’t be afraid to ask. I may be a Krovi, but I don’t bite.”